Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hey, is that Harry Potter's Owl?

Harry Potter had quite the ally in Hedwig. Hermione once noted that Hedwig would draw a lot of attention if she was used too often to deliver notes to Sirius, as Snowy Owls are not native to Great Britain. In fact, it made the newspapers when three individual Snowy Owls showed up in 2009. UK Birders were no doubt thrilled, whether wizard or muggle.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Black Skimmer, summer citizen of New York

The Black Skimmer is a coastal bird species that breeds on/around sandy beaches, including in New York City at Breezy Point and potentially other spots in Rockaway. They also feed in and around Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

Their lower mandible is actually longer if you look closely; they derive their name from this mandible and the associated feeding habit. They fly close to the surface of the water, drop the lower mandible into the water, and snap up small fish. If you ever see a bird near the coast skimming, there is a good chance you have found a Black Skimmer!

Friday, June 5, 2015

NYC waters- Randall's Island

Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean are connected by what New Yorkers call the East River, which is actually a waterway called a strait, in this case having tidal flows between the bigger water bodies (so no, it's not actually a river). The East River passes the "mainland" (The Bronx) and numerous islands are touched by its saltwater flows (like Manhattan, and Long Island (Queens and Brooklyn are part of this island)). Other smaller islands, like South and North Brother Islands, which are not currently inhabited by people, and Randall's Island, are fully surrounded by straits*.

Randall's Island is really an amalgamation of terra firma. Its current state shows you just how much humans can impact land and water. We united apparently three formerly disconnected islands, including Ward's Island, Randall's Island, and the Sunken Meadow island. Looking at the Historical NYC Maps & Atlases, you can see three distinct islands up until 1922 (maps from at least 1839-1922 show 3 islands). While we had many impacts including deforestation by using the land itself , in the last hundred years, we also altered this area by joining the islands.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Photos from ASYV's Umuganda featured in documentary

This is worth watching. The video is in Japanese, so I do not know what is being said. I still enjoyed seeing the images of Umuganda and generally from around Rwanda: The director asked to use my photos from Rwanda on the Wing, and they are in there, starting around 8:20. What an interconnected world we live in- photos from a North American featured in a Japanese documentary about something awesome in Rwanda.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Whistling bobwhite: the birds of To Kill A Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird is a tale of growing up and encountering the world, told through the eyes of Scout, or Jean-Louise Finch, a young girl in Alabama. Birds are mostly part of the background setting during Scout’s account, but birds are also critical to the metaphor that gives the book its title.

It was only fitting to open with an image of a mockingbird, as the title introduces the species, but we will get to mockingbirds in a bit. The first bird species we actually encounter in the book is the Purple Martin.

"In summertime, twilights are long and peaceful. Often as not, Miss Maudie and I would sit silently on her porch, watching the sky go from yellow to pink as the sun went down, watching flights of martins sweep low over the neighborhood and disappear behind the schoolhouse rooftops." (chapter 5)

Purple Martins, male