Posted tagged ‘nyc autumn’

Walking with Mary in Central Park: What is That Duck?

November 8, 2013

On Monday, the dog and I took a long walk in Central Park with my friend Mary, who is in town performing with Taylor Mac in a wonderful production of Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan at the Public Theater. Go see it, if you can.


The Pool, a lovely little body of water near West 103rd Street, was painted with autumn colors.


Mallards bobbed and dabbled everywhere.


Wait a minute, those aren’t all mallards. Check out that duck on the left, below.


That ain’t no mallard. Let’s take a closer look.


A beautiful reddish head, but definitely not a Redhead. A white breast and clean white markings curving up either side of the back of the neck. Very handsome. What is he? No clue. Well, we’ll look it up when we get back to the apartment.

We wandered on along the Loch and through the North Woods to the Conservatory Garden, which stretches from 106th Street to 103rd along the eastern edge of the Park. It’s actually three distinct, beautifully maintained gardens, one French, one Italian, and one English.

In the French Garden, the dog took a breather in front of a huge mass of brilliant, yet touchingly fading mums.


In the English Garden, beneath the “Secret Garden” statues of a Pan-like Dicken and a rather nymph-like Mary Lennox, a koi and a water lily entered into an inter-species communion of color.


The dog (or is it the mop?) mused on late-season flowers and the passing of time.


Later, we looked for our duck in the bird books. He looked unmistakeably like a Northen Pintail – except that he had no pintail.  A visit to Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s  All About Birds reassured by saying that in eclipse (non-breeding) plumage the tail feathers are “much shorter and wider than in breeding plumage.”  That clinched it: a Northern Pintail.  A visit to a favorite site, Bruce Yolton’s Urban Hawks confirmed that on Sunday Bruce had photographed a Northern Pintail in the Pool, a sighting he called “unusual for the Park.”

Here is a last look at our handsome duck.


To see more urban ducks, visit the archives of Out Walking the Dog. Better yet, try stopping by the Pool yourself. Or the Reservoir. Or the Harlem Meer. Or the Lake. Or the Pond. Or any body of water in any park anywhere near you.

Or hell, forget the ducks. Just go for a walk. It’s beautiful out there.

Flame Tree, Leaf Mandala and Hawk Watch

November 17, 2011

Even at the end of October, you would never know that this brilliant green tree in Riverside Park is my favorite flame tree in New York.

But it is. And this year, it fired up brighter than ever. On a chilly day last week, I took photos of the tree, and of the dog with the tree. Then a man came along and offered to take a photo of me with the dog and the tree. Here is a slide show. (If you hover over the image, arrows will appear to click forward. Or you can just let it play by itself.)

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Then I walked north on a leaf-strewn path, the trees and bushes still oddly green.

A Parks worker had told me that he kept seeing one of the Red-tailed hawks hanging out at the playground above Grant’s Tomb, near around 124th Street, hunting squirrels.  I hadn’t seen hawks in the park for a while, so off I went, sheltered by towering trees.

The dog and I walked on leaves like stars.

In the Forever Wild section above 116th Street, someone had created a mandala out of leaves and berries.

Let’s take a closer look.

Ah. Beautiful. Thank you, mysterious maker.

Up at the playground, trees burned orange.

I found no hawks, but the gorgeous colors of a blue-hatted sleeping man with summer-green leaves behind him provided recompense for the walk, had recompense been needed.

Since that walk, I’ve been seeing plenty of hawks. Or the same hawks, plenty of times. I can’t tell which. I see them perched in the park. I see them circling high overhead, and I see them from my window, surveying their domain from the tops of water towers.

I’ll post more on avian water tower action, soon.

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