WARNING! GRAPHIC BLOODY WOUND PHOTO IN THIS POST! IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE IT CLICK HERE FOR SOME CUTESY-TYPE STUFF!
As I was walking through the very dark Forest Park yesterday morning at half past five so I could get to the Q53 Limited bus to take me to Jamaica Bay by the time the sun rose I thought to myself, “Man, this is really dumb. Who walks through a pitch-black New York City Park all alone before the sun comes up?”
Of course, I made it to the bus on Woodhaven Boulevard without incident, and I even spotted a Common Nighthawk overhead while waiting for the bus, but if I had been mugged it is not like it would have been the first time a birder has run into such a situation. In fact, we birders put ourselves into dangerous situations rather regularly, whether by going to sketchy areas at sketchy times to seek out migrants, or traveling to unstable parts of the world to try to find birds that only can be found in such areas or simply by getting out into the middle of the wilderness out of reach of cell phones and ambulances. The world’s leading lister, Phoebe Snetsinger, even died in a bus crash in Madagascar on a birding expedition.
I will say, however, that once I got off the bus at Jamaica Bay, crossed the very busy Cross Bay Boulevard, put my boots on and got out on the East Pond I didn’t feel like there was any danger whatsoever, despite the fact that last night, after I gently mocked Will about the birds I was going to see (he was going to come down from Albany to join me but couldn’t make it) his last email back to me ended with the strangely prophetic “I hope you sink up to your hips on the East Pond.”
Anway, once I was out on the pond I was pleased to come across Andrew, Shane, and Doug, and we started to make our way north up the east side of the pond, stopping to check out the shorebirds along the way. I had just added my first-of-the-year-for-Queens Western Sandpiper when it happened…
I took a step forward with my left foot and, well, my foot kept going. I ended up with muck over the top of my boot, up past my knee in fact, and with a sharp pain in my shin just below my knee. Once Shane pulled me out of the muck (I should note that camera, scope, and bins all stayed dry and mud-free) the reason for the pain became apparent: I had a nice gash across my leg that would definitely require stitches. Fortunately, Shane had a squeeze bottle of water, I had a towel and Doug had athletic tape so we jury-rigged a washing-out and bandage and Shane volunteered to walk out with me and drive me to an emergency room in Doug’s car, because Shane’s car was parked up at the north end of the pond. When we got off the pond and back to the visitor center Shane located a hose and I washed the wound down some more and then we headed to Jamaica Hospital, where I remembered to take this shot before getting stitched back together again:
It took a bucket of iodine, topical anesthetic, nine stitches, a tetanus shot, and a lollipop, but I am well on the road to recovery. It was surprisingly not painful to have iodine-soaked gauze applied to the wound prior to the anesthetic, but several hours later the pain came. I was surprised by how quickly I was treated in a big city hospital, but then again I guess that seven in the morning is not a peak point of emergency room business. Anyway, here is the after shot:
Shane was kind enough to wait for me to get done getting stitched up in order to give me a ride home. I have since heard that nothing majorly rare showed up on the East Pond so I can relax and not worry about missed birds, and maybe, this morning, I’ll take a walk (limp?) into Forest Park to look for warblers…after all, what could possibly go wrong there?
Many thanks to Doug and Andrew and Shane for not letting me be a fool by trying to get to the emergency room on my own and also many thanks to Gabrielle, the PA who stitched me up and kept me entertained with tales of the ER (though I think she was more entertained by the idea of having been injured looking for birds).
So, if you go to Jamaica Bay and are one of those who are brave (foolish?) enough to want to walk up the east side of the East Pond just remember to hug the phragmites as you approach the raunt. Do not, under any condition, walk between any pilings…that is where the hole is. And, above all else, don’t mock Will: that guy is dangerous!
Geez! That looks pretty grim. All the best to you, my friend, all the best, and I am very glad you were there with friends and also weren’t being an idiot “hero”.
However, you got your scar right in time before your son is born: you can show it to him in a couple of years and tell a spine-chilling story about how you had this little row with a Grizzly while looking for Timberline Sparrows in the Rockies. Then he’ll think that not only daddy is cool, but birding is as well! The things some people will do to get rid of the geek birder image.
