Urban Wildlife Mysteries

Even a quick visit to Morningside Park yields an urban mystery or two.  The little pond is completely iced over.

Ice and bare branches

Compare to last spring when two egrets regularly visited to fish near the waterfall

Gone fishin’

Today a flock of brightly colored balloons seems to be nesting on the island

(I somehow deleted the photo, so imagine, if you will, a score of balloons lying in a gaudy heap on bare ground.)

in roughly the same spot where a set of mallard ducklings hatched in the final days of May

New ducklings moving out from the nest

The carp, turtles and frogs that live in the pond should be sleeping now, down in the dead leaves and muck at the bottom of the tiny pond, waiting for winter to give up the ghost. When the water warms, they’ll rouse to life.

They’ll bask

Soaking up the summer sun

and loll

Lazy day

and swim.

But today is mid-February and there is no water, only ice.  So how to explain the presence, on the path that runs along the eastern edge of the pond, of a pair of dead fish.

As if it had leapt over the edge of the pond's retaining wall

Someone had fish head for lunch.

Oh, dear

The pond has been frozen for days. Where did the fish come from? How did they die? Why are they here?

A sign on the back of a bench offers the promise of rescue.

Good to know. But what about the fish?

The photo of the sign was taken in midsummer, when there were no ladders to be seen. Now the ladders are ready for trouble.

Beautiful red ladder ready for rescue

On the way home, we passed beneath a tree filled with dozens of sparrows, all singing at the top of their little lungs. Spring really is coming.

But what about the fish?

Hey, what about the fish?

Explore posts in the same categories: 2011, Birds, February, In the City, Morningside Park, NYC Parks, Wildlife/Natural History, Winter

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14 Comments on “Urban Wildlife Mysteries”

  1. Eleanor Says:

    Raccoons fishing, eating a bit of the fish and leaving some. I used to see salmon left this way by the side of the creek near our house.

  2. B.A. Says:

    So good to meet you last night! And to be neighbors and taking tai chi both keeping dog walking blogs! Mine is Cashmerewalks.wordpress.com/

    See you soon!!

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kelly Brenner, Out walking the dog. Out walking the dog said: Can you solve the latest Urban Wildlife Mystery? Blog post: http://wp.me/pGHnM-IY […]

  4. Walter Tully Says:

    It’s amazing that you can find so much wildlife in a very busy urban place like NYC. I’ve always looked at NYC’s parks as nothing but an unnatural public garden. In fact, I never knew that egrets visit NYC to fish til now! The frozen water reminds me of how parks at my hometown (Denver, CO) looks like during the season. Thanks and good luck with the fish mystery!

  5. Bill Says:

    I’m amazed at what you see in the city. I think that’s because you are really paying attention. Thanks for restoring my faith in people’s observation skills, and thanks for sharing this journey.

    BTW fish often die under ice in winter when plants decay and all of the oxygen is utilized.

  6. mthew Says:

    Isn’t the delivery of a fish corpse a sign from the Mob? Or am I getting that confused with horses?

  7. Katrinka Says:

    Csn you shed more light on those swarming house sparrows that are so chirpy and communal these days? Are they in pre-nesting mode? Socially networking? It seems like almost every block on the Upper West Side has an incredibly noisy little flock flitting around in a bush or sapling these days. Very cheery indeed!

  8. Barbara Says:

    What a great urban mystery – one I would figure was from a coyote or hawk who caught the fish in the river and dropped it – but two? Holy smokes…

    Love this post – and also your redesign of your blog.

  9. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by upperwestsiders, Out walking the dog. Out walking the dog said: Even a quick visit to Morningside Park yields an urban mystery or two.  The little pond is completely iced over. … http://wp.me/pGHnM-IY […]

  10. daddy0 Says:

    I love it. Keep them coming.

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