Sunday, February 27, 2011

More hawks!

I spotted this guy pretty quickly at the pond, hanging out in Hallett.  I'm not going to be able to see him at all once the leaves come in!

The ducks were really quite fiesty, someone was feeding them and they were all over the place.  Here the wood duck is getting out of her way as she comes in for a landing.  He does ~not~ look happy about it!

The read-headed woodpecker hung out for a while and was happy to pose.  Thanks buddy!  He was just filling up this cavity and one other nearby with tasty morsels for later.

At the feeders, the goldfinches are looking more golden all the time!

This juvenile Cooper's hawk spent quite some time hanging out and bathing at the oven.  He was hilarious!  They do ~not~ look dignified when they bathe.  

Here he is looking somewhat bedraggled, drying off.

Nearby was a raccoon sleeping the afternoon away.

And this - I think hairy - woodpecker came by to say hello.

There were some shovelers at the open area on the lake, looking great!

And almost at my exit was this gorgeous fellow, showing off.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hawks around the pond!

Today Jack and I took a brief walk around the pond before he had to get to an appointment.  We entered at 6th Ave, and as we were walking towards the bridge, I spotted a hawk across the way in Hallett.

I wonder if it's the same guy I've been seeing here, I hope so, it would be great to have on established so closeby.

As we were turning to go, another hawk came over, and some chasing ensued!  I think this one is what we were calling the invader, it looks like they were both juvenile red-tailed hawks.

It was pretty exciting, they chased each other around quite a bit!  Then one of them left, heading up the east side of the park.  One of them looks like it has an issue with some tail feather!

The one who remained shortly left its perch in Hallett and flew right over our heads, trying for a squirrel by a tree near us.  It landed with a thunk, and the squirrel emerged, chattering and shaking.  Eventually the hawk came out of the brush and sat in this bush for a few minutes.

Then it was time to start again!

It landed in a tree right over the path, probably looking for another squirrel.

We started up to see if we could see the wood ducks.  Jack had to go, so I went to see the wood duck on my own.  First I saw this pair of American black ducks.

Then the wood duck, on the north of the bridge, hanging out with a mallard female.  Maybe he'll try again, and maybe this time we'll have some hybrid chicks!

On my way out, I saw this Cooper's hawk in Hallett.  Hahahaha, so there have been two red-tailed hawks and a Cooper's hawk in this little area in these few minutes!  It was a great walk.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Make-up AMNH Walk with Paul

Today was our last winter walk.  I'm so glad that Paul did a make-up for people who missed!  It started off quite quiet in the park - on my way up I didn't see any hawks, woodpeckers, or even ducks on the lake.  Yesterday there were a few dozen, and really fiesty!  Today, quiet.  

When I was almost there I saw a hawk flying, it looked like it was coming down Central Park West, and then when I got to the meeting spot Paul said they saw a peregrine dive-bomb a hawk!  I wonder if it was the same one.  So sad I missed that!

Starting out, we did manage to find the usual suspects - white-throated sparrows, red-bellied woodpeckers, downies, cardinals.  The walk really picked up when we got to the oven.  

Someone spotted this juvenile red-tailed hawk eating its lunch!  A couple of birders there said it was a wood duck.

After a few bites it looked up into the sky with intense interest and the whole group around me made a surprised sound.

A rival had arrived!  Another juvenile red-tailed hawk.  He looks like he should be wearing a cape and carrying a sword, and saying something dastardly.

It was the Battle of the Hawks!

It looked pretty fierce.

They are not kidding around.  You can see their talons engaged.

Recovery time.

Looking alert - what's happening now?

Getting ready for action!

A chase-off attempt.  They both settled nearby and it was unclear who would end up with the duck when we left.  What a sight!

We went over to see if we could get a look at the varied thrush.  And we did!  We got incredibly lucky, seeing this little lady on every single walk.  Here she goes!

And there she is.

This white-throated sparrow was particularly vivid.  Oh, he's gonna get all the girls!