You won’t tell him what really happened, right!?
By the way, I might have missed it in the post but what was it that cut so badly into your leg?
And all’s good that ends good: you didn’t miss any decent birds, and we all know that this is what matters the most!
Cheers, mate, I sincerely hope you’ll find yourself a consolation Swainson’s Warbler while limping (Linkin’? Ha!) through the (Forest) park…
@Jochen: Or, as Carrie said, now that I have Jamaica Bay mud in my bloodstream I will become some kind of Swamp Thing and my-soon-to-be-born child will run screaming in fear when he sees me…
And, no, I don’t know what actually cut me open. The going theory is rebar, though some think it was the skeleton of the last Eskimo Curlew…
OUCH…More likely to be the rusting broken tripod of the last birder to get infected by Jamaica Bay Swamp Flu though…
Don’t worry, we’ll do a suitable memorial for you (an Aside or something I suppose – what do you think Mike?)
Charlie, to follow up on Carrie’s hypothesis, I suggest weekly portrait pictures of Corey. Maybe one day his son will want to know what happened, and how his dad mutated from an ordinary pagan priest of the secret and sacred Kazakhstani Order of the Goat into a Swamp Thing, Terror of the Snapping Turtles, inhabiting the mudholes of Jamaica Bay and inflicting deep cutting wounds to the legs of birders who venture out too far onto the mud flats of his black and moldy realm.
Rebar? What the heck is rebar doing buried at Jamaica Bay? I agree with Charlie’s departed tripod theory. I imagine a sea of swirling birders ghosts buried beneath the muck. But seriously man, that’s a pretty good gash. Didn’t you say that you considered continuing on in your facebook update? You’re nuts. That’s hardcore.
@Patrick: The old pilings had to be put on top of something…I read somewhere that the pilings held speakeasies during prohibition but I wouldn’t vouch for taht as fact. Anyway, almost anything could be buried under all that muck!
Jochen has the right idea. We should blog Corey’s transformation into the muck guardian of Jamaica Bay. Anyway, I think you cut yourself on Jimmy Hoffa’s femur.
Looks like an attack by the rare Northern Aquatic Chupacabra to me.
Awwww, Now I’m going to feel bad… Yes I did say “I hope you sink up to your hips on the East Pond”, but you took it too far! 🙂
Now I’m going to HAVE to come down there and make it up to you!
With a warning like that at the top, how could anyone not look to see what was so grisly?
The sharp thing could be construction debris tossed into the pond from either the railroad or Cross Bay Blvd. I believe the East Pond used to be a channel between two islands before the north and south ends were filled in, so there could be sunken boats, rotting piers, fishing equipment, etc., down there.
If you do start turning into a Swamp Thing, make sure to post pictures!
A quick google search turned up a history of Jamaica Bay (in PDF form), and I think what I hurt myself on was remnants of old fishing shacks (pp. 57-59 are most relevant).
Wow, Corey, I am glad I was forewarned about the graphicness of the photos! That PA had excellent sewing skills… that was a wide gash to try to pull together!
I am glad you are on the mend, but I have to agree with sentiments to the effect that “Swamp Thing Fever” is most probably unavoidable and you will have a challenge getting better w/o permanent damage. I can only hope that Daisy and your child will be able to adjust to all that “glowing in the dark” you will be doing!
Hmmmm, “Dickspiza Chung-Swampthing”.
This boy will need good friends.
Good that you are okay and didn’t missed anything. Good friends are hard to find and those guys are surely good ones.
I’m glad you got a lollipop. It’s easy to overlook that step in a busy (or not so busy) ER, and it’s that, not the stitches and iodine, that provides the healing.
that looks very grusome you can always say u got attacked my a man eating bird and you were one of few to survive with only with a wound to show the terrible battle by. You can say that a killer seagull swooped down and grabbed your birder friends and you were the only one to run the seagull grabbed your leg but you got out.
Quote Jochen: “Hmmmm, “Dickspiza Chung-Swampthing”. This boy will need good friends”
And a lot of therapy.