January 31, 2009

1/31, Inwood at Sunset

I took a long stroll up the Hudson side of upper Manhattan at the end of the afternoon. Despite gorgeous clear skies, hawk sightings were relatively few, and no luck at all spotting any bald eagles as others have in the area during the past few weeks.

First hawk sighting came at roughly 190th St., as a red-tail descended from the middle of Fort Tryon Park and soared out over the river, then south toward the George Washington Bridge. Unfortunately, I had the short lens on and was negotiating my way over the ice on the bikepath to take pix of the "temple" at Inspiration Point.

January 31

The next sighting came a half hour later after I exited the bikepath and was walking down Staff St. toward Inwood Hill Park. One of Inwood's resident red-tails came soaring over the top of the hill, circled twice, and then headed back north along the river. I still had the short lens on, but the circling gave me enough time to change and get a couple long-distance pix.

Red-Tail over Inwood

I walked up through Dyckman Fields and started up the trail that circles around the very north tip of the island and over to the Spuyten Duyvil side of Inwood. The red-tail had apparently been down somewhere near the railroad bridge. It popped up and soared over the trees, then perched uphill for a minute.

Inwood Hill Red-Tail

A big looking hawk, so my guess was that this was the Inwood mama.

As sunset got closer, she took off again, circled once and then headed over the hill toward the soccer field and the nest area. Fifteen minutes later, I found her perched on a tree perhaps 50 feet away from the nest. Over the next ten minutes, she shifted trees a couple times, and apparently went to roost in another tree about the same distance from the nest.

Inwood Hill Red-Tail

January 24, 2009

1/24, Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tail

January 24

With several alternatives to choose from for Saturday hawkwatching, I opted for a late afternoon visit to Tompkins Square Park. But as the light started to dim and the air get colder and no hawk was to be seen, I began to make a move toward leaving. But wait, it turns out that one of the two juvenile red-tails who's been hanging about the area is in the southwest corner of the park, overlooking Ave. A.

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

Within a couple minutes, she flies 100 feet deeper into the park. A couple of us theorize it's because she doesn't like the singing voice of one of the people hanging about near where she'd been perched.

She perches on a thick branch for a couple minutes, then hops down on one of the pathside fences, and gets to some serious looking around.

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

And makes eye contact a few times.

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

As this is going on, I learn lots of details about her habits from one of the local hawkwatchers. The locals figure the hawk is a she, because there's another immature hawk in the area who's smaller. The girl apparently likes squirrel meat, while the boy prefers pigeons. There's also an adult that's been seen, and guesswork is that there could be a nest over toward the ConEd plant at 13th St. and the FDR. (Of course, that's just a half mile north of the last year's PS188 nest on Houston St.)

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

After a few minutes on the fence, the hawk hops down onto the fenced-off lawn near-by and begins checking out a dead squirrel that's laying there.

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

After some finagling, she begins pulling off what tidbits she can get. This takes quite a while, during which I learn that the squirrel carcass is leftover from a meal she had a couple days ago. It's been laying in snow for most of the time.

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

After close to 10 minutes, she's done with the remnants of the squirrel. Back onto the fence for a beak-cleaning.

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

Then over to a low tree branch near Avenue A. There she does a lot of ogling of the ground cover. I'm told that this is a prime spot for mice. And as her crop doesn't looking very full, it looks like the hawk has had a poor afternoon of hunting and a few bits of old squirrel haven't been enough to quench her appetite.

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

A couple squirrels are moving around on branches overhead, but the hawk has apparently figured out that they're quicker than she is in these circumstances. It's more looking about for mice.

But no luck. Around 5:15 she turns around and flies off toward the center of the park. Sunset is past, so she's likely heading for a roosting spot.

January 17, 2009

1/17, Cathedral Cooper's Hawk

Stepped out of my apartment building just before 4:00 today and had barely made it to the corner of Broadway when a red-tailed hawk flew over, headed northish, perhaps in the general direction of Bloomingdale Square, what folks now call Straus Park. But despite a half hour of checking the area's rooftops, etc., that it was it for red-tail sightings.

Instead, as I was headed to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to take some pictures of the refurbished interior, I found a Cooper's hawk perched in the close on the south side of the cathedral.

Cathedral Coopie

This was about 10 minutes before sunset on a dreary afternoon. And as the hawk had a bulging crop, you could see it had it's roost picked out for the night.

January 15, 2009

1/15, West 110th St. Red-Tail

Yesterday, I caught a quick look at a red-tail on the Hendrik Hudson apts. on West 110th St., but it was being chased off by three crows and the episode went by too quick to be sure. Today, however, no doubts at all.

Walking up Broadway at about 2:20, the hawk was clearly visible from two blocks away, highlighted by sunlight on the corner of the HH annex at Broadway and 110th.

Broadway Red-Tailed Hawk

Unlike Monday last week, he seemed to be just hanging out, watching the day go by. Despite the cold, it was pretty nice out.

Broadway Red-Tailed Hawk

But five minutes later he started acting just a little antsy.

Broadway Red-Tailed Hawk

Then, as hawks are wont to do, he was off in a flash.

Broadway Red-Tailed Hawk

Arcing right around the corner and flying west along 110th St.

Broadway Red-Tailed Hawk

And then arcing right and disappearing over the top of the original Hendrik Hudson building. I suspect he landed there somewhere, as a half minute later when some pigeons flew that way, they all quickly did a U-turn and flew somewhere else.

