Friday, December 13, 2002

Hi Notes

This first observation is actually from Atascadero, not Hi Mountain. FINALLY I got to actually see the object of my tracking efforts! The day after Paul saw the ‘Atascadero Crew’ on Mon Dec 9th, I was
driving West on Hwy 41 into Atascadero. I looked over to the North and saw three BIG black birds in the dead upper branches of an oak tree behind the Bank of America. Like Paul, I went into ‘birdwatcher
mode’ and forgot the rules of the road. I did make it safely to the parking lot of the business complex behind the B of A and spent about 1/2 hour gawking at OR209, Y192 and B170, who were quite unconcerned
that a dozen humanoids were staring at them. OR209 opened his wings briefly, so that had his size and the number tags on his wings not been enough to identify him, the white triangles on the under side of his wings were a dead giveaway! What a thrill!

OK, now to Hi Mountain: I arrived at the lookout Wed. Dec. 11 at 0830 (I’ve come to like military time and since we use it to send in data, that’s what I’m going to use here). It was interesting to see that only one of the birds that I’d seen the day before in Atascadero was still there: B170. He wasn’t alone though…I got signals from B167 and B168 as well. All three birds stayed until late afternoon, and I’m assuming they flew back to Ventana because I stopped receiving signals late in the afternoon and didn’t get any Thursday morning. The weather at the lookout has become decidedly winterish! There is a
weather station at the lookout which records wind speed, direction, wind chill, temperature, rainfall, etc., which makes it handy to determine just how cold you are! It was 41 degrees when I arrived and
got all the way up to 47 degrees at 1430. With the wind chill (wind blowing at ~30 mph), it was as cold as 34 degrees. But with my turtleneck sweater, 3 sweat shirts, 1 wind breaker, 1 parka, 1  balaclava, 1 ear warmer, 1 beanie, two hoods, 2 pairs of gloves, 1 pair winter bicycling tights, 1 pair levis, 2 pairs socks and 1 pair of hiking boots, the only thing that wasn’t covered with wool, cotton, or down feathers was my eyeballs.

The only birds I saw that day was 1 Calif. Thrasher early in the morning, 1 Sage Sparrow(?), 1 lonely Turkey Vulture at 1330 who circled once and then got the heck out of there. I had come to the
conclusion that the birds were several points higher on the IQ scale than me for not coming up there, but then at 1600 here came two Red Tailed Hawks from the west. They ‘kitted’ for awhile, then soared off to the east. At the same time, a Goodyear Blimp was gliding from north to south. Quite a study in contrasts!
As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t pick up any signals when I monitored at 0600 hours Thursday morning. I had to leave early, so that was the only reading I took.

Another day and night in paradise!
Kathleen Intorf

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Atascadero Condors (again)

Hi all,

While driving north last monday on my way to work in Tahoe, I encountered several Ventana birds as they soared low over downtown Atascadero. It was about 1320hrs and I was driving N on the 101, just
entering Atascadero. Heavy, low clouds and scattered sprinkles. Making my usual scan of the skies and sorting through the kettles of TV’s, I spotted an yellow tagged CA condor flying low over the 101 overpass at HWY 41 E. I made a pretty hazardous lane change and exited the freeway at the 41 off ramp. Sitting at a red light on Curbarail, I spotted another condor with black tags moving toward the 101, must have been less than 25 feet over the Rite Aid shopping center to my north. Fumbling with my binos, notebook, cell phone, and stick shift, I managed to pull into the Chevron station at 41 and 101unscathed. From the Chevron, I had a total of 4 condors, all were less than 50ft above the ground, but had started ringing up by the time I parked. I was never able to get tag #’s, but I did see one Or bird, one Y bird, one B bird ( I think it was 171), and a mystery bird that may have been a W bird.

The Y and B birds were paired and moved directly over me and on up the 41 W toward the Santa Lucias, gaining elevation. The Or and W(?) birds were also paired up and came in from the Salinas R. area off the 41 near the cemetery, I believe. The Or and W birds were following behind the B and Y birds, made a few turns over the Rite Aid and peeled off back toward the riverbed and houses. As soon as I lost the 2 birds headed west, I sped off toward the Salinas R. bridge looking for the other 2. I checked the area for an hour with no luck.

**As an interesting side note, a woman pulled into the Chevron while I was looking up. She asked if I was looking for condors. She said she owns a large piece of property on a hill behind Heilman’s junk yard
where she watches condors perch on her water tank “almost every day”. She was quite friendly and interested in the safety of the birds. This may be a good spot for VWS mobile trackers to check out and, based on her enthusiasm, I don’t think access onto her property would be a problem.

I must say, watching California condors fly over downtown Atascadero is an eerie experience. With so much open country in all directions, these guys seem to be showing a preference, or at least an extreme curiosity,
for the dangerous and populated areas along the 101 (especially Paso Robles and Atascadero) as they make their way south to the Sierra Madre and sometimes on down to Hopper. I’m scared for these guys. Watching from the Chevron, I couldn’t help but feel like these birds entered a time machine sometime back in the Pleistocene and fell out over downtown A-town, December 2002. As majestic as the condors are to watch, something’s just not right with this picture.

Hope this email finds you warm and well. Happy Holidays,
Paul Andreano

Monday, December 9, 2002

Observations from Hi Mountain

Notes from ‘On Hi’:
I drove up to the lookout to check for any rain damage Sat Dec 7.
There had been very little rain, so all was well. I picked up signals
from the following Condors that evening (all in Atascadero):
B170 (male), Y192 (female), OR209 (male), and B168 (male). I arrived
at the lookout at 3:30 PM, so only tracked them for a couple of
hours. I stayed overnight, along with a Cal Poly student, Austin, who
was doing some biology studies on Hi Mountain.
I began monitoring early Sunday morning, intending to leave by 10:00
AM…however!…I was picking up so many birds, I couldn’t leave! The
following are the ‘early birds’ that I picked up all day (in
B170 (male), Y192 (female), B168 (male). They didn’t become active
until late morning, probably because it was so foggy.
The following are the late arrivals that I began getting signals for
around noon:
B167 (female), Y194 (female), OR209 (male).
That’s a total of 6 Condors in one day, the most I’ve ever gotten.
Two of them are birds I’ve never picked up before: B167 & B168.
Other highlights of the trip: A Northern Harrier, two Red Tailed
Hawks perched in the Cypress tree across from the lookout, and a
couple of Calif. Thrashers serenading early Sunday morning. And…2
mountain bikers and 3 hikers Sat. evening.
This is my first message posting…hope it worked!
Kathleen Intorf

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Lookout History

I received a phone call several weeks ago from Avice Nolan. She was
excited to have seen the newspaper article in the Tribune about Hi
Mountain Lookout, telling me that her stepfather and mother had staffed
the lookout station in 1942, and she had found some old photos of Hi
Mountain lookout and the surrounding viewpoints in her photo album (they
are probably from the 1970’s, because Lopez Lake is in one of the
photographs- I will be making copies of the photos).
Yesterday, 11/9, I stopped by Avice’s trailor park residence in SLO to
talk with her about her recollections. She is a vibrant, talkative 80
year old woman with flaming red hair, raised five children, and is the
keeper of memories for her family, with numerous photographs framed and
in photo albums at her home. She was pleased to be able to tell me more
of what she knew about the lookout history and to show me the photos.
Avice has an interesting history herself…she was originally an Indiana
farmgirl, danced with the soldiers from Camp San Luis during the war at
the USO in SLO, was married twice to military men who both died in
aircraft crashes, and for a period of time lived on a turkey ranch at
Pozo in the early 1950’s.
Avice’s stepfather and mother Elmer and Goldie Thornton apparently
staffed the lookout during World War ||, sometime around 1941-42, as a
vantage point to watch the coast for possible enemy submarines and
aircraft. Although I was somewhat unsure at first if it was really the
Hi Mountain site, she says it had to be a lookout with a view of the
coast and remembers the access was out of Pozo.
Elmer was a foreman of Peerless Bakery in SLO on Higuera St., having
arrived from Indiana in Jan., 1941. Avice’s mother once became very ill
while stationed at the lookout and was brought down by horseback to get
her to medical care (maybe the road at times got bad for vehicles back
then too!). Anyway, this was interesting history and perhaps we can find
out more…records on file somewhere from the war years? I would
appreciate more help from anyone interested in uncovering more early
history of Hi Mountain Lookout. There must be more folks out there who
could be interviewed and records somewhere in storage, waiting to be
Steve Schubert


Monday, October 21, 2002

Condors fly over the Lookout!!

On Sunday, October 20, at about 2:50pm Condors Y-194 & OR-208 passed directly over the Lookout on their way to the Southeast. Tracking had been slow Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning. The only bird we were picking up for the past two days was Y-194 possibly flying somewhere east of the Santa Lucias maybe over the Paso Robles/Atascadero area. When we went to check signals at about 2:30 Sunday afternoon we picked up Y-194 strong and wide. The signal was coming from all directions and even a walk around the perimeter of the lookout couldn’t narrow down the direction of the bird. My chest started pounding and at first I couldn’t believe it. This bird was right on top of us! I thought either me or the telonix was malfunctioning, for it was just an hour ago that we last took signals and weren’t picking up any birds. But there was no malfunction and I alerted the Cal Poly crew to start searching the skies. Lisa Andreano, Paul’s sister, was on the spotting scope and within minutes located the bird heading for us soaring just North of the lookout. The bird continued to soar a few hundred feet above the lookout for a few minutues checking the area out and watching us watch it. Quickly it then began heading east over Trout Creek and then Stoney Creek in the direction of Branch Mountain. It was very hazy and just as we lost visual contact with Y-194, OR-208 flew by the east side of the lookout at nearly eye level on a heading south over Hi Valley. From there it moved East possibly over Pine Ridge, and then off towards the Branch Mountain/Cuyama Valley area. I eventually lost 194s signal, but continued to get 208 on into Sunday night and Monday
morning. Maybe 208 spent the night somewhere in the mountains surrounding Cuyama Valley. The wind, unlike the few days prior, was steady out of the NNE Satuday night and all day Sunday. I wonder if it was a factor in the birds decision to make the long trip South, and if the steady North wind pushed them South over the lookout instead of what usually seems to be their normal route over the East side of the La Panza’s.


Saturday, September 28, 2002

28-Sept-2002 Field Notes

The thickest, most dense shroud of fog has engulfed and drenched the Lookout. Gusty winds to 20mph and visibility to less than 6′ at times. It is drizzling and muddy, I’m discovering many leaks and drafts in the Lokout today, which should help us get her ready for winter. Have heard that the fog stops about a mile down the mountain. Radio telemetry in this kind of fog is surreal, like doing it with your eyes closed. I had some strong signals from Or-212 and Y-192 beginning at 0950 at 320ºNW. By 1130, B-170 was also strong at 320ºNW, where the three birds remained until 1330 when I lost them altogether. Hard to think what they do on a foggy day like this. I wonder if they stay below it or way above? I had signals in and out from B-155 between 100ºE and 120ºSE intermittantly throughout the morning. She semed to be fairly localaized in that area until I losther around 1310. I wonder why she is so attracted to Lion canyon, the Calientes,and the La Panzas right now, when she has a nest to attend to in Southern California? Fog perseveered all day with no breaks. Lookout is soaked and dripping as I turn on the heater and zip up my bag for the first time this summer…. -Paul Andreano

Monday, September 23, 2002

23-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Another hot and gusty day on Hi Mt. Winds hard from the SE to 32mph and temps in high 80’s by 0730! First signals were at 0807, when I had Y-125 strong and directly off of Black Mt. He continued to soar in this area until about 0930, when I lost his signal. At 0807 I also had some strong and close signals from Y-190, Y-194, and Y-192 at 320ºNW. I felt like they could be down near Atascadero and at times I would lose their signals for a few minutes, eventually regaining them in the same location. At 1042 I had a few strong and consistent signals from R-111 at 100ºE, then lost her altogether. At 1230, Nick Todd called from Atascadero. He had been mobile tracking and found Y-194 perched in a pine at the intersection of Capistrano St. and Sycamore Ave. He also had signals down there from Y-192 and Y-190. At 1330, Nick called again to say that 194 had taken flight and was headed SE of him. Betweem 1430 and 1910, Y-194 , Y-190, and Y-192 continued to alternate soaring and perching between 320ºNW and 340ºN/NW,often seeming to move over Creston and Shandon. I began to get some signals from B-155 at 1405, in the direction of the Sierra Madre at 100ºE. Y-125 was sending distant, weak and inconsistent signals to my NE. By 1529,Y-15 and B-155 were both strong at 80ºNE, hading north, possibly toward the Calientes. By my last round of signals at 1910, I had lost Y-125 to my NE, B-155 had turned south and was faint at 120ºSE, and Y-192,Y-190, and Y-194 were strong and broad on the back side of the Cuesta Ridge. They could have been anywhere between Cerro Alto and Santa Margarita. -Paul Andreano

