Archive for July, 2012
Posted in Fresh Water, New York Harbor, Water, tagged aruba, erik baard, fracking, hudson river, hydraulic fracturing, hydrofracking, natural gas, oral history, Water, world war on July 28, 2012| Leave a Comment »
Posted in Birds, Manhattan, New York Harbor, Parks, Summer, Trees, Uncategorized, Vertebrates, wild eyed, tagged added value, cornbury, earth day, erik baard, farm, governors island, hyde, lic community boathouse, new york, red-tailed hawk, urban on July 18, 2012| Leave a Comment »
Our kayak camping on Governors Island for City of Water Day reminded me of earlier paddles I took to the island, for the LIC Community Boathouse, to plant apple trees (yes, I transported them by kayak), and to lead a volunteer team on behalf of Earth Day New York. The latter two trips were to support the Added Value Urban Farm annex on the island.
In July of 2011, while enjoying the shade of a locust tree adjacent to the farm, I found myself under an actual predator’s gaze. This fine Red-tailed Hawk was watchful, but at ease just a few feet above me. We’re blessed to live during a time of raptor resurgence in the Big Apple, but a close sighting is still exhilarating. I was unaware that Governors Island has a rich avian life, as evidenced by this census.
Given the name of the island, I dubbed this bird Lord Cornbury, as a small token and humorous nod to the much pilloried colonial Governor Edward Hyde. I’ve recently had no choice but to learn to forgive undemocratic (and likely transient) leaders on the very local scale who are, as Hyde was described, of “slender abilities, loose principles, and violent temper.”
Posted in Birds, Estuary, New York Harbor, Parks, Uncategorized, Vertebrates, Water, wild eyed, tagged american bittern, bittern, caroline walker, city of water day, east river, erik baard, governors island, harbor, heron, mill rock, new york, ny, Pelham Bay Park, Prospect Park, randall's island park, randalls island, wild metro on July 17, 2012| Leave a Comment »
The East River is NYC’s premier waterway and as founder of the LIC Community Boathouse and HarborLAB, I’ve made it my paddling home. At sunset, ferry boats filled with skyline gawkers will nearly flip to the west, and East River bridges set the scene for countless films. But for a kayaker, it’s the wilderness refuges of its islands and inlets that make this tidal strait endlessly fascinating.
Returning to Randalls Island from Governors Island in the Sunday morning calm after City of Water Day, Caroline Walker and I paddled through the outskirts of Hell Gate toward Mill Rock. I was admiring Great Black-backed Gulls at rest and Double-crested Cormorants perched on the island’s rip rap skirt while drying their wings when I spied something a bit different — a bird with the shape of a heron but markings similar to an American Woodcock. Caroline described it as “brindled,” which is pretty apt.
As we drifted past, a handful of cormorants and gulls took off while most ignored us. The misfit bird, however, walked quickly and deliberately into the brush that grew down from a turf mound to the rip rap line. It seemed to almost instantly disappear among the twigs and leaves. I didn’t have a camera.
After some research yesterday, I realized how lucky Caroline and I were! We had spotted an American Bittern. This species has fantastic camouflage for its reedy habitat, and so is rarely seen. Sadly, its population is declining rapidly with diminishing wetlands (though I’m comforted that its conservation status remains “least concern“). Good places to seek them are Pelham Bay Park (join Wild Metro for a volunteer day) and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. But they can pop up well away from salty shores. Prospect Park Lake, in the heart of Brooklyn, may have drawn this other one.
For those not lucky enough to glimpse this stealthy heron, there’s still a chance to hear its odd call, the second part of which sounds to me like someone repeatedly unstopping a PVC pipe. Strange that a creature would evolve to be invisible only to concurrently acquire a voice that earns it nicknames like “Stake Driver, Thunder Pump and Mire Drum.”
The American Bittern I observed was silent, so I have something to look (or rather, listen) forward to!
Posted in Birds, Estuary, Fish, Insects, Invertebrates, Manhattan, New York Harbor, Summer, Trees, Uncategorized, Vertebrates, volunteer, Water, wild eyed, tagged caroline walker, city of water day, david burg, erik baard, governors island, metropolitan waterfront alliance, night heron, steve sanford, vspot, wild metro on July 16, 2012| Leave a Comment »
After some puttering around the island, eating delicious Vspot vegan empanadas, and spending time with an amazing array of vendors, exhibitors, and fellow mariners, it was time to settle into camp.