Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Hawk and the Squirrel

Heydi, Shane and I all converged on Prospect Park to look for a reported juvenile Northern Goshawk.

On rare occasions these and other denizens of our northern forests will migrate south and overwinter in our urban parks. The last time I got a good look at one was during the winter of 2007. I spent a little time around Payne Hill and the Ravine before I caught up with Heydi and Shane. A landscaping crew was cutting down a tree with a chainsaw in the Ravine. The whining of the saw's engine and crashing of branches would have scared away even the most tolerant hawk, so I only stayed for a few moments.

After checking the woods on the Peninsula, Heydi and I headed up to Lookout Hill. Shane walked through the Lullwater and into the Ravine. When we met up again at the Ravine, Shane was watching a raptor perched on a branch above the Ambergill. It turned out to just be a juvenile Cooper's Hawk. We watched it for a few minutes until it flew across the wooded ridge and deeper into the Ravine. I wanted to try and get a few photos, so followed it across the Rock Arch Bridge, where it was perched above the stream. Shane had to leave, but Heydi and I stayed to watch the hawk. Valerie and Isabelle had joined us and also hung around for a while to observe the Cooper's Hawk hunting close by. The large raptor eventually flew to a log on the steep hillside adjacent to the stairway that ascends to the Boulder Bridge. I was walking around, trying to find a good vantage point to photograph the large brown hawk when I saw something that amazed me. A squirrel had apparently been hiding under the log. Suddenly, he darted out from beneath the hawk's perch, nipped at its leg, then disappeared back under the log. The hawk jumped. I quickly set up my camera and recorded the following sequence. The Cooper's Hawk never caught the rodent so the squirrel appeared to have gotten the last laugh ... this time. I never found the goshawk, but this experience was an acceptable consolation prize.


1 comment:

Starz723 said...

Rob..that was great. The Hawk looked baffled as if to say "which way did he go" Lets bird this week.
Marge

Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope