Wednesday, May 30, 2012
A Seat on the Hawkbench Is Empty
Pale Male and Lola sit companionably on their nest-- one of Rik Davis' photos that made the New York Times.
My friend and longtime hawkwatcher Stella Hamilton called today and my heart jumped into my throat. When Stella's name appears on my phone it is news that cannot wait. And as we weren't waiting for a hatch at Fifth Avenue and it isn't quite time for fledging my mind leaped to bad news.
Of all the possible bad news, this was bad news that never ever entered my mind as he had always been there. Rik Davis, a hawkwatcher, a photographer, a teacher of the pedestrian, who had watched Pale Male from the beginning, and who when I began to watch, was at the Hawk Bench with his beautiful photographs, a Swarovski scope set up for any and all who walked past the Model Boat Pond to look at Pale Male, his mates, and the 927 nest, was gone.
Stella told me Rik had died of a sudden massive heart attack at Beth Israel Hospital.
Always before when I would arrive at The Bench, even after having been out of town, kind. gentle, perceptive Rik would say hello, give me the report of what had happened earlier in the day with Pale Male and Company, and it was if I had never been away. I was restored into the rhythm of watching at The Bench.
Never competitive or secretive about what he had seen, he always shared. Everyone was included. It was Rik who put out the news that it looked like there was feeding behavior on the nest after five years of no hatches on the 927 nest and we should all beat it to the nest and take a look. No matter the good news days or bad he was the constant. He was just there.
I will miss my friend. We all will. And I know that Pale Male will look for him and wonder.
Update: A reader kindly contributed this link for a photograph of Rik,
Many were the object of his kindnesses, who never knew his name.