Thursday, November 02, 2006

A nod to Halloween, Woodpeckers, and HKNA

As the nod to Halloween photo refuses to load, we'll just go to Woodpeckers.

First find the Woodpecker, then guess which species it is.

Not easy through the fence, is it?

Which brings up the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association, the holder of the lease to the Bird Park, and the response to a reader's comment that I wrote and then was eaten by blogger. I'll give it another try.

By the way guys, come on, how about some names, even some fake names, so I can get to know you and call you something besides Anonymous. How hard can it be to get a name on the comment form? Actually now that I think about it, it took Eleanor weeks to make it work. At any rate, one of the Anonymouses or Anonymoi wrote,

Who runs the neighborhood association? Sounds like they need to be booted out at an election. Tell me they are elected...

Well, yes and no. According to my understanding, anyone who lives within the boundaries of Hell's Kitchen may join the newly made non-profit, Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association. They may come to the general meetings and speak about any concerns they have...In theory.

At the last meeting, the timing of which was unfortunate as I had to be in Wisconsin putting my Mom in a nursing home, my 15 year-old daughter, who is very sweet, if I do say so myself, attempted to speak about the progress the Bird Park had been making within the community and ask about the mystery of the locked gate. According to report, she was interrupted, talked over, and lectured at, to the point that she sat down and wept for the rest of the meeting. So much for the power of the general membership and the community.

Now I'm sure the organization has done some good things. They fought the Westside Stadium and they're trying to get some relief for the neighborhood's intense traffic problems. Those are good things.

But when it comes down to it, decisions by the Association are made by The Board, in board meetings behind closed doors.

And sometimes the community doesn't even know what the issues are that the board is making decisions about or exactly why. The locked gate is a case in point.

As to being elected, yes, board members are elected to the board...By the other members of the already existing board. Which I would tend to think that as we're all human we elect people who we like and tend to agree with us or at the very least that such a structure may cause a certain feeling of insulation from the consequences of their decision making. Hence, no feeling that it was a duty or even a courtesy to give an official reason as to why the Bird Park was suddenly .......closed.

Now certain people have let out a rumor now and again about the big WHY. The first was that the neighbor who owns the adjacent building needed the bird park to be locked up because he was doing some construction on his building. When asked if that was the reason it was closed, he replied, "NO, I've always said the park could be cared for even if I did have construction to do. Hey. I'm locked out too."


Then a volunteer was told that the park needed to be "redesigned" into a community garden and if anyone would like to present a design to the board they were welcome to do so. When the volunteer said, "Aren't we from the community? Isn't it ALREADY a garden." The answer was receding footsteps.

Which is what brought up the question as to why nature might need a "redesign". Hasn't this gotten us in trouble in the past? Why the urge to whack great branches off a mature tree? Why the need to have tight control, to manicure, to cordon off little plots, when all the things nature does are there for a reason- for the good of the ecosystem.

Okay, people would like a path to walk on and a place to sit, fine. That's a good thing. People should have the opportunity to be part of the ecosystem But common place flower beds and mowing a lawn, at least for me , are a giant bore. And pretty much a bore for the birds except pigeons and Robins. And hey, there is provision for them. They can fly across the street to the Port Authority's traffic circle and use their lawn as we've yet to convince them to make that green space another bit of deciduous Forest in the city.

So if anyone out there is a Deciduous Woodland Garden Designer with a bent towards the nurturance of birds, which is the kind of green space the Bird Park actually is already how about helping out. Sure it could use some work on structural things such as an automatic watering system, a bird friendly fountain or water feature, a conversion of the wooden terraces that keep the topsoil from running down hill into those of stone, perhaps some more seating, we'd be more than glad to hear from you.

Hey, even if you aren't a Deciduous Woodland Garden Designer but feel a designing urge for native plants, as we need to work next (if and when we get in again) on the herbaceous level, let us hear from you. Just think, how about-Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Trillium, Dutchmans Breeches, Shooting Star and as we've Dogwoods surviving we might just have enough myocozial fungi to get Lady Slipper's going. Now wouldn't that be a coup?

By the way, the Bird Park has had many, many to date unseen species in the site these last few weeks, it's life list is growing by leaps and bounds, so something is working even if it has to do it under less than optimum circumstances. Thank goodness, we're not having all the drought of last season. And pray for rain, coming up.

Now back to the Woodpeckers-

Find the Downy Woodpecker.

