"The researches of so many eminent scientific men have thrown so much darkness upon the subject that if they continue their researches we shall soon know nothing."

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bird Walking

It's funny how our childhood conditioning sticks with us. Eagle Rock Reservation is a county park not far from where I live. When I worked in West Orange for 17 years I used to drive through Eagle Rock every day (except in bad weather when the park roads were closed) to get to and from my office. The view of Manhattan is wonderful from there. But I have never actually been in the park much itself. In my childhood we used to drive through there too, but my mom would always warn us that we should *never* actually go into the park itself. She constantly told us that sex maniacs in the form of rapists and rapist/murderers lurked along the trails of Eagle Rock waiting to prey on the unwary who ventured off the road.

So I have enjoyed birding in many other country parks in the area, but have *never* ventured into Eagle Rock, even though it's been more than 40 years since mom made her dire warnings. Yet, as I've driven through the park I've noticed one parking area often filled with cars, and the people getting out of the cars heading into the park have been people with dogs, families with toddlers - quite normal, unmaniacal looking folks. So on Friday I was coming home from 1) my acupuncturist, and 2) my picture framer, where I had one of my paintings framed - and I was passing through Eagle Rock. And it was a glorious day and leaves were all ablaze. I had my binoculars and camera with me, and decided to stop and go for a walk! The vista above is what greated me as I headed down the trail and into the woods.

As I went further I came up along a ridge where there were breaks in the trees showing the Manhattan skyline. I had meant to walk just a short way in to check it out, but it was so marvelously lovely that each turn of the trail brought me to something else I needed to check out, and so I kept going and going - until suddenly my trail ended, giving out onto a suburban street. Where was I? I found a sign saying I was at Afterglow Ave. in Verona. Wow, I had no idea the park even went there. At that point I had to turn around and go back again, but the way back was just as lovely. I walked for 90 minutes, and saw maybe a half dozen other people on the trail, all quite normal folks. Except for one asian man with a huge camera with a foot-long lens all the other walkers had dogs with them. Everyone nodded politely and said hello, not a maniac among them. And I saw two new life birds! A hermit thrush and a ruby-crowned kinglet, bringing my Life List up to 135 birds.

That walk was so lovely that today I decided to take a walk at Rifle Camp Park(in the photo above), another park I've often driven through, but have never gotten off the beaten path of the road before. And it was lovely also. No new life birds but I saw birds galore, including multiple yellow-rumped warblers, and white-breasted nuthatches, and another ruby-crowned kinglet, and a northern mockingbird, a downy woodpecker, a goldfinch, tufted titmice, an eastern phoebe, 9 wild turkeys, several crows and blue jays - 18 species in all.

As I walked along the crest of the hill I also got a wonderful view of the Manhattan skyline. It was a bit hazy today, and the skyline does not show as clearly here as it did from Eagle Rock the other day.
So I used the zoom lens on my camera to show you what I was seeing! Anyway, not really FOOD related, but it is HEALTH related. Eating real food is what helps give me the energy to go on walks like this. When I used to eat JUNK, like sugars and refined grains and processed foods, I never had any energy. I dragged myself to work in the morning and then home again at night, and would occasionally drag myself to things in the evening or on weekends. But that's what it was, a drag! Now I WANT to do these things. I love doing them. The weather is glorious now and I'm already envisioning trips to the Great Swamp and to the Meadowlands.

And I think I'll even go back and explore more of Eagle Rock!

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