Let The Lessons Begin

June 13, 2014 - Burlington - Lift Bridge

Sue McCreadie Reports:

Ghent is doing well. Flying high and landing pretty good. While I wasn’t able to go the Lift Bridge today, Bill was there a couple of times to check on Ghent. We have already witnessed some talon touching with Cirrus. Today, Mackenzie brought in lunch. Bill witnessed a food exchange with the first live prey that we have observed. Ghent was accurate with his catch and flew well with it. He took it to a cross beam on the Burlington Bridge tower to prepare and eat. Great Job Ghent.

Ghent Getting It All Together

June 09, 2014 - Burlington - Lift Bridge

Tracy Simpson Reports:

Although I was set to attend the Burlington Lift Bridge watch today I was unable to get down there and so Bill, Sue, David, Rob and Barry have provided me with an update of Ghent’s adventures today.  Bill and Sue found him this morning on the top of the lift bridge towers and throughout the day he made several flights back and forth between them.  His flights are really strong and he is beginning to improve on his landings.  No more smashing into mommy bird to stop!  He received several feedings today and was really maintaining his altitude well.  This evening he spent time again at the top of the lift bridge and it looks as though, barring any serious miscalculation on his part, that Ghent is well on his way.  His next big step will be to return home to the nest box which is a challenging feat and will show us without a doubt that he has acquired the control and skills to successfully move on to some serious training with MacKenzie.  Great job everyone and thank you to all the watchers today for the updates.

Ghent Doing Very Well

June 08, 2014 - Burlington - Lift Bridge

Tracy Simpson Reports:

When I arrived at the lift bridge, the first thing I did was do a sweep of the CCIW area looking for Ireland.  Today is the fifth day that he has been away from the bridge.  My scans yielded no sign of him so I headed over to the bridge to meet up with Bill, Sue and Barry to watch Ghent.  Now that he is out of the house our attention is going to watching him and making sure that he is safe.  In the morning he was found on the top of the lift bridge tower looking really good after spending the night in the scaffolding.  We watched him as he hopped out to the arms of the lights and back again while Cirrus sat in the hydro tower and MacKenzie hung out on his beam on the Burlington side.  Without a peep Ghent took off of the tower and flew directly over to the top of the Skyway bridge arch and the only reason we realized that he did this is Cirrus was over there giving him a lecture.  She wasn’t too fond of him being there and really let him have it.  He had landed on a horizontal beam that crossed over the road of the Skyway and was weaving his way through the girder.  Just then another watcher arrived and after we exchanged greetings, we turned to point out his location but we couldn’t see him.  Barry looked up at the tower and sure enough Ghent had made another silent ninja flight over to the Burlington tower of the lift bridge and was now on the top of the elevator shaft.  Little stinker!  He stayed there for a while and then decided to try for the Hamilton side but had way too much of a head of steam and overshot his landing slightly using the elevator shaft on that roof as a back stop.  He stayed there for a while and then made another flight over to the Skyway arch as this seemed like much more fun.  At this point Cirrus went to retrieve a pigeon that she stashed earlier and things got a little crazy.  MacKenzie followed her and tried to sneak in and swipe the lunch off of her that she now gave to Ghent.  This did not go well in MacKenzie’s favour.  The three sat on the Skyway and snacked for a while just as the rains now came in.  This settled everyone down as Ghent enjoyed his first rainbath, Cirrus went off to the Hamilton tower for her own shower and MacKenzie landed on the cable arm on the Hamilton side.  A short 15 minutes or so later, the whole family was asleep.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, MacKenzie woke up and began kakking….  …at nothing!  He looked around and found his mate and offspring both sound asleep where he left them and so back to sleep he went.  Just bizarre!!  Dreaming of pigeons perhaps.  As the rains began to taper off Ghent became active and decided to go for the hydro tower where Cirrus was sitting.  First he went to the Burlington tower roof and then off to the hydro tower with quite the speed!  He came in way too fast and this time used Cirrus to stop crashing into her and sending her into the air as he hit.  I bet Cirrus never thought being an airbag for Ghent was a part of the deal.  He stayed in the tower for a while and then did several more flights, always maintaining his height and landing kind of well considering this was his second day out.  He finished off the day back in the Hamilton hydro tower with Cirrus looking on and MacKenzie now under the Skyway for the night.

