Sunday, November 26, 2006

2nd Annual Harlem Bird Walk

Today we had our 2nd annual outing to scout out the over-wintering Raptor population in Harlem. We began at 145th St., first walking south to St. Nicholas Park. Then heading back north, we brushed up against Jackie Robinson Park. Continuing on through Highbridge Park, we eventually finished up with a grand finale at Broadway Bridge. Thanks to all those intrepid participants for coming out. Here's some of the highlights!

Two canvasbacks in the shadow of Highbridge (nice spot Ben!)

Raptor activity was fairly light...we only saw two Redtails and none of the kestrels or Cooper's that I've recently seen. This all changed once we stepped off the 1 train. Almost immediately, this Peregrine swooped through the structure, narrowly missing a pigeon.

As we fanned out to relocate the bird, one of the Inwood Hill RTH's took up a favored position on this building overlooking Marble Hill. In a sustained and vicious attack, both Peregrines repeatedly dive-bombed the hawk...intermittenly calling out and diving!

After a few thrilling minutes, they broke off their attack and circled high over Riverdale!

Eventually the Hawk flew off...later this RTH was also spotted over the area.

All in all it was a great day...sharing the ins-and-outs of my neighborhood. The finale at Broadway Bridge made for an excellent finish. I may do this again sometime in January to try to locate the other RTH's, kestrels and Cooper's in the area. I'll keep y'all posted!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Death at Sparrow Rock

Found these two after the storm. Normally when I find two different species of bird dead near each other, I get a bit paraniod. There seems to be no evidence of raptors on this thrush.

In the foreground is the location of the thrush,

and in the background, this quail.

Again, there is no evidence of raptor.

Not really sure what got these two, but it could have been the harsh weather.
Nearby where the Cathedral Pair.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Harlem Hawks

Looks like next Sunday, Nov. 25th, is going to be the best day weather-wise for the Second Annual Harlem Bird Walk. If your still in town for the Holiday and want to get down with some bird action, email me at yojimbot(at)gmail(dot)com. Till then, here's a sample of the red-tails that ply their trade along the Heights.
Here's this richly colored male!

And this juvenile.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Kestrel Project

Located throughtout the city, resident populations of North American Kestrels are poorly understood. Frequently referred to as "the commonest falcon in North America" kestrel numbers are actually in steep decline due to habitat loss. As a result, a collection of birders from around Manhattan have joined forces to try to put these beautiful and secretive creatures on the map. The first phase of this project is to locate the winter populations of these amazing animals and to observe their hunting and roosting behavior. The second part of this survey would then take place in the spring to confirm if these residents are year round or if there is another population that returns for the nesting season. Two of the easiest locations for me to observe these behaviors are downtown on Lafayette St. (near work) and uptown on 152nd (near home). Here's the downtown female laying in wait, camoflauged by the wood grain of this water tower!

As a hapless group of sparrows flew by, she launched directly at them!

With effortless grace she plucked one from the air and returned to the perch. This mockingbird was none-too-pleased!

Afterwards, she flew to a ledge where there appears to be a double scrape. Both here,

and here!

Meanwhile uptown, this male kestrel was hunting in the fading fall light.

He dove from his perch and plucked a sparrow from the air in an incredible hairpin maneuver!

He then proceeded to devour the bird voraciously!

If you have any interest in observing kestrels in your area, email me at yojimbot(at)gmail(dot)com. Also, weather permitting, Im planning a Harlem Bird Walk on the weekend of November 25th or 26th for anyone "leftover" from the Holiday.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Battle Royal: Crows vs. Red-Tailed Hawk vs. Peregrine

Just outside of Inwood Hill Park, I met up with the resident Peregrines of Broadway Bridge. In the clear, cold air, I had no trouble finding them swooping over the elevated subway line, stirring up flocks of pidgeons, starlings and seagulls. One alit on the north trestle.

While the other alit on the south.

Suddenly, the Red-tailed Hawk that I had previously seen poaching pidgeons over Marble Hill appeared on top of a very tall building.

Big mistake! The noisy gang of crows near the athletic fields made a bee line straight for it!

And drove it off...

straight into the territory of the Peregrines! Suddenly, the male was off in hot pursuit!

He dove at the hawk...

as she employed defensive action!

This was repeated several times until the Peregrine broke off the pursuit, high over Kingsbridge!

After the attack, the tercel circled back and took refuge in the tower.

A Bridge Over Troubled Waters

This time of year is a special time. The incredible variety of trees and shrubs put on an amazing display that can soothe the most turbulent thoughts. Just reaching their peak coloration, this awesome spectacle is a great way to leave the pressure of the city behind. I made my way to the tip of Manhattan to do just that. Nature never disappoints!

The view of the Pallisades was spectacular!

As I walked silently through the prismatic canopy, I reached out to absorb the beauty. Suddenly, I felt a familiar sensation...

There! Looks like Im not the only one!

Hang in there!