Birds of Washington Square Park

September 21, 2016

Image: Red-tailed hawk, photo by and used with permission of Hubert J. Steed

WSP Eco Projects received a NYC Parks Research Permit to complete a wildlife survey of the park. A continuous line transect method was chosen with the help of NYC Audubon. Wearing my WSP Eco Projects hat, I have completed the transect twice with invaluable assistance from a local resident and birder.

Image: American robin, photo by and used with permission of Hubert J. Steed

The dates of our observation were August 31 and September 15. We recorded the following species:

American redstart
American robin
Blue jay*
Common yellowthroat*
European starling
House sparrow
Mourning dove
Northern flicker*
Ovenbird*
Red-tailed hawk
Rock dove (pigeon)
Squirrel

Image: Blue jay, photo by and used with permission of Hubert J. Steed
Image: Common yellowthroat (male), photo by and used with permission of Hubert J. Steed

The starred (*) species were first observed on September 15. Also on the 15th, we sighted one monarch butterfly. We may have seen a Connecticut warbler as well. Later that day, I spotted a downy woodpecker. Tent caterpillars were observed on August 31 but only remnants of the tents remained during the second walk; we did not see any caterpillars.

Image: European starling, photo by and used with permission of Hubert J. Steed
To see the transect, the location and abundance of the birds (and squirrels) in the park, please visit the WSP Wildlife Survey 2016 map.

Image: House sparrow (male), photo by and used with permission of Hubert J. Steed

Image: Mourning dove, photo by and used with permission of Hubert J. Steed

The photography used in this post is used with permission of Hubert J. Steed. Check out Mr. Steed's birds photo gallery at PBase.

We will be conducting continuous line transect surveys through the end of the year. Would you like to volunteer for the survey? We need experienced birders to conduct the surveys and to lead bird ID walks. Please email me at wspecoprojects @gmail.com with your specific interest. Thank you.

P.S. We have not sighted any Norway rats in the park though we have observed signs of their presence, specifically burrow holes.

Read Nature Books in Washington Square Park

September 13, 2016


Washington Square Park (WSP) Eco Projects has shelf space on the Uni Project Reading Room that will be installed in the park on Thursdays, September 15 and 22, 3-7 pm. Meet us under the English Elm to read nature books and to play a game of nature bingo. The bingo card was designed by The Bird Feed NYC for WSP Eco Projects.

Bleecker Street Cherry Trees Removal

September 7, 2016


The Kwanzan cherry trees on Bleecker Street fascinated passersby in the fall but especially in the spring. I, too, was taken with these trees. The trees were removed this week to accommodate the demolition of the NYU Coles Gym and the construction of 181 Mercer Street. Per a communication released by the university, an independent arborist concluded that possibly only three of the seven cherries "might survive a transplant under the right conditions" (emphasis in the original). Suitable relocation sites could not be identified in the neighborhood so NYU proceeded with removal with a NYC Parks tree removal permit. The wood will be donated to Big Reuse, a nonprofit that recycles and repurposes various types of urban wood. Finally, the university "is paying restitution to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, and those funds will be used to plant new trees in New York City. In addition, at the completion of the project, NYU will be responsible for planting new trees around the perimeter of 181 Mercer Street." NYC Parks uses a tree valuation protocol to determine the replacement value of trees. I was not aware that the land in which the trees grew fell under the purview of the parks department but given its involvement in permitting the tree removal, it clearly has jurisdiction over this parcel. I am curious about the species that will be planted around the new university building.

List of Nature & Science Books for Children (and adults, too)

August 30, 2016


"Do you have a list of all of your books somewhere?", asked reader @dianalempel on Instagram.
Diana asked this question about the #shortstackofbooks feature I post almost weekly on Instagram. In February I published screenshots of #shortstackofbooks on the blog but I did not provide a list of books. I am glad Diana nudged me to prepare a proper list of the Short Stack of Books series which are included below in alphabetical order by title.