Ghent is doing incredibly well and is on his way to skilled flight.  Unfortunately Ireland remained unaccounted for today and after 4 days of extensive ground searches we now consider him missing in action.  As with all fledge watches, we take the good with the bad and do the absolute best that we can.  I can say for certain that there is no better crew out here and their efforts on behalf of this family have been outstanding.  Thank you  to Bill and Sue, Barry and Linda, David and Rob, Bruce, Margaret, the Rochester girls and all those that have been down attending, watching, searching and supporting the Burlington Lift Bridge pair.  This watch could not be going as well as it has without you!

Ghent Fledges!

June 07, 2014 - Burlington - Lift Bridge

Bruce Massey Reports:

0500 Hrs. Arrived @ bridge, set up and found Ghent in nest box and Mom in the Hamilton hydro tower.
0600 Hrs. After an hour of activity and then inaction Dad caught what appeared to be a starling and took it up to Ghent for breakfast.
0645 Hrs. All of a sudden Mom & Dad, especially Mom, went crazy alarm calling & stooping the harbor side of the Burlington side of the Bridge.  This action, and considering Ghent was fairly quiet, I figured needed to be checked out.  As I got over to the Burlington side of the Bridge I witnessed the female stooping what looked like a cat, (At least this the closest thing I can think it was) over on the bike path and even into the bushes.  In fact there was a unsuspecting bike rider coming over the hill as the female peregrine did a 90 degree stoop on the cat.
0705 Hrs.- For the umpteenth time, Ghent flapped wings, bobbed his head, outstretch wings,……we finally have fledge.  Without supervision and quietly Ghent did a classic flight to the top of the Hamilton Bridge.  He then spent the next hour & half or so sleeping, eating & trying out his balance on lights over the “CANADA” sign.
1100 Hrs.  In a quick happening series of events, that only got sorted out after Bill, Sue and I sat down and debriefed the incident we figured out that Mom had caught a pigeon & she used the Burlington Hydro Tower as a “Butcher Block”.  Dad and Ghent were over on the Hamilton Bridge Tower and whether intentionally or otherwise flew around the tower and towards the scaffolding. Dad aggressively pursued him and managed to have Ghent land on the top.
1200 Hrs.  Mom & Dad working collectively managed to move Ghent over to the bridge abutment, but as soon as he finished his food he went to “Play” on the scaffolding.
1230 Hrs. Ghent flew back in the direction he came, heading back to the Hamilton side of the bridge.  He maintained height but just missed landing on a horizontal beam and dropped down out of sight.  His perch must have been precarious as he came out from where he had disappeared and being lower he ended up in one of the holes in the vertical columns of the bridge.
1500 Hrs.- Ghent finally extracted himself from the above situation by flying to a horizontal beam just above the bridge traffic.  He then spent the next 2 or so hours hopping around & meeting some of his future dinners (Pigeons).
1700 Hrs.-  Ghent finally flew off and after several attempts @ landings came to ground behind an 8′ fence by one of the bridge abutments.  Both of his parents knew his location.  His next flight was over the fence (Not as easy as you think for a peregrine) and landing on the top of a shipping container.  From there it was what turned out to be his last flight of the day (Final Total-8) which was around the bridge abutment, through the scaffolding and finally perching  on it about 30′ up.  In spite of repeated fly by teasing, one amazing flight by the female into the scaffolding to beak feed Ghent one single morsel and then trying to show him the way out, that was where he remained when I closed,the watch @ 0930 Hrs.

Ireland Still Out of Sight. Ghent Still at Home.

