Intimidating girl

The 51-year-old, himself the manager of a nature reserve in the Cotswolds, said: 'Normally starlings fly in loose and dispersed flocks.

But with the Peregrine Falcon circling around them they bunched together and coordinated and acted as one.

I’ve spent maybe two months, cumulatively, exploring New Orleans.

When I landed at the airport for this most recent visit, I already had a hotel that felt like home (The Columns), a least-favorite popular food (sorry, po’ boy fans), a local institution I recommend to all new visitors (Backstreet Cultural Museum in Tremé) and a favorite leather bar in the French Quarter for getting a cheap 11 a.m.

Among residents’ other regular complaints are the roads, which often seem to be more pothole than concrete, and the water quality, which had much of the city on a “boil water” advisory (including for bathing) due to frozen pipes just days before I arrived.

At the satirical Krewe du Vieux, the first major parade of Mardi Gras season, most floats were rebukes of the Sewerage & Water Board, whose failure to maintain drainage pumps resulted in damaging floods this summer.

I experienced that pride a bit when I wrote something offhand on Twitter about how locals were ending conversations by telling me to “be safe,” and that I got the impression that no one walked around after dark.

It was a badly worded tweet, though not entirely off base. New Orleans has a notorious violent crime rate, one that predominantly affects black men, but that sometimes spills over to tourists and residents.

The 52 Places Traveler Our new columnist — chosen (out of 13,000 applicants) to visit all of the spots on our 52 Places list — finds plenty to celebrate in New Orleans, including fierce pride and a spirit of forgiveness.

On my first trip to New Orleans, eight years ago, I bought a new pair of sneakers.


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