Thursday, May 18, 2006

Pale Male's tail at the Fifth Avenue Nest

Palemale, Lola, The Mrs. Peregrine Mystery, Jupiter, Saturn, and five moons.

17 May 2006

Sunset: 8:09PM (NYT)
Temperature: 70F.
Humidity: 41%
Partly sunny
Wind gusts to 20MPH

Pale Male and Lola continue to dutifully tend the nest. When I arrived Pale Male was sitting deep and Lola was off taking a break. At 6:19PM Pale Male stood, put his head into the concave of the bowl, repositioned himself, then disappeared from sight.

7:20PM Lola discovered on the Oreo Antenna being harassed by a Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos.

Mrs. Peregrine sitting very late on the railing of General Motors, 5 in from the west. The mystery question-Why isn't she going in to sit the nest for the night?

When I arrived at Gapstow Bridge, dedicated Peregrine observer Ben Cacace was already in residence, but neither of the Peregrines were, at least where we could see them. And yet again I'd missed seeing the on-the-wing prey transfer from the tiercel to the hen.

The Canada goose family was in sight, gathered on the green verge north of the bridge. The goose and six goslings were busy eating grass and the gander was standing guard, erect, chest puffed out, and vigilant. He repeatedly made it his business to chase any other members of his species away from the grazing area. And probably every other species as well but I just didn't see it.

Well after sunset, at 8:25, Mrs. P. arrived at the railing of GM5W. We waited for the nest exchange. She sat there. She preened. We waited. Civil twilight arrives, 8:39, and still she sits and still we wait. It is now so dark that if she weren't to the left of the rail, her shape against the lighter masonry, we'd have no way of knowing if she were still there. At 8:57, I'm no longer sure I can really see her through the scope. Ben gives it a try and at 8:58PM we agree, it is too dark to be reliable. But we hadn't seen her leave and her movements would have been apparent, wouldn't they? Why didn't she go in to the nest? Do tiercils actually tend the nest at night now and again? Not something we'd ever heard or read. Peregrines do hunt migrating birds at night around the Empire State Building so perhaps they will switch later in the privacy of darkness?

It does feel very unfinished not to see her drop over the rail for the night.

That unfinished feeling brings to mind the question as to exactly what Charlotte and Junior are doing these days? Neither I nor anyone I've talked to has seen them on the nest in the last day or two. The closest was a sighting of Charlotte on the Essex sign earlier today.

But then Ben sees the planet Jupiter, very bright and clear to the north of The Pierre. The scope is readjusted and focused. Jupiter swims into view, complete with salmon streaks, and a beautifully straight row of four moons, named courtesy of Galileo...Callista, Ganymede, Io, and Europa.

That was so terrific, what else can we look at? Saturn! There it is above the Essex Sign. The scope swings over and crystal clear are the marvelous rings, and isn't that something, that small thing. Yes! It is Titan, Saturn's large moon. Five moons in one night, not bad at all.


Tag said...

Birding & astronomy together is a real treat! Your way with with describing the events is very pleasing. Was this your first look at Saturn and Jupiter avec moons?
Thanks for sharing.

Donegal Browne said...

Peter, It is a real treat, isn't it? When it comes to astronomy I'm a novice.

I had seen Jupiter and its moons once or twice before through the scope, but this time they seemed particularly beautiful.

As to Saturn, I'd seen it in a monitor but never before with its actual light going into my personal eye. If you know what I mean. And Titan, NEVER!