31 October, 2007
Without the GPS satellite transmitters, we wouldn't know all of this was happening, much less be able to recognize how many questions are generated by her remarkable behavior.
I left the hospitality of Bill Clark and Ildiko Szabo in Harlingen, Texas, yesterday morning. After completing some final preparations (for example, Mexico does not recognize US car insurance. You have to obtain a special policy to enter), I started south in the afternoon in company with FRG member Shirley Vanderveen. She is driving to Belize to meet with the Belize Audubon Society regarding their conservation programs. We decided to caravan down together in our two vehicles. She is driving a tricked out Land Rover.
We made it to Ciudad Victoria the first day and all the way to Cardel, Veracruz, today. As we crossed the Tropic of Cancer, I could not help but remember watching the falcons do the same via the Internet last spring.
I have been constantly aware of and humbled by the enormous distances that these birds have been traveling. Sure, it doesn't look that far on our little glowing screens but I can tell you that it is vast, seemingly endless and completely awe-inspiring. We drove and drove and drove today, often at 65 mph and only went part way through Mexico. All of it with an assist from highly refined fossil fuels, none of it under our own power except for a little constant nudge of the foot and turning of the steering wheel. I think that most of us forget this all the time, but these birds are utterly miraculous. What an enormous undertaking, what a price they are paying and how perfectly, perfectly evolved they are for this journey.
I am now sitting in the restaurant at the famous Hotel Bienvenido, writing this at 1030 PM, obviously a bit wired. And even more amazed by these falcons than ever.
He's left Central America and crossed over onto the South American continent. He will be passing the equator very soon, and then presumably returning to Antofagasta.
He covered 508km (316 mi.) on this segment and is now about 120km north of the town of Trujillo.
Peruvian peregrine expert and long-time friend, Oscar Beingolea, comments...
So Seven must be near Pacasmayo, still 720 km north of Lima.
By the way, last Saturday three of the wintering falcons along the (Pan-Am) highway were back on their perches, two males and one that seemed to be a female. It is curious but she could be the same female that has appeared there for at least four seasons, but later moves to somewhere else.
29 October, 2007
He is posting the best overall average flight distances at 277 km per day (172 miles per day) among our three satellite-tagged peregrines at this stage.
Don adds...."Since beginning their migrations, Seven has averaged 206km (128 mi.) per day, and Sparrow King has averaged 277km (172 mi.) per day. Sparky is a nice nickname for that bird, Bud, but now I'm thinking that "Flash" might be even better... :)"
Seven should be arriving in Peru sometime today. After that, it is home to Chile.
She passed both Cape May and Assateague Island (two traditional peregrine migration hotspots), but quite far from shore. Unfortunately, FRG members, Ed Deal and Pat Little, currently trapping at Cape May, did not have a chance to catch her.
Many years ago, Bill Cochran, the originator of raptor radio telelmetry, had established that some peregrines are at least partially "pelagic". Linda is following that pattern to a certain extent.
Don reports that she did eventually come ashore that night. He writes...
"Two more good GPS fixes give Linda's night roost site, and show that she did indeed come ashore near Virginia Beach, Virginia -- 15 km (9 mi.) south of there, to be exact, and about 450 meters from the shoreline, in a residential area surrounded by beaches and lagoons."
Anyone from that area want to comment on this site?
So she continues along the east coast "classic line" for migrant peregrines, following essentailly the same route as Sparrow King. It should take her past Scott Ward in Florida and then on to the islands in the Carribean.
NOTE: Friday, after dropping Mark Prostor off at the airport and home, I left Baltimore and drove to south Texas in 50 hours. I am currently staying with Bill Clark and Ildiko Szabo in Harlingen.
I should explain that there are two objectives for this segment of the project. The first was to try our best to follow Linda south to Chile. As you can see, she did not make that very easy. Unfortunately, she is not a radio-controlled falcon.
