Its hard to believe that 10 days have passed now since the watch began at Sunlife. Euro is kicking ass and taking no prisoners as he masters the art of flying. Windward has also been doing well but ended up in some trouble today and needed rescuing. But she's okay, spent the afternoon resting in a carrier, being monitored and looked over before releasing her on top of Sunlife at dusk. Olympia apparently is on the other end of the scale, being the youngest, and taking things rather slow. Seems she is in no real rush to catch up with her siblings but has taken flight in the last couple days as well. And then there's Regatta. Another female chick (Euro is the only male of the four) and she is somewhere in the middle of them all.
Spending as much time as I possibly can this season at Sunlife, watching the chicks, getting to know them, and of course having names for them all, really pulled me in and a growing affection for all these young flyers was happening. And having a special experience with each one minus Olympia has made this watch all the more memorable. Today was Regatta's day with me.
Regatta had made it over two condos east of Sunlife this morning. She sat on the edge of this tall building for some time over the 90 minutes I was there. O'Conner (mom) circled and flew low over Regatta as you can see below.
It was paralyzing to watch Regatta way up there on the edge of this building. She flapped here and there, hopped along the edge and a few times I thought for sure she was going to lose her balance. One can't help but watch and worry when they hang so close like this. One wrong step, off they go, and a person can only watch helplessly as the bird drops and it's up to that bird to save itself.
But Regatta never fell. She moved further east along the condo. Blue leg band here is my proof to all that this definitely was Regatta in this spot.
And finally, after enough of the walk and hop along here... and many passes by mom... Regatta took a big leap and went flying east along Bloor. She made it almost to Montgomery which is approximately 1km east before she turned around and headed back to the buildings.
She passed the two condos east of Sunlife, going around the back, and we happened to spot her lifting up towards Sunlife in between. Frank and I made the decision to get over to the other side as her lift and potential landing were looking a little careless. We met another volunteer, Cathy, across Bloor and made our way to Aberfoyle Cres. that runs just north of these buildings. It didn't take very long before all three chicks that were out flying free (Regatta, Olympia and Euro) were found on the top ledges. Windward was still resting in a carrier waiting.
Here I believe is Regatta on the right, and Olympia's backside on the left. Olympia sure enjoys laying about but she's definitely not unwell.
I left soon after spotting all three chicks. The parking meter had run out by now and work was calling. So I went on my way and feeling good about the young Falcons despite the last 24 hours a voice in the back of my head kept telling me to call in sick and spend the day with these birds.
Angie showed up to the watch after work, arriving shortly after 4pm. It wasn't long after that I got a text from her that one of the chicks collided with the Sunlife building. My heart sank. It's best to leave what happened with this, to be read through Angie's blog at this link to the story.
But learning through Angie that it was Regatta, I was in shock. Well, whichever chick it was, would have shocked me regardless; but the fact that today's watch for me, it was all about Regatta in my sights. Little did I know that this was the last time with her.
I beat myself up for much of the rest of my shift, wishing I played hooky from work and was on site when this all occurred. Not that I, or anybody else for that matter could have done anything with what happened to Regatta. She collided with the window, breaking her neck, death was instant, and her lifeless body fell to the next roof below. But I could have been there for support to Angie, Frank and Cathy; as they would be to me. Working as a team on this watch, we stick together through thick and thin.
I guess I've been lucky with all the watches so far, having nothing like this happen. Not even a rescue of any sorts. The birds have done well or done nothing during my time. I imagine a rescue will happen one day, and if it saves the bird's life in the end, it will be unforgettable. But so is something like this. The visual I have is enough but nothing compared to what they saw and heard.
The Sunlife watch should be wrapping up later this coming week but it's going to be quite different. You just can't shake this kind of stuff, looking up at a smaller family now. Others have seen this more than a few times, and some deaths haven't been as quick. It's horrible! But as my friend Tracy put it the other day... "I think of all of the rescues we've done so far
and birds that now have a second chance. The joy and the sorrow are in
balance. If it were not for the rescue in 1998 of Windwhistler, we
wouldn't have Tiago, Kendal, Storm, Hurricane, Ely, Dougal and 35
others. Its so worth it." You guys remember Windwhistler's story don't you?
I know I went on a ramble here. Just dealing with it all through this right now. Some other things happened today on top of this, overall it's been a real crappy day. But work is done, I am home with my family who are all sleeping as I key this, I got a couple shots of 40 Creek in a glass here and tonight I raise the glass to Regatta. She will always be forever free...
Here is my favorite photo I got of Regatta with her sister Windward. Windward is on the left and she took flight first. It seems WW is giving Regatta some pointers about fledging by getting those wings moving.