Split-tail growled at me today. I was shocked, not just by a vocalization that I'd never heard before, but also by his apparent distress. I thought our three year relationship meant something. We had an understanding; I'd be respectful of him and he would let me quietly observe him and his mate's activities. I was standing in my usual spot next to the elm tree watching Big Mama on the nest and he was perched in a large maple at the edge of the Long Meadow. Suddenly he flew directly towards me. As he was flying I could hear him making a deep, throaty growling sound, almost like an angry cat. He flew up onto a rotted limb about five feet above my head and started biting into the peeled back bark of the dead branch. A minute or two later he flew off towards the Boulder Bridge but perched only about fifty feet away in a sycamore next to the footpath. I walked slowly over towards him and as I approached he began making that angry growl again. I backed off and walked down to the Ravine. Ten minutes prior to this incident I spotted a pair of juvenile Red-tailed Hawks flying north above the Long Meadow. As they passed Payne Hill Split-tail chased after them letting them know that they weren't welcome in Prospect Park. I guess I shouldn't take his behavior personally, maybe he was still a little agitated and was taking it out on me.
My concern for the Ravine Red-tailed Hawks was a little premature. This morning I could see one of the pair back sitting in their nest atop the pine tree.
Phoebe numbers are still increasing and there were four of them hawking for insects in the woods below the nest. I've also noticed that Song Sparrow numbers have increased dramatically over the last week throughout the park.
As I was leaving the park at 5th Street I heard what sounded like a Monk Parakeet squawking. I searched the trees in front of the Litchfield Villa and spotted a Merlin trying to attack a Northern Flicker. It was the flicker that was making the loud noises as he tried to avoid the diving assault of the tiny falcon. The Merlin quickly gave up and flew off towards the Long Meadow.
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Prospect Park, 3/24/2004 - 11am to 1pm
Ring-necked Duck (4, Upper pond.)
Bufflehead (3, Upper pond.)
Hooded Merganser (3, Upper pond.)
Red-tailed Hawk (3 adults, 2 immature.)
Merlin (Litchfield Villa.)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Payne Hill.)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Payne Hill.)
Downy Woodpecker (2, Payne Hill.)
Hairy Woodpecker (Payne Hill.)
Northern Flicker (Litchfield Villa.)
Eastern Phoebe (4, Payne Hill.)
Black-capped Chickadee (2, Payne Hill.)
Tufted Titmouse (3, Payne Hill.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (Payne Hill.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Payne Hill.)
Fox Sparrow (5, Rick's Pl.)
Song Sparrow (Approx. 10.)
American Goldfinch (Payne Hill.)
Other resident species seen (or heard):
Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow
Wednesday, March 24, 2004