Our second objective was to do a "trial run" on the chase and see what is realistically involved in following a peregrine from North to South America. We need first-hand information on border crossings, insurance requirements, permits, shipping the truck, fuel prices, etc. Experience has shown that it is just not possible to determine these things in advance. So we are continuing the trail run for the future when we plan to chase more birds. The information gathered on this leg of the trip will be used to plan logistics and obtain accurate prices for our future proposals.
With the weekend now over, I will be arranging the required permits and special insurance needed for driving across Mexico. I hope to head south, eventually to Chile, in the next two days.
26 October, 2007
For any hawkwatchers and banders in that area, and indeed the entire east coast, you should be able to make out the antenna above her back easily.
If anyone is lucky enough to see her (or even photograph or capture her), please give me a call immediately at (206) 962-7838 at any time.
We'd appreciate it. Good luck.
The two males continue to do well with one falcon in Panama and the other in Honduras. Both are right on schedule and should arrive back in Chile soon.
Our remaining female, Linda, continues to move south at a much slower rate of speed. It turns out that she is in that little-known group we call "late migrant" peregrines. We know very little about the behavior of this group and where they are at this time of year, so it is great to be getting some data on this unique behavior.
For example, the Padre Island Peregrine Survey always shuts down on the 25th of October. She isn't even close to that latitude yet. We also know that many other late migrant peregrines are still moving down the east coast, so Linda is in good company.
But here is the problem. Since she is such a late bird, she is traveling along with the heavy rains and cloud cover of late October. There has been precious little sun on this entire trip. No sun equals no charge for the transmitter. As a result, our signals for her have been minimal. Normally, we would be getting several locations per day, but over the last two weeks, with the heavy overcast, we have obtained very few. Her last signal was from 2 days ago up in the Adirondack Mountains by the Vermont border.
Yesterday, we had a meeting here in Maryland with the manufacturer of the transmitters, Microwave Telemetry, and discussed how we can improve the performance of the transmitters under these special low-light conditions. We'll be able to make these modifications with our other remaining transmitters that will go on more birds this January in Chile.
But with Linda's slow progress, we could see her taking another month or more to move down the entire east coast. If we continue to stay with her, we would be expending our resources here in the US on a well-known migratory pathway instead of Central and South America.
Also, since we had anticipated that the tagged falcons would all be in Chile by mid-November, we programmed the transmitters to go into "winter-mode" on the 15th of next month. That means we will be getting one signal per day downloaded every ten days soon. We'll still obtain data on her location but only every ten days.
So, right now, we are thinking that it would be best to continue on to Chile and get the truck down there for our January trapping trip where we will put on 8 more GPS units. With this bigger sample size, we can select more of an early migrant peregrine next year.
With that in mind, I will be now be heading for Texas and points south on a direct run.
23 October, 2007
Following this route, we expect him to pass over the famous hawk counting station at Kekoldi, above the green Caribbean coastline. We wish our colleagues there the best of luck in spotting him as he goes by.
In Cuba, he roosted in a mountainous area, adjacent to a logged-off area, approximately 100 miles SW of Havana. Pictures on Google Earth show several large cliffs suitable for roosting. Based on his current location, we think that it is most likely that he will head for the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, about 125 miles SW of Cuba across the Caribbean Sea.
He performed a similar feat when he left Baffin Island back on October 5th, covering 119 miles across the open ocean on the first leg of his fall migration.
Yesterday, she flew more east than south and traveled across the Adirondack Mountains of New York. She covered a little over a hundred miles and then settled in quite close to the Vermont border today.
If she continues on her current route, she'll hit the Atlantic coastline soon, probably somewhere just north of Cape Cod. We are waiting to see if her arrival there will change her rate of travel.
22 October, 2007
Mark observing the roosting area at Chippewa Point, NY
21 October, 2007
As we were driving, we could look north and still see the massive dark clouds up in Canada that have been blocking the sun for days.
We had to make a detour and drive down along the west shore of Cayuga Lake so that we could visit Taughannock Falls. This is a "sacred site" for all peregrine biologists. There was a famous historic nest site here that was featured in the early peregrine literature. It is very close to Ithaca and Cornell University, original home of the Peregrine Fund founded by Tom Cade and managed by Jim Weaver and Willard Heck so many years ago.
