200 Bird Thursday – week 17 (looking up)

glossy ibis flight

Glossy ibis in flight (Photo credit: Gus Keri)

I started my birding week last Friday by looking up at just the right time. I’d gone to the Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park, and after smiling at the kids, parents and teachers engaged in some sort of science lesson (buckets, sieves, shovels and tubing were involved), I happened to look up at the sky.

Above me was a loose, shifting V of 21 glossy ibis, necks outstretched, long, curved bills in silhouette against the sky. They passed over the marsh, heading west, and disappeared. If I’d looked up a few minutes earlier or later I would have missed my bird of the week. Continue reading

200 Bird Thursday – week 16 (misnomers)

blue headed vireo

What color is this bird’s head? (Photo credit: Gus Keri)

A slow week, punctuated by conversations with other birders about wind and weather – when would the winds blow from the south, or better yet, the southwest, nudging reluctant migrants our way?

I’d targeted a few birds for my list: brown thrasher, blue-headed vireo, and at least one new warbler. With luck (and southwest winds), I thought I had a shot at reaching 150.

But the migrants never really came, and an unusually heavy schedule of meetings and political commitments cut into my birding time. (I can report that unlike in Portland, no birds landed on Bernie Sanders’ podium during his rally in Prospect Park.) I did get my brown thrasher, singing raucously on Prospect Park’s Lookout Hill. I got a couple of new warblers. And I got my bird of the week, the blue-headed vireo.

Which brings us to the issue of misnamed birds. Continue reading

200 Bird Thursday – week 15 (Patagonian picnic tables)

yellow throated warbler

This little beauty graced Fort Greene Park this past week. (Photo credit: Karen O’Hearn)

The Saturday before last (as recently recounted on this blog), I raced a 10K in Central Park and ended up in the medical tent with an IV in my arm and cardiac leads on my wrists and ankles. This past Saturday, I took it easy and birded. What could possibly be a gentler, more restorative activity?

Hahahahaha!

Trust me, there’s nothing gentle or restorative about birding Brooklyn’s coastal wetlands on a cold and blustery day. Continue reading

Race report – Scotland Run 10K (2016 edition)

post-Scotland Run

Don’t look for me in this photo – I’m not there (for reasons that will be explained). Photo credit: Christine Goh

Half the fun of New York Road Runners races is getting there, so it’s only right that this (tardy) report should begin with an early-morning train story.

Weekend construction-related service changes are the bane of racers, but for once, they broke in my favor. Not only did an F train come right away – it was skipping 14th and 23rd streets, turning its usual pokey course through Manhattan into something approaching express service.

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I used to be a morning person.

I settled into a mostly-empty car and closed my eyes. At Jay Street, a mother, father and adult daughter, all laden with suitcases, boarded. They headed toward the empty bench I was on, then stopped. Continue reading

200 Bird Thursday – week 14 (and Staten Island, too)

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Barely visible swarm of northern gannets

I reached a milestone this week: I can finally claim to have birded in all five boroughs of New York City. My maiden foray into the wilds of Richmond County didn’t yield any new birds, but I enjoyed Great Kills Park (so much so that I spent the entire morning there instead of running farther south to check out a few more spots, as planned).

In the process, I learned that S79 Select Bus Service from Bay Ridge is pretty zippy, and that while Staten Island is big (and Hylan Avenue singularly charmless), it’s still possible for a carless runner to get around a pretty wide swathe of it. Continue reading

Race report – Gaza 5K

gaza 5k

See how happy I am to be running “for the children”! (Photo credit: Monica Jorge)

I don’t normally do “cause” races – not that there’s anything wrong with them, they’re just not my thing. This particular cause, though, is close to my heart. The race benefited UNRWA community mental health programs for the children of Gaza, who’ve witnessed far too much death and destruction in their short lifetimes. Continue reading