Saturday, May 06, 2017

The Monroe Water Tower Red-tailed Hawk Pair

6:34PM Meet Esmeralda, the formel of the Monroe,  Wisconsin watertower nest.

It was late today, and cloudy besides when I arrived.   Esmeralda popped her head up when I first appeared with the camera, like a good mom hawk, and did not seem nearly as petrified as the country hawks I've attempted to photograph in the area.  But then again her human neighbors report that this has been an active nest for about fourteen years.  

Her mate Hugo,  flew into the top part of an evergreen where he was invisible to check me out for a moment or two, decided I looked harmless and then took his leave to go about his late day business.  

The Faith family who live to the left of the water tower are the ones who first alerted me to this nest.  They reported that on two occasions over the years they found a Red-tail just standing in kind of a stupor in their back yard.  They called the local rehabber who came and retrieved the hawk, treated it, and brought it back to the yard for release.  

It is good to know that someone is looking out for them. 

Of course the formel may not always have been Esmeralda (or Hugo either) but if too frightened by people she wouldn't have chosen this site when  her mate Hugo showed her, her yearly options.

The water tower has a full blown neighborhood of  houses around it  and a playground just beyond its legs to the right besides.

The nest is situated on the catwalk just to the left of the leg support  center.  From this view, just beyond where the black walnut tree branches criscross each other.

Note the water tower is surrounded by black walnut trees whose nuts in season are a magnet for squirrels.  Not only is the tower a nifty place for a nest it is also a hunting perch when the nuts are in season.

Just to the right of the tower there is a children's playground which draws children of course.  Kids bring snacks and aren't all that tidy at times so that area too is a draw for prey.  

The original Urban Hawk, Pale Male, often hunts playground areas at dusk when the children have gone home and the rodents are on the prowl for dinner.  
6:42 PM Esmeralda's head disappears into the nest.  You can just see the twigs on the edge of the catwalk center if you look carefully.

7:15 PM  I waited a little over a half hour to see if Esmeralda  was going to give another look over the edge.  Nope.  She appears to be in for the night, whether she is still warming eggs or now brooding eyasses.

The next step will be for me to arrive earlier in the day and hope for Hugo to show up with prey and see if any feeding commences.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Friday, May 05, 2017

The Magical Appearance of Morel Mushrooms

                              These are morel mushrooms. 

 In some parts of the country, the parts that know about them, in a normal year they can sell for $35 to $75 a pound.  And morel hunters quard their morel grounds with a serious secrecy.  You'd think they were guarding a moonshine still in some cases.

They are not grown commercially.  Why?  Because the little rascals are totally and completely uncooperative.

They are said to grow in forests on slopes under particular kinds of trees...ash, elm, oak, and aspen.  Early Spring they grow in open woods often on south facing slopes and later in the season deeper in the woods on north facing slopes. 

Just about sunset today, I walked past the edge of my prairie garden, a flat area where milkweed is beginning to emerge, the closest trees are maple and they are a good way away.  There in the mulch from last year and trailing into the lawn were the above.

I asked.  

Yes,  they are morel mushrooms.  No slope.  None of the signature trees. And certainly not a forest.


Just goes to show the "best laid plans of mice and men..." don't mean squat to mushrooms.

Happy Morel Hunting...this is a good year to pay attention to the ground.

Donegal Browne

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Just in from stalwart long time Central Park Hawk Watcher, Stella Hamilton!

Here is Stella's report direct from the Hawk Bench..

Yesterday at 7:38 PM, I watched Octavia perched high, mid right of the nest and pulling, tearing, and dipping her head into the nest.

Three minutes later, Pale Male flew in with a rat, then flew off with it toward the Glade Arch.

Today, woohoo!
Around 7:15pm, Octavia tore away, yanked at bloody meat and gently fed in two places mid left of the nest!

Oh Happy Days!

I'm doing the Dance of Joy!!!!


Pale Male and Octavia do it again......
The residents of the Bench saw the feeding behavior as well and many a happy dance was performed for yet another beginning to another season from New York City's premier Hawk Couple and their  Fifth Avenue Nest!!!

Happy hawking!
Donegal Browne

Sunday, February 26, 2017

WATCH LIVE: April the giraffe prepares to give birth

April the celebrity pregnant giraffe

As many of you likely know by now, April the Giraffe and her consort, Oliver, are expecting a new calf any minute.  And as the cam was shut down for awhile due to a complaint about the feed being "sexually explicit" plus "nudity which is against youtube policy. 

The complaint may well have been a prank...

 At any rate, cooler heads prevailed and the live cam is back up with a million jillion new users.

But having been watching April made me realize how little I knew or had even thought about when it came to giraffes.

She appeared to be chewing a cud.

Indeed they are cud chewers.  You'll see April chew, chew, chew, swallow it, bring it back up and chew, chew, chew some more.

Then someone wanted to know if a giraffe was kosher in the Jewish tradition.  Indeed as it is in the cloven hoof category and chews a cud, the vets contacted in Israel decided indeed yes they are kosher.  Not that they planned on eating one, of course. 

I also noted when April leaned over to eat some fodder she raised her back left leg a little.

You guessed it.  While standing straight up on all fours giraffes mouths can't touch the ground.

