Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Wilds of Brooklyn, NY!

     I decided that for today's walk I'd just wander around Green-Wood Cemetery for a bit, with no expectation but that to enjoy myself and the quiet natural surroundings. I walked to my favorite water feature, the Dell Water, and there was where I had my "moment of wonder."
     I took a lot of pictures so, I will just use them to show you the wilds of Brooklyn that are practically in my own backyard...
Japanese dogwoods have quite possibly the cutest little blooms, so dainty and symmetrical. They are blooming all over the cemetery!
I was mostly just hoping to see the normal birds. I love seeing the usual visitors, even the invasive ones- this starling glimmers in the sunlight.
The mockingbirds picked out their favorite perches and sang their best songs, of various other birds-- really well, might I add.
I arrived at Dell Water to leaping squeaks, little green frogs evaded me, thinking I might be a larger predator. This green frog found a perch on a wind swept plastic wrap to flowers, probably placed at a loved ones grave. Plastic is unfortunately deadly to other species as it is mistakenly consumed or gets tangled around necks, legs, and other appendages.
Cue the "Jaws" music... something is lurking in the Dell Water!
This gorgeous common snapper was checking me out just as much as I was checking her out. This turtle was large, over a foot long.
Common snapping turtles are native to New York and unfortunately have a bad reputation, as they look menacing. But I love turtles and love snapping turtles just as much as any other!
My first fascination with animals was dinosaurs, I opted for plastic dines over barbies as a little girl. These snapping turtles take me back to my first love, they are so prehistoric, and rightfully so. Turtles have inhabited the earth for over 100 million years. They are some of the most ancient of reptiles!
I was observing 2 snapping turtles, both very active in the Dell Water, they were comparable in size and equally as inquisitive. They spent long moments just a few feet from me in the water, often staring back in my direction. I'd love to know what their brains were thinking...
Snapping turtles are elusive and often stay below the surface, as ambush hunters. Frogs, fish, and ducklings will never know what hit them from below the surface. Their cryptic coloration helps hide them well.
While snappers do consume a lot of animal protein, they also eat vegetation as well. This female allowed me to observe her for many minutes as she gulped and snacked on duckweed. The duckweed is a small plant, you can see the roots from the small ones stuck to her face. Snapping turtles are omnivorous, so despite their ominous appearance, they are not just cold blooded snatchers of baby ducks from below the surface.  
Amazing camouflage!
I walked over to Crescent Water because I saw an egret head that way. As soon as I got there, the bird headed over to Dell Water. Please bird, don't tug my arm to go back!
Obsessed with egrets in flight!
At the Dell Water, this great egret got to work fishing-- success! The water seems poorly oxygenated with all the algae in it, so the fish are drawn to the surface, making for a very easy catch.
The gulp.
The plunge for another fish, this one was unsuccessful, but this motion happens so fast, I was happy to have caught it!
Welcomed back by one of my friends from before.
Snapping turtles can easily live 50 years or more. Their mouths contain zero teeth, just a beak, made for grasping and holding. This turtle swallows its food whole or in pieces it may be able to chomp.
Even their eyes are camouflaged!

As I was checking her out people walked by, its amazing how easy it is to overlook the amazing natural sights within this city. They didn't stop to look, they missed out seeing an amazing creature they probably don't even realize that shares Brooklyn with them. Look closely all around you, you never know what you'll discover!
They did walk and see the egret, and spooked it back to the side I was on. Opportunity for capturing those glorious wings!
Those wings astound me, I do not get sick of seeing these birds.
The migratory bird act was created to protect egrets, those plumes were so desirable in fancy hats in the early 1900's. So desirable that it almost led to the demise of this species. I prefer the feathers on the egret myself, they make me so happy.
While I watched egrets and turtles I heard squeaking and tussling in the shrubs... out rolled two woodchucks, wrestling playfully. They scampered in opposite directions, this one stopped and stared at me as I stood in disbelief of the wilderness that surrounded me. Less than 1/4 mile from where I stood were train yard, apartments, and businesses, but here I stood watching woodchucks, egrets, turtles, and frogs.
I saw one, much larger woodchuck last summer, so to see two, does that mean Green-Wood will be Brooklyn's own stash of woodchucks?
Woodchucks burrow and dig-- also called groundhogs, I wonder what sorts of things they find digging around a cemetery, of all places!
My favorite type of tree, a tulip tree, in bloom. Those tulip shaped flowers turn into seed pods (right above the flower) that you better watch your head when they fall to the ground! I also love their cat-face shaped leaves and tall straight trunks that grow really tall!
So, with little expectation of seeing anything amazing, today was very satisfying, in a very short time frame too! I hope you have the chance to discover something amazing!