Sunday, January 29, 2006

First Annual Harlem Raptor Count

Finally convinced some CP birders to check out the goings on in Harlem. Our tour was centered on two main areas: the area from 130th to 180th St. and the other 103th to 110th St. The city parks covered were St. Nicholas Park, Jackie Robinson Park, Riverbank St. Park, Central Park, Morningside Park and Highbridge Park.

It turned out the be a perfect day for birding...highs in the 60's, clear blue skies with a 10-15mph wind out of the northwest. Our day started at 10 am, and was promptly followed by a great site, the resident male Kestrel attacking the resident juvenile male Red Tailed Hawk!
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Shortly after, the resident juvy Cooper's Hawk wheeled overhead and disappeared to the northeast.
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Excited by our good fortune, we headed north into Jackie Robinson Park. There, we spotted two more Red Tailed Hawks, one the resident adult female Red Tailed Hawk and a second one over Yankee Stadium.
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Photo courtesy of Bruce Yolton
and also the resident female Kestel hunting...she snagged a sparrow after diving from her perch.
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Photo courtesy of Bruce Yolton
It was turning out to be a lucky day so far. We headed north up Edgecomb Ave. towards the Polo Grounds, scanning the valley below. Soon we entered Highbridge Park, where I wanted to show Ben and Bruce the old staircase from the Polo Grounds. All of a sudden I spotted a shadow fly into a tree near adult Cooper's Hawk!
Wow, I couldn't believe our luck! I had seen this bird a week earlier with Ben in St. Nick's Park.
After we watched the bird for 10 minutes, it flew off in a hurry to the southwest. Soon a RTH came skimming the tree and flew to the southwest also.
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From the pic you can see the bird has had it's first molt yet the eyes are not still a young bird. (Photo courtesy of B. Yolton).
We then tracked along the eastern side of Highbridge Park, along the Harlem River drive. I've seen Redtails hunting off of the Highbridge I searched hard...eventually coming across a hollowed out pigeon!
After rising out of the depths of Highbridge, we came to the exchange from the Harlem River drive to the GW Bridge when I noticed the pigeons acting paranoid...wheeling in a great flock!
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I soon spotted the reason,
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Another pair of Kestrels, perched on a cell phone tower. (Good communication IS the key to a good marriage!)
Closeup of the male:
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Soon, the pigeons were up again...and another RTH coming low over the buildings,
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We then skipped over to the west side to the GWB...
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Where we spotted a Peregrine perched high on the scaffolding. And three Turkey Vultures wheeling low over the Pallisades.
At this point we decided to head back to 145th st to collect our gear and head to CP for the Screech Owl flyout. From 145th, we spotted the male Kestrel again and headed to St. Nicholas Terrace for a better look. We then watched the Kestrel take on the female Red-tailed Hawk as she flew over the park and landed on City College.
We then headed down south on the M3 to Central Park. As we got off the bus, we noticed the birds were highly agaitated...we soon learned why. Another Peregrine was circling low along the north edge of the park!
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This was turning into one of those Hall of Fame days! We entered the park and walked to the ball fields to the ESO hole. There, as we waited, two additional Red-tailed Hawks settled into trees...
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And Bruce got his ESO!
DATE: Saturday, 28 January 2006
LOCATION: Harlem - Upper Manhattan
OBSERVERS: James O'Brien, Bruce Yolton, Ben Cacace
REPORTED BY: James O'Brien

Places visited from 130th to 188th St:
* Jackie Robinson Park
* High Bridge Park
* G.W. Bridge
* St. Nicholas Park

- Turkey Vulture - 3 over Palisades in NJ seen from
G.W. Bridge
- Cooper's Hawk - 2 individuals: 1 sub-adult seen just
S. of 145th St. & 1 adult at S. end of High Bridge
- Red-tailed Hawk - 5+ along length of walk
- American Kestrel - 3 individuals: 1 male feeding
near Jackie Robinson Park plus a pair perched on a
building E. of the G.W. Bridge
- Peregrine Falcon - 1 perched on W. face of E. tower
on G.W.B.
- Ring-billed Gull
- Great Black-backed Gull
- Rock Pigeon
- Mourning Dove
- Downy Woodpecker
- Blue Jay
- American Crow
- Tufted Titmouse
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- Northern Mockingbird
- European Starling
- Chipping Sparrow - Several in St. Nicholas Park
- White-throated Sparrow - Several in High Bridge Park
- Common Grackle
- House Sparrow

DATE: Saturday, 28 January 2006
LOCATION: Central Park
OBSERVERS: James O'Brien, Bruce Yolton, Ben Cacace
REPORTED BY: James O'Brien

- Canada Goose - 12 on the Meer
- Mute Swan - 2 on the Meer
- Gadwall - pair on the Meer
- Mallard - 12 on the Meer
- Bufflehead - 4 on the Meer
- Ruddy Duck - 4 on the Meer
- Peregrine Falcon - 1 hunting low over N. end of
Central Park
- American Coot - 1 on the Meer
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
- Eastern Towhee - 1 female Wildflower Meadow (JO'B)
- White-throated Sparrow - 12 Wildflower Meadow (JO'B)

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