« July 2009 | Main | September 2009 »

Slowing Down

After a wonderful season watching the Riverside Hawks, I'm going to take a break from what had become an almost daily routine of hawk watching.

So, expect fewer updates during the rest of the summer and fall.  

You can subscribe to updates for this blog via Twitter or using RSS.  Either would be a good idea, if you want to be alerted when there is an update here.

Riverside and Central Park Red-tailed Hawks

After exploring more of the damage in the North Woods this afternoon, I ventured over to Riverside Park followed by the middle of Central Park.

I found two hawks.  One was on top of the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument at 89th and Riverside Drive.  This is likely the Adult Hawk (young, light eyed) Lincoln Karim had seen earlier in the week.  (The hawk flew off before I got around the monument, so I didn't get a chance to see its tail and confirm it was an adult.)

After visiting Riverside Park, I went back to Central Park and saw either Pale Male or Lola in their favorite late afternoon tree on the Great Lawn.  The lawn was closed due to the wet weather we've been having, so I didn't get to see the hawk up close and get a positive I.D.


2009082201

2009082202

2009082203

2009082204

2009082205

2009082206

2009082207

2009082208

2009082209


Two Wonderful Voices

Tonight, we heard both of the North Woods Eastern Screech-Owls loud and clear.  The female called loudly and the male answered.  It was great have confirmation that they had both survived the storm.

I took some more pictures of the storm damage.  Although lots of trees were lost, luckily they were scattered throughout the North Woods.  Once the damaged trees are removed the park will not look too scarred.

Doug Blonsky, the President of the Central Park Conservancy has issued an appeal for funds to help with the clean up.  Details are on Marie Winn's blog.

2009082001

2009082002

2009082003

2009082004

2009082005

2009082006

2009082007

2009082008

2009082009

2009082010

2009082011


North Woods Storm

The intense thunderstorm on Tuesday night did an incredible amout of damage to the trees in the North Woods. The trees on the Great Hill seemed to be the worst hit. 

Bedrock is near the surface throughout much of the park and many trees have very shallow root systems.  A few of the trees used by the Eastern Screech-Owls were hurt including a large tree used by last year's fledglings to roost in almost all summer.  A large number of trees used by raccoons also fell, including a favorite I call the Keebler Elf tree, since at times more than six raccoons lived in the base of the tree which was hollow.

I only had my long telephoto with me today, so I had to take photos of the damage with my iPhone at dusk.  These few pictures show only a fraction of the damage.

At dusk, we only saw glimpses of owls, so there are no photographs.  We viewed one gliding down to a standard post-fly out preening area, and one near a rustic bridge.  It would have been nice to know for sure, that both had survived the storm, but knowing that at least one made it was positive news.

IMG_0268

IMG_0270

IMG_0276

IMG_0277


Fledgling Returns To Standard Haunts

The Riverside Park fledgling has returned to its old haunts around the 83rd Street playground and nearby buildings on Riverside Drive.  It was great to see the fledgling again, who looked healthy and well fed.

The father was also nearby for much of the evening.  The fledgling ended up on a few high buildings, but eventually fell asleep in a tree just outside the park on Riverside Drive.

Where the fledgling has been the last ten days remains a mystery!

(In addition to the normal playground, traffic and jet noise on the video, if you listen closely you'll hear the calling sounds of male cicadas.)


20090817RVRT01

20090817RVRT02

20090817RVRT03

20090817RVRT04

20090817RVRT05

20090817RVRT06

20090817RVRT07

20090817RVRT08

20090817RVRT09

20090817RVRT10

20090817RVRT11

20090817RVRT12

20090817RVRT13

20090817RVRT14

20090817RVRT15

20090817RVRT16

20090817RVRT17

20090817RVRT18

20090817RVRT19

20090817RVRT20


Monarch Butterfly and an Eastern Screech-Owl

I've been busy with work since getting back from Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, and haven't done much birding in the last two weeks.

Today, I spend an hour in the North Woods.  It was just the right amount of time in the heat.  The wildflower meadow was quiet, without a fall migrant in sight.  The same for The Loch, lots of American Robins and Gray Catbirds, but nothing unusual.

So, the highlight of the day was a photogenic Monarch Butterfly and the North Wood's Red-phased Eastern Screech-Owl.


2009081601

2009081602

2009081603

2009081604

2009081605


Riverside Update

I've been by Riverside Park a few times over the last week, but haven't seen the fledgling since the 4th of August.  I suspect that the fledgling is exploring and is somewhere in a twenty block radius of the nest.  Any news of sightings would be appreciated.

This is one of the frustrations of Red-tailed Hawk watching.  When the kids leave home, they don't give you any warning.  They just go!

Update: August 17th, 2009.  Pam Langford was kind enough to send me an email saying that the fledgling was near the 83rd Street Playground on the evening of Sunday the 16th.  It was nice to hear the fledgling was doing fine.

Yellowstone Gray Wolf

I spent about eight hours trying to see a Yellowstone Gray Wolf, and finally did for about 30 seconds.  I only ended up with one fuzzy picture but it was worth it.

Wolves were reintroduced to the Yellowstone in 1995, and have generated interest with the general public since then.  

The "wolfers", are a die hard group of wolf watchers.  Spending a few mornings and afternoons with them, reminded me of what hawk watching is like in New York.   The group had the same spectrum of individuals as the New York hawk watchers, hard-core scientific experts, addicted animal lovers, and casual watchers.  Many of the wolfers plan their Yellowstone vacations around wolf watching or live and/or work in surrounding areas and spend evenings or weekends in the park looking for wolves.

