Monday, August 25, 2008

Summer is Nearly Gone

It's been nearly 6 years since my cycling accident. Two surgeries, uncounted hours of physical therapy and, this year, I've finally returned to regular rides. Moving along on a bicycle may be ten times faster than walking, but it doesn't preclude nature observations. They are just very brief.

My preferred route this summer takes me through residential areas south of Park Slope and to Jacob Riis Park, where I briefly swim before heading back north. Last Thursday, after work, I took a quick ride. At the intersections of Argyle and Elm Streets, a car creep past the stop sign and into my path. I can make an obnoxiously loud, bicycle messenger-like whistle, so I let loose a squealing "wheet, wheet". A few seconds later, from an opened window in a house to my right, came a parrot's mimicked "wheet, wheet". I heard a second call as I flew passed the row of two story homes. I chuckled and wondered if I had inadvertently added to someone's parrot's repertoire of calls?

The most noticeable changes along my route has been among the trees. From Prospect Park to Marine Park, Norway Maple are releasing their helicopter-like seed pods, or keys. Oaks are already dropping acorns. When I run them over, they either get crunched or launched from between my tires and the road, pinging off of the sides of parked cars. Black Cherries have fully ripened and, the ones that don't get eaten by the birds, tattoo the roads and sidewalks beneath the trees. My tires bear purple stains from the cherry juice colored pathway at Flatbush Avenue where it passes over the Belt Parkway. Pagoda Trees, the last flowering trees of the summer, has sprinkled many streets with their golden yellow, popcorn blossoms.

The Dog-Day Cicada's churring songs now dominate the summer sounds. Near the corner of Church Avenue, the chainsaw-like crescendo of cicada calls owned the airwaves, out performing even the Hip-Hop back-beat coming from pounding woofers in a parked car.

Flocks of Sanderlings have been increasing in abundance along the beaches. Fort Tilden and Riis Park seem to be a staging area for the migrating shorebirds. This last week saw the greatest increase. As I was watching some of these tiny, gray and white birds chasing the edge of the surf in search of food, I noticed something curious. Many individuals periodically assumed an aggressive posture when near another bird. They'd lower their heads, hunch their backs and face off like a pair of Sumo wrestlers. Where are the cute, peaceful birds that I am accustomed to seeing in large, cooperative flocks along the shore during winter months? Maybe they are still cranky from the long flight south.

At Bay 8 beach, an adult oystercatcher provided shade for a very young hatchling. At this time of year, most American Oystercatcher offspring have fledged. Perhaps this individual is the result of a second or third brood. It is so late in the season, I hope it survives.

by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"

3 comments:

Marie said...

Er...have I been banned?

In case I haven't - I didn't know about your biking accident: you sounded like such a seasoned and regular biker, Rob, no hint of all that. It's good to hear that things are coming right.

Your picture of the dog-day cicada has ID'd the pretty one my cat caught - I am ashamed to say. Thank goodness he doesn't go for birds. I guess he's a wuss.

Rob Jett said...

Banned? I'd never ban you! The accident was back in 2002 and I didn't begin this blog until 2004. I've only made passing reference to it over the years. I would have needed a whole 'nuther blog for that story.

Marie said...

Phew.

Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope