I've been spending time recently doing some old fashioned bird watching without a camera and having a great time. But I thought it would be fun to look for hawks on Saturday afternoon. I only found two, one on El Dorado's south tower on Central Park West and one in Washington Square Park.
On Saturday afternoon, two hawks spent at least an hour circling around Central Park West north of 80th Street. Then one landed on the roof of the Beresford Apartments' SE Tower, while the other landed on the SW Tower. It wasn't clear if it was Octavia and Pale Male or another pair of hawks. They certainly were not in the standard perches.
However, on Sunday afternoon, it was clear Pale Male was in the oval window of the SE Tower, and Octavia was perched just below the oval window of the NE Tower.
Had I just misidentified the hawks on Saturday, or was Pale Male protecting the building after interlopers landed on the building the day before?
Last Monday, I caught up with the adult female of Tompkins Square Park in the late afternoon. She's much easier to find now that her kids are gone. These hawks are multi-denominational. They love to perch on the crosses of three different churches in the neighborhood.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are enjoying feeding on the Jewelweed flowers in Central Park this season, and occasionally rest on branches nearby. This young bird rested on the same branch every five minutes or so, sometimes staying only a few seconds but sometimes stayed for as long as two minutes.
The Washington Square Park hawks have been spending time building an alternate nest above the Angelica Theater at Mercer and Houston. At sunset, one of the hawks was on the balcony of above the new nest. (Hawks are known to build alternative nests and not use them, so I would suspect that come spring the activity will once again shift back to Washington Square Park.)
It took some time to find them, but I was able to see both Washington Square Adults this evening. I started in the courtyard of the Silver Towers buildings looking at the building on Mercer and Houston where the hawks had recently brought nesting materials. (Building an alternate nest is not unusual, and this pair has brought materials to other sites in the late summer and early fall.)
Without warning, Rosie appeared flying up Broadway from below Houston and I followed her to a building at 4th and Greene Street. Then I saw Bobby fly east on Washington Place. After a few minutes Rosie joined him and both were on top a roof shed at Mercer and Washington. At dusk they both flew north to roost, but I lost track of them.
On Labor Day, Octavia, Pale Male's current mate was perched on the north side of 2 East 70th Street. The location gave her a good view up Fifth Avenue.
I always thought 72nd Street was the "line in the sand" between the 5th Avenue and the Sheep Meadow pair, but the borders are turning out to be more complicated. Octavia is regularly south of 72nd Street, and the Sheep Meadow fledglings regularly go north of 72nd Street on either side of Bethesda Fountain.
The highlight of my bird watching Labor Day weekend was a very cooperative Hudsonian Godwit (a large sandpiper). The bird was on the East Pond of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. It was a new bird for my "life list".
The bird breeds in Tundra locations in Alaska and Canada and winters on the Atlantic coast of South America.
I arrived at the Mall to find a crowd around one of the set of wooden benches that form a protective area. Inside was one of the Sheep Meadow fledglings, having just caught a pigeon. The hawks had to spend its time watching everyone who surrounded it eventually flew off to the north.
Struggling to find a good perch to eat the pigeon, it dropped in on to a crowded path. It sat patiently to reclaim its meal, but there were too many people. Eventually a hawk watcher moved the pigeon to a protected lawn, and the fledgling came down and ate the bird.
Many of the area's fledglings have already started to leave the area, so it was nice to see this youngster in late August.
It's ironic, given that I'm Red/Green Colorblind, that my two good birds of the day on Saturday were a Red-tailed Hawk and Green Heron.
The Red-tailed Hawk was the same bird I saw Friday. It was again perched on a window railing of 2 East 70th Street.
The Green Heron was in a shallow area of the The Pond north of Gapstow bridge. These mudflat areas are import to wading birds, but they're constantly being removed by the Central Park Conservancy. The original landscaping of the park had water bodies with clean sculpted edges, which removed the transitional areas of marsh and mud needed by many birds. Luckily, natural erosion does a great job of bringing these mudflats back!
At about 6:56 on the video is a great shot of the Green Heron "licking its lips".
