adventures in nature

Posts tagged “peregrine falcon

20160624 juvenile peregrine falcon

A74A3354 v1juvenile Peregrine Falcon / Alameda County CA


peregrine falcon perch

A few weekends ago I was trailing a bobcat around a lagoon at Point Reyes National Seashore, when suddenly I realized we were being watched. I looked up and scanned the sandy dunes, and almost immediately my eyes locked in on it. A peregrine falcon. Sitting on one of the highest dunes that surrounds the lagoon, watching us.

IMG_0240 v1

It allowed us to get pretty close as we followed the bobcats trail, then finally flew off across the lagoon with powerful wing beats. I was hoping to find some good tracks, but upon inspecting the dune there were none in the loose sand. What I did find however, was what appeared to be a regular dining spot for this bird. Strewn all across the dune were bones, feathers, and regurgitated pellets.

dinner with a view

dinner with a view – from atop falcon dune perch

The pellets were very light, composed mostly of tiny, downy, under-feathers of what likely once belonged to some type of shore bird species. Compared to the pellets of most mammal-eating bird species, they contained virtually no bones.

probable peregrine falcon pellets

probable peregrine falcon pellets

bobcat, coyote and turkey vulture tracks along lagoon

a bobcat, two coyotes and two turkey vultures left some tracks here along the lagoon

 


hawk hill today / juv peregrine shenanigans!

Exciting day at Hawk Hill today by the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the great spots for seeing large numbers of migrating raptors. The Accipiters are coming through in high volume right now, and I was able to get out for a bit to watch. The fog started to roll in just as I got there, but we still had a good number of birds coming through (and visible, despite the low fog bank).

In addition to many sharp-shinned hawks and a few cooper’s hawks, we were treated to a few peregrine falcons that flew by. But not only did the juvenile peregrine fly by – it stayed a while to perform some antagonizing aerials on resident ravens, migrating sharp-shinned hawks, and one lone harrier! It’s hard to tell if it was hunting, just playing, or something in between. The ravens seemed to be having fun playing with it. The small sharpies … definitely not so much!

juvenile peregrine falcon "playing" with two ravens / Hawk Hill GGRO Marin Headlands CA

juvenile peregrine falcon “playing” with two ravens / Hawk Hill GGRO Marin Headlands CA

juvenile peregrine falcon and raven

juvenile peregrine falcon and raven

IMG_9521

IMG_9522

IMG_9523

juvenile peregrine falcon / Hawk Hill GGRO Marin Headlands CA

juvenile peregrine falcon / Hawk Hill GGRO Marin Headlands CA

IMG_9536

turkey vulture

turkey vulture / Hawk Hill GGRO Marin Headlands CA

juvenile sharp-shinned hawk / Hawk Hill GGRO Marin Headlands CA

sharp-shinned hawk / Hawk Hill GGRO Marin Headlands CA

juvenile sharp-shinned hawk / Hawk Hill GGRO Marin Headlands CA

juvenile sharp-shinned hawk / Hawk Hill GGRO Marin Headlands CA


fledge week!

During this past two weeks I’ve had the fortune to see a lot of local raptor young and fledglings – peregrine falcons, red-tailed hawks, northern harriers, white-tailed kites, osprey, and even one black hawk / red-shoulder hybrid. I’ll have more detailed blog posts and the stories about each of these soon, but for now here are a few pictures.

white-tailed kite fledgling

white-tailed kite fledgling / Marin County CA

red-tailed hawk fledgling

red-tailed hawk fledgling / Wildcat Canyon Reg Park Contra Costa County CA

northern harrier baby

northern harrier chick / Marin County CA

blackhawk / red-shoulder hawk hybrid baby

blackhawk / red-shoulder hawk hybrid chick / Sonoma County CA

osprey with 3 chicks

osprey with 3 chicks / Mare Island Contra Costa County CA

juvenile peregrine falcon / Sonoma Coast, CA

juvenile peregrine falcon / Sonoma Coast, CA

 

 

 


sunset under a falcons’ playground

The winds surged onto the coast

like a flood of oncoming water;

And seemed to convince even the water below

that on this evening,

they could together move the giant rocks around which they are usually forced to flow.

But as the wind and the water

danced with the rocks in their daily ritual,

debating who is mightier;

The falcons flew above and through it all.

