sábado, 25 de mayo de 2013

Barbary Falcon Nest

Often a target species for visiting birders, the Barbary Falcon (Falco pelegrinoides) is the scarcest of La Palma's four diurnal raptors. On the Canaries, this species is usually associated with steep, inaccessible sea cliffs, although it has been known to nest up to 20km inland. A few years ago, a pair successfully bred in the Caldera de Taburiente National Park on La Palma, also several kilometres from the coast.

The nest featured in the present post is another example of an inland breeding site, on the almost vertical sides of a ravine. In the photograph above, one of the parent birds can be seen perched on the rim of the ledge, while the other adult is just discernible some distance above it. All the photos shown here were taken from the bottom of the gorge using a handheld bridge camera.

I reported this recent discovery to the local nature conservation authorities (Agentes de Medio Ambiente), since cases of nest robbery by falconers are not unheard of on the Canary Islands. The site was subsequently checked by one of the environmental agents, who observed three fledglings, in addition to the parent birds; the brood can therefore be considered out of danger.

Above is another shot of the nesting platform, with no birds visible. It appears to consist of an almost perfect natural alcove, facing roughly north. On a recent visit, all five birds had already left the nest early in the morning, and the fledglings were being fed at different points along the valley, with raucous "begging" being heard.
To observe the locally-named Halcón Tagarote on the island of La Palma, it is best to inspect steep sections of the island's coastline from a clifftop vantage point. Persistence is required, but the good news is that the population of this species is believed to be on the increase: upwards of 20 breeding pairs are probably resident on the island, although no precise census figure is presently available.