“Look! Look!”

“Look! Look!” shouted a small boy while emphatically pointing to the moon as it rose above the tree line at Croton Point Park yesterday. But his family was too busy to give the boy (and the moon) their attention. Oh, to be able see the world with the eyes of a child – a great goal for us all.

Earlier in the day, I watched as a Black-capped Chickadee bounced around among the branches of an American sweetgum tree. The seeds are eaten by a variety of birds and small mammals. They remind me of Christmas ornaments dangling from the tree’s branches.

“Paying attention is one of the kindest things we can do – for ourselves and for others.” – Sharon Salzberg

A Stillness and a Light

This morning there was a beautiful Sharp-shinned Hawk perched near our bird feeder. It’s the first one we’ve seen near our home and we were delighted that it stayed for a little while. After a local squirrel sounded the alarm and the smaller birds scattered, this “Sharpie” then flew off.

“Our everyday lives obscure a truth about existence – that at the heart of everything there lies a stillness and a light” – Lynn Thomson – Birding with Yeats.

Rare Bird Alert!

Truth be told, I had never even heard of a Tropical Kingbird. But when I was able to get my binoculars on the bird with a flash of yellow, near the Hudson River, I did know that this bird was something special.

I was able to see a Western Kingbird last year, a similar “flycatcher” with a yellow belly. It’s a very rare bird for our area and that was my first thought.

I’m told that this Tropical Kingbird, seen in Dobbs Ferry, became the 501st species of birds documented as seen in New York State.

I quickly shared photos with my very knowledgeable birding friend Julien Amsellem who then raced to the river. He was not only able to see the bird but was able to get a sound recording – a key component to identifying it. “I think it’s a Tropical Kingbird!” he said. (One exclamation point doesn’t really capture the enthusiasm in his voice). “Is that rare?” I asked. “It’s the first time one has been seen in the state of New York!”

Well, word spreads very quickly among birders these days and pretty much every serious birder and ornithologist in the area arrived the next day to see this “mega-rarity.” There were about 100 people here despite a morning rain. Fortunately our bird stuck around.

Some of the birders who, with their binoculars, watched the Tropical Kingbird as it moved among the branches of a large tree in our neighborhood.

Each birder was kind and respectful to each other and everyone wore a mask. Many seemed so grateful to have seen such a great bird to add to their “life lists.” All of us share a love of nature and a love of birds and we all shared our joy at getting the chance to see such a beautiful rarity.

We were able to get a particularly close look at the Kingbird when it landed on a nearby fence.

Appreciative birders expressed their gratitude. “Thanks for the great find!” many said. Of course the bird should get all the credit. What a journey it must be on. And what a gift it was to have it land in our world.

“Nature can help us get close to each other as we realize that others love the natural environment as much as we do. It can also remind us that we’re all part of something bigger than us. This is the role we take on as nature stewards: to protect and respect the world around us, including all of its inhabitants.” – Martin Summer (Connecting With Life – Finding Nature in an Urban World)

Storm of Beauty

American Robin, Rockefeller Park, Pocantico, New York

Tarrytown Lakes, Tarrytown, New York

Red-tailed Hawk, Tarrytown, New York

“When we contemplate the globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars, all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.” – John Muir

Hopeful Sunrise

Indian Brook Waterfall, Cold Spring, NY.

White-throated Sparrow, Deer Pond Farm, Sherman, CT.

“There never was a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope” – Bernard Williams

Our Fragile World

Bobolinks, like this one photographed this morning in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY are truly amazing birds. They can travel the equivalent of four times around the earth during their lifetimes. But their numbers are declining due to habitat loss.

The Peregrine Falcon’s comeback from the brink of extinction offers hope as the eventual elimination of DDT made it possible for the world’s fastest raptors to recover.

Red-tailed Hawk, Palisades Lookout, Palisades, NJ.

Shorebirds

Great Blue Heron, Teatown Reservation, Ossining, NY.

Oystercatcher_wordpress

American Oystercatcher, Milford Point, CT.

Belted Kingfisher, Dobbs Ferry, NY.

Semi-palmated Plover, Pelham Bay Park, NY.

American Oystercatcher, Turks and Caicos

“As many spiritual masters have taught us, heaven, earth, sea and every creature have an iconic or mystical capacity to bring us back to the Creator and to communion with creation.” – Pope Francis