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.

20 October, 2015

Saturday in Limon, Costa Rica, 17 October

Once again, Island Girl has crossed into Costa Rica and arrived in the city of Limon. She had flown 177 km (110 miles) during the day and stopped off where she has been several times before. She sure likes it here.

She will often remain in this city for several days, sometimes even longer, while feeding on migrant birds like Yellow-billed Cuckoos.

Our friend and colleague, Marco Saborio, who lives in the capitol of Costa Rica, San Jose, drove all the way down to the Caribbean coastal city once again and looked for her during the weekend. He had hoped to photograph her there as he has done before.

Unfortunately, during his two days there, he was unable to find her. Too many towers, not enough good signals and some dangerous neighborhoods all worked against it.

So she is now in Limon once again.

Some of you have noticed that the maps have not been updated for several days.

There is a reason for this.

It has been suggested that it might not be a good idea to pinpoint her location while she is in Limon. Apparently there may be the potential for harm coming to her in this city.

So we have decided to hold off on publishing her location for the entirety of her stay there.

We will resume reporting again on the day she moves on.

Please be advised that she is still somewhere in Limon, knocking off birds and getting fat.

Taking her time crossing Nicaragua

On Friday, 16 October, our falcon flew SE across Nicaragua, taking her time while paralleling the eastern shoreline of Lago Nicaragua.

She passed over some extensive tropical forest en route to her destination at days end. She had flown another 211 km (131 miles) before putting in for the night in a huge area of extensive tropical rain forest in the Reserva Biologica Indio Maiz.

She was only 26 miles from the ocean and the border with Costa Rica was just 10 miles south.

Honduras into Nicaragua

On Thursday, 15 October, Island Girl continued flying SE through Central America. She left Honduras and flew another 229 km (142 miles). That took her into central Nicaragua where she stopped off on a mountain ridge about 56 miles north of Lago Nicaragua.

She slept in a small patch of forest at 2,275' elevation atop this ridge.

Sorry about the delayed reports. I have been working in the field on a series of bird surveys and this is the first chance I have had to report.

15 October, 2015

Central America

Island Girl continued her journey across Central America on Wednesday. On Day 25, she flew across the rest of Guatemala and then did something we haven't seen before.

For the first time that we know about, she flew right into El Salvador.

Usually she flies around this country during this segment of her migration. But yesterday, she flew across the entire country, turning east on the slopes of a volcano situated just northwest of the capitol city of San Salvador.

She covered another 521 km (324 miles) before crossing into eastern Honduras.

She selected another mountain ridge and slept at 2,822' elevation. Again, it appears that this area has been logged. The site is about 41 km (25 miles) south of the capitol city of Tegucigalpa and not far from the border with Nicaragua.

Her progress this year is similar to her fall migration from 2013 but about 9 days longer than in 2012.

Starting Across Central America-Guatemala

On Tuesday, Island Girl left Mexico after flying down a sort of central valley and paralleling a large reservoir (La Angostura). She put on some speed and traveled 336 km (209 miles) across Chiapas before crossing over into Guatemala and ascending up into the mountains.

This is one of the most gorgeous areas I have ever been and the indigenous people are strikingly handsome and beautiful wearing their classic and colorful embroidered clothing. Completely unique culture. Wish I could go back there....

As before, Island Girl is choosing  to follow a route down the mountain spine of Central America. I am sure it is much cooler at that elevation and I would also expect more atmospheric lift along the ridges.

She finally put in on a high forested ridge at 2,583 m (8,492'), by far the highest she has slept on this leg of her trip. Google Earth shows a massive amount of logging in this area.

She was about 160 km (100 miles) from the Pacific coast.

13 October, 2015

From my colleague, Oscar Beingolea, in Peru

He writes,

" I have been told that two peregrines are already at wintering sites in Peru. One was observed by Fernando Angulo living in Chiclayo.This adult male arrived in October 11th.

The second one was observed by Renzo Piana  living in Lima. It arrived on October 7th."

Oscar is a leading expert on peregrines in Peru and has been studying and banding them there for many, many  years. He has a huge amount of experience with these birds. 

In the Peruvian coastal desert, he sees migrant North American peregines, both tundrius and anatum as well as the local South American subspecies, Falco peregrinus cassini.

I know that he always looks forward to the arrival of the North American birds each year in mid-October.

Oscar also documented the first peregrines to ever breed in Lima many years back. Quite unusual.

I am not sure if they breed in any other South American cities. Data anyone?

Crossing the Isthmus

Island Girl continued along a SE bearing on Monday, travelling another 254 km (158 miles) across the coastal plain. Once again, she is approaching the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. If peregrines have the capability of memory, she must know this region very well, having crossed it at least 18 times before.

She settled in to roost in the tropical forest high atop a densely wooded plateau at 3,314' elevation, perhaps the highest she has slept since last spring. She was very close to the border of Oaxaca and midway across the Isthmus.

She appears to have a wonderful vantage point here, overlooking a broad agricultural valley below and to the north.

I can only imagine the night sounds in the forest. Must be amazing...

12 October, 2015

Record Day for Peregrine Migration

This just in from our colleagues at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch....

Thank you Rafael Galvez and crew! Amazing job and good work.

1506 Peregrine Falcons in 1 Day Count – New World Record

OCTOBER 11, 2015
Photos of Peregrine Falcons over FKH on 10/10/15 by Ted Keyel. Additional photos and composite by Rafael Galvez.
October 10, 2015 was an incredible, magical day when 1506 migratory Peregrine Falconswere tallied from the Florida Keys Hawkwatch at Curry Hammock State Park. No other site in the world has recorded such a high count during a single day of this incomparable predator. The previous world record was established by our site during Oct. 10, 2012, when an impressive 651 total Peregrines were tallied that day. This year’s new record more than doubles the previous count from 2012.
vid image
This day was also the third highest day count for Sharp-shinned Hawks at our site, totaling in1241. It would have taken 284 more Sharpies to match the 1525 from Oct. 20, 2011.
Below is a list by the hour of the impressive Peregrine Falcon flights our site experienced throughout the day (Oct. 10, 2015):
0900-1000: 10
1000-1100: 35
1100-1200: 250
1200-1300: 386
1300-1400: 453
1400-1500: 241
1500-1600: 46
1600-1700: 26
1700-1800: 28
1800-1900: 31
TOTAL: 1506
OUR AMAZING HAWKWATCH VOLUNTEERS this day were Ted Keyel, Colleen Kimbert Caudill and Charles Caudill. Mark Hedden and Rafael Galvez were backup counters during the latter half of the count day. A tremendous effort by this crew! Tom and Janet Kuehl have been visitors for many days and shared this magical day with us – thank you for your help and enthusiasm.
Most Peregrines this day flew by at great altitudes, requiring great effort by volunteers to keep up with the counts. Photo by Ted Keyel.
Most Peregrines this day flew by at great altitudes, requiring much effort by volunteers to keep up with the counts. Photo by Ted Keyel.
LeicaFKH Logosm

Resuming the migration....

On Sunday, Island Girl left Tuxpan and flew 332 km (206) miles south along the coastal plain of eastern Mexico. She passed Pozo Rica, Cardel, Jalapa and Veracruz although we don't know her exact route through these areas.

In the afternoon, she veered inland towards the Sierra foothills and eventually arrived in the city of Tres Valles.

She reached the SW outskirts of town at stopped off at 200' elevation.

Her roost was located in a residential area, very close to what looks like a house. The neighborhood is lightly forested with many homes, roads and people in the vicinity.

Since Google Streetview doesn't cover this specific road, we can't be too sure what she slept on but there are powerlines and poles in the area as seen from the main road to the east (Avenida Manuel Avila Camacho).

 I could see no evidence of cell towers but that doesn't mean much.

Apparently there is a college in town, the Colegio de Estudios Scientificos y Technologica. Any fans down in Mexico know a person in Tres Valles that could go look for us?

Anyway, Island Girl is on the move and should reach the Pacific side shortly.