After watched April keep walking around in the middle of the night for hours.  I began wondering if this was pre-labor or quite the usual for a giraffe.

Indeed giraffes in the wild very seldom lie down.  It is too impossible to get up in a hurry  when a tiger is heading for you.  Also they only sleep for about three hours in short spurts anyway.  

Hardly worth the trouble.

Then I looked up at the video feed and April had laid down.  Geez.

That's not a sign of labor.  They give birth to standing up.  Is something going wrong?


Turns out giraffes in captivity do lay down on occasion and also slip in an extra hour, count 'em
FOUR hours of sleep.

They do have a bit of trouble trying to figure out what to do with their heads though.

April, wise giraffe that she is, has figured it out.
You lay your head up against the side of the wall. 

 By the way she laid down for about 15 to 20 minutes.   Though her eyes were mostly open during that time.  Still taking those cat/giraffe naps.

Oliver by the way has a stall next to April's.  He sticks his head in periodically and checks on her.  Though when the keepers open the door and let Oliver into April's stall he tends to want to rough house which April is in no mood to participate in so he mostly has to stay next door or in the daytime he has an open door to the outside and can go rough house with someone else anytime he feels like it.
Here she is back up again.

And back down again...

I'm assuming if any of us were lugging around a hundred and forty pound giraffe calf, we'd be lying down periodically too.

Donegal Browne

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

FOUR NEW FROG SPECIES FOUND IN INDIA...small enough to sit on your thumb nail

How did the teeny frogs get missed even though they are numerous in their limited habitats? It is thought they may have been over looked by scientists as they are night frogs whose vocalizations sound much like those of insects.  

Happy Frogging!
Donegal Browne

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Remember to Fly High PLUS March for Science April 22 in DC and a City NEAR YOU!!!!

As all the information about climate change and various other science matters has disappeared from many national and governmental pages plus what the National Parkies have to say about that and to each other.....try this.... @AltNatParkSer.

(If it too is still in service by the time you read this.  Good grief!)


 As to the online discussion about what to wear to the March on Science....

The theatrical side of me recommends pith helmets, safari hats, and just a touch of cleavage for the women!

 Remember when science was adventurous and sexy in the movies?

Donegal Browne

Sunday, January 29, 2017

How Quicksilver the African Grey Parrot Gets to My Nightstand Without Alerting Me with Wing Noise and The Demonstration Defending Muslims at JFK Airport

Here is Quicksilver climbing the bed by way of the bedspread.  It took me awhile to figure out how he was getting onto the nightstand without alerting me by flight sounds...the flapping of wings.  He inventively climbs the bedspread, trots across the bed and walks onto the nightstand, silently, in order to have his way with whatever might be on it.

Basically he makes a fold with his beak.

He lifts his left foot up and grabs the fold his beak is holding.
(For whatever reason African Greys tend to be left footed.)
He then pinches another bit of fold with his beak while holding on with both feet.  You can't see it but this time his right foot is higher than his left.
  He uses his tongue to know exactly where the bulge is.
Right foot comes up and beak releases.

Gets another solid hold with his beak.  Note the right foot is higher.
  Up comes his left foot.
He pulls himself higher with his left foot.
The right foot comes up and TA DA !!!  He's up on the bed and with a scamper along a couple feet to the head of the bed and to the right, nightstand, TA DA, he is beaking any interesting looking goodies he is not supposed to have.

NEXT UP....if you've been following the news...

The First Amendment. ... Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Tonight's protest at JFK Airport in NYC defending the First Amendment of  the Constitution.
This Land Is Your Land Sing Out

Next NYC Protest this SUNDAY (TODAY)
2PM at Battery Park!

Donegal Browne

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Great Tootsie Pop Game Part VI

When last we left Silver he'd been parked on his cage and was  preening as he had decided to chew the papers I was going through and...
Squirrel had arrived to play with the Tootsie Pop again.  

Uh oh!   Here comes Tig.  See up left.

La de dah....La de dah....

Got it!
Crapola!  Tig mouths the tootsie pop.

Squirrel puts his head up next to the tootsie pop.  Okay and next to Tig's teeth.

Squirrel licks Tig's face....Yuck!   Cat spit!

Tig retreats to the second parlor, dropping the Tootsie Pop on the way.

Silver preens. Tig and Squirrel wander away.

From a Bill Moyer's essay on the current lack of  kindness in society...
“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness and truth, Tolstoy said.  Going forward, that could be the basis for a politics.  And we must press our media to understand that they can only restore the values they once took for granted by doing what the best of them did during the civil rights era: observe events through a moral lens." 

Suddenly Silver lays his feathers and gives me his innocent look.  What's he up to now?  I pick up a book and pretend to read.
When I look up through my eyelashes he is getting ready to slide down the leg of the cage.
He readjusts.  He knows I'm watching.


Donegal Browne

Apocalypse is 30 seconds closer, say Doomsday Clock scientists

Apocalypse is 30 seconds closer, say Doomsday Clock scientists

(Thank you, President Trump.)

Iowa Pipeline Leaks 140,000 Gallons Of Fuel In Largest U.S. Diesel Spill Since 2010

Iowa Pipeline Leaks 140,000 Gallons Of Fuel In Largest U.S. Diesel Spill Since 2010