Posts Tagged ‘Aplomado Falcon’

The Fat Finch Heads to the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

November 3, 2013

The Fat Finch has now officially gone from “bricks” to “clicks”.  We closed our bricks and mortar store on October 19.  By October 31 we had everything packed up and put into storage. (We won’t mention what an ordeal that was, but anyone who has moved a household or the inventory of a store knows the drill.)  The Fat Finch is expanding and we’re adding lots of new products in anticipation of the holidays.

We are about to embark on the first in a series of new adventures—we’re heading to Harlingen Texas to be a vendor at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival which takes place from November 6-10.  Our car is packed to the gills with goodies to sell, so if you’re planning to attend that event or are in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by.  It will be like visiting our actual store, just in a smaller version.  Lots of finely selected merchandise that will fit easily into your suitcase will be for sale.

The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is one of the finest birding festivals in the country.  Take a look at the festival program and you’ll see some of the reasons we’re excited to be there.  We’ve been in that part of the country once before and were thrilled to see our first green jay, great kiskadee, crested caracara and many other birds (especially shorebirds) that we’ve never seen before.  And any time you can see an aplomado falcon is, by itself, a reason to get excited.  We’ll be back with more posts from the Festival and our trip.

We’re planning to do some post-retail store reading too (for a change!)  And what more appropriate book to take along on our trip than The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

 

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Super Bowl Sunday 2012 – For the Birds

February 7, 2012

Sandhill Cranes Scoring a Touchdown

When we first saw them, the Raven was negotiating with the Golden Eagle about the carcass of a Snow Goose upon which the eagle was perched. Too far away to be certain, we supposed that the raven was explaining to the eagle that contributions would be gratefully accepted. The eagle appeared disinterested.

That was the tail end of our annual Super Bowl Sunday birding trip and was one of the highlights. The juvenile Western Meadowlarks added spice and the Black Phoebe and Says Phoebes weren’t bad either. And we saw numbers of Northern Harrier Hawks at work even though it was a Sunday. Northern Harriers lack religion.

We missed, by two days and three miles, the latest Aplomado Falcon visit. But several Kestrels made up for that, hovering like the best of helicopters and swooping down faster than any helicopter. Two Towhees rearranged last autumn’s leaves, White-crowned Sparrows posed, and Snow Geese swirled for no apparent reason. Except for the time the Harrier glided into their territory. That caused political unrest.

Snowing Geese

And 8,400 trumpets in the orchestra of evolution trumpeted. Aldo Leopold was right about Sandhill Cranes. They played several concerts during our sunset/sunrise visits. They go to bed earlier than the Snow Geese and begin their morning commute after the geese. The geese are last in, first out and the Sandhills don’t care. Sandhills aren’t as excitable as Snow Geese and they worry less. If Sandhills are the trumpets of evolution, Snow Geese are the violins and are, accordingly, more high strung.

We wanted to show you a photo of that Raven and Golden Eagle discussion but, as we set up the shot, a cretin who works at the refuge careened into the field in his big white pick-up, scared the eagle and the Raven away and stole the goose carcass for himself, unceremoniously pitching it in the back of the pick-up, leaving us with only back-lit photos of the eagle and raven flying away and leaving both of them without lunch. A strong letter of protest to the refuge will be dispatched. If that man needed the goose for food, we’re not paying him enough; if he dislikes Golden Eagles, he ought to have a desk job. Either way, good manners required that he wait for me to make my photograph before scuttling the negotiations between the eagle and the raven.

 

 

 

 

Aplomado Falcons, Part I – Meeting a Raven

November 15, 2007

Aplomado Falcons are rare birds. So rare, in fact, that no one really knows how many exist. Their historic range extended from casual visits to Tierra del Fuego north to northern Mexico and southern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Fossils of their Pleistocene predecessors have been found in what is now called Ecuador and Peru. No one even knows how many lived the United States. We do know that by the early 1960s none were residents in the United States. A vicious combination of DDT and elimination of the native grasslands had eradicated them. Some survived in northern Mexico but very few. aplomado-bosque-nov-2007-1.jpg

A breeding program begun in 1977 has released about 500 Aplomados in Northern Mexico and southern Texas and southern New Mexico. The remaining natural grasslands of the Chihuahuan Desert are natural habitat for them. One of the many good things Ted Turner has done with his life is make available one of his New Mexico ranches for a release program. This ranch is just south of the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico and at least one of the falcons has made its way there. We saw it day before yesterday and here are photos. It is a juvenile and it was making the acquaintance of a raven. Given the intelligence of Ravens, we wondered if the Raven knew how rare Aplomados are and just wanted to look at one “up close and personal.” We’re sorry the birds are so small in the photo but they were a long way away and the adapter which fits the camera to our spotting scope was even further so this is the best we got. We’ll return again soon and try again, hopefully before this bird grows out of its juvenile coloring.

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