Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

These are two photos that I’ve taken in the Greenbelt area (near Brielle Avenue and Rockland Avenue) of Staten Island in the last two weeks.

Blue Jays [Cyanocitta cristata]
White Tailed Deer [Odocolleus virginianus]
White Tailed Deer [Odocolleus virginianus]

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

The following are photos of egrets that I took in Staten Island, New York, where I live.

Photo taken at lake at Snug Harbor
Same guy as in first photo,  but now he is flying away from previous pose.
Photo taken at Willowbrook Park 2012

Staten Island’s Purple Martin Habitat

Purple Martins are the largest variety of swallow.

My Purple Mountain Habitat Movie.

One interesting aspect of visiting the habitat is seeing all the different styles of bird houses which is especially interesting if you want to build a bird house.

Staten Island’s  Purple Martin Habitat, located in Lemon Creek Park in Prince’s Bay, Staten Island, is the only sanctuary for purple martins in the 5 boroughs of New York city.  Prince’s Bay, the name itself, has a history.  This area was originally named by the English as Prince’s Bay, but then the apostrophe got dropped–carelessly undoubtedly–in writing, so it became Princes Bay.  Probably because someone thought that Princes was a misspelling for Princess, started calling it Princess Bay.  All the signs I saw in the area have Princess Bay as it’s name, but on Wikipedia it has its name as Prince’s Bay.  Whatever.

Purple Martin Habitat in Staten Island, NY. One sees such a great variety of bird houses that a person can get ideas of which kind they may like for their own yard. Besides birdhouses the habitat also has bird feeders kept full by local bird lovers.

Princess Bay, one of the nicest and most picturesque area of Staten Island, is located on the Atlantic Ocean and has a lovely beach area, a small park called Lemon Creek Park, and a boating dock where many Staten Islanders, who are lucky enough to own boats, moor their boats.  It’s one of my favorite places to visit in Staten Island and makes a lovely day in a park which includes a beach and things to see like the Blue Martin Habitat, and many kinds of birds. If you like to take nature photographs, this would be a good place to visit when you come to New York City.

If you visit Lemon Creek Park and Princess Bay, only a few blocks away is Wolf’s Pond, another wonderful nature site to see in Staten Island.  Wolf’s Pond also has a park, which is much larger and attracts many more families than Lemon Creek Pond.  Both parks have picnic tables.  One big drawback to Lemon Creek Park, that I can’t understand, is that it has no restroom facilities.  I have solved that problem, by using the restroom facilities at Staten Island University Hospital which is on Seguine Avenue on the way to the park.

A purple martin visiting one of the many bird houses in the Purple Martin Habitat.

Although a long trip, it’s easy to get to from Manhattan on public transportation.  After getting off the Staten Island Ferry in Staten Island, take the #78 bus to Seguine Avenue and then walk the rest of the way (it’s a long bus ride, but you will get a good tour of Staten Island).  On your walk there, you will also pass the Seguine Burke Plantation and probably see lots of peacocks.

Below are some of my photos of this area and things you will see if you should pay a visit.

Princess Bay Boating Docks. Located adjacent to the Purple Martin Habitat.
This is a scene you might see, as I did, if you walk from Hylan Blvd. up Seguine Avenue to Lemon Creek Park and the Purple Martin Habitat. The Peacock is on the back gate to the Seguine Burke Plantation.
Seguine Burke Plantation (built 1837)
On my last visit to Lemon Creek Park, I saw this Turkey Vulture who posed just long enough for me to get this shot before losing patience with me and flying away.  I hope he wasn’t after one of the purple martins.  The vulure was perched close to the Purple Martin habitat; however, it looked as if the Purple Martins were smart enough to vacate their premises until he left.  The drama of it all.  I feel the idea for a Disney Movie coming upon me, with the voice of Nathan Lane as the vulture.
Before my dog Mary died in 2008, we used to go to Princess Bay for an early morning walk on the beach.
Lemon Creek Park.  In the far, far distance is New Jersey.  Between Lemon Creek Park and New Jersey is Raritan Bay which opens up out into the Atlantic.

