Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunday near the shore

Red-breasted merganser, double-crested cormorant, and American tree sparrow added to the bird list yesterday in the cold. The tree sparrow was at the far western end of Montague St, down under the Promenade. I heard there were some interesting ducks on the old pier there earlier in the day, so I took a walk down wind-swept Furman St, but I didn’t see them. The sparrow was therefore a pleasant surprise: this bird has a rufus cap, or “poll” (as in redpoll and blackpoll, two other species of birds; and, of course, a “poll tax”) and a smudgy dark spot on an otherwise clear breast (R.T. Peterson calls it a “stickpin”); it also has a bicolor bill. This was only the second time I’ve ever seen one. At the two parks between the bridges, the tide was way out. Saturday night’s big full moon was causing extreme tides. I could walk to the tower of the Manhattan Bridge. Kind of stinky and oozy, but as I had never seen the water so low, I went and touched the mighty structure. I found this beautiful coconut and also a dead lobster. Whoa! All I needed was some rum. I didn't have my camera with me, however, and I didn’t want to bring the lobster home. The coconut was easier to bring back. Nonetheless, I gave the lobster proper rites, placing in on a flat surface and giving it a very handsome river rock I would have taken myself if the sea gods didn’t deserve it more than I. I didn’t know we got lobsters this far south, but a park ranger, who was breaking the ice, literally, thought it had probably came down from LI Sound through the tidal strait (which was pulling harborwise furiously) known as the East River. He said there were plenty in the Sound, but that they ran small, like the dead one, too small for commercial use.

Back via the Promenade. Saw a kestrel land on the top of the vertical part of the streetlight down below at the end of Montague, just where I had been standing an hour before and seen the tree sparrow. It was a female. Soon another kestrel landed on the lamp a couple of feet away on the part that stretches horizontally over the street. I couldn’t quite see the blue gray wings, but it looked smaller, so it was probably a male. I thought I might see some action, but it didn’t happen. The female flew north to another perch, the male veered to the south, then the female flew up and over the One Brooklyn Bridge Park development. Where will they nest?

No comments: