Year in Review
June 10, 2004 - This is the last regular report on this bird, banded as a nestling in 2002. The transmitter was recovered on June 10 in a salt marsh on Long Island, New York. As best as we can tell, the transmitter fell off and we hope that she will be relocated by her bands sometime in the future. There was no evidence of mortality at the site of the transmitter recovery; it appears that she slipped free of the transmitter and has a real prospect of survival. If she appears at a nest site in the next few years, this will confirm our suspicion and completing her amazing journey.
Last week, upon review of the data received daily, I became aware that the transmitter was showing no ‘motion.’ Good data continued to point to a Long Island location, but the motion detector on the transmitter confirmed that it was stationary since May 19. It was clear that something had happened; no motion indicated one of two things: she was down and likely dead, or the transmitter had fallen off. Either way, this solar-powered transmitter was still receiving adequate sunlight and transmitting excellent data from a small area on Long Island, NY. The habitat was similar to that used by this bird since her first winter – coastal salt marsh. The points were clustered on Great Island, a salt marsh island in the town of Hemstead west of South Oyster Bay. The prospects for recovery were ideal: an open spartina island, good location data, and road access to the area. So, on June 9, Art McMorris (the PGC Peregrine Falcon monitoring coordinator for Eastern PA), my son Andrew, and I traveled to Long Island. Standing on the Wantagh Parkway with a hand-held receiver on the morning of June 10, we detected the signal made to be received by satellites. Following careful triangulation administered by Art and Andrew, we pinpointed an area of about three-quarters of an acre, -- just 200 feet square – within which we believed the transmitter lay.
Not knowing what we would find, we crashed through the wall of poison ivy lining the parkway, and set off across the salt marsh. Getting within the target zone, Andrew approached an old piling rising 3 feet above the marsh and said “is this it?” Indeed, it was the transmitter hanging from the piling, with the harness reduced to near threads. Covered in droppings from birds that had subsequently used this solitary perch in the marsh, it was well-camouflaged to its environment.
Our best reconstruction of the event goes as follows. The neoprene harness was fraying, and possibly hanging loose on the bird when it became snagged on the stump used as a perch. Fighting to break free of the backpack, she carried since her first week of flying, she tore the straps, leaving the remains of the harness and transmitter hanging in the marsh. Now free, she continued her wanderings. The transmitter, hanging on the stump, produced high-quality data which lead us directly to the island, and hence its recovery.
We wait with anticipation to hear of her at a nest site, probably along the New Jersey coast where she spent her first summer.
April 26, 2004 - The past week has our bird traveled north and south in a dizzying array of movements not possible to reflect on a single map. In the early part of this period (April 16) she was on Long Island, then moved north on April 18 to "Stony Point" New York. By the morning of April 19 she was south to the Manahawkin area - a familiar stomping ground. Later that day she had gone south the Ocean City. By late day on April 20, she was back on Long Island, New York, New York City on April 23, and back south to Manahawkin where she finished off the week.
April 15, 2004 - On April 10 this bird has made another significant move out of New York. Now coming into adult plumage, she returned to the central New Jersey coast north of Atlantic City. Since April 4 she was on the move around New York State, ranging between the City and Long Island. She had been as far north as Newburg, NY and east to Westampton on Long Island. Her wanderings are most likely not over this spring. The locations at mid-day on April 15 suggest north-bound movement. Stay tuned!
April 4, 2004 - I couldn't resist posting this activity for 04/04/04! That date follows a serious of big flights since our last posting (below). From the location in southern Delaware, she flew north on March 26 to the Delaware Bay, continued along the southern shore of the Bay to Little Creek Delaware where she crossed into New Jersey. Not spending long there, she went back to southern Delaware on March 29, only to fly north along the Atlantic Coast on April 3 straight to New York City! She moved east onto Long Island on April 4, where she stopped near Long Beach, NY. In this past week, she undoubtedly encountered a number of nesting pairs along the New Jersey coast and possible some in New York City. As a sub-adult female, she should be looking for an available male!
March 24, 2004 - She is still on the move! As of March 16, this bird had gone to New York City and then back to her first-summer residence along the New Jersey shoreline. In the past week, she moved south again, including a stop along the coast near Wildwood. Then, on March 21 - the first full day of spring - she continued south into central Delaware. The latest data received has her in the southwestern corner of Delaware. It is quite likely that she will continue moving, searching for a vacant territory to establish as a residence.
March 16, 2004 - She is on the move! On March 13, 2004, she flew almost directly to Long Island, New York. Remaining there only a day, she went back south on March 15 to the central New Jersey shoreline where she spent her previous summer. We'll continue to follow her activities now that she has made a break from her winter territory! The next few weeks are critical! She may well fight for a territory on the shore, where several coastal towers support nesting peregrines. Stay tuned!
March 2, 2004 - Daily readings continue to come from this bird, approaching her second full year. Her plumage will be changing from the brown, streaked markings to the crisp, clean blue-gray of an adult. In front, horizontal bars are replacing the vertical brown streaking. The locations detected over the past two weeks remain centered on the Delmarva. She wandered south to the Norfolk on February 23, but has not yet undertaken any wandering flights from her winter territory along the Atlantic coast.
February 2, 2004 - Activities in the past 2 weeks continue to be centered around the southern end of the Delmarva Peninsula, on the Atlantic side. This region of barrier islands and coastal dunes is undoubtedly frigid and windy, but apparently supports enough bird life to sustain this bird comfortably. The most recent map displays locations for this bird during the same period last winter - very similar to the most recent reports, although probably reflecting differences in the details. Based on 2003, we may not expect this bird to move until mid-March. She remained in the lower Peninsula until March 20, 2003. However, as she comes into breeding condition, the motivation to find a nesting territory may move her earlier.
January 4, 2004 - The southern Delmarva Peninsula continues to be the home of this bird, hatched in Harrisburg in 2002. She has been spotted by falcon watchers in the area perched on a dead snag. Data continues to arrive on a daily basis. The map provided resembles her habits last winter. We will watch with much anticipation for her movement to what we hope will be a nesting territory later this winter.