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Quest Goes East for August

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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 continued her eastward trek in August, reaching the Massachusetts coast in the first week. She looks like she’s taking a little vacation, visiting tony Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod. We’ve omitted some data points with signals that weren’t as strong (keep reading for an explanation), but the majority of data indicate that she’s having a great time exploring the far eastern reaches of the US. Most of Mariah’s offspring whose locations are known– and all that previously had transmitters– went north or west. So Quest’s eastern movement is an unexpected surprise.

By the way, it looks like our earlier announcement that she’d flown north to Maine and Quebec may not have been accurate (sorry about that!). The data placing her there is included in her August travels, but its reliability is questionable, based on the transmitter’s signal strength at the time those data were received. It’s possible that she headed north, but since all the rest of the data for the month so far puts her firmly in the Nantucket/Cape Cod area, we’re skeptical of our earlier announcement.

WARNING!!! Technical Content Ahead!
Quest’s satellite transmitter has a small battery that is recharged by a solar panel mounted on top of the transmitter body (here’s a picture). The battery supplies power for the radio-frequency transmitter that sends its signal to a bunch of satellites orbiting the Earth. To save power, the transmitter only sends data for a few hours at a time. Then it shuts down for many more hours. This “transmit and rest” process is called a Duty Cycle. Its timing was programmed into the transmitter before Quest received it.

The power of the transmitter is pretty low– about 100mW– so the signals that get up to the satellites may not always be very strong. The variability in the signals, differences in terrain, even local weather and time of day can create uncertainty about the accuracy of the data. So each time the satellites receive data from the transmitter, they assign a confidence value to the location based on the strength of the signal and other factors. The data we receive includes the location information, and also the confidence value assigned to each piece of data. We try to post the data with the highest confidence levels, but sometimes the only data we get in a duty cycle is of questionable accuracy.

So, it looks like Quest really can’t go much farther east, unless she hitches a ride on a fishing boat or a cargo ship! It’ll be interesting to see what move she makes next.


18 Responses to “Quest Goes East for August”

  1. Diane Says:

    Thanks for the update. It is so interesting to know where she has flown.

  2. Alison in Austria Says:

    I am not convinced that she did not pay a flying visit to Quebec (her speed would allow for that) but finding it full of siblings, moved on to the Cape to play with the rich and famous 😉
    p.s. nice ring on the hand holding the transmitter.

  3. Maureen in MA Says:

    Wowee, I’m going to the Cape today. I’ll keep an eye out for her! 😀 😉

  4. Shaky Says:

    And to think I was on vacation in Cape Code at the time and due to lack of Internet access didn’t post my usual “evidence” of the presence of one of our falcons.

  5. Shaky Says:

    Oops, I meant Cape Cod. Cape Code is is one of my secret projects. Now I must kill myself for divulging its existence.

  6. Kathy V Says:

    Oh my,she has made it quite a way. Do you think she may be looking for a mate? I am so glad to hear she is doing well, thanks for the report. Hope all the others,as well as M&K are okay.

  7. Rosamund Says:

    Wow! She’s landed on the Great Atlantic Flyway at the start of migration. Must be a birdie buffet for her. 🙂

  8. Alison in Austria Says:

    No, no, Shaky, don’t do it! we need you to blend in with the rich and famous and scout out our precious falcon.

    Kathy V, I think Quest as a bit young yet for a mate – next spring at the very earliest and probably not for a year after that.

  9. Kathy V Says:

    thank you to whoever removed one of my (same) messages.

  10. Rosamund Says:

    Shaky, will you be taking your site down if there are no cameras next year?

  11. Lucy A Says:

    As a child, I spent summers on Cape Cod, and I can’t remember any cliffs there that would provide a good falcon habitat. Does anyone know whether there are any tall buildings with nest boxes there?

  12. Froona Says:

    Wonderful news Jess!
    Quest is doing great, our beautiful young lady.
    So happy to hear of her travels. Thanks!

  13. Lyn & Bill Howard Says:

    Witnessed Quest on Aug 7th at 9:45am on north shore of Tuckernuck Island west of Nantucket Island and observed with binoculars, Quest gain altitude and perform a stoop.Kill obscurred by land.Kayaked to sand spit and observed Quest on a Tern Kill at eye level 15 feet away.Quest flew off 70 minutes after first siting to the southeast after being dive bombed by 2 terns repeatedly and headed right for a startled Blue Haron working a tidal pond then disapeared over a bluff of land.Nothing left of kill except feathers.What an experience.Only say a silver leg band on right foot and the transmitter wire.Any other bands might have been obscurred by leg feathers-also a small red area on her breast was observed assumed where feathers had been lost.We look forward tracking Quest’s voyage wherever she goes…Thank you Quest for letting us be there with you…

  14. Jess Says:

    @Lyn & Bill – Thanks for that terrific report! What a great opportunity you had to watch Quest up close doing what Peregrines do best!

  15. Ei Says:

    Thanks for the report, Lyn & Bill…it must have been quite a thrill to see her!

    By the way…the red spot on her breast is the harness holding her transmitter.

  16. Carol P. Says:

    Thanks Lyn and Bill! That is so incredible that you were able to witness Quest with a kill. Too bad you didn’t have a camera with you. 😉

    It doesn’t surprise me that she went after a Great Blue Heron! Thanks for sharing.

    Carol P.

  17. sarah Says:

    Hi guys
    I too live in Southeastern MA and have been a falcon cam watcher for 3 years now. While I have not seen Quest, there have been several reports of her being seen in various spots on Cape Cod. Check out the Massbird birding website. If she’s seen, a report is more than likely to show up there. If “I” am so lucky as to see her myself, not to worry, I’ll reply as soon as I can!!! She’s lucky to be able to enjoy her visit to the Cape without having to worry about the traffic!!!

  18. sarah Says:

    It is in fact Quest. I went back to banding day. 96 over V… same as the photograph. Thanks Shawn for sharing!!!

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