Friday, March 02, 2007
Not cats or knitting; aerial tango
We were treated this afternoon to an amazing vignette with the Embassy Suites peregrines. This is a bonded pair of birds that probably nest somewhere far north of here during the spring and summer, and then after their eyases (peregrine babies) fledge and are independent, they come south to spend the winter in Monterey. They tend to hang out on the tall Embassy Suites hotel, near Roberts Lake, which has plenty of peregrine take-out and great views of the bay. We were heading north on Del Monte Blvd, and were stopped at the traffic light. I could hear a peregrine, through the closed window and over the traffic noise, complaining loudly! I rolled down the window and saw one just landing on the roof of the hotel. I could then see the bird's back end visible over the roof edge, and heard continued, loud complaining. Finally I saw two birds launch and plummet off the roof, both of them holding onto a smaller bird, and screeching loudly. Finally one broke its hold and they both pulled out of the fall and flew back up to the hotel building, the one holding the prey onto the letter B, and the other onto the northwest corner of the roof. I drove up the road, turned around, came back and parked, and watched through binoculars. The smaller male had the prey bird on the B, and began to pluck and eat it. The larger female took off from the roof corner, soared around and landed on the S and watched. When the male was finished eating, he flew off around the corner, and landed on the west side of the building.
We always look carefully at the hotel whenever we drive by, from October to March, and frequently see one or both of these birds. This was quite a thrilling sight and experience. The pictures aren't great, taken with the Canon lens held up to one binocular lens.