Archive for the ‘September’ category

Young Hawks: One Plays, the Other Eats

October 13, 2011

Back in July, I came upon two young red-tailed hawks in Central Park, south of the Metropolitan Museum. The darker one was intent on eating a rodent, probably delivered by a parent, and the lighter hawk was, well, playing. For ten minutes, it jumped about, flapped its wings, and pounced at … nothing much.

Jumping

Paying Attention

Flapping

Tilting

Settling

While the lighter sibling played, the darker one focused intently on its meal.

Tugging at a sinew.

Nice pantaloons.

And what a beak.

I left the birds to their early evening activities, and headed north where I soon saw another red-tail perched atop the back of the Metropolitan Museum, undoubtedly a parent keeping a hawk eye on the kids.

The two youngsters were the children of Pale Male, the celebrated NYC red-tailed hawk, and his current mate, Lima. Hawks care for their young for months, feeding and watching over them. According to Bruce Yolton of Urban Hawks Blog, the darker fledgling left home early in September, but the lighter one – the one I saw playing – was still begging for food from its parents as late as the third week in September. Bruce reports that this late bloomer seems to have finally taken off on its own, perhaps inspired by the thousands of migrating raptors that are now making their way down the eastern flyway.

NYC Parks Going to Seed

September 2, 2010

I should have warned you, dear Reader, that there would be no new blog posts in the month of August. But I didn’t plan to take a summer break from Out Walking the Dog. It just happened.

A mid-August deadline for the first draft of a new play gradually crowded out all other projects and pastimes. I’ve been living, breathing, dreaming and writing in another world.  Now the first draft is complete, and I’ve more or less returned to the so-called real world, a world that includes city parks and animals, blogs and dogs, and long walks with Esau.

I spent last week on the coast of British Columbia, about two or three hours north of Vancouver.

View from the deck

At night, the temperature dropped into the 50s and a hot day topped off somewhere in the 80s.  Glorious.  We were surrounded by water, both fresh and salt,  islands, Douglas firs, massive ferns and mostly unseen animal life.  A lone bald eagle soared overhead in the mornings, sometimes harassed and chased away by a gull. But more about B.C. in a future post.

What’s on my mind today is … seediness.

Seedy
sordid and disreputable: his seedy affair with a soft-porn starlet
shabby and squalid: an increasingly seedy and dilapidated property

As soon as I arrived back in New York, I headed out with Esau to my beloved parks. After the freshness of British Columbia, I faced a sordid reality:  my beloveds are looking downright seedy.  Yes, I know that the trees and flowers are literally going to seed, which is, I assume, where the word, “seedy,” originated.

Gone to seed

But I’m talking about something more than simple botanical imperatives here.  Blowzy and past their early summer prime, the parks exude a kind of over-ripe dissoluteness, a laxness that feels, well, moral. I’m not much of a puritan, but really, I think Webster’s has nailed it, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that both Morningside and Riverside are engaged in summer affairs with soft-porn stars or starlets.

Watch the tabloids. You heard it here first.

Riverside Park plants swallow a lamppost.

Lush life

Morningside, in particular, is looking down-at-heels, as if it has drunk a little too much of this summer’s endless heat, and can no longer muster the will to shave or brush its teeth. Forget picking up the trash.

The geese don’t help.

As Jerry Lee might say, there's a whole lot of preening goin' on

Earlier this summer, we worried about the sudden disappearance of the little Canada goose family that nested on Morningside’s island.  In July, new geese began congregating, and by the end of July, there were at least 14 that hung out in the pond and field.  This morning, 29 geese are preening, loafing, grazing and slathering the walkway around the pond with great green gobs of goose droppings. The water is a deep brown-green, thanks to the algae, and appears almost thick in consistency, like pureed lentil soup.  Despite the lovely sound of the man-made waterfall, the pond is less than inviting. To a human, that is.  The multitude of turtles seems quite happy, as do the geese, ducks and pigeons.

Inter-species harmony: Morningside's animals appear unbothered by the soupy water.

West at the Riverside Greenway, driftwood sculptures converse with boats and buildings.

And all I ask is a tall ship

Mutt and Jeff observe the river

Leaning

Reading

Gazing

Oh, and you can forget about the girls in their summer dresses. In Riverside, it’s the boys who shed clothes.

Heading home, we see a miniature fungi forest.

Many mushrooms

Thank you to my patient readers, wherever you are. I’m delighted to be back. More posts will follow soon.


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