Title: Santa Cruz Island Update
Description: January 24-31, 2012
IWS Crew - February 2, 2012 02:09 AM (GMT)
Hello there eagle fans,
Another tour passes, but it just seems to have raised more questions instead of providing answers. I'll cut right to the chase since I'm sure you have all been waiting anxiously for news. Sorry, but I still don't know what the Pelican Harbor (PH) pair is up to.
I went by Chinese Harbor (CH) several times, including checking for activity at the first “new nest” they built at CH last year, but all I ever saw was this little hunter.
We'll continue the PH pair search a little later in the update, but for now I had a little better luck at Sandstone Point. And the view of Anacapa and the mainland behind it wasn't too bad.
Oh, and a couple of birds were there too. :)
Blue-tags, but too much distance and heat shimmer to read. It is quite possible one of them was A-48 as she spends a lot of time there, but no idea who the other one might be. Initially the birds were perched fairly far apart and close to the point, but then they took flight and landed next to each other on a small knob. Hopefully this bodes well for the formation of a new pair. We will certainly be keeping an eye on them.
One of the birds flew into a canyon below Montanon, possibly a good sign, but we'll have to explore that on another tour.
Another day and still no sign of the PH birds around Chinese or that nest, and obviously not online. So I thought, just maybe, they could have gone back to the old PH nest. Besides, it's a nice hike. The Ceanothus are blooming and smelling sweetly.
And the Coreopsis looked nice tucked into some convoluted oaks.
As I hiked up to the old nest I came across this curious scrub jay. “Hey, look at me, those silly eagles don't have nearly the 'bling' that I do!”
Well, as you can see, they certainly aren't using the old PH nest. Not much of it left these days.
So I continued on to the west side of Pelican Harbor hoping the pair would at least show themselves. There are some nice views back towards Prisoner's and Chinese.
IWS Crew - February 2, 2012 02:16 AM (GMT)
A “regular” was hanging out at PH too. I really hope we find an osprey nest one of these days.
Unfortunately, I didn't find the PH pair this day, or any other eagles for that matter. I could see all the way to the ridge east of the nest, where the solar panels and batteries are for the nest camera. But at this point we really didn't want to risk disturbing the birds, just in case they were somewhere near the nest, so I didn't go any further towards the nest area. I had been hoping to catch a lift out that direction on one of the NPS patrol boats, the eagles are more tolerant of boat traffic, but rough seas squashed those plans.
Oh well, hoping for better boating weather on Helen's current tour, especially now that Amanda has rejoined the program. Welcome back, Amanda!
Another run over to Sandstone Point hoping to see some more potential pair behavior, but just one bird seen this time and it never moved in over 3 hours. But still another nice view off towards Anacapa.
Bird on the post just a touch left of the picture's center.
Let's see.., the next pair I went looking for was the Malva Pair, out near Laguna and Punta Arena (PA). Along the way I got a nice view of Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands.
Looking back down to where we start walking from and the beach at Laguna.
And the other direction to PA, Gull Island, and Santa Rosa in the distance on the right.
A little closer view of Rosa.
And of PA and Gull Island. You think there's an eagle down there?
Eh, could be. Maybe even two.
Can you see them? One just about dead center and the other a little lower and left.
IWS Crew - February 2, 2012 02:21 AM (GMT)
The closer one soon took flight, though it's very hard to see in this picture, and flew along the coast towards me and then up Malva Canyon. I didn't see the second bird take flight, since I was focused on the first one, but it was gone by the time I looked back. It is very hard to try and watch two birds through one scope if one, or both, of them take flight.
I was only able to watch the bird fly up Malva for a short distance before ridges hid it from view so I hiked farther up the ridge I was on hoping to catch another glimpse of it. No luck. Too many parts of the canyon are hidden from this ridge and there is a possibility it flew all the way out the head of the canyon. Oh well, the view was nice.
Later on, as I was enjoying the view, I spotted a bird at PA with only one blue tag, on its right wing. A-45 of the Willows pair has a similar tag situation, but there was no chance of reading it from where I was. If it was indeed A-45, that could make for some interesting “as the island turns” moments. We shall see. It is possible the one-tagged bird was one of the original birds I saw at the point. The one that didn't fly up the canyon. We'll certainly be exploring Malva further.
Well, that just about did it for the tour. There were ATV tires to change and air filters to clean. Reports to write and, of course, a forum update to get done. ;)
As I mentioned before, Amanda has come back to help us on the project. She and Helen are on the island as I write this. Kim is also coming back to help this season and will be working with me starting the next tour. Woohoo, a full crew!
A-17 and A-60 came over to Santa Cruz for a little while, but then went back to the west end of Rosa. House hunting? Crazy birds. :)
Okay, I'm done for now. Enjoy the sunsets folks...
… and watch out for things that go bump in the night. :unsure:
Be well all,
Tiger - February 2, 2012 02:21 AM (GMT)
Wonderful update. Welcome back, Amanda! Please hunt down the PH pair for us.
JoJo - February 2, 2012 02:32 AM (GMT)
Thank you so much Don for the update. So sad not to hear any news on K10 & K26, but we heard them today :D OMG, their old nest is a disaster, so glad they got out when they did.
Talk about Bling, I'm surpised that Scrub Jay could fly with all that Bling.
Loved all the Photos as well. Thanks again :)^
amethyst - February 2, 2012 02:33 AM (GMT)
Ah, the elusive PH pair.....here's hoping for more news nest ( :}^ B)...uh, next time... :lol:
Thank you for an otherwise wonderful update...and the always gorgeous pictures!
May I ask why did that scrub jay have all that bling??? And, what was the bird with the glowing eyes????
Eagle Duo - February 2, 2012 02:37 AM (GMT)
Thanks for the update and all your beautiful pictures of the island.
Sure wish K10 & K26 weren't playing hide-and-seek with ya'll!
We heard what we think was K26 near the new nest on camera this morning, along with a bunch of ravens.
Kept hoping to see her (or K10), but no such luck.
Thanks for all you do. :><:
Good luck tracking down all the nesting pairs.
edit: Do all the scrub jays get so many leg bands or just certain ones?
How would they decide? What are they all for?
raycyn - February 2, 2012 02:39 AM (GMT)
Great update Don,and thanks for the great photos and laughs along the way too- happy you have full crew back. See ya next week:)
Cindy in Oregon
IWS Crew - February 2, 2012 02:41 AM (GMT)
|QUOTE (amethyst @ Feb 1 2012, 07:33 PM)|
|May I ask why did that scrub jay have all that bling??? And, what was the bird with the glowing eyes????[/color]|
Since the scrub jays are an island endemic there are a lot of studies, and grad students, focused on them. Just like the eagles there has to be a way to ID them as easily as possible, hence the bling. That, and it's just stylish. :P
The glowing eyed bird should be a common poor-will.
Edit: Only some of the jays have leg bands, the ones who get caught, and there are several because you need multiple colors to have enough unique band combinations.
It would be too hard to read numbers on those little guys so you change the order (top to bottom) of the colors and which legs they are on. The aluminum band does have a number, but you'd have to be holding the bird, or be REALLY close, to read it.
Patti - February 2, 2012 02:55 AM (GMT)
Something is up with these wandering PH eagles...K10 & K26?
As always, really enjoyed and looked forward to your Update, Don, and great news about Amanda and Kim coming back. You really REALLY need a bigger crew like this to cover all these birds. It's a lot of work.
Is that a common poorwill? They look like a scaly bird, but very cute, of course! :lol:
Edit: I see you answered the question for Linda while I was typing. Thank you!
Kate5555 - February 2, 2012 02:56 AM (GMT)
Great update and pictures Don as always. Will be great for you and Helen to have the entire crew back.
Welcome back Amanda and looking forward to when Kim returns.
Thank you Amethyst for the question on the scrub jay bands.
Eagle Duo - February 2, 2012 02:58 AM (GMT)
Very interesting info on the Scrub Jay's leg bands.
Makes sense, but wow....has to be difficult to figure out who has what order of what color on what leg!!! :wacko:
lovethebabies - February 2, 2012 04:15 AM (GMT)
Thanks for an interesting report Don. I sure was hoping for news on K10 and K26. What are they up too? Interesting info on the jays too. Have a safe week!
klemon - February 2, 2012 02:35 PM (GMT)
Thanks for the great update Don and all you do. Glad you will have your full crew back. <3
Naturegal - February 2, 2012 11:20 PM (GMT)
Don - Great update and photos. Now all we need is a sighting of K10 and K26, they sure are elusive.
Take care, be safe and always maintain your fabulous sense of humour. :lol:
amethyst - February 3, 2012 12:04 AM (GMT)
Thank you Don/IWS crew for the answer to my questions...very interesting to have to use so many bands and colors...
sunnyland7 - February 3, 2012 01:35 PM (GMT)
Good Morning Don,
Glad for all the eagles you did see!!!!!
Enjoyed the lovely views and the pretty scrub jay.
Nice for Amanda and the others returning to help
Please keep safe.