November 25, 2007

11/25, James's Harlem Bird Walk

Red-Tail over Morningside Park

Sorry for the lack of posts. The last time I was out for any sort of hawkwatching was on Oct. 1, the day of the falconry show. Not too many good pix from that, so I never got around to a blog post. Bruce did post about our viewing the Cathedral hawks hanging about Mount Sinai hospital afterwards, keeping an eye on the exotics in their territory. Since then I've been checking out some bikepaths in Manhattan, and the closest I've come to hawkwatching was keeping an eye peeled while skating in Riverside Park North and through Tompkins Square.

So about today... Seven of us met at James's apartment on Central Park North for his annual (?) Harlem birdwalk. First we went up to the roof to see who might be flying about the area. I quickly spotted someone hawklike perched in the utility tower of a project house over past Madison Ave.

Red-Tail in the Projects

The hawk is the dot sitting on a railing near the top right of the tower. She soon took off and was probably the red-tail that we viewed moments later soaring about between the projects and Harlem Meer.

Soon thereafter a juvie red-tail was spotted to the west, and it circled about for a few minutes, including a few passes directly overhead. No pix of that as I figured that as soon as I put my binoculars down, she'd disappear.

Then off for the birdwalk.

First over to Morningside Park and then turn north. Little of interest at first, although there was a sapsucker (probably a juvie) at about 116th St. and then a downie or hairy woodpecker a moment later. Also plenty of sparrows enjoying a drip near the lower 116th St. entrance to the park. Then a block north James looked up to check out a titmouse over the main path and spotted a red-tail soaring high overhead. Possibly the one we'd seen earlier.

Red-Tail over Morningside Park

Red-Tail over Morningside Park

By the time we made it to 125th St. we'd watched that red-tail circle about several times...

Red-Tail over Morningside Park

...and then caught a ten-second look at another just north of the park.

From there, north to St. Nicholas Park and past CCNY. On St. Nicholas Terrace at about 133rd. St, James spotted an Americal kestrel on a pipe atop a seemingly abandoned bulding (probably not, but many windows were broken out).

CCNY Kestrel

A minute later it dove off to the other side, toward the athletic fields but then re-appeared atop a telephone pole a block north. As we walked that one block, I considered that I might have gotten a glimpse of a peregrine off to the southwest, as Riverside Church was directly that way.

CCNY Kestrel

No sign of the area adult red-tails hanging about the gargoyles atop Shepard Hall at CCNY. Press on northward but break for a bite of food at a cafe at 147th St. On exiting the cafe, a hawk was spotted back down St. Nicholas Ave. toward the university, but unfortunately not by me.

The group started breaking up after that, and after passing alongside the top of Jackie Robinson Park, we were soon down to three. But more red-tails were yet to be spotted. From the Highbridge Park overlook, alongside the tower and above the bridge, a hawk was visible across the Harlem River soaring over 170th St. in the Bronx.

Bronx Red-Tail

It faded off to the east. Now down to just two us, James and I, we continued on toward the hawk nest in northern Highbridge Park. From another viewpoint at 186th St. I thought I saw another red-tail across the river, but it was too far away and heading the other direction.

Back up along the north end of Amsterdam Ave. we checked the antennae atop the Isabella senior care center but no hawk was visible. But walking another block north, we found that it was just a matter of perspective; a hawk was sitting on the other side of one of the antennae. We walked around the block to Audubon Ave. to get a better look.

Highbridge Hawk #1

Our guess was that this was dad of the Highbridge nesting pair. He shuffled his perch, and we shuffled sidewise to keep him in sight.

Highbridge Hawk #1

It was almost 3:00 and we thought of making a quick subway run up to the Broadway Bridge to check on the peregrines. But across the street from the subway station, we chanced to look north, and spotted the other Highbridge adult hawk. She was atop a chimney screen on an apartment building at the intersection of Fort George Hill and Fairview Ave., her feathers ruffling in the breeze.

Highbridge Hawk #2

And thus ended the walk. That was at least seven hawk sightings for me and probably six different hawks. Two adults, two juvies and the other two not known. Plus a kestrel, a species I had never gotten a decent look at before.