7/6, Hawkwatching

Divine Red-Tailed Hawks in Morningside Park

(Pictures from today's hawkwatching are in a FLickr photoset starting here. Don't forget to click on the "all sizes" button above each photo to access larger versions of the photos.)

Divine Red-Tailed Hawks in Morningside Park Today's hawkwatching was a much quieter experience, almost low-key, than the previous two days. Despite seeing just the two fledglings but neither parent, the day was successful in its own way. It certainly helped that the weather and the light were significantly better than yesterday, with the humidity way down and the sky half blue.

I arrived at Morningside Drive just after 6:30 and in the first minutes of looking around had no luck. But I soon bumped into Jean at the entrance at the corner of 110th Street, and she indicated that she had just seen a fledgling fly from the trees down at that end of the park back up toward where I had been. (Huh? Go figure.) After we walked back up to the 112th Street overlook, it wasn't long before a fledgling popped up from below us (as if she had been sitting on the park path steps) and into a tree about 50 feet away where we could easily watch her.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawks in Morningside Park I soon shifted over to the top of the nearby hill, above the rockface, to see if the view of the flegling's perch was any better. It wasn't, but the fledgling was in a cooperative mood and just after 7:00 flew over toward my position. She alit on the same dead tree branch where we had watched a fledgling last night.

Aside from a lot of preening by the one fledgling in view, it was beginning to look like there was going to be no other activity for the evening. There was frequent alarm chirping coming from the trees north of the perch, but we were unable to spot any other birds amongst the foliage. A pass along the path along the ballfields revealed no helpful sights or sounds. No parents were visible on any of their usual "sentry sites".

Divine Red-Tailed Hawks in Morningside Park But just after 7:30, the second fledgling suddenly flew out of the area from where all the suspicious chirping had been coming, and she perched on a branch just a few feet from her sibling. They sat calmly, looking around, but not much paying much attention to each other. And, hmmmmm... where are the parents? It's getting late for a feeding? Did we miss some activity before 6:30?

But the highlight of the evening, a small but quantum event in our observations of the fledglings, was about to occur. After 10-15 minutes of sibling togetherness, the first fledge decided to fly off. But rather than flap off to a nearby tree as has been par for the course this past week or more, she instead flew straight across Morningside Park to the top of a tree along Manhattan Ave., 400-450 feet away. This was the first time I had seen one the fledglings fly that distance, or perch in that area. Jean noted the fledge seemed to be getting some good lift and was becoming a more accomplished flier. Central Park, here we come.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawks in Morningside Park That was not quite the end of activity, as after a few minutes, the fledgling now on Manhattan Ave. shifted south into a tree near the corner of 112th Street. Then after five minutes she flew north to the top of a tree over the park entrance at 113th Street.

I hung about the 112th Street overlook for a while longer, keeping an eye on the second fledgling, who remained perched in the tree over the rockface the entire time. But by 8:20 it was time to call it a night.

Posted 7/06/2006 10:11:00 PM by Robert

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