Friday, March 27, 2020

It's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (of Midwood, Brooklyn)

I just found out yesterday morning I'm being furloughed for 2 weeks starting Monday, so I'm in absolute scramble mode trying to wrap everything up before I start, but it was an absolutely glorious day outside and I did give myself a lunch hour stroll. I've been meaning to take a photo of the magnolia tree I would pass on my way to work, back when my work commute was a little longer than going the bedroom to the living room, and once I was outside with my camera I pretty much had to keep going.

Midwood, Brooklyn is a lovely neighborhood and it's all springety-spring-spring-spring right now. Got back to my desk with the Mr. Rogers theme song running through my head.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Last Paddle Before Lockdown - Rebel Without A Clue

Snuck out with a friend today for what turns out to be the last paddle until this thing runs its course. I'd figured it would be the last time I would take public transportation for a while - trains and buses have been pretty sparsely populated and I took the chance for a couple of short trips this weekend, after being a model citizen for 3 days, but as of 8:00 tonight NYC's directions have gotten stricter, with instructions to stay off of public transportation unless it's necessary. I thought TQ and I would still be able to go to the club in his car, though, but as it was it turns out that even this paddle was illicit - the Parks Department had sent out an email today saying that marinas were to close immediately, but by the time the directive was forwarded to members, we were already at the club getting ready. Oops.

One of the more experienced club members had shared an article from about paddling using social distancing practices - we actually did that, travelling separately, staying at a distance, handling our own gear and definitely not sharing snacks. Definitely a little odd on land but not a problem.

And it was a beautiful last paddle. Currents were good for a trip out to Dead Horse Bay and back; it was a sparkly blue day, there were kids building a sandcastle under the Paerdegat Basin bridge, horses and riders on the beach to the west, we saw 3 loons pretty close up (sorry no pictures, they dove as I was trying to get my camera), and it was so quiet out there.

And the spring birds I was looking for last week were here this time - plus an amazing bonus! Here was the first oystercatcher of Spring, just outside of the Marine Park Bridge - terrible photo as it took flight just as I was getting but I always love hearing that first shrill "Wheeeet!" of Spring, and I just can't resist sharing even a lousy photo. Click for a better view - there he goes!
We also heard an osprey, they also have a very distinctive call, and I spotted it a moment later - but I didn't get a picture because just as I saw it, there was a bit of a kerfuffle among some nearby gulls and we looked that way just in time to see a bald eagle catch a fish that it had terrorized a poor gull into dropping!

Bald eagles have been seen on the bay within the recent past - there was one hanging out in a park in Broad Channel last Fall, I think it was, and the birder friend with whom I did the Christmas Bird Count last year had seen one perched on an osprey nest platform in the marshes not long before the count (unfortunately we didn't see it the day we went out for the count), and the bay is not that big as the eagle flies - but somehow I just never expected to see a bald eagle right there at Floyd Bennett Field! It actually took a moment for it to actually register what we were seeing, because it just wasn't expected - but I had my camera out and did manage to grab a photo as it flew over our heads! Sorry, crummy picture again, but again, too exciting to not share. Definitely click on this one for a better view!

So that's officially it for paddling (or anything more than toodling about the neighborhood, exercise is considered an essential activity so I do plan to be going out for brisk walks...maybe even trying a little running...I'm glad I live in a fairly scenic neighborhood) until whenever. Glad I got the 4 good paddles in that I did.

Suspect this blog is going to become a blog about trips I did a while ago but never got around to blogging - I have some Florida left, and hey, did I ever share any pictures from the whitewater class that was part of my 50th birthday celebration in Colorado?

Note the following Tuesday - I shared this with friends at Sebago. "Renegade!" one of them responded, to which I answered "Yep, rebel without a clue!". I liked that enough to add it to the title of this post.

That's it for this writeup, here are more photos - click on any photo for a slideshow view.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Strange times, and a social isolation paddle

Interesting times continue. This was my last look at the intersection of Broadway and Houston Street in SoHo on Tuesday, St. Patrick's Day. It had been a drizzly morning but was clearing up nicely by the time I was heading home, and ordinarily this would've been busy, but things were already well wound down. 

This was my office earlier in the day. There were actually a couple of people besides me on this floor, but it was definitely a ghost town. Scholastic had encouraged staff to start working from home starting the Friday before; I was a little behind the curve because although I wouldn't call myself a technophobe, as far as connection speed and upgrades and what have you, I'm definitely a techno-meh. I've also resisted the work-from-home thing for my entire business life; I know a lot of people who like it but I've always preferred to keep a very clear boundary between work and home. That all being the case, it took a couple of extra days. I'd meant to start on Tuesday but couldn't get onto TQ's wifi, and after a good honest attempt with him trying to help me from work, I decided I would just go on in (we were encouraged to work from home but the office was open, so that wasn't any trouble) and we could sort things out when we were both home in the evening. That worked out fine and I'm now 2 surprisingly ordinary days into working from home.

Strange seeing such an empty SoHo.

Also strange suddenly having the Sebago early season go away - April is usually the time when things start happening, but of course big gatherings in the clubhouse are off the table for the time being.

Paddling is still a fine social distance type sport, though, and I did jump on a very empty bus to Canarsie on Sunday. The week before had left me seriously on edge and very worried about the working from home thing. I barely did anything on Saturday - maybe laundry? - but I'd been itching all week to get out on Jamaica Bay and on Sunday afternoon I managed a most satisfying Social Isolation Paddle. I wouldn't actually have been opposed to having friends join me, but I just wasn't organized enough, and sometimes a solo paddle can be the best unwind - you do have to be more careful, but you can just go as far as you want, at whatever pace you want.

