Birdwatching – unsentimental, mediating, open-eyed, technologically powered but fueled by ancient longings – is the real national pastime, it just isn’t televised. JONATHAN ROSEN, The Life of the Skies.
Wendy Drexler and Joan Fleiss Kaplan’s wonderful children’s book, BUZZ, RUBY, AND THEIR CITY CHICKS, was officially launched at the Hotel Tria at Fresh Pond on Sunday, November 6, 2016. It was an emotional afternoon for all of us hawkwatchers that stood below that nest in 2010 and 2011 watching the antics of Buzz and Ruby and the kids. I began the event with some of my own memories of that time and then introduced Wendy and Joan, who discussed how the book came to be, from the idea to the actual book.
Joan Fleiss Kaplan (L) and Wendy Drexler (R) at the Tria Hotel, Sunday, November 06, 2016. Photo by John Harrison
After that they read the book as page by page was scrolled on the screen behind them.
Joan Fleiss Kaplan (L) and Wendy Drexler (R) read from their book. Photo by John Harrison.
The Buzz and Ruby scholar, Paul Roberts, followed Wendy and Joan and gave the spellbound audience an update of the hawks since 2011. As Paul spoke, you could hear a pin drop. It was a moving presentation.
Paul Roberts speaks at the BUZZ, RUBY, AND THEIR CITY CHICKS launch. Photo by John Harrison.
Following Paul, videographer Ernie Sarro, who first noticed Buzz and Ruby and got ‘the ball rolling,’ so to speak, passionately reflected on his experiences in 2010 at the nest and what the book means to him – and to us. If Paul Roberts is the Buzz and Ruby scholar, then Ernie Sarro is certainly the Buzz and Ruby Godfather. Ernie paved the way.
Videographer Ernie Sarro signs copy of BUZZ, RUBY, AND THEIR CITY CHICKS. Photo by John Harrison.
Ernie Sarro (L), photographer John Beattie (Ctr.) and book designer Steve Gladstone (R). Photo by John Harrison.
Andy Provost, contributing photographer to the book, (L) and Paul Roberts (R). Photo by John Harrison.
It’s been a long journey from those exciting days in 2010 to the splendid celebration at the Hotel Tria. Now, thanks to Wendy and Joan, the saga of Buzz and Ruby is part of the history of Cambridge. Since publication Wendy and Joan have been to area schools sharing the story of Buzz and Ruby with the kids. There is no doubt that some of these kids will become nature lovers because of their exposure to this book. Another generation of hawkwatchers will emerge from BUZZ, RUBY, AND THEIR CITY CHICKS. The book is available in many stores in the area and on Amazon Here are videos of the launch at the Hotel Tria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncuE5_udp18 (John Harrison) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2co8jfcBFg (Wendy and Joan) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4DhszH_K1I (Ernie Sarro) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jeJOQxhKaw (Ernie Sarro)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww3vyT7kQE4 (Wendy and Joan reading) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqH1pAqM2JY (Wendy and Joan reading)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj6IWLBYdHM (Paul Roberts) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlvFjQzV3WE (Paul Roberts) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmMNo2cfvs0 (Paul Roberts) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I8x0MXroxA (Wendy and Joan).
Waldo’s auditioning a new mate. Remember last season Waldo (aka Hamilton), the Woburn cliffs Peregrine Falcon, mated with a very young female, named Kate (aka Eliza), not even a year old. That banded female produced one chick, Charlotte (aka Philip). It’s unusual for a female Peregrine that young to successfully produce offspring. It happens, but it’s rare. Since the end of breeding season Waldo, Kate and Charlotte have been seen perching on the cliffs and sometimes on telephone poles in the area with prey. Then a few weeks ago Kate wasn’t being seen anymore. Waldo would often be perching at the nest site but no sign of Kate. When they were both seen perching again, it was noticed that there was no band on the leg of this female. She’s a new one. She’s the third (maybe the fourth) potential mate for Waldo. I saw him land close to her once so it looks like he’s warming to her. Since the arrival of the new female, the juvenile hatchling hasn’t been seen either. With this new female aboard there’s an odds-on chance that we will have another season with a Peregrine Falcon chick presence in Woburn. That’s very exciting for us.
Peregrine Falcon pair in Woburn. Photo by Kim Nagy.
Peregrine Falcon, Woburn. Photo by Kim Nagy.
Peregrine Falcon, Woburn. Photo by John Harrison.
