Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Red-tail Update and "Noticing" in Central Park

Photographs by Donegal Browne
A Goldfinch eating seeds in a Sweet Gum tree near Bank Bridge.
(Sorry, folks the Blogger formatting just won't cooperate lately so there are loads of extra blank spaces between bits. )
A check of The Beresford for Pale Male and Lola bears no fruit, but I'd been told earlier that there was a good bit of birds eating fruit in the park this afternoon so I'm off to go find some.

Coming round near Bank Bridge I see that one of the Sweet Gum Trees is chock full of little birds. They turn out to be mostly Goldfinch with a sprinkling of House Finches and they are doing yeoman's duty when it comes to eating.

There is a tree full of Red-winged Blackbirds as well feasting on Sweet Gum seeds. The two groups don't mix. The Finches are in one Sweet Gum and the Blackbirds in another.

A passing birder tells me that the Cedar Waxwings are eating cherries like there's no tomorrow up at the Shakespeare Garden though she's not had a Red-tail sighting today.

Heading around The Lake, I run into Portia Grant who is ordinarily a watcher of Charlotte and Junior down in the Central Park South area but she'd branched out and gone north to try for a look at The Divines. She saw Tristin, the male Red-tail from the Cathedral nest in one of the Black Locusts across from the Church yesterday, Sunday. I'm glad to hear he's proceeding with his seasonal business of eating and hanging out until it's time to hunt like a mad bird to feed his progeny.

The Northern Shovelers are doing their head-in-the-water spins in The Lake. Quite remarkable when you haven't see it before. I'm reminded of that feeling by looking at the faces of passers-by who've noticed them and are staring at them fixedly with a variety of looks that run the gamut from shock to mirth.

Coming over the rise from Trefoil Bridge towards the Hawk Bench, I notice that suddenly, though not really sudden at all, the leaves have just fallen, one can see Pale Male and Lola's nest.

Something that just doesn't happen during those crucial times in Spring when anticipation is so elevated to know what might be going on up there, one can barely wait the spare few moments it takes to rush down the path to the Bench where one can see the nest.

I've set up the tripod to take a picture, when Margaret, who comes to the park to bird each and every day, often with her delicious homemade muffins, arrives. She tells me that she saw Lola up on the Fisher Building not long ago. Though she's gone now.

(The Hawk Watchers communication lines for Red-tail sightings is gearing up. The anticipation for breeding season has begun with a vengeance and the information flies through every chance meeting in the Park with a birder, it zooms across phone lines, and through cyberspace.)

That's it, enough musings over being able to see the nest from the environs of Trefoil Bridge, I'm going down to the Bench immediately for the Hawk news.

Rik Davis, nature photographer and nearly full time resident of the Bench, does have news. Lola was also seen sitting on The Oreo Building earlier. Plus, for about an hour, near 1:00PM and Immature RT was hunting rodents from the trees near the Concession Building right across the Model Boat Pond, though not always successfully. Up and down she'd go, though at least once there looked to be a small rodent caught and swallowed. It's a mixed feeling. On one hand, we're glad she managed something to eat. On the other hand, a small rodent about in the daytime may be a poisoned small rodent, as rat bait has been placed in the park.
(There was even more hawk news in my email box when I got home, so that's up tomorrow, Tuesday!)

Then I noticed that a squirrel had built sleeping quarters right across the path from one of Pale Male's favorite roosts while Lola is on the nest. Perhaps not the best choice come Spring. We'll see.

I'd been looking for an example and there it was. Remember the entry about streetlights creating a "change" in photo period for trees and therefore affecting how the leaves responded on the same tree to their man made micro-environment in Autumn?

And here is what the leaves look like from the same branch just a bit further away from the streetlight. First they are scanter and then a bit further they've already dropped away. Even the small brightness of a streetlight can shift nature's processes. What about all the other things we do that are much larger?
Donegal Browne

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