June 06, 2014 - Burlington - Lift Bridge

Bruce Massey Reports:

On Friday I was out to do the closing shift at the Burlington Lift Bridge and not a lot had changed with the status of both boys.  Ireland was still not in our sights after his flight earler in the week that ended up with him in a tree on the Burlington side of the canal near to the CCIW building.  Every day watchers have been searching for him since he left the tree but without any luck seeing him.  He could very well be moving through the area and yet we haven’t been able to catch sight of him due to the thickness of the trees on that side.  Today was no different in that we continued to check around in the hopes of getting an angle on his location.

Ghent was still in the nest box when I arrived and although he was flapping up a storm he was still hanging on to his home turf.  The adults weere not as active as I am used to seeing at the bridge so they are clearly weaning him to encourage that first flight.  At dusk he was still in the box but looking really ready to get going.  I suspect that he will be taking off some time over the weekend and I will be back tomorrow to help on site.

Thank you to Bill and Sue, David and Rob, Barry and all of the other watchers that have been out and around to help out.  I think we’re in for it tomorrow!!

The Search Continues for Ireland. Ghent Still Home

June 06, 2014 - Burlington - Lift Bridge

Tracy Simpson Reports:

Yesterday morning there was still no sign of Ireland around the Burlington Lift Bridge.  The ground search continued for him throughout the day with Bill and Sue, David, Barry and Linda, and several others looking long and hard.  Part of the struggle to find him is the amount of dense trees on the Burlington side of the canal as well as all the out buildings and other materials around that he could be hiding in, on or under.  Meanwhile, Ghent continued to have periods of activity throughout the day but not so much as in the evening.  The parents were also not as active yesterday with very few hunts being witnessed and only two small food drops to Ghent.  They are clearly weaning him and trying to get him out and flying.

When I arrived I met up with Bill and Sue, Barry and Linda as well as Morag who were all watching and still looking for Ireland.  Ghent was now getting up and ramping up in the nest box and flapping strongly on the landing platform.  The adults were very quiet and not much activity was seen of them until around 8pm when MacKenzie went into a stoop over by the marina on the Hamilton side of the harbor.  He returned empty taloned up to the cables while Cirrus sat in the tower.  As dusk was getting really thick I checked to make sure I had all three in view.  Cirrus was on the cables near to the nest box, Ghent was now laying down on the landing platform and MacKenzie was…   …drat!  He’s done this to me several times now, disappearing out of view and going who knows where.  I waited a minute and sure enough caught view of him going low in towards the harbor and suddenly he swooped up to the rebar perch on the Skyway.  Was he watching Ireland?  Is he still near to the same tree he was last seen?  Only time and watching will tell as he will be getting quite hungry now and wanting to return home for a meal.  The parents won’t feed him if he is in an unsafe and unapproved of location.  Instead they will withhold food until he comes home.  Let’s hope that today he makes an appearance!

Thank you so much to Bill and Sue, David, Barry and Linda, Morag and all those who have come down to watch and help search.  You all have been an amazing team of watchers!!

Ireland Hides Again Today at the Lift Bridge

June 05, 2014 - Burlington - Lift Bridge

Tracy Simpson Reports:

The night before we left off with Ireland now securely in a tree on the Burlington side of the canal near the Canadian Centre for Inland Waters.  Yesterday morning when Bill and Sue arrived, together with David they checked the tree where he was last seen in but he had already flown.  They checked the area surrounding where the tree is located, scanning every bush, but with no luck.  They were joined later on by Barry who scoured the Burlington side near CCIW for Ireland and still no luck.  All the while they maintained their watch on Ghent who was now venturing to the edge of the nest box platform and vigorously exercising.

