7/31, Hawkwatching

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park
Jays can be noisy enough to make the feathers on the back of your head stand up.

The fledglings took pity on me. Plural.

Despite having several things to try to get done today, I decided to make a pass over to Morningside Park to see if I could get one last look sight of the Divine red-tailed fledglings following yesterday's bust. The weather looks like it will be too unbearable for the next couple days to do any hawkwatching, and after that I go on vacation. By the time I get back the fledglings may have finally departed the scene.

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

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park Anyway, hawk discovery came quickly. I had barely entered Morningside Park just after 5:30 and begun walking around the dog run when Little Brother appeared in view. There had been no warning sounds from robins or jays. On the other hand, the dog run area had been decidely quiet, almost suspiciously quiet and nothing like the busy scene of squirrels and sparrows of yesterday. Little Brother was perched on a low branch on the hillside below the dog run, but above the Bear and Faun fountain. With wings spread and occasionally panting to shed heat, he was craning his neck this and way and that as he peered at something in the scrubby foliage along the hillside. What it was I never could tell, but one assumes there was something there given all the staring that was going on.

The quiet was briefly alleviated about 7 minutes later when a jay let off an alarm somewhere nearby, but then all was quiet. What was the jay so concerned about? And why have the 200 pigeons down below several times all flown up into the sky, circled around a time or two, and then landed again in the mess of bread and rice someone has spilled on the park path? What could be disturbing them? It's certainly not Little Brother, perched ever so quietly.

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

Perhaps the answer dropped in at about 5:53, when a flutter of wings announced the arrival of Big Sister hawk landing on a branch about 15 feet above Little Brother's head. She too did the intent-staring-at-the-ground thing, but for only a minute or two. She shifted her perch about a bit, in and out on the branch and over to a nearby branch. Less than 10 minutes later as I was trying to find a location which gave a better angle of her perch, she quietly took off, and only the brief sight of her circling once overhead revealed that she was leaving. When last seen she was heading over the upper lawn.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park
Big Sister on the high branch, looking off toward the Cathedral.

Little Brother stayed around for a bit longer, quiet all the while and apparently unperturbed by the efforts of one pigeon-fancying park user to make him leave. But finally at about 6:30, he stood up, turned around, and then flew off to the south, taking the low route rather than the high.

I too made my exit, making one last check at the top of rockface hill due to some chirping. But no hawks were in sight and the chirping quieted. And so it goes.

Posted 7/31/2006 11:50:00 PM by Robert

7/30, No-Luck Hawkwatching

There was no hawkwatching on Saturday because I had errands to run, and Sunday proved a bust. It was the first time I'd ventured over to the Cathedral/Morningside Park area this summer and not seen one of the Divine red-tails.

Sunday's attempts to locate the hawks began about 5:10 p.m., again following the route of working from the dog run in the north down to 110th St. in the south, and then back up to 116th St. Then repeat, inserting a short side-trip over to the northwest corner of Central Park. There were some interesting bird sounds at the start, with a jay calling out near the dog run and whatever the loud bird is that goes "wing wing wing wing wing". Also made the first sighting of the day of a mourning dove right then, and indeed there seemed to be too many small birds and squirrels on the ground then for there to also be a hawk around.

After that, well, there were constant sparrow chirps seemingly everywhere I went. (Well, not quite, maybe just half of the places.) But aside from the jay sounds at the start, there were never any other sounds suggestive of hawks. No robin alarms or catbird squawks, let alone red-tailed fledgling whining.

Just as I was getting ready to pack it in at 6:30 and head off for family dinner, I noticed a new water bird toward the back of Morningside Park's turtle pond. Checking on-line resources later indicated it was a black-crowned night heron in adult plumage.

Posted 7/30/2006 09:25:00 PM by Robert

7/28, Hawkwatching

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk atop School Scaffolding I was going to take the evening off and run some errands prior to vacation, but the hawks called me anyway. It turned into an evening of "exercise the photographer".

I reached Morningside Park around 6:10 or so and again tried a pass starting above the dog run and working south. First hawk sighting came at 6:30, when I was almost down down to the southwest corner of the park. Hearing a faint "squeep", I looked up and from the lower park path was able to see a fledgling perched atop the Cathedral School scaffolding. Its thinner build indicated that it was little brother.

