Inhuman Swill : Birds

There are moments when you just can't get your camera up in time.

Tuesday morning Ella and I went to one of her favorite haunts, Warren Park, for an extended walk. Tennis ball in mouth, Ella bounded up the south side of the park's huge sledding hill in pursuit of a couple of squirrels. I followed along at the bottom of the hill, trailling a little behind her, expecting that at some point she would drop the tennis ball and keep going. As it turned out, she did, and the ball rolled almost exactly to my feet. I didn't even have to break stride to scoop it up.

As I was stashing the ball in my shoulder bag, Ella turned west and headed down the hill, having spied another squirrel in the middle of the grass. The squirrel ran west and vanished around the corner of the high chain-link fence that encloses the park's ice rink. Ella followed closely behind.

I could tell from the rattling sounds I heard that the squirrel had climbed to the top of the fence. Ella loves chasing squirrels along fences, and when I saw the squirrel come scurrying back around the corner on top of the fence, I started fumbling my iPhone out of my pocket. A good squirrel-chasing picture was sure to follow.

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Mystery bird

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Mystery Bird
For those of you who were chiming in the other day about the new waterbirds that have recently appeared on the lagoon at our local park, Ella and I took some pictures yesterday. The photos aren't great, but can you identify this bird?

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Walking the dog in the park this morning, we heard a woodpecker in the distance. We followed the sound into a grove where Laura spotted the little thing drilling away about fifteen feet the trunk of tall tree. We watched in amazement for several minutes.

There are new birds on the lagoon as well, swimming with the mallards and the Canada goose. I've been trying to identify them in waterfowl galleries on line, but with no success so far. They look like ducks but are about half the size of mallards. The bodies seem to be all black, the head is smaller and the neck shorter relative to the body, and the bill looks bright white.

The red-wing blackbirds have been ubiquitous for the past few weeks, but we didn't see very many of them this morning. Migrating away?

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Short takes

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A big cookie lies pulverized in a tight accretion disc in the bus lane of Madison Avenue. Two black (soot-stained?) pigeons peck away at the unbelievable bonanza. Peck peck hop peck.

Cars are coming. A gray sedan bears down. Fly, pigeons! Get out of the way! Pigeons, why can't you hear my telepathic command! CAR!

Black wheels chew up the meters. With an annoyed flutter the pigoens hop aside at the last possible instant, wings a finger's width from rubber mayhem.

Hop hop peck peck peck.

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It's not been exactly a relaxing day at the office, but something I just witnessed down on Park Avenue sure amped the stress. As I stood at the corner, waiting to cross, I looked left and saw a big SUV pulling to a stop at the curb just up from me. Just ahead of the front right tire, as the vehicle rolled forward, a pigeon was waddling as fast as its leg would carry it, looking for all the world like Harrison Ford running from a tumbling boulder. The gap between bird and rubber narrowed, and my heart leaped into my throat as suddenly the tire brushed the pigeon's tailfeathers.

The pigeon fell forward, wings spread, and I was sure I was about to see it crushed. But the wings fluttered and the pigeon jumped to the side, strutting away beneath the SUV as if trying to prove that nothing could ruffle its feathers. The only thing that would have made the moment more harrowing is if the pigeon had reached back under the tire for its hat.

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Featured Book

William Shunn

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