New York never sleeps. As the entire world collides in this single city, we may think of an urbanist pinnacle when we mention the Big Apple, but beyond Central Park or the Bronx Zoo, there is a whole natural world filled with magical creatures, wonderful places and very different lights.
In my last trip I visited my brother Juango, who has been living in Brooklyn for a while and making awesome music from his Park Slope apartment. We hadn’t really hanged out by ourselves for a while and decided to get to know this “other” New York together; our own urban safari.
At 5am and under intense cold (specially for us Dominican kids) we headed to the shores of Jones Beach. As people from the Caribbean, our concept of “beach” is very different from that of northern folks, which is probably also a reason for the wonderful surprise we got once we arrived. Besides the magnificence of tundra-like landscape what really shocked me was the great smell of the ocean. It’s totally different from the aromas of the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. It is more crisp, almost more citrusy and hard.. more like a Riesling than a Port wine, which could be a good comparison.
Brants, dunlins, hawks, falcons and gulls all searched for food, sometimes crossing each others pass in that pursuit. Brants would blast-off, 5,000 birds at a time in what seemed like a massive invasion of angry birds, just to land in the same spot and go on their business. Dunlins would also do their own display, and even if it was more coordinated and harmonious, it was never as impressive as that of the brants.
When we went back to Brooklyn that afternoon, we drove down Flatbush and to Floyd Bennett Field to search for Snowy Owls. Owls right there in the heart of Brooklyn! The light was perfect: soft, round, warm…. and in only minutes we saw the magical bird laying over the grass. As NYPD helicopters took of and landed repeatedly from the airstrip right next to us, the Owl seem undisturbed, sometimes looking up and wondering about the strange and noisy machine in the air. We stood in silence and in the cold, and for a minute I would’ve sworn I was in the tundras of Alaska, and not in the heart Brooklyn.
This is only a little of that other New York; the hidden one. This is my first Wild New York adventure and these are some of the images I captured.
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