July 22, 2007

Little-G Spreads Her Wings

Saturday I accompanied my sister to Long's Marine Lab to watch Little-G, one of the offspring of the famous San Francisco peregrine falcons, in celebration of her recent fledging. It was a gorgeous day at the coast north of Santa Cruz as you can see from the photos I took. (That's Little-G on her nest perch in the second photo. Click images to enlarge)

My sister has been avidly following the adventures of George and Gracie whose private lives have been exposed by a webcam on the PG&E building in downtown SF for the past few years as they have nested and raised young in the middle of the city. PG&E has embraced the couple and frequently provide updates to their customers about what's been happening with their falcons.

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Waves & Tide Pools


Pelican over Sea

Whale Bones

This year things didn't go as smoothly because George & Gracie decided that their old nesting area on the PG&E building wasn't quite suitable so they set up their nest on the Bay Bridge. Yet the new site had its own problems. The bridge is a particularly dangerous place for young chicks to fledge as the wind forces of the bay create deadly conditions for the chicks when they first take wing.

The Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group (SCPBRG) who has been tracking George & Gracie for the past few years as part of their efforts to help reestablish peregrine falcons in California decided that the eggs laid on the bridge needed to be rescued.

Little-G was brought down to Long's Marine Lab where she hatched and was raised. This past week she finally fledged and is now flying between the buildings, although she hasn't yet figured out how to hunt for herself.

SCPBRG has provided millions of Bay Area inhabitants a glimpse into the lives of these beautiful birds through the webcams that have been set up to follow nesting birds in San Fransisco, the new San Jose city hall and the Oracle buildings up on Redwood Shores.

The occasion was also a memorial for Brian Walton, one of the first directors for SCPBRG, who died unexpectedly on June 15th. He was a remarkable individual who combined his research into falcons (and other predatory birds) with programs that made it possible for the Bay Area to have three nesting peregrine success stories this year (and more to come). Brian had been an active member of the forums following the nests and a number of forum members trekked down to Santa Cruz to provide their remembrances of how Brian's essays had given them not just a scientific appreciation of the birds, but also a deep joy knowing that we share a planet with them.

George and Gracie have provided a wealth of opportunites to capture their lives in photos. The most exquisite photos of this pair come from Glenn Neville who drove down to Santa Cruz to capture some pictures of Little-G and to share in the memorial for Brian. You can see his brilliant work here. Check out this breathtaking picture of Gracie over the Bay Bridge from last year.

Glenn brought along his friend and fellow nature photographer, Nick Dunlop, whose site is here. Nick specializes in falcons and has some simply amazing pieces where he captures falcons in flight going after their prey. One that awes me with its incredible composition can be found here.

What a beautiful day to be at the coast watching the waves, feeling the ocean breeze, hearing and watching the birds and hanging out with a bunch of fellow bird lovers. It's enough to restore one's faith in the world.

Posted by Mary at July 22, 2007 10:56 AM | Birding | Technorati links |