Staten Island’s Blue Heron Park

One of my favorite places to visit in Staten Island is Blue Heron Park.  If you are coming from Manhattan and using public transportation, after getting off the Staten Island Ferry in Staten Island, take the #78 bus and get off on Hylan Blvd. and Poillon.  It’s best to take a map, because half the time the bus drivers have no idea where it is.  From the corner of Poillon and Hylan, it’s just a short walk up Poillon, by a few of Staten Island’s most beautiful houses, to the first entrance to the park, which is right in front of Spring Pond.  It’s a long bus ride (about an hour), but you will get a good tour–through some of the worse parts and the best parts–of Staten Island for the price of a bus ride.

SPRING POND–March, 2012
Spring Pond in June, 2012

Spring Pond is a kettle pond, formed when the Wisconsin Ice Sheet left a large piece of ice that melted and formed a bowl-like depression, called a “kettle.” Rainwater and run-off filled the depression to form the pond.  Spring Pond is a wetland that naturally filters out pollution.

Lily Pads in March, 2012

Located near Raritan Bay, Blue Heron Park has 250 acres of meadows, streams, woodlands, and 6 ponds all of which I intend on exploring this spring and summer.

I visited the Park yesterday and took these photos.  I saw a flock of blue herons above Spring Pond, but they flew away before I could get my camera up and focused.  I’ll try again next week and update this blog with maybe some better photos.

At the park you can walk the trails while listening to the sounds of nature and watching a great variety of birds or do research in the nature library. The park offers all kinds of nature and craft/art programs and clubs for all ages. If you like nature photography, you will really enjoy yourself here.

Blue Heron Park is only a few blocks from Raritan Bay in Staten Island.

Spring Pond, Staten Island in March, 2012
At Spring Pond in Blue Heron Park, Egret with young blue heron below it.  Also notice snapping turtle.

Visit my other post “Staten Island’s Great Nature Trails” to view more nature walks in Staten Island.

A resident of Butterfly Pond Checking me Out.

All ecosystems change over time. Ponds become marsh then forests. Meadows and fields become forests. Eventually forests burn or are blown-down, and meadows sprout anew providing a home for a whole new succession of plants.

The round pile of leaves in the fork of a tree is a squirrel nest–called a drey. Dreys are located high off the ground for protection from predators. The surrounding branches protect the nest from wind and bad weather.
Butterfly pond in May. Butterfly pond in Blue Heron Park has a trail that goes around it and makes for a pleasant walk in the mornings.


These are a couple of new photos I took of Spring Pond on June 8, 2012

Blue Heron Pond in June, 2012.  Lily pads cover the pond.
Close-up of Lily on Lily Pad. The Lily pads almost cover the entire pond now. Although the Lily pads look as though they are floating on top of the water, they are connected to the bottom of the pond by long stems. The green leaves serve as landing strips for dragonflies and other insects, as well as frogs and newts.
spring pond on June 8, 2012 at 7:30 a.m.

The Pigeon — Photos (1984-2012)

I love pigeons. I feed them every day.

Pigeon on my windowsill. (1984) Los Angeles.
Open Shaft Way
Pigeon on Anderson Avenue, Port Richmond, Staten Island, NY
The Take Off
I printed this photo in negative mode and it came out with one of my favorite color combinations.
Pigeons Eating Breakfast.  I’ve discovered that pigeons like cornflakes, so I give them some, and I mix it with oats.  They get tired of just stale bread crumbs.
The contrast between the urban world and the natural world has always interested me. It’s as if nothing can be so completely urban as to keep all nature out.
The Trio
Pigeon showing off for my camera.  I feed the pigeons every day, so they are getting to know me, and are not afraid to get close to me, which helps me a lot with my photographing them.
Red Car, Staten Island
On the Street Where I Live
Blue Pigeon in Port Richmond, Staten Island, NY