Photographer’s nightmare

Juvenile - cliff racing      Photo by Cleve Nash

Juvenile – cliff racing                                                       Photo by Cleve Nash

Trying to keep abreast of what is going on at Morro Rock can be a job in itself, although at times, it can be fun. A trip to the south side this morning turned out to be more confusing than ever with this pair of falcons. The second eyrie, the one they have been brooding in, appears to have more droppings around the mouth than it did a couple days ago. The female was perched in the mouth of the “clown’s face” and the tiercel was not to be seen. I spent ninety minutes there and still cannot tell you whether they are brooding, the chicks have hatched, or another failed nesting. Only time will tell.

After watching the three young on the north side for three hours, a couple of birdwatcher friends came by and I asked them if they wanted to see something special. They answered “Yes!” and we all jumped into my Ford Escape.

Jack and Gordon are both local guys who have watched the falcons at Morro Rock a lot of the time, but have never seen the Shell Beach birds of which there are four young flying. Thirty minutes later, we pulled into a small parking lot off the Frontage Road and drove to the edge of a ninety foot cliff with chain link fence. Before I got the car shut off, a juvenile falcon came screaming over the hood of the car eight feet above! You could see the folds of skin on his legs and talons. As Jack opened his passenger door, another came by at speed. They are cliff racing right in front of us anywhere from ten to thirty feet away, mostly at eye level, some a little above, some a little below.

Patrolling adult     Photo by Cleve Nash

Patrolling adult                                              Photo by Cleve Nash

Picture three guys standing in a three foot deep trench, ten feet off the edge of asphalt at Indianapolis Speedway and cars going by. How do you take a picture of this? We all stood in amazement not saying a thing for the first few minutes. Then it hit us and we couldn’t shut up. I have seen this happen for many years at this time of year and have always been taken by it.

Second sortie   Photo by Cleve Nash

Second sortie                                                 Photo by Cleve Nash

Jack and Gordon had never seen anything like this before and I’m sure they won’t miss it next year. Between the three of us, we must have taken 50 photographs in the first ten minutes. Two of mine made it on the screen. Jack might have had a few more. I think we just gave up and watched. It was so wonderful! Needless to say, you won’t see any of our photographs on this blog. However the ones that you will see are from someone who has photographed falcons and is very good at it. Thank you, Cleve Nash.

Happy trails, Bob



About Pacific Coast Peregrine Watch

The Pacific Coast Peregrine Watch is here to inform birders, students and all people who are eager to know about these handsome peregrines. We want you to enjoy and be able to use our on-site powerful spotting scopes. We are available to answer your questions about the pair of falcons that have been observed for many years.
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6 Responses to Photographer’s nightmare

  1. Sue says:

    Wow! Holy cow! Wow!

  2. Steve says:

    Thanks for the awesome pictures Cleve and thanks to you Bob for the commentary. Wish I could have been there, but I’m back in Mi.

  3. Mike says:

    I want to thank Bob for educating me today. I took about 75 photos at The Rock and I’m curious to see how they turn out. The ones I see posted by Cleve are very good and I appreciate the quality of the photos after trying my best to photograph these incredibly fast birds. I hope to get back to the coast soon and see the birds at Shell Beach. Since they are closer I believe I will have better luck photographing them with my 100-400mm lens…

    Bob, thanks again for sharing your spotting scope and knowledge. This was one of the highlights of my week in Morro Bay.


    • Visitors to the rock, such as inquisitive ones like you, are always appreciated. Bob’s knowledge of the peregrines is to be shared freely. We hope some of your photos came out very well. What we are seeing at Shell Beach will only be lasting for another week or two. We hope you’ll be able to make it. ~Heather & Bob

  4. Sue Linsley says:

    Wow! Wow! Wow!!!Fantastic shots!!

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