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2004 Release in Leeds County

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June 28th/04- Report by Mark Nash
Hello All - We have exciting news for 2004. The 2004 peregrine release is still a go,
with the young peregrine chicks scheduled to arrive on or about July 5th or
6th. The Charleston Lake group is all geared up, and ready to go for this
years peregrine release. Four birds will be hacked out this year from the
Charleston Lake hack site, and we are all very excited about the release.

Scroll down for updates on the activities of this year's chicks...............


Leeds County Hack Site Reports:

Sunday August 8, 2004
Neil & Sue Ainsworth report:
The day dawned cool and breezy. As we set up at Site C, we heard what we thought was a partridge. One falcon was eating breakfast on the porch of the hack box. We speculated that it could be Edna C. because the male falcons seem to hang out together and Edna C. is often by herself. A second falcon arrived from the north and helped itself to quail on the hack box. A beaver, out for a long swim, swam south in front of the rock face and there was a lot of loon activity early during our watch. In fact, at about 7:15, five, no six, no seven, eight loons flew south over the water! Five flew from the back of the island over to the mainland. Quite a sight but the falcons did not react. Two falcons began an aerial duel again and were joined by a third. They landed on the rocks and continued to dogfight on the ground! As one of the falcons flew to the hack box, the others seemed to be eating (ants?) on the rocks. One appeared to be pulling at something while the other did a little dance knocking moss off the rocks. He then lay down. This falcon then flew to the rocks below the hack and lay down again. We decided that, whoever this falcon was, he was misnamed - should be called “Sleepy” or “Snoozy” because that seemed to be what he liked to do best. About 8:10, 2 birds had an aerial duel going south. We lost sight of them south of the green roofed cottage. (“Sleepy” meanwhile, continued to snooze on the rocks.) We located one falcon in a snag of dead branches south of the green roofed cottage but couldn’t find the second one. Sleepy finally “woke” up, circled and flew north and disappeared. We could no longer see the bird in the snag of dead branches. About 9:15, one falcon flew north to the dead oak tree and hung out there for a bit. An osprey flying below him caused no reaction at all! This bird then flew south, circled over the hack and continued north past the dead oak and out of sight. For the next half-hour, we watched some flycatchers catch their breakfast, a couple of crows and a vulture fly high over the hack box. Lots of different birds were calling: jays, nuthatches, song sparrow, crested flycatchers, loons and chickadees. No sign of the falcons. As we weighed anchor to leave, we saw wings flapping on the hack box. Sure enough, one of the birds had returned. He disappeared behind the rocks on the porch of the hack and then was visible eating a snack.

Saturday August 7, 2004
Neil Ainsworth & Roger Lupton report:
We were fishing under the hack box about 12:45 today. Only one bird was visible on the rocks. As we took a picture, a second falcon flew in and buzzed the first. They flew off together towards the hack box dogfighting. Suddenly, a third bird joined them. It appeared to come from the direction of Webster’s tree, north of the hack. All three landed on a square boulder south of the hack box. One or more of the birds went behind the boulder and appeared to pull out a body and proceed to feed. After eating, the birds flew south towards the green roofed cottage, continuing to dogfight, and landed in a live oak tree. We took some more pictures and then left.

Report on baby red-shouldered hawk
About 11:30 this morning, we tied up at Agayoff’s dock and met with Mr. and Mrs. Agayoff. We had come to take some photos of a young red-shouldered hawk. The Agayoffs kindly showed us the remains of a red-shouldered hawk nest that had been destroyed by a rainstorm earlier in the week. We observed the young hawk moving around on branches of the tree, occasionally flying to another branch. We were also entertained by a number of female hummingbirds seeking insects in the trees - at times very close to the young hawk. The young hawk seemed very interested in the photographers and the hummingbirds. We did see evidence that it had been well fed: it ejected a stream of feces about 6 feet at one point. After about 30 minutes, an adult arrived with a snake. It landed in the nest away from the young hawk. On seeing the photographers, the adult immediately left and flew back into the bush. The adult and the young hawk called back and forth for 3 to 4 minutes. The adult then returned to the nest and the young bird joined it to feed. The adult had an obvious yellow beak compared to the young hawk’s grey one and the adult appeared to be double its size. As we watched, the adult hawk tore up some snake and fed the young bird for a few minutes. Then the adult had a feed and returned to feeding the young hawk for a few more minutes. The adult then flew off with about half the snake. After that we listened as the young hawk continued to call to the adult, who answered occasionally from a distance. At about 12:45, we left.

