Sunday, April 29, 2007

Divine Madness, Friday April 27, 2007

Part III- The Latter Part of the Day
(Due to the vagaries of blogger, the last segment must be done first to avoid the sequence being posted in reverse order. Parts II and I coming your way soon. D.B.)

7:29:59pm Tristan stares down into the bowl of nest with rat in beak.

7:30:28 pm Tristan offers Isolde some rat and then glances back as he skirts Isolde and starts to go behind St. Andrew's head and out of sight. I pick up the equipment and start making it towards the west side of the nest.

The west side of the nest. Where's Tristan?

7:36pm Trotting fast, I turn onto the verge of the sidewalk by the parking sign that marks the spot where one has a clear view of the west end of the nest, get the tripod off my shoulder, and look up, expecting Tristan. What? No Tristan on this side! When I started my sprint to get to this spot he'd visibly been coming this way. Where did he go? All then becomes clear as a second later he flies off the front of the nest. While I'd been running this direction, he'd turned round and gone the other way. He's a very clever bird. Or is this an example of hawk humor?
Tristan soars out and lands with his rat portion in a tree inside the park across from the Plant Pavilion. He looks at his dinner, begins to eat, and Rob, Sam, and I all begin to converge in his direction. Rob gets there first, and starts shooting pictures. Sam isn't far behind with the notebook, scribbling furiously. Some passers-by start to chat with Rob, he points out the hawk, the visitors chatter. A group of viewers begins to form. Tristan has a few bites of rat, looks at the accumulating crowd and flies off to the southwest through the treeline. To, no doubt, have his bedtime snack in peace and settle into one of his high roosts. For by now it is sunset after all. I take one last look at St Andrew, the nest is quiet. There is no movement nor sound. The family has settled in for the night. But don't be fooled that Tristan and Isolde have let down their guard. Tristan will roost in a tall place where he has a full view and straight flight path to the nest. Isolde, like all good hawk mothers, will spend most of the night awake. She'll sleep for perhaps fifteen seconds then spend the next minute or so awake, aware, and vigilant. She will chuck to her young when they are restless. She will scan the territory and keep eye contact with Tristan in his tall tree and he with her through the long night and into the morning. Then Tristan will fly out and once again begin his day long hunt to keep his family fed. And Isolde will continue to warm the eyasses, protect them from rain, and when they wake with empty crops, tear tiny bits of meat, and ever so gently place them with her razor sharp beak ever so carefully into the open hungry mouths of their young.

Donegal Browne

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