The Torrey Pines State reserve is just 4 miles from my house and is literally right across the street from my work place. It is a series of hiking trails on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean with striking views of the coastline. Just a few steps onto the trails and you completely forget that the bustling interstate 5 freeway is just ½ mile east. One work day several years ago I went on a lunchtime hike. I had a planned 3 mile route which took me from work onto a trail which loops out over the ocean. It was a day when the skies were bluer than blue. I could literally see for miles as I came upon the part of the trail that is on the rim of a cliff above the ocean. I saw something out of the corner of my eye moving across the sky and it looked exactly like this:
A peregrine falcon! As a long time amateur birder this sent chills up and down my spine. I knew peregrines had established nest sites in the cliffs there, but had not seen any myself yet. As I followed it’s flight it made a sharp turn upwards into a vertical climb. As it became a bare speck in the bright blue sky, I spotted another falcon that seemed to be just circling up there waiting. They met up circled around together and then the first one went into the classic falcon dive bomb and plunged towards the ocean. I thought it was going after some prey – shorebirds were scattering – when it suddenly pulled up again, flew along the water line to my right, then banked sharply and flew past me coming back as up close as it had the first time, then went straight up again to the other falcon. Essentially it was flying in a kind of L shaped pattern up and down and back and forth stopping only at the apex to circle around the other bird. I had the perfect vantage point to what I figured out later was a spectacular mating display. This went on for, well, I really don’t know how long. All I know is that I was flying with them in my heart. Soaring up, plummeting down, wind in hair, probably an incredibly goofy grin on my face as the aerial dance went on.
Of course I must share some photos of this wonderful place. Cliff walls which provide nesting sites for peregrines and many other shore birds and also swallows and swifts:
Two of my favorite hiking destinations - Broken Hill:
and Flat Rock:
View of the coastline from Guy Fleming Trail where peregrines were flying:
My favorite hiking partner, my son Alex in a series of photos from 2002 through this year - 2002:
Now go here and sign the petition to save the trails from being closed. If you plan a trip to San Diego, email me and I’ll gladly give you The Tour. Finally, share your happy story – on anything and everything! Just keep those smiles coming and share with us what made your heart soar like a Peregrine Falcon.
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