There's a woodpecker. I know it doesn't really look all that much like a Downy, but I did see one fly from the bird park over to the trunk of that tree in the traffic circle. (See, wouldn't that make a great extention of woods...maybe a pedestrian walkway OVER the ramp...)

Now you might ask why I'm taking photos with a tiny digital camera instead of something with a real LENSES or even digiscoping. The answer, I have to be furtive. When necessary it's quick to go in a pocket. Remember that this traffic circle right across the ramp from the Bird Park is owned by the Port Authority too. as is the Bird Park. The ramp leads to a parking facility also owned by the Port Authority and the Port Authority is rather tense about terrorists photographing their stuff. Keep in mind that any one of the dozens and dozens of people who drive around the traffic circle daily could snap a whole roll while traversing the ramp without anyone being the wiser.

WELL, awhile back during the Monarch migration I thought I was going to be arrested for digiscoping butterflies. I'm standing on 40th St., scope pointed straight up into the air, frantic parrot on my shoulder, buses have begun to freak him out, and if I remember correctly wearing a white shirt in which one of the children who'd dropped by, and I'd lifted up for a look in the scope, had spilled a copious amount of grape soda on, when suddenly a police car screeches to a halt at the curb right in front of us.

I freeze, Quicksilver throws himself off my shoulder and starts hot footing it towards Ninth Ave. The Officer says in a scary voice,"What are you doing?" Then in the most buoyant enthusiastic nature lover voice I can muster, I say,"The Monarchs are migrating." While nearly dancing with "excitement", pointing at the sky, and attempting to retrieve Silver who's realized I'm not following him, there isn't anything handy to climb, so he'd better come back to where he started and climb me if necessary in order to get to higher ground.

The policeman says, "Monarchs", in a very dry way. I keeping up the enthusiasm, "Yes, yes, butterflies, Monarch Butterflies." He says, "Let's see the camera."

I'm thinking great, I've had this camera for a week and the cops are going to confiscate it because I'm suspected of being a terrorist. Yeah, right, get the little woman wearing the grape soda with the crazy bird, who's begun saying, "Wanna watch TV", wanna watch TV, repeatedly., because it's one of his ways of communicating that he really wants to go home. I suddenly think, I really wouldn't mind going home and watching a litte TV myself.

Eventually I extricate the camera from the digiscoping attachment. Pick up the tripod, my bag, and the bird, cuz hey, you never know when someone is going to do a run by and grab something. Take it over to the police car and attempt to push the correct buttons to show them, that truly, all I have are expanses of sky with a teeny dot in them here or there. They look at it, they look at me, they look at the parrot who is now resorting to stage three wanting-to-go-home behavior-biting the hand that's holding his toes so he can't leap off it and start in the homeward direction on his own.

After a little lecture on the feelings of the Port about people photographing in their area, and a request to get lost. I do. Well, we do. And we go home and do what a lot of America does to feel different then they are feeling, lock the door and turn something mindless on the TV. Not that we prefer mindless, Silver and I, you understand, but often that's just all that's on.

I mean REALLY considering all this, whoever said birdwatching was for sissies?


Anonymous said...

Wonderful, as always. Notice the Lincoln Karim again shows Lola playing with her young friend. I prefer to think of this as a sort of fling, a young man fling at that, but that's just the way I think.

Anonymous said...

I am having a little trouble getting used to this blog form, but I will. Also, I am thinking about adding my name.

Anonymous said...

Right now, though I am thinking of what it means to be arrested along with parrot for photographing butterflies. Are these military sensitive butterflies? Are we completely insane? [There is why I am afraid of names.] Good thing you weren't wearing an anti-war t-shirt.

Anonymous said...

April 27, 2006

'Grannies' Charged in Peace Protest Are Acquitted

They came, they hobbled, they conquered.

Eighteen "grannies" who were swept up by New York City police, handcuffed, loaded into paddywagons and jailed for four and a half hours were acquitted today of charges that they blocked the entrance to the military recruitment center in Times Square when they tried to enlist.

After six days of a non-jury trial, the grannies — who said they wanted to offer their lives for those of younger soldiers in Iraq — and dozens of supporters filled a cramped courtroom today in Manhattan Criminal Court to hear whether they would be found guilty of two counts of disorderly conduct for refusing to move, which could have put them in jail for 15 days.