(Taughannock Falls, NY)
Last night, Mark and I enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of my dear cousin, also named Linda, who lives south of Syracuse, NY. Many thanks from travelers far from home.
This morning, the sky is cloudless and the temperatures are predicted to be in the mid-seventies, very unusual for this time of year. I was told that usually they have snow here by now.
Mark and I will head to the north again to try and intercept Linda, the peregrine, as she enters the US through New York. With the clear skies, we are hoping for good GPS results today. However, we are also wondering just what impact such nice weather might have on her southward (and remarkably slow) migration.
20 October, 2007
We haven't received any signals from Linda's transmitter for the last three days. Although we are concerned (as always it seems), the sun has finally emerged from the heavy cloud cover plaguing her route over the last month. I must say that it is nice to see again.
Finally, I have found that it is too much to write a second separate blog for the trip. From now on, everything will be found here.
She has now been migrating for a month and we are hoping that she has finally entered the US.
We also received an e-mail from Microwave Telemetry this morning describing some more details on her transmitter. As we knew, we are pushing the edge on solar transmitters in this area. I could be mistaken but I think we are the first to use them at sub-arctic latitudes, so we are learning as we go.
Obviously, there has not been enough light lately to re-charge Linda's on-board battery because of the lack of sunlight. We need to have a minimum of 3.52 volts to transmit a basic Doppler location signal. For GPS, we need even more power. Our last reading indicated that her charge was at the threshold of 3.52 volts on the 17th, just as the dense fog moved in.
Under such low light conditions, we have learned that it can take 20 times longer to re-charge her battery. So the unit is definitely in need of some photons in the form of good, strong sunlight. And we are hoping that she is getting that somewhere right now. It takes several hours of sun to develop a full charge.
In the meantime, Mark and I are waiting here at the US/Canadian border waiting to see which way to go. The skies are filled with big gray-white cumulus clouds but there are alot of breaks between them. We'll see what transpires....
18 October, 2007
He flew 311 km (193 miles) and is now in southeast South Carolina. He is approaching Florida and should be heading out over the Gulf of Mexico soon.
There is no telling at this stage which route he will follow but a jump to Yucatan is my best guess. And a guess it is.
"I have alerted the people at Kekoldi (Hawk Counting Station) about the possible pass of Seven which I think may occur tomorrow. I'll probably move to the Caribbean tomorrow as we are having an important pass of hawks (200.000+ yesterday), the probabilities for Seven to take that route are very high due to the bad weather in the central and South pacific of the country. 890 Peregrines have passed over Kekoldi so far, we hope Seven will be nice enough to do the same."
" I can see he moved East a little bit. Is he looking for the coast? Let's see what happens. The weather has been very bad in the last week and a half, from Southern Mexico to Panama. All our countries have had a lot of rain, floods, and landslides. Roads and bridges have had a lot of damage, hope this will not delay Bud while traveling in this area.
Traditionally October is the month with more rain, however because of "La Nina" in the first two weeks we have had 95% of the average rain for the month. This kind of weather tends to slow down the raptor migration a little bit, however Peregrines seems to keep going, we had 103 passing over KEKOLDI on the 15th. The total for the season is just over a thousand."
(Heavy fog in Quebec)
This means that the solar cell on Linda's solar-powered transmitter is "starving". It is not getting enough light energy to charge the battery. Therefore, we have not received any signals (even Doppler) for a second day.
I have been in Canada for over three weeks now and heavy overcast, snow and fog have been the norm for most of the trip. There has been precious little sun. I can now understand why we are not getting more high quality GPS signals. Two days ago, when the sun finally did come out, we got several good strong GPS signals. We had been concerned that the transmitter might be having problems but it seems that the relative lack of light is the most likely cause.
I can only guess where Linda is right now. Does she migrate in heavy fog? Can she fly high enough to rise above the clouds and continue on her journey south? Am I near where I should be?
Only time will tell.
She is now approaching the southernmost part of Canada and should enter the US soon. She would already be south of the northern Minnesota border if she were further west.
