Bethesda Fountain 3-12-11 Central Park
A week ago I received an phone call from my brother, C—to go with him to New York city. Did I want to go? You BET! There was a time when I despised New York City. To me it was the epitome of everything against nature. I hated all the tall buildings, the crowds of people and the lack of trees, grass and wildlife. My brother has changed my mind. He loves New York City and always has. He studies the city like I study birds. If I can tell you what bird species you are seeing, he can tell you what building you are looking at, when it was built and the history behind it. He is New York City’s Biggest Fan.
Years ago my brother, C—, took me and my two youngest children to New York City. This was before 9-11 when the World Trade Center was still there. My youngest son, Alex, so wanted to see those towers. We have pictures of him and C—standing between the ribs. It was at this time that C—first introduced us to Central Park. I have been in love ever since. So, this is where all the nature happens!
It has been a long, cold and snowy winter in New England. I have been yearning for spring for over a month now. We moved back east after spending 3 1/2 years in Arizona. It felt like Winter decided to get his revenge on us for it feels like we have shoveled six years worth of snow this season. Now warmer temperatures and steady rain have all but erased the mountains of snow that have blanketed the yard for over two months!
It is Friday, March 11th, and a gentle rain is falling. I hurry to dress and drive to the store for a few groceries and gas before I leave. It has already been decided that I will spend the weekend in NYC with C—and then spend the rest of the week in Connecticut with my Mom. Once back form the store I hurry to pack my bags and load my car. I hurry across the muddy back lawn to where my car is parked beneath the pines. I currently park here for safety reasons but with the ground thawing and softening now I am beginning to wonder how long I can keep this up. The last bag is packed and I get in the car, turn it on, and put it in gear. Then, to my utter horror, the tires spin and mud flies but the car goes nowhere!
My heart starts to race now. I need to get to Connecticut in time. If we don’t leave soon enough we will get stuck in rush hour traffic! My heart is racing as I jump out of the car to examine the situation. Deep ruts have already formed and my tires cannot get up over the lip of the road to firmer ground. I glance around me and grab some sheets of pine bark and some sticks and stuff them under the tires. I jump back in and rock the car back and forth from drive to reverse. I do this several times and find I can go backward but not forwards. Finally, I back up far enough to get out of the ruts and turn my wheels to firmer ground along the tree line where I am driving on roots! Finally I am free! My heart is racing and my car is mud spattered as I drive down the road towards Connecticut and my brother.
It is dark when we arrive in NYC but we are not deterred. C—always tells me this city never sleeps. We unload out bags, and head out the door in search of supper. Not hard to find since there are several restaurants on every block. All we have to decide is what type of food we want. After tossing around several ideas we decide to do Thai. Now, I know most of my readers have had Thai food before, but I have not. This is a new experience for me. We each order a different kind of curry, then I order some kind of coconut lime soup and spring rolls. I don’t like the soup so much but the spring rolls and curry are good. I decide that I like Thai food. But the real fun begins in the morning.
Upon my arrival in New York this year my current New York City Life List is 31 species of birds. I have only counted birds here one other time, and that was in 2009 when I came to visit C—. I saw my first Pileated Woodpecker in upstate New York back in 1989, but I never really counted birds here until I became an eBirder. I am anxious to add to my NY Life List. I am eager to see what we will see.
As we head out the door for Central Park, I see my first sign of spring in the street plantings. Some new green shoots are poking up with pleasure, reaching for the sky.
As we near Central Park I see the typical street pigeons and other birds feasting on seed that someone has tossed on the sidewalk on Central Park West. We enter the park near Falconer’s Hill and I start counting birds.
The Ramble is a well known birding spot within Central Park. Trails wind in and out among the trees and bushes. Rocks jut out of the earth forming ledges and hills. It is a wonderfully birdie place and I am told that once migration starts it is full of warblers. But, we did not see any today. However, we did see something wonderful.
New species (Number 36) for my NY Life List! See how this tiny bird creeps up the trunk of the tree looking for all the world like part of the bark! This little bird is one of my favorites and I was thrilled to see it in The Ramble.
I feel as if I am walking in a birders dream. All around me there is bird song and bird activity. Much of the park is currently fenced off to protect the fragile environment from so many tromping feet. So, we keep to the pathways and watch and listen.
In The Ramble I also spot a Downy Woodpecker. It is New York Lifer #37! Every bird is new and wonderful when you are first birding a new place.
I was surprised to see bird feeders set up in one location of The Ramble but it sure made it easy for me to spot NY Lifer #35, American Goldfinch.
The backlit Witch Hazel blossoms look like little saffron tutus to me. I wonder which little woodland fairies will come to claim their skirts! Perhaps even in New York City the Little People thrive! Here in Central Park I can almost believe that! It seems that Frederick Law Olmstead knew what he was doing. If he wanted to create a place of magic and wonder, he has done that for me.
All of this Beauty, all of this Nature, is happening right in the heart of the city in a place called Central Park. You can escape here. You can have it all: the hustle and bustle of city life with restaurants, theaters, art museums and more, or…the quiet and beauty of nature, the soft songs of the birds and the wonder of a ramble through wooded paths. I think I love New York!
We leave Central park and walk back to the apartment to have a late breakfast. On the way we pass several buildings with ornate designs and beautiful architecture. There is a feast for eyes and soul here in this city.
I am glad I came!
I added 6 species to my New York Life List on this little jaunt in the park, but there is more to come and more to see and more birds to add to the list!
New York Life List: (bold lettering denotes new location or date)
- Pileated Woodpecker: Whitehall NY 11-14-1989
- Red-tailed hawk-New York Hutchinson River Parkway 6-16-2009
- Northern Flicker-The Ramble 6-19-2009
- Common Grackle
- Mourning Dove
- House Sparrow
- Gray Catbird
- European Starling
- Red-bellied woodpecker
- Northern Cardinal
- Red-winged Blackbird
- Rock Pigeon
- Blue Jay
- American robin
- Barn Swallow-High Line Trail 6-20-2009
- Double-crested Cormorant
- American Crow-Inwood 6-21-2009
- Chimney Swift
- Northern Mockingbird-Isham Park 6-21-2009
- Canada Goose-Inwood Hill Park 6-21-2009
- Red-eyed Vireo
- Great Egret
- Baltimore oriole
- House Finch
- Eastern Towhee
- Tufted titmouse
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- Wood Thrush
- Song Sparrow-Dyckman Street Pier 6-21-2009
- Turkey Vulture-NY Rt 84 Orange County 9-1-2010
- Dark-eyed Junco-Falconer’s Hill 3-12-11*
- White-throated Sparrow
- Black-capped Chickadee-The Ramble 3-12-11
- American Goldfinch
- Brown Creeper
- Downy woodpecker
*New York Life Birds!
To read about my former birding adventures in New York just click on the links below: