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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Waves on the Hudson River

Weeping Willows changing color

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Sean and I took a drive up to Croton Point Park late this morning. Northwest wind blasting across the Hudson River had almost all wildlife hunkered down or seeking shelter up the Croton River. Waves were large enough to surf. Waterfowl were virtually nonexistent and we spotted only a single Bald Eagle. I stumbled on a racoon sleeping in a hole in a willow tree. He gave me a lethargic glance then went back to napping. A bird feeder near the pine grove was the only area of bird activity. We did have one unexpected observation while we were circling behind the “mountain”.

The leeward side of the hill was devoid of bird life and, when returning to the car, a huge accipiter flew up from the marsh to the east. Despite 40mph gusts this bird easily flew into the wind and circled around towards the pine grove. The sunshine made it difficult to see feather pattern details but it had broad, buteo-like wings and a heavy, thick body. This hawk’s outline gave the impression that the body and tail were the same width. Unlike a Sharp-shinned Hawk or Cooper’s Hawk which tapers to the base of the tail then widens towards the end of the tail. Also, I don’t think that even the largest Cooper’s Hawk could have sailed so easily into such powerful wind gusts. Our overall impression was that this was undoubtedly a juvenile Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). She is an extraordinary bird to observe, especially so close to the city.

Click here for photos of Northern Goshawk & here for an accipiter comparison

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Croton Point Park, 2/17/2006
Canada Goose
Common Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture (4.)
Bald Eagle (2nd year.)
Northern Goshawk (Imm. Flying west over hill then south onto point.)
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow (1, at feeder near pine grove.)
Dark-eyed Junco
Common Grackle (1, at feeder near pine grove.)

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