Easter, New York Style

I have come to believe that in New York City people like to dress up. And an opportunity to strut is an irresistible calling. What I wonder is that folks seem to pay no mind that their outfits must look pretty outrageous as they travel about on mass transit getting to the venue. And the tourists, what do they make of a world seemingly gone mad. I remember one Halloween when a couple of tourists were cowering in their seats peering cautiously over the top of their map at all the outlandish costumed riders that clambered onto the subway car.

Astro-turf man

Easter festivities are on Fifth Avenue near St Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center. Made famous from movie and song, everyone’s mission is to wear a hat and parade your stuff. There is no form and the crowd is ‘come as you like.’ So from about 11AM until dusk anyone can wander up or down Fifth Avenue. Come early, most of the photographers are there and you can be assured of being photographed into internet immortality. The headdress varied from simple bunny ears to virtual gardens atop some of the more ambitious participants. There are no rules.

Some old standbys appear. It seems that several people make it a habit to be in every parade gathering. Same costume, same shtick, it’s familiar but beginning to get worn – different day same person.

At all parades - see Chinese New Year

No themes and no organizers so there is little in the way of coherence. Some folks were really decked out. One thing I noticed this year, there were a lot of period costumes from the turn of the century. And for some reason it is attractive as a great venue for gays to be able to parade in front of St Patrick’s. There were many transvestites. Be sure to watch closely as it’s hard to tell some of them. Others were too obvious. Because you are virtually ‘eyeball to eyeball,’ a wide angle lens and close cropping were needed to isolate people. This year’s crowd was larger than I remember, perhaps because of the good weather. It was great entertainment and rich with photo ops.

You can fool some people

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Actually the picture I have of the hawk is very poor but is posted for illustrative purposes. Last weekend the bird feeder was in play. We had a lot of activity. Cardinals, sparrows, tufted titmouse, doves, blue jays, wood peckers, finches, and of course squirrels were present and about. The area was suddenly quiet and all the birds were gone. My daughter cried out that a large bird was flying about the yard. We looked out and in the bushes sat a raptor. My LCD could barely make it out among the bushes. The downloaded image tells me it’s probably a hawk – red tailed??? All the little birds and even the squirrels were gone. Silence in the yard!

Well camouflaged

The hawk left and the birds came back. Yesterday afternoon, as I dozed, a loud bang on the window woke me and startled my wife. I looked up to see the hawk hoovering and then backing away from the window. He had flown into it full on. He fluttered and then turned like a fighter jet and flew off to the south. My wife was upset when she saw blood and feathers on the window. Surely the hawk has sustained a serious head injury and would die shortly of a subdural hematoma (my medical specialty – neurosurgery). I suspected that the hawk had lived and that there would be no corpse. Alas, I was wrong. There in the snow depression my boot had made when I had refilled the feeder, was a corpse. It was a poor unfortunate dove. How the hawk had killed it and then flown into the window is still a puzzle. The blood, I think is from the dove. The dove was caught because it was larger and slower so that the hawk could corner and capture it. The other smaller birds were probably too much work and too small a meal. The dove is now a frozen dinner in the snow. And to finish the anecdote, my wife found a dead mouse in the trash bin this morning.

Dove - sadly

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Birds in Flight … and such

Say what!!??

Go on and scram!!

I finally got some shots of birds in flight. It’s so hard to predict where the action will be. I was helped here by a bird feeder and patience…. and my utilization of a tripod. On most days the birds are polite and wait until one bird clears before the next arrives. I am reminded of the landing pattern at an airport. However this was the first snowy day and everyone was hungry. The feeder was almost empty. So there was a push to get to the front of the line. This drew the attention of a hawk later. Well, rather than hold a camera at the ready, I set up with a tripod and pre-focused the camera. Then as the action unfolded I shot. The shutter speed was 1/250 to 1/500 and later 1/1000 and 1/2000. The lighting wasn’t great and the depth of field not ideal. Still, I think I got some interesting photos. If you look up cousin David’s hummingbirds, I did not have the advantage of his great conditions. His photos were phenomenal. Otherwise, I got the usual suspects. We have lots of cardinals. The woodpeckers are special. I saw the female for the first time. It doesn’t have any red on its head. Squirrels, don’t start. My wife has finally got a feeder set up where they can’t get at the feeder. They eat the seeds off the ground. But the suet is fair game.

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