23 October, 2016

Pausing in Limón, Costa Rica

Island Girl reached Limón, Costa Rica on the evening of 21 October, and is temporarily remaining in or near the city as she normally does at this stage in her migration. Presumably there's a lot of prey in this Caribbean seaport city, and the city has several large cell towers on which she likes to perch. Yesterday (22 Oct) she left the city for a few hours (to a forested area about 5 kilometers south), which is also typical, and then returned again to spend the night.

Members of the Asociacion Ornitologica de Costa Rica enjoy tracking Island Girl's progress as she visits their country every year, and for those interested, their Facebook page is updated daily with many professional quality photos taken by their members of beautiful and exotic birds. With over 840 species of birds, Costa Rica is one of the world's top destinations for avid birders.

21 October, 2016

Island Girl in Central America

Island Girl reached Guatemala on 17 October, and by late afternoon of 20 October had flown another 973 km (605 mi) as she passed through Guatemala, Honduras, the northeastern tip of El Salvador, and most of Nicaragua.  She had been following her usual route through the interior highlands of those countries, and her latest GPS signal on the 20th shows her veering more easterly back toward the Caribbean coastline in southeast Nicaragua.  She will typically stay with the Caribbean coast through Costa Rica and part of Panama before crossing over to the Pacific side for the remainder of her journey.

17 October, 2016

Island Girl is in Southern Mexico and Headed for Guatemala

After following the Gulf Coast of Mexico until just past Veracruz, Island Girl has now moved inland, and to higher ground, as she continues southeast through the state of Chiapas, Mexico toward Guatemala. 
She traveled 322 km (200 mi) on Sunday, remaining north of the Sierra Madres, and roosted in a forested area last night at an elevation of 1198 m (3931 ft). She was 200 km (124 mi) from the Guatemala border.

This is her usual and most direct route through southern Mexico and Central America, which she will probably follow through Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua before reaching the Caribbean Coast in Costa Rica.

14 October, 2016

Island Girl Is On The Move Again

Island Girl is on the move again after spending over four days in Tampico.  Sometime after 10:00 (local time) on Thursday she flew south for 152 km (94 mi), still remaining close to the Gulf of Mexico shoreline, and reached the city of Tuxpan on the Tuxpan River, 11 kilometers upstream from the Gulf.  She roosted last night on what appears to be a tall microwave tower (visible in Google Street View) in a residential area about 200 meters from the river.  She’s now approximately halfway between Tampico and Veracruz.

13 October, 2016

Resting Up in Tampico, Mexico

After reaching Mexico sometime on 8 October, Island Girl followed the Gulf Coast farther south to Tampico, a major city and seaport on the western edge of the Gulf of Mexico.  She was still there as of Thursday morning, 13 October, but very active and visiting all parts of the city. There is obviously lots of prey available in seaports like this, and she's probably refueling before continuing her journey south.  The weather in Tampico has been warm and sunny for the past few days so that's not a factor in her current stopover, although occasionally we have seen her sit tight for awhile during very stormy weather. She will most likely pause again when she reaches Limón, Costa Rica, where she has spent several days during most of the southern migrations for which we have tracked her.

Island Girl's favorite overnight roost spots in large cities like this have been large cell phone towers, but even outside of cities she will often find other sorts of towers or antennas on which to spend a night and survey her surroundings. And now that Google Street View covers even Tampico, these roost sites can be viewed on Google Earth - although not in real time, of course.  For those not familiar with the technology (assuming you already have Google Earth on your computer): first navigate to Island Girl's coordinates (lat/long), available on her FRG web map; move your mouse to the top right corner of the Google Earth screen to highlight the controls; then drag the orange "Pegman" figure to Island Girl's location. When the view shifts to "Street View", use the right/left arrow keys to rotate the view horizontally, and drag the screen up or down to look up or down, in order to spot Island Girl's cell tower or other high point. (The up/down arrow keys move you along the current street).

Now 26 days into her migration, Island Girl has covered about 60 percent of the total distance.

08 October, 2016

Island Girl Has Almost Reached Mexico

Island Girl followed the Texas coastline for 333 km (207 mi) yesterday (Friday, 7 October), and nearly reached Mexico.  Her southwesterly course took her farther inland by the end of the day;  she roosted last night in the town of Pharr, 11 km from the Rio Grande (and Mexico), and 100 km (62 mi) west of South Padre Island and the Gulf of Mexico.  Google Earth shows her location to be a small strip mall, where the tallest nearby object appears to be a large billboard (visible on Google Street View).

07 October, 2016

Resting Up At Point Comfort, Texas

Island Girl has continued to stay with the mainland instead of taking an over-water route across the Gulf, and has remained near one location for a couple of days, presumably because of a plentiful food supply or just resting up, as she typically will do a few times during each migration. Her current rest stop is at a large chemical/industrial complex on the Texas Gulf Coast, in the small aptly-named town of Point Comfort.  This complex is full of large tanks, towers, and construction cranes, making for ideal overnight roost sites, and is adjacent to Matagorda Bay, 120 km (75 mi) northeast of Corpus Christi.

