To see a world in a grain of sand, / And a heaven in a wild flower, / Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, / And eternity in an hour.
I decided that since we didn't go camping this weekend, we'd at least do a hike in the city. I've been wanting to go to Marine Park for some time, since I keep reading about birding there in other NYC nature blogs. However, it's a longish ride by public transit, so I hadn't gotten myself organized to get there before now; this weekend we had access to a car.
The current issue of the Birds and Blooms newsletter has an article that offers a nice overview of urban birding.
It's finally happened: the boys are at the age to rebel against what their parents want, and for us now that means going camping. Sigh. They actually just grumbled a bit about going and of course had a great time once we set off. That was a couple of hours later than we had hoped/planned; we weren't all packed and ready to go till about 5:30. The drive is about two and a half hours without traffic, and we also had to stop for some groceries and dinner on the way. Traffic getting out of the city wasn't too terrible, but we didn't stop until after 8, somewhere between Islip and Patchogue.
The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature is a book I'm sure I will reread or at least dip into again and again. It is beautifully written and packed with fascinating information about the ecology of the eastern forest.
The Tarpmaster said he wanted to go on a hike for Fathers' Day, so we planned an excursion with his parents. I did some research into places to go and settled on Conetquot River State Park, in Suffolk County. I figured my father-in-law wouldn't want to spend the whole day driving, and the park is only about 45 minutes from their house. It's kind of surprising that after 20 years living with a native of Long Island, I haven't seen more of its natural areas.
I have a new New York wildlife article up on Examiner.com, about nesting birds. Enjoy!
On Sunday, July 1, we took a lovely boat ride with our extended family around Jamaica Bay to learn about the bird life and conservation issues of the salt marsh environment. The 3-hour tour is run from time to time by the local chapter of the American Littoral Society and we were invited through the Flatbush Food Coop's mailing list. I suggested it as something to do while our relatives, the kids' cousins and their parents, are in town.
Something I've been wondering about lately is why I only see some birds in the back yard or in the street, but not both. The distance between our back yard and the front of the house is only about 60 feet. In living here over a year, I've never seen a pigeon in back despite their ubiquity in the city's streets. I've also never seen a song sparrow or white-throated sparrow in the street, although house sparrows are numerous in both places.
One of the great things about nature is how it can hone one's powers of observation, how there's always something new to notice about even the most familiar sights. Recently I've been thinking a lot about how my own powers of observation are developing. One example that sticks out in my mind happened when we were camping on Lake George about a year and a half ago. I've always liked to know what things are, always want to be able to identify things I'm looking at.
I've been putting birdseed out my office window, on the sill and as far as I can toss it out. In the late afternoon Saturday, after the snow, a lot of birds came by. I identified White-Throated, Song, and House Sparrows, Juncos, a Starling, and this Blue Jay and Cardinal:
That's seven species in just one small bit of the city, and doesn't even include pigeons!