The parents seemed quite calm and relaxed about the entire adventure.  While our searches didn’t turn up the fledgling, no doubt they know exactly where he is and they are keeping it a secret for now.  In the afternoon, Margaret joined the team and was introduced to the lift bridge falcons.  She walked from CCIW to the lift bridge and back again, searching as she went but not a peep.  Bruce, Mark and myself went down to the bridge in the late afternoon and stayed for the evening with David and Rob searching the canal top to bottom.  We were hoping for a reveal like the night before when the parents began hunting during a lift and Ireland made his grand appearance.  During the late lift just before sunset, both David and I could hear a juvenile calling and when we looked up it appeared that it wasn’t Ghent.  We tried to pinpoint where the sound was coming from but it was echoing throughout the canal and we couldn’t nail it down.  After the lift was complete, MacKenzie flew to the Burlington tower to his roost just below the nest box and Cirrus made a few pit stops on the top of the Burlington tower and then to the cables near to the Hamilton side for the night.  Just as the last light faded, I looked up to see if we had all three peregrines and MacKenzie was now off and gone who knows where.  I would bet he changed position to keep an eye on Ireland.

So it looks like Ireland’s great adventures are continuing as he makes his way home to elevation.  We all agreed last night that he is here somewhere and that we just can’t see him yet.  Thank you to all who came down and supported the search and watch at the bridge yesterday including Bill and Sue, David and Rob, Barry, Bruce, Margaret, and Mark.  Together we have assured one thing and that is that Ireland is not on the ground but rather up at some elevation that we just haven’t found yet.  A great effort by everyone!

Burlington Lift Bridge Fledge Watch Begins With a Bang!

June 04, 2014 - Burlington - Lift Bridge

Tracy Simpson Reports:

Today we officially began the Fledge Watch for the lift bridge as Ireland, the oldest chick, reached 37 days of age today.  Bill and Sue, David and Rob all held the fort and started off with what looked like a relatively straightforward and simple day.  Exercising, eating, stretching and napping all on the agenda.  Just before 1pm, Ireland decided that Cirrus, who was roosting not far away, was in need of his attention and so it was that wee Ireland tried to jump over to her and got caught up in the wind.  When his epic flight took him flapping his heart out in a tail wind right out towards lake Ontario (I’ll let Bill and Sue tell the story as they witnessed it) it ended with him on the lake side area of Burlington and out of sight of everyone.  He was fully escorted by both parents who then returned shortly to the lift bridge without Ireland.  MacKenzie then disappeared while Cirrus kept close watch over Ghent who was still in the box.  Bill searched everywhere for the fledgling for several hours while Sue watched the parents and scanned the area but still no sign of Ireland.  They continued to search up until around 5:30pm which is right around when I arrived.  When I arrived, I sat down for a few minutes and watched Ghent ramping up in the nest box.  He was at the edge of the box now, something he hadn’t done up to this point, and flapping wildly but still no sign of Ireland.  MacKenzie was on his roost on the Burlington tower just below the nest box and he kept looking straight down.  Cirrus was on the Skyway abutment that she favors on the Hamilton side and I attempted to triangulate just where they were looking.  When David and Rob arrived a few minutes later, David and I headed over to the Burlington side of the bridge for a ground check while Rob watched from the parking area for signs of Ireland.  We searched for several hours and checked every tree, girder, hole and beam.  Nothing.  We watch as Cirrus sat in the Hamilton tower looking very unhappy about us roaming around down there and MacKenzie kept his vigil above.  We decided around 8pm to reconvene back at the parking lot and when we arrived, things got crazy.  MacKenzie was now out on a hunt.  He was flying in and around the bridge looking for a meal when Cirrus also took to the air.  Cirrus picked out a pigeon flying over by the Skyway and took off in mad pursuit.  MacKenzie joined her and they tag teamed the pigeon but it evaded them.  More stoops and dives put the pigeons in chaos and it was pandemonium!  As we watched a bird came low over the canal heading in towards the harbor with MacKenzie hot on its tail.  I called out “two males” and Rob was already on it.  He followed the path that the two were on and watched MacKenzie bump the other male down into a tree on the Burlington side near the Canadian Centre for Inland Waters.  When it landed it the tree we could see clearly that this was an uncoordinated juvenile!!  Great job Rob!!

With Ireland now in our sights I headed over to see if I could get a clear line of sight on him.  I was joined by Bill and Sue and we assessed his position and safety.  He was now hunkered down in the nook of a tree about three quarters of the way up.  The tree was quite bushy with a lot of very small branches so there was no way of getting him out.  It was there that we left him as he was now settled in and our light was almost gone.

A frantic day that ended with Ireland being found.  Phew.  I must say that the Burlington team is amazing in the effort they put in on Ireland’s behalf and I can’t thank you enough!  Bill and Sue, David and Rob all did an amazing job and together we have at least got his location nailed down at the close of the day.  The first boy is out and Ghent is not far behind!!  Hopefully we find Ireland high and safe this morning!!

If you have time to spare we could use your help down at the Burlington Lift Bridge Fledge Watch.  This afternoon Bill, Sue and David will be holding tight and checking in on Ireland and this afternoon into the evening Bruce, Rob and I will be there as well.  If you can come down and assist we would be so grateful!


Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 31, 2014 - Burlington - Lift Bridge

Sue McCreadie Reports:

9:00 am – 12:30 pm

What a beautiful morning for falcon watching. When we arrived at the Lift Bridge, both adults were hanging out in the Hamilton Hydro Tower. The little ones were in the back of the box, probably trying to get out of the sun. I imagine the box in very hot until the afternoon, when they get some shade.

There wasn’t too much going on until a freighter came through with a full lift of the Bridge. Immediately at the sound of the bells, and before the bridge even started to lift, both Cirrus and Mackenzie sprang into action. Working together they began terrorizing the Pigeons on the bridge, getting them up and into the air. Cirrus was finally able to grab one and she took it to the Hamilton Hydro Tower to prepare. Mackenzie continued to work the bridge. He was in and out of the holes, looking for squab, much to the chagrin of the adults. He was unsuccessful. Cirrus prepared the meal and took it over to Ghent and Ireland where she beak fed both of them.

A short time later another freighter came through, again with a full lift of the Bridge. Mackenzie started again. He search hole after hole with the Pigeon Parents trying to scare him away. Again, he was unsuccessful. By this time Cirrus had finished feeding the little ones and returned to the Hydro Tower to clean herself up. When Mackenzie saw she was out of sight, he went into the nest box and took the scraps that remained of the meal. He took them to the face of the Hamilton Bridge Tower where he stored it. We figured he wanted to be sure that Cirrus hadn’t seen him.

After all that, things quieted down. The little ones went to the back of the box to sleep off the meal and Cirrus and Mackenzie were resting in the Hamilton Hydro Tower.

We figured that all would be quiet for a while so we took our leave.


Cirrus Catches Breakfast Mom Preps Breakfast Mom Preps Breakfast Off to the Nest Box Breakfast is on the Way Ghent and Ireland Get Breakfast Ghent and Ireland Get Breakfast Mackenzie Steals the Leftovers

Banding Day at the Burlington Lift Bridge

May 23, 2014 - Burlington - Lift Bridge

Sue McCreadie Reports:

This morning, two healthy and feisty chicks were banded at the Lift Bridge by Anne Yagi from the Ministry of Natural Resources.  Two failed eggs were also retrieved from the nest Box.  The results are:

1.  Male - 705 grams - 26 days old - Banded Black B/00 - Yellow tape - Named Ghent

2.  Male - 713 grams - 27 days old - Banded Black B/01 - Red tape - Named Ireland

May they thrive and continue to help this species at risk grow and prosper.

The name Ghent comes from a historical family of Burlington.  The Ghents emigrated from North Carolina to Ontario in the later half of the nineteenth century.  After spending one year to the east of Hamilton, set off across Burlington Bay in canoes with several sacks of apple seeds.  The seeds thrived in the sandy soil of Burlington and to this day remnants of the Ghent orchards are still found in aging apple trees shading many gardens of core-area Burlington homes.

Hopefully, some photos will follow when we receive approval from Public Works and Government Services Canada.  Thank you to PWGSC for allowing us access to this event.