Saturday, June 26, 2010

Update Miscellany

Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodius, flies for the evening roost.

The Grove family is doing well. I hear begging periodically on the far side of the trees so I know Jewel is okay, and I've seen both Emerald and Grove briefly. They're in good form and doing their job.

THE STORR'S LAKE RED-TAILS, Issy sits the pole while J.B. flies overhead.

Things go on as usual after their Crow Caper with neither hawk seemingly the worse for wear. Though one does wonder if J.B. might have a bit of a sore spot after being ridden and pecked on the top of the head.

From Brett Odom a chief watcher of Charlotte and Pale Male Jr.--
By the way, I forgot to mention in my last email that while I have not seen Charlotte nor Junior for the past several weeks from my office window. I have seen two American kestrels flying up and down 7th Avenue and perched on the rooftop of 888 7th Avenue. I wonder where they have a nest.

Brett B. Odom

A severely injured mature Red-tailed hawk was picked up by the NYPD from 391 E. 149 st where they report there is a nest on the 5th floor.

Regarding the Red-tail that was picked up at Fordham, we still don’t have an ID as to whether it was a juvenile or an adult but sources say it was found sick, clearly unable to fly, hunt, or eat solid food, and is being cared for by qualified people. We’re cautiously hopeful.

This is Jolly Bunny. Jolly Bunny is an extremely young rabbit who can't be more than about four inches long. Forgive the blur as Jolly Bunny rather startled me by leaping into the air, running in a tiny circle, flopping onto her back, waving her front paws in the air like a kitten who wants to play, then wiggling in the dirt, and finally flopping down...

...completely relaxed and staring off at the horizon.

Photo by Mitch Nusbaum
From Mitch: Atop the Hospice new building Isolde and below Survivor. Highbridge still looking good too. Pic on North side of W 113St.



Donegal Browne


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Who Does That Hawk Remind Me Of?

I was sitting on the bed wondering what to do with all the things surrounding me that had come out of my parent's storage unit, when my cell phone rang. It was Jim Blank. He's an great spotter of wildlife, and good about giving me a call when something interesting turns up. Some of you will remember his wonderful photos of the twin fawns from last season.

At any rate, he'd been out on the road that led to Storr's Lake on the way to yet another storage unit, he collects and fills them instantly, twenty minutes before and he'd seen two Red-tailed Hawks perched close together on a power pole.

That piqued my interest. It's past the usual time for copulation, one of the few occasions that a pair tends to sit intimately together--but twenty minutes before? They'd likely be gone by the time I got there. But as the spot wasn't far, and I couldn't stand the thought of carrying all the storage boxes surrounding me around anymore, I thought I'd quick pitch my equipment into the car, and zip the short distance to the road to Storr's lake.

And amazingly as I headed toward the lake, there in the distance, sure enough, were two of the proper shaped specks on a power pole in the distance. As they were standing there bold as brass facing the same direction, and standing looking into the sun instead of having it at their backs, I thought they must be two fledglings making themselves obvious so their parents could find them easily with the carry out.

But then as I got a little closer, I saw they didn't have peachy breasts. Well, some eyasses do have white breasts, but they didn't really have much at all in the way of heavily contrasting belly bands either.

Remembering to always pass by the hawks you're trying to look at before stopping I drove past them. They looked down and watched me go by. Then I realized I'd have to turn around as there was no where to get off the road and I drive past them again.

And again they watch me go by with mild curiosity and go back to their business. Looking into the sun I can't see the color of their tails. A good ways down the road I pull into a business parking lot, park, get out the magnification and--imagine that. Definitely not fledglings. They both have dark eyes.

So what are two adult Red-tails doing facing the same direction, a pair normally perches front to back so they can see in all directions, beyond the fact they are staring into the sun instead of hunting with the sun to their backs?

As I'm rather sick of having Red-tails on power poles flush the instant I take a photo, and it is blazing hot, I decide, I'll set up under the first tree across the street, take a few photos, walk to the next tree, repeat the process, and see how far I get.

Well they didn't flush but the female (on the right) doesn't fall for my crummy human stealth routine of tree hopping and gives me "the look". I'm looking at her look and it reminds me of someone. Then it comes to me, that's the look almost eight year old Isabella "Issy" Blank, daughter of the aforementioned Jim, gives people when she feels put upon. Due to the "look" and their curiosity inducing inexplicable behavior, the formel immediately became Issy, and the tiercel-- J.B., for Jim Blank who'd given me the initial call.

Naming out of the way I am still no closer in figuring out what they are up to.

J.B. doesn't look tense, but Issy is giving me a "concerned" look from behind the wire. I change trees.

J.B., on the left and smaller than his mate as usual, looks at Issy and Issy looks at me. I change trees.

And Issy keeps looking at me, with the "Isabella" look.

She isn't particularly amused by the tree thing, but perhaps it is making her curious enough to stay and watch?

Now J.B. is giving me the eye. Concerned brow and hardly any belly band--remind you of anyone?

I'm getting close. This is the naked eye view. See them up on the pole?

J.B. and Issy lock eyes. Ah oh. Are they going to make a break for it?

More silent eye communication or are they quietly vocalizing? No question they're going to do something soon.

And there they go. It's looks like the classic Red-tail ploy. They go off in separate directions. The female dropping down, while the male heading straight for me to draw my eye.

He starts coming low while she stays in the "treeline" or in this case the obscuring sightlines of the wires.

J.B. is curving round, my eye follows the more unusual movement which is closer.

He's several power poles closer.

And he keeps coming, looking at me most of the time. Eye contact.

J.B. curves slightly away but is still making himself very obvious and apparent. Look at ME!

Still looking?

Feeling secure in my focus he now goes for a little more distance and elevation.

Then suddenly he's back looking at me, making sure I'm still focused.

He gives me the once over again.

Then as he'd come in low, he now needs to get some elevation to rise to a decent more unattainable perch.

Still flying by though, making sure I'm looking.

Zip! A fly by!

Zoom! I'm watching, I'm watching--He heads straight into the sun. OUCH! Fell for it again. This seems to be a classic Red-tail move in Wisconsin. I've never had it happen in NYC.

My focus assured, and the female no doubt, distantly and possibly secretly ensconced, he heads for a distant perch.

I shoot into the glare.

Touch down! Notice at this moment there isn't another bird in sight besides J. B. Just wait a few minutes.

Alert and possibly in a defensive posture?

Count four power poles from the left. On the forth pole look very carefully and you'll see a tiny rufous speck on the left side of the cross bar. That is Issy.

I turn from finding his mate and lookie there. J.B. has developed some company. CROWS!

He looks the other direction. Ignoring them could work right?

Then looks between his legs. She's still there and she is very very unhappy with him.

In fact J.B. is being surrounded by a mob of very unhappy individuals who don't like what he's doing one little bit. I'm guessing that he's crossed some sort of territorial line. Were he and Issy actually watching the activities of the Crows earlier? Were they up to something and that's why their behavior was unusual?

Something is coming in from the NW.

Miss Crow who has been vocalizing the whole time now is really getting revved up. Calling for reinforcements perhaps?

Issy is down the way, acting as if she's isn't the least bit involved in any of it.

Don't be fooled. She's still keeping close track of the proceedings.

Issy is paying particular attention to something that is in the NW.

And J.B.? He's gathered quite a mob of vocal angry birds who look like they just might be out for some physical contact "sports". His behavior in crossing "the line" has really gotten them going.

He visually checks in with one after the other.

J.B. stands higher and looks further afield. Reinforcements are arriving from the W and NW.

Then he's off like a shot to the NE with the closest angry bird is hot on his tail feathers.

J.B. chances soaring, but the Blackbird is flapping to gain speed.

And BANG! J.B. has a passenger pecking his head.

He dives under the wire, loosing his passenger...

...and heads for the trees.

And his pursuers come in from all sides.

Issy checks in, seemingly unconcerned.

There are a couple of birds sitting near Issy but they don't seem much concerned about her.

She focuses on the area where most of the crows arrived from.

Will J.B. and the mob be coming this way?

In the meantime a group of male Cowbirds, do a couple of dusultory flyovers.

Then settle down to a little preening.

Out of the trees to the NW, I hear sporatic cawing. But didn't everybody just go the other way? Is someone guarding a nest? A fledgling crow?

Killdeers begin madly calling to the NE, the direction in which J.B. and his buddies disappeared. I turn and try to pinpoint them. When I turn back around guess who is missing. ISSY!

And in the woods to the NW, I hear the calling of one or two crows. Was J.B. just the bait and after gathering the mob, led them on a merry chase while Issy stealthily flew over and stole whatever was worth eating over there? Was it the old bait and switch, Red-tail style? If so will Issy save some for J.B.?

From W.A. Walters, gleaner of the NYTimes--

U.S. June 23, 2010
In Battle of Bug vs. Shrub, Score One for the Bird
An Asian import likes to eat tamarisk, which seemed like a good idea. Enter the Southwestern willow flycatcher.

Donegal Browne