Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sandhill Cranes, a Fleeing Redtail, the TenEck Bald Eagle Nest, and a Staring Deer

I'd been hearing Sandhill Crane calls for some days but hadn't managed to track them down until today.  The male vigilant and the female doing her job of the current moment eating as much as she possibly can before egg laying.
 Female still eating.  Turns out that Sandhill Cranes are a very old species.  9 million year old Sandhill bones have been found and they are virtually identical to the bones of current Sandhills.  Another interesting factoid, the red patch on the top of their heads isn't feathered, it is their skin.

I'd been watching for a few minutes when the pair made obvious eye contact.
Then turned and headed away from the road, my viewing position.  Female still eating and Male still vigilant.  Though late in the day there was still time for a quick check off the Ten Eyc Bald Eagle nest.  Would the eagles continue to use that nest this year?  That is the big question.

On the way, a Red-tailed Hawk high tails it over me and the browsing cows.
And off she goes.
Immediately upon arriving I took 53 pictures from this viewpoint, the least obscured by branches angle, of the TenEck nest in a matter of a couple of minutes.  Some might be asking why?  Well, if the nest is occupied the sitting bird will likely upon a car stopping on this country road, pop her head up for a look.  It may not be a long look, and it isn't as if you can see it happen from this distance so you just have to keep clicking away, hope for the best, and zoom in on each photo when you get home.
TA DA!  And there she is.  See the head shape in the middle of the nest?  This nest is occupied yet again this year.
But I didn't know that then.  I went round to the other side of the nest where the light was better, but the nest further away, and took numerous shots as well.
If I had only taken photographs from the better lit angle, I would see that pale bit and thought, well it could be a head but what is likely the sky beside the "head" looks kind of white as well. A strange reflection off pale part of tree?  I wouldn't have been convinced.  Now I know it is her head.  Interesting that sometimes the more poorly lit and more contrasting the silhouette on a nest, the more telling when attempting to gauge occupation.

On the way back to town, I decide to check the conservation area where I had seen the crane pair earlier.  Last year there was at least two pair who had nests somewhat visible from the road and I want to get as many sightings as possible to try to gauge where nest sites might be this year.  Back I go.

Ordinarily I don't see deer as I'm always looking at tree tops, wires, the sky...looking for birds.  And this time I was looking ground level but on the other side of the road, when I turned my head and practically jumped out of my skin...
There was a doe, no more than 20 feet away, just staring at me.  Eye contact for a long 30 seconds, I raised the camera, click, and...
She bolted, white tail flashing she is running parallel to the fence which isn't in the photo because the road bed is elevated.    I'm attempting to keep up with her in the car...but I can't drive, keep up with her, and take a picture at the same time.
4:09:50 (All times PM) I get even with where she should be and....where did she go?  EARS!
4:09:50 Her ears are poking up from the grass.  See them in crop above? 
 40:09:51 No ears!  I've read  that deer can crawl on their bellies and do  so with alacrity.  I scan over right and start the car rolling that direction.

4:09:53 She leaps over something and there she goes white tail flashing! (Down right of photo)
4:10:47  Where now? The trees are thicker here. I crawl along in the car scanning.
4:11:02 See her coming out from between the trees ahead?
Here's a crop of her from the photo above.  She has obviously leapt the 4  foot fence with ease.
 4:11:02  And in the same second, she springs up the problem.
4:11:03  Her front feet with their dainty hoofs hit the ground.
4:11:03  And in the same second as above she heads across the road.  Note there is a motorcycle that she'd waited to pass just going out of sight and a birdwatcher in a blue jacket watching as well.  And beyond those things unless she wanted to skitter across the fragmented ice of the Mill Race ahead, (see the little bridge) , she needs to cross here.
4:11:04 Across the center line...
4:11:04 ...and half way onto the left embankment mid leap.

4:11:04  She lands down the embankment.
4:11:05 The deer heads into the cover of more numerous trees and heavy brush on this side of the road as opposed to the few trees and marsh grasses on the other side of the road.

If you've never seen a deer run, the expression that someone or something "runs like a deer"  is rather pale compared to the real thing.  It is hyper fast and appears quite effortless.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Monday, November 17, 2014

In Case You Missed It....Marie Winn on Pale Male! And a Brief Visit to Central Park in Search of Pale Male

Photo courtesy of Vicki Kroke

Marie Winn, author of "Red-tails in Love",  and Ken Chaya who has notated every single tree in Central Park,

Nobody has known Pale Male longer nor can talk about his essence better or more beautifully than Marie Winn...

