7/16, Hawkwatching

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park

I arrived at Morningside Park earlier than usual today, perhaps not the wisest move as the temperature had broken 90°F. At least the humidity was down so the heat was marginally bearable. In any event, after reaching the park at about 5:10, hawk finding proved difficult for some time. About 5-10 minutes after arrival I thought I heard a quick burst of hawkling feed-me cries from near the bottom of the 100 Steps, but it was just the one burst with no follow-up.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park First hawk sighting finally occurred at 5:45 when I had plopped down at the bottom of the 100 Steps for a few minutes of quiet in the shade. Moments later something large came flying straight at me from across the park and as my mind dimly realized it was hawk, and probably an adult, it banked right and disappeared somewhere over the foliage on the back side of the turtle pond. A couple smaller birds followed, apparently harassers making sure the hawk moved on.

I headed back up the steps to see if the hawk had perched somewhere. About halfway up came the sound of one long hawk screech, soon followed by a din of robin complaints. Presumably the hawk was parked atop one of the trees along Morningside Drive or at the top of the hill. At 5:55 I found her in the top of one of the trees on rockface hill. I suspect it's Isolde, and she's partially visible from about three places on the Morningside Drive sidewalk and from along the lower path in the park.

Double-Crested Cormorant in Morningside Park Approaching 7:00, after I've wondered around the lower end of Morningside Park a couple times, taken some photos of the cormorants in the turtle pond, etc., and I'm back down on the path along the side of the softball diamonds, looking up at Isolde, still in her tree after more than hour. Down the path I see a pedestrian apparently taking a photo with a small camera, and think that if he's spotted Isolde from that position he must have terrific eyesight. No, instead he's using his camera phone to take a picture of a fledgling only about 30 feet away, perched with wings spread so that all her light colored feathers are visible. Oy, how did I miss that? I just walked by that spot a minute ago.

A few minutes later that fledgling emits some I-want-attention screeches. Although I don't see what adult she's calling to, a doublecheck a minute later reveals that Isolde has vacated her treetop perch and flown off somewhere.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park

Moments later, Bruce arrived, after spending time in Central Park photgraphing the green heron babies. Good, that will give us two sets of eyes to watch for hawks. Actually, lots more than two, as at 7:20, one of the many neighborhood folk enjoying the evening in the park calls me over to the turtle pond area and points out the other hawk fledgling perched in the willow tree over the center of the pond. Further, there's a young heron hanging about the north end of the pond.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park Just before 7:30, the hawk in the willow takes flight, swooping over our heads to the trees on the east side of the park, but then flying back directly to the sibling perched close to the 100 Steps. She first alights in a tree to the south of her sib, but quickly changes to another just north. Five minutes later they're both in that tree, and a squirrel on a branch in between the two looks like he's caught in quandary about which way to make an exit.

At 7:40, a fledgling took flight to the east, heading for Manhattan Ave. and disappearing from our view just over the park wall and over a fire truck parked at the corner. Quickly following, the other fledge follows, but taking the high route and briefly perching on a branch high in one of the east side trees. Minutes later we lose track of her.

After pacing about a bit along Manhattan Ave., both Bruce and I soon give up on trying to find the fledges. He's had a full day of birding, and I've been in Morningside Park for approaching three hours. It's time to get myself outside something cold and liquid. On my way back through the park to head up to Morningside Drive, I almost get buzzed by one of the cormorants as they too make their exit for the day.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park

P.S. Don't forget to check the automatic settings on your camera before going hawkwatching. I had so many photos turn out way over-exposed today, it was just sad.

Posted 7/16/2006 09:07:00 PM by Robert

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