Rainy Evening at the Garden


My garden in Brooklyn- you can’t quite see the roses in this photo but I could smell them. Rainy rose. The member’s cocktail picnic was mostly rained out, leaving the views for me.


Nature Time Every Day

anticipating the sea, St John USVI

Thanks to the wonderful Ebird I can track my bird watching progress with obsessive accuracy- I am currently ranked 70th in Brooklyn for species spotted this year and I’ve see about 30% of the species that are available to see. That’s exciting. But even more exciting is that many of the birds I’ve seen in the past two weeks are birds I did not previously know existed. In a very short period, my way of looking at the world has shifted so I now see what was previously invisible. It’s like a superpower! BirdVision! And it includes all the minute changes of the season’s cycle- blossoming trees attract birds so the tiny changes in vegetation each day are important and duly noted.

Suddenly, yesterday, the swallows were out on the Lake and they zipped back and forth catching flying insects in the chill morning. Barn and Tree, I think, although there are other swallows, apparently, that I can learn to see.

It’s raining today but I’ll get on my bike and look around. Hope your spring is bringing many new discoveries.

Great Egret

the pond was still as a mirror

Two great blue herons and this great egret were hanging out in the lake. My viewing spot was suggested as one of the best for early morning viewing in the Brooklyn Bird Club newsletter for April. It feels a bit exposed to me, with many dogs, bikes, metal detectorists and others close by, but since that didn’t bother the birds, I’ll get over it.

I can think of no greater intellectual pleasure than a new inexhaustibly complex hobby- the challenge of learning new vocab, training eyes and ears, new tools, so many specialist books and websites to study. Over a few years the knowledge set and way of looking becomes a part of me, changing fundamentally the way I live in the world.

My last long term research project was money/investing. I’m glad I conducted it, but nature is way more interesting and conveniently infinite. I was excited this morning making my lists of new to me birds (pied bill grebe! I did not know that was a thing) and then I had a moment where I was worrying about running out of new birds and not feeling this thrill. But then I remembered all the other things I don’t know basically anything about: trees, weeds, mushrooms, insects, frogs, rocks, etc. etc. etc. This will take a while. And the lab is within walking distance on every Sunday morning.

Canada Goose

you can tell my camera doesn’t have a viewfinder- odd framing and focus on this curious goose

An important part of birding in a city park is not being upset or caught up in what your fellow humans do. Last fall while I was volunteering for the international coastal cleanup we were scouring the edge of the lake, picking up every last bottle cap and cigarette butt. Right behind us, someone walked up and dumped at least twenty pounds of leftover food onto the ground- rice, meat in a big congealed lump. They were feeding the birds. Our supervisor said “I know I shouldn’t let it get to me, but it is so bad for the birds and the lake” and proceeded to shovel the food into one of our ready garbage bags, annoying the geese who were eyeing their takeout.

There is a lot for me to learn about the politics and science of feeding the birds (don’t even get me started on the cats…) But for now I am trying to just observe and not jump to any conclusions. Luckily for me there are spots farther into the park where you can avoid rotting food and begging animals.

Chilly Daffodils and Birds

They know the cold won’t last

Great walk today in the sunny park and then plenty of time for a cozy afternoon writing and knitting. I saw so many birds. I wish I knew what they are, but at the same time I know that this moment when every identification is exciting and there is so much learn is very precious. Perhaps if I keep going with my observations in a few years I will go on a walk like I did today and see nothing new, nothing I can’t identify immediately. I could be bored instead of fascinated and alert.

look, a rock

But then of course if you know all the birds you can move onto plants and rocks and fungi, etc. for ever. When I was a child I very much wanted to be a geologist when I grew up and my father built me a specimen box that I kept my labeled treasures in. When I am out looking and learning I get to feel that thrill of collecting and naming and the wide open feeling of childhood.

oh god there are different kinds of sparrows…who knew????

What I like about the “Urban Monk” is his emphasis on rest and renewal. Very important. Get more sleep and good sleep and take moments to relax throughout your day. In the later chapters he goes off on more advanced techniques for removing heavy metals from your bones and other complicated things. I think rest rest rest is enough for me for now.

Witch Hazel in Bloom

springy Witch Hazel in bloom in Prospect Park

Not only did I find these blooms, I learned a new duck today.

my apologies, this Ring Necked Duck was shy

Last week I tried comprehensive meal planning, but with the weather jumping all over the place I found that I had no interest in my prepped rice and beans by Wednesday. My idea was to avoid eating a lot of processed food and generating a lot of fast food waste. I think I prefer sandwiches and snacks so we’ll try that this week.