Sunday, August 2, 2009

searching for nests

I've spent the last week in Moab, Utah. What a fantastic place! I now understand why ravens play such a prominent role in so much Indian lore. They are everywhere.

It makes it harder to spot hawks because these big black birds so common percing in many of the same places a hawk would. But I tried anyway. We were going to be spending a lot of time in the canyons, so my personal mission was to find falcon nesting sites. I'd never seen one in person, but I knew to look for the white wash.

White wash is the poop that smears the edges of a falcons nest ledge. Hawks have the ability to shoot their poop, like a low powered squirt gun, and clear the edge of their nests. Falcons, on the other hand, just let it dribble out of their rear ends, leaving the cliff below their ledges smeared in white.

This area looked like prime hawk territory.

We arrived in Grand Junction, Colorado and drove the rest of the way to Moab. The trip started out well, the family humming along in our rented suburban, until we got a flat tire and had to change it on the steaming asphalt in 102 degree heat. Ahhhhh - stories for home.

Soon after I saw my first golden eagle. It was perched on a powerpole, much like a giant red tail. Cool - it was going to be good.

We spent the nite in Moab, and the next morning we took a tour of the desert in a hummer. Great time, but my highlite was at the final vista when a peregrine was kakking and dive bombing close by. I knew I would find a nest this trip.

After a few days riding horses on a ranch we embarked on a four day trip down the Colorado River on a raft. Good times (I'll post on that later), but more importantly, I was looking for nests on the cliffs, and cliffs were everywhere.

As soon as we launched, we saw whitewash! It was everywhere, high up on the ledges. Yes!

But wait, as we motored closer, it looked like there were stick nests up there. But still, white wash on the cliffs, it had to be peregrine.

There were four or five nests close together. I thought that odd, as the birds would be in competition with each other. I had my dad film the nests for later (I don't have that film yet).

Then the guide stood up and pointed out the nests.

It was a Great Blue Heron rookery. Not falcons. That's why the commuanl sites, and the sticks. A rookery.


The rest of the trip I could not posotively identify any peregrin nests. Most of the whitewash I saw continued to look like heronb nests, and though we heard the kakking of a falcon on the evening of the first day, we never saw it.

I admit - in the falcon department - I was a bit disappointed.

The trip overall - I must say - was amazing.


Albert A Rasch said...

Nice Pics!

Those cliffs look breath taking. Makes me want to pack up the car and take look at what all the hub-bub is about out West!

Best regards,
Trophy Merriam’s Turkey
Fallow Deer: Hints and Tips

Isaac said...

I grew up in Utah, spent LOTS and LOTS of time down in Moab. Great place. Anytime you swing through Colorada and want to get a hawking fix, give me a call!

Doug said...

It is worth the trip!

Just got back from Estes Park for a wedding. I was going to email you, but we were way too busy!