The 18 women — gray haired, some carrying canes, one legally blind, one with a walker — listened gravely and in obvious suspense as Judge Neil Ross delivered a carefully worded 15-minute speech in which he said that his verdict was not a referendum on the Police Department, the anti-war message of the grannies, or, indeed, their very grandmotherhood.

But, he said, there was credible evidence that the grandmothers had left room for people to enter the recruitment center, had they wanted to, and that therefore, they had been wrongly arrested. He then pronounced them not guilty, concluding: "The defendants are discharged." ...

Anonymous said...

There we could have had a story of you and Silver being defended against photographing military sensitive butterflies. I shudder to think of it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Browne,

This reminds me of the time a year or so ago that a few friends and I were stopped on the bridge at Pelham Bay Park by an employee and told me not to photograph anything. I was photographing a bird on some structure there and showed them flower and tree and water pictures stored in the camera and I even offered to delete them. I was told that was not necessary but to refrain in the future from photographing the bridge or on the bridge.
That must have been pretty scary for you and your African Grey,with that policeman coming down on you like that.

Anonymous said...

I'm a different anonymous, but looking at the preceeding comments, I can see how that gets annoying. I don't bother to type in my name because it takes forever to type in the word verification and if I miss it three times (it's the worst worst one I've ever seen for human readability for the elderly) it wipes out the message I'm trying to post. So not doing the name posting is my little take that to blogger.

That said, what kind of cockamamy (sp?) set up is it that the board gets to elect the board? What about reforming the bylaws? What about a neighborhood revolt? What about those bolt cutters? I can't believe someone hasn't cut thru that padlock.

Donegal Browne said...

Whatever Lola and Browntail are doing, it looks like good excercise. I always have a good bit of sympathy for the hens sitting stationary for so long during the nesting season. Not that the tiercels we've watched don't do their parts you understand. But at least in Lola's case, she often takes very short breaks or declines to get up at all when Palemale, the gentlebird that he is, appears to spell her.

One day last season, Lola had gone off to the eat the dinner Palemale had caught for her, and when she returned she stood on the right side of the nest waiting for him to rise but he didn't. She looked over at him and cocked her head. Nothing. I began to suspect he was taking a nap. Lola then walked over and gave him a poke with her beak. His head popped up, and he got right out. And if one were to be anthropomorphic...sheepishly.

Donegal Browne said...

Hurray for name adding!

Donegal Browne said...

I don't REALLY think they'd arrest me for photographing butterflies. But things might have escalated if I'd kept it up,argued with them or been uncooperative. Though they would have been extremely sorry, because Silver was wanting to go home at all costs. He might well have decided to do a rendition of the smoke alarm for an hour or two. Kind of the parrot version of the "Ransom of Red Chief". Besides, these were policeman who were young and obviously new to the neighborhood. They probably didn't want to find their supervisor suddenly around and have to explain why I was being allowed to do what I was doing. When I'm inside the Bird Park with a camera, binoculars, or scope, I've never had a problem. I'm just not nearly as abvious there in the greenery.

Donegal Browne said...

As to the boltcutters, don't imagine that hasn't come to mind more than once for some of the volunteers. Now if we just had a "Granny" with the strength to use them. :-) That would make some hay. So embarrassing when it hits the papers. LITTLE OLD LADY ARRESTED FOR ATTEMPTING TO FILL BIRDBATH.

Anonymous said...

No; no malicious bird watering; I would have to ask my sister to represent you in court and then I would owe my sisten while for now she owes me.


Donegal Browne said...


That would be a sacrifice, I've got a sister too. And it is ever so much better when she owes me.

BJO said...

Wonderful police story--and no1 Bird watching is not for sissies. Wish I could figure out how to e-mail a pic of our friend on a ladder, under a tropical waterfall, holding an umbrella in one hand and measureing swift babies with the other; consider the pergrine falcon "crazies" who climbed onto the girders under the Golden Gate Bridge to retrieve the babies--while being attached by the adults. But the best of all stories of the "right stuff" is our friend who sat in a blind beneath a carcass waiting to catch and bring in one of the last of the wild condors in the first days of the captive breeding program. Uggh! Silver really, really would have wanted to go home.

Donegal Browne said...


So email me those photos! Here's the address and to avoid spam it's written out...first palemaleirregulars then the symbol which we read as "at", third write yahoo, and last the first three letters of the word commercial.

Can't wait!