A big Manhattan year : tales of competitive birding

From Jackie Cantwell
Author: David Barrett
Title: A big Manhattan year : tales of competitive birding
Most of us call the act of identifying birds in their natural environment “bird watching”. But the more serious refer to it as “birding”. And those who take birding very seriously sometimes compete with each other to have a “big year” or a “big day”, which is to spy the most birds in a given area in a certain amount of time. So the author, an Upper East Side Manhattan resident, attempted a Manhattan big year in 2012 after birding for only one year. He combined his love of training for competitive running races with his birding. Although there’s no prize awarded to the winner, one can see the totals on ebird.com. He details the preparation that goes into such a feat. First of all, one must buy a good pair of binoculars! One must study the physical appearances of many species and subspecies of birds, along with the bird calls they make, and how they look in flight. He partakes in guided birding walks through Central Park as well as consulting numerous websites, books, and signs up for text alerts of rare bird sightings. Migration patterns and Hurricane Sandy impacted his year greatly. His tone is conversational, and I learned about the different areas within Central Park, as well as Randall’s Island and northern Manhattan. He explains how technology such as the smartphone has aided birders tremendously. He says for the most part, birders are generous in wanting to share their knowledge and their finds. This is a truly unique glimpse into a world most of us never knew about. I dare you not to appreciate birds more after this read!

On the water : discovering America in a rowboat

From Alicja Feitzinger
author: Stone, Nathaniel
On the water : discovering America in a rowboat
Nathaniel Stone completed his 6,000-mile, 10 months-long adventure in 17-foot scull. He began his journey in Brooklyn, traveled up the Hudson, passed through the Erie Canal, portaged his craft to the Allegheny, and then headed on to the Ohio and down the Mississippi. At New Orleans, he took a break, got a larger boat, and continued rowing around Key West, along the coastline of the Atlantic to Maine.  The account of his journey is captivating.  His observations of places he visits and people he meets are interesting and insightful.
If you like to follow real life rowing or kayaking adventures, you might also enjoy reading Jake Stachovak’s blog  http://www.portagetoportage.com/ who is traveling in his kayak along a similar route and visiting New York and Long Island in early June 2010.