From The New York Times - maybe someone could do this on Sydney Harbour?

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: From The New York Times - maybe someone could do this on Sydney Harbour?
From: Robert Gosford <>
Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2006 07:34:52 +1100
*The Great Cormorant Calls
Published: February 24, 2006
The handy water taxi service that laces the five boroughs is offering wintry trips for bird watchers. Experts from New York City Audubon are in the cockpit, looking for feathered sights among harbor flows and bridge pilings. The trips summon visions of urban birders leaping aboard with New York-minute metabolism: Take me to the horned grebe, driver, and step on it.

Not so. Audubon watchers report that the water birders aren't impatient at all. A score of birders aboard a water taxi enjoyed an urban rarity the other day: a great cormorant preening along the Gowanus Canal.

As special as the cormorant was, the more exotic sightings, at least by the standards of some cooped-up city dwellers, have been of harbor seals. The curious, sweet-faced creatures poked up from the inky waters as suddenly as a J train on the Williamsburg Bridge.

"The idea is to get people out of their apartments and see what's out there," explains Yigal Gelb, N.Y.C. Audubon's program director. There's a wide range of ecological trips newly arranged by the society ( as cures for Gotham cabin fever, including trips to eagle and owl territory up the Hudson and to the seal stopover haunts of Sandy Hook, N.J.

The Audubon message is that New York may not be Alaska, but Big Apple waters still support wildlife. Currently the city is a temperate oasis for birds from the far north, a teeming place to dive for food and not hit solid ice. The water birders relish the mergansers, brants and bufflehead ducks that nest in shoreline trees, soar across the skyscraper horizon and crash spectacularly into the waters, looking for prey.

After N.Y.C. Audubon and the water taxis ( teamed up last year, all the summer outings quickly sold out. Small wonder: it's hard to resist balmy sunset voyages, replete with wine, to the harbor heron islands in sight of La Guardia Airport. In contrast, the wintry 90-minute trips, at $25 per adult, continental breakfast included, attract smaller, hardier groups. There's room aboard on these cold Saturdays. Be the first to spot the peregrine falcon swooping from his nest on the Brooklyn Bridge. Or the first to linger inside the cabin for another mug of hot chocolate until a duck version of Pale Male looms in the headlines.


Robert Gosford
M Phil Candidate
Australian National University
Ph: (02) 4441 8717
Mob: 0419483760
Web email: 

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