7/5, Hawkwatching

Divine Red-Tailed Hawks in Morningside Park

This evening was one of the odd ones for hawkwatching. Three of the Divine hawks were spotted, but they weren't in their most cooperative mood. Throw in that the light was dim because of overcast and humidity, the idiot robin that chirped meaningfully but unhelpfully for longer than a half hour, and an example or two of Morningside Park's lose savory views, and... well, at least I got a handful of okay pictures.

Red-Tailed Hawk on 110th Street I arrived at Morningside Drive around 6:45 and there was no immediate sign of hawks, nor of hawkwatchers. A stroll down the street provided some suggestive sounds of warning chirps from other birds, but none were helpful. Finally on arriving at the corner of 110th Street at 6:55 I spotted one of the hawk family; an adult was perched atop the water tower at 412 West 110th. Oddly, though, it seemed to be watching 109th Street rather than monitoring the park.

Walking into the park at the corner entrance and down to the ballfield level, I found Donegal along the path with her scope trained on a fledgling clearly in view. She was perched at the end of a dead tree limb over the rockface at the 112th Street line of the park. It wasn't a good sight line because of the backlighting, so I moved to the top of the hill where I could look down on the fledge and was able to shoot a few nice pictures, such as the large one above.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawks in Morningside Park After Donegal also shifted to the higher viewpoint, I wandered about a bit to look for the other fledgling, but again, despite suggestive chirping in several places. No luck.

The situation remained much the same -- quiet, just the one fledgling in view -- until it got nutty at 7:45. Some fledgling "feed me" cries were heard somewhere to the south, and then the fledge in view suddenly got up and flew that direction, disappearing into the foliage perhaps 200 feet away. Walking down the park path to see if I could pinpoint the source of the noise when suddenly a hawk appeared flying straight at me, passed about 15 feet overhead, and then briefly disappeared. I turned around to see where it went and it again burst from the foliage and flew off to a tree along Morningside Drive at the corner of 113th Street. And when I arrived at that point, it again took off, apparently toward the hospital. It was seen more time flying from one treetop to another near the 112th Street overlook. Twice during all this a clear look at bright red tail feathers was seen, indicating it was an adult, presumably just finishing a food deliver.

Neither of the fledglings was seen for the rest of the evening. The next hawk sighting wasn't made until after 8:00, when Donegal pointed out an adult perched on an apartment building south on Manhattan Ave. A view through her scope revealed it was Mama Isolde. A bit later I found the other perched on the favorite urn on the roof of St. Luke's. All during this period, we were tormented by a robin near the 112th Street overlook issuing warning chirps, but what it was complaining about we never could tell.

As we prepared to call it an evening, there were some more attention calls from a fledgling or fledglings in the trees southeast of the 112th Street overlook. Again, no sign of them, but a few minutes later, at 8:30, Isolde flew out of the trees in that area and perched on a gable at the Cathedral School. ANd with that, the evening came to a close.

Posted 7/05/2006 10:40:00 PM by Robert

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