14 April, 2012

North with Felipe

Our new adult male peregrine, Felipe, left his winter range this morning in a dense fog, 45 degree F. temperature and a cold autumn wind coming in off the Pacific.

He took us by surprise and flew all the way past Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar and then some. Nice first jump. We don't have his roost coordinates as yet but as of 5 PM, Chile time, he was 342 km (216 miles) north of Putu and perhaps still going.

This falcon likes to sleep in the dunes and I can tell you that if he did last night, like we did, he would have been as covered in dew this morning as we were. He is leaving in the face of the approaching winter. It has been a fairly cold and damp week for us camping in the dunes. It will be good to get to some dry country soon.

He is already approaching the southern Atacama which begins in earnest at La Serena.

I had been trapping all morning in a dense coastal fog and had a "mini-flood" of birds coming through, posssibly as many as six (including Island Girl and her "winter mate"). Came off the beach after the sun came out and a strong south wind started. Checked for Felipes signal at 3 PM (usually done at noon) and could not get it. Called Don McCall on the satellite phone to let him know and then went out looking for a signal in the huge dune field. I thought he might be down in a hole, to get out of the wind.

When I got back, Shirley had gotten a call back from Don confirming our suspicions. We broke camp immediately and headed inland 2 hours to Ruta 5, The Pan American Highway towards Santiago. From there, we'll return to the coast, probably in the morning. This is likely to be the most circuitous segment of the chase.

Once we get his roost data, we'll try to check it out and then begin following him north. He has a good start on us already.

Stopped along the road for a hamburger and the Internet. They have a series of great gas stations all along the highway called Copec. Most have Internet. More later.

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