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Back to Tom Nevers and Beach Hunting for Quest

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True to form, Quest continues to make the Tom Nevers neighborhood her home. All of the satellite data for the past several days places her in a pretty small area of less than one mile. It seems that she has a taste for the upscale homes and wooded lots.

When she’s not in Tom Nevers, she’s at the beach, hunting. With the help of Rochester Falconcam member Carol Phillips we were very fortunate to have received a note from Vernon Laux, who described his encounter with Quest only a couple of days ago.

Jan. 6, 2009
Quest Successful Hunt

The wind died here on Nantucket on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2009, a most unusual occurrence. I headed out to Low Beach on the southeast corner of the island to witness the “gull show” -far and away the best on the eastern seaboard. While looking at some 120 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 85 Iceland Gulls, 3 thousand Bonaparte’s Gulls, a couple of adult Little Gulls as well as finding some 15 Dovekies sitting in the water and flying about all the small gulls flew off the water and gathered in a dense flock. This is a sure sign of a falcon on the hunt. It was 2:30 in the afternoon.

Scanning everywhere I finally picked out the falcon, ringing at a considerable height and already almost out of sight in binoculars heading due east. The falcon then stooped on something and missed. Switching to a spotting scope I lost the falcon out over the water, guessing she was a mile and a half away. I had barely seen the bird and could not tell if it was fitted with a transmitter.

Approximately 15 minutes later I spotted a falcon coming back to shore from way out east. It was heading right for me and I could tell by the labored flight that it was carrying prey. As the bird flew almost directly me over me I could tell that it was a Dovekie in her talons. She flew right in to where I was on the beach and came fairly close heading down the beach about a half mile further to sit on a piece of driftwood. I could see the antenna as she flew past.

I decided to give chase to attempt to get photos for the folks in Rochester as I was aware that Quest had been hanging out. While not delighted that she was hunting Dovekies, quite a rare bird here and no match at all for a falcon, it was a good use of the hapless Alcid. Dovekies are always a scarce bird in these parts but that is the way it is.

She proceeded to pluck the bird with feathers flying. Normally falcons decapitate their prey and when done leave the head, feet, bits of the sternum and intestines. Dovekies being basically neckless, Quest was not able to do this and went to work plucking and eating. She allowed me to approach within about 25 yards when she moved up the beach a little further. At any rate she seemed to be enjoying her meal so I left her in peace. She went to roost with a full crop as the weather was about to get much worse. She looks very healthy and the transmitter does not seem to be slowing her down at all. Walking back down the beach I found a freshly dead Thick-billed Murre. Best- E.Vernon Laux

Vern took some great pictures of Quest. Here they are!

quest1.jpg     quest2.jpg     quest3.jpg
 quest4.jpg     quest5.jpg

We agree – Quest looks terrific! Vern sent a few more pictures of some of the birds that Quest is sharing the beach with, including a Dovekie, Quest’s hapless lunch in the pictures above, and a variety of gulls.

dovekie1.jpg     hola.jpg     little.jpg

We can’t thank Vernon Laux enough for his very detailed description and the fantastic pictures of Quest that he’s provided. To see her looking so healthy is a real treat for all of her fans around the world!


21 Responses to “Back to Tom Nevers and Beach Hunting for Quest”

  1. ei Says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Vernon! Quest looks absolutely fabulous! I’m so happy to see a good close picture of her…she’s certainly not “a bit thin” as that one worrisome report a while ago. And hunting successfully a mile or more out to sea…who would have thought the Genesee River would be a good training ground for the Atlantic Ocean! Amazing!

  2. Lola Says:

    A wonderful narrative and wonderful pictures !!
    May thanks for this report.

  3. Barbara Says:

    Thank you, Vernon, (and Carol P.) for the welcome photos and report. Great shots! I must agree with ei that Quest is looking wonderfully fit. And, wouldn’t you know, in her own way Quest has taught some of us something new. I’ve never heard of, or seen, a Dovekie. They look like adorable mini-flying penguins. That was a nice, gentle comment Vernon made about it being a good use of the little guy. Hopefully, Quest’s tastes will change, allowing the Dovekie population to increase. So pleased to see she’s doing well.

