12 November, 2011

Island Girl Returns Home-Safely Completes her Third GPS Migration

Yesterday, Island Girl headed south again in a determined manner. She returned to the coastline and covered 257 miles (414 km) for the day, flying along the shoreline.

During this flight, she flew over all of the major cities of the central Chilean coastline, including Los Vilos, fabulous Vina Del Mar, the hill city of Valparaiso, the shipping port of San Antonio and finally the surfing mecca of the central coast, Pichilemu.

Dune field north of Vina Del Mar.

She roosted north of her winter range last night about 35 miles from Putu. She didn't quite reach home but she was very close.

She roosted close to the coast. She selected a group of trees on a small hill above the mouth of a major coastal river maybe 5 miles south of Pichilemu. Looks like the backyard of a lovely looking farm/home with what appear to be vineyards in the front yard.

Your basic Chilean vineyard and the best grapes I have ever tasted. Right off the vine.

Great spot and you wish the owners knew about an adult falcon on their property that had just flown in from Baffin Island!

After a short flight this morning (Saturday), Island Girl finally arrived back at her usual haunts in the Putu area. Her morning signal shows that she was perched in a group of eucalyptus trees (I know them well) right above the coastal road north. These trees overlook her favorite hunting area to the west. I am sure she was checking out her favorite perch located on the offshore barrier island. Here is a photo of her favorite area, the long sandspit that was wiped out by the tsunami in 2010. It is no longer there now.

Here is one of her perches on the spit. Her last signal today is directly east of this photograph taken back in 2009. The feathers are from one of her kills.

Looking at Google Earth, we can see that this sandspit has yet to reform from the sea. We thought after two years, it might have re-surfaced. But it is just not there. I do see several small islets offshore which will be good for her. She can perch and roost out there and be completely safe from predators.

So on 12 November 2011, after 53 days of migration, crossing through twelve countries (Canada, US, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile) and two hemispheres, and flying at least 8,628 miles (13,885 km), Island Girl has completed her migration.

SCPP team member, Kathy Gunther, holding Island Girl (with hood) in 2009 just after attaching the satellite transmitter and immediately before release back into the wild. Kathy first captured her at Putu in 2008 and then again in 2009.

I just called Kathy today to let her know that Island Girl had returned to Putu safely for another year. She was at Cape May, New Jersey and had just caught and banded her first juvenile Bald Eagle today!

"Island Girl"


 Some of you have asked already about our future plans for the project. In answer, we have decided to return to Chile in February 2012 once again. We want to see how the area has recovered from the devastating earthquake of 2010. We also have two satellite transmitters remaining to be used and we want to learn more about the falcons in Chile and this remarkable migration that they make.

If you like this project and would like to keep it going, please contribute to the cause. The entire project is supported by people just like you.

To be part of the project, we ask that you send your donations of any amount to the
Falcon Research Group
Box 248
Bow, WA 98232

Thanks everyone and see you again in the fall!


Norwood Frederick said...

HURRAY! Remarkable birds. Glad to hear you are going back again. Let's hope this time is "Mother Nature" uneventful!
Thanks so much to all who make this info available to the rest of us.
I always find myself with "FRG Withdraw" this time of year!
Have a great Winter!

Clare said...

Found your blog through my friend John Carlson (who writes the incredible Prairie Ice blog) via Facebook. I live in the High Arctic on the North Baffin, very close to two Peregrine aeries, and near others. I'm very glad I found your blog and look to follow Island Girl's progress and the rest of your work. Thank you.

Alvaro said...

Hello Bud, and team. I just returned from leading a fantastic birding tour in Chile. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing a Peregrine with a transmitter fly by the mouth of the Maipo River. I have some ok photos to send to you. Given the date, November 11, 11...I am sure it must be Island Girl! We caught her in her migration as she buzzed a flock of thousands of gulls, terns, and skimmers on this birdy estuary. I can send photos, dates, place, GPS and all that if you are interested. Alvaro Jaramillo - alvaro@alvarosadventures.com.