Saturday, November 25, 2006

Waiting For Godot Hawk

1:28PM Before I've even stepped into the park, I see a Red-tail circling right at tree top level over Strawberry Fields. I rush across the street but I've lost it. It's a sunny mild day and the park is filled with people, meandering down the paths, even eating ice cream though it is the end of November.
At the Hawk Bench, photographer Rik Davis tells me that Pale Male and Lola have already visited twice so far today. The empty nest, suddenly looks even emptier.
1:57PM A squirrel whines east of the Hawk Bench, but not a raptor in sight.

Visitors from all over the world drop by for a look at the nest. "Yes, he's a Red-tailed Hawk. See the shorter building, the top floor, the cornice just above the middle window. You've got it."

I begin to notice that one of the Mallard hens is really quite ferocious. Beware this Mallard, she's a fast paddler with an even faster bill. She's got even the drakes cowed, not known for their timid attitudes. Don't get between this girl and a peanut if you don't want to get chewed on. She's quite the Valkyrie Duck.

3:17PM I've left the scope in another Hawk Watcher's care and have gone to check out the birds in the Butterfly Garden from the parking lot. Wait! There's a Red-tail circling above the Ramble, looks to be heading for the nest. I run back to the scope, but the hawk never comes.
3:28PM A Kestrel wings north on Madison Avenue, disappears behind a building and never comes back out again.

I look down to my right where a very small boy has been feeding the birds bits of bagel. I'd thought all the pigeons had gone but one remained and the sparrows have surrounded him. Today is very strange.

At the north end of the Model Boat Pond, a squirrel eats the winter buds off twigs.

Katherine Herzog, who tracked down the information on the rescued hawk, stops by . She tells me that the Squirrels have begun "doing it". Copulating that is. Interesting. I'd no idea.
James Lewis, long time Hawk Watcher, arrives with his niece, just to check how things are going.

The Golden Light comes over Fifth Avenue, still no hawks and getting on to official sunset.
Almost time to go.

The Mallards begin to go to sleep but not Valkyrie Hen, she's still vigilant, alert, bill ready, when I walk away.
4:43PM Waiting for the light next to the Webster statue, I see a bat swirling above a hansom cab as it begins the curve. Abruptly a second bat from Strawberry Fields joins it and they keep swirling, just above the cab, matching it's speed perfectly as it rounds the bend.

I'd not gotten a good look at a hawk all day. Standing in Strawberry Fields, I see squirrels cavorting on the branches. Were they going to "do it" as Katherine would say? The contrast between dark and light could make an interesting photograph. I wait until they are positioned, when out of the corner of my eye, perhaps six feet away and four above the ground, gliding easily, flies a Red-tailed Hawk. I try to push the button on the camera and jerk right to catch it go past-- at the same time.
Then I make the mistake. I look down at the camera screen to see if it's there, just for a second. There's nothing but blurry trees and when I look up, the hawk is gone. Inexplicably, unfindably at roost, gone.

Just another example of Red-tail humor and a reminder, as one should always give the moments of one's life their just worth instead of always waiting for Godot or Godot Hawk for that matter, one should also very much try to remain in the moment--not in the documenting of it.
Donegal Browne

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