04 October, 2016

Island Girl Has Reached the Gulf of Mexico

Over the past 3 days, Island Girl has continued south through Arkansas and then southwest through Louisiana, reaching (almost) the Gulf Coast by Sunday night (02 Oct). She barely crossed the border into Texas before stopping for the day.  The overnight GPS signal shows her roost location in the middle of a street adjoining an oil refinery and tank farm in the town of Orange, due east of Beaumont, Texas,  but it’s safe to say she was actually roosting on one of the many nearby towers or stacks.    She was only 1.9 kilometers from the Sabine River and Louisiana border, and 34 km (21 mi) from the Gulf of Mexico.  On Monday she continued southwest through Texas parallel to the Gulf Coast, rather than flying across a corner of the Gulf as she has typically done in the past few years – perhaps because she reached the Gulf Coast at a point farther west than usual this year.

For those who are interested, Island Girl's tracking page (http://frg.org/track_pefa12.htm) can be reached from the FRG website main page by clicking "Field Research" (in the top navigation bar), then "The Southern Cross Peregrine Project", then "Click here for Tracking Maps", then "Island Girl".  Or, just enter http://frg.org/track_pefa12.htm directly into your browser.  The tracking page is normally updated every day when Island Girl is migrating, even if this blog isn't being updated.  That page also contains links to the complete tracks for all of Island Girl's previous migrations.

01 October, 2016

Island Girl Begins Her 2016 Southbound Migration

Island Girl began her 2016 southern migration, the eighth one that we've tracked, on 17 September this year, a few days sooner than usual. Data reception was spotty during the first few days because her backpack solar-rechargeable battery had been depleted, probably because of cloud cover or stormy weather. She didn't cover a lot of distance during the first few days, either, moving slowly southwest across the Ungava Peninsula of northern Quebec after crossing Hudson Strait from Baffin Island. By 28 September she had passed through Quebec and the southeastern corner of Ontario, and crossed into Michigan. She often covers greater distances each day when passing through the central United States (in either direction), and this year was no exception. Over the next three days of flying, through late afternoon Friday (30 Sep), she traversed upper Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, and most of Arkansas, and was approaching Louisiana and heading for the Gulf Coast. She had covered 1299 km (807 mi) in those three days, and 3897 km (2422 mi) since leaving Baffin Island.

In four of the past five years she has followed this approximate route to the Gulf Coast in south central Louisiana and then flown southwest across the Gulf of Mexico, making landfall at various places in Mexico or the southern tip of Texas. 2014 was similar except in that year she departed from northern Florida, not Louisiana.  By contrast, in the first 2 years that we tracked her (2009 and 2010), Island Girl departed from the tip of Florida and crossed the Gulf via Cuba, so this might represent a permanent change from her earlier routes.  We have no idea how old Island Girl is, or how many times she made this migration before we started tracking her.

20 April, 2016

Here we go....

Island Girl has started her eighth migration north. On Tuesday, she departed the Putu area and flew for 323 km (204 miles) during her inaugural flight.

She followed the standard coastal range route as she often does at this time of year.

She flew past the cities of San Antonio and Valparaiso, (passing well west of Santiago, the capitol) and eventually stopped for the night on a dry, sparsely vegetated ridge top at 4444 feet elevation.

She was well inland, sleeping about 41 km (28 miles) from the Pacific.

Although her departure was two days later than any other year, she did begin on Clayton Whites 80th birthday.

Clayton is one of the leading peregrine experts in the world and had given us our first seed money grant to begin this study so many years ago, He helped us start this whole thing for which we are all extremely grateful.

Happy birthday Dr. White!

19 April, 2016

Still in Putu this morning

Writing this on Tuesday afternoon.

Don reports that we are still getting consistent, if weak signals, every day from Island Girl.

She is still hanging out at her usual area near Putu.

We are now one day past her latest departure date of 17 April.

Is she leaving later because she is older and declining in ability? Or is she now so experienced that she needs less time to make her migration. Or something completely different?

Difficult to answer of course.

But it appears that she will be leaving later this year.

17 April, 2016

Still in Putu

Don received some signals this Sunday morning. Although low strength, it shows Island Girl is still in the Putu area and has not departed north as yet.

Posting from cell phone in case font is wrong size, sorry!

Go Island Girl, go!!!

16 April, 2016

Quick weather summary

Christian Gonzalez in Chile reports the following...

"Weather is very bad. A large frontal system with thick cloud layer at Putu since Thursday."

That explains the low strength of the battery..

16 April 2016.....Awaiting signals to Begin Season Eight.

Hi Everyone,

We are waiting to obtain the most recent signals from Island Girl. Don McCall reports no signals for the last two days.

This is pretty normal at Putu in Chile for this time of year. Her southern range is located right on the Chilean coast line and we have often experienced fog in the area at this time, sort of like San Francisco, California, in the fall.

If there is no sun, the solar panel cannot charge her battery and store then send her GPS coordinates.

We do know that Island Girl was doing just fine two days ago and had a normal austral summer season yet again.

I just e-mailed Christian Gonzalez in Chile to ask what the weather conditions are like there today. Should hear back shortly.

So, with luck, we will see her start to move at any moment. She may even have left already.

Her normal northbound departure dates over the last seven years have ranged from 11-17 April. In the last three years, as she becomes more experienced, she has left on later dates, i.e. 17, 16 and 17 April, respectively, or right about now.

This will be her eighth migration north carrying a GPS solar powered back pack PTT. We know that she had completed at least two migrations prior to being tagged so she is a minimum of 10 years old, and very possibly older.

Her remarkable longevity and stamina are amazing and we are stand in awe of her.

We are pretty sure that she is setting a world record for the number of successful round trip migrations for a tagged peregrine. We've talked with most of the other peregrine people and have not heard of any others lasting this long. If we are incorrect, please let us know.

So, welcome back to all of her fans around the world and let's see what happens this year.