Thursday, April 18, 2013

Urban vs Rural Hawks: The logistics-NYU Hawk Cam, Rural Bald Eagle and Red-tailed Hawk Nests

It's been raining for so many days that it has been awhile since the beginning of the saga so lets recap first. 

I'd heard about an Eagle nest and a Red-tailed Hawk nest a few miles out of town.  My friend Mike, who grew up in the area, and I went out to find them.  

Now Mike is not much of a bird watcher but his parents still farm in the area and his Grandfather was a sawyer whom everyone knew.  Why is that important?  Because Mike can have the ever important genealogy conversation.

Without it one doesn't get to square one.

You'll remember we found the Eagle's nest but the area was far from public access.  Too far to really see much or get decent photographs.

Along the way, we're also looking for the Red-tail nest I'd heard about but hadn't found yet.  

Trundling toward the eagle nest...I see a Red-tail!

 Excellent, this might be one of the hawks that belongs to the nest we're looking for.

Keep in mind that the moment the car stops the rural hawk will  take off.  It is a certainty.  The car stops...

 The hawk takes off.

I scour the trees in the direction the hawk has flownI don't see a nest.  

 But we're now bearing down on  the house of the owner of the property on which the Eagles nest is located.

 Enter Mike and the genealogy conversation.  Mike goes up to a the door of the house and asks about the nest. 

Being I'm shy of people I don't know and somewhat of a city slicker, I sit in the car.  Where I wait for the genealogy conversation to ensue.  When it is finally proved to the occupant of the house that Mike grew up on a farm not far away, and, depending on the age of the occupant, the important... "Oh YES, I knew your grandfather, or I know your Dad", occurs.  Bona vides established the question is popped as to whether I can cross their land, very carefully of course, to get within photography distance of the nest.   

That's when we find out that the occupant  doesn't really own the land, someone else does.  But you can't ask that first.  That isn't how it is done.

We're told who the occupant, who is a renter,  thinks the land with the eagle nest  belongs to.  Off we go again.
Sitting in front of a second farm house while Mike goes inside to yet again have the genealogy talk, I stare at the tree line that runs along the railroad tracks, way, way, over THERE!

Then I see a spotCould  that be an RT nest?  Do you see it?  Gotta be!

Mike returns.  Nice peopleHe says, the now eagle nest used to belong to Blue Herons.  But these folks don't own the land in question either.   But they've just come back from somewhere with the people who do own it, the Teneyks, up the road, so they'll be home.

Oh dear,  not the Teneyks.  We've been warned that they're older and just want to be left alone. Gulp.

Oh for a public sidewalk or a park bench with a view of an urban nest!  

But Mike has real farm boy stamina.  Off we go up the road again.  He appears to actually enjoy this

 Not me.

 The NYU Hawk Cam looks better and better.  Though cams can't be beat on the inner nest part of the story they're zero on the off-the-nest side.

We park in the muddy drive and Mike makes it for the door.  He goes in.  Mike is gone a long time.

The Teneyks have a very cool tiled and old style shingled silo.   I've never seen one like it.  I wait.

Mike returns. Nice enough older man, not crotchety but, "Nope".  Can't go on the land but we're welcome to take all the pictures we want from the road.

What?  I say.  From the road? Isn't a county trunk road a public area.  "Well", Mike says, "Depends on your outlook."

   As it turns out farmers in Wisconsin pay land taxes to the center of the road.  And in some of  their minds the road belongs to them as they pay taxes on it.  Particularly I suppose if the road, like this one,  is named, Teneyke Road.


Mike explains, we'll come back on a nice warm day next time.  Set up the spotting scope. Get the eagle nest in focus and then go ask Mr. and Mrs.  Teneyke if they'd like to take a look at an eagle as if it were in their kitchen.  Mike thinks eventually I'll get on the land when I prove harmless and nice and ready to make  them photos.

What a process. 

But what about that spot in the treeline?   We turn around and head back to the second farm house to look at "the spot".

I look through the scope just as one RT slides into the nest bowl and  the other leaves!!!!

Woooo hooooo!!!  Success.  What I really wanted all along!  Another rural Red-tailed Hawk nest to compare to all the urban ones!!!

Besides eagles look like they are scowling all the  time.  Grumpy.  Though I'll watch that nest too with great interest if not with quite as much love.

The view would be better closer.  And the line of sight down the track will be obstructed so not the  best.  I start looking for a better view of the RT nest and of course the farm house that belongs to it.  

 This isn't bad!  See the nest?  Now keep in mind I've not included the field that is closest to me  into this photo but still...  If the farmer would let me walk on the fence row to  the right, not shown, then cross over by the old fence row with the yellow bush that bisects it, I'd be half again closer.  Not bad at all.

We park on the side of the road.  Farmer Armstrong is driving a skid steer thingie with two big bails of fodder for his cows.  Bails the size of a car each.  Mike says one will be dry hay and the other likely some kind of fresher alfalfa. 

 The things one learns trying to see a hawk nest.  

Mike gets out of the car and heads for Farmer Armstrong who looks youngish and happy.  When Mike leans over the fence to shake hands, he actually gives Mike a big smile.  They chat.

I wait.  Attempting to look female-ish and friendly.

Yes, Mr. Armstrong knows about both nests.  He thinks they are great.  Would Mr. A like some closer looks at the nest?  Some photographs?  He sure would! 

In fact I can even park in the dirt lane that goes into the field on the opposite side of the road when I come to look.  Wow.

Once again the scope comes out.  It's late in the day and the light is goingBut I still want a look.  Particularly sense the weather is supposed to be rain and more rain for half of forever

 And there she is!

 A lot of chromatic aberration due to light angle, back light, and distance but next time I'll be half again closer. 

 I may have to just borrow some hipboots and beard the rain!

After all she'll be doing it.
 Happy Hawking!
 Donegal Browne  

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