Birdwatching

With Bonnie Hulkower and Gabriel Willow

August 26, 2007

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My brother took Bonnie, Gabriel, and me up to the Bronx with the boat.

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I thought there might be some good birds to see on the way back to Greenpoint down the East River.

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But things had changed in the park I usually use as a launch.

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This year the park seems to have undergone some landscaping,

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and we are no longer allowed to access the water here.

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We slipped down to another place I know.

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The old Terminal for the ferry that went to North Brother Island.

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“Once we are in the water we are legal.” I told Gabriel.

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And we all felt better as we floated out into the East River.

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Gabriel told us a little bit about the old terminal and about North Brother Island.

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He leads birdwatching toursĀ in this area – he is the Senior Naturalist at the Prospect Park Audubon Center.

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He knows all about the birds of course, but the he said best details of the tours are about things like Typhoid Mary and the quarentine islands.

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Coming into Hells Gate, the water was choppy and irregular.

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And then it became as smooth as glass as we passed over large sections where the water seemed to come straight up from the bottom of the river.

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In the distance you can see a small fire boat. They watched us pass through the choppiest section to make sure we made it OK.

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The flat sections were the most harrowing.

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You can see out in the channel, how the the current was making whitecaps under the bridge.

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I quietly made myself a promise:

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If we make it through Hells Gate I will never come back in this boat again.

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Around Hallets Point we were fighting against a strong eddy, but the water was flat and easy.

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We could see Socrates Sculpture Park up ahead.

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Bonnie is also a Biologist, but she works for the federal government for the Corps of Engineers.

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I told her that I think those things in the water are the electrical turbines that they are experimenting with on Roosevelt Island.

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Bonnie recently wrote about water access in a blog that focuses on environmental issues in the New York metro area, http://www.worldchanging.com/local/newyork/

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She asked Gabriel to read us the graffitti on the seawall at Roosevelt Island.

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“I think therefore I am”

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We passed by the LIC boat club.

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It is right next to Mathew Barney’s studio – there’s his boat!

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I remember when the Pepsi sign was the tallest thing out here!

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We waited for a taxi to pass,

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and drifted back to Greepoint on the last of the outgoing tide.

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Coming into the Newtown Creak we spotted a Seagull.

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“Not a seagull” said Gabriel, “that is an adult Herring Gull. It rarely goes out to sea.” He told us that it is one of three types of gulls that inhabit the New York Harbor. You can tell them by their handsome grey and white color and a small orange spot below their beaks.

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We passed by a little home that I always admire on the creek. Who lives here I wonder? Does anyone know?

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We pulled up at the end of Manhattan Ave.

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-Marie Lorenz

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