rfalconcam - Imprints


The Journal of Rfalconcam

Archive for September, 2008

Quest Settles In Again, Shakes Off Kyle

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

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(Zoom in or out on the map by clicking the small “+” & “-” signs. Move it around by clicking your mouse button and dragging the map in the desired direction. Click the falcon icons for more information about each location.)

Quest has returned to her summering spot in the southeast corner of Massachusetts. She began where we left her at Chatham Port, after her brief trip into New Jersey and Long Island last week. During our most recent tracking period, Quest stayed within a fairly small area, venturing no more than 10 miles (16 km) or so on any single day.

Many of Quest’s fans may be aware that hurricane Kyle marched up the Atlantic coast of the US, eventually making landfall in Canada. It subjected the New England states, including Massachusetts, to a few days of wind and rain. None of this appears to have fazed Quest, to judge by her daily movements. Based on the data we continue to receive from her transmitter, it looks like Quest came through the bad weather in good shape.


Quest is On The Move!

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

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Before we get to the latest satellite data, we’re happy to share another Quest sighting with you!
From September 13th comes a report courtesy of Kathy Doyen and Ian Davies, who spotted Quest at Coast Guard Beach on Cape Cod. Ian is an accomplished photographer, and he netted some Quest shots which he has kindly shared with us. Thanks Ian and Kathy for giving Quest’s fans another look at her!

Just in time for the end of summer, it looks like Quest may be ready to do some more wandering. She began in Chatham Port where we last left her, but on the 19th she said good-by to the Cape and winged her way nearly 300 miles (483 km) to Washington, New Jersey, near the Pennsylvania border! For a Peregrine at normal cruising speed of about 50 mph/80 kph, that’s a good six hours of solid flying. Prevailing weather patterns during that time indicate that she’d have had a nice tailwind for much of the trip, as she flew out just behind a cold front. Many thanks to Falconcam fans Paul Hamilton and Larry O’Heron for providing some additional weather-related data to our analysis!

But she wasn’t done stretching her wings. The next two days found her seaside again, but this time on Shelter Island, one of the small islands on the eastern edge of Long Island, New York. Then it was back to the Cape on the 22nd, where her transmitter puts her in the vicinity of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, just off the coast from Chatham. It’s a stopping point for migrating birds, and it’s not far from where she started on the 18th. So not only is Quest proving to be a great distance flyer, she’s a hotshot navigator as well!


Quest Goes to School

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

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As you can see from our latest map, Quest is still moving along the Cape. But take a closer look at the southeast corner of the map, and you’ll notice that there are three locations for her, almost stacked on top of each other. Zoom in (click the + sign on the map) and use the satellite overlay (click the Sat button), and you’ll see she’s been hanging out in the town of Chatham Port. Her location data on the 14th, 16th and 17th place her at the Chatham Middle School. In fact, it looks like she was playing a little baseball, hanging out in deep right field on the 16th! Maybe she’s sitting in on a couple of classes too, brushing up on her geography.

Of course, having been raised in a city Quest is no stranger to populated areas, and the school is probably one of the tallest structures she’s found recently. We’ve sent a message to the school to let them know about their distinguished visitor. We’ll have to see if anyone there has a Quest sighting to report. If they do, we’ll be sure to bring the news to you!


Nest Box Relocation Update

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Since our last update, Michael Allen from the New York DEC and members of the Rochester Falconcam Relocation Team have been busy touring some additional sites and moving forward with other related activities. Mike has inspected the nest box that was removed from Kodak, and he’s pronounced it fit for use in a new location.

The team has considered about a dozen sites so far. Some have been rejected because of concerns about human activity nearby, safety of people who might have access the nest site, or physical problems with the building’s layout. Two sites, the Powers Building in downtown Rochester, and the High Falls Brewing Company, look like promising locations. Mike has decided to install the Kodak box on the Powers Building. He and the relocation team are working with the building’s managers to firm up an installation date.

Powers Building From Main Street
Photo courtesy of Mike Allen
The historic Powers Building isn’t as tall as the Kodak tower, but it has a lot of similarities, including a central tower with a flat area at the top, and plenty of nooks and crannies on the building’s facade. It’s about a half mile from Kodak and close to the river. There’s a good line of sight to Mariah’s former nest site, a desirable feature according to the DEC experts. The building’s owners are enthusiastic about hosting a nest box and they’ve expressed interest in working with the Rochester Falconcam to install cameras too! If we learn that this fall that Mariah has chosen the Powers Building nest box, we should be able to put in cameras later this year, in time for the falcons’ return next spring.

The High Falls Brewing Company is also being considered for a nest box install. There are a few more details to be worked out at that location but we’ve surveyed the site and the Brewery has said they’re willing to host the falcons and to work with us on installing cameras as well. If everyone’s calendars allow, we hope to install nest boxes within the next two weeks. We’ll post more updates when we get the final installation details nailed down.

We’ve received a number of questions from our viewers about the relocation. Here are a few of them, and their answers.

Q: What are all of the sites that are being considered or investigated for relocation?

A: A total of twelve sites have been considered. Many of them were surveyed, either in person or by using virtual tools available on the internet. The sites and the results of our evaluation are listed below

  • Bausch & Lomb: Not contacted
  • Button Factory: Contacted, but owner not interested.
  • City Hall: Rejected. Pending repairs to the building (similar situation to Kodak tower) will mean that there will be human activity near any nest box.
  • Crossroads Bldg: Rejected after remote survey due to equipment on the roof and human use of the balcony just below.
  • First Federal Plaza: Rejected. Too much open space on the roof; human activity above the nest box in the old Changing Scenes restaurant; machinery on the restaurant roof may require maintenance during nesting season
  • Frontier Communications Tower: Rejected due to difficulty of access and likelihood of human activity/maintenance on the antennas
  • High Falls Brewing Co: Live site survey completed. This site is still under consideration, but there are some concerns about the proposed nest box site on the roof being too open (not isolated enough) and possibly subject to human activity nearby.
  • High Falls Business Center: Contacted, but owner not interested.
  • HSBC: Not contacted
  • Powers Building: Approved following live site survey
  • Times Square Bldg: UPDATED! This site is being re-evaluated, and will be surveyed this week by the DEC.
  • Xerox: Rejected. Construction to start nearby


Q: What criteria are being used to evaluate the alternatives and to determine the best locations for a nest box?

A: Some of the factors that have been taken into account include:

  • Is the site close to the Genesee River?
  • Does it have line of sight to the Kodak tower?
  • Is there an isolated place to install the nest box that is free from human activity within 40-50 meters?
  • Is the site free from machinery, antennas or other equipment that might require repair during the nesting season?
  • Is the site free from hazards to the falcons?
  • Does the site provide protection from the weather?
  • Does the site have architectural features such as ledges and niches that replicate the peregrine’s natural habitat?
  • Are the building owners/managers enthusiastic about hosting a Peregrine nest box?

None of these (except possibly the last one) are show-stoppers on their own– All factors will be considered for each site when deciding on its suitability as a nest box location.


Q: Has the team confirmed if they are still considering putting up several nest boxes and how many?

A: One site has been confirmed, and there are a couple of others still under consideration.


Q: We know that Kaver and the fledglings have been spotted at the Brewery but how often does Mariah go there? Will we have to wait until Kaver comes back from vacation to see which site he chooses? If the nest box(es) are installed soon and Mariah prefers one over the other, will that be cool with Kaver or is he the deciding factor here?

A: In the wild the male will typically select a few possible nesting spots, but it is the female who chooses which one to use from year to year. The DEC has informed us that the presence or absence of an adult or juveniles perching at a particular location isn’t a reliable indicator of whether it will make a good nesting site. Whether Mariah perches on the Brewery buildings or not isn’t really part of the calculation. We’re more interested in the site’s logistics like its proximity to water, isolation from human contact, height, and so on. If Kaver arrives in the spring to find Mariah using a box at the Brewery then we can be pretty sure that’s where the nest will be. Similarly if they choose a box before Kaver leaves for the winter, it’s likely that’s the one that will be used in the spring.


