Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Sandhills Return, Red-tail Updates: The WI Ms, NY Riverside Park, Isolde and Norman, Mama and Papa Plus Portmann Vultures and

Crane photographs Donegal Browne
I'd been out looking for the Sandhill Cranes for days. They are considered the loudest bird and I'd heard them (from anywhere up to two miles away) but hadn't found them. Then on the way to town I remembered that I hadn't gone to the bank first and so was turning around which pointed me in the correct direction--and there they were circling.

Exactly what they were up to wasn't clear as there wasn't any likely looking marshy area and then I saw an Ultra-light aircraft and almost began to hop up and down, not easy in the car, as some Whooping Cranes are accompanied by Ultra-lights to show them the way. Immediately though I remembered this was a Spring migration so no one would be showing anybody anything---they'd already know the way from taking the trip in the Fall. Besides these guys weren't nearly white enough for Whoopers.

Why the aircraft then? Perhaps someone just happened along and was getting the grand view? Filming? I don't know. But it did explain why the Cranes might be morphing through different flight patterns--there was something weird up there with them.

This stance of their wings reminded me very much of insects.

Then the aircraft flew off and the Cranes began getting organized.

First they grouped up and then tidily hit a V and winged off.

Photo by Francois Portman

"Sunday morning at Riverside Park, the female Red-tailed Hawk has left the nest for a few minutes to dry up her soaked feathers. She has been on the nest through 48 hours of heavy rainstorm that uprooted trees, downed power lines and claimed five lives across the Tri-state. The nest is standing strong:"

See the rest of this great photo sequence at
Also from Francois--
Hey Donna,
just posted a blurb about vultures and a gallery at:
In time for the world cup build-up!!

Photos of County M Red-tailed Hawks Donegal Browne
Yesterday I finally may have hit the jackpot with the County M Red-tails and whether they were using last year's nest. I'd been past the site numerous times already when--WHAT? There's a hawk up there!

I left the motor running and was shooting from the car window but she immediately say me and I thought well that's it. She'll be flying off any second.
But instead she stared fixedly towards the treeline beyond the nest.

And continues to give me the back of her head. What is she up to?

Still viewing something that isn't me. How strange.

Back to giving me the back of her head.

Okay, fine. I get out of the car and start getting the scope out. There are a few beats. I try to get the camera on for digiscoping and...

Off she goes, right in front of me.

Crosses the road and doesn't immediately veer towards the farm which is the usual pattern. More distance is usually better than less.

She continues.
Why is less distance better today? Then it hits me. They've done this to me before. And I fell for it again.
While I'm busily watching the first bird doing look-at-me, the second is coming into the nest tree from the back side, getting into the nest, and will be utterly invisible by the time I look. I look. Yup, not a bit of bird is showing above the rim of the nest.

There was a switch-off this evening at 7:00 at the red-tail nest at the
Cathedral of St. John the Divine, with one hawk entering the nest and
the other leaving. Possibly there had been a switch earlier at 6:40, but
that time I only saw a hawk exiting the nest area. It appears to have
been a 20-minute dinner break for Isolde.

So... it looks like egg incubation has started at the cathedral between
last Wednesday and today. This suggests the hatching "window"
could open as early as the weekend of April 10.

In the three previous years that we know Isolde successfully brooded
a clutch, the earliest hatch was about April 26. But nestwatchers have
reported some other NYC red-tails (at the Riverside Boat Basin and in
Briarwood) started brooding eggs a week or more earlier than "usual",
so I was not surprised that it also happened at the cathedral.


I've always loved watching the Cathedral nest and was afraid I might have mistimed my arrival in NYC for their hatch because of the early incubation, but Rob says I should hit it just right. Yea!

Aside from getting really wet Mama & Papa had no issues with the soaking rain storm and the 75mph winds this past weekend - - nesting going on for 16-17 days now.
Donegal Browne

1 comment:

Karen Anne said...

Here's where to track the ultralight-led yearling whooping crane migration each year:

They also have a crane cam and a trike cam up then.

One of my favorite videos from the last migration. You may need to pause and play to get it to start: