Prospect Park, 7/28/2020

Toby was with me when I photographed this black wasp with blue wings, but then I had to bring Toby home, because the muggy heat was making him wobblier than usual, and I went back outside alone, which left me free to spend more time in the park than I probably should have. In the heat, unfortunately, the park was mostly still and dead. I did see a couple of quite beautiful, mostly black butterflies, but only one posed for me, and I made the mistake of trying to change the lens on my camera in order take a close-up; it fluttered away before I got the lens mounted. The only other thing of note was a woodpecker, high in its tree, and I was trying, ineffectually, to photograph it when a raptor crashed through the canopy, gripping a not-small furry creature in its talons, pursued by two other raptors, all of them crying angrily.

Juvenile Cooper's hawk, Prospect Park

The prizewinner took his breakfast to the crook of a tree, and boasted over it, while tearing off gobbets and swallowing. He was in no hurry, and in a few minutes, several other birders caught up to us, one of whom identified the trio as Cooper’s hawks. I thought that the successful hunter must be a parent, and that the other two must be fledglings, who were hoping for a share of the parent’s meal. But now that I’m home, and can look at Sibley’s, I see that all three were juveniles, which would explain why the one who did make a kill did not share.

Juvenile Cooper's hawk, Prospect Park

The siblings who hadn’t killed loitered on branches nearby and cried, loudly and unembarrassedly. They seemed to be asking for handouts. The raised claw, in the photograph just above, looks to me like a request—like a hawk’s version of an extended palm.

Juvenile Cooper's hawk, Prospect Park

Prospect Park, 7/19/2020

Green heron and chicks, Prospect Park

Green heron chicks in nest, Prospect Park

Green heron, Prospect Park

Wasps' nest, Prospect Park

Eastern cicada killer wasp, Prospect Park

House wren, butt of, Prospect Park

Last week a fellow birder showed me photos that he had taken of green heron chicks in a nest. He told me where the nest was, roughly, but I wasn’t able to find it that day. This morning, a fellow dog walker who knows I take bird pictures flagged me down to tell me she had seen the nest, too, and explained the location a little more clearly. But once I got to the spot, all I could find was a paper wasps’ nest, busy with traffic. (Another kind of wasp, Eastern cicada killers, were out in a field in large numbers, busy not with a nest but with one another; maybe they were mating?) At last I did see a green heron, preening herself, in a tree between the path where I was standing and the water’s edge. “What a beautiful dog,” a man in a cap said, of Toby, who was waiting patiently, looped to a fence post, and after petting Toby, he joined me in trying to photograph the heron. After he left, a few bird photographers with professional tripods and lenses walked by. I asked one if he knew where the nest was; he admitted that there was one, but would only say that it was “around here,” and then added that the heron had flown away, in a tone that sounded meant to be discouraging. I kept looking. Finally another dog walker saw me peering into the trees, asked if I was looking for the heron’s nest, and pointed it out to me—a darkened smudge fairly high up.