On Saturday, Island Girl flew south along one of the most remarkable places I have ever encountered, certainly one of my favorite places on the planet, the northern Atacama coast of Chile.
South of Arica are some of the most beautiful desert canyons you can imagine, cut abruptly and deeply into the coastal terrace. The Pan American Highway traverses all of them en route south. Along this stretch, there is a high, flat, desert plateau that ends abruptly to the west in a steep drop down to the sea. This slope is several thousand feet high. It falls down onto a narrow terrace where Coast Route 1 exists, in many places cut right into the rocky cliffs.
So she flew south, passing the unexpectedly beautiful city of Iquique, another wonder of the Atacama Desert coast. I don't mean to sound like a travel guide here but this area is completely unique and extraordinary. I would hope everyone reading this could visit there someday..
She covered another 279 km (173 miles) and then did something wonderful.
She put in for the night in the exact same coastal "bowl" where she spent days 36, 37 and 38 on her migration last fall.
Her current roost was within 500 yards of one of the other 2012 sites.
This reminded me of Limon in Costa Rica
She slept on the ascending hillside at 1,020 ' and within 1.2 miles of the Pacific, just south of Punta Patache. Lots of good photos of this area on GE. Check it out to see why she likes it there.
Obviously, she knows this area quite well. Let's see if she remains here for awhile like last year.
I wonder what she is eating there? Many years ago, my Chilean friend and colleague, Christian Gonzalez. and I watched an adult male peregrine hunting phalaropes off this coastline.
The hunts were low, direct and fast, taking place over the open ocean.
The advantage? It turns out that phalaropes cannot dive underwater to escape an attacking falcon.
This bird was so married to his prey that he would ignore all of our bait. We never did catch him.
How exciting that she stopped off here again. I had always wondered if migrant peregrines used the same roosts. Now we know that they sometimes do.