Saturday, January 31, 2009

Harlem Piers

Although to-date no Bald Eagles have been spotted off this pier, there still continues to be surprises. The Black-backed gulls, the hooded mergansers and even the occasional peregrine, this spot is always active. Its secret lies in its design: It serves as a natural windbreak and break water on the Hudson currents, enabling diving ducks to work the shoreline. Today was another level of awesomeness with what I found. Two adult male canvasbacks!

They allowed me to get fairly close,

as they engaged in diving, and all sorts of dramatic preening!



Magnificent Duck!

Here's some green thrown in as complimentary contrast.

Also seen nearby, the peregrine pair.


And this juvy RTH on 140th and FDB.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Riverside Park 125-155

As luck or geography would have it, the low lying area of 125th St. is the perfect border for neighboring redtails. I often see Cathedral Pair patrolling up to the Grant Apts over on Amsterdam before slicing South towards Wadleigh or even Mt. Sinai. Much less is known about the pair to the North, which I have been calling the CCNY pair. Sometimes I catch glimpses of the female over St. Nicholas Park and then North to 155th. Recently I had a chance to observe an adult male hunting over their territory, with him diving just past my building. By the time I had a shot he'd made his way over to PS 157 on 126th.

Numerous gulls made close passes to the hawk.

Suddenly it flew West down on some unseen birds. I lost track of the bird after then...super stealth hawk! Prey birds returned and I knew the hawk had left the area.

Next up was some mangu y cafe at Floridita's for the frigid trek to the Harlem Piers. Adverse conditions be damned, its an amazing experience to be out in the middle of the ice flows! I was looking for eagles, but instead found these great black backed gulls squabbling over a submerged fish carcass.


Juvenile

Adult

There was also the female peregrine over at Riverside Church (she can be just made out on the middle left on the scaffolding).

Making my way north I ended up at Riverbank State Park, where I happened upon this handsome quartet!

They would all dive down...


and then come up with the tough little crabs. Then would then vigourously shake them till they fell apart!

Lots of Canada Geese also. Here they are side by side for some scale.

Since the "Miracle on the Hudson" I have been paying close attention to the movements of Canada Geese. Looking over my pix from Jones Beach, Inwood, Riverside Park, Central Park and Highbridge Park, its clear the area has a ton of over-wintering geese. Its not hard to understand why. They eat grass, everything north of here is frozen and iced over, so they come to where there's an abundant supply. Until the powers that be figure out how to limit their food supply, there will always be lots of these large birds in our area.




All I can tell you is that when this adult RThawk showed up, the geese skadaddled in a hurry!

Later I watched it kiting on the wind, diving down into the Park, and juuust missing this pigeon!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Redtail Roundup

As has been widely documented, NYC is THE place for Redtails both young and old in the Winter. Here's a collection of some recent pix from around the nabe.
While walking on ACP Blvd. in the snow/sleet, I spotted a group of pigeons break from a roof. Just underneath, I saw Isolde curl up and nab a slow pigeon on the side of a building.

She plucked the still living bird in the icy storm.


Down in Riverside Park, the nesting pair there continues to make ample use of their territory. I found the female with a broken beak, sunning over the West Side Highway.


The tough conditions lead to much starvation amongst the resident starlings, sparrows and squirrels...

they even resort to garbage raids to stay alive.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Broadway Bridge '09

Here are some shots from the tip of Manhattan from the past weekend. The peregrine pair continues to overwinter at Broadway Bridge. The pair will spend much of the time defending their territory and hunting.

The sunside of the bridge is their well worn territory.
Here's the female coughing up a pellet,


and the male preening.


As in the past two years, juvenile Cooper's hawks maintain a prominent role in the available hunting territory. I watched this one break at a flock of pigeons!


The interesting thing was noticing how the antenna visibly rocked as it took off.
Also seen were this cute black squirrel,

and this rare species, kayakus insaneus.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Jones Beach

For the past few years I have been meaning to make it out to Jones Beach to check out the Snowy Owls that over-winter there. The main problem has always been that during the winter, no public transportation is available to that location, making a day trip more than impractical. Luckily I had access to an auto this past weekend, so I decided to see what the deal was out there. Here's some pix of what I found...
At the Coast Guard Station there were tons of songbirds in the scrub pines. They included Yellow-rumped warblers, a Conneticut Warbler, a Orange-Crowned Warbler,

many varieties of sparrow, including this poor girl who was so chilled by the steady gale that she sought refuge in the wheel-well of my car!

Plus all the regulars such as the familiar gulls, pigeons and many, many Canada Geese.


Flights of Black Ducks made their way from the beach.

Rounding the pier, I found these two plovers hunkered down on the bayside.

From across the dock, I spotted yet another black and white avian form. It seemed to be preening on a small break water. I came across for a closer look, but could not locate it. After searching the water for 10 minutes, I started back when lo and behold, this gorgeous male Long-tailed Duck was crusing in an empty slip.

It approached quite near to me, and I marveled at its beautiful coloration. In a way, it seemed tame, almost like it was asking for my attention.

Upon futher observation, the cause became quite clear...

they poor guy has a busted left wing. I'll try to contact a rehabber out on LI, but catching a skilled and still healthy diving duck in frigid water is not for the faint of heart. As you can see its diving ability was not affected by its injury.

I was able to located two Snowy Owls, one much more cooperative than the other. Word of mouth is that the shy one is a young male, while the more approachable one is an adult female. From the very beginning of the trip, signs were posted everywhere emphasizing the special nature of this habitat and how to properly care for it.

Notice the photog taking a pic of the snowy in the background. Because of this it was easy to locate this bird. The issue is that many people who use these grounds dont respect the rules...as evidence by this disturbing photo.

After frantically waving the owner and her bird-retrieving dog off the dunes we settled into some picture taking.

Suddenly another sound disturbed the Owl.

A trio of crows paid a visit, but soon departed. Also this adult female Harrier swooped over the dunes,

as did this fellow,

The White Ghost!
After all the excitement, the Snowy quietly dozed off.

And I went to warm the heck up! I returned as sunset to find her with another gaggle of admirers.

She gracefully accepted the attention,

but moved on to more fertile grounds.