There is yet more beautiful country here, with warmer temperatures and gorgeous golden leaves still on the birch trees.
I had gotten some coordinates from Don last night and I knew that Linda had been on an island in Lac Des Quinze. I drove over at first light and got some photos of it. Looks like a good place for a hunting perch. Granite rocks along the beaches, lots of summer homes, with good-sized Birch, Cedar, and Spruce (est. 90’+) forest. Observed Common Goldeneye, Ravens, BC Chickadees, Gray Jays, Ruffed Grouse and a Belted Kingfisher. The most common birds in the area were European Starlings.
According to the signals, Linda flew slightly inland to roost last night. I drove to those coordinates today and took some pictures of the area.
The data also show that she moved her position during the night. Peregrines are able to fly in darkness so this was not too surprising. I imagined that she might be nervous roosting in trees again after sleeping on a cliff for so many months.
Finally, I walked along the shore of the lake this morning to check out her 0600 dawn perch. It was located in a small bay about 535 meters (585 yards) from where I was standing at the same time. We were close!
Linda had started to move south so I jumped in the truck to follow her. Crossed over the 49th parallel and down into the Atlantic Ocean watershed. I was surprised to see farmland so soon but there it was. Realized that taking the route she does, Linda does not have to cross much in the way of boreal forest. A day and a half out of James Bay, she is hitting open farmland. I drove until near dark and checked the Internet at a motel in Earlton. Finding WIFI hotspots is becoming my new religion. At this point, it is the easiest way to get satellite readings.
Linda had flown south to the town of Angliers in Quebec. There is a large lake there, Lac Des Quinze, and I suspected that she was going to do the usual, i.e. hunt birds exposed over the water.
She covered 220 km (137 miles) today.
I arrived there well after dark and camped by the lakeshore.
16 October, 2007
She is now back over the boreal forest. These are likely to be the first substantial trees that she has seen in several months. So she will be adjusting to this "new" habitat. Her hunting strategies will have to change (there is alot more cover for prey), her diet will include many different species of birds, and her roost sites are going to be very different than on the sub-arctic tundra.
This morning, I am waiting here in Cochrane for some new signals so we can project her route through the Great lakes region. She is at a critical point in her selection of a route.
If she veers west, she will eventually take a Gulf Coast route by Padre Island.
If she continues straight south, she will wind up in the Florida area (my current longitude here is equivalent to Daytona Beach, Florida). In terms of the shortest distance to Antofagasta, Chile, she would do best on a Florida route. It is far less distance overall than the Texas coast route. But it also involves crossing the Gulf of Mexico.
And here again, we see the two major costs of migration. It is expensive (in terms of energy) and it is dangerous (in terms of the new and increased mortality factors encoutered along the way).
Certainly peregrines cross the Gulf every year. Sparrow King is poised to do so right now.
But will Linda's instinct and/or experience cause her to veer to the SW instead of going straight south?
For us, in terms of the logisitics involved for the chase, we obviously have a strong bias for the Texas coast. Otherwise, we may have to drive from Florida all the way back around through Texas and Mexico and catch up with her somewhere in Central America.
So we are looking very closely at her route right now.
15 October, 2007
Because he does not carry the GPS chip in his transmitter, we don't have enough data to know if he actually went by Cape May or Assateague Island, both famous for their peregrine movements.
He related that they had observed peregrines along the shores of the bay on most (perhaps 80%) of the days that their team was in the field. Peregrines were the most common raptor in the area at this time of year and were usually found "perched within view of the marine environment". On at least one ocassion, he observed three falcons sitting together. This is further confirmation of James Bay being utilized as a staging area.
He confirmed that the region is perfect habitat for a wide variety of waterfowl, including Mallards, Green-winged Teal, American Black Ducks, scoters, swans and geese.
Chris related that it is a good year for Willow Ptarmigan as well and that he saw several flocks of 150 birds, usually concentrated near willow patches.
He also observed a peregrine hunting these Ptarmigan, raising the question of how often they are taken as prey on fall migration.
