Today it was time to leave the falcons and the friendly photographers I spent so many long but exciting days with. The local folks were very welcoming to all of us from further away. They shared the history of the eyrie and these particular adult falcons so we could enjoy the whole experience much more than otherwise possible.
Yesterday the birds flew a bit, sometimes they seem to fly in formation, or one was sometimes doing a
Adult Male (dad)
very good job of copying the moves of the other. The adult male (dad) graced the cliffs with his presence for a while, very handsome fellow.
This morning I was fortunate to watch and capture a hand off from the adult male to one of the fledgelings .
We also got to see another fledge take off after a turkey vulture. He didn’t engage it as we’ve seen the adults do but for a fledge that hasn’t been flying a week to even approach such a large bird was impressive.
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The Peregrine fledgelings are all flying with amazing skill for their young age. As they get better it gets much harder to capture them because they are so fast. We’re seeing them fly after the parents, sometimes with food as a lure and sometimes just following them, learning by watching and mimicking. They also seem to fly at times just for for the thrill of it. I know it thrills us! They seem to play tag, and chase with each other, all very good practice and getting them in prime condition.
After a few photos with blur spots in them I realized that the blur is really another bird, out of focus, not a spot on my lens or camera sensor, so I’ve decided to leave the blur there, since that bird was participating as much as the ones in focus.
When a parent brings
Taking his food away
food now the fledgelings pounce, one claims it quickly, usually flying a ways away to keep it from the others.
It is sheer joy to watch these raptors fly, the chicks have learned so much so quickly it amazes us all.
As we stand in the parking lot with our cameras we answer many questions from visitors to the lighthouse area and often encourage people to look through our cameras so they can see the birds better. Of course now, viewing the birds is a lot less simple since they are flying so well but we do what we can.
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All 3 of the chicks have fledged. The female took off and was missing for over 24 hours but
she has returned and has shown that the adventure didn’t dampen her spirits at all.
The adults are bringing them food, often a hapless pigeon, and the chicks now tend to grab whatever is brought and take it away. The adult female will sometimes claim a bit of it and give it to one of the other chicks but the one on one feeding seems to have pretty much ceased.
All 3 fledgelings
The chicks are starting to fly with more enthusiasm and we’ve seen them chase each other and the adult female. We’re looking forward to seeing more action as they get more confident. This is all fun to watch but it also reminds us as they get better and as the parent demonstrates technique that we will be very lucky to get a lot of good action shots. When one of the adults dives we all stand in awe. Seeing that you can understand their reputation as the fastest birds.
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A dear friend in Moab arranged a surprise for us, a photo flight over Arches and Canyonlands NPs. It was my first trip in a small plane (4 seats) and it was great! I got to sit next to the pilot, who it turns out has taken many great photos from the plane so I was able to ask him for suggestions about camera settings and what lens to use.
We started off with a quick turn over Arches NP, got to see 2 arches I won’t likely see by hiking, Landscape and Delicate Arches.
Landscape Arch, in Arches, NP. Widest arch in the US
Then we headed over to Canyonlands. On the way we viewed Dead Horse Point,
Dean Horse Point, Dead Horse Point State Park
and the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers.
Confluence of the Green River (top left) and the Colorado River ((muddy river to the right). Green River is taken over by the Colorado at this point.
Our pilot , Jim, was so knowledgeable about the areas, pointed out various features for us and made the flight both interesting and very successful photo-wise for both of us. We took off at about 0830, it was very clear and nearly no wind. That made the flight very smooth, but the lack of wind did allow some haze which is evident in some of the images.
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