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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.

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