Saturday, September 10, 2005

Pale Male Jr.'s kids -- latest report and photos

Bruce Yolton, one of the principal chroniclers of the 2005 Trump Parc redtail family, sends in the latest report and some recent photos:

The young Trump Parc hawks have been growing up fast and are now over three months old. Sightings this week include a wide area of the southern park and into the city west of Central Park West (CPW). The playground construction area is no longer the focus of their attention. Their territory has expanded northward and they have been seen around a number of Central Park landmarks this past week including: the Sheep Meadow, the Carousel, the Mall, the Heckscher Ball Fields and the waterfall at the edge of the Hallett Nature Sanctuary.

They're both able to easily fly 20-30 stories high now. Usually the young hawks seem to be flying alone but they are sometimes seen flying with their father. They've also begun to explore the buildings on Central Park West, often with their father close by. On one day, one of the young hawks was high above CPW and 65th Street on a roof top railing being harassed by a Northern Mockingbird [see first photo] whose territory includes the section of the park just south of Tavern on the Green. I was amazed to see that the Mockingbird had followed the Hawk up 13 stories!

Two days later, a young hawk and its father were seen flying down Central Park West from 69th Street to Columbus Circle. The young hawk stopped to perch on an open window at 63rd and CPW, about 25 flights up [see third photo].

[All photos by Bruce Yolton].

Pale Male dines on...what?

Ben Cacace reports

Pale Male (Red-tailed Hawk) gliding onto Turtle Pond lawn to pick
up a meal under the trees just east of the blind.

Turtle Pond! Right below the Shakespeare Garden where the Central Park non-maternal Mothers gather most nights to observe nocturnal Lepidoptera. Maybe that's why we're not getting any big moths at our black light these days. [I hope you know I'm kidding. Red-tailed Hawks don't eat moths,]

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Fall walks in Central Park

Starr Saphir, [the name is familiar to readers of my book] is one of the best leaders of spring and fall migration walks in Central Park. She usually e-mails me a notice of her forthcoming walk schedule and I then post it on this website. But her computer is broken. Here then is her schedule, found on the New York City Audubon website []. It is followed by a re-posting of Jack Meyer's schedule. He's another fine walk leader, with walks on different days from Starr's.

Fall Migration Morning Birdwalks in Central Park
Leader: Starr Saphir

Leave 103rd Street & Central Park West (Park side).

Saturdays & Tuesdays 2005

September 3, 6, 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27

October 1, 4, 8,11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 29

November 1, 5, 8

9am sharp

All walks are non-smoking. .

$6 per person ($3 for full-time student). $10 for
NYC Audubon DIRECT members, includes lunch

No registration necessary. For further information
call Starr: 212-304-3808.

Here's Jack's schedule again

From Jack Meyer:

My fall birdwalks in Central Park will begin
Thursday, August 18.
Here are the details:

Walks will be Thursday through Sunday, from August 18
to October 30.

Walks leave at 7:30 AM from 72 Street & Central Park West.
(NE corner.)

The cost is $6. No reservations are needed.

If there are any questions, you can reach me at:
212-563-0038 (Not after 8 PM please)

Looking forward to seeing all my birding friends again.
Jack Meyer

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Elusive warbler seen by many and missed by a few

Photo by Ardith Bondi

Photo by Lloyd Spitalnik

The Connecticut Warbler , a shy, rarely seen bird that passes through this area only during its fall migration, has been fulfilling the dreams of many Central Park birdwatchers during the last four days. A bird that skulks in the underbrush and is usually seen for a second or two at most as it darts in and out of of the understory, this one, [we assume it's one individual bird] has been rewarding patient birders with long looks. It has even posed for photographs by some of the park's best photographers. Yesterday f0r most of the day it made stunning appearances along the west side of The Lake.

This morning the Early Birders stalked the Connecticut Warbler along the Lake from the Lower Lobe to Hernshead, back and forth, hoping against hope that it was still around. No luck. It had moved on, as warblers do. We'll have to make do with Ardith and Lloyd's great photographs.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Moth Light at the Shakespeare Garden

Wavy-lined Emerald

The sap-oozing tree has begun to lose its powers. After attracting so many new species of Underwing moths during July and August this year, as well as the once-in-a-lifetime Black Witch on August 12th, moths have been few and far between for the last week or two.

Time to bring out the moth light. This special light bulb, powered by a portable power-pack [no electric outlets in the middle of Central Park] has special insect-attracting powers. For the last three or four years the CP Mothers have been setting up a black light in the Shakespeare Garden, a beautiful flower-filled garden on the hillside just below Belvedere Castle.

