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Personal disclosure:  I used to enjoy playing football, but I’ve never watched a Super Bowl game.  I certainly have no feelings at all about any team, any sport.  But with all this talk of seahawks and broncos on ground hog day, I’m not oblivious: ground pork meatballs will go in my lunch stew.  This morning over coffee I decided to look up the history of the two teams soon to engage in New Jersey.  So the first owner of the broncos originally (prior to 1960) had a team called the bears.   And one of the two first investors in the seahawks was a Ned Skinner, scion of the Skinner & Eddy shipyard in Seattle and himself last owner/operator of the Alaska Steamship Company.

Anyhow . . . enjoy this digressive post, one that zags and zigs through a number of critters–like Stolt Bobcat–I’ve seen in the past year, as

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well as this unusual logo on the side of a junked truck,

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first signs of winter on the sixth boro,

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my favorite fishing bird,

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a quite effective gull,

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my company atop a mountain in January River,

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disciples of a certain waterborne tagger along the KVK,

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the only good rat I’ve seen in a while over at Sal Polisi’s shop near South Street Seaport,

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a beached shark, and finally

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some docked rays struggling in the light of morning sun’s rays over by Owl’s Head.  And speaking of rays and ground hog . . .

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I’m guessing Staten Island and Punxsutawney pick on ground hogs just because there are no convenient bears or badgers around to consult about winter weather.

Last critter word here, see a sea hawk and a bronco go toe-to-toe here.

Here was an earlier critter post.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who’s now off to grind the pork.

Ooops!  here’s one more critter link . . . from gCaptain, an inside look at a cattle/livestock carrier.

And another loops!  Read this NJstarledger article about birds here.

The past 24 hours has seemed the right time to reread parts of Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez. Not that I’ve ever visited the Arctic.  And ice is part of the bargain living at our latitude.

Ice is habitat, among many other things.  We see some, but if it was 20 in the sixth boro this morning, it was at least 10 degrees colder a single latitude farther north, and that means crossings like this, less than 50 miles north of New York City.

We catch a glimmer of the Arctic here in winter, as birds from the North migrate in and travel around in formations like the one beyond Comet.

The goose in the middle came in for a landing, over-extending forward, and needed to use the underside of its neck as a skid plate.

Buffleheads are the first migratory birds I notice each fall.

Gulls–most sorts are here all the time, although occasionally unusual gulls appear.  Stowaways?  Torm Margarethe and Doris Moran await clearance to enter.

Egrets fish, undeterred by having their feet in freezing water, although

a few weeks back in Chincoteague, a sole pony offered rides to a flock of birds.  Tender-footed ones, perhaps?  Really . ..  not a single bird rested on any other pony.  What was the social contract?

Watching these Brant geese swim out  (I thought of them  as surfers headed out beyond the breakers) through the wake of Comet, I recalled Lopez writing about snow geese:  “what absorbs me in these birds, beyond their beautiful whiteness, their astounding numbers, the great vigor of their lives, is how adroitly each bird joins the larger flock or departs from it.  And how each bird while it is part of the flock seems part of something larger than itself.  Another animal.  Never did I see a single goose move to accommodate one that was taking off, no matter how closely  bunched they seemed to be.  I never saw two birds so much as brush wingtips in the air, though surely they must.  They roll up into a headwind together in a seamless movement that brings thousands of them gently to the ground like falling leaves in but a few seconds.  Their movements are endlessly attractive to the eye because of a tension they create between the extended parabolic lines of their flight  and their abrupt but adroit movements, all of it in three dimensions.”

That “part of something larger than itself” makes itself visible as a flock of starlings moves through a tree with berries, a fruit crop reaped by an insatiable harvesting machine.

Without this cold season, I’d never have time to reread the books I savored before.  Nor would I find new ones.

The top foto comes from Paul Strubeck, crew on Cornell, who took the foto near Kingston.  I’ve seen eagles but never gotten a good foto.  Thanks, Paul. The next foto–kayaker passing eagle–comes from the flickr stream of ninjaracecar.  Thanks for putting these on flickr, ninjaracecar.  All other fotos here are mine, including the one below of my 28-year-old boss.  The green one.   For some really exotic bird fotos, see the ODock.

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