Did I say “lazy”?

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Today, the male chick — we’re calling him Luis because he, too, enjoys the taste of raw flesh — was pretty much the opposite of lazy.

The story begins early this morning, when Dominique and Bushra watched him take off from the nest ledge (finally!) and land on the annex building behind the Data Centre. Not bad for a first flight. Not one to rest on his laurels, he soon flew again, this time completing his circuit around the main building and tossing in a couple of loops right above Bushra before crash landing into a window three ledges below and one to the right of the nest ledge.

That seemed like a pretty good first day, and he soon did a face plant and slept off and on, while his sisters made a ruckus and practised some short hops. That was the situation when Marian, Katheryne and Pauline arrived for the second shift. Eventually, everyone settled down and, since it seemed like it might stay quiet for a few hours and there were three volunteers on hand, I decided to go home for a couple of hours.

Marian, Katheryne and Pauline, June 27, 2014.

Marian, Katheryne and Pauline, June 27, 2014.

I hadn’t even finished my lunch when Katheryne called: Luis had flown again, back to the annex. No big deal, I thought. Until she added, with some urgency: “And Pauline thinks she saw him fly past the trees.” Back on my bike then.

She called again soon after to say that Luis was across Bronson near the “Y building”, and that security staff were questioning them and asking to see their “official” Falcon Watch credentials. As you may or may not know, the building in question houses Communications Security Establishment Canada. CSEC, according to no less authoritative a source than Wikipedia, is “the Canadian government’s national cryptologic agency … responsible for foreign signals intelligence (SIGINT) and protecting Canadian government electronic information and communication networks.” Apparently they are suspicious of people inspecting their building through binoculars, although they admitted later that the bright yellow safety vests seemed an unusual fashion choice for shady characters trying to skulk about.

I arrived just in time to see Luis actually land on the roof of the CSEC building, where he perched for a while, looking pretty proud of himself. But he may have found it a bit warm up there in the hot sun, because he soon flew again, this time landing in the top of a tall pine tree north of CSEC. That seemed like a reasonable place to rest … until the trees other occupants noticed him. Three crows began attacking poor Luis, who flopped haplessly around the tree, no doubt getting jabbed by pine needles, until he dropped out of sight. And by “dropped out of sight”, I mean he disappeared. One second I saw Luis with a crow on his head; the next, I saw only a crow.

Where was he? Good question. Pauline and I searched high and low in the wooded area between CSEC and Riverside, to no avail. Jorgen was by now at base camp, Marian and Katheryne had had to leave, and there was a problem with our two-way radios, so I thought it wise to head over to the Data Centre to let Jorgen know what was going on.

Then, I headed back toward the west side of Bronson, but stopped short when I suddenly saw Luis in a small, dead ash tree next to Bronson’s northbound lanes. Huh. No idea how he got there, but I sure was glad to see him, and I like to think he was glad to see me. He gladly posed for some photos, then spent the next 90 minutes trying to manoeuvre his way into a position that would allow him to fly back to the Data Centre. Stupid branches, he seemed to say as he pecked at them. Eventually, he found a comfortable perch from where he could spread his wings and test the wind.  And then, suddenly, he was off!

Treed, June 27, 2014.

Treed, June 27, 2014.

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Luis' ash tree, June 27, 2014.

Luis’s ash tree, June 27, 2014.

This time, he flew east but missed landing on the Data Centre, disappeared for a minute, and tried to land on the northwest corner of the roof. Except he didn’t quite make it, so he clung by his talons to the side of the building for a minute before releasing his grip and flying straight into the adjacent wall. Then he flew west and disappeared once more. I found his a few minutes later on the southeast corner of the annex, where he stayed until the next shift arrived.

James, Frank, Chris, Marie and I kept an eye on Luis because he still looked pretty gung-ho to fly, which he soon did. This time, he crashed (relatively softly) into another window, rested briefly, then flew around to the south side right past his sisters. Alex arrived just in time to spot the chick on the southeast corner of the Data Centre roof.

Not long after, he made two more attempts to reach the nest ledge, but each time ended up on the roof, and that’s where he remained when we left for the night. By my count, he flew at least 12 times and a total of more than 2 km — not bad for his first day.

With one strong flier and two others ready to rumble, tomorrow should be fun.

James and Frank (who's working on his dissertation here!), June 27, 2014.

James and Frank (who’s working on his dissertation here!), June 27, 2014.

Lorraine and Marie, June 27, 2014.

Lorraine and Marie, June 27, 2014.

2 thoughts on “Did I say “lazy”?

  1. Falcon Watchers: 7, Falcons: 12! Looks like the second number will keep on getting further from the first.

  2. What an amazing day! Luis almost had me fooled when I saw a very smooth flying, confident gliding raptor high-tailing past the trees across Bronson toward the CSEC property. What were the chances of another raptor being in the area? …so I was in hot pursuit and found that it was actually him!

    Today should be another great day for flying!