2001 Field Season Begins!
Amy Nicholas— 1 March 2001 — in Aplomado Falcon Restoration Share
After our short boat ride, we were deposited on the southern end of the thousand acres that comprise Unit 4. We began tying down our gear to the ATVs: scopes, tripods, binoculars, GPS units, water, food, snakebite kits, mosquito repellent, and of course, raincoats. Unfortunately for me, I drew the short straw that morning and would be piloting a cantankerous old relic that had definitely seen better times, and could be relied upon to sputter and die when the throttle was not depressed. Our plan was to head together to the north end of the unit, getting a feel for the terrain, then separate and slowly make our way south again.
We were only halfway to the north end of the unit when we stopped for a short break. Incredibly, luck was on our side. We spotted an adult female perched atop a 10 foot tall yucca. We waited in the distance hoping for a glimpse of her mate, to confirm that it was in fact a pair. We didn’t have to wait long; he appeared shortly on a tall snag near the female. This was a very lucky sighting indeed considering the inclement weather, as the falcons tend to stay low in bad weather making it nearly impossible to locate them in the dense brush. A brief time later, we observed the pair returning with prey to the area. This indicated that the pair is loyal to this territory and since both birds are adults it is highly likely they will nest in the area.
Encouraged by this find, we continued north, eventually separating in order to cover more territory. Unfortunately our luck did not hold. The clouds opened up and a torrential rain descended upon us. We had intended to rendezvous at a set point, but that proved to be more difficult than previously considered as the rain reduced visibility to near zero. However, within time Angel caught a glimpse of my yellow raincoat through the rain and we began a hasty retreat to the boat.
When we finally arrived at the boat we were both covered from head to toe in slick clay sludge. The next three hours we would spend washing the corrosive salty clay from the now unrecognizable ATVs.
We will be returning to the area soon, preferably on a sunny day, to check the status of the new pair and to hopefully locate more. This pair brings our total for this year to 26. However, it is still early in the breeding season and many of the pairs have just recently entered the egg-laying stage. We are optimistic that by June, when the release season begins, we will have increased our totals.
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