So, I was sitting at the dinner table, trying to get some remote work done and I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye, out the window. I looked over and saw a black bird, a crow, standing on the antennae of the neighboring building.
Ok. Great. A crow. I felt like it fit really well with the current mood in the city and the country. We are the new Italy. We are the new global epicenter of death and coronavirus related destruction, so a crow seemed really appropriate. Hell, the scientific name for a crow is even “corvus”. Coronavirus.
But then he turned and looked at me and I realized the fucker was holding half a hotdog in his beak.
He hopped around, turning this way and that, as if he was gloating over his prize. He must have realized I was watching him because he stopped and starting eyeballing me. He tipped his head back and forth and then decided to move to safer ground, just in case I felt inclined to go out the window after him to challenge him for his hotdog.
The fact that the crow was holding half a hotdog in his beak just made the imagery better for me. Here was a representation of death holding a hotdog and chilling outside, the American coronavirus mascot.
I could almost hear him screaming, “HOLD MY BEER! USA! USA! WhooooooOOOooo!” as he flew up and away, out of our control.
Only someone who owns a vehicle in New York City knows the jolt and thrill of seeing an open, legitimate parking spot close to where you actually live, as well as that moment of hesitation when you realize a tree overhangs where your car will be.
Last June, my wife and I took a trip up to the Bronx Zoo. Prior to moving back to New York City in 2010, I’d lived here as a kid, or visited numerous times, but I don’t know that I had ever been to the Bronx Zoo before. Anyway, we showed up about two hours after opening and, after some deliberation, went ahead and put out the extra money for the all-access passes instead of paying a-la-carte as we went through the zoo. The zoo has a large amount of free “content” but if you want the “premium” experience, you have to pay a heftier fee.
I think it was worth the money. We almost exclusively visited the premium areas, but ran out of time before seeing everything. Of course, some of the stuff we wouldn’t want to see anyway, because it was geared towards kids, but basically the Bronx Zoo is a two day experience, at least. There’s so much left that we didn’t see that we’re definitely going to have to go back again.
My favorite photos from our trip:
Mural in tunnel near Boston Rd. Zoo Entrance
The big gorilla in the “Congo Gorilla Forest”
Orange baby monkey
A bright orange poison dart frog.
If you’re thinking of visiting the zoo, my only suggestions are to bring water, food (inside prices are out of control), a hat for shade and comfortable shoes for standing in lines for access to some of the premium areas like the Asia Monorail and the Dinosaur Safari, which we didn’t ride, but saw the line for while walking towards the butterfly garden.
The last place I expected to see a hawk for the first time was at Washington Square Park, in the middle of New York City, but that’s what happened. My wife and I were passing through and saw a crowd of people gathered with their phones and/or cameras out.
Part of Washington Square Park is fenced off because it’s still being renovated. Because of that, it’s free of people, which is probably why the hawk chose that area to hang out in, though it might also have had something to do with the squirrel that was on a nearby tree.
I asked a guy near us if the hawk showed up in the park often and he said that it, along with three siblings, lived in the area and had grown up in a nest on a window ledge on a nearby NYU building. He said that when the hawks were young, there was a 24/7 webcam set up above the nest. He took a moment to show me a video he had on his phone that he’d saved. I guess people were allowed to go into the building and look at the hawks from inside.
It’s nice to see that people are supportive of wildlife returning to the area. There are places in the world where birds like this would have been poached, or hunted just for kicks. Some people are sick. I hope these hawks stay cool and don’t make a nuisance of themselves, or you know someone will cry about it right away and want them removed.
For more info about the hawks, you can visit their ‘homepage’: WP Hawks.
A few weeks ago my wife and I went to the American Museum of Natural History here in New York City. I’ll post more about that later, but I just wanted to share this image first. When I saw it, the first thing I thought of was the Angry Birds games. I think Rovio (the makers of Angry Birds) is based out of Finland, or at least that’s what their site says, but maybe the person who came up with the concept was thinking of this display window in the AMNH. It has the whole idea in one scene: broken eggs, angry birds, and the hogs (pigs) who are responsible.
A post about birds doesn’t sound exciting, but when I say there are birds in the trees, I mean there are birds in the trees on the scale of Alfred Hitchcock’s old movie, The Birds.
“Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds in 1:40”
As you walk down Orchard Road you can hear them up there. It sounds as if there are hundreds, if not a thousand or more of them, roosting in the trees, squawking continuously at each other. I suppose for citizens and long-time residents it sounds like background noise. The first time I was down there, by Cineleisure Orchard, I thought something weird was going on. They were so loud, and if you sit and watch long enough you’ll see them moving from tree to tree in groups of a dozen or more.
The most bizarre part of it all is that despite there being so many trees, and so many birds in those trees, I have yet to see a sizable quantity of bird crap on the sidewalks or road. Orchard Road is a tourist area though, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there are workers out there at night spraying the area clean. That’s probably a good idea regardless. An excessive amount of bird feces could be hazardous to your health. That reminds me of a story from when I was in Iraq, but that can wait til another time.
If you’re reading this from outside Singapore and you happen to find yourself on Orchard Road, especially in the Cineleisure Orchard area, keep your ears peeled and you’re sure to hear them. After being in Singapore for a while those birds feel more like part of the scenery and make the area more interesting. I can’t imagine being down there and not hearing them chirping en masse.
Before we went into Underwater World at Sentosa last Saturday, we passed by a group of peacocks that were hanging out on a grassy knoll. This area is situated on the other side of a drainage ditch from a sitting area where people eat. The drainage ditch is very small, so the peacocks go back and forth, begging for food.
Closer to the entrance to Underwater World we saw another peacock strutting its stuff on the road.
In the same area we saw some monkey business. Literally.
Seeing peacocks on Sentosa was nothing new to me. It’s neat, but I’d seen one there on my last trip. It was in the sitting area of a cafe on the upper part of the island, looking for hand-outs.
The monkeys were what really excited me. My wife has told me a story a few times about how she saw monkeys in the trees around the Bedok Reservoir. I always listened attentively because it’s so unusual to think that there might be monkeys hanging out in the neighborhood park. In the US the only place you’re going to see monkeys is in a zoo. We went to Bedok Reservoir a few times and I always kept my camera ready, just in case, but I never got lucky with seeing them there.
I was really excited when I spotted the monkey sitting on the sign so I walked over and took a photo. Then I noticed the monkey up in the tree. I’m not sure if there’s anything in that plastic bag he’s carrying. Maybe it smelled of food. Before long I spotted another monkey off to the left. Then I saw a baby monkey in the tree above a sign for Fort Siloso.
The locals, and those who seemed to be from this area, walked on by as if it were nothing special, but almost all of the Caucasian people stopped to take photos. I suppose it’s just a matter of what you’re used to seeing in the woods around your house. Perhaps the locals would stop if they saw a stag? There’s nothing entertaining or interesting to me about a deer, but maybe they would think it was interesting because it was unusual to them.