Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Hawks of Washington Square Park and Trouble Coming for the Norfolk Botanic Garden Eagles

I headed for Washington Square Park though the light was already falling behind buildings, in hope of a little luck. And indeed we had it. Immediately we found Bobby's New Girl.

She is gorgeous.

See Bobby closer to the roof.

As is common amongst Red-tail pairs perched reasonably close to each other, they are facing in different directions.

N.G. looks up and as I'm attempting to see what she's looking at, my daughter Sam calls, "There they go".

Whichever hawk it was has disappeared either onto or beyond the building.

Is that the same hawk or a different one?

And a hawk goes into the trees.

But when I get to a spot where I can see the face of the building, there is New Girl, looking towards the park and likely at her mate. A Red-tail pair at this point in the season very much attempts to remain in eye contact with each other.

New Girl is off.

Yes this is a very bad photograph but even very bad photographs can be extremely helpful as in this case. It documents that fact that N.G. now has prepared food in her talons- a gift left for her from Bobby?

Find the hawk.

Back into the park to try spotting the hawks, I meet W.S.P. hawkwatchers, Paul and Larry. We talk of Violet and remember her.

This is one of Paul's rather chubby squirrel friends. I wander a little keeping an eye peeled.

And for the NYC landmark inclined, the arch in Washington Square Park.

A squirrel tucked in for the night.

And just as I was about to call it a day, Larry, the man has amazing distance vision, pointed toward a terrace and there indeed was Bobby surveying his domain as the light continued to fade. As did I too, toward home.


AND FROM ROBIN OF ILLINOIS CONCERNING THE NORFOLK EAGLES--She said, "I read this as Norfolk Botanical Garden folds - and as per law, they have no choice..and we all know a bit about so-called 'wildlife experts'."

From their FB page
"Eagles at Norfolk Botanical Garden"
"Norfolk Botanical Garden is extremely fortunate and proud to be the nesting grounds for wild eagles. The eagles have advanced our mission and taught millions the importance of environmental education while developing a loyal and caring worldwide audience of eagle watchers. This would not have been possible without the strong partnership with WVEC, VDGIF, and with special assistance from the CCB and our caring viewers.
Without a doubt, everyone loves the NBG eagles and cares deeply about their safety and well-being. As you are aware, there are current discussions among several agencies regarding the nest at NBG. Concern has been expressed by these agencies about the proximity of the nesting eagles to the Norfolk International Airport and the danger that it could present to the flying public.
Norfolk Botanical Garden is neither legally nor professionally in a position to take any action that would affect the bald eagles that are nesting at the Garden. We are an educational and horticultural institution that displays beautiful landscapes, maintains plant collections and provides environmental information.
If and when there is any action to be taken in regard to eagles at the Garden or in the region, it will be added to the Airport’s existing Wildlife Hazard Management Plan. This plan has been in place for a number of years, as it is at all airports, and addresses animals that present a hazard to airline safety. These plans are created by wildlife experts and enforced by the appropriate government agencies.
We recognize that the viewing public is strongly invested in these eagles and understand and share in your frustration with the unknown. But it is just that, unknown.
As the eagle component of the Wildlife Hazard Management Plan is developed, NBG will provide further information as soon it becomes available.
As I am sure you will agree, public safety and the safety of the eagles is paramount. It is the responsibility of the professionals and experts involved, or others they may deem appropriate, to develop a plan that effectively addresses and provides sound solutions to this situation."
Wildlife Hazard Management Plan?
It occurs to me that the planes and where humans have decided to build their airports are more of a hazard than wildlife, but then that's just me. Okay, okay, you're right, not just me but most of us who are paying attention to the state of wildlife. Here is a bit of a cautionary tale for those who are made afraid by certain self perpetuating fear spreading often just plain dumb bureaucracies.

As you will no doubt note from the blog I'm now in NYC. I took a plane to get here. Unfortunately flying for humans or for eagles isn't what it used to be. For whatever reason, airport security, unless in a rather hip brainy town like Madison, Wisconsin (They unpacked the scope once. The guy in charge had everyone come over, look at it, in and out of the scan machine, and saved an image, so they'd ALL know it the next time and not waste everyone's time. This is not the norm.), can't seem to "get it" when it comes to birding scopes. This trip tops them all. This time going out of Milwaukee I was subjected to a full body scan, had my bottom patted down, my palms swabbed, and my carry on bag with the scope completely unpacked and swabbed. When asked what the scope was, I said, "It is a birding scope." A what? "It's used for magnification when bird watching." It took awhile.

Therefore, I don't even wonder where in the hierarchy of importance a pair of Bald Eagles will be, the symbol of our nation no less, to the kind of people who make the decisions that name something a Wildlife Hazard Management Plan. Right there it is. Wildlife is the hazard. Just as are, 100 pound, 5 foot tall women with birding scopes.

The hazard my friends is not the wildlife or those who know their worth, though they would like you to think so. The hazard is the hubris of humans who build airports in or near the few remaining pieces of wildlife friendly habitat near urban areas instead of protecting them.

Not all animals are as adaptive as our beloved urban Red-tailed Hawks, but they all are just as important to a humane and stewarding life on the planet.

Donegal Browne