Gracen and I met up with Mary this morning for a scheduled visit to the Pilsen nest. Gracen, her roommate Kasey and another volunteer from that area named George will be helping the warehouse workers monitor the area this season.
We’d planned this trip a week ago with the hopes we’d be able to leave the little camera and gorrillapod out near the nest for a couple of hours while we monitored from the ground. The weather had been gorgeous all week, but of course, Friday morning dawned drizzly.
We decided to go anyway, hoping we’d at least be able to peek in on the nest box and get some sort of egg count (and leg bands, of course, always leg bands). Oddly enough, as we neared the site, I noticed that a band of blue sky was showing through the clouds. By the time we rolled up and greeted George, who had come down to meet us, it had actually stopped raining! That’s the stuff.
We met with our contact in the building and went up to check out the nest. I got the little camera ready and crouched by the door, which opened on a pretty soggy peregrine giving us a piece of its mind. I laid out on my belly and swiftly began hooking the gorrillapod around the metal braces of the fire escape. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the bird stand up and got a glint of green as it showed off some leg bands. When the gorrillapod was secured, I hit the button, setting the camera to take a picture every 30 seconds before scooting out of there to leave the peregrine in the nest in peace.
Before we shut the door, we all got a glimpse of the leg band numbers. We all saw black over green and we all saw an “R” on the top, but there was some disagreement regarding the bottom number, so no go. I hoped the interval timed camera would pick up something while we were downstairs.
The four of us filed downstairs to spend some time on the ground. One goal was to show Gracen and George the area and give them some hints on where to look for downed fledgling, so that’s what we did during the first 40 minutes or so. After that, we found a nice place to stand and watched the nest.
After a bit, the second adult flew in from the west and landed on an outcrop near the roof. It preened for a bit and then took off again, making a quick pass by the nest before heading back west. I noticed it had dipped low as it disappeared over the warehouse to our west, so I left the group to walk around to the back of that building and see what was over there.
The peregrine, as it turned out, the longtime Pilsen male “Lynn” (b/g L/N), was perched on a pair of short, white towers close to the back of the building. As I watched, he took off and flew towards the roof. A large flock of starlings rose up from the roof and he sort of herded them around in a circle before trying for one and missing.
The birds settled down on the roof again, but within 5 minutes, Lynn made another pass. This time, he got one of the starlings. He promptly landed on the white towers, hopped down on a small grate landing and stuffed the dead bird down out of sight. A cache spot, then. At this point, he seemed to notice me standing beneath the towers, but didn’t seem too impressed. He watched me for a second and then lazily jumped off the tower railing. I lost sight of him as he flew east over the building top. By the time I got around the corner, I’d already checked a few of the pictures I’d taken and could let Mary know that Lynn had returned.
At that point, 2 hours had elapsed, which is the extent of the small camera’s battery life on the 30 second interval setting, so we decided to grab the camera and head out. When we got back upstairs, I asked Mary to grab the little camera while I got ready to snap a picture should the female stand up and give us a look at the eggs and her leg bands. Sadly, she did not stand all the way up!
Later that night, I looked through the 200+ 30sec interval shots, but not ONE of them had a leg band. Dangit.
Well, at any rate, it’s great to know that L/N is back. He’s one of my favorite birds. And we did find out that the female is banded black over green and that the pair has 3 eggs, so the trip was successful. Hopefully, I’ll get another shot at the female’s leg bands — maybe at banding.