But first an aside: the starling story I mentioned has been accepted for Phantom, an anthology edited by Paul Tremblay and Sean Wallace, coming from Prime Books this summer. It’s entitled “Invasive Species”.

Ok, ok, the binoculars. Minox 8×42; much lighter, brighter, and sharper than the pair I’ve been carrying around for most of the last decade. I’d been considering the purchase for awhile, but my trip to Prospect Park with Corey and Mike of 10000 Birds convinced me that I was missing a lot of action by, well, not being able to see the action.

It just so happened that I had an appropriate chunk of money coming to me, due to my participation in an NYU medical study to determine if a popular malaria drug also protects against sun damage to the skin. My heritage being Irish and Polish, I am a veritable Pasty McSunburn and I spend every summer on an often-futile quest for the latest and greatest sunscreen products. So I figured I would be paying it forward by contributing to this research.

The downside was that a study to detect changes in the subjects’ skin requires pieces of, well, skin. Multiple punch biopsies, taken from that bit of my anatomy that is broadest and least exposed to the sun in the course of normal events. Ouch. I’ve dealt with skin biopsies before, so I was unconcerned. But people I told about it seemed to react with universal horror, culminating in my brother’s offer over Christmas to just give me $300 next time I needed it that bad. So I figured that I better spend the money on something nice, something I could point to years from now and get people to say, yeah, that was worth it. Well, at least obsessive dorks like me.

Thus, the new binoculars. Which I literally obtained by selling a piece of heiney*.

Took them to Central Park yesterday to get in practice with them. I still had a small, forlorn hope of seeing a Common Redpoll, and an equally faint inkling that the Ramble might be harboring an American Woodcock or two. Neither idea would bear fruit, although it did snow in appropriate Redpoll style a little bit and I did see that other, showier early spring migrant, a male Red-winged Blackbird. But the binoculars themselves were awesome. I could see for miles, as the Who would say.

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
Tufted Titmouse Baeolophus bicolor
Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus
Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus
Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinus
Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
American Goldfinch Cardeulis tristic
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias

*The Marxist-feminist analysis would suggest that I also got my last pair of binoculars that way, since The Inimitable Todd bought them for me for Christmas.