Friday, June 02, 2006

Oystercatchers, Oysters and the Brother Islands

"If there are oystercatchers, there's probably oysters, and if there are oysters, water quality is improving," he said.

“He,” in this case, is a bird-tour leader named Gabriel Willow. The Times went along on a boat tour past the Brother Islands – North and South – yesterday, and noted that not just American oystercatchers but egrets, black-crowned night herons and cormorants also nest there (the egrets and cormorants have been there for a couple of decades; the oystercatchers are more recent arrivals).

The Brothers are near Rikers Island, and lie between Queens and the Bronx. The Times thinks they islands are in the East River. They’re not. They’re in Long Island Sound. Of course 150 years ago oysters harvested off Norwalk were considered part of the East River trade, so I guess geographical perceptions change.

But I’ve long thought that New York City would be more diligent about cleaning up the Sound if it acknowledged that the water between Queens and the Bronx was, in fact, the Sound.

Regardless. If oystercatchers are around, as the man said, it’s good news.


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