    (Los Angeles)

  4. Donna Says:

    The pics are amazing and Quest looks beautiful. Thank you Mr Laux for your wonderful encounter with her. It brings a tear to my eye. Thank you Carol & Jess also.

  5. dale Says:

    carol and jess, thanks SO much but gosh I wish Q. would eat a pigeon or something. A dovekie is an AUK. It’s a PUFFIN or something. Fancy taste she has. Terrific photos.

  6. Alison in Austria Says:

    I join the chorus of jubilant thanks to Vernon for the report, Carol P for her tireless efforts to organize news of the Rochester falcon family and to Jess for posting it all for our delight.

  7. Melissa in MA Says:

    Wow and Wow and WOW! Not only a great narrative
    of watching Quest hunting, but also some great pictures
    of her dining on the beach AND a beautiful shot of some
    gulls rolling about on the seas…..thanks to you ALL!

  8. Amy Says:

    Go Quest! Great report from Mr. Laux and fabulous photos of beautiful Quest. Fancy taste indeed, Dale! LOL.

  9. Kathy V Says:

    Thank you, thank, very much Vernon Laux, those were some fabulous pictures, indeed. Its good to see Quest doing so well. I am sorry it was a Dovekie she was eating, they are so cute. I never saw one before, but we all have to eat…right? Again thanks, and the photos were great.

  10. Kathy V Says:

    True..Dovekie look like Puffins.

  11. Birdlover Says:

    If the average auk is 7-9 inches long, then it would appear that Quest is about 23″ in length now? How does she compare to average scale?

  12. Kathy G Says:

    I check in at least a couple times a week. What a treat today. We are so fortunate to have all this information. Our bird network is more interesting than Facebook!

  13. Rickabob aka Karyn Says:

    I had not checked in for quite sometime and found this exciting post. Pictures were excellent. So happy Quest is doing so well and we are having such luck with reports this year. Thanks to all who contributed.

  14. Maureen in MA Says:

    Thank you Mr. Laux, Carol & Jess!! It was great to get such a positive update with incredible pictures to show just how well Quest is doing. I am so happy that winter life in Nantucket is treating Quest well! 😀

  15. carly Says:

    Quest looks amazing!! Thank you Mr. Laux for the excellent pictures so we can see she is doing well and looking very healthy! She is her mama’s daughter no doubt about that!!

    Go Quest Go!!

  16. Kim in Italy Says:

    THANK YOU Vernon and Carol P and Jess!
    What a thrill to find these report and pics coming home from vacations!
    Quest’s terrific and healthy, love her fierce falcon eye while eating the Dovekie (such a cutie.. maybe she will change her taste..).
    Oh! No doubt at all, really her mama’s daughter! 😀 😀

  17. Birdlover Says:

    Saw another female alone today, Monday, hanging out on the top tower of the old city hall building, across the street from the Powers Building. No male with her and I couldn’t tell without field glasses if she resembled Mariah, or the “new” female in town. She was screaming at something, but this time there was no flock of crows to chase her out. She stayed about 5 minutes and took off flying towards to Powers Building.

  18. Paul Says:

    Jess, Vernon, and Carol — thank you for the report and pictures!

  19. Gail from Cinci Says:

    Quest looks great! What a treat to be able to follow Quest’s adventures. I join all the others in saying Thank You to our guest contributor, Vern, and our dedicated Carol and Jess in keeping us all posted.

  20. Joan McC Says:

    Aren’t we all lucky to have a friend like Vern who will take the time to share with us. It’s so seldom we find out where our babies fly off to, so this is a real treat. Thanks to everyone involved in Quest’s venture.

  21. brenda in Florida Says:

    Thank you Mr. Laux; just amazing.

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