14 October, 2007
We have learned much more about this area since the last posting. It turns out that the James Bay Lowlands are considered to be one of the largest wetlands on earth and are superb habitat for waterfowl of all kinds.
FRG advisor Marty Daniels sends us this timely message:
"Had dinner with friends tonight, one of them is an avid duck hunter and has been all over the world hunting and knows many parts of Canada and the Great Lakes well - He says Linda has hit the main jackpot and it makes perfect sense to him that she is just feeding and feeding. He says that upper James Bay this time of year is absolutely loaded with waterfowl - he says it is absolutely thick with them. She must be too small for White-fronted Geese which he mentioned are in super abundance, but he said that this is a massive waterfowl congregation area. Smart Bird."
So for Linda, it seems that there is method to her madness.
Also, in speaking to a resident of Moosonee, near the shores of James Bay, I learned that this is the traditional time for the Cree nation to harvest Canada, Snow and White-fronted Geese, a hunt that goes back in history among her people. They also hunt Mallard, Pintail and Teal.
This information has helped me to put James Bay in perspective, particularly in relation to its importance for migrating peregrines.
We have always known that there were late migrating peregrines but no one has known where they were from or why they were moving so much later than normal.
From this preliminary point of view, it now appears that some peregrines have discovered a tremendous food resource here in Canada and are exploiting it to their advantage, sometimes for a period of several weeks, before flying south. I'd really like to know how many peregrines are up there right now.
Twenty-eight years ago, in 1979, peregrine expert Scott Ward discovered the spring migration of peregrines taking place at South Padre Island, Texas. He funded two other experts, Grainger Hunt and Brenda Johnson to study this movement.
They trapped several falcons at Padre in April and attached small tail-mounted transmitters to them. Then Grainger and Brenda flew over the area in a Cessna while monitoring the birds and tracking their movements. It was a classic and pioneering peregrine study.
They discovered that female peregrines were "staging" or remaining at Padre Island, for several days. In some cases, they found individuals staying for as long as a month.
Grainger hypothesized that these females were there to fatten up in preparation for egg-laying and also to gain nutrients to produce higher quality eggs.
It was the first time that peregrines were found to "stage" or pause on their spring migration to the north.
Now, based on Linda's fall signals, it appears that peregrines can also "stage" on the migration south. She has taken over three weeks to gradually move down the west coast of Hudson Bay, ultimately arriving at James Bay. She has generally stayed near the coast or among the lakes and ponds just inland, both areas where watefowl congregate.
I suspect that Linda discovered this food resource during a past migration, perhaps even on her first journey south, when she was an immature bird.
At this stage of our knowledge, the most plausible explanation for her behavior is to gain as much weight (i.e. fat) for the impending migration to Chile as she can. She is likely to be "topping off the fuel tanks" by catching and eating as much duck (and perhaps an ocassional young goose) as she can.
It remains to be seen how long she will take to maximize that weight. Just how fat can a peregrine get anyway? I would love to compare her weight right now with her weight when we trapped her in Chile.
And finally, what is it that will trigger her departure to Chile?
He successfully crossed the Gulf and, based on the Google Earth maps, he was flying across the flat agricultural fields of the Yucatan during the last download.
In 29 days, he has flown 6252 km (3,885 miles).
13 October, 2007
Amazingly, the funding for Sparrow King's transmitter was arranged by Keith Bildstein (and Mike McGrady), who works near there.
Quite a remarkable coincidence.
12 October, 2007
the western shore of James Bay, probably hunting.
Here in Kapuskasing, Ontario, (Indian word meaning "bend in the river") about 378 km (235 miles) south of Linda, it has been snowing since last night. Visibility is down to about 200 meters and it is sticking to the ground but not the roads, fortunately for me. The temperature is hovering near freezing.
I am about as close to her as possible. There just are not any roads between us. Further east, there is apparently another railroad, called the Polar Bear Express, that goes up to Moosenee near James Bay. That is a possibility if she goes there.
I noticed last night on the local weather maps that Linda has been in a stable high pressure area centered over south Hudson Bay for the last week. So the weather here (snow) may not be what she is experiencing 387 km from here.
