Saturday, February 9, 2013

Black Creek Park • February 9

Tree Farm Trail. A hundred years ago Green's Nursery (Green Nursery Company) sat on the land that is now Black Creek Park. This is evident today as there are sections of the park where evergreen trees grow in tight spacings along straight rows.

Tree Farm Trail. After a good snowfall like we had yesterday (10 inches or so), the former tree farm areas become magical in their appearances and atmospheres.

Tree Farm Trail. Though these trees were heavily coated with snow, they did not bow under the weight like the deciduous trees elsewhere in the park.

Tree Farm Trail. The organized spacing of the trees is evident here.

Tree Farm Trail. This is a well used trail despite not begin on the county park map.

Tree Farm Trail. When seen in person, views like this automatically draw you into a state of bliss!

Red-tailed Hawk Nest. Elsewhere in the park are at least three old hawk nests in close proximity. Frequently a Great Horned Owls will use an old hawk nest as its own nest. However, close inspect (from quite a distance, however) did not reveal any "horns" peaking above the edge of any of the nests.

Red-tailed Hawk Nest. These nests were quite high in the air, well over 30 feet up. My vantage point was atop a small ridge which helped somewhat. Also, I have my 35x zoom camera with an 840 mm equivalent focal length at full zoom. All this is rather important as the Eastern Birds' Nests Peterson Field Guide notes this about Red-tailed Hawk nests: "Difficult to approach closer than about 100 yds. (91.4 m) before incubating bird flushes." Fortunately, the terrain around these nests makes a "too close" approach impractical to impossible.

Red-tailed Hawk Nest. Though there are no hawks in this picture, there were two at this nest just moments before this shot! Rather than a potential mating pair, it seemed they might be two males as a fight ensued the moment the second hawk showed up. As one of the hawks landed on this nest, the other flew in, started screaming that well known call, and drove the interloper off.

Red-tailed Hawk. And here is the victor! The New York State Breeding Bird Atlas Handbook for Workers gives egg dates for Red-tails of March 8th through May 16th, unfledged juveniles (nestlings) from April 17 through June 20th, and fledglings from June 1st to July 8th. (Remember that birds don't read the books and don't always follow such specifications exactly!) There is one brood per year, the egg incubation period is from 23 to 28 day, and nestlings can fly after day 45.

Red-tailed Hawk. No, the hawk is not looking at me, but at the other hawk that has come back for round two! A moment after this picture was taken the cries of the Red-tail resumed and the chase was on once more. Must be prime real estate!