Hear the NPR Here and Now audio interview of Marie Winn on Pale Male...

Plus Vicki Kroke's blog on the same topic...

In mid-October I was in New York City for a very brief visit on my way to Brandeis University, to see daughter Samantha do the lead in Dead Man's Cell Phone, and I of course took a day in Central Park to go in search of Pale Male on the way...

And there was Bethesda on her fountain surrounded by people as usual on such a lovely day.

And though I knew that as October isn't hawk season, there would be no hawkwatchers on the Hawk Bench, I myself could probably count the times I'd been there in October, still...

Back in the day Rik Davis would absolutely have been there, but no longer.

As to 927?  At this time of year weeks can go by without spotting Pale Male or Octavia on the nest...but still.
But the Mallards were there on their safety float.
As was the crowd at the cafe and the model sailboats on the Conservatory Waters.
But from the Oreo fences and antenna...

...and all the way round to Woody, not a hawk in sight.  Drat!
No joy at Linda, either, but nice of them to do their repair work in the off season.
So I sat on the edge of the Model Boat Pond and watched the sky, favorite perches, and the the sole tugboat amongst the  regatta of sails.

An older gentleman approached me and asked if I knew about the hawk that nested on 927, I said, "Yes, I was just looking for him."  He responded he hadn't seen him yet today and continued his stroll.
Hans Christian Anderson still chats with the Ugly Duckling  just beyond the Hawkbench. This is where the tribute to Charles Kennedy was held after his death complete with a Pale Male cake and I suggested that Pale Male Junior's new mate be named Charlotte as an honor to Charles  and so it was done by acclamation.

Then  I remember watching Pale Male sitting a branch just above my head as the light began to fade on three successive days, getting progressively closer to the tip  before finally making multiple swoops which cleaned out a rat hole.    Such a clever patient hawk.
Alice still cavorts with her friends from Wonderland.

And still no visit by Pale Male or Octavia to the nest.

I call veteran hawkwatcher Stella Hamilton for a possible tip about Pale Male's whereabouts at this time of day in October, though at work she called back with a tip..."Try the Pinetum". 

 On my way, still a bit downcast with my lack of luck so far, I decide to make a detour and visit  Charles Kennedy's bench at the feeding station in the Ramble.
I had to laugh.  The advice of the always optimistic Charles...the milkweed my be through and the butterflies may be gone, ( and by the way, Pale Male may not be around) ...but hey there could be some owls or who knows what all if you keep your eyes and ears open!

And so I head further into the Ramble.  Wait, there is a pigeon stock still sheltering in an alcove of one the giant rocks strewn through the woods.  Could  that mean a hawk somewhere?

That's when I head a mob of scolding birds and the retort of a Red-tailed Hawk.  I take off up the path toward the sounds at a run.

I stop.  I'm close.  I look up. And there is Pale Male flying over a small break of the foliage, looking down at me. 

 YES!  Good afternoon Pale!  How are things?

And only then do I get the camera up to my eye....

Too late.  You'll just have to trust me on this one.  

Pale Male sends his regards!

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Monday, October 27, 2014

Parrot Vison and Mirrors, the Perserverence of the Morning Glory, and Which Milkweed Is This?

Here is Quicksilver, the African Grey Parrot, talking to me while he is looking into a mirror and possibly looking at me in the mirror as well.   Or at least from my vantage point that is what might be occurring.

Due to a parrot's range of vision though, Silver could possibly be looking at me with his left eye.   But his right eye is the eye in which our most familiar recognition of being seen, would get our focus in which to respond with our eyes for eye contact with him.

And as Silver is highly unlikely to want an Aye-Me-Hearties pirate patch over his left eye I'm going to have to come up with a new angle in which I can see his eye in the mirror but not from the back at which time he could be seeing me with the side of his eye.

Nice to have a flower in the house I don't have to water. 

And here we have a sort of  do it themselves Morning Glory Greenhouse.  The plant grew up from the ground outside to between the storm window and the inside paned window.  At this point in the unseasonable cold Autumn most of the unprotected Morning Glory leaves and buds of any height have been nipped by the low temperatures but this intrepid section is happily growing new blossoms.

I was out collecting seeds and came across these Milkweed.
                      Here are the leaves and less mature pods.
  Open seed pods.

                                   Which Milkweed is it?

It is these sorts of looks when I feel like I've interrupted something, that sometimes...well...concern me.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne