Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Red's fate to be determined

Red's PTT stopped transmitting on Dec 24, 2009. So...in early January thanks to Oscar Beingolea who traveled 700km from Lima, Peru, and spent several days in the field searching Red's home range in an effort re-trap him and remove the PTT, we gained some insight that was otherwise not possible.

Although Oscar could not locate the peregrine or the PTT, he visited several locations that had been used repeatedly by Red, and told us some things not apparent from our limited perspective gained solely from Google Earth.

In one case, viewing the GPS data in Google Earth showed repeated use of a location that was devoid of any structure all, and not something at all that one would predict as typically "used" by peregrines. Oscar soon discovered that a small village with a new water tower had been constructed there at some point after the satellite imagery used by GE, making it "appear" that the peregrine was perching in an unlikely spot.

In another instance, Red abruptly stopped using what had to that point been a heavily-used overnight roost. We had high hopes that the peregrine would be found at or near that location. On his first visit Oscar discovered a small plot of land left fallow and surrounded by Algarrobo trees. Here is how Oscar described what he and two of his colleagues (Fernando and Pedro) found...
"...something has not been right with his "favorite place", since we could find no evidence of the falcon's presence at the place he likes. Last time we were there, we could see that two trees had been cut down next to the main tree standing there. We were not sure about how long ago had been they cut down. There weren't any small branches around suggesting they had been used for charcoal already, but how long ago?.

The weather is extremely hot and its is not rare that the trunks are left drying outdoors till they are needed. That first day at the "place he likes" we found no logging activity around the cut trees, other than a stump 50 cm tall and some other small pieces on the ground.
Well, today at "the place he likes", we met some loggers that were cutting the trunks into smaller pieces, less than 12 meters away from the main standing tree. I'm sure that is enough to scare away any falcon. Furthermore, when I asked to the loggers how long ago had they cut down the trees they told me "15 days ago". Alastair, that cut is really fresh and must have scared the falcon from the place he likes. They had probably have even cut HIS FAVORITE TREE..."
The "Favorite Place"

Once back in Rankin Inlet next month, Red's breeding site will be one of the first places I check ...I'll let you know what I find.

Alastair