Archive for the ‘New York Harbor’ Category
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.
Posted in Atlantic Ocean, Birds, Estuary, Manhattan, New York Harbor, Queens, tagged airport, audubon, Birds, birdstrike, calendar, cornell, ecology, environment, erik baard, faa, janis krums, nature, naturecalendar, nyc, schiffner, urban on January 15, 2009| 7 Comments »
After millions of years in the air, birds might be a bit insulted that they’re blamed for downing planes when one of these giant metal leviathans hurtles into their flock. I mean, imagine a whale crash landing into your bicycle parade and then complaining of “bike strikes.”
Still, many people have asked for links to learn more about bird strikes, and the estuary birds of our region. So here’s a quick link list!
BIRDS OF NYC:
Brooklyn Bird Club:
Cornell University Database:
And now a hot apple cider toast to the pilot! Let’s hope the authorities focus on better detection and avoidence and not fewer birds!
Posted in Atlantic Ocean, Birds, Bronx, Brooklyn, Estuary, Mammals, Manhattan, New York Harbor, Parks, Queens, Staten Island, Uncategorized, Vertebrates, tagged airport, australia, Birds, cats, conservation, cute overload, cuteoverload, ecology, environment, erik baard, feral, habitat, jfk, kennedy, nature, nature calendar, naturecalendar, neighborhoodcats, nesting, pets, rabbits, urban on January 15, 2009| Leave a Comment »
by Erik Baard
Australia is learning that it’s traded one form of “cute overload” for another, and there might be lessons for New York City.
As reported in this article, Australia attacked its cat overpopulation problem in the interest of preserving its indigenous bird species. The trouble is, without the feline predators around, a rabbit population explosion ensued, stripping away ground foliage needed for safe bird nesting.
The conflict between cat lovers and conservationists, which is often an inner one, spans the globe. In NYC it’s found focus on Jamaica Bay and the JFK Airport. Emotional pleas and conservation science studies have crashed upon walls of bureaucracy in recent years as airport officials cleared out a stray cat population. One ironic twist is that some airport managers have claimed that the cats are attracting birds, with their food and feces, and posing a hazard to planes. While bird strikes are very real, environmental concerns on Jamaica Bay center on ground nesting birds.
Cats are the flashpoint where empathy and responsibility crash in on themselves.
We feel for the cats, cast off in a breach of our social contract with them as a companion species. Activists might have a point in calling the feral ones, though born outside of human housing, “homeless.” That’s certainly true for abandoned pets. But we also grasp the suffering that attends habitat loss and losing young, as birds and other small species struggle to hold on under assault from feline predators.
Our sense of responsibility is weighty because we’ve both marginalized local species to a fringe of habitat and introduced an effective predator.
The greatest point of consensus is that cats should be adopted only responsibly (for life, and neutered), and that they should be kept indoors. But in cases where colonies already exist, sterilization and reintroduction seems is the most humane and effective means of dealing with the cat population. Infertile cats will still hold territory, preventing a rapid repopulation of the area by breeding cats from adjacent neighborhoods. With rats, another species that’s forever the subject of population control schemes, denying food helps disperse a population and keep them busy seeking sustenance instead of breeding. When social animals have a central food source, they gather and find mates, and have the surplus energy to breed and bear young.
Just ask the rabbits down under!
Posted in Atlantic Ocean, Bronx, Brooklyn, Crustaceans, Edible Plants, Estuary, Fish, fossils, Geology, Long Island Sound, Manhattan, New York Harbor, Parks, Queens, Recreation, Vertebrates, Water, tagged arcardia, bluefish, cordgrass, east river, erik baard, gotham strait, nature, nature calendar, new york city, nyc, richard melnick, spartina, striped bass, thomas jackson, urban ecologu, urban ecology on January 10, 2009| Leave a Comment »