Saturday, July 05, 2014

Gleaning Information and Images of Distant Birds in the Sky (Without Spending a Fortune) and The Trio of Terror Pets Plus One

 What to do about those speck in the sky moments.

 From Robin of Illinois who has been periodically seeing a young eagle at a great distance ...

My identification of the glorious eagle is a best guess based only on size, the mechanism of its wing flapping, and posture when gliding and obviously, the truly humongous wing span. I've never seen one "in the wild" and "in person" before!
He/she has been hanging around for about a month now, but I don't think it is fresh out of the nest this spring, based on its flying skills and skills in cruising for prey. It is much much too far away for me to see any facial details, but I did see it make a very nice landing in the nearly-tippy-top of a giant old oak tree in the back part of the "oak lawn"....Maybe a year 2-3 juvenile? Obviously no white head yet.
I don't have any camera lenses powerful enough to capture this amazing sight at these distances, (about 50-100 yards). But thrilled just to see it!

 That's totally GRAND!!! 

Are you viewing it with the naked eye?  Binoculars?  Scope?

While outside?  Inside?

You have some kind of point and shoot digital camera, yes? 

Here's the deal.  I'm constantly having to overshoot my equipment when I'm trying to get a good look at a flying bird.  If this is a two or three year old eagle it will have splotches of white feathers so even in a very very bad picture there will likely be that contrast so you can age it more nearly, unless it is tremendously back lit.  You can sometimes  age a young eagle by looking at an even awful picture.

The other thing to do is, as it is digital take as many pictures as you can possibly manage on any given sighting. Make sure you are in auto focus and just keep pushing that button while the bird is in your view. Luck is a marvelous thing and with every push you increase your chances that auto focus may just come through for you enough to learn something new.

If outside and you can manage it, lean your hand, yourself, whatever against a tree, house, something solid to reduce shake.  Inside you'll have more options, you can even sit the camera on something while you shoot. 

In the open, push your elbows close to your body and hold your breath for the button push. 

Do you have a photo program?  Doesn't have to be photoshop. In fact at this stage unless you know how to use Photoshop or Light Room trying to use them will just make you crazy.   Go online.   There are quite a number of free photo programs you can download which are simpler so you can jump right in..  You need something simple enough so you can use it right away.   You will need to be able to manipulate sharpness and exposure, and the ability to crop freestyle. 

A little speck of a bird, when cropped becomes a much bigger bird, if much less sharp, which is helpful in gleaning information about it.

If you have a scope, depending, you may be able to hold the camera to the eyepiece and do some rough digiscoping while watching the live digital view as well.

Let us see how you do.

Best, D

And here is the speck in the sky after the photo which heads the blog was cropped down to a much tinier photo which when enlarged gives us the shape of the bird and in this case because of the folded neck and my knowledge of the area, makes it the Great Blue Heron who traverses the sky every morning and afternoon at about the same time at this location. 

And an update on the Trio of Terror plus one, i.e., Quicksilver the African Parrot, Tig the Basenji, Squirrel the Cat... and Pyewacket who could do without every single one of them.
I was walking past the laundry room, glanced in, and saw Quicksilver the African Grey Parrot advancing on the trash can.  Not only might there be interesting things in the refuse receptacle but pulled over it makes...what?  A cavity!
As I'm putting him back on his perch and telling him NOT to mess with the trash can, I hear the door jangle on the cage I was about to clean in the other room.  Hmmm.
I go to investigate.  
Tig the Basenji has opened the door of the cage wider with his nose and is helping himself to Nutri-berry fragments on the bottom of the case.

A digression:
Nutri-berries are little balls of bird seed stuck together with pieces of papaya and bird vitamins.

Why is a dog eating bird seed and papaya?  Because the parrot eats them and Tig will eat anything the other pets eat no matter how far the food is from that typical of his own species out of sheer jealousy. 
While I am shooing the dog out of the bird cage I hear a clatter in the laundry room.
You guessed it.  It took the parrot no time at all to leap off his perch and dump the trash.  And who is watching all this just in case something of interest might be mined from the refuse?
Squirrel the Cat of course.
All this is only a mini moment of multi-misbehavior that I have managed to nip in the bud, but the day is yet young.  And the reason why...
...Pyewacket the Good Pet looks so disgruntled all the time.
(Pye's photograph appears particularly for Karen Anne of the Gonzo Deck who asked how Pye was faring these days.)

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Hawkwatcher Stella Hamilton Places Pale Male's Mate Octavia on Sunday

Here is Octavia on Sunday evening ,06/29/14 , on the (left) corner of a ledge on a building at 85th and 5th , watching over the fledglings and Pale Male's goings on. Can you see her in this far away pic?  Thought I'd let you know where she was this weekend since someone asked .

Thanks Stella!  And you can bet that if there was any threat to a fledgling or to Pale Male,  Octavia would be swooping down on the perpetrator with the trademark Red-tailed Hawk scream to take care of business.

By the way, Stella also sent a nifty video of one of the fledglings begging which I seem to need a different program to load onto the blog.  Therefore when I get that issue squared away it will go up.  It will be particularly nice for those who have never heard that trademark sound of summer.

In fact today, I heard a young Red-tail begging in a small woods.  I immediately attempted to track the youngster down.  But as these are rural hawks, when I got near the area where the fledgling had to be, silence fell.  No begging in front of humans around here.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

MONDAY, Hawkwatcher Stella Hamilton Tracks Down Pale Male and Two Fedglings In Central Park

All Iphone images  by Stella Hamilton
5:46 PM Hawkwatcher Stella Hamilton tracks down Pale Male hunting at the Reservoir in Central Park.

6:29PM Ah Ha!  Stella finds the the paler headed fledgling perched on Glade Arch.
 6:32PM  Three minutes later Pale Head  takes off from the arch and lands on the lawn.

6:44PM  Pale Head Fledge nips up to the branch with Darker Headed Fledgling who is doing a little feather work before bed.

Have a good night fledglings.  Stay safe!

Many thanks to Stella Hamilton for sharing her Central Park Red-tailed Hawk Searches.

Keep scrolling down to the next post for earlier sightings.
Happy Hawking 
Donegal Browne

Sunday, Pale Male and Octavia's Fledglings Head for the Metropolitan Museum of Art plus Where Is Octavia?

              All today's pictures are Iphone images by Stella Hamilton
                                    One of Pale Male's fledglings atop the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Long time Hawkwatcher Stella Hamilton said a few days ago that Pale Male and Octavia's fledglings looked like they were going to end up in the Metropolitan Museum area earlier than in past seasons. And indeed they have as ordinarily they have begun to hunt a bit for themselves when they start hanging around the Met.  Indeed they are earlier as they aren't near ready to even do a little hunting on their own as yet.
Fledgling perches on the back of a bench and completely ignores the photographer while looking for a possible meal delivery.
But the begging and the photographer attract a crowd.  Does fledgling freak out about the humans?  Nope.  This is a Central Park fledgling who is as utterly used to humans as he is to trees.

 He just keeps begging, attempting to get Pale Male or Octavia to come up with the chow.

Which does happen of course.  Pale Male cruises in and drops off of half a pigeon.

Which the fledgling eats and then has a rest up on on a  branch.

Sally of Kentucky left a comment which I've transferred to the main page.  She wanted to know if Octavia was missing?

There are three fledglings in the nest this season and if you think about it all three have seldom if ever been together in sight range of humans since they came off the nest.  And very rarely are there three groups of  watchers, one for each flegling at the same time, either.

Octavia, this was also the case with  Lola, is not nearly as human habituated as Pale Male.  We get the feeling that Pale Male's mates are as we watch the nest for months without the female appearing to be the least bit shy of people.  But we look at her with binoculars, or scopes, or through long camera lenses, she is actually far enough away from humans not to mind them in the least.  When the fledglings are off the nest and a food drop off needs to be done, the females tend to feed the fledgling or fledglings who have not attracted a crowd.  Pale Male is the one who does drop offs which need to be done in plain sight of people.

When hawkwatching in Central Park,  we hawkwatchers quite often see Pale Male hunting, making kills, and eating in plain sight.  His mates on the other hand are not seen doing these things nearly as often.  Hence the same is true when it comes to tending Fledglings.

Pale Male's mate, in this case Octavia, is there doing her job she is just far more stealthy about it.

I first got onto this phenomena when watching the Trump Parc nest of Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte.  When Big and Little, their two fledglings, finally came off the rooftops and into the park, Charlotte tempted Big into a fenced in construction area of Central Park where she trained and fed her.  And the area was large enough that where ever you chose to stand at the fence, you might be able to hear Big beg but Charlotte was quite stealthy about her training and drop offs and they occurred out of our sight. 

On the other hand, Junior and Little did whatever they were doing  in plain sight all the time.  Which would you choose to watch? 

This may be a gender issue of Red-tailed Hawks, or just that Pale Male as we know is very human habituated and Junior who is thought to be be Pale Male's son and therefore a male that was raised on an urban nest and trained in Central Park has no issues exposing himself to watchers either.

I can remember sitting on a park bench watching Little walk up to a man sleeping on a bench who had set a paper bag of something at his feet before succumbing to sleep.  Well Little just walked right up to him and started pulling at the bag next to the man's feet, I suspect out of curiosity, got bored with it and then walked away.  All the while only inches from the sleeping man's feet and not many feet from where I sat on the bench.

I get sporadic reports of Octavia being seen very briefly in the park  with about the same regularity that other females  were seen at this point in the process.  So yes it is conceivable that Octavia  might be missing for a day or two without anyone taking notice but I think, as does Stella, that this season is similar to the others and Pale Male's mate is out there but she is the typical stealthy crafty female that Pale Male picks, and there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne