7/26, Hawkwatching

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park

Tried the early arrival again today, but the hawks resisted being found for some time. I reached Morningside Park just after 5:00 -- first hawk sighting did not occur until 5:45. After a couple passes around the path and sidewalks south of the turtle pond with nothing more helpful than some subdued catbird squawking, I finally tried going north. Walking down into the park from the 114th St. entrance on Morningside Dr., I began to hear alarm chirping along the north side of the dog run. Finding the target of their attention proved difficult, as the chirps were coming from multiple trees and the foliage overhead was thick. But something was surely there, as without any apparent provocation, 30-40 pigeons on the ground by the pond suddenly vacated the area.

Finally after 10 minutes, a hawk fledgling flapped out of one tree and into another, perching just above the Bear and Faun fountain. The chirping subsided, but apparently the new spot wasn't much to the hawk's satisfaction. Within a few minutes, she flew off to a new tree, somewhere above the waterfall feeding the turtle pond.

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

After making a circuit around the dog run, I spent another 10 minutes trying to relocate the fledgling. I wasn't having much luck, but there was sufficient chirping in the area to suggest that she was still nearby. And the chirping involved jays -- much more helpful than robins. At 6:00 I found her in a tree, close to where I'd originally seen her. That didn't last long, as something to the south grabbed her attention and off she flew. At first I figured she was still somewhere fairly close by, but after a minute or two, it seemed like a trio of "I want attention" screeches came from toward the upper lawn. On reaching that area I saw a hawk circling near the Cathedral.

I'd lost sight of the hawk before I too got over to the Cathedral, but another sighting revealed (the same?) one just landing on a finial on the top roof. Using my glasses and later doublechecking photos on the computer revealed it was a fledgling, presumably the one seen just previously. But confusingly, it seemed even as I watched that fledgling preen atop the finial, I could also hear fledgling whining coming from somewhere lower down and to the right, perhaps atop Saint Columba Chapel.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk atop Cathedral of St. John the Divine I had no luck determining if the second fledgling was indeed in the area, nor in spying an adult hawk whose appearance might have triggered all the flying and whining. But while pacing the sidewalks and trying different viewpoints, I realized at 6:12 that the finial was empty but a hawk had perched at the very top of the Cathedral, but atop Gabriel's left wing rather than on his horn. Again, staring intently through glasses and then doublechecking pix revealed it to be a fledgling. There had been a couple times in the past when I was "certain" a fledgling had perched on Gabriel, but this was the first time that the photographic evidence was clear enough to prove it.

At 6:30, it was time to make an exit. The fledgling was still perched on Gabriel. The last fledgling whine has been heard at about 6:20, still seeming to emanate from down near the chapel roofs.

Posted 7/26/2006 09:21:00 PM by Robert

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