Santa Rosa Tour 3 Update: Part One, March 11-13

Anna FasoliGeneral News and InfoLeave a Comment

We arrived for our third tour on Santa Rosa on March 10 (I am currently working for Institute for Wildlife Studies monitoring Peregrine Falcons and Bald Eagles on Santa Rosa Island). Since we stopped at both landing sites on Santa Cruz, we didn’t arrive until later afternoon. On Wednesday, we headed to the west side of the island where we had rain last week. Both the Sandy Point and Orr’s Camp peregrine pairs were present, but not up to much in a light rain.  At Bee Rock, peregrines were a little more active and were seen copulating. We also checked out some satellite data locations for two adult Bald Eagles that have been hanging out in the same spot together, A60 and A17. This pair has a tumultuous history, but they seem to be very close now, although not up to any nesting activity.

Bald Eagle pair on Santa Rosa Island; A60 (male on left) with A17 (female on right)

Bald Eagle pair on Santa Rosa Island; A60 (male on left) with A17 (female on right)

On the way home, I checked the infamous Lopez Bald Eagle pair, who are still incubating and should have chicks by next tour.

As always, at Sandy Point, elephant seals were putting on a show.

Northern elephant seal - adult male, Sandy Point, Santa Rosa Island

Northern elephant seal – adult male, Sandy Point, Santa Rosa Island

 

Northern elephant seal - adult female, Sandy Point, Santa Rosa Island

Northern elephant seal – adult female, Sandy Point, Santa Rosa Island

Northern elephant seal - adult male, Sandy Point, Santa Rosa Island

Northern elephant seal – adult male, Sandy Point, Santa Rosa Island

On Thursday, we headed to Trancion, where the pair was very active near the eyrie and seen copulating.

Peregrine Falcon; Trancion, Santa Rosa Island

Peregrine Falcon; Trancion, Santa Rosa Island

Meanwhile, sparse observations at both Chickasaw and Krumholz make us think this may be the same pair using both territories. An active Common Raven nest at Chickasaw may be enough to keep the peregrine pair away.

On Friday, Bonn Point was again the territory with the most activity for the week. The pair was actively hunting the grassy fields of their territory, and the male caught and ate a small bird. Both birds were at the eyrie, and the female scraped out the nest bottom in response to the courtship bowing of the male.

Peregrine Falcon hunting at Bonn Point, Santa Rosa Island

Peregrine Falcon hunting at Bonn Point, Santa Rosa Island

Peregrine Falcon hunting at Bonn Point, Santa Rosa Island

Peregrine Falcon hunting at Bonn Point, Santa Rosa Island

Peregrine Falcon hunting at Bonn Point, Santa Rosa Island

Peregrine Falcon hunting at Bonn Point, Santa Rosa Island

Peregrine Falcon (with Santa Cruz in distance) at Bonn Point, Santa Rosa Island

Peregrine Falcon (with Santa Cruz in distance) at Bonn Point, Santa Rosa Island

The steep hill that one must traverse to observe Bonn Point

The steep hill that one must traverse to observe Bonn Point…note Sarah at bottom center

At Gnoma, a pair was present, but not interacting. This is the first time we’ve seen the female near the eyrie, however. This is the lowest elevation eyrie we have, and is an interesting choice for a peregrine pair. On our way home through East Point, I spotted a blue-tagged Bald Eagle being chased by gulls. He was too distant to get a resight on. We staked it out multiple times but his identity remains a mystery for now. We looked for nests in the nearby canyons, and it seems like the area could be suitable, but we found no structures.

Adult Bald Eagle, unknown identity; East Point, Santa Rosa Island (Santa Cruz in distance)

Adult Bald Eagle, unknown identity; East Point, Santa Rosa Islan

We’ve also been looking for peregrines at Jonson’s Lee, but haven’t seen any there yet. Johnson’s Lee is loaded with seals, so ATV access is limited.

Northern elephant seals basking on beach; Johnson's Lee, Santa Rosa Island

Northern elephant seals basking on beach; Johnson’s Lee, Santa Rosa Island

Northern elephant seals basking on beach; Johnson's Lee, Santa Rosa Island

Northern elephant seals basking on beach; Johnson’s Lee, Santa Rosa Island

California sea lion on beach near dead elephant seal; Johnson's Lee, Santa Rosa Island

California sea lion on beach near dead elephant seal; Johnson’s Lee, Santa Rosa Island

Back at housing, a pair of Common Ravens has been feasting every morning and evening on caterpillars. They are very tolerant of people and don’t seem to mind having their pictures taken.

Common Raven searching for grubs at housing

Common Raven searching for grubs at housing

Common Raven searching for grubs at housing

Common Raven searching for grubs at housing…clearly he wants to be friends.

The island in general has started turning brown and crispy on most south-facing slopes. But north faces are still green and wildflowers are still persisting.

Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)

Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)

Purple owl's clover (Castilleja exserta)

Purple owl’s clover (Castilleja exserta)

 

View of Santa Cruz from east side of island from Santa Rosa

View of Santa Cruz from east side of island from Santa Rosa

Stay tuned for part two of tour 3!