We have said our goodbyes to the austral range and are also migrating north towards home now.
Last Morning At Putu at the Boat Launch Beach
Up and going at 0800 and heading north on Ruta Cinco or Route 5 North, the Pan American Highway that we will follow all the way to Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Agirculture is one of the economic mainstays of this country. Fishing and lumber production are the main industries down south with vast areas of pine and eucalyptus forests. To the north, mining is supreme.
Here in the "Mediterranean" central valley, we are driving by vineyards and huge farms of avocados trees or paltas. Farms everywhere. Produce everywhere even sold right alongside the freeway. Just pull over. Also had a bicycle group out riding down the freeway this morning.
As we go north, the entire habitat is becoming markedly drier as you would expect. We saw our first cactus today, several different species actually.
We went over the coast range with mountains several thousands of feet high and then regained the Pacific coast again. There is an atmospheric haze that is covering everything here making it difficult to see more than a few miles. Mountains are only an outline.
However, even at 0900 local time, you can feel the warmth of late autumn. Picture southern California in October.
Once you get to the coastline, things are still sunny but quite a bit cooler from the proximity of the ocean.
We decided to check out last nights roost site so we drove about 25 km up the road to Huaquen through groves of young eucalyptus trees.
Eucalyptus Groves On the Way To Roosting Site Past Huaquen
The road leaves the main highway and gradually climbs higher into the foothills. We got to within about three miles of where Felipe slept last night on the side of a scrub forested mountainside.
The valley below is dry farming country. Sheep have overgrazed many areas creating open fields where it looks like Felipe may have hunted based on his afternoon signal. We drove right through where he was in the afternoon.
Habitat in the Vicinity of the Felipe's Afternoon Signal
We saw lots and lots of birdlife, including a really high number of Chilean Mockingbirds, some Chilean Swallows, and many Common Diuca- Finches and Long-tailed Meadowlarks being the most obvious. We were quite impressed with the number of birds here, even from such a short run up the valley. The forest higher up was also loaded with bird song, none of which I could ID.
So he has radically changed his habitat, his prey, and possibly his hunting methods. Peregrines, and especially tundra peregrines, have got to be one of the most adaptable birds on this planet.
I am writing from one of our trusty Copec stations once again. Thank goodness for these places. They are becoming our home away from home.
The plan is to continue up past La Serena today and get at least another 200 miles north. We hope we can catch up and intercept him soon. Or at least get his VHF signal.
A comment to Mr. Walker.....you do not know what you are missing!