08 May, 2010

On To Guatemala

After her record run through Panama, Costa Rica and El Salvador, Island Girl slowed down a bit on Friday. She finished up her daily migration in Guatemala.

After leaving El Salvador in the morning, she continued migrating along the same NW heading and covered another 241 km (150 miles).

Based on the limited number of her satellite signals, she appears to be following the foothills and volcanos of Central America, staying both high in elevation and well inland from the coast.

Google Earth shows lots of earthquake epicenter symbols along this route, reminding me that she is still following the major Pacific coast subduction zone area. Not that earthquakes would be unusual for this bird!

She roosted on a heavily-vegetated ridgeline (2,447') above a steep cliff and the juncture of two rivers. Both emanate from major Guatelmalan volcanos, Volcan Chiquibal and Volcan Lacandon.

These rivers, upstream from the city of Coatepeque, have created steep-sided canyons with many vertical cliffs. This area looks like good breeding habitat for Orange-breasted Falcons (Falco deiroleucus), the rare and beautiful species of jungle falcon that inhabits certain areas of Central America, including the ruins of Tikal here in Guatemala. In fact, she was only 319 km (223 miles) from that location.

She should be approaching Mexico at this time, having roosted only 41 km (27 miles) from the border on Friday night.

If she follows our expectations, she will continue heading NW and cross the Gulf of Tehuantepec towards the Gulf of Mexico.

In the past, all of our tagged falcons that have followed the Pacific coastal route have crossed over in this area. So far, it seems to be one of the major and consistent "decision points" for our small sample of tagged migrant birds.

If she follows form, she could arrive at or near the Gulf Coast and perhaps Veracruz later today.

No comments: