An eight year old girl was going through a stack of magazines with her mother, looking for photographs of animals for a school project.
“What kind of animals?” I asked.
“Birds,” said the girl, smiling.
Her mother looked at a sheet of paper that looked like a homework assignment. “Mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects, and, uh….” She looked over the paper to see if she had missed anything.
“Do you like birds?” I asked the girl.
“Yes,” she said smiling.
“I do too,” I said. “I’m a bird watcher.” Then I told her about how I saw American Oystercatchers down on Palmer’s Island in the middle of New Bedford harbor, and how they have long orange bills that they use to eat shellfish. The mother kept looking through the magazines, and she had that glazed look that people usually get when I talk about birds; but the girl seemed vaguely interested.
Five minutes later, I was walking down Market Street, right in the middle of the city, when a flock of pigeons burst up into the sky in front of me and flew madly away, and out of the corner of my eye I saw this big bird, as big as a seagull but dark gray-brown, sweeping along to my right about ten feet in the air with a long tail and I could just catch a glimpse of its sharp hooked bill as it flew into the late afternoon sun behind me and disappeared:– a juvenile Peregrine Falcon, out hunting pigeons. It flew within thirty feet of me. Right in the middle of the city.
This afternoon, Carol and I took our usual walk along Route 6 across the harbor to Fairhaven. We talked about this and that, part of the ongoing conversation that people who have known each other for a long time have. The wind swept down from the north, picking up cold and dampness from the harbor; it cut right through my windbreaker; it was exhilirating but draining; Carol walked on the lee side of me, letting me act as a windbreak for her. “Boy, that wind is cold,” I said. And just then a pigeon came flying down towards where they all roost under the bridge, flaring its primary feathers as it rode the wind currents. I thought it was enjoying its ride on the stiff north breeze, and for that moment I thought that maybe the pigeons didn’t mind the cold and liked the stiff north wind.
But on the walk back, Carol pointed out dozens of pigeons roosting on a sheltered rooftop, where they could be out of the wind and warmed by the sun.
Today was my only day off this week, and I had planned to do my Blogger BioBlitz survey today, trying to find how many of each different species — plant, animal, fungi and anything in between — live within the small area I chose to survey (the garden at First Unitarian in New Bedford). We had heavy downpours most of the day, so I had to cut the survey short. In between rain squalls, I took as many photos of living things as possible; I also relied on photos and notes I had taken earlier in the week when I was surveying the area. Unfortunately, the weather meant that I didn’t have time to search out many animals (e.g., I wasn’t able to dig up some soil and look through it for invertebrates, etc.).
My identification of many plants was hampered because it’s still early in spring and many plants have just begun to emerge from dormancy or sprout from seeds; and only a few of the flowering plants were actually in flower. I’m thinking I may continue with this survey of living things over the course of the summer, to see if I can do additional identifications.
I’ve included my list of organisms below, arranged in rough taxonomic order. Over the next week, I’ll be working on further identifications as well as filling in the taxonomic order, and when done I’ll update this entry. (Final update, 28 April, link to final data sheet included.)
Video tour of the site.
Photos from field work.
First post on Blogger Bioblitz 2007.
Second post on Blogger Bioblitz 2007.