Monday August 2, 2004
Neil & Sue Ainsworth report:
We have been anxious to see how the falcons have been doing this past week so we set off for Site C - our usual hangout! As we arrived, we met Dwayne Struthers who brought us to date on the recent movement of the falcons. We were able to locate Edna C. in a pine tree at Site B. She flew and landed on what is affectionately known as Jane’s Rock. She then flew off towards Site C, circled onto the mainland and eventually landed on the hack box where she helped herself to quail. A little later, Edna C. flew back towards Jane’s Rock. No other falcons were visible this morning although we saw a tern and a vulture fly over the hack box. As we left, we located Edna C. in a dead tree east of Site B. We returned about 6:30 this evening and stayed for a while but there were no birds in sight.

Wednesday July 28, 2004
Dwayne Struthers reports:
The falcons are adapting to their natural surroundings very well. They are regularly perched in one of their favorite dead pine trees on the mainland. The three males are now perfecting their flying skills. The air shows are spectacular at times with loops, inverted flights and tail to tail attacks. We have been concerned about Edna C because we haven't seen her at the box since her splash down. However tonight when Gary Nielsen, Ben Nielsen and I were watching the birds we saw two birds fly from Borger's Point over to the Island. One was flying very close to the water and appeared larger than the other bird. Gary and Ben were able to get in close enough to be able to read the band S/7. Guess who? Edna C. She appeared to be in excellent condition. I think she might be hunting on her own as we can't seem to catch her eating at the box and there is always one quail left over each day. 

Sunday July 25, 2004
Sue & Neil Ainsworth report:
We were back at Camp C by about 6:30 a.m. It was a calm, cool, cloudy day and, at first glance, we weren't able to see any falcons. About 5 minutes after we got there, three blue herons flew over the hack box and the falcons were very vocal! Dwayne arrived and told us that Edna C. had still not been located and it would be nice to find her. He said that the last time she had been seen was near Border's Point. Dwayne went up to Camp A, and returned later to confirm that Edna was not among the birds near the hack box. After scanning the area, we found one of the falcons on the rock rubble north of the hack. Then, all the birds were in flight, two chasing a third who appeared to have some food. The birds remained quite active until about 8:00 when two of them returned to the hack box and the other landed on a rock, lying down and apparently taking a nap. The birds seemed to take it easy for about an hour - just a quiet Sunday morning in paradise. Another heron flew over, raising the ire of the falcons but other birds received no reaction again today. A blue jay located above our heads seemed fascinated as his call echoed back from the cliff. About 8:45, several blue jays raised alarm calls which went on for about 15 minutes. No reaction from the falcons. Two at this point were on the hack box and the other was in a dead tree close by. The birds took a few flights after this, appearing to venture further south. On many occasions, we found them in trees near the green roofed cottage. That was where they were when we took our leave at about 11:00.

Saturday July 24, 2004
Sue & Neil Ainsworth report:
We were present for the release on Wednesday - sorry Mark, we didn't have the same troubles with the mosquitoes that you did - maybe you need a new insect repellent? We were very curious to find out how the birds were doing. When we left on Wednesday, Beale had disappeared after having "crashed" into a tree south of the hack box and we wanted to find out if he had returned. It was quite a cool, sunny morning with a north breeze and a few wispy clouds. As we set up at Camp C at about 6:45, we were serenaded from the hack box by at least one falcon. We located three birds on the hack box and, because it was impossible to see leg bands from our location, we weren't really sure who was missing. For a while, all three birds hung out on the hack box, one enjoying a meal and the other two the sun. About 8:00, the falcons started to become very active, flying in one direction and circling back. Two entertained us many times with what appeared to be aerial duels - they'd fly together and then seem to attack each other - while the third flew around independent of the other two but not far away. When they landed - in trees and on the rock face - they appeared to be eating (ants? plants? no quail visible). Many times during the course of the morning a variety of different birds - terns, flycatchers, goldfinches, loons and kingbirds - flew over the hack box. The falcons seemed absolutely disinterested. However, when a vulture flew over at about 9:45, there was quite a ruckus. About 10 o'clock, one of the birds made an unsuccessful attempt to land on the satellite dish above the hack box. He settled for a tree south of the hack instead. We left Camp C at about 10:15 with intentions to return before nightfall.

Saturday evening, July 24, 2004: We arrived at Camp C and settled in about 7:35. Soon after we got there, Dwayne came by and told us about Edna C's adventures on Thursday. It appears she tried to land on a buoy in the lake and missed. With the help of one of the student rangers and a couple of boats, she was guided to shore where she spent some time preening. Dwayne said she had returned to the hack box later that day, but had not been seen since. So we knew the birds on the hack box were Beale, Wiltse and Larkin. Right about the time Dwayne paid a visit, two of the falcons took flight, one landed on the hack box and the other on the stump in front of the hack box. This appeared to be a favourite hang-out. The birds were moderately active, flying to various trees and landing from time to time on the hack box. We finally called it a day as darkness fell.

Thursday July 22, 2004
Dwayne Struthers reports:
Second day of freedom. The Charleston Peregrine Falcons seem to prefer landing in trees instead of anywhere else. These pictures were taken from Camp A, which is a blue dining tent covered with camouflage material. On the day of the release Larkin sat in a tree 10 metres from the Camp for over a hour. On the morning of Day 2, July 22, Wiltse landed on the roof of Camp A with 4 people in the tent. He stayed for about a minute and then flew to the nearby pine tree and sat there while his fans snapped many pictures. See the photos.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Peregrine splash down. Daring rescue by Stewardship Ranger. When we arrived at the site we had a falcon sitting on the flight platform however it flew before we could identify it. We thought it was Larkin because he was around the box most of the day before. Later in the morning a falcon flew in, went in the box, dragged out a quail and started to eat it. Guess who? It was Wiltse, the only bird that took a short flight to a tree beside the tower and then stayed there all day. The youngest of the group but the first to the food. Edna C and Larkin were spotted early in the a.m. flying down by Borger's Point but hadn't been to the hack box for food. Beale was still nowhere to be found. We searched the whole shoreline looking for Beale but we couldn't find a trace of him. It was a pretty quiet morning for the observers.

The afternoon was another story! We had a couple of firsts. Our first peregrine splash down and our first water rescue. The action started when were trying to identify two of the missing falcons that we located down by Borger's point. It was Edna C and Larkin. Shortly after we were able to read their bands they started to fly out over the channel and circle some of the boaters that had come to jump of the cliffs. At one point Edna C landed on the cliff within 10 meters of a young boy who was about to jump off the cliff. When his parents pointed out the bird to him he peeked around the rock to see a falcon looking back at him. I'll bet he will remember that for the rest of his life. Not many people have a chance to get that close to a threatened species.

Edna C has a habit of flying very low at times back and forth across the channel between the island and Borger's Point. She is a very strong flier even though this is only her second day out of the box. However she must have made a slight error this time because all of a sudden I heard " falcon in the water" over the radio. She splashed down right in front of Camp B. I was only 200 meters away but when I got there with the pontoon boat I couldn't reach her because she was in the middle of a big shoal. I had to navigate around to the inside of the shoal to get close to her but by that time one of our Stewardship Rangers ( Kurt Fisher ) had dove in and started to swim out towards her. She was just sitting there with her wings and tail feathers spread out like a float plane. Then she started to flap her wings and head for shore. She had her head up and at no time seemed to be in any distress. Ever see a bird do the butterfly? She would do the butterfly for 5-10 meters and then rest so we decided rather than try to capture her and risk an injury we would let her swim to shore. So Kurt stayed back far enough that he wouldn't alarm her and gently swam behind her to shore. We haven't officially measured the distance for the Guinness Book of Records but we have estimated it to be about 60 meters. Not bad for her first Olympic tryout. When she reached shore she climbed up the bank, shook herself off and hopped up on a big pine log. She sure wasn't the prettiest falcon you have ever seen. She looked a little peeved with the situation but she immediately began to preen herself. We kept her under close observation for quite a while but a couple of hours later she had done such a good preening job you would never know she had been in the water.

Later in the p.m Brian Hollingsworth ( owner of the property where the hack box is located ) came up to let us know he had a falcon sitting in a tree down by his cottage. We went down to his cottage and located the missing falcon. It was Beale. Apparently he had been sitting out on Larkin's Island all morning.

It might have been a dreary wet day but it sure was an exciting one. Two of the birds had been to the box to eat. We had our first splash down but thanks to Kurt Fisher a very successful rescue. However just to end it on a perfect note as we were about to pack up for the day the three males all landed on the flight platform for the night. On the way back to the dock with the crew our hero Kurt spotted Edna C sitting on the rocks by Borger's Point. She had flown back across the channel again. Imagine a falcon getting saved by a Fisher that's probably another one for the record books.

Sunday July 25, 2004
Photos have been posted from the release.

Wednesday July 21, 2004
Dwayne Struthers reports:
All the birds out of the box. Larkin seems to have it down pat as he has been around or under the box all day. Edna C making strong flights and Wiltse was sitting in a tree by the tower when we left. Beale made a couple of short flights and then flew north of the box and landed on the rocks but we haven't seen him since. Gary did a ground search early evening but he was nowhere to be found. I suspect he was in tree there somewhere looking at him. Hopefully he will show up tomorrow. 

Wednesday July 21, 2004
Mark Nash reports:
Day 1 of the release: What a great day indeed!! Up at 5 am, on the road by 6:30 am, gas and coffee stops, and off to Charleston Lake for the release of the peregrines chicks. Arrived just about 10 am to be greeted on the gravel road to the hack site by Garnet. A short drive in, and shorter walk to the hack box and on to "Camp A", one of the observation tents set up a short distance viewing to the hack box. Everything was ready, with camp B, C, D, and E all manned with watchers and ready to go. Sunny skies, fair weather, and lots of bugs, (and all that is left to do is to lift the bars and let the peregrines out of the box. (Did I mention that lots of BUGS were also on hand to witness this great event)!

Cameras, spotting scopes, two way radios, boats and binoculars in hand, (at approx. 11am), - we all watched Gary and Dwayne as they lifted the bars on the hack box and run for cover. (Did I mention the bugs)?

At approx. 11:15 am , the first bird, - "Larkin" stepped out of the box onto the landing platform in the front of the hack box. Approx. 45 minutes later, the second male bird, - "Beale" stepped out and joined his brother on the landing platform. At approx. 12:20 pm, the third male brother - " Wiltse" stepped out joining his other two brothers. And finally, at 12:35 pm, Edna C. exited the hack box, joining her siblings. All of the birds were cautious and deliberate in their exits from the hack box, and for the first hour, flapped, and jumped back and forth to the roof of the hack box to the front landing platform. As you might have expected, Larkin being the first out of the box, took the first short flight. Over the next three hours while I was there, all four birds made some short flights, while investigating the surrounding landscape of the hack box. Sadly, with only 49 bug bites and two bee stings on my leg, reluctantly, I had to leave around 3 pm to make my way back to Toronto, but very glad I was able to be there! (Did I mention the bugs)!!

Some great photos were taken, with many more to come. Said my goodbye's and got on the road. Really wished I could have stayed. Did I mention the bugs??

PS: there is no doubt in my mind why more and more peregrines are coming to the city to establish nests and raise their families. Did I mention the bugs? :-))

As short as it was, (for me) I HAD A GREAT DAY!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday July 20, 2004
Dwayne Struthers reports:
It's flying time again. Tomorrow is release day and they look like they are ready to go! Mark Nash will be arriving early tomorrow morning and if everything is ok he will give us the green light to go. Stay tuned.

Sunday July 18, 2004
Dwayne Struthers reports:
Well they have graduated cooking school. When I checked the box all that was left were feet and feathers. Now that they can prepare the meal all they have to do is learn how to fly and catch it.

Saturday July 17, 2004
Dwayne Struthers reports:
To-day was their first time to have a whole quail intact, no more half pieces. The only catch was they had to prepare it for dinner. We will see what happens tomorrow?

Friday July 16, 2004
Dwayne Struthers reports:
They look like they are almost ready to fly the coop. Edna C, Larkin and Beale are really sleek and are trying out their wings. Only Wiltse has a few white tufts left.

Wednesday July 14, 2004
Dwayne Struthers reports:
The falcons appetites are improving as they are now consuming a whole quail a piece (half a quail twice a day). They love to play in the water dish just like our previous birds. Gary Nielsen observed Wiltse (the youngest) standing in the water dish having a bath. He was completely soaked right to the top of his head.

Tuesday July 13, 2004
Dwayne Struthers reports:
We have finally named the falcons. Last year our Stewardship Council named two of the birds after creeks that we are restoring so this year we continued with a similar theme. Names are as follows - 1 st Male ....Wiltse after a creek that flows out of the southern end of the lake. 2 nd Male.... Beale after Beales creek. Our next restoration project. 3 rd Male.... Larkin after Larkin Island , a island close to the hack box where several of our previous falcons like to perch in the trees on the island. Our 4 th bird is a female so we named her Edna C after Edna B Chant a famous lady reporter at the Athens Reporter and author of the book Beautiful Charleston. As a young girl she rowed all over the lake with her dad charting the depths of the lake.

