Site Monitoring 5/24/08

Last week we had a temperature of 98 with hot sun, hot breezes, thin
shade. Today it was 45-50, cold wind, overcast skies, sprinkles.
Hard to believe it was the same place a week later.

Cheryl and I arrived on the hilltop at 9:21, having hiked in to the hilltop opposite the cliff site.

One eyas was standing on some prey, eating. Both falcon and tiercel
were on Sentinel Rock.

A few minutes later, the second eyas moved from the left rear of the
cave to the right side. The tiercel flew off.

At 9:30 the falcon flew into the scrape and ate the bird the eyas had
been eating. We heard wailing. At 9:43, she flew to Sentinel and at
10:03 she flew north wailing.

Both eyases are up briefly, then they lie down side by side. We are
thinking one male and one female. But at 1/3 mile away, we are still
not certain.

10:20 we hear cakking in front of the nest rock and one peregrine
flies past. We see the falcon on Bindi Rock.

She is looking around. We see a man in a blue jacket, red packpack ,
grey hair, and binoculars on the trail directly behind Bindi Rock. He
and Cheryl look through their binos at each other. He moves north,
stopping periodically to look down through his binoculars. On
Thursday someone posted to a birding listserve seeing two downy
peregrine chicks at this sits and described perfectly how to find
them, despite the policy of Birding Ethics (from
the American Birding Association) against the revealing of nests of
rare birds. Based on the way he is looking for something specific, we
think this is the person who posted this site or someone who read
about it and is looking for the scrape. It is not a random birder.

At 10:27, the falcon flies to Sentinel and two minutes later the same
man is now moving back along the trail to the south, again stopping
periodically to scan with his binoculars. We don’t think he’s found
the peregrines because he doesn’t stop and look for long. This even
though the falcon is sitting on a rock about 200 feet in front of him.
He continues to move south down the trail and out of sight.

At 11:02 we hear cakking. The falcon is alert and both eyases are
up, preening.

At 11:32 we find the tiercel on South Rock. Ten minutes later he
flies toward the nest scrape and stoops above the climbing rock. The falcon
remains on Sentinel.

At 12:28 the falcon flies to South Rock and sits just above where the
tiercel had been sitting earlier.
12:31 one eyas is on the porch flapping. At 12:46 the second eyas
joins the first. Both are flapping their wings. One eyas stands on
the edge and looks down.

At 12:54 the falcon flapped and jumped and disappeared behind South
Rock. A minute later she is on Sentinel wailing. The eyases are now
in the rear of the cave also wailing.

12:56 Both eyases are again on the porch wailing. A swift flies into
its nest in the ceiling of the cave and one eyas watches it come and
go. As it’s watching, it trips on the edge of the porch. It recovers
its balance.

1:07 one eyas is wailing and walks to the far right edge of the porch,
still wailing.

1:13 the falcon flies, e-chups and the tiercel flies in from the north
and there is a side-by-side food exchange. The falcon goes into the
scrape and the eyases run to the food. She feeds them.

At 1:19 she leaves and returns to Sentinel. The eyases are on the
porch and seem to be watching her. They do some head bobbing. One
is particularly good at preening its tail feathers, pulling and
separating feathers.

1:45 both eyases are wailing, sitting together on the porch. We get a
good look at them. One is larger and lighter in color. The smaller
one is darker on the breast. Both have some brown on the sides of
their breast. We’ve decided it’s one male and one female.

We get distracted for awhile. Cheryl starts to lean back on her
backpack and sees a pair of brown ears coming up the hill below us.
She first thinks mountain lion and then realizes it’s a young coyote.
He sees us and stops. He sits and watches us and we watch him. He
sticks his muzzle in the air and sniffs, then turns and sniffs again,
turns to the other side and sniffs. He opens his mouth and tastes the
air, then sniffs again. He starts barking at us. I pulled out my
phone and started to record him and his barking. This goes on for
several minutes and we get up to discourage him. He turns around and
starts to the right and downhill. Just as he disappears, we hear him
bark again. We walk down hill toward him and he moves to the right
away from us. He’s going to be trouble some day. If we see him
again, we will be more aggressive to scare him

2:28 the falcon flies to South Rock, this time sitting on top.

At 2:30 two men are climbing up and going behind the nest cave. The
falcon leaves South Rock at 2:42 and stoops behind the nest rock.

At 2:50 both eyases are up and on the porch. We see 4 people heading
for the rock and at 3:04 the tiercel is stooping and cakking. He
attacks again at 3:13 and stoops twice. And again two minutes later.
At 3:17 a girl is climbing through the hole in the rock to the left of
the nest cave. We hear e-chups and wailing.

Two of the people have left and are on another rock to the north. We
hear the others talking somewhere above the climbing rock.

At 3:38 the falcon stoops on a turkey vulture and soars above the nest
cave cakking.

We pack up and leave.

As we are approaching Coyote Alley, we see a very large dark bird take
off from the ground about 100 feet in front of us, along the trail.
It’s a golden eagle. If we’d been a little more alert we might have
been able to see it and stop and get a better look to see if it was
eating. It flies and we follow it with our binoculars. In the air
nearby is a pair of adult redtails, talons down. We watch for a
talon-linked skydance but they move behind some trees on the ridge.
We continue on down the hill and out.

