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.
Despite the fact that there are gates and unscreened windows in the house, we haven’t seen too many random animals inside, other than the occasional cat rapist. Last night, it was pouring rain outside. We opened the back door to our bedroom, which opens onto a veranda, so we could bring in the laundry before it was ruined. I saw a black shadow shoot across the ceiling and when I finally spotted it, I was surprised.
There was a bird sitting on the curtain rod…
Naturally, our cats started to go insane trying to catch the bird and as soon as I got a good photo of it we used a broom to shoo it back out the door before our bedroom was wrecked. I guess it was scared of the storm outside but it definitely wasn’t sleeping in our bedroom with us overnight. Luckily none of the cats chased him off into the neighborhood before we got the door closed!
Today was one of those big bursts of cleaning activity that I mentioned in the last post. We just looked around and decided that we couldn’t stand it anymore, changed into work clothes and then got cracking on taking out the trash and cleaning up the dining room, kitchen, the side and back of the house.
I did the side and back of the house because it required quite a bit of lifting of heavy stuff. There was a huge amount of half rotten wood laying around, most of which looked like broken bits of carpentry and cabinetry. I did find one piece of wood that looked like a gnarled tree branch stripped of bark. I have no idea what that was doing back there. I also found a basket full of torn and shredded clothing that I took out. Everything else was scrap metal, paper boxes, Styrofoam lids, broken broom handles, bottles half full of God only knows what sort of liquids and little plastic bits from broken toys.
So, what to do with all this crap? Well, in this rural neighborhood burning shit is completely legal, so I unleashed my inner pyromaniac and built a massive bonfire out of all of this rubbish, with the exception of the scrap metal which I intend to sell and reinvest into renovations. I heaped on the regular household trash as well as random sticks and yard debris that was in the area. I even through a half-rotten wooden bench into the pile.
I lit it off with burning newspaper and the end result was a big ball of flame that reached at least 8 feet into the air and kept me about 5 feet away from the fire until it burned down quite a bit. Who knew plastic burned so well? The wood burned down into a nice bed of coals that left me with a great place to toss other rubbish as we found it for the remainder of the afternoon.
It turned into quite a spectacle and after about an hour, half of the neighbors on the street were out to watch, including kids who decided to add whatever they could find to the blaze. It was inspirational. Other people decided it was a good time to burn their yard waste as well.
Unfortunately, the idea of taking pictures slipped my mind during the excitement, so I’ll just have to post a picture of the aftermath tomorrow.
I did get a picture of a giant toad I found though. It was hiding under some half-rotten wood on the side of the house. Kinda scared the crap out of me too. I didn’t know what I was looking at for the first few seconds. The toad is about the size of my outstretched hand and would sit comfortably on your average dinner plate. The second photo has my thumb in it for a bit of comparison, but I kept my hand a good distance away. I didn’t know if it would try to bite me or spray poison or something. There are a lot of weird animals out here. I had already dodged two giant brown cane spiders while clearing the back of the house previous to this find.
I also took a picture of the huge box full of scrap metal I collected. That’s not all of it.
The box in the above picture is the same box from yesterday’s post, just so you have some basis for judging it’s size.
By the end of the day I was covered in dirt, ash and grime, but I was feeling pretty good about the progress we made. I wasn’t quite as happy about the black boogers I was blowing out of my nose though.