Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lola Lays an Egg? Cranes, Crows, and a Kestrel

Many thanks to Katherine Herzog for another report from The Hawk Bench

( My questions for Kat follow the notes. D.B.)

Sat. March 10, '07--Partly Sunny, in the '50s (3:05 - 6:01pm):My first sight of the nest through Ric Davis' telescope showed Lola and Pale standing in the nest looking intently down for several minutes at what could be nothing else but the wondrous creation of new hope.

The beginning of her egg laying began this afternoon. Although we can't see into the nest there is surely at least one egg and Lola spent the rest of the afternoon sitting low into the nest, her keen brown eyes barely perceptible through the nest of twigs.

Pale Male brought his mate a pigeon but either she was not hungry or too caught up in her labor to indulge. Pale finished the meal and then "took out the garbage" She stayed sitting low in the nest until sunset and as I slowly walked toward the park 6:00pm.....Pale comes soaring back into the nest for a goodnight smooch. Did not note if he brought food as the light was almost gone. A great day for us all!

All the best, Katherine


Just a couple things to clarify because well...I like clarity and...I've been fooled by these two clever birds before. Plus something you said gives me a bit of a niggle.

When did Lola do her first overnight on the nest? I realize she most likely didn't have any eggs in the nest at that point but I'm looking for comparisons with past seasons.

Also Pale Male and Lola have fooled me before with their standing on the edge of the bowl looking down thing so I'm cautious. When I thought they absolutely must be looking down at something besides the bark in the depression it turns out they may just have been looking at their nest building handiwork.

In my experience over the last couple of years, Lola only did a half sit at first, she didn't go down all the way down onto the eggs until she, or I assumed anyway that she had completed the clutch. Any reports of this half sitting?

And yes, in the past she has been off her food comparatively when she's laying, particularly the first few days

My concern is that if she has looked to be hunkered down in the nest but was only half sitting, that even though the sides of the nest are higher which makes us think the nest overall is thicker, that perhaps the bottom of bowl itself hasn't been raised very much higher than in the two previous years. What is your take?

Cranes, Crows and a Kestrel

My cousin Carol called, and asked if I wanted to go to Farm and Fleet. It's a box store where you can buy everything from snow plow blades for your truck to toothpaste. Carol you see was going, because she needed to pick up a case of motor oil for her husband Harry. Harry beyond besides having Emmie the Emu, also has a number of antique tractors, who like 30 weight non-detergent motor the case. (Who knew?)
Besides I'd been flown over by Sandhill Cranes twice in the last few days without yet catching them on the ground. So as you never know what you might see on the way to Farm and Fleet, why not?
Off we went. As I turned onto High street, there were two of my buddies, the Crows,
sitting in the top of a tree staring fixedly at the power lines. Then two more winged in and sat in another tree and yes, stared at the power lines. I looked. There she was, a little hen Kestrel minding her own business watching for prey in the park.
Of course then I had to hit the brakes, dodge around looking to park the car, grab the camera, crawl out of the door and as these are country birds try to do it as unobtrusively as possible, , which really isn't very unobtrusive, and hope my presence doesn't blow their normal behavior.
My poor relatives are slowly getting used to the fact that going anywhere with me tends to include rapid braking and unscheduled stops along the side of the road. At which point I hop out stranding them in the car, and tromp excitedly off to, as another cousin put it, "God knows where".
The Crows started tree hopping getting closer and closer and the Kestrel started taking notice. First she'd look at me, then at the Crows on the right, then the Crows on the left. First one direction, then another...

And another,

And another.

And another. With the Crows getting closer, she gave me one final look, which wasn't terribly friendly, and with a bob of her tail she was gone.
Back on the road again, it's decided Carol needs to make a stop at Thresherman's Park to take care of some business. That's the place where literally hundreds of those antique tractors live. Not all owned by Harry by the way, which I'm sure Carol is grateful for.
Actually the old tractors are pretty nifty as most are steam powered. One of the best parts of my daughter Sam's summer vacation was when she saw one of these huge steam tractors loose it's front wheel. Not having a front wheel caused the front end to bang abruptly to the ground causing the boiler to explode sending whistling steam fifty feet in the air. I have to admit it was pretty exciting. Though as this sort of thing seems to happen on a semi regular basis the locals didn't bat an eye. And they think New York City is dangerous.
Guess it's all in what you're used to.
The stop was fortunate as I hear there had just been a sighting of Cranes in a corn field on Hwy 51. Just the road we have to use to get to Farm and Fleet. Perfect.
Back on the road again, my eyes searching for birds with intermittent glances at the road as we tootle along, while Carol reminds me not to take out any mailboxes.
Half way there, I hear them. Ger ooo ooo, ger ooo ooo. Five Sandhills high on the left flapping about to fly over. They're high but their call which really reminds me of something from Star Wars is loud. It's easily heard from literally a mile away. And they're all doing it. The calls reach a crescendo and the front two cranes curve their wing tips down and begin to descend. The following three do the same. The sun hits the underside of their wings. They glow white and I understand how sometimes they are mistaken for Whooping Cranes. We've pulled off and watch them glide gently right. We're next to a corn field and I'm hoping they'll drop down for a snack. But no, they are descending in a long drift and end up far beyond us. I get out to look. Beyond the distant tree line and a dip in the topography I see the far edge of a large pond which conceivably with the days warmth has some open water. Though I can't see it or the birds.
This is when I wish they were dropping down into Central Park. In the park, as long as you can make it to the spot where the bird landed, you're allowed to be there. Here, I'm stymied by a large chunk of private property on which I've not right to be. Sigh. Back to the car I go, hoping for another chance, another day.
Donegal Browne

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