Saturday, July 02, 2005

Note from Regina who helped rescue the baby Oriole yesterday

Regina  [Central Park Conservancy Woodlands Manager] saw yesterday's posting here and e-mailed:

Thanks Marie -

Great photos. It was a good feeling for us to help out and see the little guy (girl?) fly away on his own. Please let everyone know they can reach out to any of us whenever there is a problem.


Friday, July 01, 2005

A story with a happy ending

The rescued Oriole

To the left, the rescue crew, Regina at the left

Baltimore Orioles use a wide variety of natural materials -- plant fibers, hemp, milkweed silk, grasses--to make their spectacular hanging nests. Those that choose to nest in Central Park often avail themselves of some of the man-made materials they find there as well: strips of paper, pieces of wool or string. Unfortunately careless kids and grownups who fish in the park's various waterbodies leave great quantities of fishing line behind, tangled up in bushes along the water's edge, and these beautiful birds often incorporate this dangerous material into their nests.

For the last three days Bill Stifel and Junko Suzuki, two devoted Central Park nature lovers-- have been watching an Oriole nestling struggling to take his first flight from a nest high in a Cottonwood near the tennis courts.
Two of his nest-mates had already fledged, and were frolicking around in the crown of the nest tree. But the last nestling seemed stuck. He [or she] would stand on the rim of the nest, flap his wings as if to take off, but nothing happened; some invisible force seemed to prevent him from flying. Though no fishing line could be seen by the anxious watchers below, it was almost certain that it was fishing line tangled around the young bird's leg that was keeping the bird from leaving. Though the parent birds continued to bring food to the struggling nestling, it was clear that without help this young bird was doomed.

Early this morning help arrived. Regina Alvarez, Woodlands Manager for the Central Park Conservancy, and a much beloved friend of the Central Park nature community, commandeered a bucket truck which was able to bring the nest and the baby bird down from its height to ground level. There Bill Stifel carefully cut out the fishing line that held the baby bird in place. As soon as the last bit of line was cut off off he went, [or off she went] up into the Cottonwood tree , a fledgling at last.

Just received an e-mail from Bill giving me a detailed report of the rescue. Here it is:

Dear Marie,

Well . . . things turned out better than I could have imagined.

Regina was absolutely the right person to contact. She had the bucket truck over there in a matter of minutes and without hesitation the crew squeezed the truck down in between the benches and the fence of the tennis courts, something Russell said they had never done before. I could not believe it could be done.

So with the truck in place Jim went up in the bucket and approached the nest. Not surprisingly the baby and mother went crazy. I believe the mother even struck Jim in the head and the baby was flapping wildly about. We had decided an attempt would be made to release the bird up at the nest, but that proved very difficult, so the whole nest was brought down. At a glance it was clear the bird would never have been able to free itself on its own. Numerous very fine fibers and tiny filament were wrapped around and around its ankle and toes and then twisted together into like a small rope that was anchored to the bottom of the inside of the nest. I'd brought along my magnify goggles and small scissors and while Jim, the man who brought the nest down, held the bird I slowly cut away the entangled fibers.
My hands were shaking so much that I am just really grateful that no one said anything and allowed me the privilege of freeing the bird's foot. Happily it appeared that no damage had been done to the foot by the constricting filaments. It did not appear to be monofilament in this case but other synthetic material. The inside of the nest is a jumble of fibers and filaments and what is sort of surprising is that the other two siblings were not also caught . You may have a look for yourself as the nest will be on display at the Belvedere Castle. Jim then took the bird back up into the Cottonwood tree, but just as he was placing it on a branch the small bird flew away to another part of the tree and was soon high up and reunited with its mother.

We all expressed great gratitude for the fine effort the crew had made and Regina reminded me to call whenever there was a problem, that they would drop whatever they were doing and be right over. I don't know all their last names, but there were four in all. In the picture are Regina, Russell, Kia and Jim.

Junko and I stayed around and after a period of silence eventually heard the young bird calling in a neighboring Maple tree and soon if flew into clear view in a London Plane tree where we were able to see its mother make numerous visits to feed it. The baby perched and groomed or sat quietly, but it also hopped about and flew just fine.

A note from the patron of Dash and Lilly [R. I. P.]

Below, a note I received from Steve Watson, the owner of the Kestrel box outfitted with a video camera that readers of this website were following last spring. Remember Dash and Lilly? Last April Dash was killed by a sharp-shinned hawk while Lilly was still incubating the eggs [Nature red in tooth and claw] and Lilly couldn't hack it alone -- needed a mate to bring her food while keeping the eggs warm. Finally she abandoned the eggs.

In the photo, Dash and Lilly under their nestbox before their luck ran out.


Well, the time has come, and we've shut down KestrelCam for this year. The website is still active,* with information on local goings-on and the status of our injured RTH, but without any nestbox camera imagery.

Just wanted to say thanks to you and all of the CP hawkwatchers who supported us and followed the story of Dash and Lilly, and who were saddened along with us at the loss of the little male kestrel.

KestrelCam will be up and running again in early 2006, hopefully with new and improved capabilities! We're certain we'll get another pair of kestrels, and with the new "sharp-shinned-proofed" box replete with pigeon spikes, we'll hope to have a successful clutch next year...and we'll hope for the same from Pale Male and Lola!

My regards to all of the CP hawk- and planet-watchers...thanks again for everything!

Ranger Steve

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Info about the new edition of Red-tails in Love

It's not that I'm trying to peddle my book here. That's not the purpose of this page of my website. But I keep getting mail from readers who are looking for the new edition published last April. When people go on the Amazon or Barnes and Noble websites to try to order it, there seems to be no way of telling whether they will receive the old or new edition . That's because the publisher did not assign a new ISBN number to the new edition. There was a good reason, when that decision was made, but it's too complicated to go into here.

If you look at the image of the book cover on Amazon or BN with your trusty magnifying glass you'll see that it IS the new edition--at the bottom is the line "updated Edition -- Ten Years Later. They just don't spell it out in the copy about the book on the website. My publisher assures me that the big Internet sites are now sending out the new edition.

Nevertheless, if you want to be sure you get the updated one, and if you want to support an independent bookseller [always a good idea] here is a nice one who has promised to stock up on the new edition and who will take phone, fax or e-mailed orders:

Linda Ellis
J. Michaels Books
160 E. Broadway
Eugene, OR 97401
(541) 342-2002
FAX: (541) 342-7690

Field Notes and Photo

Photo by Lincoln Karim
June 29, 2005
Charlotte on nest with Empire State Building peeking out in background


Field Notes 6-28-05
Trump Parc Nest

Sunset 8:32PM (NYT),
Temp. 83F,
Mostly Cloudy, some rain,
Wind from the S and SW,
Humidity 89%,
Prey Tally-2 Pigeons.

All times PM unless otherwise noted.
6:30 Charlotte on E green eave of Hampshire House.
6:31 For those who remember Greyline the Sparrow who
accompanied me to the Hawk Bench as she had to be hand
fed every fifteen minutes or so, until the day the
fledgling Mourning Dove was left at the Bench by a
Fifth Ave. Super and Conrad had the brilliant idea to
introduce the teeny sesame seeds off bagels. Both
fledglings were able to ingest the tiny seeds , got
the idea, and were weaned on the spot, Greyline was
released today into the bosom of many gregarious
sparrows who accepted her immediately. She'll do just
6:33 Kestrel flies in from the E on CPS.
6:34 Kestrel dives at Charlotte as she sits on HH, by
the second Kestrel dive, Pale Male Jr. has arrived
from the W.
6:35 Charlotte up, Charlotte and Jr. circle to W with
Kestrel in pursuit.
6;36 Jean reports Hawks circling above Columbus Circle
at this time.
6:38 Hawk circles over Athletic Club.
6:39 Charlotte flies in from the W, Kestrel makes
contact three times, feathers go poof, while Charlotte
flies between the Essex and the Hampshire House.
Charlotte circles above Essex.
6:40 Both Kestrels strike at Charlotte from above
6:41 One Kestrel dives at angle towards Essex sign (on
of PMJ's favorite spots), Edna on 58th reports Junior
is just up from sign and evades Kestrel.
6:42 Charlotte to E chimney of the HH, Kestrel
continues striking at her.
6:43 Kestrel flies in from the E.
6:44 Second Kestrel joins first in diving at Charlotte
on HH Chimney.
6:46 PMJ sighted extremely high above action.
6:47 He and Kestrels fly E. Eyasses have not been
sighted as yet today. With limited observational
examples, the eyasses seem to keep a low profile
during hostilities.
7:05 Eyass laying with chin on edge of nest. She gets
up, wings are boppling around, she attempts to walk
upright across the nest, tips over onto face, gets up
totters to edge, positions herself and
defecates/slices off the nest. Bobbles back toward
center right of nest, disappears. Resting?
7:16 Previous eyass, nest right, head appears.
Charlotte to nest from HH, lands nest left,N, scans
territory, leans down.
7:17 Picks up red pigeon carcass walkes over to right
side of nest, S, feeds Eyass the Younger. Without
seeing Eyass the Older on nest left, none the less,
thick fecal matter appears and out of nest.
7:19 Charlotte continues to feed Eyass the Younger.
7:21 Junior above Athletic Club, goes into serious
hunting dive and disappears behind building.
7:39 Charlotte up and off nest with portion of pigeon
to behind HH.
7:57 Charlotte above HH, Jr. very high, chasing
kestrel to W past Athletic club.
8:04 Charlotte to HH chimney, Kestrel dives at her.
8:05 Kestrel?
8:09 Eyass walks to very edge of nest, looks down and
around, flops wings disjointedly.
8:12 Eyass on far right, goes towards corner.
8:26 Charlotte from HH Chimney to nest.
8:28 Charlotte preens.
8:32 Charlotte stares down at eyasses, scratches head,
portion of head feathers remain standing up.
8:33 Charlotte looks at Little Hill. (Goodnight
8:38 Eyass by wall pants slightly, Charlotte starts to
settle in.
8:50 Exit.
Submitted-Donna Browne

