08 October, 2013

Whew!

Island Girl continued flying all the way across the middle of the Gulf of Mexico yesterday.

She traveled a very exposed 832 km (517 miles) for the day.

I'd like to think that she had fueled up pretty well during her five days in Arkansas and had a lot of energy to burn.

By the time of her afternoon signal, she had safely landed, presumably on a ship of some kind, as the GPS unit was moving SSW (212 degrees) at 23 km/hour (14 mph).

At midnight last night, she was still moving at the exact same pace, strongly suggesting that she stayed on the same ship overnight.

Lucky for her, it was moving in the perfect direction for a southbound migrant peregrine. Just during the time period from selecting her afternoon perch to her roosting signal at midnight, she had moved 112 miles SW on board.

Add her movement from midnight to dawn and she would have been much closer to the coastline of Mexico.

So she caught a lucky break this time.

I am sure we are all delighted to see that.

In thinking about her choice of route, I could not help but imagine what happened to migrant peregrines a few centuries ago, before the advent of ships. Trying to cross the Gulf of Mexico, particularly if there were headwinds, would be very difficult indeed.

Even today, I would wonder about any juvenile peregrines heading out over the Gulf without realizing what they were getting themselves into. Without the huge number of oil platforms and who knows how many ships and boats out there, the Gulf could be an enormous sink for young falcons.


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