1 January 2020
Up on the Great Hill in Central Park, I spied a red-tailed hawk high up in a tree. I snapped a few photos, after which it took flight. I moved to see what tree it was going to, but instead it alit on the ground. A few seconds later, I saw that it had caught a squirrel. The bird stood over its prey for several minutes, sometimes stretching out one or both wings, as if to shield its dinner from others, a behavior known as mantling. (Thanks for the tip, Ariya!.) It did that for more than seven minutes before hopping off with the squirrel.
4 January 2020
I went to Central Park specifically to see a Cooper's hawk that often frequents an area known as "the Oven". It wasn't there, but wandering north, I saw a great blue heron and some nice ducks—and finally, I did see a Cooper's Hawk in a different part of the park.
4 January 2020
After seeing the Best Photos from 2019 project, I decided to edit down my favorites to the ones I consider my best artistic pictures of the year, rather than as interesting bird photographs.
So: here are the top six. I wanted to get it to five, but couldn't quite manage… A metanote: all but the hummingbird were taken in Manhattan. The great egret picture is from Morningside Park; the others are from Central Park. Most of the pictures are geotagged; for all of them, clicking through will get you a full resolution image.
5 January 2020
I didn't have much time for photography today, but I first got a nice shot of a bluejay in Central Park. Then, when walking home quickly—I was running late—I spotted this American kestrel. I just had to stop and photograph it…
8 January 2020
I spent the day yesterday wandering around Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. It was once a commercial airport, and later a Naval Air Station. Today, it's part of Gateway National Recreation Area, run by the National Park Service but not as a National Park. This means that all sorts of things are permitted, not just wilderness, but there are parts of it that are nature preserves.
Some parts are not as nice. The next few pictures were taken on (I kid you not) “Glass Bottle Beach”, off of Dead Horse Bay. Once upon a time, there was a rendering plant around here; sometimes, horse carcasses being barged to the island would fall off. Guess where they washed up? And the former island is no longer an island; landfill was used to connect it to the rest of Brooklyn. That may be where some of the construction debris, car parts, and bottles came from. It's certainly not in a convenient location for illegal dumping…
11 January 2020
The weather was gorgeous today, so I set out early for Central Park, hoping to see some Cooper's hawks. I saw and photographed two of them, and saw but couldn't photograph a red-tailed hawk and two other raptors. I also photographed a great blue heron and three different woodpeckers. A lovely morning… (And it was so nice I went back out later on my bike, without my camera.)
12 January 2020
Morningside Park has lots of birds! (And since that was the second time in a week I've seen a kestrel in that spot, I'm checking it a lot more frequently now.)
16 January 2020
These two birds were, I think, terrified of a nearby hawk.
18 January 2020
On the Forever Wild trail in Riverside Park, a northern flicker was kind enough to post for me for a bit.
I then heard a clamor of crows and saw a red-tailed hawk alight. The crows wouldn't leave it alone, so it relocated. The crows followed; the hawk moved again. Not only the the crows follow, some bluejays showed up to join the party. Finally, the hawk gave up and left, but not before the crows tried some air-to-air combat.
24 January 2020
I knew that a bald eagle had been hanging around Riverside Park, right by Columbia, for the last few days, so I went there this morning to try to find it. No joy—it was probably out fishing—but I did get some nice, albeit long range, photos of a red-bellied woodpecker.
Some time that morning, though, the eagle returned, which I knew from Twitter. So, after class, I headed back, and it was still there. Viewing was fine, though it was hard to get good shots because of all of the branches in the way. Naturally, it had a very large crowd of admirers. (Aside: how did birders ever manage before the Internet?)
About three trees away from the eagle, there was a red-tailed hawk jealously guarding its lunch: squirrel. I don't know if it was afraid the eagle would try to take it, but I did not see the hawk eat anything until after the eagle had left.
Other days, a set of pictures like these would be the star of the outing. Today, though, the hawk took second place.