Croton Point Park: as the train pulled in, not a single Bald Eagle was visible in the trees fronting the bay. Uh-oh. I’d promised eagles to the folks I’d dragged up to celebrate my birthday. The absence of ice seemed to be telling; the birds were heading back upriver. When I was there at the beginning of the month, the river was largely iced-in. Now it was running free, with just a few sheets trapped in the north bay.
There was plenty of snow on the ground, and the paths were quite gooey with mud. The first big birds we saw were Red-tailed Hawks, a pair doing some aerial-bonding, with they claws outstretched; then suddenly there were five hawks up there. It wasn’t long before we saw our first eagle, at some distance, over the river. Things were looking up. Then two Black Vultures sailed overhead, birds I haven’t seen since last summer, their white primaries beautifully bright, and a Turkey Vulture, not seen since the fall — were these birds already starting to migrate northwards?
Then a mature Bald Eagle went right over us, low enough for us to see those enormous yellow talons with our unaided eyes. A little later, I spotted this huge shape in a pine.Possibly the bird we’d just seen fly over us towards this direction. This bird was still there on our way back from the point. My party was, I think, pleased.But speaking of owls, the Flatbush Gardener, freelancing in the same park before teaming up with us, reported an Eastern Screech Owl at the opposite end of numerous telephoto lenses. Several hours later, we got to the location, to be told by the Ranger that the owl (and the photographers) had left. In the Nature Center, there were some “clay babies” to console us and, overhead, some compensation with a Red-tail and a Peregrine. I, meanwhile, enjoying Jean’s romesco dip on pita bread, was convinced the owl had only moved, not departed, not in the middle of the day, anyway. But it was someone else in our party, Virginia, who isn’t a hard-core birder, who spotted the bird. Eastern Screech (Megascops asio), the color and pattern of bark (the species also comes in red and brown plumaged versions), basking in the late afternoon sun. We surmised it had been following the sun around the tree during the day.
Not so different from what we were doing.