I spent the next 20-25 minutes along Morningside Drive, keeping an eye on little brother and looking around for the other fledgling. There were occasional fledgling whines and because of the breeze, they sometimes seemed to come from somwhere just to the north. But after awhile I became convinced it was just little brother, and the cries were more an "I'm lonely" call rather than the raucous "mommy mommy mommy" noise that the fledglings make when an adult is in the area.

At about 6:55 I took my eye off little brother for a minute and then looked up to find the scaffolding empty. The fun had begun.

Little brother re-appeared a couple minutes later, flying from the trees near the 112th St. overlook and into a tree adjacent to the school. But he stayed there only a few mnutes before heading back the other way. He perched near the overlook for a couple minutes, leaning forward and peering intently to the northeast. Then he dove down toward the rockface, setting off a din of robin and catbird alarms.

Little brother stayed on a partially exposed branch above the rockface for about five minutes, then dove off to the south. I trucked down the 116 Steps in order to stroll the lower path and find his new position, but after a minute down there, alarm chirps over the rockface revealed that little brother had turned around and perched near where he'd just been. Tricksy little beggar. Hardly had I climbed back uphill then he again flew south, although this to a higher perch where I could at least still see him. (Good, my knees are getting tired.)

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

This new perch only lasted a minute or two before little brother returned over to the trees on the rockface. This time he picked a higher location, much obscured by foliage. It was fairly easy to keep an eye on him, but not to take any pix. But five minutes later, at 7:27, he was again off to the south, flying high enough that it seemed he was headed for somewhere near 110th St. After ten minutes of failing to figure out his new location, I called it a night.

Posted 7/28/2006 10:53:00 PM by Robert

7/27, Hawkwatching

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park
Little brother above the Morningside Park waterfall, July 27.

A good day for hawk photos, as the higher humidity was balanced by the extended cooperation of the Divines' little brother. Remember, you can click on any photo to see a larger version archived on Flickr; don't forget to click on the "All Sizes" button when you get there, because some of today's pix are available in very large sizes.

I reached Morningside Park at about 5:30 and decided after yesterday's events to start my search higher up the park. So this time I circled around the dog run before heading south past the turtle pond and doing the circuit around the lower end of the park. The idea didn't seem to work, as the only hints of hawks spotted during the tour was a scattering of pigeon feathers beneath a favored perch near the 111th St. overlook.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park Heading back north along the east side of the park, I noticed the horde of pigeons hanging about the Bear and Faun fountain/statue take to the air and perch in the nearby trees. It seemed a promising sign, and it became more promising when I reached the fountain and could hear a catbird squawling quietly somewhere to the northwest. Just before 6:00, as I started the climb up the steps alongside the dog run and tried to place the catbird's location, I was startled to see a hawk perched no more than 10 feet from me, silhouetted against a wide patch of open sky.

It was little brother hawk, sitting quietly where he could observe whoever passed by along the lower path alongside Morningside Ave. Every now and again something would grab his attention: a small dog, a crowd of noisy boys, etc. His crop looked empty, so I wondered if he would eventually get hungry enough to turn around and try nabbing one of the pigeons who had returned to the ground near the Bear and Faun.

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

Little brother pretty much remained in place for the next 20 minutes, then got up to stretch a bit and alter his perch so he could look the other direction. Hmmm, maybe now he'll give those pigeons some closer attention. At 6:22 he stood up in position to dive off the branch, fidgeted a bit, and then a minute later swooped down toward the pigeons. But no... at the last moment, he angled off to the right and toward the pond.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park

Four minutes later I re-located little brother flapping about in the foliage above the waterfall feeding the pond. Again he was doing some looking around, albeit with his back to the pond and several times shifting to another branch or an adjacent tree. Hmmm, no robins or other birds in the trees nearby. Something on the ground perhaps? At 6:35 he suddenly dove into the ground foliage just over the waterfall, but if he'd been going after prey (a mouse?), he missed and it took a minute or two to get himself extricated from the vegetation and back onto the nice perch.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park

After a few more minutes, I retreated from the scene, thinking little brother didn't need me providing further distraction from any possible prey. Also, it was evident that this particular perch would be visible from the path alongside the pond below. But watching from that vantage, I found that he was angled so that he could watch the goings on just where I was at. Hmmmm, lots of pigeons around, attracted by the kids feeding bread to the geese. Maybe I should stand farther away from the pigeons in case little brother swoops this way.

