Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Meet Our Local Peregrine

She enjoys Grackles, Robins and the occasional Blue Jay. She loves to soar, thinks perching in the afternoon sun while sailboats glide past is just splendid and believes there is nothing more exhilarating than going from a lazy soar into a vertical stoop. She is none other than our very own local Peregrine Falcon.Born in 2006, she hails from Virginia. To be more specific, she fledged from the Norris Bridge, just South of White Stone. It's really not far at all from Annapolis.One could get there in a matter of hours by car. On the wing, there is much less traffic. But she's not just from the tidewater area of Virginia. No, there is more to the story. Lets just say that she only 'hatched' in VA. Like my dog Oiseau, she spent those formative first few weeks in West Virginia.Here is a map of where she hatched:How do I know this, you ask? Well, she was banded as a young falcon back in the spring of 2006 by Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William & Mary.

(photo courtesy of Magic Dragon 55.)

On May 24th, 2006 our very own local Peregrine was banded on a bridge over the Rappahannock River.

And here is a map of where she fledged:Soon after, she was then relocated for hacking to the New River Gorge in West Virginia. You see, whenever some nest sites have a poor history of fledging (high mortality), young birds are now moved to sites where the success rates are much higher. Issues like traffic, inexperienced birds flying into the water, a vehicle, buildings, as well as things like nest predation from likes of Great Horned Owls, all contribute to young Peregrines not surviving those first few weeks.I don't believe she has a name, but I'll have to check into that with the folks from William & Mary. If I find anything out, I'll let you know.
As for our local tiercel (the male), he has no leg bands, so his geographic origins remain a mystery.Now... if only we could get her to use the nest box that USFWS built for her, we could tell stories in future blogs about her chicks whereabouts. In the meantime, I'll keep a watchful eye towards the skies for local 1807-02723. That is her band number. She looks good in green and black.If you have a moment, I urge you to visit the Center's website.

For more on the New River Gorge Peregrine Program, please click HERE. If you'd like to read her 'yearbook', a little PDF document with details from 2006, when she and 14 other Peregrine chicks fledged, click HERE.

The story goes that, "On the morning of June 15, over one dozen feeder quail were dispersed on the ground outside of the hack box and the door was engineered to open from a concealed location over 100ft from the site. West Virginia DNR personnel, staff from Three Rivers Avian Center, and National Park Service biologists were on site during the release. At 1041hrs the box door was opened and within 15 minutes one bird (L green; R black 07/green W) had taken flight. At 1125hrs the last eyas (R purple; L black 17/green V) emerged from the box."Yes, she was the last one to leave the box that day. And it would appear that she spent around 28 to 29 days hanging around the hack box at the New River Gorge, before eventually relocating to Annapolis. Now I'm quite sure that she sowed her wild oats and traveled a bit before settling down to start a family, but it's just the points where we 'know' she has been.Here is our girl all grown up, wearing proudly her "L black 17 / green V" band.

Best,

Dan

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tree Swallow Migrational Mayhem

Tree Swallows. Enjoy the migrational collection while it's still slightly warm outside.The entire flock of them would fly in relatively tight formations and then all dive deep into this bush. I suppose they were feeding on it's berries. But, literally, the entire flock would vanish into the bush and then in a few seconds come bursting out and flood the skies. It was absolutely astounding to watch.Lastly, here is one of only 27 Cattle Egret that I saw while driving North on Rt 3 in Gambrills, MD this afternoon. I was on my way to visit a school and was surprised to find them hanging out on the side of the road in a vernal pool. Not a cow in sight. That said, there is a farm just over the tree line.Have a great week,

Dan

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Haas Means "Rabbit" in Dutch

Or maybe it's German. Either way, on the way home from a meeting in Kent County today, I noticed this Red-tailed Hawk feasting away on a rabbit in Queen Annes County. It was late in the afternoon and the rains were about to fall. I was cruising down 213 towards Centerville when I noticed this (small for a Red-tail) hawk feasting away. From what I understand, rabbit is very lean and good for you. Judging by the size of this raptor, he could use the meal. I just hope he keeps the rabbit's foot for good luck.

In other news, here are some photos of the recently-returned Sparrows (White-Crowned and Lincoln's), a Yellow Palm Warbler to Anne Arundel County, along with a soon-to-be departing Blue-Headed Vireo. Enjoy.Soon I'd like to show you a photo of a Connecticut Warbler, but for the moment, this bird remains elusive!

-Dan

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hans finds Haas a Life Bird

Thank you Hans Holbrook for finding this very rare White-faced Ibis this past Sunday. Sometime during the late morning hours of the Big Sit (known on the island as the 'Sit on our Assateaguers' group), Hans decided to venture out of the circle and see what we birds might be hiding out around the corner.The White-faced Ibis has a glowing pink eye, which on this particular bird really stood out in the marsh. Not so much in these photos that I took, but you'll have to just trust me on that identifying field mark. It was feeding next to a Glossy Ibis, the more common variety of Ibis in Maryland.Thank you Hans. Even more rare knowing now how unlikely it is to find a White-faced Ibis in the fall.It was a great discovery, and it was only one of many great birds he has located recently for me.

In other news, if you MUST watch the tele, might I suggest this program? Nature. The episode airing lately is called "Raptor Force." Very enjoyable.

I will leave you with a Peregrine Falcon, of the Tundra variety, the came tearing in off the ocean on Sunday. Declan did all of the background artwork.-Dan

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Big Sit?

So you have to ask yourself... are you in? Or are you out? This Sunday, folks all across the country will be participating in the "Big Sit." The "Big Sit!" is an annual, international, noncompetitive birding event hosted by Bird Watcher's Digest and was founded by the New Haven, Connecticut Bird Club.So this Sunday, October 11th to be precise, the Anne Arundel County Bird Club and other bird enthusiasts will descend upon Fort Smallwood Park before the sun arrives to count birds. This nationwide event has one basic rule... each local bird club must set up a 17-foot circle some place and try to see how many species they can identify in a 24-hour period.Simple, right?The Anne Arundel Bird Club will start at 6:30AM with hopes of counting any owls that are feeling vocal.Depending on the weather and the birds, the count could last well into the afternoon.In previous years, Anne Arundel had their BIG SIT at Kinder Farm Park. where the record day was 50 species.No experience necessary, one just should plan on having fun and maybe seeing a great bird or two.Some good advice: Bring a lawn chair, some liquid refreshment and something to eat if you plan to stay a while.For more information on the BIG SIT, visit the web page.And if you are wondering, the top site in the country for the highest count last year was Cape May Point, New Jersey where "Team Peregrine Fondue," tallied 113 species!The top site in Maryland, coming in at number 9 in the US... Elk Neck State Park, Maryland, where "The Turkey Pointers" counted 82 species.So, where what circle will you enter this Sunday? Assateague? Turkey Point? Fort Smallwood? The choices are all fantastic!Me I haven't decided what circle I'm going to step into on Sunday, but I am looking forward to the count all the same!Good Birding,

Dan

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