April 16, 2008

4/15-4/16, Flicker, Kestrel, Egret and a Hawk Switch-Off

Stormin' Norman
Stormin' Norman, Early Wednesday Evening

No sign of the hawks when I passed by the Cathedral at about 6:00 p.m., and no interesting birds at the Morningside Park pond when I passed by there. So over to the northwest corner of Central Park to see if I could either spot one of the Cathedral hawks hunting or perhaps the juvenile red-tail who's been hanging about the Pool recently.

Lots of bird sound atop the Great Hill and the North Woods. Who's that perching on the side of a tree and peering at the bark? A woodpecker? It pokes its head out of the shade and it's a male yellow-shafted northern flicker.

Northern Flicker

Bird guides say flickers like to eat ants from the ground, but this one is knocking on the tree a bit.

Northern Flicker

But in a rather desultory fashion. None of the authoritative manner I'm used to hearing woodpeckers apply. If I didn't have my hearing aids in I wouldn't hear him at all.

Northern Flicker

Otherwise, no particularly interesting bird sightings. Plenty of curious bird calls, i.e., the kind I don't recognize.

Passing by the Cathedral nest site at 7:30 I notice a small bird land on the scaffolding directly above the red-tail nest. Wondering what kind of bird is dumb and/or courageous enough to land so close to a hawk nest, I snap off a pick before it takes off a few seconds later. Ah! A little help from Photoshop reveals it's a kestrel!?

Cathedral Kestrel

(PS. James later told me that he had seen the red-tail Norman hunting down in the Douglass Houses at 104th St. around 7:00.)

Again no sign of hawk activity when I pass by the nest around 6:00. But today there's a great egret in the park pond. Barely have I arrived then it tries to spear a fish, and goes so deep that it almost looks like it's about to go swimming. It comes up with a good-sized goldfish.

Great Egret and Goldfish

It takes some work, but the egret manages to get the fish lined up so that it can go down in a single gulp.

Great Egret and Goldfish

The egret hangs around the north end of the pond for another 10 minutes, perched on a submerged log (the pond water level has been fairly high the last few days). Perhaps it hears something, because it takes off and then after circling around a couple times for altitude, it joins another egret flying past. The pair head off together toward Central Park, possibly to Harlem Meer.

I depart also, but on climbing back up to Morningside Drive, I see a hawk fluttering onto the scaffolding by the nest.

Isolde on the Cathedral Scaffolding

Based on the coloring, it's a bit hard to tell if this is Isolde returning from dinner or else Stormin' Norman coming in to take a turn at egg duty. (And give credit to James for giving the name Norman a bit more pizzazz.) Initially I suspect it's Norman, but when later viewing pix I finally remember to check the eye color. They're dark and deep, so it's Isolde.

She perches to the right of the nest for a minute, then switches over to the left side.

Isolde on the Cathedral Scaffolding

She eyes things to see if she can simply hop into the south entrance, but after a moment leaps off the scaffolding...

Isolde Returns to Her Nest

flies up to 113th St. and then does a U-turn and flies into the north side of the nest. She looks down to see how things are going, then around.

Isolde Returns to Her Nest

Once things meet with her approval, she hops in and instantly Norman pops out of the south side of the nest. He flies up to the hospital roof and perches on an eave. (Again, I intiially thought this might be Isolde, and perhaps there was a meal left there for her.) Then up to the pointy roof to get some air under his wings.

Norman atop St. Luke's

And then leaps.

Norman Leaves St. Luke's

He curls around to the north and out of sight behind the hospital.

And indeed that seems like a good time to leave.

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