redbird: a male cardinal in flight (cardinal)
( Apr. 13th, 2014 07:35 pm)
We took the bus over to Seattle and spent a couple of hours wandering around the UW arboretum, starting at the north end of a waterside trail (271 to Montlake Freeway Station, if locals want to try to visualize this). Nice long walk along and above Lake Washington, including some rather muddy bits that need more wood chips scattered, and then some floating footbridges, one of which was slightly below the surface for a few meters. I looked at it, decided I could deal with the wet metal surface and no handrail, and went through. (Temperature around 70F/21C, so I figured wet feet would be all right.) We saw a few ducks, some cormorants, water lily pads, but to our surprise no turtles.

Then we walked through some of the drier parts of the arboretum, with more grass and shrubs and spreading trees (and fewer ferns and moss). Some of the trees there are actually labeled, though a few of the labels felt mostly like a starting point for googling. (I thought I had a picture of the one that identified a tree as being a cross between two species I didn't recognize, at least not by Linnaean binomial, and added that this cross had been created at the Arboretum. If I can get it off my phone, I will update this point, for my reference.) There were lots of cherry and azalea and the other usual suspects; and the first we've seen in Washington of a tiny purple wildflower I don't have a name for that was always one of the first signs of spring back in Inwood. We saw some periwinkles of an unusual shade of purple, but I think that was before we got to the Arboretum. We stopped in at the visitor's center to use the bathroom, then walked out along Azalea Way and caught a 43 bus downtown and the usual 550 bus home.

It was a gorgeous clear day: we got excellent views of the nearby Cascades, the Olympics, and then Mount Rainier on the way home, the latter clear enough that [livejournal.com profile] cattitude pointed out that he could see two peaks, the lower one on the north side of the mountain as well as the usual fine glaciated cone that stars in all the photos.

I hadn't been to the arboretum in more than a decade, and this was Cattitude's first visit, though we've been living out here for a year. Next time we may try coming in from the other side and visiting the Japanese Garden.
redbird: Photo of the spiral galaxy Arp 32 (arp 32)
( May. 31st, 2012 10:19 pm)
I was walking home from the subway this evening at twilight, and saw a firefly. I was startled and thought it might be a random reflection from the stone wall (which contains mica), so I watched until it blinked again. Then I called [livejournal.com profile] cattitude, who was walking through the park to meet me, and told him to keep an eye out. I saw another firefly on the other side of the wall, half a block north (less surprising, since there's grass on that side), and then nothing until we rendezvous'd. Cattitude said he had seen a firefly, after getting my call and crossing the street; we saw another, or the same one again, when we got back to that bit of the park.

It's May. The very end of May, but still May. I've gotten almost used to how many things are flowering early, but the fireflies are still a surprise. (I suspect that, as with most of the flowers that bloomed early, the firefly season will end earlier than usual this year.)

I was on my way home from the gym, so here's the usual gym stuff )
redbird: closeup of a white-and-purple violet (violet)
( Apr. 21st, 2012 07:08 pm)
Yes, almost everything is blooming early this year. ("Almost" because some things, such as Norway maples and dogwood, seem to be driven mostly by day length.)

I've spent a lot of time looking at something and saying "Lilacs?!" or "roses?" or the like. But I suspect it will all seem a bit less weird when the last of the forsythia stops blooming.

phenology, cut because not everyone is interested in these details )
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In the last few days, I have filled out two different "Parliamentary consultancy" questionnaires on same-sex marriage, both of which included questions about the role of religious celebrants. I'm not a citizen or resident of either Australia nor the United Kingdom, but neither form asked for an address or about citizenship, and they both wanted input from all "interested parties."

We saw a mourning cloak butterfly in the park yesterday. They tend to be one of the earliest kinds of butterfly, if not the earliest, but this seems early even for mourning cloaks. (I got close enough to get some pictures, while it was sunning itself on a dead branch.)

I finally installed the necessary software on our (moderately) new printer/scanner/fax machine, and configured it for wireless use, and [livejournal.com profile] cattitude has printed to it from his computer. (The device ships knowing how to make black-and-white photocopies.) Once I check them over, we can file our taxes. And then I made myself some hot chocolate, because dealing with printer software is like that.

I continue to be annoyed by people who have been warned not to say "like" instead of "as" so often that they now write "as" where they should write "like." And I probably couldn't code in Lisp to save my life, but I will be counting parentheses as long as I live. I get paid to fix both of these, but only one of them irritates me if I see it in print.

