Saturday, September 4, 2010

Joe's "Hag"

In anticipation of the start of outward migration in a week or two, I thought I'd kick things off by telling you about Joe's "Hag". Hatch year Peregrines on migration are raw, unruly and almost always looking for a meal...they’ll take a run at anything that has a meal or might be one. Haggard birds are elusive and discriminating…each potential meal, it seems, is cautiously assessed before it becomes one.

Dowitcher remains on the flats of Padre Island

At the eyrie, with young to protect, the demeanor of an old “Hag” is best described as "in-your-face" – literally on occasion. So it was without much surprise that this summer Mark Prostor was able to trap a resident female defending 3 young at her nest ledge on the Melville Peninsular near Igloolik in the High Arctic.

Unlike our study area near Rankin Inlet (550 miles to the south), there had been no previous effort made to trap and band adult peregrines in the Igloolik study area, so it was with excitement that Mark found the bird already marked with a USFW band…someone had already trapped this female elsewhere. But who…and where?

An "Old Hag"

Unbelievably, Mark recognized the number series on the band – he’d used the same series the previous fall while trapping migrants staging on the Gulf of Mexico at Padre Island, Texas. We wondered if the answers t0 “who” and “where” would be found in Mark’s field book – his field notes showed that the bands he had used were close (within 5), but he’d not been the one to trap the Hag on Padre…at least we now knew “the where”.

We e-mailed the band ID to Gregg Doney who directs the fall peregrine survey on Padre Island to let him know another Padre bird had been recaptured in the Canadian Arctic – he replied;

Great job, the connections between Nunavut and Padre are growing!

Actually, this was Joe Snyder’s first Padre bird. I remember the scenario very well, because it was Joe’s introduction to the flats (15-OCT-09) and he experienced the “black and white” of behaviors often seen.

We (Joe, Bud, myself) were just south of the silver well-head, after spending about an hour on a Hatch Year male that would never close the 10 foot gap on the trap. We finally called it quits and were in a group, picking up and going over landmarks when an adult female bumped from the flats 250 yards downwind.

I was skeptical, because the Hag seemed skittish and had probably watched our entire routine with the male…but even with 3 ATVs in the area, she came right in and bound.

Joe then worked her to hand.

Joe and 1947-00531 on Padre 2009-10-15

1947-00531 and nestlings on the Melville Peninsular, NU 2010-08-09

Alastair