I had nearly given up on seeing the falcon fledge(s) from this nest, located on the side of the sea cliffs – instead I was ready to yield to the winds that seemed determined to drive people and most living things to seek shelter elsewhere. I watched as cormorants and gulls flapped their wings so hard and fast, only to barely make headway in the gale. Instead of leaving though, I took refuge behind a lupine bush that afforded slight shelter from its relentless surge. The rock face that rose in front of me was glowing in a yellow light that made all the colors of the coastal plants seem to glow, with hints of orange starting to invade the palette before me, foreshadowing the oncoming setting of the sun. I was astounded how the small plants that made a home in the crags on the face of the rock barely moved in the 40 mph winds, and was a bit disappointed not to see the familiar form of a falcon hiding somewhere in the midst of it all.

My eyes shut for a few moments after an already long day, and when they opened I immediately saw that familiar form on the very top of the rock – a peregrine!

juvenile peregrine falcon / Sonoma Coast, CA

juvenile peregrine falcon / Sonoma Coast, CA

It seemed to look at me for a few seconds, then it jumped off its perch and floated into the air, a few quick flaps of its wings propelling it with speed right into the strong winds.

IMG_8389 v1

Soon it broke its relatively even glide with some quick dives at a few small birds in the chaparral – exuberant, youthful frolicking – and a bit ungraceful! It was happy to be alive and happy to be a falcon. Flying!  It was definitely a newly fledged bird, and I was happy to see it had survived this long. Moments later it had disappeared.

I soon gave up my plan to watch the sunset over the waters, as the wind now was my only companion now and it seemed intent on its solitude.

On a whim, or an intuition (or an invitation?), I decided to drive a little further into the park instead of starting my journey “home” (though wasn’t I already home?).  As I crested a hill, and the Pacific Ocean once again dominated my view to the west, the sun seemed to renew its invitation to watch its daily finale. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye, two small darting forms caught my attention in the sky above the tallest hill over the cliffs of the sea …

IMG_8395 v1

Falcons!

There were two falcons playing in the updrafts of wind on the large hill side – chasing each other, diving at one another, flipping upside down to grasp talons – an aerial game of tag! I immediately pulled over, jumped out of my vehicle and ran to join them, shouting out loud into the wind and forgetting for a moment that I couldn’t leave the ground to join them.

IMG_8397 v1

In my previous trips to check out the nest, I had only confirmed one baby, but apparently there were at least two that survived. And now these recently fledged falcons were testing and honing their flight skills with each other in the sky above me. So amazing to witness, so fun!

IMG_8398 v1

 

IMG_8399 v1

 

IMG_8401 v2

 

IMG_8408 v1

 

IMG_8412 v1

 

IMG_8416 v1

 

IMG_8420 v1

 

IMG_8421 v1

 

I had no choice but to accept all the invitation before me, so I settled in on a deer path that cut across the slope of the hill facing towards the setting sun. The falcons continued to come back above me a number of times, and at one point when one of the two disappeared, the other left its hover in the wind and banked in my direction, and I could feel its eyes on me! I got a fly-by! They are inquisitive creatures, and especially at this time in their lives they are investigating everything. Or maybe it could tell I would have like to join them up there.

IMG_8426 v1

 

IMG_8404 v1

There are few things that are as fun to see (or be a part of) as young animals or kids playing, and I felt really grateful to have gotten to see this short moment of time, when these birds don’t have a care in the world and are just bursting with life and joy and excitement about being alive. Inspiring, and a reminder that we still have that in each of us if we can just take a bit of time to reconnect with it.

 

IMG_8447

 


lots of eyasses!

so many babies right now! in addition to the exciting black hawk / red-shoulder nest and eyas (in my last post), i’ve gotten to see some other fun sites.

the three eyasses at the fruitvale bridge have successfully fledged and are learning to fly. when i was there last week, they were still unsteady in their flight, and one was doing a lot of “practice flapping” while gripping tightly onto the bridge span. so fun to watch. he took a little time to stare down at the strange two-legged staring up at him. when the adult female showed up (empty taloned), one of the young kept harassing her and pushing her off her perch. they are a hungry lot!

fledgling peregrine falcon / Alameda County, CA

fledgling peregrine falcon / Alameda County, CA

IMG_0283 v2

 

IMG_0284 v1

i stumbled on a nest that i hadn’t ever seen before, after hearing the young begging for dinner. this red-tailed hawks nest near wildcat canyon should be vacant very soon – these young are looking ready to go. i saw their parents hunting until well after dark trying to keep their bellies full, not an easy job!

red-tailed hawks nest / Contra Costa County, CA

red-tailed hawks nest / Contra Costa County, CA

three red-tail eyasses

three red-tail eyasses

i’m still hopeful that i’ll get to see some young harriers soon, for surely the behavior of the the pair (pictured in some previous posts) in the marsh by the bay indicates they are around.

female northern harrier / Marin Co, CA

female northern harrier / Marin Co, CA


fruitvale falcons

On this beautiful Spring-like (?!) morning, I had the privilege to see my old Falcon friends on the Fruitvale Bridge in Oakland/Alameda. Just after I arrived, Hiko, the tiercel (male falcon), came in to land on the Oakland tower with breakfast – which this morning appeared to be a Eurasian collared dove. Doing his part to remove invasive species today, I guess. Unfortunately my vantage point had the sun back-lighting my photos and I was pretty far away, but it was fun to watch as he really went to work on this bird, de-feathering it as we watched. Feathers floated down like a snow storm beneath him, he was working furiously to get at that meat!

