It is sunny, muggy, and warm as we drive south on the Merritt Parkway Friday. The air inside the car is full of conversation flying back and forth between my youngest brother and I. It has been over 10 years since I have been to New York City. Last time I was here the World Trade Center was here also and my two youngest children were in middle school. Now Chris and I fill the time with our plans for the weekend as the greenery rolls by out the windows. As always I am scanning the sides of the highway for birds and I luck out by seeing a lone female turkey in one spot and a family of geese in another.
Once in the city it takes a while to find a parking space for the car but soon we are unloaded and out the door, headed for Central Park. I am surprised by the tree-lined street as we walk a half a block to Central Park West. Before we even entered the park a blue jay swoops overhead and lands in the upper story of a nearby tree. The park is alive with people and birds. The birds are the common kind. We see pigeons, of course, and house sparrows, along with starlings and robins. In the lake we see mallards, in The Ramble Chris spots a red-bellied woodpecker. I spot a distant pair of flickers flying with their white rumps exposed in flight. A male cardinal scolds a cat on a leash while in the same tree a common grackle looks on warily. Muddy paths are everywhere, evident of the recent rains. We walk on in our meandering way, following whatever inner whim calls to us. The time is passing quickly and we head home to prepare for our evening commitments.
The night falls soft and cool around us. People pass by in the street. A girl in a black dress with a red flower in her hair flashes a smile at me. I’m in the vibrant heart of the city with good friends and family around. I’m in the vibrant heart of the city, pulsing with vibrant life.
Night passes slowly with shadows dancing on the ceiling. Outside the open window the city noises punctuate my attempt at sleep. The night is restless within me. I awake at dawn to bird song and roll over and try to sleep. The sound of a bird like an untrained phoebe weaves in and out of my dreams. In the mornings the eastern phoebe will repeat his rapid call, phee-BEE, phee-BEE, phee-BEE. But whatever this bird is, it only says, “...phee, ...phee, ...phee.”
After breakfast we take the subway to the newly opened High Line Trail. Developed by the City of New York, the High Line is an elevated trail that runs from Washington and Gansevoort to 10th Ave. and 19th Street. All along the way grasses, flowers and tree are growing. Overhead I see barn swallows fly. With a view down to the Hudson River, I spot a cormorant on the pier. It is a rainy day and I’m dressed in my usual rain gear. However, my camouflage rain poncho does not hide me in the city, but rather I stick out like Roseate spoonbill in the boreal forest would. The variety of birds I see is limited, but I am happy with each one I see. They are all new for my New York City list that I am only starting to build.
The rest of the day remains rainy. We wander through art galleries in Chelsea and dine in an Italian restaurant for lunch. We choose a table outside under an awning with rain drizzling soft music in our ears.
These are the birds I have seen in New York City so far:
Kathiesbirds photo by Tony 6-20-09