8 December 2019
Today, I went on a bald eagle walk run by the New York City Parks Department. It was a pleasant walk through the woods, though initially very disappointing when it came to birds—any birds. We reached the end of the route and turned around. It was a rather large group, about 30 people, so about half headed back to the starting point along the road, while the rest retraced our steps through the woods. We were about 5 minutes away from the parking lot when one of the birders spotted the eagle. It stayed put for quite a while—my own pictures spanned about 10 minutes—before flying south. But it didn't fly very far and we were able to locate it again. That's the last picture—backlit, many branches in the way, and at longer range. As one birder said, though, on a normal bird walk we'd be thrilled with that good a sighting. Today, it almost didn't count.
One of the delights of birding is the opportunity to point out interesting birds to random passersby who would not otherwise have noticed them. (It was great, a few weeks ago, when I got to show a little kid a hawk eating a rat.) Today was especially sweet—a woman who was walking her dog told us of the hawks and owls she had seen in the park. She continued on her way, but luckily came back in time to see the eagle, a bird she'd never seen before.