A Day at the Bronx Zoo

Last June, my wife and I took a trip up to the Bronx Zoo. Prior to moving back to New York City in 2010, I’d lived here as a kid, or visited numerous times, but I don’t know that I had ever been to the Bronx Zoo before. Anyway, we showed up about two hours after opening and, after some deliberation, went ahead and put out the extra money for the all-access passes instead of paying a-la-carte as we went through the zoo. The zoo has a large amount of free “content” but if you want the “premium” experience, you have to pay a heftier fee.

I think it was worth the money. We almost exclusively visited the premium areas, but ran out of time before seeing everything. Of course, some of the stuff we wouldn’t want to see anyway, because it was geared towards kids, but basically the Bronx Zoo is a two day experience, at least. There’s so much left that we didn’t see that we’re definitely going to have to go back again.

My favorite photos from our trip:

If you’re thinking of visiting the zoo, my only suggestions are to bring water, food (inside prices are out of control), a hat for shade and comfortable shoes for standing in lines for access to some of the premium areas like the Asia Monorail and the Dinosaur Safari, which we didn’t ride, but saw the line for while walking towards the butterfly garden.

The Hawks at Washington Square Park

Washington Park Hawk 1

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.

Washington Park Hawk 2

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.

Washington Park Hawk 3

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.

For more pics I took of the hawk, see my Google+ photo gallery, or do a Google search.

The Original Angry Birds? – AMNH Exhibit

The Original Angry Birds?

The Original Angry Birds?

A few weeks ago my wife and I went to the American Museum of Natural History here in New York City.  I’ll post more about that later, but I just wanted to share this image first.  When I saw it, the first thing I thought of was the Angry Birds games.  I think Rovio (the makers of Angry Birds) is based out of Finland, or at least that’s what their site says, but maybe the person who came up with the concept was thinking of this display window in the AMNH.  It has the whole idea in one scene:  broken eggs, angry birds, and the hogs (pigs) who are responsible.

Ostrich - Wart Hog

Ostrich - Wart Hog

Orchard Road’s Birds

A post about birds doesn’t sound exciting, but when I say there are birds in the trees, I mean there are birds in the trees on the scale of Alfred Hitchcock’s old movie, The Birds.

“Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds in 1:40”

As you walk down Orchard Road you can hear them up there.  It sounds as if there are hundreds, if not a thousand or more of them, roosting in the trees, squawking continuously at each other.  I suppose for citizens and long-time residents it sounds like background noise.  The first time I was down there, by Cineleisure Orchard, I thought something weird was going on.  They were so loud, and if you sit and watch long enough you’ll see them moving from tree to tree in groups of a dozen or more.

The most bizarre part of it all is that despite there being so many trees, and so many birds in those trees, I have yet to see a sizable quantity of bird crap on the sidewalks or road.  Orchard Road is a tourist area though, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there are workers out there at night spraying the area clean.  That’s probably a good idea regardless.  An excessive amount of bird feces could be hazardous to your health.  That reminds me of a story from when I was in Iraq, but that can wait til another time.

If you’re reading this from outside Singapore and you happen to find yourself on Orchard Road, especially in the Cineleisure Orchard area, keep your ears peeled and you’re sure to hear them.  After being in Singapore for a while those birds feel more like part of the scenery and make the area more interesting.  I can’t imagine being down there and not hearing them chirping en masse.