Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Flying Kites in Brooklyn

Here's a slightly reworked piece that I posted on the New York State birding forum on Sunday:

In birding, sometimes the story surrounding a good sighting is almost more priceless than the actual bird. I think you might agree that a serendipitous experience in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery this past Sunday falls into that category.

The story truly begins on April 14th when a birder named Jennifer Keplar spotted, then photographed a Swallow-tailed Kite over Prospect Park's Lullwater. Mind you this was at a time when many of us fanatical birders were talking about and actively looking for one of these rarities. Also of note is that none of the regular Brooklyn birders knew this person as she apparently doesn't bird here very often. Flash forward to Sunday when the Brooklyn Bird Club posted on their Facebook page another photo by Jennifer. This time it was an immature Mississippi Kite that she photographed while birding in Green-Wood Cemetery on Saturday!

On Sunday I slept relatively late after an amazing (and long) day of birding when I tallied 92 species of bird just in Prospect Park. After breakfast I was looking at Jennifer's photos online, comparing it to other images of immature Mississippi Kites while chatting on the phone with a birding buddy. At 8:30am I decided to bike over to Green-Wood Cemetery for some much more restained birding, not even thinking about kites. At the Crescent Water I converged with birders Tom Preston and his wife, Jo Ann, and Paige Linden with her young daughter and sister, Gabby. We had exhausted the few birds feeding in that area and were mostly chit-chatting. I mentioned that I was thinking of heading up to Battle Hill for a little raptor watching. That comment lead to a brief discussion of Jennifer "The Kite Whisperer". None of us knew her and I mentioned that her profile photo shows her kissing a walrus, to which Tom replied, "I don't know about you, but if it takes kissing a walrus to see a kite in Brooklyn, I'll do it." We laughed and then I asked, "I wonder how she does it?" Jo Ann said, "I guess she looks up a lot." My response was, "I suppose that's a good start", then looked up into the sky…directly at an immature Mississippi Kite overhead heading northeast just above the tree tops! When the kite disappeared behind the trees and we stopped laughing, high-fiving and hugging, I struggled to get out my phone to tweet, text and call as many people as possible. I still can't believe it happened and am really glad I don't have to kiss a walrus, although I suspect Tom may have been secretly looking forward to it himself. BTW - this was my 306th life Kings County bird.

None of us were fast enough to get a pic of the kite on Sunday, but here is Jennifer's photo of her Green-Wood Cemetery Mississippi Kite from Saturday. You can check out more of her photos on her blog here.

1 comment:

Jennifer Kepler said...

Hi Rob, this is Jen. Thanks for my mention in your blog, it means a lot to me! I have always been an animal lover, studied zoology in my undergrad, was a keeper at Prospect Park Zoo for a few years, then an educator at Central Park Zoo, and now a NYC school teacher. My first job out of college was with Audubon, and working with raptors, specifically. I love birds, and I am out and about mostly on weekends - I pass by the BBC gathering at Grand Army in the morning as I bike to work, don't even get me started on how jealous I am! I also am very fond of walruses. Thanks again, see you out there! :)

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