Santa Rosa Tour 3 Update: Part Two, March 14-17

Anna FasoliField Work, General News and Info, ScienceLeave a Comment

Wow, does time fly by when you are on an eight day on, six day off schedule (this schedule is possibly the secret to life). I’ve finally gotten around to posting the second half of tour three on Santa Rosa Island, working for Institute for Wildlife Studies (Read part one here first!) Weather was excellent for the second half of tour 3 as well, and still pretty warm. The island is starting to turn brown on south-facing slopes and grasses and flowers are beginning to go to seed. As one of the few mammals on the island, humans are a target for seed transport, and they find their way into every article of clothing. Still, many flowers are in bloom, and many were attracting White-lined Sphinx moths all over the island!

White-lined-Sphinx Moth feeding on Cobwebby thistle (Cirsium occidentale), Santa Rosa Island

White-lined-Sphinx Moth feeding on Cobwebby thistle (Cirsium occidentale), Santa Rosa Island

White-lined-Sphinx Moth feeding on Cleveland's cryptantha (Cryptantha clevelandii), Santa Rosa Island

White-lined-Sphinx-Moth feedin on Cleveland’s cryptantha (Cryptantha clevelandii), Santa Rosa Island

California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Santa Rosa Island

California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Santa Rosa Island

031415 Mariposa lilly02

Mariposa lilly (pinyon mariposa), Santa Rosa Island

 

Common goldfields (Lasthenia gracilis) are still abundant

Common goldfields (Lasthenia gracilis) are still abundant

In addition, many Horned Larks are nesting, and flushing an adult was almost always a sign you were very close to a nest.

Horned Lark nest, be careful where you step!

Horned Lark nest, be careful where you step!

Horned Lark eggs

Horned Lark eggs

Horned Lark nest, very well hidden!

Horned Lark nest, very well hidden!

Horned Lark chicks

Horned Lark chicks

On Saturday, Sarah checked on the Trap Canyon eagles, who still appeared to be incubating. The Lime Point peregrines are spending time close to the Trap eagles, but clearly the two species are not friends, so we will see where they end up nesting. NPS staff saw a pair in Lobos Canyon later in the week, and it is possible this is the Lime Point pair investigating eyries over a large area.  Sarah had a single observation of a peregrine at Soledad, the first we have seen there this season. I spent most of the day at Carrington watching the pair spend time very close to the eyrie. The female spent nearly an hour in the eyrie but didn’t appear to be incubating, but was possibly egg-laying.

Horned Lark posing in front of Carrington Arch

Horned Lark posing in front of Carrington Arch

Beach near Carrington

Beach near Carrington

Common Raven with a gift for his mate, Santa Rosa Island

Common Raven with a gift for his mate, Santa Rosa Island

Brandt's Cormorants, Santa Rosa Island

Brandt’s Cormorants, Santa Rosa Island

On Sunday, we spent more time at East Point, and saw presumably the same eagle roaming around. As I was packing up to get closer to the eagle, a peregrine actually landed within 50 meters of me! I heard cacking, and was shocked to see it so close. It was likely hunting here (on nice weather days, the harbor is full of seabirds), and was probably one of the birds from the Water Canyon territory.

Osprey near East Point, Santa Rosa Island; this is the first one I've seen here

Osprey near East Point, Santa Rosa Island; this is the first one I’ve seen here

Surf Scoters near East Point, Santa Rosa Island

Surf Scoters near East Point, Santa Rosa Island

Western Gull near East Point, Santa Rosa Island

Western Gull near East Point, Santa Rosa Island

Black Oystercatchers near East Point, Santa Rosa Island

Black Oystercatchers near East Point, Santa Rosa Island

Harbor seal near East Point, Santa Rosa Island

Harbor seal near East Point, Santa Rosa Island

On Monday we staked out Krummholz and Chickasaw again, and observations once again lead us to believe it is the same pair using both sites. We watched the male make numerous failed hunting attempts out over the ocean, but somehow the female eventually showed up with a full crop. If you want something done right I guess you have to do it yourself…

Can you spot my co-worker Sarah at the Krumholz overlook?

Can you spot my co-worker Sarah at the Krumholz overlook?

Tuesday morning I woke up early to get to the Lopez nest before the boat came. It was pretty fun to get out on the ATV in the dark (but with lights!). I flushed a Barn Owl, and gave a handful of Horned Larks a very rude awakening. Many Grasshopper Sparrows were at this location singing, and hopefully they will stick around. I saw a handful elsewhere on the island as well, but this seems to be a hot spot.

Grasshopper Sparrow, Santa Rosa Island

Grasshopper Sparrow, Santa Rosa Island

The sun rose just as I got to the Lopez nest, where the female was on the nest. The male was nearby but flew off to chase a peregrine that apparently roosted a little too close just as the sun came up. I couldn’t quite tell what was under the female, as she stayed tight to the nest. It is likely the eggs are hatching as right now, as we are nearing the latest possibly hatch days. Stay tuned for more updates on the Trap pair and others on Santa Rosa Island!  Thanks again to IWS and all of their supporters for the opportunity to be out here and write these updates!

Sunrise over Santa Cruz from Santa Rosa Island

Sunrise over Santa Cruz from Santa Rosa Island