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Monday, April 24, 2006

Roof birding

Sean called me on the telephone late this afternoon. The clouds had moved off to the east leaving a bright, blue late day sky. There was a scattering of thin, feathery clouds moving leisurely from northwest to southeast. A pair of commercial jets travelling from south to north left two narrow vapor trails. Sean was sitting out on his deck enjoying a cold beer and watching the sky. I plugged the headset into my cordless phone, grabbed my binoculars (I didn’t have any beers in the fridge) and walked up to my roof.

We both live in an area called Park Slope. The slope refers to a north-south running ridge that ascends from New York Harbor and ends, roughly, at Prospect Park. Most of the streets and avenues in the area use an unimaginative numbering system. I live on 5th off of 8th and Sean lives south of me on 15th. It was about 6:30pm and we were sitting on our respective roofs, chatting. Our conversation was occasionally interrupted by observation of birds flying north. Then there was this exchange:

Sean: “Oh, crap (muffed sounds, phone dropping).”
Me: “What happened? Did you spill your beer?”
Sean: “No, there’s a Northern Harrier flying over 5th Avenue!
Me: ”Where is it?“
Sean: ”It’s only about 150 feet off the ground. I think it’s a ‘Gray Ghost’.“
Me: (long pause) ”I see it. It’s definitely a male. It just passed over Methodist Hospital.“
Me: ”Very cool.“
Sean ”Sweet.“

Later on Sean spotted his first Chimney Swifts of the season. They were heading my way but I couldn’t find them. Finally, at about 7:00pm, I looked up to see three swifts circling above me. They were curiously silent. I think this is the first time that I’ve observed Chimney Swifts that weren’t chasing and chittering nonstop.

-Click here to see why the males are sometimes called Gray Ghosts-

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Park Slope Roof, 4/24/2006
Great Blue Heron
Northern Harrier
Laughing Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
House Finch
House Sparrow


Brenda from Flatbush said...

Your site is awesome! I have just sung your praises and more on my blog...don't expect site-crashing traffic from the link, it's mostly for my convenience so I can see what I'm missing every day I'm too lazy to hit the park!

Rob J. said...

Thanks for your kind words. It's comments like yours that motivate me to get out when I'm feeling lazy.

jessie said...

Hi Rob, it's Jessica P from LCI. Hope you're doing well! I was so pleased to run across your blog, which I found on a blog about brooklyn blogs sometime in the winter. As soon as I saw the blog title, I knew it must be you! Anyway this past month I've been trying to learn all the various birds that I can see from my window and roofdeck. It's a little harder now that the leaves have grown in. I'm amazed at your rooftop viewing list - I'll have to get bigger binocs and keep studying. By the way I've seen the chimney swifts flying under the BQE overpass at smith & 9th, but they're not whipping over my (president & 8th)roofdeck at dusk yet. BTW, brenda from flatbush is right - your site is awesome!

Rob J. said...

OMG! Jessica, it's so good to hear from you. How long has it been? 3 or 4 years? It seems like another lifetime. I assume LCI is long gone. Thank you for your appreciation of my passion...or is it an obsession ;-)

Are you "Jessie-in-Stitches"? If so, I'll drop you a line directly.

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