The eyases are 29-30 days old.


05-17-08 Site Monitoring

Cheryl and I planned for an earlier start and earlier end to the day so we wouldn’t be out in the heat in the middle of the day, since expected temperatures were high.

We went in via the route to the hill on the side of the canyon opposite the cliff site.  The eyases were being fed.  They have black around their wing feathers and black around the eyes.  They seem to be about the same size.  Just smaller than the female currently.  My guess is they are both females but they still have some growing to do and this was the only time this day that we saw them together with an adult to compare sizes.

8:59 we hear cakking and the female leaves.  We hear lots of cakking—5 minutes of it, all coming from the area of the nest cave.  We can’t see either adult or any other bird or any other kind of intruder, but we believe the noise and are certain something is around.

The eyases continue to pull at something on the ground in front of them.  They then move out of our sight to the rear of the cave.

At 9:21 the falcon is on Sentinel Rock and a few minutes later she is flying overhead after some TV’s.

At 9:40 she is on a rock on top of the nest cave.  At 9:55 she moves back to Sentinel.

10:18 she flies from Sentinel across the rock face of the nest area, then flies up and to the south.  Five minutes later we again hear cakking in the area of the cave but we again don’t see anything.

10:27  Both peregrines fly fron the east over the ridge behind the cave and both go into the cave.  The female stays and the male leaves.  We hear wailing and e-chups and the eyases are bing fed.  The male heads south and we lose sight of him as he goes past Little Half Dome.

10:30 cakking to the south and the falcon leaves the cave

At 10:49 she returns with food carried in her beak and hops to the back of the cave and again feeds the eyases.

She doesn’t feed them for very long and at 10:52 she take s the bird and leaves.

She is flying with the bird aroudn the canyon and is joined by the male.  They fly togethers, she carrying prey in her talons.  They spend several minutes flying around each other and we wath the aerial ballet.

At 10:56 she again heads back to the scrape and continues to feed the eyases.

And we were expecting with the heat that they would be mostly sitting!

11:08 she leaves.   One eyas toddles from the back of the cave to the old egg scrape area and lays down

11:46 a peregrine is flying over the climbing rock area riding the thermals.  At 11:48 the male flies in from the SE carrying food.  They sail together with wails and e-chups and we watch a food exchange.

The falcon flies around with the food and at 11:53 she again goes into the scrape and feeds the eyas in the back.  One is still asleep i the egg area in the center and isn’t fed.

Who is watching whom?

At 11:56 she leaves.  We hear a lot of wailing and e-chups to the north.  The raves are ‘gronking’ also.

12:02  She is still wailing.  The eyas is waling around in the srape.

12:56 again wailing from the same area in the north.

12:02 the eyas int he front of the scrape is again up.

1:43 the falcon flies from north to south.  The yeas int he front is up and toddling and stretching its’ wings.  It goes to the back of the scrape where the other eyas is.

We pack up at 2:05 and toddle down the hill to the car.  When we get through the Caldecott Tunnel and see Oakland, we see fog coming in through the Golden Gate and we both cheer.  I checked the temperature in the area and find it is 98 degrees.

05-10-08 Site Monitoring

The falcon was sitting in her usual spot on Sentinel Rock when we got
to the top of the hill opposite the nest cave at 9:20.

We could see one eyas in the scrape.

After the falcon did a touch and go landing on the porch, both eyases
were up and stretching.

At 10:52 the falcon is joined by the male who flies by her around
Sentinel several times.

We see our first feeding of the day at 10:55, ending at 11:04

Throughout the morning, the falcon is mostly sitting on Sentinel and
the tiercel does an occasional fly by. Cheryl sees an in-air food
delivery, falcon talons-up under the male at 12:24 and we watch

another feeding.

At 2:18, the tiercel delivers some food to a crack to the right of the
large central cave. The falcon flies down to the area but doesn’t go
into the crack. A RTHA is chased away by the falcon.

At 2:54 4 climbers go from the northern area to behind the nest
rock. We’ve never seen this particular approach to the area. They
don’t go to the top, but to an area just to the left of the cave. At
3:05 one young man appears to the left of the cave, less than 20 feet
from the opening

The tiercel has been sitting on a rock above and to the south of
Sentinel (we’ve named it Bindi Rock for the round rock inclusion
centered in what looks like the forehead of a face)

At 3:10 the tiercel dive bombs the climber who yells and disappears
behind the rock. The tiercel dive bombs 4 times and we hear shouting
each time. The climbers quickly climb down. Several times we hear
things like “he dove on me” Yes, he did.

At 3:18, the falcon is back on Sentinel and the tiercel is on Bindi.

Usually after someone is climbing in the area it takes the pair about
1/2 hour to return to the nest scrape, but this seems to have been a
bigger intrusion and we decide to wait until they have gotten
comfortable and the eyases have been fed.

At 3:48 the falcon flies and hits an RTHA north of the rock outcrop. She
returns at 3:50 and lands on the top of the nest cave rock.

