Big Mama in Payne Hill woods
(Photo credit - Rob J)
Today's weather was a 180 degree shift from yesterday. Winter seems to have returned with dropping temperatures and a threatening white sky. Rain was forecast but it felt more like snow was on the way.
I wanted to try and locate Big Mama and Split-tail. On sunless, calm, cool days I can usually find them hunting from a perch in the woods. I started at the Vale of Cashmere and zigzagged through the woods there, as well as, the north zoo, Battle Pass, Sullivan Hill and Payne Hill. When on Sullivan Hill I spotted Big Mama flying in from the north. She landed above me in a large oak tree. As usual, she appeared to ignore me as she tipped her head down and searched the ground for a meal. I leaned up against a large boulder and quietly watched. After a few minutes of scanning for rodents she took off and flew a short distance to a spindly branch in a locust tree. The thin branch bobbed up and down and swayed from side to side. It looked peculiar as her internal gyroscope keep her head locked in one position as her body traveled with the branch.
A couple on the footpath with a small video camera spotted her and excitedly rolled tape. Split-tail flew out of the woods on Battle Pass and passed right above them as he flew north. They didn't notice him. I waved them over. I'm always willing to share my passion with others and they seemed genuinely interested. They explained that they were out with their new Christmas present shooting some footage of the park. I don't think they expected such interesting material.
Big Mama took off flying in the direction of the Midwood. She ascended above the treetops and was joined by her mate. They circled above us for a few minutes then Big Mama dropped down towards Payne Hill and landed in their nest atop the large tuliptree. Split-tail descended and landed in a tree a few yards west of the nest. He began examining branches, snapping a few off, then settling on a fairly small one. He carried it to his mate who was standing on their nest.
I was so excited that I kept repeating to the couple how much I was hoping to witness the hawks collecting branches. Big Mama left the nest and began looking for nest material herself.
When we parted company, Tess remarked that she and her husband (I can't remember his name) would surely see me again. I think I may have gotten two more people hooked.
Sunday, January 02, 2005