Monday, February 15, 2010

Up the river and through the trees

Up to Croton Point Park yesterday. Looking across the river from near the nature center. There was snow, but very little ice on the river.
Bald-faced hornet, D. maculata, nest. Most people think this is home of the paper wasp -- a couple of species in the Polistes genus -- because of the paper. I used to think so, but this is wrong. Paper wasps don't envelop their single layer of cells.
There were two very light morph red tailed hawks over the hill, acting just like harriers. One of them nonchalantly allowed us to walk right underneath. These look quite different from most of our local red-tails.
I think this is a wild turkey feather. But of course Ben Franklin was overruled, and the bald eagle, that great scavenger, was made our national symbol. The eagles are why we went up the river: in winter, the frozen river further north brings baldies downstate, looking for open water and their usual prey, fish. We were not disappointed. We saw several, more mature adults (who have the white head and tail) than juveniles, which is the reverse of what we usually see. We had three at one point, two adults tacking into the wind and a juvie perched. Awesome.


Melissa said...

Your post makes me want to go to Croton Point. Love the photo of the hornet nest & that pale red-tail from below. And nice feather! Have you ever seen Zelda, the wild turkey that supposedly lives in Battery Park? As for eagles, check out the Feb 8 post on Harlem Hybrid , where hawk watcher James has photos & video of eagles fishing off an ice floe in the Hudson around Riverbank Park in Harlem - fantastic!
- Out walking the dog

Matthew said...

It's a very easy trip. Some of the Metro North Hudson Line trains are non-stop to Croton-Harmon. From the station, you cross the bridge just to the north, which goes over the vast train yard, then you're in the park.