Having left my all-purpose cardigan at the gym on Friday, and lost an earring from one of my favorite pairs yesterday, I will probably be a bit cautious about carrying valuable things (valuable either in dollars or for sentimental or practical reasons) for a few days. I have earrings I like but am not strongly attached to, and they will do for the moment.
redbird: me with purple hair (purple)
»

gym

( Sep. 12th, 2011 09:17 pm)
I was going to title this "gym, with some care," but while I possibly should have been careful of my hands and arms, I wasn't particularly. They seem to have come through the workout okay, though, which is reassuring after a few days in which many things that are supposed to be good for the hands seemed to be making them worse.

(On the other hand, there's some pain as I'm typing the details below the cut.)

details cut as usual, slightly different from what I've been doing )

Also, when I got my hot chocolate afterwards, the barista commented that I was always smiling when they saw me; I said it was because I come there from the gym, so I've been doing something fun, I'm not coming directly from work. Then I thought about what I'd said.

On the way home from the subway, I got a long look at a skunk, first standing next to the water fountain, then it went into the ballfield and walked sort of parallel to me on the other side of the fence. I walked slowly, and stood and watched it for a moment, then decided it would be more prudent to go on, and not make it nervous. Not nearly as cute as the mustelids we saw yesterday, small-clawed otters at the Bronx Zoo.

When a rodent crossed my path a block and a half later, I thought "okay, just a rat," and then contemplated whether it was too large for the skunk to kill and eat; they're predators, but small.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Aug. 28th, 2011 02:58 pm)
This is the turtle we saw washed up on the edge of the Harlem River this afternoon (it's probably 4 or 5 inches long (10-12 cm)):

a turtle lying on a falled tree branch
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redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Aug. 28th, 2011 11:42 am)
The rain seems to be over, though it's still windy. We're high and dry here and have been all along; fretting, but no actual harm. The National Weather Service is reporting a near-record storm surge at the Battery, but I don't know whether/how much flooding that means. They're also saying a storm total rainfall at Central Park of 5.43 inches, but my quick calculations from the hourly numbers put it at 6.7: either I'm counting rain from early yesterday that they don't consider part of the storm, or they need to include rain after 6:40 this morning. Either way, this makes August 2011 the wettest month on record in New York City.

[personal profile] kate_nepveu's post about the storm confirms we did well to stay home, because her power is out, and she lives near the people we had been planning to visit this weekend.

ETA: We have been out for a walk, and saw no significant damage (small branches down). The water level in the bit of the Harlem River across the street looked like a very high tide; this was at about 1:00, which I think was well after the astronomical high tide (though it's a complicated harbor; high tide at 8 at the Battery can be 11 elsewhere in the city). The wrack/high tide line was far enough from the river that we missed it at first, from not looking that far (we have an idea of where to expect it after very high tides, even storm-driven ones, but I'm guessing the storm surge made the difference). The "line" is a straggling mess, clumps of mud and leaves and such.

We also saw a rather large turtle, sitting on a bit of board that we guessed she washed ashore on. I took some photos, and we worried a little that she didn't seem to be trying to escape human attention, but when we passed by 20 minutes later she was a bit closer to the water, and facing toward it, so I'm guessing she'll be all right. Some people also pointed out jellyfish that had washed up on the path, presumably either dead or dying.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Sep. 8th, 2010 07:35 pm)
A wheel fell off our dishwasher the other day. Last night, we tried to put it back on: this involved lifting the dishwasher by brute force, sliding books under to hold it up, and then attempting to get the wheel into place. This did not work. Also, it hurt my left wrist (the one I chipped a bone in back in college). It felt fine after a night's sleep, but started hurting again this evening after I held a bus pole left-handed. I should try to be careful; this may make tomorrow's session with Emilie complicated. (We're already watching out for my knees and the opposite shoulder.) We may try again, with more suitable tools so we can turn the machine on its side, but not for a few days. In the meantime, I will hand-wash some dishes, but as few as possible tonight.

We left home this morning early enough for a brief walk in the park. Well worth it: we saw a cormorant, and a patch of jimson weed (Datura stramonium). The latter was surprising: it had sprouted, flowered, and started making seed pods fairly quickly. There are four plants, growing between the paved path and the edge of the soccer field, along one of the intermittent tiny stream-beds that fill in every heavy rain. So the answer to my immediate "Where did you come from?" is almost certainly "up on the hill somewhere." I got [personal profile] cattitude to take a few pictures with his cell phone this morning; I went out this evening with my camera, but only one flower was left and open, from the four or so this morning. (Jimsonweed flowers don't last long once they bloom.) A parks worker was on a riding mower at the other end of the field, and it seemed likely that he'd mow most of the jimson weed (one is entirely below the surface of the lawn), but I'm guessing it wasn't prudent/safe to drive the mower over the gap.

Also, Tropical Storm Igor is now making its way east across the Atlantic Ocean. I know, generally, who names these things, but who in particular came up with this one?
redbird: a male cardinal in flight (cardinal)
( Jun. 20th, 2010 11:06 am)
[personal profile] cattitude and I just went for a nice long walk in Inwood Hill Park, which we hadn't done in a while. I decided the knees were probably up for it, and we really wanted to go.

We'd set out looking for black raspberries, and did find some. Very tasty, right off the bush and warm from the summer air. Nicer than the red raspberries I got at the Greenmarket yesterday (and we bought a half-pint of those and ate them in about three minutes as we looked at other stands, then went and bought more to bring home). The odd bit is that we found a couple of ripe blackberries first; it's way early for blackberries here, but the whole spring has been like that, no surprise that summer is following the same path.

We also saw a thrush on the way up, and heard a pileated woodpecker and a flicker, along with the more usual birds (blue jays, grackles, lots of robins).

On our way back, Cattitude spotted a tiny movement under some leaves. A shrew, probably a northern short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda), but other possibilities include the southern short-tailed shrew and the least shrew. One small, very dark mammal (it looked black, but might have been a dark gray), with a short tail.

Whichever species it is, I think this is the first shrew I've seen in the wild. It seemed remarkably unconcerned about our prsence: just kept foraging in the leaf litter as we stood there, and moved a little to get out of the sunlight and slightly closer to it. It didn't even react to the woman walking past with a dog (leashed) and a child.

I may have pushed things a little, physically: the knees are better than they were, but I'm out of practice with hills and such. But it was well worth it, for the berries, the shrew, and the time in the woods together.
[livejournal.com profile] cattitude and I spent a little while watching swallows in the park after lunch; the first I've seen this year, and swooping low, back and forth. I saw the red on the underside of the wings once, and the yellow a few times. We went on when the insects that were attracting the swallows found us.

On my way home Friday, I saw the season's first fireflies (one at a time, a total of four in a few blocks' walk in the park), and called Cattitude to come downstairs and see them.

Strawberries, of course. The privet is in bloom, as is lots of clover.

And it's annoyingly hot and humid.

Few young birds: the plants are running early, but the ducks and geese don't seem to be. I have seen two goslings and one duckling so far. And some of the starlings today might have been fledglings.

Because of [personal profile] centuryplant's post, yesterday we went looking for dragonflies. I saw a few, but not close up.

[I have OS install stuff to do, oh frabjous day!]
redbird: a male cardinal in flight (birding)
( Mar. 21st, 2010 07:28 pm)
[livejournal.com profile] callunav posted yesterday about a trip to a nature preserve, and seeing red-winged blackbirds. She said she's not used to seeing them on this coast. I don't think of them as unusual: seasonal, yes, but I'm used to finding them in Inwood Hill Park and the Bronx Zoo in the spring and summer.

On Friday afternoon, [livejournal.com profile] cattitude heard one, but didn't see it. This afternoon, he suggested we go out in the park and look for red-winged blackbirds. Sure, why not, just a brief walk (we were both treating today as a rest day). We heard the call before we even got to the bit of wall that overlooks a reedy bit of marsh that they like, and I spotted him almost immediately. So we stood a few minutes and watched and listened, one red-winged blackbird, possibly the first of the spring, or maybe the second (if Cattitude heard a different bird on Friday).

There've been lots of robins around lately, and an unusual number of mourning doves. The usual mallards and Canada geese.

I remember when Canada geese were rare and noteworthy, and almost entirely migratory. Now, they're about as surprising as pigeons, and in some quarters less popular. I still like them.
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Yes, I know, the equinox isn't exactly late for this area, but we had several years of early springs, to the point where, say, the forsythia not being in bloom a few days ago seemed odd as well as disappointing.