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Pale Male news

Pale Male
Photo by Lincoln Karim

A newsflash for those who believe that Pale Male and Lola have permanently moved from the Gold Coast to the Upper West Side:

At 8:45 this morning as I was leaving the park via the Model-boat Pond, I glanced up towards the Fifth Ave. skyline. Who should I see sitting [nobly] at his old spot on Linda One but Pale Male.

How birdwatchers have fun in the summer doldrums

White-breasted Nuthatch
Photo by Cal Vornberger

This morning at about 8:30, the Wednesday walking group known as the Early Birders arrived at the Azalea Pond a bit dispirited. It was hot -- the 4th day of the latest heatwave. Very few birds had made themselves known, either by sight or sound. It was at least a month before the very earliest fall migrant [maybe the yellow warbler] would start the birdwatching juices flowing again.

Then a titmouse began to call nearby. The call came closer and closer -- and a bold grey, crested bird suddenly appeared on a fence just in front of us. Alice quickly took out her little bag of nuts [pecans this time, not peanuts] gave the rest of us a few, and the fun began. One by one we held out our hands, palm up, little bits of pecan on the palm, and the titmouse honored each of us in turn by gently landing on our hands, taking a tidbit into its bill and taking off again.

Another titmouse arrived, a fledgling, followed by another. Then a nuthatch joined the little mob of feeding birds, and then another. And then two more nuthatches. Three of them were clearly fledglings, a bit fuzzier and clumsier than the adult. It was the nuthatch family we had been following for the last few weeks, watching the parents go in and out of their nest-hole in a low stump near the Rustic Summerhouse.

A pair of bluejays joined the group of feeders. These did not come to our hands to feed. They'd land on a branch just above a bird that was about to eat its nut tidbit and grab it -- or make the bird drop it. Then the bluejay swooped down and made off with it, the bully.

A great time was had by all, the feeders and the fed alike and the miseries of a New York heat-wave were deferred for at least half an hour.

"Its day is longer than its year"

Only yellowish-brown clouds are visible when Venus is seen from space.
NASA's Pioneer Venus probe captured this image of Venus' perpetual cloud layer in 1979.

Last Friday around sunset I joined the regular Central Park stargazers at the northeast corner of the Great Lawn to look at the approaching conjunction of Venus and Mercury, and to see those two planets and Saturn in a single binocular field of vision [that is, to see the three very close to each other].