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

But again no, at about 7:00, little brother did try another swoop, but it was toward the dog run and out of sight. That was the last I saw of him. A woman on the steps north of the dog run indicated she had seen a hawk back up into the trees, but it wasn't clear where, and the kids goofing off in the area were making enough noise that any helpful bird calls would have been drowned out. Perhaps enough noise that a hawk fledgling would decide to go elsewhere. And so I made my exit.

Posted 7/27/2006 11:53:00 PM by Robert

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

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

7/23-7/24, Hawkwatching

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park
Little brother on the branch stump, July 24.

Not much time to work on pix and text the last couple days. Here's some text now and hopefully more photos soon.

But before reading further, be sure to read Bruce's comments about Saturday, July 22 and about Sunday, July 23.

Also, it seems that the New York Times took note of the Divine hawks this past week, running a photo and caption, but no article, in the Metro section on July 19. Their pic was of Isolde leaving the nest, and so I have to think it was taken a month ago and belately seeing print.

Sunday, July 23

I arrived at Morningside Park at about 5:30, and on entering the corner entrance at Morningside Drive and 110th St. immediately found Bruce, Cynthia, and two others along the goat path watching a fledgling whining for attention. The fledgling quickly flew off (too quickly for me to get any pix), heading across the park and north, perhaps up near the turtle pond but we didn't see.

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

Bruce then had to leave and during his departure showed me where the other fledgling was perched in a tree over 110th St., about halfway between Morningside Dr. and Manhattan Ave. and apparently above where the two fledglings had been playing "attack the sticks" a bit earlier. That fledgling then flew to a new perch a couple trees west, and I took a few pix from the 110th St. sidewalk. Walking back into the park to see if I get some pix from the other side, I either couldn't find the fledgling again or else it had flown off in the meantime.

But a few minutes later as I was walking alongside the softball diamonds, I came across one of the neighborhood folk showing some people (1) a hawk fledgling in a tree, looking down at (2) a wild turkey stepping through the ground foliage. I'd heard many times about the turkeys in Morningside Park, but this was the first time I'd seen one of them.

Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park The fledgling then flew off to the south, but it was soon located on a branch overlooking the goat path near the 111th St. overlook. After watching it from both along the path and then from the overlook, I had to make an exit as it was 6:20 and Sunday family dinner called.

It wasn't clear whether this last fledgling seen was the first or second one perviously seen. The one very helpful park user who had been watching them fly about described seeing one fly off over the Manhattan Ave. trees, but I became consued (easily so) which he might have been talking about. And as have many other park users, he indicated that the fledglings are more active earlier in the day. Finally, he claimed to have been a witness of a notorious incident a month or so ago in which a hawk nailed one or two of the ducklings by the turtle pond.

Monday, July 24

Red-Tailed Hawk atop Cathedral of St. John the Divine Approaching the park along 113th St. today, I immediately spotted a hawk perched atop at Gabriel's horn. That was at 6:45 p.m., and the hawk stayed there until at least 8:15. My first impression was that it was a fledgling, but subsequently examination of pix taken when it was standing up on the horn revealed that the tail feathers were a bit too bright. But whether it was Isolde or Tristan, well, I'd guess Isolde for no particular reason.

Entering Morningside Park and trotting down the 39 Steps and the 116 Steps to the turtle pond area, I found the one egret was still around. As I was looking about the pond to see what all might be making use of it today (ducks, geese, but no cormorant and no heron), one of the fledglings apparently entered the area, as just before 7:00 one of the park users pointed me toward the softball backstop by the basketball court. It looked a bit thin, so I believe it was little brother. He was apparently feeling active, as a couple minutes later, he flew over to the branch stump at the bottom of the hill, stayed there for about 4 minutes, and then flew south and into the trees somewhere near the 111th St. overlook.

I made a couple passes around the lower end of the park, listening for robin alarms along the lower path, the goat path, and the sidewalk. No luck, although I did confirm that the hiding spot used by the wild turkey yesterday is apparently a favorite spot, as it was there again this evening.