While it is frustrating to be waiting for her to migrate (she left her nesting area over three weeks ago and still hasn't departed Canada), I am also grateful to be learning that peregrines do this sort of thing. This is a little known behavior and frankly, I was not expecting it at all.
In the meantime, I am getting to know more about the terrain, the people and the towns of Ontario. And where all the WIFI spots are located.
I haven't looked at the Google Earth maps yet but perhaps some of the crew there could fill us in on the terrain.
He appears to have departed fairly early in this morning. Small world.
10 October, 2007
I am curious to see if or how her behavior changes when she leaves the sub-arctic regions and encounters the boreal forest.
Meanwhile,, we wait until she commits to her migration.
He was about 138 miles from Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania, where Keith Bildstein works. Ironically, Keith helped fund Sparrow King's transmitter.
We hope that the Appalachian hawk counters and trappers will keep an eye out for him. His antenna should be very apparent. Please let us know if you see him (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). And for all of you hawk banders, if you happen to snag him, a photo would be nice.
Oh yeah, and please don't remove his transmitter.
Looking at Seven's route, it is fascinating to see the distinct curve in his route as he went further south.
09 October, 2007
His track has clearly been trending to the SE but notice how he is starting to hook around towards the SW at this point.
Will these birds go down the Gulf Coast, do a trans-Gulf crossing (landing on the oil rigs or a passing ship) or jump over from Florida through the Caribbean?
Since our truck, Lula Belle, doesn't float too well, I am hoping for the Texas coast.
Of course, the topic of conversation right now is her slow movement south. It is surprising everyone. We are all racking our brains trying to understand why she hasn't streaked out of Canada.
Lots of ideas floating around. For me, the best one has to do with storing up fat for the long trip ahead.
Many years ago, I trapped an adult female peregrine breeding in Greenland as part of the Mattox study. I was struck by how easy it was to capture her until I felt her breast. She was surprisingly thin. I realized at the time how costly it is for an adult female to raise several young, especially if it happens to be a poor year for prey.
For those of you lucky enough to have visited a peregrine eyrie, you will probably remember the adult female wailing constantly for food. It is a common feature at most eyries. They wail because they are hungry. They're giving up much of their food to their young of course.
Based on her GPS signals, I think that it is likely that Linda raised young last summer. If so, she could be physically depleted enough to need to gain weight for the migration south. If this theory is correct, then she could be catching as much prey as possible right now. And laying on the fat stores.
Of course, this is just one theory. It could be completely and totally wrong. But then, this is what we do while we wait around. The only way to know for certain would be to observe her directly and see what she is doing out there on the tundra among the ponds and the lakes, while the cold and dark winter months bear down upon her.
07 October, 2007
Linda has been migrating (sort of) for 17 days now and her route has remained exceptionally remote. In all those days, she has not crossed a single road. She has remained totally inaccessible. The only way to reach her would be by helicopter.
She has moved quite far to the east, much more than I anticipated. Unless she begins a curve to the south or southwest soon, she may even continue on to the east coast and Florida. Or she could arrive at the central Gulf Coast and wing it across the Gulf of Mexico.
Should that occur, we may have to intercept her in the Yucatan. Or at least try. That is a long way to drive and she would likely move way ahead of us.
It is not certain why she is remaining in Canada for so long. But notice that Sparrow King exhibited the same behavior, only he remained at an even higher latitude.
There is likely to be some selective advantage for delaying a migration. I tend to think in terms of nutrition. For example, are ducks that stay behind more nutritionally fit? Does the presumed extra fat give peregrines an increased advantage for the long journey south? Are trace elements involved?
Since we were not aware that some peregrines delayed their fall migration until we learned about it here, we don't know the answers to these questions as yet.
Certainly Sparrow King is experiencing no lack of energy on his way south.
Let's hope that Linda follows his example soon.
This is an excellent example of what a migrant tiercel (male) peregrine can really do when he is ready to go south.
06 October, 2007
I can report that it snowed a fair amount over the last couple of days when I took the train from Thompson to Churchill on Hudson Bay. Heavy overcast moved in with a strong north wind carrying the snow.