While there I got into a conversation with Tom Clabough, one of the astronomy Regulars, and asked a question about the atmosphere of Venus. He told me lots of interesting stuff and then a few days later sent me an e-mail generously clarifying what he had said. You may enjoy reading it as much as I did:

Recall Friday evening we discussed the atmosphere and clouds of Venus and I believe I said (correctly) that nearly all of its atmosphere is carbon dioxide(96-98%). However, I think I also said that the clouds consisted mostly of carbon Monoxide. This is not correct. Although there is some CO in the Venus atmosphere the clouds are mainly made up of tiny droplets of sulfuric acid (ie, battery acid!) which rains down onto the hot (875 deg) surface.

The planet spins "backwards" and its day(246 earth days long) is longer than its year(225 earth days long). Mysteriously, its atmosphere whips around the planet in just 6 earth days, much faster than its 246 earth day long rotational period. The nearest the planet gets to earth is about 23 million miles, and it is the high clouds that reflect nearly all of the sunlight which strikes the planet and which makes it appear so bright in our sky.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

They're still toddlers: John Blakeman comments


Donna Browne emailed some notes from two observers:

"8:10 by now it's cooler up there (all three beaks are closed), Charlotte retires to south end of nest, and for the next half hour the little ones are alternately lying down or sitting up, alert, watching the activity below. They have an odd way of sitting, at times: they seem to be rocked back on their tails, and their feet stick straight out in front of them."

Veronica's description from her email...."Chicks are huge with the funniest way of sitting on their rumps with their white pointy talons up against the rim of the nest, kinda like fisherman when they are sitting in their boat chairs with their feet up on the rim of the boat. a very silly

The feet-out, rump-sitting mode is just right for the age of the eyasses. Their bodies are growing at a remarkable rate, and their leg muscles can't easily support the entire weight of the upper body just yet, so they plop down on their rumps with their legs extended straight out. Looks funny, but it works. As the leg muscles begin to mature, they will soon be standing on their legs most of the time. Our little birds are just toddlers learning how limbs should work. But because the muscles in them aren't strong enough to support the body for long periods, they don't work very well just yet. In a week or so, this will pass and the birds will be on their feet universally.


John A. Blakeman

Monday, June 27, 2005

Charlotte and kids

Photo by Lincoln Karim
June 24, 2005

Why are their beaks open? It's hot up there. Temperature at street level is in the 90's. Must be hotter 35 floors closer to the broiling sun. You can see Charlotte "mantling" the kids to shade them from the direct sun.

The whole family

Pale Male Jr., Charlotte and the kids
Friday 6/24/05

Other Pale Males? Yes says Blakeman


Sometime ago the question was asked if Pale Male's light-colored head was common in red-tails. It surely is not. But color does vary from bird to bird, just as Pale Male Jr's light-colored head contrasts with the dark head and back of Charlotte.

Yesterday, as I was driving down a 4-lane highway not far from my house here in northern Ohio, and I couldn't help notice a small red-tail sitting on a fence post along the road. He was in a hunting posture, looking for a plump vole.

But what really caught my attention (at about 55 mph) was the blond brightness of the bird's head. He looked even more pale than Pale Male. Because of traffic, I was not able to stop and put my binoculars on him or snap a photo, but his light head color stood out. In passing, I saw him perched for no more than 4 seconds, but his plumage features were very clear.

So, Pale Male Sr. and Jr. are not the only light-colored red-tails soaring the skies of the East or Midwest. Seeing this local pale bird brought a broad smile to my face. Biologically, it was the closest I've been to Central Park. I'll keep my eyes posted for another appearance of the bird in the same area.

(Tangentially, I'm certain that God gave dedicated hawk watchers two eyes for a good purpose when driving -- one eye for the road, the other to search for perched hawks. For me, there are two visual diversions when traveling along our flat and boring Interstates, one to look in the ditches and field corners for rare prairie plants, and also to scan the fenceposts, utility poles, and woodlot edges for perched red-tails. Frankly, I'm quite good at this now, after 40 years of practice. That's how I saw this new pale male. Hundreds of other cars passed by without a glance at the bird.)

There was no doubt that my pale hawk was a male, like the two Central Park birds, which raises the question of whether or not this coloration is found only in males. If so, it's an unrecognized sexual dimorphism in red-tails. But just three specimens don't validate any such conjecture.

And of course, my pale male raises the question of whether or not Pale Male Jr. is a descendant of Pale Male Sr. He probably is, but the minor chance remains that he isn't, that he's just another, uncommon, light-colored bird.