After lunch today, [livejournal.com profile] cattitude and I went for a walk through Inwood Hill Park. It's a gorgeous sunny day, low 70s (21 or 22 for those of you using the modern measuring system), almost no wind. Yesterday was almost as nice, but I spent most of it indoors, working.

We went up into the hills, looking for the first bits of greenery, and enjoying some of the evergreen shrubs as well. We saw, finally, a bit of forsythia (Cattitude had seen some in bloom downtown, but I wasn't with him), and more daffodils (another local park has had them in bloom for a few days) and periwinkle, but much less of all three than we had expected/hoped. Lots of buds, though.

We also saw a garter snake, I think the first I've seen in the wild. (Cattitude remembers seeing one other in the park, but I don't think I was with him.) Just for a moment, because I found it by startling it as I walked along the path, but quite clear. We waited for a minute or two, but it didn't come out again, so we went on uphill

The less fun part was many dead trees, fallen over in last weekend's storm: the parks department crew was in the park today, taking away trunks and branches from the low-lying areas. In the hilly area, they cut through trunks that had fallen over paved paths, and cut some other bits for safety, so they wouldn't fall and hit someone in the next high wind. We lose a few trees every winter, of course, but this was worse than usual. Yes, there are plenty of saplings that have been waiting for the sunlight and room to grow, but that takes time.
It was warm by recent local standards (the weather service web site said 48F (9C) but it didn't feel much over 40; still, 40/5 under a bright blue sky is good for New York in January), so [personal profile] cattitude and I wandered out into the park, in a low-key sort of way. A short way into the woods, we saw a man with a bird eating out of his hand.

First assumption was chickadee, because they can be lured to do that. But it didn't quite have the chickadee shape.

Our neighbor has befriended a woodpecker. He was taking pictures while it ate from his hand, and was happy to tell us that he has known the bird since 2007, and that he comes to feed her every day from November until May, and then she migrates to Canada for the summer.

The bird comes when he whistles, and eats from his hand, and I am quite prepared to believe that it's the same bird: this is not standard woodpecker behavior. He asked if I had a gmail account, so he could send pictures, and this evening, there they were, 19 still photos, some of them very good, and just under a minute of video. (21 MB, which presumably is why he specifically asked about gmail.)

He seemed nice, a bit older than us I think, not a native English speaker, but he had the English for what he wanted to say here; his name is Young, and I have no idea if we'll run into him again.

After that, we walked a bit more, then came home, and I tried to nap a little. Didn't actually sleep, but it's been a good, restful weekend.
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I didn't manage a nap on Friday—one of these days I may remember to turn the phone ringer and answering machine speaker off when I'm home sick—but I did convince [livejournal.com profile] onyxlynx to come up and visit me for a couple of hours. Tea, chocolate, conversation. including but not limited to catching up on stuff. She's not in New York very often these days, but she used to live in Washington Heights, and had no trouble finding my apartment. This may be the first time I've spent with just her: usually, it's been a group (not usually a large one) of people, because I got to know her gradually through fannish stuff, and then she moved west, and when she is here she is trying to get together with lots of people in a short time.

So, I've been doing somewhat domestic things the rest of the weekend, for values of "domestic" that include shopping (Greenmarket and grocery store), walking in the park, and dealing with paperwork and bills. A bit of reading, a bit of email. The leaves are just beginning to turn, but there are still some morning glories, and I think we saw more dragonflies an hour ago than we had at any time this summer. Still not a lot, compared to some years: it was a cool, damp summer by local standards. When we walked past the salt marsh, a turtle was basking on the very top of a tire in the water: the tire is standing on end, with just a little bit exposed at high tide, and moving gently back and forth when waves pass it. [livejournal.com profile] cattitude took some photos; I didn't have my camera this time.

I'm still not feeling 100% well: not seriously ill, but enough that while walking is good, weight-lifting may have to wait a bit longer. I am glad I stayed home Friday, even if rest didn't equal sleep. (It often doesn't, for me.)
I didn't manage a nap on Friday—one of these days I may remember to turn the phone ringer and answering machine speaker off when I'm home sick—but I did convince [personal profile] onyxlynx to come up and visit me for a couple of hours. Tea, chocolate, conversation. including but not limited to catching up on stuff. She's not in New York very often these days, but she used to live in Washington Heights, and had no trouble finding my apartment. This may be the first time I've spent with just her: usually, it's been a group (not usually a large one) of people, because I got to know her gradually through fannish stuff, and then she moved west, and when she is here she is trying to get together with lots of people in a short time.