We've been seeing seals at Ruffle Bar regularly, and during the week I'd been thinking I would take my binoculars & go see if I could watch them without disturbing them (they are very skittish about kayaks when they're hauled out), but I ended up deciding not to bother them and go look for spring birds on Canarsie Pol and Broad Channel Island instead. Oystercatchers could be back already, but I didn't see or hear any. It's definitely a little bit early for the ospreys who use the Canarsie Pol nest platform, and I could see from halfway down the island that they weren't back yet, the cormorants were still hanging out on the pier next to the platform. They like that as a nice spot to perch and dry their feathers in the wintertime, but the ospreys are very territorial and once they get back those cormorants have to find another spot.

But it was still a lovely day, and it was great seeing the new flowers at the club (the daffodils, crocuses, and cherry blossoms in the last post were there), and hey, you can't get much more socially isolated than this without actually leaving NYC.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Today We Have Spring.

Hi! Been just a tad busy as things have gotten weird here in NYC. So this is just a quick post to say hello.

So funny to have just shared 2015's frozen Paerdegat last week and now this. But as one of my neighbors said to me as we passed in the lobby this weekend - hey, with everything that's going on, we deserve this!

Time to turn in now, I do still have to get up for work even though I'm not going to work. So strange. But look. FLOWERS. Click on any photo for slideshow view - and enjoy!

Saturday, March 07, 2020

5 Years Ago Today, We Had This Thing Called "WINTER"

Wow! This popped up as today's FB Memory. Impressive to see because winter just hasn't really wintered this this year, we've more just had this long slow segue from fall to spring. There were a couple of short cold snaps but just a few days each, and I don't think we've been below 20 degrees all winter.

This was on March 7th in 2015. I'd gone to the Caribbean earlier in the winter, come back, and gotten a cold that took weeks to get rid of. I'd gone to the club and discovered that I apparently hadn't missed out on too much paddling in that time!

I don't remember the specific statistics for the winter of 2015, but it must've been a lot winterier than this winter has been!

I'm frustrated that I haven't done more paddling this year - temperatures have been positively balmy but weekend weather hasn't been conducive, windy and/or rainy. Hope to get out there more in March! 

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Florida Day 3, Myakka River Part 3 - BIRDS BIRDS BIRDS!

Just a quick post tonight, still wrapping up February's fun at work but tonight I'm home early enough that I went through my photos from  the next attraction at Myakka River State Park, and I'm just going to share a few of those before I turn in.

Once we'd finished with the boat and the tram, we met up with my folks again (only service dogs are allowed so they'd stayed behind with Belle). We had some lunch (snack bar there is pretty good) and then headed over to the weir at the end of the lake to see how the birds were.

I'd been absolutely blown away the year before when I saw 22 count 'em 22 different kinds of birds in the one day we were there. I enjoy birding but I'm not serious about it enough to remember to do lists, but I did sit down that night to write down everything I was sure I'd seen:

Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Tricolor Heron, Yellowlegs, Great Egret, Snowy and/or Cattle Egret (not sure which), American Avocet, Sandhill Cranes, Killdeer, Brown Pelican, White Pelican, Boat-Tailed Grackle, Crow, Osprey, Anhinga, Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Belted Kingfisher, Limpkin, Black Vulture, and Bald Eagle (juvenile).

Amazing, right?

Didn't see quite as many this time. With it being cold and the wind blasting, a lot of the birds were probably hunkered down in the brush. Still, the area at the weir was sheltered and there were plenty of birds hunting for lunch.

The only one of the birds we saw at Myakka last year that we didn't see anywhere at all this year were the sandhill cranes - here were a couple of pairs we saw at the park, and then there was also a small parade of them wandering across the street when we first went over to my parents' friends' home in Venice. Amazing birds! 

First time I'd ever seen them was at a lakefront resort in Indiana in 2017. I looked out a lobby window shortly after we arrived and saw the resident pair; I made some exclamation, a gentleman overheard me and when I described what I was exclaiming about he told me that it was probably a Great Blue Heron. "Nope, I know what those look like and these aren't those". So he walked over to the window and his jaw dropped and he exclaimed "Those are DINOSAURS!"

Later on I did figure out what they were, and the last day of our stay there I got up for an early morning swim and ended up having to wait for the crane family (parents and a well-grown youngster) to finish their morning dance before I could go down to the water. OK, they didn't so much finish as get interrupted by a brash young deer who came bounding through the dance floor - the nerve of some animals! Amazing thing to see, though.

Didn't see any of those in Florida this time though.

Back to this year, now - this bank had been a popular hangout for the roseate spoonbills and the black vultures last year, too - 

but last year there were also alligators! Not this year, too cold.

I think my favorite picture is the 2nd one down here, which is one glossy ibis hanging out with a flock of white ibises. I took a bunch of photos of that group, I loved the contrast and I got a little bit of the sheen on the dark feathers that gives the bird its name. OH - next picture down from that one was a new bird from last year, making up for the missing cranes - that elegant black and white one with the long pink legs is the Black-Necked Stilt; we'd seen a flock flying during the boat ride. Beautiful birds! I think I'd seen them before somewhere but we had a great view of them here.Just pictures after this, so click for a slideshow view.

Might have to indulge in a zoomier zoom lens one of these days...