The wolfers have a network, just like the hawk watchers too.  They use radios and the internet to communicate about sightings and keep in touch with each other.

Below are pictures of a morning wolf watching.

Gray_Wolf01

Gray_Wolf02

Gray_Wolf03

Gray_Wolf04

Gray_Wolf05


Grand Teton Sandhill Cranes

I got to see three different pairs of Sandhill Cranes in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons but photographing them wasn't easy.  Here are the best photographs I had.  They had a wonderfully prehistoric sounding call.

Sandhill Crane01

Sandhill Crane02

Sandhill Crane03

Sandhill Crane04

Sandhill Crane05


Yellowstone Pronghorn

Yellowstone Pronghorn were easily spotted on my trip in two valleys, the Hayden and the Lamar.  They're sometimes called Antelope.  They're known for their great eyesight and quick speed.

Pronghorn01

Pronghorn02

Pronghorn03

Pronghorn04

Pronghorn05

Pronghorn06

Pronghorn07

Pronghorn08


Yellowstone and Grand Teton American White Pelicans

American White Pelicans were numerous along the Yellowstone and Snake Rivers. This was yet another species I was familiar with from visits to Florida, that I didn't expect to see in Wyoming.  I guess salt water or fresh water doesn't matter as long as their are fish to eat.

AWP01

AWP02

AWP03

AWP04

AWP05

AWP06

AWP07

AWP08


Yellowstone Coyote

Watching nature is about being in the right time at the right place.  But sometimes getting up early to see one thing yields another.  This was the case with this Yellowstone Coyote. I had gotten up before dawn to see wolves, but instead got to see this frisky Coyote near Canyon Village.

Coyote01

Coyote02

Coyote03

Coyote04

Coyote05

Coyote06


Yellowstone Bears

I got to see a few Black Bears (which come in every shade from blond to brown to black) and a few Grizzly Bears while in Yellowstone.  (For anyone worried about my safety, all of these were taken with a 500mm lens from across a ridge across a river or safely from near a car.)

Black_Bear03

Black_Bear04

Black_Bear05

Black_Bear06

Black_Bear01

Black_Bear01

Grizzly_Bear01

Grizzly_Bear02

Grizzly_Bear03

Grizzly_Bear04

Grizzly_Bear05

Grizzly_Bear06


Harlequin Duck

A new bird for my life list, was a Harlequin Duck found on a rock in the rapids of the Yellowstone River.  The sex of this bird was a female.  There was no sign of the much more richly colored male unfortunately.

Harlequin_Duck01

Harlequin_Duck02

Harlequin_Duck03

Harlequin_Duck04


American Dipper

I had spent an afternoon looking for an American Dipper (also known as the Water Ouzel) in Yosemite National Park, without success earlier this year.  In Yellowstone, I saw one on my first hike, without even trying! 

The bird, which fishes in mountain streams, was the subject of a chapter in John Meir's The Mountains of California.  John Heir's writings helped create Yosemite National Park.

American_Dipper01 

American_Dipper02

American_Dipper03

American_Dipper04


Yellowstone and Grand Teton Bald Eagles

Bald Eagles were easy to find in the Lamar Valley and along the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park and in Grand Teton National Park along the Snake River. 

For someone who is used to having to brave cold winter weather up in Croton-on-Hudson to see Eagles, viewing them in summer weather was a joy.


Bald_Eagle01

Bald_Eagle02

Bald_Eagle03

Bald_Eagle04

Bald_Eagle05

Bald_Eagle06

Bald_Eagle07

Bald_Eagle08

Bald_Eagle09

Bald_Eagle10

Bald_Eagle10

Bald_Eagle11

Bald_Eagle12


North Woods Eastern Screech-Owls

The North Woods Eastern Screech-Owl pair was briefly seen last night.  Both owls look great. 

While we were watching them a photographer with a flashlight and high-powered flash was also in the North Woods looking for owls.  I must recommend to anyone who wants to study owls in the North Woods, that this is not an effective approach to finding them or photographing them.

To watch owls in Central Park and really get to know them, and you have to be as non-intrusive as possible.  If you're quiet, keep your distance, move slowly, photograph without flash and take the time to learn their habits, these owls will share their lives with you.


20090806ESO01

20090806ESO02

20090806ESO03

20090806ESO04

20090806ESO05


Yellowstone Bison

Yellowstone Bison were easy to find in the Hayden and Lamar Valleys.  I had two close encounters with the Bison. 

While driving back to the hotel after dark, a Bison walked out into the road, forcing me to swerve into the oncoming lane of the two lane road.  Everyone was safe, but it was a close call. It was one of those events that you end up responding to using pure reflex, and end up going over and over again in your head as you fall asleep.

The other encounter was a fun one.  While crossing the Yellowstone River bridge into Lamar Valley, a few Bison were blocking the road, so I stopped.  While waiting, the few Bison became a herd, who then all crossed the bridge.  The bridge shook from all the weight and the Bison herd surrounded my car.  It was fantastic to be so up close to the herd from the safety of a car.


Bison01

Bison02

Bison03

Bison04

Bison05

Bison06

Bison07

Bison08

Bison09

Bison10

Bison11

Bison12

Bison13