Good morning, New York.
Up here in Morningside Heights, the sounds of the city have almost returned to normal. It’s the traffic that does it, of course. The quiet of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was lovely, but strange. The belch and rumble of buses, back in service yesterday, brought the noise level close to its urban norm.
But even from my perch six stories above the street, it’s the recurrent rumble of the Number One train up and down Broadway that gives the city soundscape its essential ground-note. The subways started early this morning Now the only sounds missing are the constant squeals and screams of schoolchildren as they cycle all day through the playground behind my building, and the sharp hollering through a megaphone of the drill sergeant, er, I mean, teacher, who minds them. (For those of you not from NYC, school has been cancelled for the rest of the week.)
We did see and hear trick-or-treaters on the street last night.
With my mobility still limited by recent foot surgery, I’ve been feeling a bit like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window as I work by the window with camera and binoculars at the ready.
I’ve witnessed no crimes yet. But I’m happy to say that urban nature is everywhere, even outside my window. The pigeons that use my air conditioning unit as a boudoir have come through the storm just fine.
And at least two of our local red-tailed hawks also seem to be healthy if, perhaps, hungry. For two days now, I’ve watched red-tails out my window. Yesterday at around 4 pm, I was drawn to the window by loud and persistent cawing. Sure enough, several crows were dive-bombing a red-tailed hawk that perched on a tall building across the street. The crows gave up surprisingly soon, and the hawk sat there, surveying the city, for well over an hour.
The view must be marvelous.
Gulls filled the skies to the east, calling and soaring, before sailing off toward the Hudson.
A lone starling perched atop the school just east and south of the hawk.
No other small birds were visible. I scanned the water towers for more hawks. Nothing to the north.
Nothing to the northeast.
And nothing to the west, where on Tuesday afternoon, I had watched two red-tails briefly perch before taking to the skies, one heading north and the other south.
Hope the rest of the urban raptor population has done as well.