Water, water, everywhere – Bermuda East

Bloggers should be penalized for creating drafts and forgetting about them. Okay I’m really talking about myself, not because I love staring at about 10 draft messages in my dashboard, but because I keep forgetting to complete them.

So what made me remember this one? Looking at my failtan. It was a week of good memories and horrific sunburning. If they showed Nagani from Harry Potter shedding, that would’ve been me (had you been curious for a mental picture).

Bermuda East End – consists of major tourist attractions such as St. George’s, Tobacco Beach, and St. Catherine’s Fort.
Traveling to St. George’s is accessible by either ferry or bus. Take the Orange ferry, or the #1/3/6/10/11 bus to St. George’s on a Zone 14 ticket. Continue reading


More Queens Birding fun! Jamaica Bay and Alley Pond Park

Summer is in the air and the bird sightings are just amazing. Now that we’re hitting peak heat wave weather, I wonder how the birds are faring with this. Do birds even sweat?

According to Keith McGuinness, a faculty member of the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences in Australia, they do not.

Birds do not have sweat glands, so must use other means to keep cool when the environment is hot. The three main ways they do this are by:

  1. Panting, as Ed suggested: in other words, breathing in and out rapidly. Some birds may pant up to 300 times per minute under some conditions.
  2. Regulating blood flow in their feet: bird’s legs and feet, because they lack feathers, are good sites for heat loss. By increasing the flow of blood to the skin of the legs and feet, birds can lose excess heat.
  3. Altering their behaviour: resting when it is hot and only becoming active when it becomes cool. This is, of course, a habit adopted by many animals in stressful environments.

Note: Playing catchup here, I actually saw these birds earlier last month in June.

We had gone to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in the morning and then Alley Pond in the afternoon.

Alley Pond Park: if you thought Forest Park was huge, it pales in comparison to Alley Pond Park.

Some interesting Alley Pond Park Facts:

  • 2nd largest park in Queens. First place goes to Flushing Meadows Corona Park
  • Has many different types of ecosystems which is home to many unique forms of wildlife
  • “The tulip trees, oaks, and beeches in Alley Pond Park’s forest are some of the largest in the city.”

What I loved about this park was its sheer size. Like many large parks in NYC, it’s very hard to cover the whole swath of land in one day. We saw many different types of birds (or at least different to me) as well as fuzzy creatures. Cue Elmyra!

“I want to hug you and squeeze you into itty-bitty pieces!” (Photo from writerzblockblog.wordpress.com)

One bird was very interesting in particular: the Spotted Towhee. Apparently if called, it will follow the source of the sound– which was pretty apparent when we walked some distance and encountered that same Towhee again (we also were followed by two elderly Korean ladies but that’s a different species and not one I meant to call)! I wonder if one would follow me home and what would it eat? Birdseed (the Towhee, not the Korean ladies)?

So yes, with the oncoming Summer season, will we see more birds? Will the author melt in the heat? Find out next time onnnnnnnnnnnnn Melbus Theater!


Birding from Queens to “de Eyeland”

To some, rare means finding a $20 bill in the street. To me, rare means getting up early. Specifically: 6:30 AM.

Was it really something to brag about? Compared to people who usually get up around that time to take the subway to work? Not really, but considering that I don’t usually get up when the Sun starts to rise without raising hell, yes, yes it was.

I blame my friend, Simon. He’s a birder so he’s used to getting up early (as well as dirty) in order to see rare and uncommon birds. I just like seeing different things in general. I can’t really call myself a birder, but I do like to learn. I suppose somewhere down the line, if I gain some solid knowledge- then maybe I can then call myself a birder. Until then I am just a novice that just points out the colorful ones and going, “oooh!” (Birdnub)

We first headed to Forest Park. There is apparently a mystical watering hole within the park that birds flock to in the early mornings. However when we got there, we couldn’t find it. We probably walked over it, to be honest as it was rather dry. If the watering hole is small, it probably doesn’t last for long after a rainfall. I did see some interesting critters though there so it wasn’t such a bust. I made out with a shot of a spider and a rather chubby chipmunk

Feeling quite adventurous, we ventured out into what Melissa fondly calls “de eyeland” (Long Island) to the Valley Stream State Park. Unfortunately there are no information on this park, but if you wanted to park there, you’d have to pay $8 for the privilege to do so (private car). I did find a bird checklist though so if you’re interested in visiting this park, you would know what to expect and in what season.

I did get more sightings than I had in Forest Park though so it was a pretty good day for me. In retrospect, seeing one new bird is much better than not seeing one at all. And if all fails, just take lots of pictures of adorable ducks!

Lastly, driving back into Queens, we decided to make one last stop to Kissena Park (not so far from Queens College). If I thought Forest Park was “foresty,” this one was the forest tenfold. Weeds, plants, and too much Poison Ivy for my taste.

Kissena Park overgrowth. Time to break out the machete!

Some interesting facts about Kissena Park:

  • Presumably named in 1908 after Kissena Lake. Kissena, from the Chippewa word “Kissina” (“It’s cold”) by Samuel Bowne Parsons (Parson’s Blvd, anybody), an experienced horticulturist and amateur Indian expert.
  • There is a bike track, called the “Siegfried Stern Kissena Park Bicycle Track” right towards one of the entrances. It’s like Nascar for bikes!
  • There is a lot of poison ivy here.

Due to me making a newb mistake (bringing only one battery with my camera), I could not take any pictures of birds in the park. However Simon did help me sight some Orioles, so one day I will be back to get a photo of them. Hopefully.

Birds at Prospect Park

A few pictures from Prospect Park in Brooklyn of birds seen:

When I had taken these pictures, we had wandered into mating time, which would have explained the swans getting it on (too far to take a pic, perverts) at a lake.

It was a lovely day, must get back out there sometime soon… if it weren’t so cumbersome to get to via mass transit.

The Osprey has Landed

Taking advantage of the abnormally warm weather last Thursday, I went out to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Center with a friend out in Jamaica, Queens.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Center is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area run by the National Park Service. The Bay itself is a huge swath of land, that spans along Crossbay Boulevard from Howard Beach into Broad Channel, Queens. Although the weather was less than ideal (considering that it was somewhat warm, it was still Winter, so there were little avian activity), we still came out with a few good sightings.

This Osprey, for instance. The last time we went to the Bay, the nest was empty and no Ospreys to be seen. I think we lucked out there.

Guess he's guarding his nest?

We saw some other bird but my sad little 18-200mm lens couldn’t cut it in terms of zoomage. Pooh.

While leaving, I did get some nice shots of Canadian Geese nomnomnoming on some grass.

Canadian Goose nomming on some grass.

Not much left to do, but to wait for the weather to get a bit warmer to get more sightings. That and bring binoculars too.

The outing where a lot of people were featured in photography

TL:DR Not wanting to waste my life away on a nice Saturday (read: real nice day, so nice that it was Spring-like), we went out to explore the expansive parks of Manhattan.

We first went to The Highline Park. The Highline is a green space park created on a former rail line.

The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement. It lifted freight traffic 30 feet in the air, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan’s largest industrial district. No trains have run on the High Line since 1980.

It was a pretty nice park, quite linear (obviously), although we barely covered part other first section (before succumbing to the sparkly waters of the Chelsea Piers), I plan to come back hopefully when it’s 20 degrees out so that I can take more pictures without being jostled by tourists.


Click Image for more pictures - Flickr

While we headed to the Chelsea Piers, we didn’t really stay for long as the sun was setting soon and we had wanted to check out the action at Central Park.

Central Park for those who do not know, is a beautiful man made park created in 1873 at 843 acres large. A lot of walking later (note to self: memorize bathroom locations lest you fantasize about letting it out in a darkened wooded area), we only managed to cover a sliver of the park thanks to a very dramatic moment where a lady was feeding her aerial minions and a minor bird war erupted. Birds be trippin’ when they’re hungry!

While it was an extremely enjoyable day temperature wise, I am definitely waiting for the day when my nips will be frozen two steps going outside so I can wander the parks alone, like in I am Legend.

Highline Park history – http://www.thehighline.org/about/high-line-history
Central Park FAQ – http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/general-info/faq/

Cold shootings in Forest Park.

Although this is a December without snow (hold out some hope, there’s three more days til the 2012), the cold was still present. Oh so windy, and oh so chilly. They’re both synomous but what the heck.

24,000 or so steps later, what may be sore muscles later on, and a bit of dirt on my pants (most likely from being whacked with unknown plant branches here and there), I did come out with a couple of nice pictures.

Forest Park is awesome. Give it a little bit of time, go off the smooth walking pavement into the wooded areas, and be amazed at all the beauty that surrounds you. So many different types of plants, trees, and shooting opportunities await! Of course, you have to time it right. If you go too late in the evenings, you may run into dealers cutting drugs or doing drugs. I doubt that druggies like going out into the cold much, so I think we lucked out today. Too bad Forest Park doesn’t have their own security patrols (much like Central Park’s own police force… yes they have their own security).

In any case, it’s still a great place to visit without going out to Central Park and dealing with tourists walking ever so slowly in your way and brides taking their wedding shots near the pond.

Some stats about Forest Park in Richmond Hill, Queens:

  • 543.53 Acres, or according to google is 2,197,443.04 m(square meters)
  • Third largest park in Queens (first is Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and second is Alley Pond Park)
  • Created from a glacier that molded Long Island
  • Has one of the most challenging golf courses in the city
  • Considered to have a “knob and kettle” terrain, which means that is has ridges and irregular gullies (hills & dips, more or less)
  • Has a wooden carousel with animals carved by Daniel Carl Mueller. It’s one of two that remains that still houses his carvings, out of twelve originally he had done in his lifetime. The carousel  ran until 1989 after disrepair and renovations respectively. Today the carousel is boarded up.

And without further ado, here are some shots I took of the beauties within the park:

Centralpark.com: http://www.centralpark.com/guide/general-info/central-park-police.html
NYC Parks Department Forest Park Page: http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/forestpark/highlights/12128
About.com’s Flushing Meadows Corona Park page: http://queens.about.com/cs/parks/a/flushing_park.htm
About.com’s Alley Pond Park page: http://queens.about.com/od/parks/a/alley-pond-park.htm
NYC Parks Department page about the Forest Park Carousel: http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/forestpark/highlights/12049