April 15, 2008

4/13, Kiddies Cluster at Cloisters, plus Riverside Peregrines

I'm still wondering if there's a ninth red-tail nest in Manhattan that has gone undiscovered. So Sunday I again headed uptown to check around Fort Tryon and points south. It turned out that the A train wasn't running north of 168th St. and I ended up on a shuttle bus which dropped me off at Broadway and Dyckman. Barely had I hiked up the park paths to reach the parking area on the north side of the Cloisters at 3:40 than I looked up to see two crows going after a red-tail.

Hawk and Crow

The red-tail didn't seem overly concerned but hung in there, and even seemed to be chasing a crow at times.

Hawk and Crow

Hawk and Crow

Hawk and Crow

The action stayed pretty much directly over the Cloisters, only moving higher in the sky as the trio circled about.

Hawk and Crow

Hawk and Crow

Still higher, and the birds get smaller and smaller.

Hawk and Crows

Hawk and Crows

Until finally the crows apparently decided that they were too high up, or that the red-tail was so high that he didn't threaten whatever they were protecting. They dropped out and the red-tail circled about some more on its own.

Red-ail over Cloisters

Then it drifted off to the southeast, finally disappearing somewhere in the general direction of George Washington HS. Hmmmmm, do you think that red-tail was George from the Highbridge nest? No, because a close look at pix indicated a year-old's transverse-striped tail.

Five minutes later over on the south side of the Cloisters, a red-tail appeared, flying in from the south. I briefly lost it over the building itself but a couple minutes later, it re-appeared. Well, maybe it was the same one, or maybe not. It might have been the same hawk as a couple minutes ago, but it wasn't the same one as ten minutes earlier, as this was a juvenile with one or two tail feathers missing.

Juvie Red-Tail at Cloisters

And... it's not alone. No, not the crows. Another red-tail.

Red-Tails over the Cloisters

And while I'm watching these two circle close to each other, it looks like there are two more just north, above the Cloisters. But no way to get them all in the same field of view.

The scene lasted just another 10-20 seconds before one of the hawks peeled off to the south. As I watched it, the other one or three disappeared to the north. Damn.

Ten minutes later as I was standing at the flagpole overlook, a red-tail again appeared from the south, hovering just 40 feet overhead. Then zoom! It bombed down into the woods by the dog run on the east side of the bluff.

I wandered about Fort Tryon for another 40 minutes, but it seemed that the hawks were gone or in hiding. This mourning dove seemed confident that there was no hawk by the dog run.

Fort Tryon Mourning Dove

But there was one last red-tail sighting to make. As I exited the south end of the park on the trail alongside the highway, I looked up and there it was, kiting in the breeze near Mother Cabrini High School. After a minute it disappeared behind an apartment building rooftop below 190th St.

Fort Tryon Red-Tail

And that seemed to be it for the day. Despite a long walk along Riverside Drive and the Hudson shoreline down to Morningside Heights, nary a raptor to be seen.

But wait, maybe? From around 134th St., I could see something large circling over Riverside Park by Grant's Tomb. Too far to be sure what it was, but it was either a red-tail (perhaps the juvie from Columbia) or else one of the Riverside Church peregrines. If the former then presumably the latter would eventually chase it off.

All quiet when I reached the church, but when I stopped at 6:25 to take a pic of a statue on the facade at the corner of 120th St... Zing! Directly overhead, two large birds seemed to collide. The action was too quick and the lighting too poor to immediately figure out what had happened, but the camera revealed all.

Riverside Peregrines

The two Riverside peregrines. Mama must have left the scrape for a bit, as I'm assured that she probably laid her eggs a couple weeks ago. One suggestion was that this was a mid-air food transfer from her mate.

Riverside Peregrines

And exit to Sunday dinner, for both peregrine and me.


  1. Wow, Rob, incredible flight photography! And terrific sightings as well. Thank you.

  2. nice action...looks like a prey transfer betwixt the peregrines. as for redtails nesting at ft. tryon, definitely a possibility. also have seen kestrels around there.