2018 in birds

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Spanish birds (photo credit: Eric Brooks)

Both my avocations, running and birding, lend themselves to obsessive tracking of numbers: weekly mileage, race times, average pace; life lists, year lists, country, state, county and patch lists. And in both cases, those numbers – while meaningful and maybe even (slightly) interesting to other aficionados – are a good way to drive away those who don’t share your passion.

Want to make someone’s eyes glaze over? Just start telling them your marathon splits, or your county year list. Continue reading

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A non-running race report: the 2018 NYC marathon

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Runners (and their shadows) in mile 13

Here it is, at last: my report on this year’s NYC marathon from the spectators’ side of the police tape.

As you may recall, I’d mapped out a plan in advance that would take me from Park Slope to Bay Ridge (with a stop in Sunset Park) to Greenpoint to Long Island City to East Harlem to the Upper West Side. I executed my non-running race plan much better than I’ve ever executed any of my actual running race plans. You could even say I hit my “A” goal.

I also learned a lot, and am already making plans for 2019.

Here’s how it went down. Continue reading

2018 NYC Marathon spectator’s guide to Brooklyn (and Queens)

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I’ll be there.

It’s back, for the fourth consecutive year!

To help you have the best possible marathon-viewing experience, I’ve compiled pointers from my own past races – those I ran (2005, 2006, 2009 DNF, 2014, 2015) and those I watched (2007, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017). This summer and fall, I ran the course (in manageable segments), seeking out interesting places to stop for a bite to eat and something warm (or cold – one never knows what kind of weather the first Sunday in November will bring) to drink.

This guide, like the three before it, is unabashedly Outer Borough-centric. That’s true for several reasons. First, I’m an Outer Borough kind of gal. Second, the crowded viewing spots along First Avenue and Central Park don’t require a guide; they’re where people go by default. Third, and most important – I honestly believe that your viewing experience will be better here. You’ll be closer to the action, and also closer to the real spirit of the race, and of the city.

Plus, the eating is way better.  Continue reading

Dispatches from New Mexico

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Time to hit the open road and find some western birds

The top line results of my birding trip: 42 new birds, bringing my 2018 total to 399 species . . . meaning that unless I saw a burrowing owl on my way to the ABQ “Sunport” (I did not), bird number 400 would be in Brooklyn.

Which was as it should be.

I’ll have more to say about New Mexico birding, but there’s more I need to say about New Mexico first. Why do I love that state so much? There are the birds, of course, but also the light – blinding at midday, painting the landscape with color and shadow morning and evening, dazzling always. There’s the painful, complicated history as New Mexico passed from one empire to another, a history that includes conquest, the Inquisition, hidden Jews, indigenous revolts, revolutions, invading Texans, shifting borders, mushroom clouds. There’s the fascinating, syncretic culture this history created. There are the chiles.

And there’s the general weirdness of the place, always a plus in my book. Continue reading

400 birds

16B70747-7872-451F-A25B-3D70B710959EAh, the appeal of round numbers! Ah, the lure of arbitrary goals! Ah, the joy of obsessive pursuits!

I haven’t prattled on about birding on this blog of late, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t continued to devise ornithological challenges for myself. Two years ago, I documented my quest to see 200 species in New York City . . . something that turned out to be ridiculously easy for anyone with a pair of binoculars, a Metrocard, and (most important) time on her hands. So I upped the goal to 200 birds just in Brooklyn, and managed that as well. (The final tally: 249 species in NYC, 225 in Brooklyn.) Continue reading

Fake resistance, real resistance and a question

You have, of course, read the “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration” Op Ed in the New York Times. The writer assures us s/he is working diligently to protect us all from a volatile and incompetent administration . . . even as they work just as diligently to advance that administration’s policy priorities.

In order to continue that good work, they must of course remain anonymous.

Last night, Eric and I went to Barbès in Park Slope. (This may strike you as a non sequitur, but bear with me.) Continue reading