Quest Still Stalking the Cape

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

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Quest continues to stay at Cape Cod. The locations for the past several days show that she’s spending her time flying up and down in the vicinity of State Rt 6, no doubt taking advantage of all of the prey available to her.

Meanwhile, the sharp-eyed birders at the Cape continue to report Quest sightings. Here’s a recent one, posted on the Massbirds message list from Alex Krofta.

On Thursday 9/6 at about 5PM we saw a peregrine falcon cruising along the beach (harbor side) near Corn Hill Landing Road in Truro. Since we were standing at the top of the dunes, the bird was quite close to us [and] appeared to have an antenna sticking up from its back. It continued south along the beach and out of sight but returned a few minutes later. ( We assume it was the same bird, but of course can’t be certain.) This time we got a better look at the antenna, and there also seemed to be a lump at the base of it, probably about halfway down the bird’s back. The antenna was maybe 8″-12″ long and looked “striped” with thick dark and light segments. Again, the bird moved south down the beach.

Some of our readers have wondered how Quest fared after the remnants of Tropical Storm Hannah passed over the Cape. We’re happy to report that she was spotted by John Kaar, on the 7th of September. John was able to observe Quest’s ID band and he reported them to the Bird Banding Lab at the US Geological Survey, who forwarded his report to us. Here’s what John told us about his sighting.

Sunday, September 7 was beautiful on the lower Cape, tropical storm Hannah having passed by overnight. I was walking with my wife and friends on Chatham’s South Beach, down near the low tide surf, when I noticed Quest sitting on a pile of wrack up at the high tide level near the dune grass. At a distance I wasn’t sure it was a bird, despite the silhouette, because her front markings blended in so well with the dried seaweed. She watched as I approached and shot pictures, then seemed to lose interest in me and started preening. After shooting several pictures, we walked on down the beach. Quest was still there when we returned 20 minutes later, so I got some more photos, which included good views of the color leg bands. I was a little surprised that Quest stayed in one place while we circled around her (albeit at a distance), but she seemed to be in good shape, so I assumed she was just tired after the previous day’s storm.

Even better, John took a few pictures of Quest with his new digital camera!

Quest001     Quest002

Quest003     Quest004

John tells us that he bought his camera specifically to get better birding pictures. We think he did a great job!


Quest’s Travels, September 3-7

Monday, September 8th, 2008

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Quest continues to make the eastern edge of Cape Cod her home. The last few days’ location data place her mostly in the southeast corner of the cape. It looks like she’s settled down, and we’ll just have to see when, or if, she decides to go elsewhere. It’s a bit boring to watch, perhaps, but you can hardly fault her. She’s found a place where she can thrive, at least for now. It’s good fortune for a young falcon like her, to be able to hunt and keep herself fed. Hopefully the skills she’s practicing now will serve her well when she decides to seek her fortunes elsewhere.


Quest’s Summer Territory

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

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Quest seems to be settling in to her summer “territory” very well. As with the rest of August, she has continued to roam up and down Cape Cod. In contrast to some of our recent maps, we’re showing her over the water at a couple of points in this one. Transmitter data from the last two days of August were not of the highest Confidence Level, (degree of accuracy), so the specific locations may be off by as much as several kilometers. Nevertheless they fall within the expected range of her travels so we feel confident including them here.

A few days ago we received another eyewitness report of Quest at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Refuge from Rich Johnson. Here’s what he had to say:

“Three days ago I noticed a peregrine strafing [Goose Pond] here at WellfleetBay and the volunteer naturalist there (Ivan Ace) put his binocs on it and saw the antenna profile… The photos are from Aug 17…”

And here are the pictures that Rich sent along!
Quest Flying     Quest in a tree - dorsal view     Quest in a tree - front view

On behalf of the Rochester Falconcam team and all of Quest’s fans around the world, we want to thank Rich and Ivan for their sharp eyes and great camera skills!

If anyone happens to see or photograph Quest, we’d love to hear from you!


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