November 28, 2006

11/28, Amsterdam Parakeets

Monk Parakeet Nest

As briefly mentioned a couple days ago, a monk parakeet nest has been sighted in Manhattan, apparently after a couple months of rumors of a possible nest in Riverside Park. Presumably they're emigrés from Brooklyn. Better yet, the newly found nest is right here in Bloomingdale Village. (Well, sort of on the edge of it. It depends on where you draw neighborhood boundaries.)

I passed by yesterday just after noon and found the nest but saw no activity. Today at 12:30, however, one of the new residents was doing a little housework, trimming twigs from the doorway to reduce the chances of getting poked when going in and out.

Given this particular nest's location, it's apparently going to house just the one couple. But all eyes are now peeled for their friends and relatives moving into the 'hood.

November 26, 2006

11/26, Isolde Guards the Compost Hill

Red-Tailed Hawk
Isolde at the Compost Hill, Nov. 26.

I missed out on hawkwatching on Friday and Saturday having been out of town for Thanksgiving (although I did see a hawk perched over I-95 near Charlotte Saturday morning). But Sunday came and I had adequate time. After seeing two reports of hawk activity near the Great Hill in Central Park (last Sunday by Lincoln and then yesterday by Jim O.), I decided to spend the afternoon looking for Tristan and Isolde, the Cathedral Hawks. Success was fairly quick but only halfway.

Since Jim had indicated his video of the hawks was taken near Sparrow Rock, I headed there first. Arriving at about 1:45, I had barely been there a minute when something large flew not far overhead. At first I thought it was yet another gull, but this bird was heading east, rather than south or west like the gulls. Better yet it had "spread fingers" at the end of its wings. With most of the foliage having fallen from the trees, I was able to keep an eye on it as it flew over the compost hill and then did a U-turn back into a treetop.

By 1:55 I had the hawk in the D-50's viewfinder, and it definitely looked like a red-tail: right shape, belly-band, etc. But hey, the tail feathers are brown and white stripey, so it's a first-year. Hmmmm.

Red-Tailed Hawk at Central Park's Compost Hill Red-Tailed Hawk at Central Park's Compost Hill

The mystery of this juvenile hawk's identity was probably solved ten minutes later. As I was maneuvering about looking for a better photo angle, and then kicking a stray soccer ball back to where it belonged, the hawk disappeared from its branch. Damn. I trotted back up to the top of the service road in the compost area, checking treetops to the west and the sky to the south. Turning around I saw a hawk coming from the north and landing higher up the same tree, but in less time than it takes to count to three, it was back in the air and flying south towards the Met. Ah, this seems to have been the juvie that Lincoln has reported several times, alternately calling it Stinker or Poopee.

I had moved back to Sparrow Rock while trying to keep an eye on the departing first-year, but several minutes of scanning the sky suggested it wasn't coming back. Okay, perhaps I should head over to Green Hill where I'd be better able to scan the treetops about the Great Hill. But whoa, there's a hawk perched in the tree where the juvie was five minutes ago. And there's a red gleam coming off its tail in the sunlight. An adult!

Red-Tailed Hawk Red-Tailed Hawk

A bulb fitfully begins to glimmer in the brain. This newly perched hawk is either Tristan or Isolde, and the first-year was an interloper who has just been chased off. Or fled before it could be chased. D'oh.

It doesn't take long before I decide that the new red-tailed hawk perched atop compost hill was Isolde. The belly band was darker, the shoulders seemed brown, and frankly, it was just built more like Isolde than Tristan. The breast feathers seem a bit more tawny than I recall from June or July, but that may just have been the viewing angle.

Red-Tailed Hawk Red-Tailed Hawk

At this point it had been less than a half hour since I arrived in the Sparrow Rock vicinity, but it would turn out to be pretty much all the hawk activity I'd see. Isolde stayed put for the next two hours, hardly budging except to reverse her perch three or four times and occasionally do some stretching. I strolled away a few times to check the Wildflower Meadow and the top of Green Hill to see if I could espy Tristan, but no luck. And Isolde was still in the same spot whenever I came back. The only other interesting sighting was a bat which began flitting about over the meadow around 3:50.

Red-Tailed Hawk Just after 4:00 I called it a day and began heading out of the park, heading west along the service road and then north over the Great Hill, scanning treetops for signs of Tristan. No luck; just more bats. Passing by the Cathedral, there was no sign of hawk activity, although I found out later that Bruce had seen Tristan there Saturday, perched on Gabriel's horn.

November 20, 2006

11/19, Palemale and Lola

Palemale by the Turtle Pond
Palemale by the Turtle Pond, Nov. 19

Sunday I was determined to do two things I'd been planning to do for some time and which were conveniently close to each other. So even though I got started later than I should have, it was time for a little hawkwatching, and then into the Metropolitan Museum to see the exhibition on Americans in Paris. There'd be no messing about looking for hawks by the Central Park Loch, just go straight to the south end of the Great Lawn.

I entered the park at West 90th St. and passed alongside the Reservoir, stopping just before 3:30 to take some shots for a panorama from its southwest corner.

Central Park Reservoir Panorama #4

From there I headed south directly across the Great Lawn, stopping to take more pix for panoramas (not posted here because the pano stitching programs are putting up a fight). Finding a hawk turned out to be a gimme. I'd been looking up at the flag pole at Belvedere Castle and scanning the windows at the Beresford, but no luck. Then as I was about to reach the path alongside the south end of the lawn, I looked up to see a red-tail perched on the scaffolding of the Delacorte. Subsequent examinaton of photos revealed that it was Lola.

Lola at the Delacorte But Lola wsn't the only hawk around. Even as I was snapping my first pix of her, another was soaring overhead. Palemale? Possibly, but if so he was sneaky because it wouldn't be long before I encountered him in an entirely different direction. Perhaps it was instead one of the other two hawks, maybe the juvenile, that Lincoln reported were in the area on Saturday. But that hawk was quickly gone and it was back to watching Lola... which didn't last long. Two minutes later she dropped off the scaffolding, flew directly over my head and headed southeast across the Turtle Pond and over the trees beyond.

Palemale by the Turtle Pond I headed off along the path on the north side of the Turtle Pond, figuring to check for Lola around Cedar Hill, but hadn't gone more than a hundred yards before spotting Lincoln shooting pix of Palemale perched in one of the trees in the pond-side lawn. Numerous passers-by got an eyeful of His Majesty as his perch was close to the path and the tree was almost bare of foliage.

Palemale would hang about in that area for about the next 15 minutes, swooping off just once to try catching something in the dead reeds alongside the pond, and then coming back. Startled duck squawking of course ensued as he buzzed the mallards on his way back to his perch.

A couple minutes before 4:00, Palemale too decided it was time to exit to the southeast apparently headed for Cedar Hill or the Boat Pond. And as I slowly made my way out of the Turtle Pond area, I again looked up see another hawk in the area, flying south toward the same area but at a higher altitude. Lola?

A few minutes after 4:00, Palemale was found atop one of the cedars of Cedar Hill, seemingly surveying his domain alongside the back side of the Met as the sun set and the light dimmed. A few minutes later, he perhaps decided it was time to find a roost for the night and flew off to the north, headed for the Hamilton statue area or the east side Pinetum. My last glimpse of him as I hurried up the east loop road was of a pale pair of underwings disappearing into the trees a few hundred yards north. After ten minutes of fruitless searching, it was time to see some paintings.

PS. In addition to the above, there are another half dozen photos from the day on my Flickr page. Just click on any of the pix above to go there.