March 21, 2010

3/21, New Highbridge Red-Tail Nest

Highbridge Park Red-Tail Mama

Late Sunday afternoon, I made my first trip since last summer up to northern Highbridge Park to check on Martha and George's nest, near George Washington High School. I found last year's nest was completely gone. The general area looked like it took a hit in the big storm last August, and although the tree where their 2007 and 2009 nests were located was still there, it had lost some limbs when a near-by tree fell.

After casting about to the south and seeing nothing, I was cheered up as I headed north to see a red-tail circling overhead. A little bit further, I easily found Martha and George's new nest. The new spot is a few blocks north of the old site and is right across Harlem River Drive from PS 5 and about a block south of the three-way intersection of HRD with Dyckman St. and Tenth Ave. The nest is almost directly over the park path, and until the trees leaf out, very easy to spot.

But although the new nest is easy to find, it is hard to view. It is 60-70 feet up and the only vantage point that seems like it might offer a half decent sightline involves scrambling halfway up Fort George Hill, slipping on ground cover, dodging garbage, and hoping you don't step on a broken bottle. The view you do get (seen above) is obstructed and will be blocked when the trees leaf out. However, the nest is relatively shallow, and even from the path below you can sometimes see Martha's head sticking up as she scans the neighborhood.

Highbridge Park Red-Tail Dad

When I found the nest, George was just in the process of leaving. He stuck around the area for at least the next 45 minutes, first preening and then perhaps hunting. Possibly he was also doing guard duty because of the neighborhood crows. The second picture is of George on a relatively low branch close to Harlem River Dr. This is by far the closest view I have ever had of him. In the past he's always been perched in a tree 100 feet away, or on a building even further away, or soaring over Amsterdam Ave. and Washington Heights.

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