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September Central Park Hummingbirds
September 23, 2017

A moon ago, I decided on a whim to go seek hummingbirds in Central Park. We had found them in the Conservatory Garden years back while living in Harlem. Even though the season was about right for their fall migration, the garden yielded no luck. Having gone for a walk in the Ravine and beyond to look for birds of prey, however, I ended up finding a spot along a little creek humorously called the Loch where hummingbirds hung out, attracted by jewelweed and bright crimson cardinal flowers. Sitting on a sloping slab of...

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Sweet South African Birds
April 12, 2020

The Western Cape is home to amazingly colorful birds, both in character and plumage. These were seen earlier this year in the Constantia garden and nearby Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Just as we name any garden chameleon Meeleon, any male Whydah is called Charlie. We don't like him much as he bosses everyone around like an overzealous Bobby on a London street. But maybe we should empathize with his burden of carrying such a tail around... Charlie The swees jump up to a grass strand that would otherwise not...

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Short Quest for the Snowy Owl
December 27, 2018

A touch jealous about Marie's colorful reports of the Constantia garden birds, including a juvenile amethyst sunbird, I decided yesterday that South Africa would not monopolize the bird scene. Over the years, North America has yielded quite a few amazing feathered encounters, from New York's hummingbirds and horned owls to Vancouver's congregations of bald eagles. How could I top these? Easy. Find a snowy owl. Neither Marie nor I had ever been lucky enough to see one. The problem is, one does not exactly pull an owl...

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Hummingbird, the Sequel
September 30, 2014

Marie saw two of them in territorial fights on Saturday, I found one on Sunday, and by the time we were picnicking in the garden on Monday after work, on a strangely dull and almost milky late-afternoon, the hummingbirds appeared to have abandoned New York City in search of healthier southern climates. Ruby-throated...

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Hummin' Harlem
September 17, 2014

When I came home last night after running back from work, I rang the buzzer but got no answer. Surprised, I let myself in and found the apartment deserted. Assuming Marie would be on the terrace and torn between a childish desire to surprise her loudly and a more mature impulse to respect peace and harmony, I walked through in silence, our old wooden floors creaking as I advanced, and peeking through the bedroom door I found Marie standing on the terrace camera in hand, still as a statue and looking up like a Sioux...

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A balcony with a view
June 28, 2009

There is something to be said for living on the 15th floor of a Vancouver high rise. Beach Towers will have been a haven of peace and the most fantastic location I've ever lived in. In over two years spent in my 23 floor building, I've never had really inconsiderate neighbours. The premises are kept squeaky clean, the parking is hidden underground and newly repaved (ok, that was a bit of disturbance at times, but quite bearable.) The building managers were nice and the rental office staff, simply brilliant. How many people...

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