Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Central Park Juvenile, the first Monarch Caterpillar, Paper Wasps, Rare Fruit, Goldfinch Lessons, and My Achilles Heel for Hawks...Even Cooper's Hawks

Longtime Hawkwatcher Stella Hamilton spotted this unidentified Red-tail juvenile in Central Park eating self caught prey.  As all the juveniles have now branched out of their parental territories exploring and hunting it is very tough to figure out who belongs to whom.
The first Monarch Caterpillar on the new Milkweed plants.  Yes!
An approximately 2 foot by 2 foot paper wasp nest in a barn.
A closer view shows how beautiful and complex this cooperatively produced nest is.
"The" apple...the only piece of fruit on six fruit trees which where all covered with blossoms in the Spring.  There is no fruit of any of the fruit trees in town.  The common thought is a lack of pollination as there are so few Honey Bees.  In fact, I've seen only one this year.
Frantic begging from the other side of the window and Squirrel's flicking tail brought my attention to a group of  fledgling Goldfinch.  I regularly put sunflower seeds on the coal hole cover for the Chipmunk who lives in the coal hole and it had drawn the Goldfinch fledglings, one of which, the one down left in fact, is extremely unhappy. 


Well, he is frustrated and confused.  
 He has figured out that the meat of a sunflower seed, the yummy part, is eaten out of an open sunflower seed shell.
So he picks an open seed in his beak, ready to eat the meat, but it has been previously opened and eaten by a sibling.  

 He begins to beg in a screech.  Nobody responds so after a few minutes...
 ...he looks down and spies an unopened seed.  He picks it up in his beak but no meat.  

I surmise he hasn't learned that either he has to open the seed to get the good stuff or hasn't learned yet HOW to open it.

He drops the seed.
And totally freaks out in frustration.  He vocalizes insistently at full volume.  He rapidly flicks his wings in a begging gesture.  Then turns in rapid tight circles flicking and vocalizing. 

No one pays the least attention.  His siblings continue eating.  Dad who is up in the Spruce tree is keeping watch, as there has been a Cooper's Hawk around lately, doesn't even look down.
 He picks up another seed...
...and tries tapping and shoving it against the wood.  No good.
Another tizzy of frustration.  By this time Mom is looking at Frenzy Chick, and doing a demonstration of the how-to-get-the-seed-out-of-the-shell technique.
Then everyone looks up and all hell breaks loose.  The dozens of birds, Goldfinch, Purple Finch, House Sparrows, Downy Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, etc., who have been foraging in the sunflowers that grow in the area, in the two feeders, and on the ground take off at top speed in all directions.

A huge, beautiful, and skillful Cooper's Hawk in perfect feather appears out of nowhere and disappears from my view out the window.

One moment please.

1.  It is 48 degrees outside.
2.  It has rained all night and is still doing so sporadically,
3.   I'd been quite ill so I am observing all this while still in my pajamas so staying in and hoping to see what is happening from inside is the better choice.

Now back to the action...
I grab my camera, run upstairs, and look out the windows for the hawk.
I scan.  Nothing and nobody from this view or the others I've tried.  I run into the room that has a slight view of  the Ponderosa Pine if I lay my right cheek on the far right of the window and peer left. Bingo!  The Cooper's is just hopping from one branch to another which unfortunately is out of view.

I run back down the stairs, through the rest of the house and out the back door.  This is idiotic as remember, I've been sick, I'm wearing pajamas, no shoes, it's 48 degrees and very wet out there.
 I try sheltering by the garage on the wet sidewalk, better than  puddles or cold mud.  No sight of her.  Did she take off after hopping out of view?  Crap!  I start left into the puddles.

I still  don't see her in the moment with the naked eye but later upon bringing up the photo, she is there.
I keep shooting but still don't see her with the naked eye in the moment.  I keep going further left, North,  through puddles and then East through mucky grass, and I still don't see her.

I keep shooting.
 There she is.
I then take a dozen or so more pictures instead of getting inside and taking care of myself.

This is a cautionary tale with which I send my sincere apologies for the lapse in judgement which caused the lapse in the blog.  I have been quite ill due to my own foolishness.  

Here's hoping I'll use better sense next time.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne