7/25, Hawkwatching

Red-Tailed Hawk over Morningside Park
Big sister (?) over Morningside Park, July 25

Hoping to catch the fledglings at a time when they were more active, perhaps even playing a game of "attack the sticks", I tried visiting Morningside Park much earlier than my usual. Passing the Cathedral just before 5:00, I was alerted that they were up and about when the attendant at the parking lot indicated he had just seen one (or both?) of them flying about.

Sure enough. Just before I reached Morningside Drive, a hawk zoomed low over the upper lawn from north to south, and after I crossed the street and got down the first set of steps, some flapping in one of the trees between the 116 Steps and the rockface revealed its location. But it was off to the south before photos could be taken. I tried following via the goat path but no hopeful sights or sounds were detected. However, it subsequently seemed that the robins were doing a poor job of issuing alarm chirps today.

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

After making a pass around the lower path of Morningside Park, making a casual inspection of the turtle pond (no egrets or herons today), and then back up to Morningside Drive (one oriole in the trees over the 116 Steps), I made my next hawk spotting at 5:24 while walking along the sidewalk just south of the 112th St. overlook. No prior warnings, just bang, a fledgling sitting in clear, unobstructed view on a branch about 25 feet away. (The perch was almost directly above the secret turkey hide-out.) The fledge seemed happy with the spot, looking around a bit, panting in the humidity, etc. After 5:30, he or she did seem intent on something to the east but stayed put for another couple minutes before flying over to a tree overlooking the softball diamonds.

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

I trucked down to the path below the hawk's new perch, figuring that if he/she was on the move, then that location would provide a better view of its destination. Looking up at the fledge's new spot, I shot a half dozen pix as it flapped a bit, apparently not happy with its perch. After lowering the camera, shifting to my right a few feet, and looking back up, oh, hey!... There was the other fledgling perched on a branch less than 10 feet away from the first. How long has it been there? Erm, was the one just flapping about the one that I had been watching earlier?

Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park Red-Tailed Hawk over Morningside Park

The moment of sibling togetherness was just a moment, as at 5:40 one of the pair took off flying toward the turtle pond, soaring and circling. Coming back? No, circling about again. Oh and, the other is also in the air. Things were confusing for a minute or two, as one tried to keep the hawks in sight even as they flew behind trees and then back out. And is that a crow that's now chasing one of them?

And unfortunately, that was it. By 5:45, the flesglings had disappeared somewhere west and perhaps north of the turtle pond, perhaps up toward Saint Luke's or somewhere over the dog run. I made a couple more passes about, checking the sidewalks along Morningside Drive up to 116th St, and the block of 110th St. over to Manhattan Ave., and of course around the softball diamond again, but no luck. By 6:20 it was time to leave and get something to eat.

Posted 7/25/2006 08:56:00 PM by Robert

Edit Post