Observation date: 23 May 2014

Holidays at Morro Rock in the spring and summer are not a lot of fun for me, unless I’m back home by 9AM. After that it is total bedlam. The south parking lot is long and narrow and when you have ten or more cars parked in the “NO PARKING” zone it makes it even narrower yet. The signs that say “NO AUTOS WITH TRAILERS” and “NO MOTORHOMES” might as well be in ancient hieroglyphics. The only thing I can compare it with is a boat launch ramp at a large popular lake on the 4th of July in a 100°F day. Both make for a good source of entertainment.

I apologize to the people who looked for me there over the weekend, but Friday was enough. That day many of the visiting people were entertained for the better part of an hour with the young south side juvenile perched 60 feet up the slope on a large rock within proximity to the path.

peregrine, juvenile, Morro Rock

The chick                                                Photo by Bob Isenberg

It is constantly used by people walking to the jetty, tide pools and beach area. The adult female was having a fit with the young one being so close to all these strange human activities.

peregrine, juvenile, Morro Rock

Falcon screaming protection calls                                   Photo by Bob Isenberg

She vocalized her displeasure incessantly for 40 minutes. You think she would have become hoarse. She was so upset, she cleared every gull perched or nesting within a hundred yards in any direction. A cheer went up from the many observers watching every time she hit one, continuing on to the next bird, many with an inside loop to pull feathers from the next victim in line. She would pause and stop for a few minutes and perch near the chick on a pointed rock.

peregrine, juvenile, Morro Rock

Mother’s protection                                       Photo by Bob Isenberg

When the gulls would return within a few minutes she would then start all over again, her screams never ceasing. I tried to warn people away from the young, but like dummies, they had to walk underneath for a closer look and until the female dove on a dog that a lady was walking, did anyone heed my advice. After that a few did !

To my astonishment there were many seasoned birders who had never seen this awesome display of guardianship at this close range. At times, she would make passes on the gulls 10 or 15 feet above your head. It was spectacular, especially the high speed ones.

An aside: The tiercel perched quietly in the “arrowhead hole” as the foray ensued. All this excitement and he never moved and inch to join in.

As of this posting the two north side chicks we have been observing have not fledged as of yet.

peregrine, juvenile, chick, Morro Rock

17 May 2014 – North side chicks                            Photo by Cleve Nash

Happy trails, Bob

Item: The lady and the dog were totally oblivious to the pass the falcon made as it was coming from behind her and out of the sun. This is when the most damage can be done to persons or prey. It is the hallux* that rakes the flesh or pulls feathers.

* hallux – The toe which faces backwards on most raptors. In hawks, this is the talon most responsible for puncturing the vitals of prey.

peregrine, juvenile, Morro Rock, talon, hallux

Right talon showing hallux                              Photo by Bob Isenberg


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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5 Responses to Hallux…

  1. Dale mcvay says:

    So enjoy these posts…!
    Love the stories about all the crazy people!

    • Pacific Coast Peregrine Watch says:

      Thanks for following us, Keith. We always are excited about the goings on at “the rock.” There is drama galore. ~Heather

    • Pacific Coast Peregrine Watch says:

      Yes, Dale, there are quite a variety of visitors to “the rock.” Beyond the peregrines, that is what makes it interesting. ~Heather & Bob

  2. Keith Newton says:

    Love the account. Love your dedication. Makes me sad and at the same time, captive.

    • Thanks, Keith. Somehow our reply to you went under Dale’s comment. Sometimes people who visit “the Rock” say they’ve been reading our posts and love them. We’re committed to keeping you up to date and sharing our unique observations. I think Bob is writing one tonight. Let me check…. ~Heather

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