04 November, 2011

Heart of the Atacama

Island Girl continued SW through Peru yesterday, following the foothills of the Andes as usual for her at this stage of her migration. She is progressing normally and covered 241 miles (376 km) across the desert.

Although flying inland, she went by the Paracas Reserve on the coast and then over the world famous Nazca lines, the enigmatic "drawings" that have puzzled humanity for centuries.

Her midnight signal was also enigmatic. It varied substantially from her desert roost sites over the last three nights.

The GPS signal indicates that she was perched on the ground alongside a braided channel river in a dry desert valley about 8.5 miles (13.7 km) inland from the coast. You could justifiably say that she was "out in the middle of nowhere" on this one. She was in a classic, full-on Atacama Desert environment. You probably can't get any drier than where she was last night.

Which may be why she was there. Did she fly down to the river to drink? Did she fly down to take a bath and then just decide to hang out there on the ground? Was she hunting something at midnight?

All we can do is speculate. We do know, however, that the Atacama Desert supports populations of fox and that these foxes do eat birds. We lost a tagged falcon, Paco, to a fox in Chile awhile back.

So it is always distressing to see them sitting on the ground like this.

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