Friday, October 03, 2014

About Those Ducks, Holden

"About those Ducks, Holden,"  was originally published in 1998 as a part of my book Red-tails in Love. It ends that book's  first chapter, the one called "Feeding the Birds.  That little piece  has been republished quite a number of times over the years. Most recently it was included in a collection of writings about the park called,Central Park: an Anthology.  Compiled by Andrew Blauner, it was originally available as a paperback. Now it has just come out as an audio book, with the various authors reading their own pieces.  Here is a link to this latest version, [on which "About those Ducks, Holden" is read by myself] followed by the publisher's customary sales pitch. 

The link:

The sales pitch:

Central Park is perhaps the most well-trod and familiar green space in the country. It is both a refuge from the city and Manhattan's very heart; a respite from the urban grind and a hive of activity all its own. Eight hundred forty-three carefully planned acres allow some 37 million visitors each year to come and get lost in a sense of nature. Unsurprisingly, the park also inspires a wealth of great writing, and here Andrew Blauner collects some of the finest fiction and nonfiction - 20 pieces in all, with classics sprinkled among 13 new ones commissioned from great New York writers.

Bill Buford spends a wild night in the park; Jonathan Safran Foer envisions it as a tiny, transplanted piece of a mythical Sixth Borough; and Marie Winn answers definitively Holden Caulfield's question of where the ducks go when the park's ponds freeze over. There are bird sightings and fish sightings; Jackie Kennedy and James Brown sightings; and pieces by Colson Whitehead, Paul Auster, and Francine Prose. This vibrant collection presents Central Park in all its many-faceted glory, a 51-block swath of special magic.

PS  I believe the price of the audio book is $2.99. If you click on the link you'll find instructions for registering and then ordering the book.The process was too complicated for me,  alas, and so I don't have a copy of this audio book yet.  

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Finch season

       Purple Finch --- photo courtesy of

David Barrett writes today [10/2/14]:

A midday walk through Central Park's North End produced two worthy birds, a male PURPLE FINCH bathing in the Loch and a PINE SISKIN seen and heard calling in the Wildflower Meadow among scattered American Goldfinches. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

End of September Birding

                 Blue Jay - photo by LLOYD SPITALNIK - 2007 

Tom Fiore's End-of-September report: 

Sept. 25 - 30, 2014 
Manhattan, N.Y. City

In the past 6+ days, there have been modest flights of finches that have included more than a few Pine Siskins, sometimes seeming to be in company with American Goldfinches, & just as often not. There also have been small numbers of Purple Finch, which had also been on the move in prior weeks, and are somewhat more of an annual thing downstate even if subject to large fluctuation year to year.

The finch flights have been noted mainly in the first hour or two of daylight, and from parks including but not limited to Central, Riverside, Fort Tryon, & Inwood Hill parks.    Some have also been noted at points in the Bronx.  Pine Siskins also have been noticed in the past week or so in many other states, with some in the east getting south of NY, perhaps well south although I have not looked for all of those reports.  From the modest-seeming flights thru Manhattan, it's been hard to see big differences from the days with a lot of obvious migratory movement (nocturnal & diurnal) & did not seem to be so many more finches mixed in with the heavier flights - but I suspect that on those days, more, possibly many more were actually moving; that notion is somewhat borne out thru looking at a variety of reports, for ex. checking daily sightings at 50+ hawkwatch sites in the east, which are fairly consistently kept & have observers often keen on anything flying by (birds, bugs, planes, superheroes, whatever), and typically put in long hours & in some places also beginning at or before sunrise, which can indicate the movements of many birds along ridges and other features at some elevation, in addition to coastal passage-ways.

Also continuing to be noted are very modest (so far) numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Blue Jays have been increasing - Blue Jay is a fairly common and regular autumn migrant at just about this time of year in most if not all fall seasons, downstate.  One difference could be in how many are being seen; it will be interesting to see if they gather in any great numbers somewhere south, or move around as fall goes along, and as food sources dwindle or are perhaps concentrated in just some areas.

Seen at least since Friday 9/26 have been a few White-crowned Sparrows, including in a few locations in Central Park, & other parks, these joining the modest but increasing number & variety of sparrows found by those seeking them out. Indigo Buntings also continue with many in 1st-fall plumage variation, occasionally leading to flirtations with some other ID's in some instances.  Warbler diversity has been a bit lower with numbers of most spp. dropping off, yet it was still possible to turn up about 20 species as of today.  There have been a notably high number of reports of CT Warbler in the larger region, some nicely photographed, in states from east, west, & south of NY. It's still quite possible a few 'new' ones will pass through in the coming week or two.

Good October birding,

Tom Fiore


Monday, September 29, 2014

Young birder scores heavily

Pine Siskin  --   photo by DAVID SPEISER

Junko Suzuki writes today [9/29/14]:
There were nice activities in Strawberry Fields this morning included at least 2 Tennessee Warblers. But most unexpected sighting was a flock of 5 PNE SISKINS on conifer tree on N.W. side. It was seen around 9:30AM. Those very streaky tiny birds were first spotted by a young birder who asked me if those were House Finches. I needed to investigate them for a while. The fine streak was too dark and contrasty for House Finch and the sharp pointed bill did not fit for H. Finch or any other possible finch type birds. A flock moved to one other conifer tree in mid-section of the fields, stayed there for a few more minutes, and then took off flying north.