Friday, March 25, 2011

Tower of Power Video

Here is the promised video of Sibley flying at the University of Montana Flight Lab, March 16th.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Book Off to the Printers

Remember two newsletters ago when I announced that our new book, Raptors of the West: Captured in Photographs was done? Well, now it officially is and will be sent to the printers today. This is almost exactly two years since I started collecting the photographs from Rob Palmer, Nick Dunlop and me, April 1st 2009. Then I wrote the captions over the summer, 420-something to be almost exact. Our publishers, Mountain Press in Missoula tell us to be patient for a few months, then it will hit the stands with great hoopla. This is the last photo added by designer Jeannie Nuckolls, my latest Northern Goshawk image. That makes 430 images of raptors (with one of the photographers) , 45 species, 250 pages, $30 with a portion of proceeds to our organization. The "icing on the gravy" is the back cover blurb written by Tom Cade, founder of the Peregrine Fund: To gaze into the deep, brown eyes of a falcon is to see one's own being reflected in the life of another creature. The images in this collection will excite your imagination, edify you, and hold you enraptured, as you view our western raptors in their natural landscapes.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sibley Goes to Yosemite National Park

This photo taken on my Mom's birthday of February 28th will appear in the new brochure for Yosemite National Park! They contacted me about a flying Peregrine image, and I sent them the brand new snapshot, just taken at the MPG Ranch across the river. They looked at our photography web site, but that was the one they wanted. I wrote them back: "Carla: It would be an honor to have my photo in your brochure. My father was a devotee of the park, his favorite place on earth and we have some of his black and white photographs from Yosemite in our living room. El Capitan and Half Dome. Plus, we have a Gyrfalcon named Ansel Adams!" Carlos Phillips, my photography mentor, my first hero, and dad, would be so proud.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

U of M Flight Lab's Tower of Power

Sibley and I paid a visit to the University of Montana Flight Lab on Monday for an experiment with Brandon Jackson, a Post-Doctoral Fellow. The "Tower of Power" is a chamber with collapsible walls, lined with super-high speed cameras and lights, 28 feet tall. It gives Brandon a venue to measure vertical flight performance. Flying straight up vertically from a perch is not easy for a bird of Sibley's size, and gives Brandon a measure of extreme performance. I placed her on the "force plate" perch, to measure take-off power, and ran up the stairs to call her with a tidbit from above. Up she went for two bouts, nearly the entire way, but she ran out of steam near the top and she climbed the netting flapping the whole way to receive her treat. Heather Davis recorded the whole sequence for the University of Montana Flight Lab Facebook page. By the way, the force plate revealed that the energy she used to push off and launch was 4 1/2 times her body weight. What an athlete. Stay on the way!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Back to Boise

Another trip to the Archives of Falconry and World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, and this time for a wonderful tribute to nine falconers that have passed and are sadly missed. Jay Sumner and I made the trek to Idaho on Friday, of course stopping to look at cliffs along the way and back, hoping to find breeding Peregrines. Beth Waterbury at the Salmon office of Fish and Game informed us that we are two weeks early to spot these migrant falcons, but that didn't stop Jay. No Peregrines but a nice raven and a few pigeons, that made us pull off to the side of the road to scope! Oh well. Here, John Swift stands at the Wall of Remembrance for falconers, and we celebrated the lives of those honored on Saturday. We came to salute the life of our dear friend Scott Francis, accompanied by family and friends from afar. Scott passed in September and his words of wisdom in this sport and love of raptors resonates forever.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sibley Swoops at MPG

Yesterday we had a falconry demonstration for the half dozen biologists that were working at the MPG Ranch across the Bitterroot River from the house. Sib had some nice swooping and diving in the high winds, with a small gasp from the crowd when she flew inches away. Show off. Jeff Clarke got this photo and you have to zoom in and see the admirers standing in a half circle around her, reflected in her eye! What a shot.