Archive for New York
Alison and I birded Central Park yesterday morning with George, enjoying the company and wondering most of the time where all the birds had gone. No complaints, of course, because warbler hordes or no, we got to see something I hadn’t witnessed in a long time: the attempt by a Chimney Swift to gather nest material.
I’m not sure what kind of twigs were the object of this particular bird’s attentions — I’ve seen them throwing themselves at dead ash trees in the past — but a single swift flew tight circles around the dead crown of a tree that stuck up above the park canopy, stalling momentarily and then flashing through, nearly but not quite striking the slender branches. None apparently suited, as we never saw the bird’s belly actually make contact to break anything off, but it was great to see something I have such fond memories of — and to know that swifts are breeding in the city.
Northwest New Jersey is a different world, forested mountains cut by marshy valleys, old farmland dotted with beaver ponds and lakes — all looked over by the highest point in the state, 1,800 feet above the shore.
Back when Dave and I were doing crazy things like the World Series, this was my part of the state to scout, and we got to know it pretty well: the park roads to drive for Cerulean Warblers, where to listen for Vesper Sparrows, which barns might have a pair or six of Cliff Swallows.
I hadn’t been back to that so beautiful part of the state for a long time, so Alison and Gellert and I set out this afternoon to refresh our memories. We started by visiting some of the marshes in the eastern part of the county — most of them sites I’d never been to in the daylight! — then headed up to High Point, where, as usual in the winter, access was severely limited for those of us not a-ski. Still, you can’t beat the views: the Delaware below, mountains to the north, open country to the east.
It was plenty warm enough for a walk, so we sneaked across the border into that large state to our north, joining the throngs enjoying the beautiful afternoon on the Liberty Loop.
It wasn’t exactly birdy, but who really cares on a day like this? It felt like a bit of a homecoming to be in that part of the world again, and I’ve already taken firm resolve to spend as much time as I can there this spring.
I was very happy to get this in my e-mail yesterday; I’d nearly forgot about the bird, an adult Semipalmated Sandpiper we saw at Jamaica Bay last fall.
I’ll be speaking to my fellow Linnaeans Tuesday, January 8. My topic:
Hummingbirds of France.
If you did a double take, come and hear what I have to say! And join us for an early dinner beforehand, too.