Monday, July 11, 2011

Bruce the Peregrine Days 5 & 6 and Lookout and Chatty Released at Rock City


Bruce continues to do well. Yesterday, I met with Tom Lane of AB Security and we made our way to the roof of Building #3. Bruce was on a building just across the way. I didn't make it to check on him it until about 6:45 p.m. and Bruce was hungry! I managed to hide behind a small building again and was about to toss a quail high enough to catch Bruce's attention. Within ten seconds or so, he landed next to the quail and began to eat. I was able to get a closer look at him and video revealed that his transmitter looked as though it was gone! Sure enough, today Carl Cressler and I made it up to the roof and spotted Bruce on his favorite security camera perch. I suspected that he had removed his transmitter and figured that it might be in the vicinity of the camera. I slowly walked toward Bruce and he took flight towards building #2, where he landed. Sure enough, under the security camera, was the transmitter. He had actually pulled out the tail feather to which it was attached! So much for tracking him via the radio transmitter... I did manage to leave a quail for him near the camera perch and I am sure he went to retrieve it after Carl and I left.

Meanwhile, Bruce's brothers, Chatty and Lookout were released this morning at Rock City . Lookout was fitted with a solar-powered satellite transmitter (purchased with funds provided by a grant from the Benwood Foundation). We actually removed him from the hack box for a few days, fitted him with the backpack style transmitter and allowed him to fly in a small flight pen to get used to the transmitter. We did some final checks of the transmitter and harness arrangement and everything looked good. We placed Lookout back in the hack box this morning before first light. At about 5:55 a.m., with a crowd gathered behind the house of Rock City Owner Bill Chapin, we lowered the front release door. After about 15 minutes, Chatty emerged onto the release door ledge. Lookout joined him within ten minutes and soon they were both flapping and stretching their wings. After a bit, a breeze came through and Lookout made his first flight to freedom. His flight looked good and strong and was apparently unhampered by the satellite transmitter. He made a 360 degree circle, probably to help him scope out his surrounding, flew to the south of the release site and landed in a tree near a house. Chatty took his time and flapped more. He also watched bugs and other birds fly by, all with much amusement! Several times we thought he was going to take off, only to settle down again. He also played with the cord used to lower the front. After about an hour of this, he caught every ones attention as he launched from the box, only to land on the rock ledge directly below it. He spent another ten to fifteen minutes flapping and checking out things and when a small breeze came though, off he went. His first flight was pretty as he flew out in front of the cliff, made a huge circle and flew to the south well past where Lookout had landed.

With Chatty out of the release area, We trudged over to where we thought Lookout had landed. As it turns out, he was on a limb on a large oak tree near the bluff and as we approached, he took flight once again. He dove slightly to build up speed and then climbed and flew well past Lover's Leap, about 1/8th of a mile away. Chatty's radio signal was located later about half a mile to the south of the hack site, but data is still lacking on Lookout's whereabouts. Perhaps the solar unit was not fully charged and needed some exposure to sunlight. Maybe tomorrow, we will be able to get more info. We will provide some food at the release site tomorrow, just in case the brothers are hungry and want to stop by to dine. Meanwhile, we will see if Bruce is still enjoying his diggs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee. Keep checking back and we will hopefully have some more good news tomorrow.


p.s. click on the picture of the hack box and click again to enlarge it. You can barely see Chatty on the edge of the release door.

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