01-IMG_9558 raw edit v1

02-IMG_9559 raw edit v1

03-IMG_9561 raw edit 1 v1

After a little while, his mate came flying in from the northwest over the waterway, and she didn’t seem to see him as she landed on the other tower. She started to e-chup (vocalize), and he let her know he was there with a few response calls. Usually this time of year, the fella would be offering meals to his mate as part of the courtship process, but he seemed intent on keeping this meal to himself at that moment. It is just the beginning of the courtship and mating process, so maybe he’s just not feeling the love quite yet.

the female falcon, Tremaine

the female falcon, Tremaine

Hiko, finishing up his portion of breakfast

Hiko, finishing up his portion of breakfast

As Hiko was finishing his meal, Tremaine took off from her perch to investigate a little more into what Hiko was doing. 

06-IMG_9611 raw edit 1 v1

Tremaine landed back on the Alameda tower, and finally Hiko seemed moved to share his breakfast with her after being discovered hoarding his food. He took off with a portion of what was left and flew to her on the other tower. Typically, the tiercel would drop-off the food for the falcon as part of the courtship process, but at the last minute he had second thoughts about sharing and he veered away! Or perhaps he was flirting, falcon style. She immediately took off after him, and within seconds had “commandeered” her portion from Hiko in mid-air over the bridge! Good stuff.

07-IMG_9613 raw edit v1

She took the small portion of the dove that he had and did a lap around the towers with it, then headed back to the Alameda tower to eat.

Tremaine with prey

Tremaine with prey remains

Tremaine eating

Tremaine eating

Hiko then did a little survey flight around the area and settled in near Tremaine on the Alameda tower to do some preening after his crop-busting breakfast.

Hiko

Hiko

After Tremaine finished her portion, she flew over to the Oakland tower (interestingly the OPPOSITE tower that Hiko was on – I don’t think he won any extra points with his sharing “efforts”). The two settled into a mid-day lull as they digested their food and preened, and I left them to enjoy the sunny day.

Tremaine

Tremaine

This is a shot of Tremaine when she was eating that I took with my camera phone through a friend’s scope (digiscoping, it is called).  Not great quality but quite a zoom. You can see Tremaine has a full crop, she must have eaten something on her own before getting this “gift” from Hiko. 

IMAG3267 v1

These birds are so beautiful, watching them fly, with such quickness and grace, never gets old.


another abbott’s adventure … sand stories

i don’t have a lot of words right now. one morning at a place like this is the same as reading 1000 books, combined with touching 1000 textures, smelling 1000 smells, hearing 1000 sounds, tasting 1000 flavors, seeing 1000 treasures and feeling a 1000000 heart strings of life.

we were treated at the beginning of the morning just after sunrise to the five resident Otters foraging in the lagoon, and a visitor that I have never seen before in this immediate area … a golden Eagle!

IMG_0997 v1

the above picture was of a creature foreshadowing things to come – this red-legged Frog (?) was a precursor to SO many Frog tracks in the sand, along with many deer Mice and brush Rabbit tracks – appearing in the middle of bare sand dunes for reasons unexplained. I surmise the new moon allowed some expanded forays for these normally reclusive species who stick to the cover of the plants on the edges of the dunes during most times.

IMG_1034

brush Rabbit tracks

IMG_1017

Frog tracks (likely red-legged Frog)

IMG_1001 v1

river Otter scent marking on the dunes

IMG_1004 v1

Bobcat (on right) and some type of amphibian (Salamander) tracks on left – perhaps an Ensinitas?

IMG_1005 v1

deer Mouse tracks with tail drag

IMG_1012 v1

beautiful clear front tracks of a red-legged Frog (right) along with deer Mouse tracks on the left

IMG_1018 v1

great-horned Owl tracks leading into a take-off spot

IMG_1019 v1

great-horned Owl trail …

IMG_1023 v2

WOW! what a find!!!! the trail seen in the picture from the left is a great-horned Owl coming in for a landing (final landing spot seen in the center of the picture). you can see it’s wing and tail feather imprints in the sand. also you can see a Raccoon trail diagonally across the picture from lower right to left (occurring after the Owl), along with faint Frog tracks paralleling the Raccoon, and some two-legged tracks at the top.

