It isn't as cold as the day before but it's still cold enough where folks in Central Park are few and far between. Even so Jeff Kollbrunner and his wife Anna longtime watchers of Red-tail pair Mama and Papa, and I meet up and decide if we can track down Pale Male and Lola. We walk over to the Hawk Bench and it's empty, not a soul in sight. I've just started to check the buildings on Fifth Avenue when Jeff says, "Look!" And here comes Lola from uptown, north. She cruises down Fifth and makes a landing on the north west edge of the water tower cover of Woody.
Then almost immediately changes her mind, they say that's a women's perogative after all, and switches over to the southwest corner and stares at us. Then she sits, and she sits, and she sits. About this time I realize with the cold and all I really would like to go over to the Boat House and use the facilities.
Well, I'm about to be the sacrificial Hawk Watcher, but I don't know it yet. Therefore I tootle up the path towards the Boat House figuring that Lola is there sitting in the sun and will be there when I get back. Right.
I'm on my way back, when I notice a huge pigeon flock behind the Bench being feed by a homeless man with a big white mail cart. I watch. Jeff and Anna seem to have changed viewing position and are looking my way. They get my attention and point. I turn and see nothing. They point again. Ahhh! Lola is perched right over my head, crop stuffed to the gills, eyeing the gentleman's flock of pigeons. In a blink she's off and so are the pigeons. She whips through them, darting, as they panic and head for the four points of the compass. She lands in a tree by the road to the west. Takes off and perches in another tree.
The pigeons are heading for high branches hoping she won't come crashing in on them.
And then Lola is gone, heading over The Lake. The pigeons have headed back toward the Hawk Bench, the opposite direction, and are nervously sitting in the London Plane's top most branches.
Jeff and I head over in hot pursuit. She's in there some place but where?
Then she flies out, whipping over and disappearing into the trees here.
Comes out, gets altitude and----
What is she doing?
Then back out she comes. Yes, seriously, what is she doing? As she loops and swerves, glides and dives, it looks like, well--it looks like, as I know her crop is stuffed, that she is flying just for the sheer joy of flying.
Then she stoops out of sight. Well, the sheer joy of flying? I think about it and I'd certainly do it if I were capable. But every prey bird in a square mile has just had the begeesus scared out of them. We walk back toward the Hawk Bench. Now there is an Asian tourist handing out peanuts.
The Cardinal would really like one but he stays in the lee of the tree trunk peeking around looking for you-know-who.
This Blue Jay, having the attitude of his kind, doesn't let any thoughts of hawks get in his way, and dives off the branch towards the peanut.
He nabs it but quickly makes it back to a tangle of twigs and looks carefully around himself, just in case.