Monday, April 02, 2007

Park Ave. Peregrine Falcons: 2 April 2007

299 Park Ave.
Image by Ben Cacace
(31-Mar 6:21pm EDT)

420mm | ISO: 80 | Shutter: 1/125s | Aperture: f/5.6

I left the office late and didn't think to go birding but since there was still a few minutes of daylight left I headed downstairs to observe the Peregrine Falcons. It was worthwhile since I got to see a phenomenal stoop and the first evening roost of either falcon.

I arrived at 6:45pm, about 35 minutes before sunset, and a falcon was already perched on the northwest corner of 299 Park Ave. (‘UBS Building’) between 49th & 48th St. on the east side of Park Ave.

I started taking photos and missed the moment when the Peregrine moved. This was around 6:52pm. I kept an eye on the buildings and noticed a falcon taking off from 299 Park Ave. from a point a bit further south from where I first spotted it. This was around 7:00p.

The flight display over the next few minutes was spectacular even though it was purely functional. The falcon took off from 299 Park Ave. and dove directly towards the highest point of a building due west. The heights of both buildings were about the same. It perched in a space 12 openings from the north edge of the building.

After settling in for minute or so it headed back out and started making clockwise circles over Park Ave. When the Peregrine came close to the face of 299 Park Ave. it flipped over and plunged vertically along the face of the skyscraper. A breathtaking sight.

When it leveled out it was at the exact height it needed in order to perch in the opening of a building and did this flawlessly. I still can't believe how fast and accurate this maneuver was and that it perched in the opening with seemingly little effort. This spot was 6 spaces from the building's north edge.

Within a minute it made a powered flight up the face of 299 Park Ave. and perched on one of the vertical metal strips that are so popular with the newer buildings. It remained on this perch from 7:02pm until I left the site well after sunset at 7:50pm. This is the first roosting site I've spotted for either of these Peregrines.