On the way to the reservoir, another hawk perched and seeing what's for lunch.

On the reservoir, one hooded merganser and a few northern shovelers.

Ring-billed gulls came right over when Paul tossed some crumbs out.

Then we headed back down, and someone spotted another hawk on the way down!  It was definitely a hawk-heavy day!  It was another red-tailed hawk, adult - it flashed its gorgeous red tail at us.  Sadly the pictures did not come out very well.

I split off from the group and headed back south on my own.

And found yet another hawk at the upper lobe!  He had a squirrel, which he carried over to a tree and left it there.

Then he flew between trees a few times, staying close to where he put the squirrel.  I don't know why he didn't just eat it.  Another question for another day.  :-)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A funny start, with a hawk finish

Today I started at the pond, where the wood ducks were in rare form.  First one was just peacefully hanging out with a mallard on the side of the pond.

Then the other one decided that was *his* patch of dirt, and chased the mallard away.  The mallard did wander off, seeming annoyed but not really intimidated.

Then he turned on his fellow wood duck, telling him it was time to go - now!

Okay, okay, have the patch of dirt!

Then up to visit the red-headed woodpecker, who was very active.  He was really a joy to watch, although getting pictures was tough.  Just flying all over, getting snacks and storing them in the trees all around here.

Up by the lake I did see ducks courting, but they would inevitably get distracted by the tourists feeding them and abandon each other before actually mating.  It turns out ducks are quite easily distracted by food!  While I was watching this a hawk flew in and landed ......... on the riviera sort of near the oven, I think.  I could definitely see it, but it was too far away for pictures, really.

There wasn't much else to report for me - a few of the normal suspects, but really a pretty quiet day.  On my way back down I did have nice views of a hawk near the baseball diamond, but the pictures did not come out at all.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Third AMNH winter walk with Paul

Another Thursday, another winter walk!  Today's was particularly wonderful.

On the way up, I stopped by Cherry Hill to see if the owls were there - no joy.  Oh well, it was worth a shot!  I'm so happy I got to see them while they were around.  During my search I did find a raccoon, curled up asleep, basically a fur-ball in the tree.

After meeting the group, and coming along the inlet road towards the main park road, I spotted a red-tailed hawk on a nearby tree while Paul had his back to it, telling the group the plan.  We all went around for a much better look, it was really quite beautiful.

A squirrel was frozen a few feet away, making its alarm call repeatedly.

I think it was right to be alarmed!

From there, we went down to the open water on the lake, and had great looks at northern shovelers.  I love, love, love their beaks!  It's another duck that looks like a cartoon.

Down to Cherry Hill, just, you know, in case...... this is one time I would ~love~ to be wrong, but we still couldn't find them.

To the ramble!  making our way to the feeders, we stopped at a likely spot and after a few moments saw this fox sparrow, hanging out with a female cardinal.  Actually there were three female cardinals up there with him - way to go, fox sparrow!  Is it just me, or does the fox sparrow look tired?

We also saw 2 or 3 female red-winged blackbirds.  They are so beautiful and intricate, and the closer you look the more lovely they get.

From there, over to the feeders, where it was quiet at first but the activity soon picked up.  First was this yellow-bellied sap sucker, pecking away.  It's not a great picture, but you can definitely see that the belly is yellow.  Well, yellow-ish, anyway.

This brown creeper was creeping up the tree.  I really thought I was finally going to have a good picture of a brown creeper, but even in silhouette it defeats auto-focus!  This bird is amazing!

This white-breasted nuthatch came right over, showing off its best nuthatch stances.

This red-breasted nuthatch watched and then showed off in its own way, taking a ride around the spinny feeder.

The house finch stole my attention for quite some time, almost making me miss......

..... this pine siskin!

While there, Paul talked to some folks who told him the secret location of another owl.  Off we went, optimistic and energetic!

They did not lie.

Owls are special.

From there, over to the varied thrush, who did show off a bit for us, and was a great finish to the walk!