There is a new Peregrine Falcon in town. Her name is Ivy. You can read about her in the link here. She's a Jersey girl and her story is unique.
I first got word of her last year during Fall migration as she was "trapped" at a banding station down on the lake... Tommy Thompson Park banding station.
I borrowed this one shared through Facebook.
A bird bud of mine got some photos of her down there at some point during this time, Ivy was sitting in a tree. I thought of how cool this moment must have been because it's not often you see a PEFA sitting low in a tree.
Time passes from this point, talk of her seen about the city continues.
Jump ahead to mid-November and I'm watching a PEFA in Downsview Park. I see it is a banded bird. As a volunteer watcher of Peregrines during fledge time (and now all year long), it's become rather exciting anytime I chance upon a banded Falcon. Who is it? I gotta know! And at this point, I've let the buzz of Ivy in town slip to the back of my mind.
The way I read the band, it was 97.
I'm all "Holy s**t! A new visitor!" But thanks to my good friend Tracy Simpson of CPF, she corrects me and explains that it is actually 79. The numbers go around the leg band more than once; 3x if memory serves me correct. Okay so it's not a new bird in town but I've never laid eyes on Ivy before, so I'm still quite happy with my find.
Over the weeks, more reports of Ivy pop up. The ones I have been following are the ones in Downsview. A few other bird people like to visit this vast park more regularly than myself, and I thank them for the sightings. A thread on a bird forum has been started here, it's not about Ivy but about Downsview, and she does pop up in reports.
Ever since I signed on as a volunteer with Toronto Wildlife, I am in the park more often these days. If time allows between what I'm doing and going to work, I make the effort to have a look around. I had no views of Ivy for many weeks.
Then Monday February 8, 2016 comes, I am once again in the park, and there she is!
Actually, first sight of her had me stop for only a split second to take notice of a bird in a small tree just beyond Carl Hall Road. I could not stay because I had an injured Red-tailed Hawk in the back of the GMC. Apparently it had met with the front end of a bus. So getting this bird to TWC obviously was of utmost importance. But I could see the Falcon from the stop sign where I had to make a left on Carl Hall.
I drop the Hawk off, a short chat with the hotline staff and away I go.
A 90 second drive later and I am back to where I saw this Falcon. It's still there. I just knew it was Ivy! Seeing her in this tree that isn't much more than 10 ft tall was pretty amazing. I am so used to our birds at their nest sites many stories above ground.
The photo above is pretty crap and blown out. I'm using manual settings more often these days and the one thing is I must constantly change things with the camera as lighting conditions change. So quite often, in these moments of excitement where I see something way cool, I forget about my settings and end up cursing the initial shots. Since I'm no pro, usually there is a lot of test pics and tweaking as I go. Thank goodness for digital where deleting the bad ones is just a click away.
I'm watching Ivy from across the small road. She's clinging to this branch in the high winds and looking around. There are 4 Canada Geese just off in the distance. Suddenly Ivy takes flight and goes after the Geese! What the hell?!?! In my mind, it's a matter of "I don't know what you are, but I don't like you, and I want you to go away! I own this park."
This photo freaks me out. Just looking at that Goose defending itself.
Here we go again.
While it's unlikely she could kill one of these birds, she certainly could do some heavy damage to one if her talons connect. The Geese high tailed it further away from this aggressive bird. That did not stop Ivy from still giving them some grief.
The Geese disappeared and Ivy returned to the open field. She seems to prefer this one lone massive tree. It's where I first saw her back in November.
You can clearly see her band ID now.
Ivy did this a number of times. She would leave this tree, whip around the field and then return.
At one point she sped along, just over the ground, and picked something up. She carried it for 50 ft or so and let it go. A heavily cropped photo here, but I am pretty certain that is a coffee cup lid in her talons. McD's by the looks of it.
Another return to the tree and she began to hack away. Mouth open wide and I'm thinking she looks like she is trying to expel a pellet. Do Falcons do that like Owls?
Apparently they do as you can see the pellet dropping in this photo below.
In and out she flew a couple more times.
It really was something to watch her.
I think my total time with her was maybe 10 minutes, not much more. I couldn't ask for a better show from a Peregrine.
Another drop to the ground. What did she grab this time?
I couldn't tell at this point.
She did finally let it go and I watched whatever it was tumble and blow along the grass. I followed it until I was close enough to see with my own eyes. Turns out it was a clump of dirt and leaf matter.
It was at this point that she kept going east, flying over the hill and the "Peregrine Party" was over. Perhaps she went off to terrorize those Geese some more?
Downsview Park looks rather bleak for birding, and sometimes it is, where I don't see much more than a couple Juncos or Tree Sparrows in my hour long walk. Then other times, there is a real WOW factor as soon as I show up. It's the chance you take, it's all part of the adventure, just going out and taking in what nature presents to you.
I thank Ivy for a real WOW moment on this morning.