Saturday, January 30, 2010

Central Park: My first Cooper's Hawk!

My sweet husband wanted to go to the park with me today, hoping to see a hawk. He had never seen one perched in a tree, only flying. My hawk sightings are far from reliable, and he didn't want to spend a lot of time in the park, so my hopes were not high. It was super cold so not a lot of activity in the park.

We saw this downy woodpecker near the start of our walk, and then moved through the ramble to the feeders.

We saw this pretty American Goldfinch there, along with several other birds that declined to pose for us. Then I heard a sound that I thought might be a squirrel alarm call, so we went towards it. It turned out to be mostly a blue jay and one lone squirrel sounding the alarm. We looked all around the squirrel and did not see a hawk, so we started watching some pretty cardinals. Then as we were turning to leave, I saw one up in a tree! There was no clear shot, this was the best picture we got. While we were maneuvering to get a better shot, a hawk flew out of the tree - apparently there had been two there, as the one we spotted was still there! I'm guessing a mated pair, to be so close together? Anyway, we were thrilled to have seen them. When the remaining hawk flew away, we turned to go home. We walked past the boathouse and looking down the path, I spotted another big bird in a tree. I could tell right away it wasn't a red tailed hawk, the tail was longer and thinner and decidedly not red. There's a picture of the bird from behind, and then the frontal view of the gorgeous Cooper's hawk. I'm thrilled that I have now seen a Cooper's Hawk, and thrilled that Jack had such sightings!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Central Park: Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker! Oh, and a hawk, too.

Today even though it was freezing out I went to the park again, because it was so sunny and pretty outside. :-) Not as much activity as yesterday, though. What a difference 20 degrees make! Anyway, by Balcony Bridge, this gorgeous yellow bellied sap sucker flew right over and started showing off for me. He even let me take a half decent picture!
Then somewhere near Strawberry Fields I found this hawk, who didn't appear too intent on hunting, since there were squirrels who apparently had not noticed him scampering about in the same tree. After that I saw a few ducks, a robin, some blue jays, and a ton of puffed up sparrows. Saw a pair of downy woodpeckers by the feeders, one at the feeder and one on a tree, pecking away!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Central Park: Hooded Mergansers, Hawks, Woodpeckers, and More!

Another amazing day at Central Park! First I came across this hooded merganser, and snapped when he was fully deployed. Then I wandered around until I heard the squirrel alarm cry (thank you to the man who taught me that!) and found a red tailed hawk. While trying to get a good shot, this red-bellied woodpecker teased me, moving too quickly for me to get a really good shot. This is the best one I got. Once I lost him, I moved around for a better view of the hawk and got a better look at him!

After that I walked around the ramble more and came to a place called the oven, according to one kind birder I ran into. I had seen a couple of flyovers from hawks that looked all very pale grey, she said those were probably cooper's hawks. I didn't manage pictures of them. Got some classic shots of empty sky, though. Anyway, she pointed the way to the feeders, where I saw this gorgeous downy wood pecker, first on the feeder then on the tree. Oh, and the American robin.

I went from there around the rest of the lake, but no wood duck sighting for me today. I did see some northern shovelers really going to town shovel-wise, so I paused to watch them for a bit. There were a bunch of gulls circling overhead, and I saw another bird above them, darker and bigger. With pointy wings. This was definitely interesting. It started to dive, like it was hunting, and it had a gull in mind! Down and down in came, and then from nowhere (OK actually from a tree a ways behind me) comes this red-tailed hawk! And they sort of had a fight! Talons were out, birds were calling, it was incredible! So I think that it was a falcon and the hawk was chasing it out of its territory. Awesome! The hawk was about a third or so bigger than the falcon, and the falcon had pointy wings and flapped more than a hawk does. The falcon flew up and around a few more circle and then disappeared behind the museum of natural history. Then I thought, hey, I wonder where that hawk went? So I went looking and found it in the trees a little ways behind me. I didn't get a good angle, and the light was fading, so that's the best shot I got. What an incredible day!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Central Park: Wood duck! Hawk! Other Stuff!

This was a magical day at the park! I had read a couple of postings that there was a wood duck at the lake. So I went to try to find it, not really getting my hopes too high. The postings were for *a* wood duck at the lake. And I have basically no idea how to find it. But I was incredibly lucky and saw it right off, getting close enough for these great photos! The wood duck is showing the mallard who is boss. And then floating serenely. He took off shortly, and I didn't see him again. Thank you wood duck! Still on the lake were the northern shovelers.

I heard odd sounding calls from the ramble so I went that way, and found this hawk eating a squirrel! Someone eventually came along and explained that the calls were the alarm call of the squirrel, and they usually meant a predator was around. And that usually means a red tailed hawk. This time I found the hawk myself, instead of finding a crowd already looking at it. :-) Walking who knows where because I got lost in the ramble, I saw a couple of flyovers from hawks. Then on the east side near a playground saw this pretty cardinal. Decided to go by the zoo and see what birds I could find in the harbor seal area. There I found a pair of red-breasted mergansers and a pair of common goldeneyes. It was great!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bronx Zoo: Hooded Mergansers, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay

Well I raved about the Bronx Zoo so much, Jack and I went back there today! :-) In addition to the animals on display (which were again wonderful to see) we spotted this pair of hooded mergansers, the beautiful Northern Cardinal, and this blue jay. Beyond the blue jay a ways was a hawk, but it was so well camouflaged that we couldn't get a picture, and couldn't find it again when we got closer! It didn't fly again to show us where it was. A great day!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hawk at Bronx Zoo

I went to the Bronx zoo and had a great time. While I was walking between exhibits, this gorgeous red tailed hawk flew just past me, and settled into a tree about 20 feet away. It was wonderful! Sadly I only had the little camera with me. That will teach me not to bring the heavier one!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Buzzards in Houston

Jack and I were in Houston this weekend, running registration for a dance convention. I noticed a large bird - I thought it was a hawk - flying above the hotel atrium, it was very cool to see! Then saw another, then another. Eventually there were about 8 of them flying around or perched on the edge of the roof of the building next door. Someone who lives close to there said they were buzzards. Which is much more likely than hawks, it's not normal for hawks to group up like that. Anyway the buzzards seemed pretty interested in that particular building. It was cool to see, but a little creepy. I mean, really, what was up there? Sadly I didn't have a camera, just my phone, so these pics are the best I got. We estimate that the windows in the building are at laest 4x4, so you can see in the second picture what a huge wingspan they have!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Central Park: Norhtern Shoveler, Ruddy Duck, Canada Goose, Hooded Merganser

It was quite cold today but clear and sunny, so we walked around the reservoir. First we saw a bunch of Canada Geese and ducks standing on the ice, all tucked in. It turned out the ducks included Northern Shovelers, our first time seeing them! The first picture is a Northern Shoveler, that we saw later. As we continued around, we saw a pretty large group of Ruddy Ducks, our first time seeing them. The second shot is some ruddy ducks. Most of them were tucked in, this one peeked out briefly.

The third shot is a Canada Goose standing on one foot, tucked in. Trying its best to conserve heat! Then one that was out and about, posing for us. We love it when they pose and make sure to catch the light just right for us! Then we saw some Hooded Mergansers, another first time sighting. I really wanted to see these, so I was happy and excited! They are too quick for a lot of good pictures, though. There's one far-ish away, its crest (hood?) is fully deployed. There was a male-female pair nearer us, so the next shot is the female with her crest deployed and the light shining through. It was so beautiful! Then a shot of the pair of them. In this shot the male's crest is only partially deployed. It was a nice walk, glad we went even though it was cold!