Friday, August 22, 2014

The Tourist's Guide to Nature in NYC

     I love hosting friends, giving them the chance to stay in NYC and do all sorts of things with them while here. Whether extravagant or on a budget, I can find something to do. My friend Julia visited, and like me, she is a nerd for nature (in the very best of nerdy ways, of course!) so I took her around to see what is hiding here in NYC looking to be discovered.
     Our first stop was Prospect Park, we walked the Lullwater up to Lookout hill, to the upper pool, along the Ravine, and back to the boat house. At first, we didn't see much, but as we arrived at the upper pool had a pleasant (really) little surprise:
A ruby throated hummingbird zipped by us at the upper pool. We followed it and it zoomed off. Then we waited patiently and back it came, and perched for us! How awesome!

     On day two we headed to Central Park Zoo, in the zoo there is the resident wildlife, but I found the staff did a lovely job putting flowers in between the duck aviary and the snow monkey exhibit. The flowers attracted bees and one (while I was there) lovely butterfly:

A great spangled fritillary

     Later on day two after a request for "Real" Pizza, and a much worthy wait at Di Fara Pizza on Avenue J in Brooklyn (it really is the best, but please don't eat your pizza with a fork and knife, really, just don't, ever). We headed to Dead Horse Bay to beach comb the remnants of the past, busting out of the time capsule of an old landfill. I was happy to introduce Julia to the black scoter that was still there, plus some oystercatchers and black-bellied plovers:
Aphids feeding on milkweed.
Racoon tracks on the beach.
A group of black bellied plovers on the shore.

A funny yawn from the black scoter. 
Can you spot the semipalmated plower in the mix?? I originally didn't notice him!

Oystercatcher fail, that's a mussel, dude. 
Black bellied plowers in flight.
Black scoter.
A double crested cormorant dries it wings.
Two juvenile brown headed cowbirds along Flatbush Ave.
     If you're the type that loves to hike and look for wild things, NYC is a treasure trove of little pockets to explore, always with surprises. The little parks and wild oases are great places for wild things to congregate, and like most New York City folk, may not regard your personal space, like that of a crowded subway car, the birds tend to be close in range and much less shy than when in rural settings. It's the only time you will not get judged when you have a camera hanging around your neck in the big city, just as long as you have some binoculars too ;-) I hope I was able to show my good friend a good time without huge expenses and the chance to truly explore the wilderness within the city.