Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dr. Ponder's Pinzón Journal Entry #9

Have a moment for a bit of a newsier update.  Started at 4:45 this morning. I spent the morning at the hawk enclosures - all hawks fed and mostly quiet. I need to do some perch work and cleaning, but find the hawks are quieter when fed and wanted to get them as relaxed as possible. Right now, we have our boat, the Queen Mabel, and the two large park boats staged just off-shore. The new boat (Queen Mabel - we switched boats a couple of days ago) is smaller than our previous one, but actually a bit more comfortable. And the cook is exceptional! Yes, we still get rice twice a day (lunch and dinner), but things like granola, yogurt and fruit available for breakfast (along with eggs, meat, toast, etc), and a broad range of foods for lunch/dinner.

The current hawk census - we have all seven (7) known breeding territory groups in captivity (more scouting turned up two more territories). They are again housed by family groups, with three (3) of them having young fledglings that are being well taken care of by the family members. Franny and Jono (colleagues on this project) are checking one more area today to be sure there are no more breeding territories. We still have three (3) stray males from breeding territories that we have not captured yet. With the unique social structure of 1 female and multiple males, we feel pretty good that we have the female and at least one male from each territory, as well as several "yearlings" and the fledglings. Will continue to try to capture the males.

In addition to the seven (7) territories, I have six (6) enclosures (one a double) filled with random juveniles and sub-adults. The early ones trapped were probably the local juvenile contingent, while the ones coming in later are suspected to have arrived from another island - something we did not think happened here. It is quite a puzzle that will have to be worked out with genetic testing at a later date (samples are being taken!). Total hawk count now - 58.

We trapped our last juveniles the day before yesterday - we had thought we were finished in this area only to have three (3) new ones show up mid-morning. I had nothing much for bait and all of my trapping tools were with other members of the team. We tied a rat carcass to a string at our capture spot and put it out to see if we could lure the new birds in. As one of them came in - a big female - I noted a very full crop. She already had a full crop of rat with the tail sticking out of her mouth! Eric got great pictures, which I look forward to sharing when I have better connection.

I am so excited to share these stories with you, as the internet connection has been better of late. I write as long as my eyes can stay open each night!

More when I can – Juli.

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