Thursday, September 11, 2008

little observations

Sunday, September 7

Sunday is Project Day in our family. Chrissy gets to work on his home video collection and screenplays, and I get to enjoy my interests - birding, writing, reading, cooking. So this afternoon I went to Prospect Park in the post-Hanna gorgeous weather for a bird-walk. I was greeted at the Lake by a red-winged blackbird, the first I've seen in a month or more.

Hanna knocked down a few branches here and there, but I didn't see any terrible damage. I did see a young man harvesting green gingko nuts from a fallen branch. I have held my breath many times when passing the fallen ripe orange nuts on the sidewalk, so I asked what he intended to do with them. A woman on a nearby bench told me that the inner nut is good for the memory and can be eaten fresh or dried. She also told me that to make gingko tea, it's best to boil the tree's leaves in springtime, before the air pollution has a chance to ruin them. I thanked the woman and said goodbye, heading off to admire the massive numbers of Canada geese on the Lake.

I have a new favorite spot to search for migrating warblers - right off Wellhouse Drive on the Peninsula is a thick stand of young trees and ferns and other flora. I have seen brief glimpses of warblers zipping from branch to branch here while catbirds try to ward me off with their constant mewing.

By the time I got deep into the Lullwater Trail, the sunlight was no longer reaching over the tops of the trees. That is not to say it was getting dark, just that there was a demarcation in the air, due to the position of the sun, between what was in the sunlight and what wasn't. This led to a few thrilling moments when, from my place on the shaded ground, I saw several red blasts of bird flap by over the treeline. I was no less thrilled when I finally realized they were robins hitting the sunlight just right, because I guess it's become easy to take robins for granted and I appreciate a reminder of their beauty and worth.

I was just about home when I heard the telltale signs of the nightly Canada goose flyover. Every evening, or many evenings, I see one or two groups of about fifteen geese fly over my apartment building in the direction of Green-Wood Cemetery. This night, I paused and stared, dumbfounded, for the group of geese coming into and flying out of my view was enormous. They attempted a V-shape, but it was very messy. After a full fifteen seconds, the last bird flew out of sight, leading me to estimate about eighty birds in the flock. It could be more. Perhaps they're heading a little further than Green-Wood after all.


amarilla said...

I was in the park that morning and it was beautiful. Are there more warblers in the park now than usual? I just spent half and hour trying to figure out what I saw this morning and yesterday-from the perimeter of the park, where I usually see only the usual suspects. I think one was a black and white warbler and the other was warbler-like with strikingly olive, monochromatic plummage.

Bluebird of Friendliness said...

I think we've entered the part of the birding year that is technically "winter" and the birds are mostly on their way south. So I have been seeing quite a few more warblers than I did in, let's say, July and August. I had that same experience: a black-and-white warbler on the outskirts of the park. The one I saw was on the ground hopping in and out of the fence-limits, which seemed odd in itself, since I've only ever seen them on tree trunks or higher.