So, I've been doing somewhat domestic things the rest of the weekend, for values of "domestic" that include shopping (Greenmarket and grocery store), walking in the park, and dealing with paperwork and bills. A bit of reading, a bit of email. The leaves are just beginning to turn, but there are still some morning glories, and I think we saw more dragonflies an hour ago than we had at any time this summer. Still not a lot, compared to some years: it was a cool, damp summer by local standards. When we walked past the salt marsh, a turtle was basking on the very top of a tire in the water: the tire is standing on end, with just a little bit exposed at high tide, and moving gently back and forth when waves pass it. [livejournal.com profile] cattitude took some photos; I didn't have my camera this time.

I'm still not feeling 100% well: not seriously ill, but enough that while walking is good, weight-lifting may have to wait a bit longer. I am glad I stayed home Friday, even if rest didn't equal sleep. (It often doesn't, for me.)
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Aug. 29th, 2009 07:29 pm)
I just uploaded some photos to Flickr. It's a mix of "hey, pretty," ncluding this color-manipulated picture of a grass plant,


color-manipulated photo of a grass head

and documenting my part of Inwood Hill Park. The best of the lot, I think, is both: I got a good photo of a night heron on a rock in the afternoon sunlight:

night heron standing on a rock

Clicking through will get you to larger versions of both, and the rest of my photostream, including trees and fungus.
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redbird: The Unisphere in New York's Flushing Meadow Park, with sunset colors (unisphere)
( Aug. 2nd, 2009 07:54 pm)
There's a fine black locust sapling in the park across the street. It's regrowing from surviving roots, after a big old tree came down in a storm last year, and the parks department removed the visible stump.

woman standing next to a locust sapling, with her hand at the topThis photo is from late July, on a rare sunny day. Three weeks earlier, this tree was about up to my waist. Right now, on rainy days, it's not quite as tall as I am.
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redbird: The Unisphere in New York's Flushing Meadow Park, with sunset colors (unisphere)
( Aug. 2nd, 2009 07:54 pm)
There's a fine black locust sapling in the park across the street. It's regrowing from surviving roots, after a big old tree came down in a storm last year, and the parks department removed the visible stump.

woman standing next to a black locust sapling, with her hand on the top of the treeThis photo is from late July, on a rare sunny day. Three weeks earlier, this tree was about up to my waist. Right now, on rainy days, it's not quite as tall as I am.
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redbird: a male cardinal in flight (cardinal)
( Jun. 28th, 2009 08:26 pm)
[personal profile] cattitude and I have just been out in the park watching fireflies.

He'd seen one or two earlier in the week, while he was outside in the evening. These are my first of the summer. Not one or two, but lots: dozens, I'd say. I caught one, let it crawl on me a moment, and then let go: not for any special reason, just that it's a thing I do in the summertime. And then went back to the park bench and watched the pale lights flicker above the lawn.
redbird: a male cardinal in flight (birding)
( Jun. 14th, 2009 08:06 pm)
[personal profile] cattitude and I wandered outside this morning, and stepped into the park to see if the mallards were eating mulberries. In looking for that, we saw movement in the water. We stood there watching it, speculating on what it might be: a large fish? Muskrat? Turtle? Then a woman and boy came along, with field glasses, and asked what we were looking at.

They told us that our moving water was a loon. They'd seen it mentioned on the web, and come to take a look. Specifically, a red-throated loon (Gavia stellata). The boy shared his field glasses, and I lucked out and had them at the right moment, when the loon was above water. We stayed outside for a few minutes, wishing for better light (it was an overcast morning).

The sun came out about ten minutes later. We grabbed our cameras (and a set of field glasses, but I never took them out of their pouch). The light was a lot better, and the loon was spending more time above the surface. We walked around the edge of that bit of water, taking photos, a few of which came out reasonably well. I uploaded several of mine to Flickr. Here are three, cut to save your friends page.

photos of a loon )

Red-throated loons are less common than the common loon (which we saw one of in the park 15 years ago). Also, while New York is in their winter range, the summer range doesn't normally go south of Newfoundland and Manitoba.
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