“Blood in the Sky,” my review of Helen Macdonald’s memoir H Is for Hawk, appears in the 23 April 2015 issue of the New York Review of Books (subscription required).
On Saturday afternoon, we drove with some birding friends out to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn in pursuit of the snowy owl, whose invasion of the continental United States had hit the front page of the New York Times that morning (a more ornithological report is here). Thanks to our highly developed tracking skills, we were able to hone in quickly on . . . a small cluster of parked cars, beside which were arrayed tripod-mounted cameras with lenses so large they were painted in camouflage. It was cool to see the snowy owl, which was sitting imperturbably in a field, the object of all lenses. Our friends set up a telescope, and it was also cool to discover that if you hold an Iphone up to the eyepiece of a telescope and jiggle it just right, you can take a photograph through the two devices. It looks at first as if all the phone will capture is glowing concentric blurs orbited by strange glints, but if you tilt the phone until one of the stray glints falls into the center, the glint blows up and then resolves into a perfectly focused image.