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Friday, July 18, 2008

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

I received a phone call a couple of days ago from my friend Dave. We hadn't spoken to each other for a couple of months. "Big Dave" is a retired steelworker who has the unlikely hobby of photographing wildflowers. This is probably the first time that you've read the words "steelworker" and "wildflowers" in the same sentence, and Dave is far from the artsy, metrosexual New Yorker that that description might evoke.

At over 6 feet tall and close to 300 pounds, Dave honed his skills as a welder on the construction of the World Trade Center in the late 1960s. When this bear of a man handles his camera equipment it looks like a cereal box prize in his massive hands. We met in Prospect Park back in 2002, when I was monitoring "Big Mama's" first nest.

Dave has been nearly bedridden for a while due to medical issues, but his is slowly getting back in shape. He told me that he finally hung up his film camera and switched to digital. We decided to meet up at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to shoot some pictures.

I rode my bicycle through Prospect Park and locked it up at the Flatbush Avenue entrance to the garden. Dave was sitting on a bench near the Peonies Garden. While we were chatting, I tried to ignore the resident mockingbirds. They were imitating everyone from kestrels to vireos. I wanted to stay focused on the flowers, for a change.

We spent most of our time in the Native Flora section. Joe-Pye Weed, Butterfly Weed, Buttonbush and Jewelweed were some of the native plants in bloom. The brilliant, scarlet spikes of the Cardinal Flowers were just beginning to emerge.

Dave and I spend about 90 minutes exploring the flowers and insects in the garden. He headed home via bus, I cycled back through Prospect Park.

I was approaching the brass placard marking "Battle Pass" when I heard several robins calling out. I hadn't seen Ralph, Alice or their two offspring in a while, so I decided to stop and see if the robins had spotted one of the red-tails. Ralph was perched in a dead tree on the ridge just south of the pass. His pale face was unmistakable. While I watched him scanning the ground for prey, I wondered if George Washington or his troops ever encountered Red-tailed Hawks during their campaign along "The Heights". Perhaps, if they did, like many unenlightened people in the past, they merely used them for target practice.

by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"


Pamela said...

naaaaaa.. I don't imagine they'd waste their precious bullets on birds. I've been reading "Founding Mothers" by Cokie Roberts and it is very apparent that they treasured anything they could get their hands one (food, clothes, ammunition)

(I still have a sharp shinned hanging around my bird feeders)

worldpeace said...

I like the bald-faced hournet, never see it before...Great article too

Marie said...

You're back!

That's a great image: steelworker/wildflower photographer...

You've reminded me to go back to the indigenous section of the BBG. I have not been in too long.

Lovely image of the two bees going round the Silphium...

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