Image: Wild Ideas by Elin Kelsey with artwork by Soyeon Kim
  • A Bald Eagle's World, Caroline Arnold
  • A Drop of Water, Gordon Morrison
  • A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors, Rachel Doorley
  • A Seed is Sleepy, Diana Hutts Aston
  • A Tree is Growing, Arthur Dorros, illustrated by S. D. Schindler
  • A Tree is Nice, Janice May Udry, with pictures by Marc Simont
  • About Trees, Katie Holten
  • Actual Size, Steve Jenkins*
  • Alego, Ningeokuluk Teevee
  • An Egg is Quiet, Dianna Aston, with art by Sylvia Long
  • And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, with illustrations by Henry Cole
  • And Then It's Spring, Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead*
  • Beach, Elisha Cooper
  • Beachcombing, Jim Arnosky
  • Birding at the Bridge, Heather Wolf**
  • Birds of New York, Stan Tekiela
  • Botany for Gardeners, Harold William Rickett
  • Bright Sky Starry City, Uma Krishaswami, with pictures by Aimee Sicuro
  • Central Park in the Dark, Marie Winn
  • Cherry Blossoms Say Spring, Jill Esbaum
  • Children Around the World, Peter Guttman
  • Coyote at the Kitchen Door, Stephen DeStefano
  • Crows! Strange and Wonderful, Laurence Pringle, illustrated by Bob Marstall
  • Daylight Starlight Wildlife, Wendell Minor
  • Desert Days Desert Nights, Roxie Munro
  • Eggs 1 2 3, Janet Halfman with art by Betsy Thompson
  • Eliza's Cherry Trees - Japan's Gift to America, Andrea Zimmerman, illustrated by Ju Hong Chen
  • Farm Anatomy, Julia Rothman
  • Feral Cities, Tristan Donovan
  • Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City; Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City: Leslie Day**
  • Field Guide to Urban Wildlife, Julie Feinstein
  • Flotsam, David Wiesner*
  • Follow the Moon Home, Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Meilo So
  • Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss*
  • Gregory's Shadow, Don Freeman
  • Harlem is Nowhere, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
  • House Held Up by Trees, Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen
  • House Held Up by Trees, Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen.
  • How to Draw a Dragon, Douglas Florian
  • I See a Kookaburra!, Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
  • I, Matthew Henson, Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
  • Is This Panama?, Jan Thornhill, with illustrations by Soyeon Kim
  • Just Ducks, Nicola Davies, illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino
  • Lab Girl, Hope Jahren


  • Lassoing the Sun, Mark Woods
  • Lila and the Secret of Rain, David Conway & Jude Daly
  • Little Tree, Loren Long
  • Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
  • Mapping Manhattan, Becky Cooper
  • Maps, Aleksandra Mizuelinska and Daniel Mizielinski.
  • Monkey Colors, Darrin Lunde, illustrated by Patricia J. Wynne
  • Nature Anatomy, Julia Rothman
  • Nightsong, Ari Berk***
  • Nuts to You; Feathers for Lunch; Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf: Lois Ehlert
  • Ocean Sunlight, Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm
  • Oh, Rats!: The Story of Rats and People, Albert Marrin
  • Outside your Window, Nicola Davies, illustrated by Mark Hearld*
  • Over in the Meadow, Ezra Jack Keats
  • Pacific Coast Tree Finder, Tom Watts
  • Pie in the Sky, Lois Ehlert
  • Rabbits and Raindrops by Jim Arnosky
  • Raindrops Roll, April Pulley Sayre

Image: Ron's Big Mission by Corinne J. Naden and Rose Blue, illustrated by Don Tate