At 3:58 she returns to Sentinel and the tiercel is still on Bindi.

4:07 the tiercel flies into the scrape and goes to the eyases.

4:10 the falcon flies to a hole in the side of the rock adjacent to
the trail to the top of the climbing rock. She disappears completely inside
and then sits for a little while with her head sticking out. She
flies around in front of the rock face and then disappears.

4:14 the tiercel sits on the porch and the eyases are standing in the scrape.

4:30 the falcon returns to Sentinel with prey. She lands on the far
south edge of Sentinel and drags a HUGE pigeon (missing it’s head, but
not plucked) to the top of Sentinel. She is having trouble. We tell
her to eat some before she tries to carry it up to the scrape (until
we think with our little bird brains that the weight will be
transferred from the pigeon to the falcon and won’t make the job any

She rests until 4:51 when she struggles with it to the cave and feed the eyases.

We leave.

05/06/08 The Tiercel’s Band is Read

I climbed up the back side of the outcropping and arrived at 9:43. I moved off the ridge trail down a side trail into the sage brush, well south of the nest cave. The female is on Sentinel wailing and the male is on the scrape.

At 9:47 there was a nest exchange with e-chups.

At 10 I heard e-chups and there was a food delivery. At 10:27 the female is on sentinel, softly e-chupping and softly wailing. At 10:29 the female goes to the scrape. She is spending most of the time off the eyases so they are thermoregulating well.

At 10:46 I hear wailing and 15 minutes later cakking across the canyon. The tiercel is chasing 2 redtails. I move out of the brush and up the trail to the north, closer to the nest outcropping and hide behind a rock in the sage. Bees are buzzing all around and the sage smell and the heat and the view lull me.

At 11:16 the falcon is on Sentinel wailing. She e-chups, wails and looks around. At 11:24 she goes into the scrape. At 12:19 the tiercel visits with e-chups and then flies south.

At 12:28 he is in the area in front of the scrape flying back and forth, stooping, seeming to hunt. He does this until 12:54 when he brings a very small bird to the rock directly in front of me. He is eating and I slowly and gently move the scope and focus it on his leg.

I have a clear view as he bends over and eats. He sees me move or he hears me and looks up. He turns and I see the other side of the band and confirm the number. He looks at me with a piece of meat in his mouth, just staring, not seeming to be alarmed. I really want to pick up my camera and get a photo of him with the food in his mouth but I don’t want to scare him. He leaves and I reach for my note paper and pen and write down the band number. Nothing would be worse than getting close enough to read it and forgetting it on the way down. It’s a 3 over a sideways 6 (take a 6 and rotate it a quarter turn clockwise.)

I wait a half hour, and leave. When I email in the band number I find out that he was hatched on a bridge in Long Beach in 1996 and hacked out at Vandenburg Air Force Base. At 12, he is old for a peregrine in the wild and he has come a long way to nest here. I’m still not quite believing it was that easy. After spending a month watching and knowing where he liked to sit, it still isn’t a sure thing to get into position and hope he comes, all without scaring him, alarming him enough to get defensive. And he still needs to be close enough and had to bend over to preen or eat so the band shows. I’m so grateful.

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

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

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

Site #1 Monitoring 04-29-08

Cheryl and I got to the meadow at about 9:40. No one was in sight but
very soon a peregrine was flying and chasing away anything in the
area. We thought it was the male but had no reason to ID it as such
(too high up to ID)

We missed a nest exchange, seeing the male go in but not seeing anyone
come out. Being worriers, we waited 20 minutes pacing and fretting.
I climbed the hill to check. The falcon was flying around and there was the tiercel on the scrape so we worried for nothing. I climbed back down
(after getting startled by two turkeys gobbling right in front of me
when I had my eye to the scope). Just when I was below the tree level
and couldn’t see anything, I heard a nest exchange.

When I got down, Cheryl and I decided to explore so we headed south on
the trail. We went about a mile, maybe less, and entered the adjacent
Park. A map showed a trail behind the nest cave.

When we got back to the meadow, Rocky was in the heart-shaped hole
preening. He didn’t stay long and neither did we. By then it was
almost 2 pm.

We headed back to the car and drove to the access road (exploring a closer
road on the way–it ended in a private road). We found the trail we
wanted to explore and headed up. And up it was with
several switchbacks. There is a very nice peregrine bathing pond just
behind and down from the nest rock outcroppings—might be a good place to stake out.

We arrived on top after an hour of hiking. It’s a wide trail to start
then at the top narrows, and narrows further. I was wearing short
sleeves and now have scratches on my arms. We made our way to the
back side of the nest cave and sat. We saw one of them way out on a
far ridge, coming closer. We scooted back farther under the sagebrush
since we weren’t wearing hardhats and felt like we were too close.
The peregrine came toward us but veered off to the east. We saw it
again later, and again it didn’t come to the nest area.

We left at 5 pm and stopped at a place where we could see the side of
the nest cave area. There’s a cut out on the back that is
whitewashed. We saw the back of Sentinel Rock. All of these are
possible band-reading spots.

We headed back down, tired but exhilarated at our adventure and
discovery. I had three ticks.

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.