Here’s the new female: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXs0xc0Ymgg
On an adventure to Plum Island on October 29, Kim Nagy and I sighted a Peregrine with prey on a telephone pole.
Peregrine Falcon takes off with prey, Plum Island. Photo by Kim Nagy.
We watched it for about twenty minutes until a Red-tailed Hawk was flying toward the telephone pole and the Peregrine took off with its prey and the Red-tail landed on the same pole.
Red-tailed Hawk lands on pole after Peregrine takes off, Plum Island. Photo by John Harrison.
The Mount Auburn Great Horned Owl pair is seen regularly at the Cemetery. This makes us hopeful that there might be a successful nest this year. Last year we thought there was going to be a nest when the female was kind-of sitting in a tree on Ivy Path on the way into the Dell. There was a single broken egg beneath the tree so maybe there was an attempt to have a nest. But she was only there for a day and a half and then was back in the Dell. So maybe it was a practice run and she will be ready for the ‘real thing’ this year.
Great Horned Owl pair in Dell, Mount Auburn Cemetery. Photo by John Harrison.
The last – and only successful – Great Horned Owl nest was in 2011. We’re ready for another. More than ready. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpJaHVZKwgw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tc32OhKFJMk
Lately the three coyotes have been seen at Mount Auburn regularly. The one with mange was discussed last time. The darker coyote, named Pompom by my favorite animal namer, six-year-old Mari, seems healthy and robust.
Coyote Pompom at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Photo by John Harrison.
Animal control told us that Pompom is a female and the two blond coyotes are males. Pompom has even stopped trotting a couple of times to give me some video moments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuJXUGC4aus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqSb83EZYzA
On Monday, November 28th, I was fortunate to photograph a Merlin at Oak Grove Cemetery. The bird was perched at the top of a tree and took off twice for me, returning to the same branch on the tree after the first takeoff. I haven’t had a Merlin sighting for a couple of years so this was especially rewarding.
Merlin taking off, Oak Grove Cemetery, Medford. Photo by John Harrison.
Merlin, Oak Grove Cemetery, Medford. Photo by John Harrison.
December began with a Cooper’s Hawk at Mount Auburn Cemetery, followed by another appearance by our little coyote Pompom.
Cooper’s Hawk, Mount Auburn Cemetery. Photo by John Harrison.
Joan Kaplan, one of the authors of BUZZ, RUBY, AND THEIR CITY CHICKS, joined me at the cemetery hoping to catch a glimpse of Pompom. We drove around for maybe ten minutes and suddenly saw little Pompom trotting along one of the avenues near the cemetery flagpole.
Coyote Pompom, Mount Auburn Cemetery. Photo by Joan Fleiss Kaplan.
Coyote Pompom, Mount Auburn Cemetery. Photo by Joan Fleiss Kaplan.
We were able to follow her as she sniffed around the area for about fifteen minutes before losing sight of her. Joan’s prayers were more than answered. It was a nice, long look at this striking ‘song dog.’
A Western Tanager, a rare visitor to this coast, was discovered recently at Dunback Meadow in Lexington. Dead In Good Company co-editor and photographer Kim Nagy didn’t catch the Western Tanager at Dunback Meadow. She did it the hard way…She went to Guatemala on a birding expedition and saw the Western Tanager there, as well as some other beauties.
Western Tanager, Guatemala. Photo by Kim Nagy.
Here are a few of her special Guatemala moments.
Townsend’s Warbler, Guatemala. Photo by Kim Nagy.
Hermit Warbler, Guatemala. Photo by Kim Nagy.
Green Violetear, Guatemala. Photo by Kim Nagy.
Summer Tanager, Guatemala. Photo by Kim Nagy.
In New Hampshire recently Kim Nagy saw a new (for her) breed of Wild Turkey, the Royal Palm,
This is an American heritage breed developed in the 1920’s. We wish we could see more of those mixed in with the usual turkeys we see.
Royal Palm Turkey, New Hampshire. Photo by Kim Nagy.
This exciting wildlife year is drawing to an end. We are all hoping that the magnificent Snowy Owls return to the area in good numbers. Dare we think irruption? And we are hoping that the Mount Auburn Cemetery Great Horned Owls have a successful nest. And we hope that 2017 is as satisfying as this past year has been. Have a joyous holiday season.
Super Moon, Arlington. Photo by Jim Renault.
Volcano Fuego erupting, Guatemala. Photo by Kim Nagy.
Great Horned Owls, Mount Auburn Cemetery. Photo by John Harrison.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!