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

Beginning another pass along the lower park path at 7:40, I was alerted by fresh robin alarms on rockface hill that someone they didn't like had perched in the area. Hustling back up the hill, I found one of the fledgling quietly perched on a dead branch over the rockface, mostly looking around at the robins and only occasionally preening. Just after 8:00 it preened a bit, looked around a bit, then jettisoned unnecessary weight through the aft emissions port, stretched its wings a bit... and then sat back down.

Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park Thinking the fledgling would stay where it was for a few minutes, I shifted over to the upper lawn to check on the hawk on Gabriel's horn. Still there. But while looking up there I saw a hawk flying south at treetop level along Morningside Drive. My first reaction was that it was a hawk who had been perched somewhere atop Saint Luke's, but on checking the rockface a minute later, I found that the fledgling there had departed. Perhaps it was the same hawk, or perhaps it was a coincidence in timing.

Oh, well, time for me to make an exit also.

Update: Added pix late on July 25.

Posted 7/24/2006 11:47:00 PM by Robert

7/21, Hawkwatching

Friday was close to an empty night for hawks... almost. And no hawk pix worth showing.

The rain let up around 6:00, so I trucked over to Morningside Park at about 6:30. No hawks by the Cathedral. None in Morningside Park in the usual areas by the rockface and there are too many pigeons around. Not many people, though. The ducks look happy.

The same great egret is at the pond for the third day in a row (it's distinguishable by the mark on its left wing), and there's a cormorant for the first time since the start of the week. The egret isn't doing any fishing, but the cormorant is submarining, staying down for about 25 seconds at a time. Given the murkiness of the pond, one wonders how it finds any fish.

Made a pass around the path circling the softball fields. Bumped into Jackie walking her dog and she indicated that one of the Divine fledglings had been in the area in the morning, making a big ruckus in the trees just south of the rockface. No sight or sound now.

Great Egret in Morningside Park Back up to the pond. Another egret flies over at about 7:00 and circles, then alights in the very top of a tree just north of the pond. The sight of its neck and head sticking up from the treetop is strangely humorous. The cormorant is done fishing and is drying off. Then the egret in the tree takes off, circling twice before flying off to the south or southwest. If it was headed to Central Park, it took a strange route.

Made another pass around the ballfields. Still no hawks, and now the other egret is flying off. Might as well try a pass to the north... walked by the "aircraft carrier" and climbed the steps at 120th St. back up to Morningside Dr.

Slowly coming back south, I finally spotted a hawk at 7:40, perched on the top railing of the scaffolding on the Cathedral School. It's a fledgling and it wasn't there 20 minutes before. It doesn't seemed inclined to leave, so I head back to see if the trees or the rockface by the 116 Steps are harboring the other fledgling. No luck.

The fledge was still perched on the scaffolding at 8:07, after which I went to investigate robin alarms across the street from Saint Savior Chapel. Ten minutes doesn't reveal what they're upset about. By 8:20 the robins have shut up, rain is begining to lightly fall again, and the fledgling has ducked out of sight. Time for me to leave also.

On Saturday, I didn't head up to Morningside during the nice(r) weather in the afternoon as I was watching the Mets-Astros game on the tube. Arrived in the area at 7:00, just as rain was beginning to fall. Took a quick peek near the Cathedral School, but from its west side. No hawk sign, and the rain started to fall even harder.

Posted 7/22/2006 09:09:00 PM by Robert

7/19-7/20, Hawkwatching

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk at Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Gabriel and hawk at sunset, July 19.

A two-parter: Back to the Cathedral, and Where Did the Fledglings Go.

Wednesday, July 19

I hadn't even set foot on Morningside Drive Wednesday evening when fledgling whining grabbed my attention. Just before 7:00, while still on the sidewalk at the corner of Morningside and 113th St., I turned around to see a hawk on the corner of the eaves of St. Luke's just below The Urn. In a trice, it flew into the trees overhead and I lost track of it for the time being. My first reaction was that it had been an adult dropping off some food and I should watch the spot for a while to see if a fledgling would come to dinner. But no, no fledgling arrives.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk at Cathedral of St. John the Divine A few minutes later, the whining started back up, but over by the Cathedral. On the eave of the octagonal section of Saint Ansgar Chapel, a fledgling was looking down at something below, then up, around, and down again. Then he/she seemed to become very intent in looking at something away from the Cathedral and I wondered if there was a squirrel in the small trees alongside the chapel.