Digression: Why is it called the Shakespeare Garden? Because it's filled with plantings mentioned in Shakespeare's works [A rose by any other name, etc.]. The garden was established in 1915 in honor of some now- obscure politician who was a devotee of the Bard. But even before that, in 1880, a black mulberry from Stratford-on-Avon was planted there, which can still be seen at the western entrance to the garden. [This info comes from Sara Cedar Miller's terrific book "Central Park, An American Masterpiece."]

Back to the moth light: Here's how it works: We spread a white sheet over one of the garden's rustic benches, and hang the moth light [sometimes called a black fluorescent light] in the middle. It is a powerful insect-magnet. It usually takes less than ten seconds for insects to begin to appear on the sheet--small gnats, flies, tiny micro-moths we can't possibly identify [they're not in the Field Guide -- and some of them have never been identified] Eventually good sized interesting moths arrive.

Much of the time in the garden we use our powerful flashlights [Surefire - lithium battery type] to observe spiders --see yesterday's post. Also crickets. [More on our racy cricket discoveries soon].

But moths are still our major preoccupation.

Two days ago things were pretty uninspiring at the moth light. Mostly our visitors were the most common moths, and even they were few and far between. We decided to pack it in earlier than usual.

It was 10:10 and the moth light was already off and packed up in the wheeled shopping cart we use to transport it. Suddenly Jim calls out: What's this? We shine our flashlight on the wooden leg of the rustic bench , and jackpot: the green moth you see pictured above. It may have been there the whole evening -- we had never looked. Not only was it a stunningly beautiful creature, a member of the Geometrid family, but it was a new moth for our Central Park Moths list, upping our total of moth species to 104.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Drama at night in the Shakespeare Garden

Scene: The Shakespeare Garden
Time: About 9:30 p.m.
Present: Lee, Noreen, Marie, Nick, Jimmy

Funnel web spider [sp?] with prey.

Close-up of same spider with prey revealed

The sap tree we've been monitoring for Underwing moths during most of July and August has begun to lose its attraction. Fewer and fewer moths have been coming to dine on the rather awful-smelling stuff that oozes from its rough bark.. Time to set up the moth light in the Shakespeare Garden.

On Friday, Sept 2, after draping our sheet over a rustic bench and plugging the black light into its battery pack, we were waiting for moths to arrive when a different drama captured our attention.

The garden at night is filled with crickets --you can hear their loud chorus in every bush. It's a lovely sound, Thanks to a new book, a "Field Guide to Grasshoppers, Katydids and Crickets of the United States", we were able to identify, with fair certainty, the most common cricket in the Garden.: the Restless Bush Cricket.

Jim Lewis was watching a large funnel spider lurking in its dense web at a fence right in front of our moth-observing set-up. Suddenly he called out "He's got a cricket!"

We all ran over just in time to see the spider inject his prey with his paralyzing venom. [Actually, it was almost certainly a she-spider].The cricket stopped moving. It was a chilling sight--before our very eyes, murder most foul [as Macbeth would have it.]

I took the photographs above to document the violent little drama we had witnessed on our otherwise peaceful moth-watching night.

Coming soon, since I've not spared you this violent episode, the sex life of the Restless Bush Cricket, witnessed by the Central Park non-maternal Mothers after sunset on the very next day.

Bird Report--10 warbler species

In less than two hours of birding this morning, Rhoda Bauch and Ethel Hill, two experienced Central Park birdwatchers, amassed the following list:

DATE:  Sunday, 4 September 2005
LOCATION: Central Park
OBSERVERS: Ethel Hill, Rhoda Lee Bauch
REPORTED BY: Rhoda Lee Bauch

We birded only between 7:30 and 9:20 a.m. in Strawberry Fields (we
observed 2 separate waves of birds landing at the North end of Str. F.),
Balcony Bridge, and the Upper Lobe.

Highlights were:
Olive-sided Flycatcher (Str.F.)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Upper Lobe)
Empidomax Flycatcher (Str.F.)
Great Crested Flycatcher (several) (Str.F.)
Red-eyed Vireo (Str.F.)
Warbling Vireo
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Str.F.)
House Wren (Str.F.)

10 Warblers (all in Str.F.):
Nashville Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler (several)
Black-and-white Warbler (many)
Black-throated Green Warbler (on the grass)
Wilson's Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart (many)
(Note: Pat Pollock reported that at 9:15 a.m. yesterday, she observed a
Connecticut Warbler walking below Balcony Bridge. It proceeded to walk
under and across the highway, travelling West. It seems likely that the
bird continued South where Peter Post sighted it at the North end of
Strawberry Fields an hour later.)

Baltimore Oriole (Str.F. & Balcony Bridge)

Also observed were: Canada Goose, Mallard, Rock Pigeon, Mourning dove,
Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Robin, Gray Catbird, European
Starling, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow.