200 Bird Thursday – week 13 (quarterly report)


Great egret and even greater egret (Photo credit: Gus Keri)

Three months into my biggish birding year, I’ve seen 128 species in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. (I’ll get to Staten Island eventually, but the transportation logistics are daunting for someone without a car.) Within Brooklyn, I’ve ventured far beyond my well-trodden Prospect Park birding paths, to Coney Island (beach and creek), Floyd Bennett Field, Dead Horse Bay, Plumb Beach, the Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park, Calvert Vaux Park, Highland Park, Green-Wood Cemetery, Canarsie Pier, Fresh Creek Park, Spring Creek Park, the strip of green between Hendrix Creek and the Gateway shopping center, the middle parking lot off the Shore Parkway, the back of the BJ’s Wholesale Club, and other hot spots I’m surely forgetting.

I’ve learned at lot about birds, and I’ve also learned a lot about buses. Continue reading


200 Bird Thursday – week 12 (spring!)

piping plover

Cute-as-a-button piping plover. (Photo credit: Peter Colen)

I missed the official “first day of spring in Prospect Park” bird walk – I was too busy running the NYC Half – but spring is definitely in the air. And so are birds – in the air, in trees, on ponds, and along the shore. This week’s list reflects that. Eight new birds (the most since week 3, when I was just getting going), two of them lifers.

Continue reading

Race report: the NYC Half experience

NYC half mile 12.75

So glad to see Andy. Even gladder this race is almost over. (Photo credit: Andy Wong)

The NYC Half is a race I swore I’d never run: too big, too expensive, too early in the year, too much of a pain in the ass. Then, late last year, I logged on to my New York Road Runners account and saw an utterly unexpected message congratulating me for having earned guaranteed entry to the 2016 NYC Half.

I caved immediately. Continue reading

200 Bird Thursday – week 11 (harbingers of spring)

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Folk wisdom celebrates the American robin as the harbinger of spring – but folk wisdom would benefit from pulling up its window shades, venturing outdoors, and paying closer attention to its surroundings. In fact, a significant robin population hangs around the north all winter. Adaptable and omnivorous, robins do well in urban and suburban landscapes. When the ground is frozen and snow-covered (which was true for approximately 5 days in Brooklyn this winter) and they can’t slurp up worms, they flock to all those decorative trees and bushes that bloom in the spring and remain attractively fruit-covered through the winter.

Many robins do head south for the winter, and will soon be converging on lawns in a frenzy of worm-eating before continuing farther north, but their return is a gradual process, not a clear-cut event.

Still, the appeal of designating some bird as the “harbinger of spring” endures.

Continue reading

200 Bird Thursday – week 10 (timberdoodles)


Woodcock are easier to flush than to spot. (Photo credit: National Park Service)

Here are some of the folk names bestowed on week 10’s Bird of the Week: mud bat, mud snipe, brush snipe, bog snipe, bogsucker, night partridge, big-eye, Labrador twister, sky dancer, pop-eyed shot dodger, woody and timberdoodle.


And here, with a hat tip to the City Birder, are some of the words used to describe a group of them: covey, cord, fall, flight, plump and rush. (“Fall” seems to be the most commonly used, although “plump” and “rush” strike me as the most evocative.) Continue reading

Eating Avenue U: Joe’s


Joe’s is well-served by public transportation – a stone’s throw from the F train (this picture was taken from the stairs) and the B3 bus.

My quest to see 200 species of birds in New York City in 2016 has taken me into some corners of Brooklyn I’d inexplicably neglected over my three years here. Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, Canarsie . . . these are my new stomping grounds.

And eating grounds, too. Continue reading

200 Bird Thursday – week 9 (beachfront fortresses)

black-bellied plovers

Black-bellied plovers (photo credit: Gus Keri)

It’s March! Time to start thinking about spring migration, which will soon bring waves of new birds to the five boroughs. Already, crocuses and snowdrops are blooming, cedar waxwings are flocking in parks and backyards and landscaped median strips, and the voice of the blackbird is again heard in the land.

I celebrated the turning of the calendar by heading to Rockaway, Queens – more specifically, to Breezy Point on the peninsula’s far western tip. Getting to Breezy Point is not easy. Continue reading

Walls of wisdom

IMG_3869I’m taking a break from birds and writing about birds (and also, on this not-so-Super Tuesday, from batshit crazy politics) to share a photo gallery of posters from walls around Brooklyn. I’m not sure who the artist/philosopher is, but as you can see, they’re quite prolific.

Here’s a further sampling:

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