Friday, July 1, 2011

Strolling along the Sound, Running the Bronx River

Last night my mother and I indulged in some frozen dairy treats in Larchmont. We wanted to take a walk afterwards and I offered to take my mom to Manor Park. If all that is on Wikipedia is to be believed, it is quite an historic park. The history of which I was oblivious until a few moments ago, when I perused the aforementioned web page. What I did know of Manor Park is that is is strikingly beautiful. I as introduced to this gem a few years back by some friends. My mother who has lived in Westchester County most of her life was unaware of this reclusive park that opens out onto the expanse of the Long Island Sound. Standing on rocky outcrops that overlook the Sound you can watch the cormorants and gulls, the yachts and sail boats pass by, and see all the way to the Throgs Neck Bridge. I have climbed down to the shoreline and investigated the tidal pools finding Asteroidea, mollusks, and sundry other marine life.

Last night was a perfect evening. The air was cool and clear. We watched the sky change from azure to shades of pink and violet. We lingered among the fireflies and playing children, until it was getting quite dark and a patrolman asked us to leave the park.

Today I took my water-viewing west and ran alongside the Bronx River. There exists, as natives know, a ribbon park between the the Bronx River Parkway and the Amtrak Harlem line. It extends from Bronxville to White Plains, ending at the Kensico Dam. Today I just ran the bit from Tuckahoe to Scarsdale and back. When I am in better shape I hope to run the full distance this summer.

The weather was just perfect again today. It was very pleasant running in the shade. On one side there is the constant dull roar of cars on the Parkway, on the other you have the occasional whoosh of the Amtrak trains passing by. Yet this narrow park is still pretty and home to considerable wildlife. I always spot a few egrets standing or flying low across the waters. There are usually turtles sunning themselves on the logs. Today I nearly tripped over a chipmunk who seemed very startled by my giant lumbering presence. I tasted some mulberries of both the red and white variety. In past years I have come here to collect them for jams. A friend of mine who is a jammer also has harvested the abundant Japanese knotweed, an invasive species that is crowding out the local foliage along the river in several sections.

I stopped at one of the many bridges that criss-cross the river to peak down at the water. Yes, there are fish in this shallow river. I knew I had seen them before, but I wanted to confirm that they were still there. Although I recognize them, I don't know what species they are. Any tips on what fish inhabit the Bronx River between Bronxville and Scarsdale would be greatly appreciated. I am wondering if they are stocked, because of the waterfalls and artificial barriers, I am guessing they are not anadromous fish. It also seems too far upstream for that.

I have a lot to teach myself this summer before I begin teaching Bronx River ecology to a group of high school students in the fall.

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