Monday, January 31, 2022

Governors Island during a snow storm

Because we love inclement weather, we ventured out to Governors Island during the snow storm this last Saturday to see what the conditions were like out there. To our surprise, the island was open and the ferry was running.

Ligget Hall in the winter

There was a lot of snow, but the main roadways had been plowed. Visibility was difficult at times due to the blowing snow.

Fire truck on Governors Island

Governors Island in the snow

We kind of foolishly decided to climb Outlook Hill to see the view from up there. 

Governors Island in the snow

The hill is 80' high, but we only made it about halfway up before becoming too exhausted to go on.

The pathway was not plowed and the wind caused snow drifts to accumulate that were over two feet deep. The wind created some lovely snow formations, though.

Snow formation on Outlook Hill

On the back side of the Hills, a handful of sledders had fun flying down the slope.

Sledding at Discovery Hill

A flock of Brant were also hunkered down on the grass out at Picnic Point.

Along the harbor side, the buildings of lower Manhattan could barely be seen through the snow.

Despite the rough weather, a male Common Goldeneye duck went about his business like it was no big deal.

The view from Picnic Point:

Picnic Point in the snow

St. Cornelius chapel:

St Cornelius chapel

Here is another example of snow sculpted by wind:

Snow sculpted by wind on Governors Island

You can see how deep the snow is here.

Deep snow on Governors Island

The iconic yellow houses of Nolan Park with One World Trade in the distance:

Nolan Park in the snow

All in all, it was an interesting place to be during a winter storm, although physically demanding to get around.  Next time, it would be helpful to bring a shovel!

NYPD cruiser buried in snow on Governors Island

Monday, January 24, 2022

Tompkins Square hawk nesting season begins, new hawk archive available

A new nesting season has begun for Tompkins Square Park red-tailed hawks, Christo and Amelia. We caught Amelia making nestorations on her old nest last week (pictured below), as well as checking out the ginkgo tree where the hawks have also nested in the past.

Amelia checks out last year's nest

This evening, Christo and Amelia posed on the cross of St Nicholas of Myra together:

Christo & Amelia perch together on Avenue A

The hawks will work on their nest for the next several weeks, and we can look forward to eggs being laid some time in March.


After all these years documenting this particular pair of hawks, we've finally put together an archive page where you can journey back to Day 1 with the Tompkins Square hawks. Christo has been there since the beginning, when he and his mate, Dora, appeared soaring over the Christodora Building in 2013. Amelia joined the family in 2018.

You can access the archive page in the sidebar of this site, or you can go directly to the archival post list here. We've also put together some brief nest notes in table format which will live on the archive page and be updated as things happen.

If the hawks have taught us anything over the years, it's to be patient, enjoy the moment, and relish the beauty in Nature as it happens.


Beautiful Amelia takes flight

Christo soars off into the sunset

Monday, January 10, 2022

NYC Mulchfest 2022 in the East Village and Bushwick

Woo-hoo, this last weekend saw our favorite annual event, Mulchfest!

NYC Mulch Fest 2022

We never miss a chance to check out the NYC Parks Department wood chipper.

On Saturday, the chipper was fired up and the pile of discarded Christmas trees in Tompkins Square Park was ground up into heavenly-smelling mulch.

NYC Mulch Fest 2022 in Tompkins Square Park

NYC Mulch Fest 2022 in the East Village

Here is video of the chipping crew in action in Tompkins Square:

The team made quick work of the tree pile.

On Sunday, we visited Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick, Brooklyn, to check out the Mulchfest action there.

NYC Mulch Fest 2022 in Maria Hernandez Park

The mulch piles reached about five feet high, and people were welcomed to take as much mulch as they wanted.

NYC Mulch Fest 2022 in Bushwick, Brooklyn

As usual, the Parks Department provided cute little canvas bags for collecting mulch.

NYC Mulch Fest 2022 in Maria Hernandez Park in Brooklyn

Alas, we now have to wait another year before we get to see the chipper come out again. Until then, we have our apartment-sized evergreen sachet to remind us of the coziest time of year.

Check out our NYC Mulch Fest archives here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Welcoming the new year with red-tailed hawks, Christo and Amelia

Tompkins Square Park red-tailed hawks, Christo and Amelia, continue to reign over their East Village territory as we transition to a new year. The pair are doing well and have been very visible over the last few weeks. It's not yet nesting time, but they are spending a lot of time together in and around the park.

On Christmas Eve, we found Amelia catching some winter sun atop St Nicholas of Myra church on Avenue A.

Amelia the red-tailed hawk

This is a favorite perch for her, as it gives her a good view of the tasty pigeons who hang out on the nearby rooftops.

Something caught her attention and she took off.

Amelia perched on the church cross

Amelia is really a gorgeous hawk, and the more we observe her, the more we love her.

Amelia streatching her wings

Amelia taking off

Amelia the red-tailed hawk soaring

After a circle over the park, she returned to the church cross.

Amelia landing on the cross

A few seconds later, she took off again in the same direction.

Amelia taking off again

Amelia the red-tailed hawk flying

Amelia flies over our head

We lost sight of her as she flew down Avenue A, but found Christo perched in their favorite locust tree near Avenue B.

Christo perched in the locust tree

An immature red-tail flew overhead - perhaps this is what caught Amelia's attention, as we watched her chase the young hawk west towards 2nd Avenue.

An immature red-tailed hawk flies overhead

Returning to Avenue A on the last day of 2021, we found Christo and Amelia together on the church cross.

Christo and Amelia perched on St Nicholas of Myra

A sudden gust of wind caused Amelia to briefly lose her balance.

Amelia loses her balance on the cross

We spent New Year's Eve in Brooklyn where we witnessed a red-tailed hawk scared from its roosting place at the stroke of midnight when people set off fireworks in the street. The hawk had been perched somewhere behind a building, and when the noise started, it flew at least three blocks away from its roost. This was upsetting to see as the hawk was clearly stressed and it could have had a collision as it panicked and flew in the dark.

In the past, we've tried to observe the Tompkins Square red-tails during fireworks and they seem to tolerate the noise as long as it's not too close to where they are. However, we used to see Christo roost on a building on Avenue A regularly until a fire broke out in one of the apartments one night and the trauma of the situation appeared to dissuade him from returning to that spot as we've never seen him use that location since. The hawks may be "urbanized" but they're still sensitive to human activity.

Yesterday, we found Amelia on the Avenue A cross again as a crow took a dive at her. It seemed to just want to make its presence known and, when Amelia ignored it, the crow left her alone.

A crow checks out Amelia

A short while later, Christo joined her.

Amelia and Christo perched on the cross

But, Amelia had things to do and places to go, so she took off a few minutes later.

Amelia takes off over Christo

She flew over us and disappeared over some buildings. Until next time...

Amelia the red-tailed hawk soaring overhead