Showing posts from April, 2016

Brooklyn Heights

There was a report on the local TV news yesterday morning here in New York, about the worrying trend for pedestrians to have an unwanted, and presumably rather one sided, encounter with cars as they cross the road. These worthy folk somehow manage to blunder into moving traffic because they are so focussed on texting/downloading meaningless drivel/playing candy crush saga that they fail to look where they are going and unwittingly cross on a red light. Observing the way yellow cabs take off when they have the green leads me to think there must be an awful lot of dented bonnets around the city. But it is completely true. The sheer volume of people walking around with eyes glued to a small electronic device held inches from their nose is quite amazing. I mentioned this to a group of wonderfully, typically uber-friendly, native New Yorker ladies we got chatting to over a cuppa at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (they commented on the size of my camera lens and this naturally led to variou…

We Took the A Train

We did indeed take the A Train all the way to Jamaica Bay, not far from JFK airport, where there is a conveniently situated wildlife reserve. How lucky was that! Here with the jagged toothed skyline of Manhatten forming a surreal backdrop, you can explore several trials leading through scrub and damp wood bounding salt marsh and shallow lagoons. The melting pot season that is spring resulted in us being able to observe parties of lingering Brent geese (which are not the same dark-bellied population as those we commonly find in Norfolk winters, but are instead the pale-bellied race that also winter in Ireland)  sharing the bay with newly arrived Forster's terns, barn swallows and the delightful tree swallows that we watched at very close quarters as they inspected nesting boxes positioned by the trails. And what beautiful creatures they are; iridescent green and purple-sheened heads and backs, a lovely twittering song and a cheeky sparkle in their watchful eyes. These sprites were…

A Thin Slice of the Big Apple

Amidst the swelter and constant noise of New York City there is the oasis that is Central Park. After a hectic day sightseeing, tramping the skyscraper lined streets, marvelling at the 360 degree view from the Empire State, giggling at the guy who couldn't find his train in Penn Station and was walking around arms waving uttering increasingly loud curses - 'Jesus I can't even find my f***ing train'
'Where the f**k is my goddam train', it was such a relief to sit down in the relative calm and smell the spring greenery. Even on a midweek afternoon the place was swarming with people yet the park is big enough to swallow whole troops of squealing school kids, extensive enough to accommodate herds of dog walkers and their assorted canine pals and wild enough in some areas to support quite a lot of wildlife. At this time of year the park can act as a magnet for migrant warblers, orioles, vireos and the like making their way into the northern sections of North America…

Easter Fare

Easter has struck early and with it a new season of family events has kicked in at nature reserves all around the county, in fact for some Easter has marked their opening for the summer season. I've spent time over the last week helping out at both Norfolk Wildlife Trust Ranworth Broad and RSPB Strumpshaw Fen. The welcome onslaught of visitors has been at times akin to a tornado touching earth; the respective visitor centres awhirl with holidaying families, keen birders and local people who, having spent a long winter imprisoned by winter's chill, have at last been released to savour the singular sense of light and space these slices of Broadland can offer. Brief impressions of time I spent at these excellent local venues are clumsily given below
Spring is bursting all around. The wet woodland surrounding the boardwalk from Ranworth village is resounding to the thrill of vibrant birdsong; wrens, robins, woodpeckers and chiffchaffs boldly staking out territories …