Go birding this summer — you won’t egret it!
A Brooklyn bird-watcher reveals the best places in Brooklyn Bridge Park to spot avian activity in the new book “Birding at the Bridge.” First-time author Heather Wolf, who will also lead a birding class at Brooklyn Brainery on June 22, says that she wanted to share the colorful birds in the manmade park with anybirdy willing to take a peep.
“I want to raise awareness of all the birds that show up in our city and our parks, and the creation of habitats — they attract these birds,” said Wolf. “Build it and they will come.”
Wolf got her birding start while living in Florida, recording the many birds she saw along the coastal shores and sand dunes. When she moved to Brooklyn’s Columbia Street Waterfront District in 2012, she discovered Brooklyn Bridge Park right next door, and made it her own local spot — known as a patch — for birding, said Wolf.
“I knew of birding hotspots in NYC such as Central and Prospect Park, but was curious to see what birds were visiting my local park,” she said. “It didn’t take long to discover that Brooklyn Bridge Park was a residence and migration stopover for many of the same birds in the more heavily birded parks. I decided to go on a mini-quest to find as many birds as I could in my local patch.”
She has found 138 species of bird within Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is full of summer hot spots. The park’s Pier 1 is where toucan see cute baby hatchlings in their nest, said Wolf.
“Pier 1 is always one of the best spots in the park. The oldest section of the park has a lot of more mature trees, marsh habitats, and ponds,” she said. “During the summer, the best thing to see are young robins and European starlings who nest and raise their young.”
The gray catbird is another seasonal visitor to Brooklyn, so don’t let the opportunity to see it fly by, said Wolf.
“During the summer you can see them, they will be raising and feeding their young, and come fall they will head back down south,” she said.
Pier 2 is also a swanderful spot for shore bird sightings because of its tide pool, which creates the perfect muddy habitat for the water-loving avians, said Wolf.
“When the tide goes out, it creates a mud habitat, draws in Canada geese with ducklings and mallard geese, which are very cute,” she said. “And common grackle, they have a lot of nests in that area south of spiral pool.”
But fledgling birders must know one cardinal rule, said Wolf — do not ruin another birder’s shot! Wolf has occasionally had her photos disrupted by tourists asking her to take their picture, she said, but she tries to use those interruptions as an educational opportunity. Sometimes, she will even give the fowl fellows a glimpse of the feathered flocks.
“It doesn’t happen as much as you would think. They see the big camera lens and ask what I’m doing, and I’ll tell them about the birds and sometimes I’ll hand my binoculars to them,” Wolf said.
“Birding at the Bridge” is in bookstores now. $14.95.
“Birding in NYC” at Brooklyn Brainery [190 Underhill Ave. between Sterling and St. Johns Places in Prospect Heights, (347) 292–7246, www.brook