Linda had just passed through there a couple of days earlier and then flew east down the coast into Wapusk National Park. This name means "Great White Bear" and the entire area has been set aside as a Polar Bear preserve. It contains one of the highest concentrations of maternal denning areas known for Polar Bears and is reachable only by air or by canoe.
I was interested in learning why Linda was moving south so slowly and most especially what she might be feeding on in this area as winter approaches. At Churchill, I discovered that there are many large flocks of Snow Buntings (300+) congregating among the sea grasses near the shoreline of Hudson Bay. These are fairly small prey for a female peregrine but they are abundant and very conspicuous.
In addition, I was somewhat surprised to find good numbers of ducks in the area (58 degrees north latitude), especially Mallards, Pintail and Green-winged Teal. The multitude of small ponds one finds in the sub-arctic tundra, were just beginning to freeze over when I was there. Local hunters told me the ducks will all be gone very soon as a result. Since we have not received any signals lately, I will be driving towards Winnipeg tomorrow morning in case she has been traveling south.
It is amazing to me to learn that Ontario (the next province east) has almost no roads in the northern and central parts of the province. My route will be limited to a narrow band near the southern border with the US. I'll try to link up with Linda there as she crosses the US border. She has been migrating for 15 days now (11 for me) and has still not departed Canada. Pretty surprising.
03 October, 2007
Just checked the signals that came in this morning and they do not show any appreciable movement. Linda is still holding up along the coast SE of Churchill on Hudson Bay. Of course, I would love to know why. What is she doing up there at this late time of year? The peak peregrine migration movement past South Padre Island, Texas, thousands of miles south, usually occurs this week. Gregg Doney and his crew of banders are out trapping every day (as long as there is no heavy rain). Oscar Beingolea of Peru wrote to me today that the first peregrine migrants are due in Peru next week.
But Linda is sitting up on the tundra next to Hudson Bay, waiting to fly south. I like to think of her watching the Polar Bears migrating up the coast. But the real question is what is the key, the motivating factor, that will finally push her south in a serious manner? And what is she feeding on at this time of year? Ducks? Passerines? Does she do this every year? And, of course, exactly how long will she wait around?
Once again, my former idea of a migrating peregrine was that they simply burned south like Seven is doing. No waiting around. Just go.
So I am learning new things about peregrines here in Thompson. And that is the point.
02 October, 2007
If they only knew his story...
In the meantime, I have been waiting for her here in Thompson, thinking she might go south the same way she went north in spring.
Yesterday, she began to migrate again, moving down the Hudson Bay coastline past Churchill and no doubt flying over a Polar Bear or two. I heard there was one in that town yesterday.
She continued on down the coast and wound up in Wapusk National Park SE of Churchill, having migrated for 276 km (171 miles) before roosting inland from the coast. Perhaps there are fewer bears inland?
She was about 379 km (235 miles) from here. Looking at her migratory bearing, she could easily be heading for Hawk Cliff in Duluth, MN, one of the great hawk migration locations. We'll see.
01 October, 2007
Close scrutiny of the less accurate Doppler signals from his PTT indicate that he is still moving around but we would like to see a greater range in his flights. Is this abnormal behavior or just new behavior? We will have to wait and see. As usual with these peregrine satellite tags, only time will tell.
...."Our team of volunteers in La Serena located her eyrie last weekend"... and they have found that it is in a cavity or hole on a cliff. She is thought to be on eggs at this time. As suspected, this is the reason for the reductions in her signals. The tracking antenna normally needs clear sky but in this case, it is being blocked by the roof of the cave.
During the breeding season, we'll be removing her location from our maps to minimize disturbance to the site.
I believe that this is the first time that a peregrine nest has been located by satellite transmitter in South America. Excellent work by our Chilean friends.
Thanks for your effort
(Signals indicate "Seven" roosted somewhere on the far hillside on Schist Lake, Manitoba)
The next day, Seven put on some speed and Don reports that he is now all the way into Minnesota. You can see from the smoke in the photo that he had a good tailwind.