  • Ron's Big Mission, Corinne J. Naden and Rose Blue, illustrated by Don Tate
  • Sophie Scott Goes South, Alison Lester
  • Sticky Burr, John Lechner*
  • The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Promise, Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin
  • The Secret Pool, Kimberly Ridley, illustrated by Rebekah Raye
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats***
  • The Tale of Pale Male, Jeanette Winter
  • The Tiny Seed, Eric Carle
  • The Urban Bestiary, Lynda Lynn Haupt
  • The Watcher, Jeanette Winter
  • The WPA Guide to New York City
  • This is Washington, D.C., Miroslav Sasek
  • This Tree Counts, Alison Formento, illustrated by Sarah Snow
  • Tree Finder, May Theilgaard Watts
  • Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out, April Pulley Sayre, with illustrations by Annie Patterson
  • Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, Kate Messner
  • Water Boy, David McPhail
  • Water Can Be, Laura Purdie Salas, illustrations by Violetta Dabija
  • Water in the Park, Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin**
  • We Planted a Tree, Diane Muldrow, with illustrations by Bob Staake
  • What in the Wild?, David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy, with photos by Dwight Kuhn
  • What's Your Favorite Animal, Eric Carle and Friends
  • Wild Ideas, Elin Kelsey, with artwork by Soyeon Kim
  • Winter Trees, Carole Gerber, illustrated by Leslie Evans

Image: A Drop of Water by Gordon Morrison

Are any of your favorites on the list? Let me know in the comments.

* For even more nature books, check out the Nature Advent Calendar book series.
** These titles are part of the WSP Eco Projects's portable library of nature books.

Exploring Brooklyn Bridge Park

August 15, 2016


We are diving back into New York by visiting some of our favorite parks. Last week I shared our walk on the High Line. Today's field trip recap is of Brooklyn Bridge Park. As with the High Line, we explored portions of the park we've already spent time in; for BPP that means the Main Street to Pier 1 stretch.


One of the reasons we enjoy coming to this park is the access to water. Look at this proximity! This is the East River which is actually a salt water tidal estuary. At this point in the park we are below the Manhattan Bridge.


When you turn inland from the water, the park is verdant. I enjoyed peeking through the various layers of vegetation to observe architectural and natural features. The waterbody seen above is part of the salt marsh habitat in Pier 1.



After time on the beach, picking up rocks and watching the waves, we headed to a playground. The gate in the fence is on the path to the playground and it reminds me of a feature you would see in a rural setting. It is sweet that the gate opens unto a specimen tree. The lush vegetation extends into play spaces, too, as seen in the second image above. This photograph was taken inside the playground gate. I like the peekaboo aspect of this pathway to the jungle gym.


There are many more leafy pathways throughout the park.


You won't be starved for skyline views, however.


But the experience of being close to the water is treasured.

Walking Phase One of the High Line

August 12, 2016


Yesterday I posted photos of the Gansevoort entrance to the High Line taken in 2010, 2013, and 2016. Pictured above is entrance latter. Earlier this month we took a walk on the High Line, the first phase only. On arriving I immediately noticed how lush the birch woodland has become.


There are always multiple artworks installed throughout the park. This one, Kathryn Andrews's Sunbathers I, was particularly engaging. In the top photograph she is pointing out to her "Nana" that the art spins. From here we kept walking north and discovered Valentin Carron's Wall Bell which we ran for several minutes. It was hard work!


It's hard not to notice the plants in the High Line. I'm pleased that I brought my camera. I was able to zoom in on the bees so I didn't disturb their foraging activities. And look at the pollen on the mallow petal!



She spent a long time watching the street life from this perch. There is something on the High Line for everyone. When you visit a park, do you people watch or do you observe the wildlife and plants?

P.S. She also liked walking in the water feature above the marsh plantings.

The High Line in 2010, 2013, and 2016

August 11, 2016


When I first photographed the entrance to the first phase of the High Line, I did not intend to photograph the same site every three years. However, I have coincidentally. The park's evolution is striking along its entire length but there is something particularly appealing about the Gansevoort entrance.



Have you walked the High Line? What is your favorite spot in the park?
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