Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Falcons and Eagles of Giant Gap

[written April 1, 2007]

A correspondent, expert in all things avian, writes:

"Yesterday, I missed finding the Great Grey Owl on Pliocene Ridge (Yuba-Sierra Co.) but I came up big at Giant Gap. Shortly after getting out onto Lover's Leap, I heard the courting calls of two Peregrine Falcons. The sound was coming from across the river. The calls are often made in flight. I kept searching the cliffs and airspace near lower north facing cliffs. I was surprised that I couldn't find them. I then peered straight below Lover's Leap and spotted two adult Peregrines in courtship flight display. I am fairly certain they will be nesting on the south-facing cliffs below Lover's Leap. This angle is preferred by many birds including falcons. Besides, the other side is already taken. A Golden Eagle is sitting in a nest on the other side of the river. I spotted the nest with my binocs but it wasn't until I put up the scope that I could see the majestic ruler of Giant Gap's airways. The falcons are great to watch during courtship and when hunting but they're also very sensitive to presence of anything moving above them. "

This is good news, showing that the endangered Peregrine Falcon is re-occupying its old territories, and also that Golden Eagles, who always used to nest in Giant Gap, are at last nesting there again.

The Goldens were pretty thoroughly scared away by logging near the nest site, on Tahoe National Forest lands flanking Giant Gap, during the early Reagan years, when the word came down from above, to cut it all, to cut everything, to wreck everything wild, and to ruin every beauty.

But now the Goldens are back. My correspondent cautions that the Peregrines are "very sensitive to the presence of anything moving above them." The same is true enough of the eagles. They are easily scared from their nest sites by rock climbers, for instance. Hence we should take care, if we visit Lovers Leap, to be quiet and minimize our presence.

This quietness is something the bird-watchers know well; in fact, I remarked to a friend, this morning, that bird-watchers, almost above all others, know how to immerse themselves in wild places, know how to be quiet and yet alert, how to grasp every nuance without ever grasping, and that, in a way, they are like Zen Buddhists who do not even know they are Zen Buddhists.

To which he replied, "And that's the best kind (of Zen Buddhist)!"

No comments: