3/10/09 Peregrine Site Monitoring

I spent the morning at a golden eagle’s nest.  Saw two prairie falcons around the nest.  Very strange place for prairies.  One sat on a bare tree that the GOEA’s usually use as a observation point.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

This afternoon I went out to the peregrine eyrie.  Got a ride in the 4-wheel drive with the ranger.  The Blanca dog came along–she hated the ride but was very quiet, even though she drooled in her anxiety mode.

We got out to the meadow and there were two or three people up on top of the nest cave.  They saw the ranger and the vehicle and immediately disappeared.  I didn’t see them come down so I don’t know where they went.  That was just before 3:30.

At 3:39 the tiercel appeared.  He flew to the south rocks area and rode a thermal up.  I could hear wailing and he hit a turkey vulture a couple of times.  At 3:50, he came to the nest cave and sat on the porch.  After a half hour of nodding off, a little wailing, he moved to the inside of the cave.  I could sometimes see him but mostly he was out of sight.   I didn’t see the falcon or hear her.

I left shortly after 5.  I did get some nice photos of copulating turkey vultures.

Turkey Vultures mating

Turkey Vultures mating

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Site #1 Monitoring 05/03/08

We got there a bit late today (gym and sleeping in was critical this
morning) so it was just after 10 when we got there, hiking in to the top of the hill opposite the cave outcropping. (Cheryl, Joy, Mary)

The falcon was on the scrape
At 10:18 she left and we heard cakking to the north.
She returned at 10:20 and we were able to see two bobbleheads as she
came back and before she settled in.

11:31 She again left the scrape and returned a minute later.

12:10 Again she leaves. She flew to Sentinel Rock and wailed. A
minute later she left and headed north

At 12:12 she returned with a large bird and fed the eyases. Again, we saw two.

At 12:22 she was done feeding and she flew off at 12:27

She came back at 12:34 and landed in a small hole to the left of the
nest cave. She flew north and circled back to the scrape and
e-chupped.

12:52 she leaves again
1:01 She returns
1:02 She leaves, heading straight down from the scrape and flies
behind pyramid rock and lands on Sentinel Rock.

1:03 She flies to the east and at 1:08 she is flying from the north to
the south at eye level.

At 1:15 she returns to the scrape and sits on the porch for awhile,
then heads back to the babies

She has been periodically shaking her head for awhile, each time we’ve
had her in sight.

We haven’t seen the male yet.

1:15 Cheryl leaves
1:23 The pigeons leave the rock face and I see a small peregrine
flying high above the rock outcropping, It circles up and to the
south

At 1:49 the falcon comes out to the porch and settles down to sunbathe
At 1:58 She leaves

At 1:59 Again I see the pigeons leave the rock face and the tiercel
flies in from the south, passing the cave. He is carrying a large
bird. Simultaneously the falcon returns and flies downward behind
pyramid rock. She goes to Sentinel Rock where she has the bird and is
plucking and eating. The tiercel is sitting on the porch

At 2:03, the falcon returns to the scrape and the male flies off. She
brings the carcass. We hear e-chups and she feeds the eyases.

At 2:13 from the north we hear cakking and see a RTHA. The RTHA is
chased to the south in front of us and is hit by the tiercel.

2:16 Feeding is over and the falcon flies off.

2:31 She is back on the scrape.

2:45 We leave.

We have confirmed two eyases. The weather was near perfect, sunny,
light breeze, approx 65-70 degrees. Western bluebirds sat in the
trees on either side of us. We saw turkeys on the way out, 7 males
and 3 females. One male did a tail-spread display. No coyotes today,
either seen or heard. No one climbing the rock outcropping today while we were
there.

Peregrine Site Monitoring 04/26/08 – Hatch!

Cheryl, Paulette, Kanit and I arrived at the hilltop view point at 9:45. The falcon is on the scrape and the tiercel is to the left of the ‘refrigerator’.

At 10:20 the male flies and at 10:24 he flies into the scrape, e-chupping. And then out, similar to Thursday evening’s in-and-out activity.

At 11:08, the falcon leaves and we hear wailing. At 11:10 the male returns and enters the scrape — with food!!

At 11:12 the falcon returns, wailing. The male eats one bite, then leaves at 11:13. with e-chups.

11:35 Two climbers are calling from on top of the rock outcrop to the north. The male is in his preening spot in the heart shaped hole.

12:14 The falcon comes to the porch. She spreads her tail out, spreads her wings and puts her head down and lays on the rock. A minute later she returns to the scrape.

12:20 She is again sunbathing on the porch.

At 12:32 She is again on the porch. looking around, then heads back to the scrape.

12:42, the male returns with e-chups. At 12:44, the falcon flies to a food stash, then heads south.

The falcon is cakking to the south and the male seems to be listening. At 12:49 the female is back again, with food. We see her feeding babies!!

We have a hatch!

At 12:54 she is done feeding and she eats. When feeding, she is moving her head to two different spots, bobbing up and down feeding.

12:55 she settles back down

1:12 and two men are on top of the nest rock

1:14 the falcon moves to the porch and the men are leaving. The male returns and then leaves at 1:15. The falcon returns to the scrape.

1:17 The same two men move to the front of the rock. The falcon is barely seen, making herself small in the scrape. The men are leaning down over the rock face, throwing rocks, trying to get them into the cave. The falcon continues to make herself small in the scrape. I take several photos showing the men clearly. (photos later sent to naturalist in adjacent jurisdiction who works with scrape jurisdiction to post signs asking people to stay out of the sensitive nesting area)

At 12:24 the men leave

1:29 The falcon leaves. At 1:32 the male returns.

1:55 We hear cakking from the west. The female is following a golden eagle which flies in from the west over our heads. The male leaves the scrape.

1:59 The male returns

2:04 The male is off the babies, looking around. At 2:05, he settles back on the babies.

We hear quail bubbling in the brush to our north.

At 2:35 the male is talking to the eyases. At 2:40 the falcon flies up, circles, chases an RTHA and disappears. At 3:33 the male moves onto the porch and flies off a minute later. At 3:39 is he back.

3:40 The falcon brings food and the male leaves. We hear e-chupping to the babies, which are being fed.

We pack up and leave, having seen several feedings.  On the way out, we see several coyotes.

Nest Site #1 Monitoring 04-13-08

Cheryl and I got to the site around 9:00 after the hike in, looking for the coyote. No coyote but the hike along the creek was beautiful.

Usually, just about time we step into the meadow, we hear peregrine wailing. This time nothing but it didn’t take long. Very soon, a nest exchange with the male in and the female in a hole below the food storage crevice, wailing.

Nothing for a hour and a half, and then she flies by north to south, circling, rising, headed SW and disappeared over the ridge. A half hour later, she returns, circles and sits above the ‘refrigerator’, preening. We heard e-chups and she leaves and lands on the top of the south rock outcropping.

At 11:20 two redtails start to fly past the outcropping and she cak-cak-caks and they disappear, not daring to come closer to the nest. We can see she has an empty crop.

At 11:30 she flies, circling upwards and flies high, heading east behind the nest rock.

At 1:20 there is a quick nest exchange with some wailing. And a half hour later the male returns from the north and circle-climbs to the south. The resident cooper’s hawk flies in front of the nest cave. They seem to tolerate the Coop.

At 2 he again flies by to the north, passing over the nest ledge. At 2:05 he returns from the area east of the nest ledge and heads south with lots of wailing. He sits on south rock. He has a full crop. He does some ‘bird yoga’ and a double wing stretch.

At 2:35 he flies, circles south rock 3 times, flies north, passes the nest rock without calling and continues on north. We leave at 3:20. It’s clear that incubation is still proceeding well. Their nest exchanges are fast and efficient.

During the afternoon we also saw a turkey vulture circling with a second TV.  The first one was carrying greenery in its talons.  Nest building material?  A gift?    A short time later, the two stopped on a rock to do some mating.

On our way out, we see an adult redtail with prey, sitting in a tree. It flies to the ground in a cow pasture, with the prey in its talons. After a short time, it returns and circles over our heads, lands briefly in a tree, then heads off again. It looks like it’s carrying a partially eaten ground squirrel (based on the long tail of the prey). I get a couple of photos but the light is harsh and she insists on flying off into the sun.

Site #1 Monitoring 04-08-08

Again a trip out to the site by myself.  Again wailing as I got there around 9 am.  This time it took me a minute to find the first peregrine, the female.  It was to the left of the ‘refrigerator’, eating.

It didn’t stay long.  A last few pulls on the tendons of the bird it was eating and it flew.  The male left the nest and the female took its place.   I heard the male as it flew to the west.

I climbed the trail and set up in the same place as before.  After about an hour, I climbed higher.  I got as far as I could go carrying tripod, scope, backpack with camera gear, and came back down to a wide area of the trail.  It gave me a good view of the food storage crevice and I could see the top left side of the rock atop the nest cave.

Turkey vultures were out.  I heard that deep deep buzz of a hummingbird and saw a rufous feeding on the sage, just 6 feet away.  It continued to come and go for a half hour and then was replaced by an Anna’s.  I stayed until 11:30, then started down.

Getting up and down was easier this time.  My legs are getting stronger from all the climbing and I’ve learned the tricky places in the trail.  It’s still not at all easy.

I set up again in the meadow but neither saw nor heard the peregrines so I headed out, thinking of lunch and a cold iced tea.  Thinking especially of the iced tea because I’d forgotten a water bottle—#1 rule, don’t forget the water.

On the way out, I looked down into the creek and saw a coyote hunting near the creek bank.  It saw me and started back into the brush so I took half a dozen steps back and set down my backpack to put the lens on my camera.  It had come back to the creek and moved down about 25 yards.  I followed, hiding behind any bush I could find.  I got a few photos of it before it moved on ahead out of sight.  It was appropriately skittish, unlike the coyotes in the Marin Headlands.  I did not want to scare it but even more I didn’t want to approach it at all and give it any ideas that humans are safe.

A little farther on I heard a bird singing in the brush.  I think it was a thrush.  I’ll have to look at the photos and compare them to the field guides.  Long skinny beak, yellow.  Long striped tail.  I didn’t see a spotted chest.  Beautiful song.