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.
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.
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.
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.
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.