7/5-7/6, Breaking a Barrier

Red-Tail Fledgling Close-Up

A fallacy of hawkwatching is to assume that this year's red-tail fledglings will be found doing the same things in the same places as last year's fledglings. For example, last year around July 5-6, the two fledglings could often be found in Morningside Park perched on the dead tree branches on "rockface hill", the steep, rocky slope between 112th and 113th Sts. This year, I have only seen one perched in that area once. And instead I've seen two of this year's trio do something that I didn't observe's last year's kids do until July 14 or 15.

Thursday

An ugly day: overcast, muggy, and always seemingly on the verge of rain.

Reach Morningside Park around 6:10 or so. No sound from fledglings or complaining birds along lower Morningside Drive, and now it's already starting to sprinkle a bit. Observe the great egret in the park pond for a little while and walk back to south end of park.

6:48 - Having heard robin complaints near southeast corner of Morningside Park, check trees along the street. Finally realize that there is a hawk fledgling perched across the street on the security fence dividing apartment rooftops between 250 and 254 Manhattan Ave. A couple small birds are harassing her, and she's got a narrow perch between coils of barbed wire. A minute later she disappears.

Checking last year's photo collection, first observation of a fledgling perched on the rooftops across Manhattan Ave. may have been on July 14. For certain one of them crossed Manhattan Ave. and 110th St. on July 15.

6:51 - Now notice hawk perched all the way across the park on the roof of the south wing of the Cathedral School.

6:54 - Get one picture of school hawk from near corner of 110th and Columbus, just good enough to reveal that it's an adult. I suspect it's papa Tristan. Then he's gone.

7:06 - Checking out rockface hill, look across park to notice a hawk perched atop a fire escape on the apartment building at 272 Manhattan Ave., at the northeast corner of 111th St.

7:14 - Finally find the single spot on Manhattan Ave. from where the fledgling is visible.

Rooftop Red-Tail Fledgling

7:18 - Light is bad and weather's not much better. Time to exit the scene. Note on passing through Morningside Park that the fireflies are out an hour early.

7:22 - Last glimpse of fledgling from across park reveals she's still atop 272.

Friday

Weather significantly better after the rain last night cleared the humidity out. Temperatures not too bad, although the coming weekend doesn't look to be so nice.

And fledglings very active this evening.

6:36 p.m. - Along Morningside Drive, one of the regular dogwalkers says she saw two hawks perched in the park trees just south.

6:37 - And there's Brownie perched in plain sight near the 111th St. overlook.

Red-Tail Fledgling

6:39 - Looks like an adult just flew way overhead and alit somewhere on the apse of the cathedral, perhaps on a finial or a set of crenellations.

6:46 - Just as I'm thinking about heading further downhill to find the other fledgling supposedly about, a hawk flashes past heading north to south. Brownie lets off two whines and follows along. Presumably that flash was the adult seen a few minutes ago.

6:48 - A hawk takes off from the top of a tree near the southwest corner entrance of the park, heading east. That may have been the adult, exiting after a food delivery.

6:51 - Following robin noise, finally find a fledgling perched in a tree between the corner park entrance and the near-by playground area. If there was a food delivery, she didn't get any of it, because her crop looks empty and she whines now and again.

Red-Tail Fledgling

Definite dark belly feathers but not heavy. I think this is Eldest.

Nothing Like a Good Scratch

6:55 - Another fledgling comes out of a treetop just to the north and flaps over to a tree along 110th St.

Red-Tail Fledgling

6:59 - Okay, this is Brownie. It doesn't look like she's got anything in her crop either, and she's acting like she'd attack a mouse on the ground if she could spot one.

Red-Tail Fledgling

7:01 - Back to check on Eldest. She looks real hard at something on the ground...

Red-Tail Fledgling

...then takes off but heads toward the corner entrance, landing on a branch very close to park wall. Several pedestrians can't help but see her, and they stop to check her out.

Red-Tail Fledgling

7:05 - Cripe, she's only 10-15 feet from the sidewalk and almost at eye level. Have to back the lens off a bit to get all of her in the frame.

Red-Tail Fledgling

7:08 - Eldest takes off to the east. Looks like she's in the trees near the southeast corner entrance.

7:09 - Brownie still in the same spot as 10 minutes ago, but shifts to another branch as I pass by.

Red-Tail Fledgling

7:12 - As I reach southeast corner of Morningside Park, Eldest (I presume) exits area and heads back west.

7:15 - Brownie's left her spot too. A fledgling I can't identify is briefly seen flying over park path just below 111th St. overlook

7:19 - Plenty of catbird meowing near 111th St. overlook but no sign of a hawk fledgling. One catbird has her mouth too full to say much.

Catbird with Stuffed Face

7:23 - From steps at southwest corner entrance, brief sight of a fledgling flying north up the path. But I can't trace where she went.

7:30 - After walk up path and then back down Morningside Drive, another glimpse of a hawk flying back down the path toward south end of park.

7:37 - No luck listening or looking for fledglings in trees. Try standing in center of ballfields and wait to see a hawk fly around. Oh, there's mama Isolde perched on 301 West 110th. But she's perched on the edge of the roof rather than on an antenna. A small bird is divebombing at her, and within a minute Isolde gets off and drops off the roof, angling east toward Central Park.

7:43 - Robins are very noisy near southeast corner of park.

7:45 - And there are two fledglings perched on the edge of the roof at 272 Manhattan Ave.

Rooftop Red-Tail Fledglings

I'm not sure about this, but my feeling is that the one on the right is Brownie and the one at left Eldest. No sign of Youngest/Runt.

Good place to perch, too, especially if you like to sit and preen in the evening sun, catching a few rays before bedtime.

7:55 - Time to think about leaving. Crossing ballfields, look back and see both fledglings are still atop 272.

7:58 - But from far side of ballfields, look back and see that Brownie is gone, and Eldest is standing up like she's thinking about leaving, too.

Rooftop Red-Tail Fledgling

8:02 - Exiting Morningside Park at southwest corner, make turn around corner to walk up to Morningside Drive, and see a fledgling fly into a treetop 40 feet away.

Looking for a Place to Roost

8:10 - After some looking around, etc., fledgling (Eldest?) takes off.

Red-Tail Fledgling over Morningside Park

Oooh, she's a good flier.

Red-Tail Fledgling over Morningside Park

Three or four circles over the area and then zip, she's off toward the southeast corner of the park.

8:11 - Exit.

Posted 7/06/2007 11:49:00 PM by Robert

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