John A. Blakeman

For Field Notes Fans - Three day Catch-up

Donna Browne is out of town. [I've been gone too.] Jean Dane has been taking Field Notes at the Trump Parc nest in her absence. Here are three days worth:

Field Notes from Jean Dane - Friday, June 24, 2005

I don't have all the information on temperature, humidity, wind speed, time of sunset, etc What I do know is that it was not absolutely deadly but still very hot and drippy, and there was precious little by way of "cooling breezes"....

John, on Little Hill from 5:30 PM, reports Charlotte on nest and no action

Jean, arriving on Little Hill at 7:00 PM reports:

7:00 Charlotte on nest, no action
7:10 Jr arrives from west, bringing mouse; Charlotte immediately begins feeding chicks, occasionally taking a few bites for herself
7:13 Jr off, heading west directly above us; Charlotte still feeding 7:25 supper over, Charlotte and babies settle down
7:32 larger chick backs up toward north edge of nest (he's not very stable, so this is a little disturbing for watchers) and defecates over the edge
7:33 Charlotte off, heading west above 58th behind Hampshire House
7:36 ugly cloud of black smoke from empty bldg extension just W, smoke drifts directly into nest
7:50 one chick's head up, he seems to stare directly at Swarovsky scope, then lowers head, watches intently toward north
7:52 Charlotte home, from behind HH (nest unattended for 19 minutes); spends some time checking out her offspring, then settles down, though intermittently watchful toward W
8:22 larger chick, on north side of nest, slumps over with head almost on rim, his little eyes are closed tightly; Charlotte deep in nest, south end
8:25 chick wakes, makes his way to north edge, stands there apparently looking at the traffic below; Charlotte watches him but makes no move
8:30 chick settles back, Charlotte deep in nest, but with head up and alert
8:35 exit

Watchers: John, Jean, Joanne (Very briefly), John and Frank (+ four-leggers Sasha and Madison) who live nearby on CPS, Mark Hinrich and Dorothee, various visitors, and two very interested men who live in the park.

Notes for Saturday, 25 Jun 2005, from Little Hill

Bright sun, temperature in 90's, humidity probably ditto, not much breeze.

At 6:00 PM Little Hill is protected from direct sun by Central Park's trees,
but the 35th floor of Trump Parc Hotel has no such shelter: Pale Male, Junior and Charlotte's nest, on the west face of the building, has been baking for hours.

Jean reports:

6:05 Neither Charlotte nor Junior is on the nest, nor anywhere in sight; the larger of their two chicks (if no one minds, I'll just call him #1 here) is sitting very close to the north edge, near the wall; his beak is open all the time, and he keeps looking up and all around. The leg of a large pigeon is visible just in front of him.
6:12 Now he's down, no chicks to be seen, nest looks empty
6:22 Charlotte appears, circling above Hampshire House (150 CPS), and lands on NE lowest corner of its green roof. Preens briefly.
6:25 Charlotte to nest, south side, and #1's head pops up. Charlotte eats a few bites of something, while he moves over to her; she mantles him, he presses up against her side. Both beaks are wide open, constantly.
6:39 Junior arrives from west, lands on north side of nest with mouse in beak
6:41 Jr off, heading NW into the park; Charlotte drags the leftover pigeon deeper into the center of the nest (using older food first?), prepares supper and begins feeding #1. The other chick has still not appeared.
6:46 Jr circles over park, above 7th Ave entrance path, continues for about
3 minutes, then heads west. Meanwhile, Charlotte continues feeding her baby, and appears to be letting him do more of the work now: she's still cutting up his food for him, but not every bite is delivered beak to beak - he's reaching down to pick up some pieces for himself. Some of the chunks he selects are relatively huge - it's amazing that he can get them down without choking, but he seems to be managing fine. We still have not seen #2 this evening, and have been worrying for awhile now.
7:00 on the dot, the second little white head appears. Great relief among watchers. Charlotte begins feeding this smaller one (every bite comes from her beak to his), while #1 settles down in his usual spot on north side of nest, up against the wall.
7:20 Jr appears, circling again, this time higher and a bit further west, over Columbus Circle. He's being chased by three smaller birds (fast and agile: possibly kestrels?)
7:25 Charlotte preens #2, giving him a fairly thorough going-over - just like any other kid getting his Saturday night bath: watchers are delighted to see him so obviously objecting to some of her attentions, but just as clearly enjoying others. He appears not to like having his beak cleaned, for instance, but loves it when she combs the feathers of his belly.
7:35 Jr again (he has been much more active in the vicinity than on many other evenings), this time heading east above 58th. He disappears behind the Essex, and we assume he's perching on the other side.
7:37 Jr suddenly up, trims his wings and goes into a spectacular dive NNE into the park.
[7:40 window nearest the nest opens, slowly, and the upper halves of two residents appear - one at a time, and each for a few seconds only: Charlotte is alert and very watchful, especially the 2nd time, but does not go into threat-mode, or seem unduly alarmed. The window is closed and she settles.]
7:50 she's grooming the baby's back now, which he also seems to like .
8:10 by now it's cooler up there (all three beaks are closed), Charlotte retires to south end of nest, and for the next half hour the little ones are alternately lying down or sitting up, alert, watching the activity below. They have an odd way of sitting, at times: they seem to be rocked back on their tails, and their feet stick straight out in front of them. And the feet are normous: these are not cute little "baby feet" - these are serious feet, real Raptor Feet....
8:40 exit

Watchers: Veronica (without Molly and Emma); Jean; Bob and Dale from Connecticut (who use their scope at home for watching eagles and ospreys); John; BJ; and a woman whose name I've forgotten (she had never been here before, but has been keeping up to date on Junior and Charlotte's nesthold through this website)

Notes for Sunday, 26 Jun 2005, from Little Hill

Hazy, some clouds, hot and muggy. Air is moving much more than yesterday, but it's very heavy air. Neighborhood residents say they have noticed "a lot 0of prey action this morning." Jean reports:

6:20 Charlotte on nest, no chicks visible
6:25 Charlotte off, heading north above the park
6:55 Jr circling above HH and Essex, harrassed by small falcon - several near misses - then lands on nest (empty-beak├ęd). Stands at north side of nest, looking regal. [Question: are we sure these little tormentors are Kestrels?]
6:57 Charlotte home, south side of nest. Baby #1 appears, near north side.
6:58 Jr off, circles directly over heads of watchers for at least two minutes (rational thought says there's nothing personal in this, but still, it's difficult to avoid the feeling that he - like Pale Male - knows how to "play the crowd" like a violin...), then heads west.
7:10 #1 has sacked out in his usual corner on north side of nest; Charlotte sits, very watchful mostly toward north and west, occasionally straight up. We have not seen #2 this evening.
7:36 Charlotte moves to extreme south edge, tears up prey (too deep in the nest to see what is is), eats.
#1 is still sleeping, stone rim as pillow, eyes usually closed, occasionally half open. One foot is draped over the edge, talons wrapped around one of the protruding sticks. Several times we notice his talons flex and relax, much like the movements a kitten makes with its claws, when kneading its mother. [We're wondering if this is the kind of "paradoxical sleep" one sees
in other animals: can John Blakeman tell us?]
7:45 #1 moves to center of nest, down and now invisible. Charlotte continues her own supper.
7:55 Charlotte off, circles twice over 7th Ave entrance path, then heads west
8:12 she's home, from behind Essex, settles low on south end of nest
8:15 small white missile shoots out from center of nest, aimed due west: as source is unseen, it could have been produced by Baby #2 (whom, otherwise, we still have not seen). There is a brief fluttering of white wings. [Note: though the babies are still mostly white and "furry," the beginnings of dark flight feathers are now visible on the wings]
8:25 Charlotte is standing now, on extreme south edge, and continually reaches deep down into nest. Her movements are similar to, but gentler than food-prep motions, and we wonder if she's grooming a sleeping chick.
8:35 she gives herself a thorough preening
8:45 Charlotte settles, head often on shoulder but occasionally looking up
8:55 exit. We've stuck around later than usual: never did see #2, and were hoping for sight of both chicks at once. But no joy. We're assuming that the combination of heavy meals earlier in the day ("a lot of prey" in the morning), combined with extremely heavy air, has caused both of them to fold up earlier than usual - the younger one may already have called it a day by

Watchers: Veronica and Peter (with Molly and Emma); Kelly; John and his nephew Stefan; Arthur, who lives next door (view from his windows stops just short of nest, but he's been watching all the other action for weeks now); Patrick, who is also a neighbor; Jean; and various visitors, all of whom were highly pleased with what they saw