Saturday, December 02, 2006

More Than a Pair, Viewed from the Hawk Bench

Lola watches as Pale Male flies from the nest to take on an intruder.
Hordes of hawk action took place today viewed from the Hawk Bench. So much, in fact, it's going to take some time to try to make sense of the field notes. Therefore much more to come later tonight!

Monks Watch a Dog , and Off Lead Right Reinforced,

The 103rd. St. Monks pause and watch a dog pass by.

When friends with dogs told me that it was okay for dogs to run off lead in the park during the early morning and late at night, I thought it was an unofficial standardized turning of the head on the part of park employees to give the dogs a break.

But as it turns out, it's an official unofficial policy. A judge in Queens ruled against a civic group attempting to put the kabosh on the practice by using the city health code. The judge ruled that the parks commissioner could decide when and where dogs could run around without a lead in the city parks.

Adrian Benepe the parks commissioner said,"We believe that the last 20 years of this policy have worked, and it's gratifying to have that support by the judge."

Wow, there's been twenty years of the official unofficial policy. I wonder how one finds out the straight scoop on when and where a dog can do this? I've never seen the policy written down anywhere. And if it is, it isn't written very big.

No wonder there is so much confusion about it.

Some interesting stats from am New York,

City Parks: 1,700

City Dogs: 14 million

Dog Runs: 44
Ahhhh, divide 14 million dogs into 44 dog runs--

A tangential thought, One of the infamous "word problems" from elementary school math.

The defecations of all NYC dogs, averaging the big dogs and the teeny dog comes out to, very conservatively, a quarter pound per dog per day. How many million pounds of dog poop are created daily in New York City?

Extra Credit: How many garbage trucks per day would it take to carry it all to the landfill?

And the last statistic-

Dog Bites in Parks in 2005: 86

Dozing on the fire escape before bed. The other bird is wide awake, just in case.

Keeping a vigilant eye out.
(Saturday, Sam and I are taking a jaunt to Central Park to watch for RTs from the Hawk Bench for a while. If you're going to be out, wear your woolies, the temp has sunk and the wind is gusting to 50 MPH.)
Donegal Browne

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More Monks

Photograph by Donegal Browne
(For more information about the Manhattan Monk Parakeets go to Marie's wonderful blog was the first to break the news, scroll down on this site to The Monks Do Manhattan, and go to the site of Steve Baldwin, urban parrot investigator, who took the next sequence of photographs of the Brooklyn Parrots. The link to his website follows at the end. )

Steve Baldwin, long time chronicler of the Brooklyn Monk Parrots, saw a very interesting sequence of parrot behavior on Sunday morning.

It began with a number of the parrots alighting near their communal nest

They then rather inexplicably began walking, yes, walking together with what looks like purpose.
They formed into a line and marched off. See the approaching mini-van?
Do they get squished? Just how do they handle it?
See the full sequence with Steve's original captions, and much more about urban Parrots by visiting Steve Baldwin's fascinating and informative site,

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