An Incredible Journey

Hermanus Bird Club

Amur-Falconfemale

She’s the pilot.  The sole passenger.  The navigator.  The engine.  The refueller.  She’s Flight 95773.

It is the first day of autumn, one year ago.  She lifts off on an epic 14 560 km journey.  Part of this will be a five-day non-stop 5 912 km flight, mostly over the Indian Ocean, a journey one scientist describes as “amazing”.

She’s an Amur Falcon, a small bird of prey not much bigger than a pigeon.  Falcon 95773 is built for long-haul flight.  Her sleek tapered wings power her to speeds of more than 50 km/h and allow her to glide on thermals for long distances.  The small shark-toothed markings on the feathers of her breast reveal she is an adult.

What makes this Amur Falcon special is that sitting on her back is a matchbox-sized GPS transmitter that will beam data to several satellites orbiting 850 km above the earth.  Tracking…

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