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Environmental Recording 53:23 - 55:01 Play 53:23 - More
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Quiet beach ambi, Wind  

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Environmental Recording 59:45 - 1:03:55 Play 59:45 - More
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Loud beach ambi, Wind, Waves  

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Interview 1:35:26 - 1:59:00 Play 1:35:26 - More
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Paul Howey, Bill Seegar, Mike Yates  

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Microwave telemetry; Transmitters for birds  

Sound Effects 1:59:20 - 1:59:22 Play 1:59:20 - More
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Sound Effects 2:01:36 - 2:01:38 Play 2:01:36 - More
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NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
Oct 1996

    Geography
  • United States
    Virginia
    Accomack County
    Locality
  • Assateague Island; Assateague Beach Coast Guard Station
    Latitude/Longitude
  • 37.86389   -75.36667
    Habitats
  • Marine Shoreline
    Features
  • Beach
    Channels
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Recorders
    Microphones
    Accessories
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=1; Stereo

NPR/NGS RADIO EXPEDITIONS
FALCONS
DAT 6
BS = Bill, Seegar
AC = Alex Chadwick

4:31 BS -You want to catch that bird? Let's go! It is really rockin' and rollin'! Alex you want to get in? [AC -here I come!] Go for it! Jimmy let's go! It's rolling crazy over here [**good ambi getting into car, doors slamming] ...right there (referring to a bird sighting) it's over on the dike! where? [ambi -car stops, get out of car] do you see it?

7:39 BS -This falcon is on a mission. this thing is climbing hard into the wind... [the following is very faint:] from there it is going to determine the velocity and it's about 1500 feet now" it is not migrating it is doing something else because it is going hard north in this stiff wind. this is typical of hunting it is way up, it is looking for oncoming birds now. it is looking for a flock of something below it -as it has to stroke. yeah it is , climbing. it is going up almost it is probably to 1500 feet now. it is up there. now it is starting to swing east. it is starting to power run now. it is starting to go. it is folding up. it is covering ground. it is hitting terminal velocity right now. that bird is probably hitting 110 now. it just threw up a little bit. it is hawking birds in the air right now. [AC¬: oops -wait a second. there it is] it's right out in front of us. it has not missed a stroke. i mean this is -just the sheer power of the peregrine being displayed now. it is just climbing into this wind.....right now she is just heading hard into the wind. waiting for something to get under her -yeah she is set! she is set! she set her wings now. there is a she is setting now. she is slowing down her wing beat and she is looking around. you might not be able to follow her. i think she is going out of sight now. [louder:] well, there is a bird that has climbed up to about 1500 and it is going north... this is a bird that just came down into the north wash flats, and just dinked around and then just -i mean this thing is way up and going straight into the wind, and you know what that means. she is just waiting for something. she is getting ready to drop the hammer. but she is going out of sight on me ...sid goodrow (?) said that on the next red radar he has seen birds moving in the gulf region in flocks and he can and he can follow the flocks, and he will see a single bird stationary in the movement and the birds are moving into it, and all of the sudden this bird will disappear and that will be a falcon doing this: flying into the wind while the migratory birds are coming at her at then when she gets into a flock the birds go to earth and she just whew! down at 120 130 miles an hour, terminal velocity and catches her dinner and that is what that bird is doing. it is just very typical..15:19 well, we will go down to the beach and see if birds are moving this way and we will just head north... 16:29 that bird will probably -well, we could all put in our bet on what country that bird will go to...where would the falcon go? .. maybe it will go to Buenos Aires? ..there are some real benefits to these peregrines. they go to nice places. they are real uptown birds. the first falcon we followed went just everywhere. i mean i couldn't believe it. after it left Florida it went right over to Havana, and then over to Jamaica. then over to Nicaragua and Honduras for a while, and down to Ecuador, over to the Andes into the headwaters for the Amazon and charged around for a while -just amazing (car ambi in bg) and what is neat is that you can get land sat imagery and remote sensing information hurdling through space, a thousands of miles an hour, looking down, collecting that information, and you can get that into your computer and look down and see where these animals are, figure out what kinds of habitat they are in. really zero in on what kinds of places they are wintering in. 19:01 and just a few years ago we just didn't have any idea.

25:22 ocean ambi (or is it wind?) in bg

39:04 BS -...he is noosed and he is heading into a difficult situation because he is going to be up in those dunes and....ah...

46:20 ambi -walking with ocean in bg

46:29 BS -(softly) wow. that is a beautiful bird. wow. he is completely black headed. that is a really striking head for an immature bird. see how dark this bird is. look that black face on him... ~

47:00 AC -but he is dark. that is the sign of maturity, isn't it?

BS -well, it is, but this bird just happens to have a very dark head for a young bird...this bird is all black and he has got very dark stripes up here on the front ...but they all get a full black cap in their next year -their second year... this guy he got a lot of black in his cap this year. not a big bird -he's got some purple on him, from some of the berries on the beach...that's a typical dark color, immature peregrine

48:22 AC -I know this isn't right, but they seem so ...they seem to regard us as equals -they are not -

BS -well, it is just a special mentality about the peregrine. they are really mild mannered, and they have an extraordinary personality really. they are very docile. 48:56 they are sort of the master of their universe, you know?

AC -Docile, but if you get close to it it will take a hunk out
of you .

BS -Oh, absolutely. They can bite and they can grab pretty well with their feet. but they don't go into shock or anything. the bid is very cognizant of what is going on. a lot of birds in the end sort of go into shock and just get paralytic. the peregrine is very attentive in watching you all of the time. 49:31 this is a neat little male mature.

49:50 BS -so we catch an immature male and ...are going to band it 220618272. nice day to catch a peregrine. Northeast. sort of a storm beach. very typically to see the birds on a beach like this -this time of year. it that you can expect to see. 50:53 here we go (fx: chain jimmy let's put a little dye or -this is a real pretty bird ( fx: bird cooing) ... i think we can spot him again. he is just a very handsome bird with that black cap...years ago when they were letting a lot of eastern birds go, or trying to re-establish eastern population, they got peregrines from other areas and tried to bring them back here and hack them out.......52:29 Ok, well, let's let him go (fx: good wing beat as bird being let go) see that crisp wing beat they really -their tercels are -have a lot sharper, quicker wing beat then the females. their wings are a little shorter, probably a little smaller and they really it is one of the few ways you can tell them from a distance. 52:58

AC -horizon has really cleared out.

BS -yeah. things are changing. I see a change in the weather here.

53:24 AMBI -DOWN WIND in area where bird was caught -soft breeze

55:06 -57:25 AMBI -CROSS WIND -facing the ocean

57:38 AMBI -DIRECTION FACING WHEN BS WAS UN-NOOSING THE BIRD, WITH THE OCEAN ON THE RIGHT 58:39 car door slam
59:33-1:03:57 AMBI -LOUD OCEAN, DRY OCEAN BEACH AMBI, VERY WINDY, MIKE IS PROPPED IN SOME BUSHES -HOPEFULLY WILL BREAK THE WIND A LITTLE BIT...there is a storm coming and Linda is sure the recording sounds bad, so she is going to shelter the mic a bit

1:35:27 Mike -oh this is an adult female. i caught it at 9:39

1:35:41 Mike(?)-let's get a weight on this bird. i am sure she is big enough, probably 950 (velcro? being pulled?)

1:36:47 Mike ...yeah, minus the hood and the velcro, about

9:30 ...damn I was 20 grams off

1:37:14 BS What does she weigh Mike? [Mike -9:30] nice number, nice number. we are going to run her with the 30 gram' er. Paul has got that loaded, he will explain that to us when he comes back [mike -i am going to thread up some needles here].

1:38:07 AC -Mike, how did you catch this? was there anything tricky in getting this bird?

Mike -No, it was a pretty normal capture. only a little more pressure than usual I would say ....

1:38:29 AC -and what kind of bird is this?

Mike -this is a full adult female, undetermined age, but she is a full adult so she is over 2 yrs old. and that is exactly what we are looking for. she has proven that she is a survivor, and the best candidate to carry this package. we already have the transmitter pre-sown. i have sown the top portion the other night. so we should be able to fit this other part pretty quickly. i am just getting some needles and dental floss ready here.

1:39:06 AC -it is kind of R standard looking needle and you are threading it with .. ,

Mike -waxed dental floss. once we get the correct fit on her what we will have to do is to make stitches in 3 places to hold
it, and then dot those with super glue, and she will be on her way. so where is that PTT? Paul? .......this one is probably no more than 3 or 4 yrs old ...you see she is still a little wet. she hasn' t dried ou yet, she also could have been flying over the ocean this morning and picked up some spray.

1:42:06 AC -this is a kind of 2 inch velcro band you have wrapped around her that pulls her wings in and keeps her from flapping around and hurting herself?

Mike: yeah. exactly. and it gives them freedom -if they need to defecate on me they can ...these are old adult feather, but see how they get bleached out.?

AC -these are the new feathers they are a kind of a shiney grey, slatey grey with darker patches quite dark patches on them. and the quill is very dark -grey brown, almost black. and the older feather -they ... [mike -are more brown then grey, they turn brown from the bleaching mostly] and then her breast is creamier, sort of light brown with a flex of dark color -a very handsome bird.

Mike -you have seen the immature birds and you can see where many of the markers ..... .
1:43:51 AC -how many falcons like this have you caught on this island do you think?

Mike: over the length of the 27 seasons of this survey were probably somewhere like 35 hundred, and that would include all miniatures and adult [alex -but you personally] oh -i am probably somewhere in the 3000 neighborhood btwn here and elsewhere. don't do that!

AC -she just tried to bite you!

1:44:41 Mike _. come on over here bill. let's get her on her way.

1:45:31 AC -what is this bird's number, do you know?

Mike -well, we have not banded her yet. um as a matter of fact we can take care that.... her fish and wildlife service band number is going to 1807-34598

AC -so what will you call her? 1807-34598?

Mike -well i suspect -she is going to have a PTT number

AC -and that is how you all will refer to her?

Mike -yeah

1:46:14 AC -what does PTT stand for?

Mike: platform transmitter terminal ... (re. info on survey) no, it will go by band number (not PTT number) this is a band issued by the bird banding laboratory of the us fish and wildlife service. and i will be sending this report in with this band number, but i will also have the code n there to tell them that it has also been auxiliary marked with a radio transmitter and i will give them the details....

AC -... so here is Dr. Howey with the transmitter

1:47:29 PH -this is the argus satellite transmitter. it's 1D number 19201, is; just like the phone number for this
little device. It is a unique number. each one that we make - just like the bird band that has a unique number that the satellite system identifies it by. so we are going to switch this one on. if you listen carefully here you might here it.

1:48:05 AC -so this looks like a cell phone...

PH -this is actually just a scanner. we switch it on by removing the magnet here. it fired, but i didn't here it, but here the data has come up on this receiver here. it tells us the ID number. we have to decode this to... it tells us some of their information. this transmits about once every minute. so in another minute we will see it come up on the receiver here but we know it is working now, it is transmitting. if there was a satellite going over - which there may well be actually right now...the satellite receives this more than about 2 beeps from this we get some sort of location on it. when mike is ready we will start to put this on the bird.

1:49:10 AC -so you have put a hood over the bird's head so it can't see while you to attach this.

Mike -it makes it a little more come comfortable for the bird
and for us.

BS (?) -yeah. we are going to be working very close to the beak, and of course the beak is what we don't want to be too close to. that's -although the feet can do some damage, the feet are mainly used to hold the prey. they kill with their beak. so if you don¿t want you finger killed. plus it keeps the bird much calmer.

PH -it is a fairly simple operation, but we take a lot of care in all of this, so we know that we have the transmitter on the bird symmetrically and it is not going to cause it any discomfort.

Mike -when I pre-sewed this the straps were at equal lengths on both ends. so we know that if we have equal lengths coming out on this end that it is symmetrical.

PH -can you hold this for me mike?

Mike -yes. i am going to clamp it for you Paul

***1:50:24 -satellite goes off!

Mike -there it goes -it is just a very short beep that lasts about 360 milliseconds

1:50:35 AC -now does that means that this has just transmitted info up to the satellite?

Paul? -possibly. it has transmitted it up there. whether there is a satellite there or not we are not sure at the moment. satellites come over to 20 mins maximum time in view. it takes them around 110 mins to go around the globe so -10:57

Alex -And that little beep that we just heard -what - PAUSE

1:51:16 In that little beep that we just heard what information went up there?

1:51:25 Paul? Well the first part of the message that was sent up there -it is a string of numbers basically and the first part of the message [FX -satellite transmitting?] contains the unique 1D number which I was talking about before, which is unique to this transmitter and that is what ARGUS recognizes this transmitter by, by that number. Following that number there are 4 readings on sensors on the transmitter. we have a temperature transmitter on there, we have a battery voltage sensor so we can see how the battery is doing in there, we have an activity sensor, and -so we can tell if the bird is moving, from that we can distinguish various behaviors you can tell whether they are flying, whether they are perching, or whether even if the transmitter has come off the bird and is laying static some where. there is other information too that helps us tell whether the transmitter is functioning correctly. it tells us -for instance i was explaining the other day, these transmitters have a limited life time. the batteries in there are quite tiny, so we have to use the battery power very sparingly. we sent the transmitter so that it will transmit most often when the bird is migrating...REPEATED -1:52:53 -(all repeated -same as above -) 1:53:16 so the transmitter is transmitting a lot during the period when the bird is migrating but when the bird is on its wintering grounds, or on its nesting grounds up in the arctic somewhere be it is not moving around it is a waste of battery power to actually transmit a lot to the satellite at that time. so what we have programmed into this, into the little microcomputer in there, are several different seasons which we -determine. and during the first season which this transmitter will be in now [FX -transmitter goes off] because we just switched it on it's transmitting once every 3 days for 8 hours. so every 3 days we will get information from this bird. we will get information today. the transmitter has just come on it is just about 10 am in the morning. so it's going to stay on until 6:00 this evening. And during that time we may be getting a satellite to pass around about now. this afternoon we should get at least 3 more. so if this bird gets out of here and tracks down to the south of here if she goes that way, which they usually do. 1:54:13

AC -and from that information you will be able to tell were this bird is going every 3 days you will get another burst of information.

1:54:22 Paul ¿ yeah. and during that -the time that comes on we might get more than one fix. we might get just depends when they come on, where the satellites are. but we may get up to 4 or 5. further south it goes the less we will get because the satellites are in a polar orbit -the further south you go the less satellite coverage you get. so when these birds are in the arctic we get many more locations on them for the same on-time simply because there are more over passes [FX -satellite transmitting?] ... ok we better get on and 1:55:00 -you want to grab that? we need sharper scissors. [FX: rustling in box] let's -it is quite loose right now. we don't want it to be too tight, on the other hand we don't want it to very loose either...

Mike -let sit on the tailgate which will get me down to her level. in the meantime I am going to center the breast patch where it should be Paul. ok.

1:55:50 Paul-these straps will get worked down into the feathers over the next few days when she preens. when you see one of these that have been on a bird for a little while [FX ¬beep of satellite) even -well, on some species, but not so much on peregrines but even sometimes the transmitters are sometimes invisible be they have preened it into the feathers. sometimes you just see the antennas sticking out. on these guys though, the straps will disappear. but things like geese or swans you have to look for a birds with just an antenna sticking out. all right, how are we i here Mike? [Mike -well, let's see] this strap looks a bit but it..... [mike -maybe can be a bit looser on top here] okay let¿s tighten this one 1:56:38 maybe the patch is a bit asymmetrical here. [mike -if we have equal lengths of strap coming out of the back here it should be symmetrical] looks pretty close. think it is tight little loose [FX -transmitter going off]

Mike -maybe just a little loose on the top end, but...that's good. and the breast eh is right near the keel, maybe a half an inch -

Paul -i still think it is a bit loose, let's tighten it up a bit

1:58:03 AC ¿what are those straps made of?

Paul: those are made of teflon fibers -if you feel it it is very very slighty, slippery and [FX -transmitter going off] yet it is very tough. but the idea is that the friction on the bird is reduce using this sort of stuff if he was to rub on it. we have taken these off of birds that have worn these for a long time and they really seem to work. don't see any sore patches on the bird or anything.

Mike ¿okay when we think we are close to a fit we are going to cause the bird to flap just a bit and re-adjust things.

Bill (faintly) that is the 30 gram model?
Paul -yeah,

Bill -(off mike) so you are looking at about 3% of the body weight there -

Paul -yeah. did you weigh this bird yet?

Mike (?) - yeah. 930.

Paul -ok so -

1:59:17 FX -bird flapping wing???

1:59:20 -FX satellite going off -good because no talking surrounding it

1: 59: 49 -Mike - okay, that is centered Paul. check the back

Paul -it¿s the right tightness... let's let it flap again and see what happens
20:00:13 FX -bird flapping
Paul -ok the front straps need adjusting...

20:00:44 Mike -ok. Let¿s put a clamp on this breast patch where it is and let it flap a little bit more. i think we are very close.....

20:01:17 Bill - it is way too loose i think. and this has got to get really snuggled up in front.

20:01:36 FX -satellite going off -good -without talking in bg

2:02:28 -CHANGING DATS

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