On Friday, grocery bags in hand, no camera, there was a swirl of activity in the middle of our parking lot where the sparrows always pick at seeds. Bird on ground mantling. MANTLING??!!! Oh my God, a kestral with an obvious catch. I couldn't see what it had captured.... sparrow, chickadee, mouse???? But I could see the beautiful red coloration on the top of its body. Then, catch secure in its talons, it flew west, then south. We have a big sparrow community as well as a cluster of chickadees, so I've been watching their behavior. That kestral could be a neighborhood resident. Have food. Easy pickings. Where are they picking now? Near the bushes, so I looked upwards. If I were a kestral I'd perch on a balcony railing. Kestral up there?? Fake out! Urban owl, the store-bought variety.
With camera today, the next bird was interesting. Lots of excitement today, "Varied thrush at the Maintenance Meadow." West coast bird in the park. I would not know a varied thrush if it stared me in the face, but in short order there was a cluster of birders all gawking here and there. Finally a yelp, "There it is!" Binoculars raised. Cameras raised. Gotta see this bird! "Did you see it?" "Did you see it?" The birders were as fascinating as the bird. I couldn't find it until it was way up in a tree, but as the sun hit I could see how pretty this bird is. I've seen it!
Onward to the next corner and as I headed towards 72nd street a fellow came trotting along with a huge tripod. He noticed my lens and asked as he scooted by, "Did you see it?" I nodded yes and then cracked up. Big lens = birding. There were hawks today and all the gorgeous little birds, but it was the varied thrush that got everyone's attention. I think birders were crawling out of the woodwork to come see this unique visitor.