Preparing for the 2003 Aplomado Hack Season
Erin Gott— 26 April 2003 — in Aplomado Falcon Restoration ShareWith the return of the Peregrine Fund’s Aplomado Falcon field team to Texas in January the season officially began. The team this year consists of Brian Mutch, Angel Montoya, Paul Juergens, Jessi Brown, and Erin Gott.
The big news from South Texas (Lower Rio Grande Valley) is the amount of precipitation the area received last autumn. The five-year drought broke and the ponds and lakes are full of water. The effect on both flora and fauna is obvious to the eye. Everything is green, the grass tall, and the flowers are in bloom. Laguna Atascosa and Matagorda National Wildlife Refuges are abundant with waterfowl, waders, and passerines. The downside to the abundance of water is that Aplomado territories once easily walked to are now inundated. This means the crew now spends a good deal of their falcon monitoring time knee deep in water, swatting mosquitoes, and scanning for alligators. Although tough at times, the conditions haven’t seemed to slow us down. To date we have read 73 Aplomado leg identification bands, located 39 pairs, constructed seven new artificial nest structures, and built two new hack towers.
The field team has also been busy erecting artificial nest structures. Out of the seven new structures, four were placed on Matagorda Island N.W.R. while the other three were constructed on Laguna Atascosa N.W.R. This year we have tried new experimental "barred" nest structures. These new artificial nests are basically a plywood box with evenly spaced barred walls. The design allows Aplomado Falcons to enter while larger predators are restricted. It is always a gamble implementing unproven designs on a wild population. A lot of time and effort goes into a product that simply might rot in the Texas sun. All our fears were put to rest on 30 March 2003 when we observed our Crossing #2 female (Laguna Atascosa N.W.R.) incubating eggs in one of these new structures. One week later a Matagorda Island N.W.R. Aplomado pair took up a second barred structure.
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