IMG_1026 v1

another view of the great-horned Owl landing spot (along with feather marks in sand!!), and its trail leading away from the landing point – ultimately to a take-off spot around 10 yards away. again, you can see the Raccoon trail across the center, and many other tracks in the background.

IMG_1028 v1

great-horned Owl tracks

IMG_1030 v1

a beautiful black-tailed mule Deer trail

IMG_1032 v1

Sanderling trail (?)  … though I’m open to other interpretations … and some faint deer Mice, Frog and insect trails – this was found in the lagoon sand dunes, far from the surf

IMG_1033 v1

more Sanderling (?) tracks

IMG_1035 v1

another (!) great-horned Owl trail in the sand dunes!

IMG_1042 v1

one of my favorites to see live (but seldom a dependable sight), there were plenty of north american river Otter tracks around

IMG_1043 v1

the turkey Vultures are always hanging around for a meal, and this (faint) track (among smaller shore bird tracks) showed that they are quick to come in on the remains of shore birds who are predated at the lagoon by a varied cast of opportunists …

IMG_1044 v1

Bobcat tracks in sediment / algae

IMG_1045 v1

Bobcat trail in sediment / algae

IMG_1050 v1

Bobcat tracks (nice shot of front and rear) – based on the size and the shape, we decided it was likely a male

IMG_1053 v1

likely a Bobcat scat – it contained almost purely feathers!

IMG_8590 v1

Osprey – one of the NINE raptor species that we were treated to seeing on this day (Osprey, northern Harrier, white-tailed Kite, Kestrel, peregrine Falcon, turkey Vulture, Red-tailed hawk, Ferruginous hawk, and golden Eagle!). My friends also saw a Cooper’s hawk as they were driving out.

IMG_8591 v1

Red-tailed hawk on dunes

IMG_8600 v1

these snowy Plovers, a highly endangered species, were using human tracks in the sand as wind breaks from the increasing gusts coming in from the ocean – it was pretty adorable

IMG_8607 v1

this peregrine Falcon was not welcome company for the Kestrel who was attempting to escort it out of the area

IMG_8609 v1

the “mud hen,” or Coot – top of the menu for many predators at this time of year here. when the Otters come by, they move to the shore and band together, waiting for them to pass

IMG_8610 v1

for reasons still not understood (by me), the Ravens were harassing the Red-tailed hawks as usual. perhaps it is for fun or to prove social status … fun, being something that the Ravens seem to incorporate into their lives all the time, evidenced by their frolicking in the air lifts caused by the oncoming winds into the dunes. seeing them play in the air is like watching Otters in the water, the energy is simply fun!

IMG_8649 v1 bw

lots of black-tailed mule Deer around in the fields, where we also saw lots of Badger sign

IMG_8645 v1

IMG_1040

Coyote tracks

IMG_1029

a cool shot of some black-tailed mule Deer tracks in the sand (with some two different bird tracks on the right of the frame)

the only animal signs that I might have expected to see and didn’t on this day were the grey fox and jack rabbit. grey Fox sign isn’t often seen right in this area, but jack Rabbit is. curious.

what a great day out at Point Reyes National Seashore, this place is such a gift – may it be protected for all this diversity of life to thrive, always.

zd


Abbotts Lagoon Sept 2013

black-tailed mule deer buck

black-tailed mule deer buck

Morro shoulderband snail

Morro shoulderband snail

Morro shoulderband snail and trail

Morro shoulderband snail and trail

receded lagoon bed

receded lagoon bed

black-tailed mule deer ma and fawn

black-tailed mule deer ma and fawn

beautiful dune grasses

beautiful dune grasses

muskrat

muskrat

red-tailed hawk

red-tailed hawk

juvenile peregrine falcon

juvenile peregrine falcon

north american river otter tracks

north american river otter tracks


hayward regional shoreline

happy equinox! the rains have come!!

The rains came down rather heavy today, for September – the first rains we’ve seen in months. It was wonderful. In the aftermath, the puffy cumulus clouds floated by as all life came out of their short rain hibernation.

juvenile Anatum peregrine falcon

juvenile Anatum peregrine falcon

juvenile Anatum peregrine falcon

juvenile Anatum peregrine falcon

snowy egret

snowy egret

great egret with dinner

great egret with dinner