Tonight, I found an adult Red-tailed Hawk on the towers of the Con Edison plant at Avenue C and 13th Street, who could have been the Adult Female of the Tompkins Square Park pair.
Later in the evening the Adult Male was in Tompkins Square Park, caught and ate two small rodents and then went to the roost tree he's been using the last week. There he did something I've never seen before, he was fascinated by a bat. A Red-tailed adult usually sits fairly still, but tonight this one moved his head all over the place keeping track of the bat as it caught insects in the SW corner of the park.
Tonight, we saw the adult male hawk and a fledgling. The father still comes to the park each evening, but at this point doesn't need to hunt for any of the fledglings. The youngster, who caught a pigeon (but didn't eat it) kept us on our toes flying around the park as well as hanging out of fire escapes on building surrounding the park.
Starting in late July, hawk watching in New York City becomes much harder. Fledglings, who had been yelling for food, are now quiet having learned to hunt. Warm weather has the hawks relaxing and staying put, making them harder to spot. And everyone, young and old have dispersed to wider and wider areas. Gone are those nice spots the families came to for meals together at regular hours!
So on Saturday, I had my first hawk free day of the summer. I didn't pick up a single hawk on a trip through Central Park.
This Sunday, I did find two hawks however. Pale Male up at 86th and Fifth Avenue, and one of the Sheep Meadow fledglings at The Mall.
I've missed the Sheep Meadow fledglings the last few times I've looked for them. Tonight, I missed them yet again, but I saw one of the parents for about an hour.
While watching the parent, I ran across folks who had seen both of the fledglings earlier in day. I also ran into a couple who had photographed one of them on the railing of a flowerbed on Fifth Avenue at 72nd Street with their iPhone. It was nice to know they were doing well, even if I didn't get to see them.
The father was the only hawk I saw in Tompkins Square Park tonight. He came to his usual spot, where only a week ago he was regularly feeding the fledglings. But it looks like the fledglings are hunting on their own and don't need Dad's handouts.
Dad, who's molting and looking a bit scruffy, made a few hunting passes before catching something at the north end of the park. He ate it in the children's fountain area, which is locked up at 7, so no pictures of meal.
Being one of the latest nests in the city, Tompkins Square Park still has its fledglings staying fairly close to the nest. All of the fledglings seem to have picked up hunting skills fairly well. On Sunday, one of the fledglings did a great job of killing a pigeon.
The hawks even seemed to be drawn to some of the punk bands playing in the park over the weekend!
Although the fledglings at Tompkins Square Park have been hunting on their own for awhile, tonight was the first time I witnessed it myself. There is something great about watching a young hawk show that it will be able to be independent from its parents.
We got to see at least two youngsters and the adult male. The juveniles are hunting in Tompkins Square Park but the father is still bringing food, so tonight after one juvenile had a meal a fresh rat another rat went uneaten.
For about twenty minutes at dusk, two of fledglings perched at the S.W. entrance to the park and drew quite a crowd. It was funny because only moments before they were about twenty feet inside the park and the park regulars were completely blasé about them and just ignored them. It's tough being famous in New York City!
Summerstage had a hip hop concert blaring music while this Sheep Meadow hawk did some squirrel hunting. It came up empty, but reports are a fledgling caught two pigeons earlier in the day in the same area.
I got to see one of the fledglings for over two hours around the Obelisk (sometimes referred to Cleopatra's Needle), west of the Met. This was fun since there were lots of good looks at the bird.
However, the mystery of the day was a large adult Red-tailed Hawk, who wasn't Pale Male or Ocativa, who showed up nearby. This coupled with the rescue of a young hawk around the tennis courts at 96th Street last week had hawk watchers wondering.
Could the young hawk could have been from an unknown nest of the pair that tired to nest along CPW these last two years? And could the adult hawk we saw be the parent of this youngster, investigating the cries from Pale Male and Ocatavia's children, in case they were the parent's missing fledgling?
I don't think we'll ever know but it makes a great story!
Update: It looks like the youngster that was picked up at the tennis courts is most likely one of the Cathedral fledglings, which makes sense given their exposure to Frounce. So, this extra adult's appearance may have not explanation.