Observation date: 12 September 2014
It feels like fall is near at Morro Rock. Temperatures are beginning to decline along the coast. However, twelve miles inland, it’s still near triple digits. I have begun seeing birds that are usually plentiful in spring. Bushtits are back at the rock flocked up.
Today, a group of birders on the “Birders of Land and Sea at Morro Rock” tour saw 29 species of birds. The group is led by Morro Bay Museum Natural History Manager, Rouvaishyana. As they rounded the rock, 150 yards from my position, I am about to panic with three spotting scopes set up and not a falcon in sight.
I was introduced to the group and began spouting everything that I knew about the famous pair of falcons that live on the south side of Morro Rock. It held their attention for about two minutes.
I knew what was next…”So where are the birds, Falcon Bob?”
“Well, there is a flock of bushtits in the willows.”
They started looking around, found a Bewick’s Wren and not much else. The group thanked me for showing them the old nest site in the scopes, then turned and went to walk back.
Then came the sweet sound of the adult peregrines cacking their arrival to the rock. The group only got fifteen yards before turning back. I had two scopes zeroed in on each bird before they got to me. They all left about fifteen minutes later, chattering all the way back.
Twenty minutes after they left, the real excitement began. A large juvenile female approached the rock from the north flying along the face of the rock to the west. I could see her for the 200 yards before she came into view of the resident falcons. When she did, all hell broke loose! Both adults screaming with after-burners at full. The young female was stopped in her tracks and looked like she might fall out of the sky. She was so surprised! She regained her flight, diving straight down to gain speed then pumping hard into level flight, all the time with the two adults in hot pursuit still screaming. After the chase was over, the female returning to the rock made a high speed pass at an Acorn Woodpecker atop a willow on the hillside. We had been watching this woodpecker earlier and I couldn’t remember if I had ever seen one on the rock. The biggest willow might have a 4” trunk diameter. An hour later, the same thing, a juvie female gets a lickin.’ If it was the same one, she’s a little slow on the uptake.
A while later, an osprey cruising the shoreline of the beach behind me is in for the same “hash and bash” routine from the falcons, however he is not impressed and because he is not ducking and diving, the falcons break off.
Enough for one day!
Happy trails, Bob
Item: Of the many times I have seen an osprey at the rock, the falcons rarely chase them. I don’t know why. Not so for all other raptors.