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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Signs of Spring

On Tuesday morning, while walking to the subway at Grand Army Plaza, I noticed a kestrel flying overhead. It was heading towards Flatbush Avenue and vanished from view atop One Plaza Street. At about the same time I received a phone call, so I sat down at a park bench across the street from the building.

During a 15 minute telephone conversation I kept my eyes pointed at the apartment building's red, ceramic tiled roof. I couldn't see the peak at the top of the 16 story structure, but assumed that's where the falcon landed, as I didn't see him fly out over Flatbush Avenue. It is the same building where I was looking for nesting kestrels last Spring.

Last week I photographed a kestrel that was perched on the "Soldiers and Sailors Monument" at Grand Army Plaza. It's a favorite hunting perch for hawks and falcons. I had walked to the north entrance of Prospect Park hoping to find one atop "Columbia's" flagpole.

The kestrel was using the statue as a launching point for hunting forays. While I was watching, he took off over Eastern Parkway towards the Brooklyn Museum. During his absence several starlings flew to the top of the monument. They took off several minutes later when they spotted him returning.

It was late in the day and, before the sunshine disappeared off of Columbia and her chariot, the kestrel took off. This time he headed down the west side of the park, following the roof line of the buildings along Prospect Park West.

I went up to my roof to check if I had a clear view of One Plaza Street. If there is a pair of kestrels nesting somewhere on top of the apartment, I should be able to spot them through my telescope. I don't have any idea how many pairs of kestrels are nesting near the park, but I'll keep an eye on Plaza Street, as well as, the presumed nest location that I learned of last year.

In the last week there has been an explosion of buds and flowers on the city's Red Maple trees. A quick look up into the trees will usually find squirrels dangling from their hind legs, nibbling on the tender, fresh growths. Discarded twig "pick-up sticks" litter the ground beneath the trees.

Crocuses have started to emerge and join the delicate snow-drops blooming in Prospect Park's woodlands. The blossoms of Cornelian Cherry Dogwood and forsythia have begun to reveal themselves as a faint yellow haze among some of the park's shrubs.

I noticed a tiny drop of sap hanging on the underside of a recently trimmed cherry sapling and it reminded me that Spring has indeed returned. In autumn, the veins that carry sap into and out of a tree's leaves gradually close. The leaves change color, then drop off. Now, as the daylight hours have increased, the sap has begun to flow back towards the ends of the branches and the leaves with regrow.

by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"


Yojimbot said...

great shot of the kestrel launching off of the eagle!

Marie said...

Sap flowing...that's a beautiful picture and thought. Sap really does rise. Even here. The catkins are great, too.

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