Close to 7:10, one of the regular dogwalkers came along and I chatted with her for a bit. Movement atop the chapel roof reclaimed our attention and we saw both the fledgling and a squirrel chasing around, although who was chasing whom was not particularly clear. They both went to the back side of the little roof and we paced up and down the sidewalk trying to get a better view. After a couple minutes we realized that the flegling was now perched atop the red brick "chimney" along the side of the Cathedral, and the squirrel had the chapel roof to himself.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk at Cathedral of St. John the Divine Well, that was enormously weird. And the fledgling was occasionally emitting I-want-attention calls, but if there was an adult around, we can't see it.

After 5-10 minutes, I headed down into Morningside Park to see if the other fledgling was around. The first clue was bad: there were a lot of pigeons near the turtle pond, and one usually just does not see them there. Hmmm, what's that? There's also a great egret in the turtle pond. In lieu of looking for hawks, I instead spent 10 minutes taking pix of the egret as it hunted for tiny fish.

Great Egret in Morningside Park Great Egret in Morningside Park

At 7:40 I was back up on 113th St. and the fledgling was still perched on the chimney. I turned my back for a moment to look around, heard the fledling cry for attention, and turned around to find he/she had moved out of sight. But someone getting his car from the parking lot pointed up at Gabriel, and sure enough there was a hawk up there. And then I could just see a hawk in the air to the side of the Cathedral.

Presumably this was an adult perched on Gabriel, and the fledgling was picking out a new perch somewhere along Morningside Drive. But when I rushed down near the 112th St. overlook, I saw the hawk in the air circling higher, and higher, and higher, and then swoosh... effortlessly soaring over toward the apartments on Frederick Douglass Circle. That was no fledgling; that was someone who learned how to fly a long time ago.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk over Morningside Drive

But who was perched on Gabriel's horn? There were no sounds along Morninsude Drive to indicate that a fledgling was around. And when was the last time we saw both of the adult hawks at the Cathedral at the same time? Over the next 30 minutes, I convinced myself that the hawk perched atop the Cathedral was a fledgling who has learned how to fly all the way up there. It could be, but the evening light is such that better optics would be needed to be sure. Drat.

At 8:20, the hawk on Gabriel's horn dropped off and soared downward over Morningside Drive. Some robin sounds briefly suggested that it might have perched near the 111th St. overlook.

Thursday, July 20

Yesterday was strange. Today was just nothing.

Thinking that an earlier arrival might result in viewing a feeding, I reached Morningside Drive by 6:20. No hawks were on the Cathedral. Some suggestive noise like fledgling calls came from near the Cathedral School, but I had no luck spotting one if it was actually there.

Heading down into the park... oh damn, a lot of pigeons were near the turtle pond, which meant there was nothing around which kills and eats pigeons. Well, at least the great egret was back, and there was to be another jazz performance.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk on 110th Street At 6:30, I do spot an adult hawk perched on the railing atop 352 West 110th St. It looks like Isolde.

I turned and watched the egret some more. It seemed to be very successfully hunting, nabbing a half dozen tiny fish in 10 minutes, but I wondered if it was hurt. There was a dark spot on the inside of its left wing and something like a bit of string wrapped around its right ankle, and hmmmm, it seemed to favor its right foot whenever it stepped along the concrete edging of the ponf.

At 6:40, all the pigeons in the area suddenly took off for the north, and I thought now it would be hawkwatching time. The adult perched on 110th St. was gone, so perhaps she has come somewhere closer. But after a couple passes around the lower end of the park, both low and high, there was just no sign of the hawks, not even a suggestive robin chirp.

Almost ready to pack it in at 7:50, I noticed Cynthia coming up the 116 Steps (formerly the 100 Steps, but now I've counted them), and she pointed out that a hawk has alit on Gabriel's horn. Probably an adult, and most likely it was Isolde. We made a pass down Morningside Dr. to listen if Isolde's appearance had triggered any fledgling cries. No dice. At 8:08, Isolde passed overhead, flying south of 300 West 110 and apparently heading for the Great Hill in Central Park.

