Friday, August 19, 2022

A brief encounter with the Tompkins Square hawk fledgling

I wasn't sure if the Tompkins Square Park red-tailed hawk fledgling had moved on since our last encounter several days ago, when the hawk was forced to abandon its meal after being scared by a dog. I was wondering if that incident could be the one to convince it to leave the area, but the hawk is still around.

Wednesday evening, the fledgling made a brief appearance along Avenue B.

Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk fledgling

The hawk appeared to be hunting in the same area where it previously caught a rat near the 9th Street entrance to the park.

Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk fledgling

The visit was interrupted by a vehicle that drove into the park, the driver obviously lost. This was only about a day after a car crashed into a row of benches in this very spot, as reported over on EV Grieve. People in the park angrily stopped the driver and forced him to turn around, which he did, then drove off down Avenue B. In the linked post, the tree in which the hawk is perched can be seen on the left side of the first photo.

In all the commotion, the hawk flew off and I lost track of it. I'm hoping it found a safer place to hunt for dinner.

Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk fledgling

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Tompkins Square Park in greener days

Recently, it seems the state of Tompkins Square Park has gone downhill as it has been looking extremely neglected and abused. The lawns have been worn down to dirt, plants and flowers have disappeared, benches and decorative elements of the park are broken and vandalized. Someone has even been spray painting graffiti on the trees. 

With a lack of a full time staff, no dedicated gardener, minimal maintenance, no security to keeps dogs out of the gardens, and a city government that seems not to care at all, the park is really suffering. There is a "clean up" event happening tomorrow (August 18) at 5pm for residents to pick up litter.

I was looking through some old photos and realized how lush and green the park was just over ten years ago. A lot of credit goes to Debi the gardener, who retired in 2019. Her hard work made the park beautiful, and she is sorely missed.

This is the main lawn looking west on May 13, 2011. You can see there were flower beds along the fence and there used to be more trees.

Tompkins Square Park 13 May 2011

Unfortunately, the American Elm on the left in the above photo came down on August 29, 2011.

Tompkins Square Park 29 August 2011

It was leaning in such a way that the roots came to the surface, so a tip-over was inevitable. It was replaced later in 2011 by the NY Restoration Project, who planted a Dawn Redwood.
Off the top of my head, I can think of 18 mature trees that have either fallen or been cut down in the last 10-20 years. In 2014, resident Michael Natale created his wonderful Tompkins Tree map, which shows four markers for trees that were lost as he was creating the map.
This photo was taken on May 19, 2012 when the main lawn really was a lawn and people didn't have to worry about sitting in dog crap or worse.

Tompkins Square Park 19 May 2012

Of course, there was Bendy Tree, partner of the Krishna Tree, seen here on November 3, 2012. Bendy Tree would live just under another two years before being sent to the chipper on September 20, 2014.

Tompkins Square Park 3 November 2012

This photo was taken on the same day, but is over by the Temperance Fountain. The tree on the left was a favorite of local hawks, Christo and Dora, who often shared meals there with their offspring. It was one of the best hawk-watching trees in the park, but it was cut down some time around 2013-2014.

Tompkins Square Park 3 November 2012

November 17, 2012:

Tompkins Square Park 17 November 2012

May 13, 2013:

Tompkins Square Park 13 May 2013

This happened on August 9, 2013. It had just rained and the air was warm and humid, then crack!

Tompkins Square Park 9 August 2013

This man and another were sitting on the bench when the tree broke and were lucky not to have been hurt. This tree still stands today inside the park at the Avenue A & St Mark's entrance.

Tompkins Square Park 9 August 2013

This is a view of Krishna and Bendy on a lovely fall day on October 21, 2013. The row of benches on the right used to be a good place to sit in the shade. Now it's exposed to direct sun.

Tompkins Square Park 2 October 2013

This elm, photographed on October 25, 2015, still stands, but the entire upper left quadrant recently came down. The fence on the right side of the photo was replaced with one that is about two feet high when the playground along 7th Street was remodeled in 2018-2019. As a result, dogs have destroyed that area which is now dirt. The flowers and small decorative trees in that garden are all gone.

Tompkins Square Park 25 October 2015

Just north of the Krishna Tree, this Scholar Tree had a low branch that proved to be irresistible to children (and many adult children) who loved to play on it. This photo is from October 15, 2016. The branch was cut off some time around 2020-2021.

Tompkins Square Park 15 October 2016

Going through my old photos brought back memories of many people who used to be regulars of the park. For several years, Giuseppi Logan played his sax from a bench near the Avenue A & 9th Street entrance. This photo is from April 21, 2014.

Giuseppi Logan 21 April 2014

I really miss him, Debi, the grand trees, and flower gardens that for a time made Tompkins a beautiful place.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Tompkins Square 2022 hawk season winds down

As the hawk breeding season comes to a close, below are some highlights of the Tompkins Square Park red-tail fledglings from this summer. 

Christo, Amelia and their surviving fledgling are still around, but we will see less of the fledgling as it expands its explorations and eventually heads off to learn the life of a hawk. Christo and Amelia are permanent residents, so they can be seen around the neighborhood, but this is generally a quiet time of year for them. Fall bird migration has already begun, so we can look forward to seeing more (and different) birds over the next several weeks as they pass through the city on their way south.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

This fledgling put on a thrilling show for a crowd in Tompkins Square.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

This fledgling knocks dad Christo off his flag pole throne.

Fledgling knocks dad Christo off flag pole

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Good luck, little one...

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Tompkins hawk fledgling catches a rat, thwarted by dog

Monday evening, we found the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk fledgling taking a break from the extreme heat and humidity by sheltering in the shade of some leafy trees.

Despite the oppressive heat, the fledgling was alert and paying close attention to every pigeon and rodent in the area.

We watched it as it hunted for dinner, eventually swooping down on a large rat under a bush.

The rat seemed a bit too heavy for the hawk as it struggled to lift the prey off the ground.

The fledgling tried several times to take its meal to a safe spot to eat, but decided to start eating it on the ground, possibly to reduce the weight.

The hawk only had a chance to take a couple of bites before a person walked right up to it with their dog, forcing the hawk to fly off and abandon its meal. Dogs are an ever-present danger to the hawks, especially the fledgling who does not yet have all the skills necessary to safely manage on its own. 

This particular part of the park is fenced off because the hawks hunt in this area and the fledglings (year after year) use it to practice their flying and hunting skills. However, people keep breaking the locks on the gate and taking their dogs in there - when the hawks are present - despite a state-of-the-art dog run being just a few feet away.
In this instance, we waited for the dog owner at the gate, but seeing us, they took their dog through the bushes at the opposite end of the area and exited through a tear in the fence. Individual park-goers have tried repairing the fence, but dog owners keep vandalizing it. This is an issue that seems to only get worse and, as Tompkins Square is one of the most neglected parks in the city (minimal staff, maintenance, and security), the situation feels hopeless.

We waited around until after sunset to see if the fledgling would return to its food left on the ground, but there was a continuous parade of people with dogs, so the fledgling went hungry. Who knows if this was its only meal of the day?

Anyway, here are a few highlights from earlier in the summer. There will be more to come.