Again, one wonders, who was this hawk? This time, we have an extra clue. First, pictures 4 and 5 above reveal an adult's red tail. The new clue is that picture 3 reveals a relatively light-colored iris in its eyes.

Those two factors suggest that if this is one of the cathedral hawks, it would have to be Norman. However, as noted last week, the adult red-tail who was hanging about the Columbia University quad in November had light irises, lighter than I think Norman may have at this point. I'm inclined to say that this is the CU hawk, and that it's not Norman.

January 11, 2009

1/11, Brown-Tail on the Great Hill

Great Hill Juvenile Red-Tail

Decided to check out Central Park this afternoon, but got a much later start than planned so hopes of seeing a raptor were slim. Nevertheless, I made three sightings, although it seems likely they were all the same bird.

First sighting came at 4:00 at the corner of Manhattan Ave. and 103rd St. The area pigeons were swirling around overhead for minutes on head. Finally I saw a red-tailed hawk fly in to land on top of one of the project houses to the west. It stayed only a minute or two and the headed south. The pigeons then settled down.

A few minutes later on Central Park West, a hawk came zooming north on a descending glide. I found it soon thereafter perched on the southwest side of the top of the Great Hill. It took off before I could the camera up and flew down in the direction of the ravine. Drat. the episode was too quick for me to get a sense of whether it was adult or juvenile red-tail.

After checking out the ravine, I headed up toward the Blockhouse, as that seems a likely spot to find a raptor going to roost in the dense tree cover. Some peering around, and oh, drat again. Something large dived out of a tree and headed down toward Lasker Rink.

But this time luck improved, as I found perched just the other side of the hilltop, overlooking the rink, was a juvenile red-tail.

Great Hill Juvenile Red-Tail

He didn't seem bothered by my presence, even as I did a full circuit underneath his tree. Maybe he was getting a second-hand high from the pot smoke that was coming from somewhere nearby.

Great Hill Juvenile Red-Tail

I wondered if this was the same somewhat small juvenile red-tail that I spotted at the north end of Morningside Park two days ago.

Five minutes later, he took off, shifting to a tree about 50-60 feet north.

Great Hill Juvenile Red-Tail

There his looking around continued. He seemed to be paying attention to what might be on the ground, and I noticed his crop didn't look full. Looking for a bedtime snack?

Great Hill Juvenile Red-Tail

A few minutes past sunset, one of the North Woods weirdos appeared and was jumping around and making noise not far away. Soon thereafter the hawk off, heading downhill and perhaps toward Harlem Meer.

Postscript: About an hour later as I walked past the pond in Morningside Park, I discovered a great blue heron hanging out with the two geese and dozen ducks.

January 9, 2009

1/9, Brown-Tail in Morningside Park

With a few minutes to spend just before sunset, I wandered over to Morningside Park and then up toward the north end. I was still thinking of the reports about a red-tailed hawk possibly going to roost up there.

No sign of one of the cathedral nesting pair, but after I'd made a quick look-see and was headed back south, I chanced to spy a red-tail in the park just below 119th St.

Morningside Juvenile Red-tail

And that looks like a juvenile's brown tail. Come to think of it, the hawk does look a little small, for all that it's fluffed up because of the 32°F temperatures.

Looks like his crop is full.

January 9

So all the looking around he's doing is just the red-tail thing. He's very casual about it, and not peering for prey on the ground. Looks my way every now and again, but generally looks eastward and southward. Maybe he saw Norman or Isolde earlier and is just making sure one of them isn't headed his way.

Morningside Juvenile Red-tail

I watched for ten minutes before the chilly air got to be too much. I left a minute after sunset, and the juvie looked like he was set with a roosting spot for the night.

January 5, 2009

1/5, Hunting on 110th Street

On a dreary, overcast Monday, a red-tail hawk was hunting pigeons on West 110th St. between Broadway and Riverside Drive. Walking up Broadway at 2:30, I first spotted the hawk perched right at 110 and Broadway, 120+ feet above the street on the SE corner of the Hendrik Hudson adjunct. As I was getting my camera out, it took off. It didn't go far, just shifting to a fire escape halfway across the building.

110th St Hawk

Within another minute it shifted again, over to the SW corner of the HH adjunct. The numerous pigeons in the area all flushed.

110th St Hawk and Potential Prey

And there the hawk stayed. Watching the street...

110th St Hawk

And eying the 50-60 pigeons perched on the roof of the main Hendrik Hudson building.

Of note, this was an adult red-tail, and not the juvie who was hunting around the corner on Broadway on Christmas Day. Was it one of the cathedral pair hunting a couple blocks west of their usual territory? Was it the 18-month-old red-tail who was hanging around Columbia University a month ago? Was it someone else?

January 2, 2009

1/2, First Hawk of the Year

First raptor sighting of the year for me came just before sunset today when I spotted a red-tailed hawk perched on an antenna on Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

Isolde in Harlem

The distance was about 900 feet from where I was standing, but it was an easy spotting. I wondered why I'd never seen a hawk perched there before. Maybe the antenna is new?

A moment past official sunset (4:40), the hawk took off toward the north end of Morningside Park. I thought it might be headed for Tristan's favorite roost at 117th St. if not further. But walking up Morningside Drive, I found Isolde perched between 114th St. and 115th St.

Isolde Goes to Roost

Her crop is stuffed so full that she must have had a very late and large dinner.

Although I thought that particular spot was a little exposed for a night-time roost, Isolde was still there when I left a bit more than 10 minutes later.