January 20, 2013

1/20, Checking on Highbridge

I'd been meaning to head uptown for a month or two and check if and which of the old-school red-tailed hawk tree nests might have been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Sunday I finally made my way to Highbridge Park. Sure enough, the nest across the road from Swindlers Cove was gone, along with the branches that it had rested on. But other than that, the scene at Highbridge was good.

As I walked up, one hawk was just taking off to the west. But there was George, perched high up a tree about 50 yards northwest of the old nest site. A minute later Martha returned.

Martha's Clumsy Landing

She alit clumsily amongst the small twigs and worked her way over to the branch that George was on.

Heighbridge George and Martha

And there they perched almost alongside each other, perhaps enjoying the blue skies and the sun coming over the top of Fort George Hill.

Highbridge Martha and George

Beside their relative sizes, you can tell which hawk is which because George has a "dirty" belly band.

They were pretty mellow, nothing like the fidgety juvenile I watched in Central Park the day before. So mellow in fact that after 20 minutes I checked the time and decided I might as well head over toward Fort Tryon and see if there was any raptor action along the Hudson.

I'll have to head back up to Swindlers Cove in a few weeks to see where Martha and George decide to build their next nest.

January 19, 2013

1/19, Hunting by the Pool

A juvenile red-tail was hunting by Central Park's Pool late Saturday afternoon, very close to where I usually enter the park these days. Unfortunately, I had to swing by the office to get a camera lens and entered the park at another entrance, so didn't encounter the hawk until sunset approached.

Juvie Red-Tail by the Pool

The big clue to his presence along the north side of the Pool was the crowd of blue jays who were trying to chase him off. But his spot in a cluster of smaller branches seemed to prevent them from really getting at him. Eventually the jays gave up.

(BTW: For future reference, note that raggedy tail.)

As the sky got darker, one would have thought the young hawk would be getting ready to roost: looking for a better spot or preening. But no, he was fidgety: shuffling around on his branch, switching to a nearby branch, swiping his beak, perhaps trying to break off twigs.

A meal may have also have been on the hawk's mind, as at about 5:00 (after official sunset) he took off and flew a couple hundred yards towards the North Meadow and swooped down at the ground. But the targeted squirrel got away. A few minutes later, he returned to the Pool area. His new perch was more solid, perhaps a better place to roost.

January 19

Even so, the hawk remained fidgety and would not settle down. As the darkness and the cold increased, I left him to his own devices.

January 13, 2013

1/12, Hunting in the Ravine

Late on a very dreary Saturday afternoon, a young red-tail was hunting in Central Park's Ravine.

Young Red-Tail in the Ravine

As I watched over the course of about 40 minutes, he worked his way from a tree near the waterfall west to another overlooking the Huddlestone Arch. Then off to a tree alongside the Pool, and then as sunset arrived, out of the park to the rooftop right above the 103rd St. subway entrance.

Young Red-Tail at 103rd St.

At last sight, he was flying west along 103rd, perhaps on his way to look for a rat near one of the project dumpsters.

January 5, 2013

1/5, First Hawks of the Year

Late on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, I encountered a couple of red-tails hunting in the North Woods of Central Park. First sighting was of a hawk flying over the Great Hill and into the neighborhood between the park and the Douglass Houses, but whoever that was went by before I was able to get the camera ready. Fifteen minutes later I found an adult perched along the edge of the North Meadow.

January 5

Note the very light eye color. This may be the same adult hawk spotted by James in the area three weeks ago, as the light eyes and also the tail band look the same. If so, this could be a "replacement" hawk who is taking over the role once claimed by the Cathedral red-tail (Norman?) believed killed during Hurricane Sandy.

The adult was head-bobbing and hunting.

Red-Tail by the North Meadow

And was only there for five minutes before flying over to a tree by the access road for a moment, then taking off again and disappearing in the direction of the skating rink.

A stroll through the Ravine and the North Woods didn't reveal the adult. But as sunset approached and I was headed toward the Douglass Circle park exit, a youn red-tail was spotted watching over the park loop.

Young Red-Tail in the North Woods

You'd think it was time to find a good roost and do some pre-sleep preening, but the 9- or 10-month old seemed to be hunting. It wasn't the best spot and I wondered if he was killing time until the rats supposedly start to emerge from the nearby subway gratings after dark.

Over the next twenty minutes, the young bird shifted over to a tree by the park wall at 108th St., where he was last seen as it got too dark to watch.