I spent the last several days in New York, and as many hours as I could wandering around Central Park. At Bank Rock Bay in the Ramble I saw this raccoon browsing in the foliage, then at the same time several turtles, including a real whopper-sized Snapping Turtle--probably around 2 feet long from head to tail. Looking over the bridge, a New Yorker near me was exclaiming that he had never seen one so huge here.
Further north in the Park in The Ravine near Harlem Meer we spotted a family of 3 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers--they flew before I could get a photo, but a couple of New Yorkers with binoculars and cameras helped us identify them.
All over the Park we could hear the beautiful twirring call of cardinals, a bird I miss out in the Pacific Northwest, and I finally took a good picture of this male.
Here's a butterfly--I think it's a Question Mark, Polygonia interrogationis, looking a bit the worse for wear--a major chunk is missing from its left wing! It's true that much in Central Park shows the wear and tear of the millions of people who visit and the effects of the surrounding megalopolis. There's no way any of it could be called pristine, and yet, what a marvel that these species can survive and thrive here--the amazing foresight of 19th century New York City planners, the beautiful Greensward Plan of Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, the important work today of the Central Park Conservancy, which cares for the Park, its trees and wildlife, employing scientists to test the water, the dirt, remove invasive species and maintain this haven. It's a place of beauty and rest and it is free and open to all. This is what parks are all about, whether they exist in wilderness or urban cores.