30 May, 2014

Reaching Home...

On Wednesday, 28 May, after a 43 day transcontinental migration across 14,217 km (8,835 miles minimum), Island Girl returned to her eyrie cliff on Baffin Island.

She had flown another 456 km (283 miles) across Hudson Strait to complete her sixth satellite-tagged journey north.

This year, she took her most direct route home, flying straight to her breeding area.

In past years, her behavior at this stage of the migration has varied.

For example, in 2009, she wandered widely on Baffin before settling in. We are unsure whether she even bred that year.

However, in all years but 2014, she has reached the island during the first week of June (4, 2, 3, 5, 5 June respectively).

She arrived back earlier than ever this year.

Is this early arrival related to her increased experience with the route and greater familiarity with the migration?

Is it caused by an earlier spring on Baffin Island?

Is it related to climate change and warmer temperatures in the north?

What about stronger tail winds across the Great Plains pushing  her north faster?

Is it simply a random event?

All good questions for which we have no answers at this time.

Perhaps some of our younger readers will solve these questions some day.

This completes the north bound segment of the Southern Cross Peregrine Project for 2014.


Thank you to all of our readers for following along with us to track the unique movements of this remarkable peregrine, Island Girl. Glad you appreciate her as much as we do.

Thanks again to Don McCall one more time for all of the daily data work.

Mark Prostor originally set up this website along with Don so we could all follow these falcons. I hope you two guys understand how many people appreciate your efforts.

Thanks also to the original 2006 field team that made this happen in the first place, including Chilean peregrine expert Christian Gonzalez, and his family Giannina, Seba and Franny, from the US, Tom Maechtle, Zach Smith and Mark Prostor, and from the Canary Islands in Spain, our friend and another peregrine expert, Jesus Garcia Ubierna.

Also special mention to peregrine expert Nancy Hilgert in Ecuador and our friend Marco Saborio in Costa Rica who has taken so many  amazing and wonderful photos of Island Girl on migration.

Funding for this work came from Dr. Clayton White got the project going early on. Check out his newly published book entitled  Peregrine Falcons of the World, co-authored with Tom Cade and Jim Enderson. This is nowthe new bible on peregrines all around the globe.

David and Ginger Ridgway were also inspirational in their support in getting the SCCP up and going at first. Thanks for believing in this project.

Special thanks to all the hundreds of FRG members who crowd-sourced additional funding for the project before crowd-sourcing was even a term. Hope all of you share in our delight in these results.

Finally, we all must thank our dear friend and SCCP team member, Kathryn Gunther, for originally catching and naming Island Girl at Putu way back in 2008.

Even after we made her let Island Girl go the first time in 2008 because Mark and I did not think she was a tundra migrant. Kathy had to catch her again a second time in 2009 before we relented.

Who would have ever thought that your first peregrine ever caught in Chile would go so far, ping for so long and capture the hearts of so many?

Nice going Kathy and thanks.

For the rest of you, please tune in again next fall to see if the transmitter is still going.

Will she complete yet another full migration?


John Riegsecker said...

Thanks Bud. I believe this is the third time I have followed Island Girl and it never gets old.

Jeannie Bird said...

My first time following Island Girl 2014 and she is in my daily discussions with friends..."where is she now" they have asked. Wish we could learn more of her mate for life....where does he go? Where do the young go? Your comments of her brought tears and have also learned so much on Google Earth with Island Girl's travels from Chile to Baffin Island. She is in my heart and will not stop thinking of her.
Kudos to the team that has made this happen!!

S Miller said...

My thoughts echo Jeannie Bird's. Island Girl has become a part of my daily thoughts since she began her flight north. I feel a sense of relief that she has arrived safely back home. I will check back around the equinox in September. In the meantime, many thanks to everyone who has been involved in this effort.

Lesley said...

Thank you, Bud and Team! Island Girl continues to amaze during each migration.

j666laz said...

I appreciate everyone's efforts to keep us up to date on this amazing bird which we first started monitoring three years ago. My wife and I continue to be impressed at this falcon's strength and endurance to make these treks back and forth every year. We look forward to the southern migration later in the year. Congratulations on the great reporting and mapping you provide all of us Island Girl watchers.

Anonymous said...

Thank You for another trip north. I always can't wait till she gets to the Canadian border. My co-workers and I look up her travels as soon as I get in. Kudos to all of you that make this possible to watch and write about her.