Thursday, March 23, 2006

Donna at the hawk bench on Vernal Equinox Day

Central Park 20 Mar 2006
Sunset: 6:08PM (Old Farmer's Almanac)
Temperature: 41 F.
Wind:10-15 MPH
Gusts to 25MPH
All times PM unless otherwise indicated.
Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte-Little Hill
12:40 No hawks visible
1:21 Charlotte rises, has been sitting nest. She stands, preens chest, rearranges twigs near concave, fluffs feathers over eggs, and down.
1:33 Jr. from W, circles above Hampshire House, then N to Central Park.
2:02 No hawks visible. Exit to N.
2:13 Waldo Hutchins Bench at Fifth and 72nd, "The Stonehenge of Manhattan". I've missed the big Vernal Equinox moment of 2 o'clock but the vestiges are still nifty and the sundial does really work. ***see footnote at end
Pale Male and Lola-The Hawk Bench
2:39 Quantity of twigs has increased in the last week. Lola sits the nest, nearly invisible, eye alert through twigs, head to north.
Park maintenance men and a cart are in the drained Model Boat Pond. Workers are clearing out the bottom of the "Pond" with shovels.
2:52 Pale Male from west, circles over Linda, circles over 927, then back to Linda, looks to land and almost perches Linda 1, suddenly dives toward Fifth.
2:53 Pale Male flies back up, perches Linda 4, empty taloned.
2:54 Rik leaves.
2:57 Pale Male yawns. Brisk gusts are blowing his feathers in multi-directions.
3:02 Pale Male preens anterior center line from neck down.
3:08 Lola's head is visible, she pushes and pulls twigs at edge of concave into arrangement with beak while sitting. Bright sun, windy, a few small fluffy white clouds in very blue sky.
3:10 Maintenance has departed the pond. Two male Robins begin to forage in the damp bottom. 1 White-throated Sparrow joins them. 27 Starlings arrive.
Lola has turned, head to bench.
3:16 Lola's tail bobs up and down as she pushes and arranges twigs on south edge of concave.
3:17 Lola stands, digs in concave with both feet.
3:21 Pale Male looks down at Fifth Avenue. Hunting?
3:25 Visitor RT over Linda flying N, crow is attacking it. Hits back with beak repeatedly. Pale Male up from Linda, crow leaves, PM chases visitor RT toward the Lake.
3:27 Lola alert eye through twigs, watches to west. Katherine comes by and reports seeing a Merlin in the Ramble.
3:37 11 male Robins forage in bottom of MBP. Starlings and pigeons easily spooked into flight.
3:58 Turkey Vulture flies from south to north over Model Boat Pond.
4:02 Pale Male up from top of tree in park between Linda and 927, pigeon in talons, goes to nest, lands south edge back to Bench. Picks up large Blue Bar pigeon in beak. Lola doesn't look. Her head to N. PM puts prey back on nest.
Pale Male looks south, looks at Lola. No response.
4:04 Pale Male off nest with pigeon. He flies back and forth twice in front of nest with prey. Lola doesn't get up.
4:05 Pale Male, blood on beak, lands nest right, prey in talons. He rearranges twigs on that side. Lola doesn't get up, doesn't look.
4:06 Pale Male off nest to N. circles Octogon, then back S past nest. He with prey to Park tree in front of Linda, then treeline in front of Fisher and N, then lands in tree in front of Linda. Prepares prey, feathers rain down, eats some. Whets beak on branch.
4:13 Pale Male up with remaining prey, north toward Rusty Top, then back south, two passes at nest, he lands nest right. Gray feather fluttering from beak tip. Lays down prey. Lola doesn't look. Lola doesn't get up. Lola DOES NOT want a break. PM has back to Bench, Lola stares to NW through twigs. PM up toward Boathouse, leaves remaining prey, then back toward Woody, through tree line, over Oreo, reappears from behind Stovepipe, disappears behind Oreo.
Anne Shannahan comes by. Earlier today between 12 and 12:30 she saw either PM or Lola bounce a juvenile RT off a branch in the Ramble near Bill's feeder. Then bop it from the rear in flight until it vacated the area. Yesterday around 11 AM, near 79th and Fifth, she saw one of the adult RT's in a tremendous swooping battle with a falcon over the avenue.
4:35 Two gulls fly from east to west over nest.
5:00 Lola head up, quick look west over the nest, then back down.
5:10 Lola half up, fluffs feathers over concave, back down. PM ?
5:15 Exit.
Submitted: Donna Browne


The Waldo Hutchins Memorial Bench, E72 on your Central
Park Map, just inside the Park at the corner of 72nd
and Fifth, take the path without the steps to get
there from The Hawk Bench, is more than just a nicely
decorated bench memorializing the first Park
Commissioner. It is the "Manhattan Stonehenge". Look
for the small curved structure centered on the back of
the bench in the photo. For most of the year that is
a lovely sundial. And yes, it actually works. But on
the Vernal Equinox at 2PM the sunlight hits the
structure just right so that the bars of alternating
shade and sunlight stretch out over the floor of the
memorial in a delightful display.