May 31, 2009

5/30, Highbridge at Six Weeks

The Highbridge red-tail nest is usually one of the first two in Manhattan for eggs to hatch, and that means one of the first two for a fledging. Saturday marked six weeks, possibly a day less, so the fledging window was just about to open.

But once the trees leaf out, the Highbridge nest is hard to view. After some wandering around I finally found a couple spots on the mountain bike trail where the sightlines weren't too bad.

May 30

Shortly after I arrived, one of the parents briefly visited the nest (which helped me find the nest). Then there were a few minutes of wing flapping from the two kids. One of them stepped out onto a branch supporting the nest and perched for a minute. Then the two settled down, and for the next 45 minutes to an hour, the above pic of a nestling perched on the south side of the nest was the only thing to see. Preening was about as exciting as it got. Just as I prepared to leave, the second also popped its head up for a moment but settled back down.

From the looks of their headfeathers I figured that the two Highbridge nestlings were probably several days away from fledging. Perhaps one will still be there next Saturday. Maybe not.

May 16, 2009

5/16, Riverside Peregrine

Although I've been around Riverside Church many times in the past few months, today was the first time I managed to spot one of the resident peregrines since late last year.

Riverside Church Falcon

It did two or three circles around the church tower and 30 seconds later was gone.

Riverside Church Falcon

The spot where the peregrine scrape on the tower was located two years ago is obscured by the scaffolding that's been up for over a year now. So it's difficult to tell if the peregrines are still using that spot or have shifted to a different ledge to raise their family.

5/16, Highbridge at Four Weeks

The trees are all leafed out now, so viewing the Highbridge Park red-tailed hawk nest from the usual vantage point is now all but impossible. It doesn't help that Parks have apparently decided to renovate the adjacent dog run, so a chain link fence has appeared and finding the vantage point is a trick in and of itself.

In any event, checking in on the nest approximately four weeks after hatch (or possibly a day or two less), about all I could see at first was...

Highbridge Red-Tail Nest

Martha was in the nest and it looked like a feeding was in progress. The two kids acted like ravenous wolves.

And with the kids being (almost) four weeks old, that means that they're now big enough that they'll be looking over the edge of the nest. I made my way down to a spot that I recalled from two years ago where one can stand on the park path and peer up at the nest and possibly see someone looking back.

Highbridge Red-Tail Nestling

Sure enough, one of the kids was in a curious mood. But after one more sideways look...

Highbridge Red-Tail Nestling

He and his sibling apparently settled down for a nap. After 15-20 minutes of no further activity, I made my exit.

May 13, 2009

5/10, Mother's Day at Riverside

I arrived at the Riverside Park red-tail site around 4:15 on Mother's Day to just catch the tail end of a feeding. A couple little heads bobbed up and down a few times, and then they promptly lay down for a nap. Dad flew in soon after with a rat for their next meal, and he and mom mutually checked over their kids for a few minutes.

Riverside Red-Tail Mama and Papa

Dad then shifted out to perch on a branch almost overhanging the promenade.

Riverside Red-Tail Mama and Papa

And shifted again.

Riverside Red-Tail Mama and Papa

He perched in that breezy spot for five or ten minutes.

Riverside Red-Tail Papa

And then took off to the north.

Mom stayed in the nest for a bit, but then also took off. At first it looked she was going to perch in a tree 100 yards or so to the north, but when next spotted, she was way overhead, circling hundreds of feet up with her mate.

Eventually Riverside mom returned, but not directly to the nest. She perched for a while on the same branch that dad had been on earlier.

Riverside Red-Tail Mama

A very gusty spot on this windy day.

Riverside Red-Tail Mama

Then after a good scratch.

Riverside Red-Tail Mama

Went back to the shady nest.

Riverside Red-Tail Mama

May 9, 2009

5/9, Riverside Nestlings

I arrived at Riverside Park late Saturday afternoon, just late enough to miss the best viewing. Around 5:00 there had been a feeding of the three new red-tail nestlings, then mama and dad had briefly adjourned to another tree for their own meal. Just moments after my arrival, mama returned to the nest. After fussing with the position of a couple sticks, she settled down on one side of the nest to keep an eye on our alternately sleeping and squirming nestlings.

Mama Red-Tail and Nestlings

Papa stayed in a tree about 75 feet away for the next hour or so, mostly preening but sometimes squirrel-watching and sometimes ducking from attacks from a small bird.

May 9

Around 6:15 the kids in the nest were active for a bit, trying to get mom's attention.

Mama Red-Tail and Nestlings

Riverside Mama Hawk

Although she leaned in now and again, another feeding was not going to occur quite yet.