Saturday July 10, 2004
Dwayne Struthers reports:
The falcons are changing every day. (photos to come). They are preening fanatics. The hack box looks like a chicken plucking station! It's covered with white baby falcon feathers. They are starting to look pretty sleek except for Jr. as he still has a lot of white tufts sticking out everywhere.

Wednesday July 7, 2004
Dwayne Struthers reports:
First day in the new home and everybody seems to have adjusted to the surroundings very well. Usually it takes them a couple of days to get up to the upper level but when I looked in two where perched on a branch, one on the rocks and only Jr. was on the bottom. ( see e-mail I sent previously ).

Tuesday July 6, 2004
Dwayne Struthers reports:
They're here! Mark Nash and Maria arrived at our cottage with four feisty falcons. It was a tiring day for them as they had been to the Vet for their check-up in the am. and then they had a long car ride from Toronto to Charleston Lake. We wanted to get them to their new home as quickly as possible so we banded with the coloured band on our picnic table, fed them a late supper and headed for the hack box. They might have had a long day but when we put them in their new home they still were pretty vocal.

Tuesday July 6, 2004
Mark Nash reports:
The big day, and of course running way behind. Maria and I travelled to Leeds County this afternoon with the four peregrine chicks now on their way to their new home at Charleston Lake. After speaking with Dwayne much earlier, he confirmed that the hack box was already to accommodate their new residents. With new gravel and the hack box washed (much cleaner than my own car I might add), all was ready for the 4 young chicks.

After arriving at almost dark, we met Dwayne at the cottage, who guided us out to the hack box without a hitch. The four young peregrines were fed one last time this day before they were put in the hack box, to ensure that they had a full crop for their first evening in the hack box. All went well, with some very good looking birds indeed!! As always, we were saddened to give them up, but very excited to see four more anatum peregrines go back to the wild.

A little dark by the time we arrived, we were able to take a few photos by flash only to capture the moment. It's off to the hack box.

Monday July 5, 2004
Mark Nash reports:
Dr. Markus Luckwaldt and staff at the Amhurst Veterinary Hospital give the four peregrine chicks a detailed examination before being released to the Charleston Lake hack box. With a clean bill of health, and no worse for wear after their flight from Alberta, they are cleared to go.

Sunday July 4, 2004
Mark Nash reports:
4 Peregrine chicks have arrived! With much anticipation, finally the young peregrine chicks have come in. Arrival from Alberta, by Air Canada, the four young chicks were received at Pearson International airport this morning, with all four chicks in fine spirits, hissy as they were. With Maria and Guylaine waiting at Air Canada cargo for their plane to arrive, they were transported to the CPF Raptor centre in Woodbridge for the first part of their journey to their new home. First stop, the CPF Birds of Prey Centre in Woodbridge, located at the Kortright Centre, they were further inspected, and fed a good fill of quail, specially prepared. Three males, and one female, hatched June 7 and June 4th.

Their next stop will be to the Amhurst Clinic, to visit with Dr. Markus Luckwaldt, D.V.M. for a medical inspection. Arrival at the Amhurst Veterinary Hospital was met met with open arms, (as always), and each of the chicks were given a detailed inspection and examination, so that a health certificate could be issued. See photos.

Sponsors & Partners

(Kemptville District)

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Internet Services

Swarovski Optik




Brockville Recorder and Times

Charleston Lake
Environmental Association

Charleston Lake Association

Culligan (Brockville)

J & J Electric / Jack's Heat Pumps

Prodecal (Perth)



Bill & Rita Borger

Bill & Diane Carlyle


Dupont Canada (Maitland)

Gananoque Lions Club

Pia Gamberg (Grenville-Dundas Veterinary Clinic)

Dr. Jim Garven, Veterinarian
(Smiths Falls)

Joe Jordan, MP (Leeds-Grenville)

Lakeline Lodge & Marina

Off the Wall


Special thanks to:

Pat & Brian Hollingsworth and family for allowing us to use their property for this worthwhile endeavour

For earlier reports, visit the Leeds County archives.

© Canadian Peregrine Foundation