Friday, September 25, 2009

Falcon Nestbox on Twin Bluffs

I spent most of yesterday helping install a falcon nestbox on the rightmost bluff in this picture. Here are some things I learned:

  1. Hanging in a harness for four hours hurts.
  2. Limestone+chert can equal a hard combination to drill into, especially given the lack of leverage to drill from.
  3. When wasps are crawling on you but not stinging you, look away. This makes it much easier to deal with the whole wasp thing.

We rappelled into a sea of wasps to hang the nestbox. The wasps were paper wasps - not particularly aggressive, for wasps - that were looking for a hibernaculum for winter. I could look down, or across, or above, or right in front of me, and watch them stinging each other. But they left me alone.

Three immature falcons flew by the cliff while we were hanging the box, so I'm hopeful that it will be adopted quickly. This is a great spot - high, sheer, and overlooking the Tiffany Bottoms. I'm guessing the drop was 200-225 feet judging from the amount of rope I had left at the end of it + anchor footage, but I don't know for sure.

5 comments:

Lisa said...

Great Post Amy, lots of interesting stuff in there. think I will try your be taming theory. I was watching a show about native cultures, they all seem to use smoke, as Ron does. I just stand by Ron and the wasps stay away!

Lisa said...

PS, YOU WERE VERY VERY HIGH!

amy said...

I posted about it on a bug site, and the person who responded said:

"...Many species of bees and wasps build their nests in natural cavities, if they can find them. Social species such as yellowjackets would build a single large nest inside for a whole colony, while non-social species would build many smaller nests.

The purpose is generally to provide a place to raise larvae. Some wasps place paralyzed prey in them and lay eggs in or by them so the larvae will eat the prey. Others lay their eggs there, and gather prey to feed to the larvae. Bees generally feed their larvae with pollen, either stocking up adequate supplies to begin with or bringing it to the larvae as they need it.

A prime location such as your cliff might be home to nests of many unrelated colonies/non-social individuals, in which case low-level conflict between them would be expected as they competed for space.

All but the most aggressive social species wouldn't bother with non-competitors like humans unless they felt the nest was directly threatened, and even the aggressive ones might not care as long as their nests were sheltered well enough."

Which makes me feel better about wasps in general. I still don't like hornets and yellowjackets, though.

amy said...

PS: Not quite a multi-pitch on the Tetons, though!

richard said...

Thanks Amy for posting this. I seem to remember a Tiffany Bottoms in an old movie.

Or were you near here:
http://tinyurl.com/yc2gxwy