Totally remiss. No entries all semester. You were left hanging after several weeks of Honduran birds. No end in sight. At least you weren’t hanging off a cliff.
Completely different topic. Especially if you are a birder in the American mid-Atlantic. You are problably well aware of #Painted Bunting, now residing at @ProspectBunting. no? Well, now you are.
Heard about the painted bunting in Prospect Park, Brooklyn through through twitter. (Perhaps I could have head it through vine, but I don’t use vine, so couldn’t learn it through the grape vine, alas.) On Thursday, I was convinced to chase it on Sunday. (The earliest and only opportunity. Talk about putting all the eggs in one basket!)
I gave fair warning that the bunting would probably vacate the premises with my luck by Saturday. The office seemed emptier on Friday…
So the plan was to get to Brooklyn ($23 in tolls, with another $8 to leave!), meet up with my sister. Find the bird. Visit my parents.
After a nightmare of confusion wherein I decided that “parking on the southwest side was just like parking on the northeast because how big can the park be, really?” and my phone decided not to work while trying to load either of two maps programs and three chat programs (was also handling another issue that was time sensitive, whee!) , I eventually made a modified plan, and found the park.
In the park, which is lovely by the way, (I had never been before, because Brooklyn and I do not get on. Seriously, Brooklyn has been bad news for me!) I immediately got lost on the little jogging paths that wandered through the woods as I tried to reach Central Ave to meet up with my sister.
Isn’t Prospect park lovely? These are the photos I took on the way to finding my sister. Those stairs were a definite mistake! Ended up on top of a hill looking down at the avenue I needed!
Google Maps once again saved the day. (At this point, Google Maps probably needs a superhero cloak!) I found my way down and as I was walking towards my sister, I enacted the park of the plan entitled “find the bird!”
I. Find a birder. This individual will be obvious by their equipment. They will most likely have a long lens, and possibly a pair of binoculars tucked away upon their body as well. (Now remember, this is New York. This means that everyone wears black and thus binoculars are harder to spot than birds!)
2. Get directions and hints.
3. Find a brood of birders. (Unlike their normal state, they will not be brooding, but likely elated.).
4. See bird.
It all went relatively according to plan. And so we found the bird. The end.
Okay. Fine. But I do need to head to work incredibly soon.
We walked through the park, past some lovely water with American Coots, Mallards, Canada Geese and an inquisitive Mute Swan. My sister’s response watching the coot’s bobbing swim was, “it’s coot! (cute).”
Shortly after a detour around the ice rink, we located a group of people clumped around clumps of dying plants. We crept up and discreetly joined their ranks. Or we were trying to until sis announced, “We found the bird paparazzi!”
The important take away from this moment is that no one likes being called paparazzi. So we got some dirty looks.
Indifferent, she continued on, to begin to narrate the poor bunting’s plight. Something like “All these people taking photos of me. Can’t you guys just give me directions?! I didn’t mean to come here. Hey, stop, with the camera now.”
The difference between my sister and all the other non-birders who were present, is that she understood this is very well a death sentence for the bird. Being my sister she hears the science side of things. And also being my sister, she’s not phased by much and says what she thinks.
While she wasn’t loud enough to disturb the bird, she was certainly disturbing these very broody birders with “I’m learning so much about your people!” probably didn’t go over well either.
So why do I bring her? I can usually get her to do something bird-related once a year or thereabouts. Well, to the birders reading this I’m sure that doesn’t explain the why so:
1. She’s my sister.
2. She’s rather funny.
3. She enjoys watching birders more than she enjoys watching birds.
4. Shes awesome at spotting birds. We make a good team. She spots them, I identify them.
So, people, well birders, were less than impressed by her. Fortunately, the bird spooked soon after this (How often is a spooking bird fortuitous?) And the group reshuffled and we found ourselves in a flight of friendlier folks with better senses of fun.
Her parting shot before The Reshuffling was “You people might have a better reputation if you developed some levity.” Point (even if I almost got blacklisted from birding in New York!).
We watched the bird for about an hour. It mostly hid behind asters and clumps of dried grasses. Mostly out of sight save for the swaying grass.
We pointed the bird out to a number of people who wandered by as well. Then the light faded and it got really cold and we had other commitments to commit to.
Can you see the Painted Bunting? It’s that blurry bit nearly dead center, all green, blue and red. Oddly enough it’s the green that’s most easily spotted. Painted Bunting. Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York. Photo taken December 6, 2015 with an iphone by my sister.
Also, check out:@ProspectBunting. It may not be a GSP savvy bird, but apparently it is social media aware!
There’s also the very necessary #PaintedBunting.
And the totally worth reading coverage of what the Painted Bunting means to Brooklyn, birding and life by David J. Ringer. Since you made it all the way down here, you should go there!