So at the end of the evening, this ended up as the first time since I started watching the hawks that I failed to see one of the fledglings. I guess this is what empty-nest syndrome feels like.

Posted 7/20/2006 11:47:00 PM by Robert

7/18, Hawkwatching

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park

Despite the heat, I made the daily foray to Morningside Park, arriving this evening shortly after 7:00, with the temperature still at about 90°. Thankfully one of the fledglings was easily spotted, as within a few minutes I found little brother perched on the broken branch stump near the bottom of the 100 Steps. This was the same location where one of the fledglings perched Sunday evening.

A few minutes later, little brother left the stump and flew across the park and into a tree near the entrance at Manhattan Ave. and 113th St., just over the little playground. And from there he ducked through the tree and onto a branch on the other side, or to the next tree over.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park

From Manhattan Ave. it took some time to find the fledgling's new perch, despite the helpful complaints of three robins and a catbird. But after close to 10 minutes, I noticed some tawny breast feathers on a branch lower than I had thought to look. But was it the same fledgling? Perhaps the much different camera angle (I'm now looking upward at the hawk) distorted the impression, but this one seems to have a full crop and heavier shoulders. If I hadn't seen little brother fly over here a few minutes ago, I'd be certain this was big sister.

Perhaps I've been faked out and the fledglings have pulled a switcheroo. I kept an eye on the fledgling now in view for 15 minutes, watching him/her panting in the heat. With the full crop and the heat, it seems a safe guess that he/she will remain here for awhile, so I went for a stroll around the softball field perimeter to see/hear if there are any other hawks about. No dice, and when I returned to the turtle pond area, the one fledgling had disappeared.

Using the excuse of checking the park perimeter along Manhattan Ave., 100th St. and finally Morningside Dr., I made a circuitous exit from the scene. Just as I was about to duck back indoors and start uploading pix from the camera, rain started to sprinkle. Hooray!

Posted 7/18/2006 08:47:00 PM by Robert

7/17, Hawkwatching

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park

Despite the heat I made my now daily trip over to Morningside Park to check on the Divine red-tails, arriving just before 7 p.m. Finding one the hawks was a piece of cake, as a couple of park users by the turtle pond immediately pointed me toward the nearby softball diamond backstop. Little brother fledgling was perched there, but panting a bit and apparently thirsty. Immediately he tried flying north, but quickly landed on the park path almost in front of a pedestrian, perhaps forced down by the catbirds trying to keep him out of the trees. Turn around and back up to the backstop.

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

A few minutes later, another short flight put him in a tree over the picnic tables near the turtle pond, where he perched for a few minutes, again bothered by two catbirds and a robin. Then back to the backstop. and then a moment later down to the pavement alongside the diamond and next to the basketball court. Ah, he's checking out a little puddle. Yuck, he's drinking from it.

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

Whilst li'l bro was sipping, big sister fledgling quietly alit atop the backstop. A few minutes alter, the dynamic duo were perched side-by-side, and remained so for about 8-9 minutes, panting in the heat and looking around. Perhaps there was something in the trees along Manhattan Ave., as they looked up there quite a bit, but if so it was probably a smaller bird rather than an adult hawk.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawks in Morningside Park Divine Red-Tailed Hawks in Morningside Park

At 7:25, little brother turned around and flew off toward the 100 Steps, alighting in the tree where both fledglings had briefly been seen by Bruce and I yesterday evening. Big sister looked ready to go join him, but after fighting to get a foot un-stuck from the chain link mesh of the backtop, she apparently decided that was enough effort for the nonce. Might as well stay put.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park The fledglings remained in these locations for close to 40 minutes, not doing anything vigorously, not even preening. Why bother in these temperatures? Presumably the parents were also perched quietly somewhere.

At 8:05, little brother flew off again, this time heading south and turning into the trees near the 111th St. overlook. A few robin warning chirps suggested where he might be, but at this point, the heat had me beat too and I called it a night.

More pictures from this hawkwatching session are in my Flickr photoset starting here.

Posted 7/17/2006 10:41:00 PM by Robert