NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
7 Oct 1996
- Assateague Island; Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
- 37.86194 -75.36667
- Marine Shoreline
FALCONS LOG #1
[Note: [VG=Very good]
[NVG=Not very good]
00:00:00 Bill Seegar That's basically south looking down over Wallops Island and as we travel around the hook, we're going to swing west -finally north. And this part of the island is very dynamic, it's been moving a great deal over the last decade, and as you'll see with one of the channel markers -now on the beach, used to be marking the channel a decade or so.
1:08 We're going to work on the south end of the island looking for peregrines and censusuing all the raptors that we see, all the different species we see, and we collect information on their species and their numbers and the locations where they're observed. In the case of peregrines, we collect as specific info-sex and age, 4 different kinds of peregrines -immature males and females and adult males and females. So we'll work on the south at the end of the island. Then we have a second vehicle that works on the north end. then we split the island at midday. that way you don't see the same piece of real estate. Begin to come out at dawn. Move into more sheltered areas at night. They don't like to sit out in the open. there are predators that can catch and kill peregrines if sitting out -homed owls, foxes. feel safer if in trees and concealed. do know that they fly around the dark.
Island is 37 miles long. we'll move along beach fronts in Virginia. basically move around down here, mike up to Maryland. 5:35 See the watermen out in early dawn hours putting nets out in surf-have been some fairly interesting fish -saw someone put a fifty pound channel bass on the beach 3 days ago.
Q: Are there any signs of falcons.
BS: 9:50 Yeah, one of the best indicators to indicate the presence of a falcon is the behavior of other birds. are a number of birds on this beach that have a dramatic and rapid reactions to peregrine -shorebirds - sanderlings will react rapidly to presence of falcon -reflect intentions of the falcon -falcon high/ falcon low will elicit different reactions ....avoidance by shorebirds will form a tight ball and become erratic in their movement ¬changing direction -flashing dark and light, and if a falcon begins to work a flock of shorebirds, they will become extreme erratic in their actions, may start 0 column out and form a vertical column,
and if you see that, know presence of a falcon. Skimmers are another one...there's a white pelican [jim talking all the time] 12:50
[Bird strike story from national airport]
25:15 BS: We log our time in on the beach. We have since the very beginning of the survey [27 years] collected data in a certain way and recorded it. the island is broken up into a variety of different political boundaries. Right now we just moved off of Tom's Hook, and now moving onto refuge beach, and we collect information on the birds we see, and in regard to as close a position could estimate them, until we had GPS. Now we can identify the position of the bird within meters ........ [no good] helps determine kinds of habitat.... kind of remnant of days gone by -when we finish the survey we'll write reports we've seen and banded, report info to national seashore, and refuge, state park, then they have a report of what we saw on their property and the kinds of habitat they're managing. GPS is a dramatic refinement of that since it gives us exact locations.27:40
28:55 -29:30 FX hot -wind / driving fast
30:24 BS: Most of the birds we see are on the ground. Birds will be sitting on the each....... most of the birds within 100' of ground.... .1ooking for birds within several hundred meters of truck. look for dark wedges on the beach. they will always stand facing the wind. they're little wind vanes .....
32:53 -34:58 FX Driving on beach. [good clean long stretch of quiet driving for under script] plus more til
38:05 BS: re. immatures and adult. Adults -Sometimes you watch them, they're much more directed -on migration. Immature birds out on the beach -high mortality of young birds..... watch em, running around playing around with stuff on the beach. Adults don't goof around -go right out and get what they want in short order.... I've seen birds get up off beach, climb up 7-800 feet in less than 120 seconds and just roll over and pick a shorebird out of the air and in less than 3-4 minutes be back on the beach and eat it..... 41:19
Now this is the north shore beach adjacent to wash flats .....
+ acceleration and wind -stop at 45:09
[conversation about "hacking"]
53:11-15 -FX -door slam 54:10-[Seegar gets in and shuts door.]
BS: Got the wash flats at 7:45 .... not much moving yet. [mosquitoes -re. equine encephalitis]
56:24 The area we are moving into is the wash flats -it's a diked up area designed to capture fresh water and to create a fresh water habitat for migratory waterfowl. shorebirds .... this refuge was originally established to support the management of snow geese and waterfowl. ...... .
FX window rolling down, ..... they just sit around.... [peregrines like a big open area with big vista] gotta look out for falcons that are yellow which we don't want to recapture just identify them as yellow birds and identify as a re-sighting. [plus driving and chatting. uses of hat -red hat ¬zoom right in and find decoys .... ]
FX -truck start and go -slow -picking up wind as accelerate ¬Seegar still chatting randomly 8:00 south wash flats.
1:06:21 BS -There's a peregrine right there. Jim Dayton -coming in low ... yellow -this one we've seen before FX -truck goes fast. top and get out / slam door / beeping that was an immature female -probably hatched in June -could be anywhere in the North America arctic. most likely east around Hudson bay .... 1:08:28 Lot of the birds here, based on our satellite telemetry coming into Eastern flyway from Greenland and eastern Canada. We put satellite transmitters on ... west coast of Hudson bay ..... we've caught birds here from Alaska -once -quite unusual.
Jim sees something. BS sees it. that's a peregrine. let's go ..... We have an unidentified peregrine at 0800. What we just looked at was a peregrine half a mile out.....
FX -Birds ambi -1:27:49 -1:28:30 -good but quiet
FX -Horses ambi -1:30:05 -1:33:25 Horses walking slowly by + wind[NVG]
BS -I've always been interested in South America. but I've never been there -[lists people he sent there] -lot of peregrines in Argentina. 1:35:13 A lot of the birds that we see on this beach move into areas move into areas throughout South America. I think it would be exciting to visit some of the places that some of these peregrines that we've studied here....... we may have an acoustic opportunity here .... horses
1:37:07 Horses and birds -windy -geese fly over [G] short then not good re. horses -truck stopping as horse whinnies
1:41:00 -1:44:46 -quiet ambi + feint horse movement and birds on wash flats -[out of truck] 3 minutes OK for under script
1:45:28 -BS: lt's right there. Hang on. We're going to go for a ride ..... That's the one we're looking for ..... "
FX Truck. accelerates .... she's coming down, she's on those shorebirds ...... she's starting to hit the wings probably doing about 65, we'll be hard pressed to keep up with her...... [driving fast] That's a bald eagle right there. Bird right here -yellow bird.
Things are starting to move now. We got an immature peregrine female north west flat at 8:45 . We'll go look -in the south end of the wash flats [1:50:00]
That bird was testing the shorebirds coming through....put a few not very serious efforts, you can see how shorebirds reacted..... blues are immatures. You can tell by the size. Males are smaller. Adults = steel gray blue with a lot of white showing on upper breast.
Q: Purpose of painting? Id bird in this area -dye wears off in a few weeks.
Interesting area to look into -north coast of South America. A lot of peregrines have taken up residence there.....
On a good day might be 5-6 of those birds sitting around here ¬when get into peak of the migration ....
JD: Spin it Bill......there it is, it just went up.....hang on.... Here we go.....
FX: Truck accelerate ..... on the move ...... [Not the best probably]
End DAT #1