Residents Corner

The Blacks Beach Sentinels

Eerily in the pre-dawn light, where everything seems to take on
an otherworldly patina, the shrill cries echo off of the massive
sandstone cliffs looming over Scripps Canyon. At once
haunting and majestic, this is merely the aural interplay
between the Blacks Beach Peregrine falcons and their newly
fledged offspring. And the sound is unmistakable – a sharp
rip in the sky, unique to these magnificent birds of prey.
The Blacks Beach Peregrine family has been living and
reproducing on the scrape above the Lifeguard Perch since
2006, astounding beachgoers who witness them performing
impossible aerobatic maneuvers and precision strikes upon
unsuspecting prey. By far the fastest members in the animal
kingdom, these raptors are, for want of a better term, “living
missiles”: A Living Missile
Blacks Beach local Will Sooter has been observing, collecting
behavioral data and photographing the ever-evolving family of
Peregrines which reside at Blacks Beach since 2006, when
lifeguards Brian Zeller and Eric Jones pulled him from his
research on a migratory Peregrine falcon at Torrey Pines
Natural Reserve, and told him that they believed there was a
Peregrine breeding pair further south at Pinecone Canyon.
Upon investigation by Will determined that the Peregrines
observed at Pincone where the first breeding pair at this locale in
half a century. He arranged for a rappel of the cliff and his
partner Scott Francis placed USFWS identity bands on 3 eyasses
(chicks) that year.

Since then, the female Falcon has produced 32 offspring
(although the female remains the only original member; she is
on her third Tiercel mate). And during the late Spring, the
fledglings careen and shriek all along the canvas of sandstone;
learning to hunt and survive as their parents fly protectively
above. This is the spectacle which causes everyone on the
beach to turn their backs to the Pacific ocean and stare,
fascinated, at the faunal interplay taking place along the
timeworn cliffs. It’s actually pretty amusing: people entranced
not by the sea, but seemingly hypnotized by the sandstone
massif directly East. And woe is the sandpiper or pigeon (or
snake or squirrel) that lets down its guard for even an instant –
at 200 mph the encounter is swift, silent and lethal.

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