Still more Atascadero Condors

Hi all,

It was a busy weekend for California Condors in SLO, with at least 5 confirmed sightings that I know of since friday. A few of the Hopper birds have been hanging around the Castle Crags/Queen Bee area and have been seen by Gretchen/ USFWS (since Neil’s reported sighting of B-155 and Y-213) over the Carrizo Plain and La Panza and Machesna wilderness areas.

Seems that a few of the Ventana birds have taken a liking to Atascadero of late. After several cell calls and some dilligent searching, Nick Todd (a true condor crusader) was able to get visuals on Y-194 in the vicinity of 41E and the Salinas river bridge this afternoon around 1310. He watched as the bird perched in a foothill pine just above some major road consruction. As of late this evening, Y-194, Y-190, and Y-192 were still perched somewhere in the vicinity of Atascadero.

If you’re in the north county tomorrow, please pay some extra attention to
those kettles of TV’s. You just might see N. America’s largest bird.

Paul Andreano

Adventures in Condor County

Greetings everybody,

Its been an exciting and adventurous weekend on the Lookout, with lots of condor movement in all directions. For the past few days, Gretchen from Hopper has been mobile tracking around the Carrizo, Black Mt., Castle Crags, and the Calientes. We’ve spent a bit of time overworking our cell phones and attempting to triangulate on birds along the La Panzas, north from Atascadero to the Carrizo, and east over Lion Canyon and the Sierra Madre. My opportunities for this sort of trackng have been few this summer and I must say its a whole lot of fun. Comparing notes with Tessa at Hopper, the three of us surmise that B-155, a nesting female, may have spent as little as 1 hour in the last 3 days on the Refuge (where her nest is).

On Friday eve I was joined at the Lookout by VWS intern David Harpee. We woke up early on Saturday and drove over the La Panzas to meet Gretchen and hopefully get a glimpse of B-155 and Y-213. Along the way on Pozo Rd, we encountered four Tule elk, a few Mule deer, and a gigantic badger. The sun was just getting up and the canyons were still cool and quiet. We spent most of the afternoon driving the rats nest of roads in the La Panza wilderness, constantly scanning with the omni and stopping for directional signals at high or open spots. We had intermittant signals for Y-213 and B-155, and ended up following 155’s signal to Hwy 58 and Bitterwater Rd. Looking across an endless fenced plain, hundreds of cattle and hogs milling about in the dust while 2 TV’s idly picked at a withered cracass, we stopped to have lunch on an oven baked shoulder. A white pickup pulled up and Gretchen approached the vehicle. About 40 min later, thinking Gretchen needed to be rescued, David and I also approached the truck and began to listen in on the conversation. To make a long story short, the man was Darryl Twissleman, nephew of legendary condor activists Eben and Ian McMillan. As a child he traded vulture eggs he collected with Karl Koford. He spoke with a deep understanding of his land and a lifetime of condor memories. As he talked (and talked, and talked), B-155 moved to our south, then past us to the north and out of range. We never saw her but it felt like we had touched a piece of Condor history out on that dusty road. David and I made it back to the Lookout before sunset. By 2335 I still had signals for Or-212, Y-190, and Y-192 on the back of the cuesta ridge or somewhere near Atascadero. What a day….

As you’ve already read in previous postings, there have been many condor sightings in SLO county during the last week and a half. Nick Todd’s tracking efforts today confirm a suspicion I’ve had since Roger Zachary’s Atascadero sighting last week. Based on the strength and direction of my signals from Hi Mt. on those two days, it is safe to say that a group of at least 5 Ventana birds has been spending a fair amount of time within the Atasadero city limits this summer. Could they be tuning in to the roadkill along the 46 and 41?
Anyone who drives these roads frequently can attest to the numbers of deer carcasses. In any event, I hope that this area will continue to be monitored, be it from Hi Mt., mobile, or both. Atascadero is a crowded place and I worry for these birds.

Seems like this Lookout project is really rolling along now and its been wonderful being a part of it this summer. I never get tired of waking up on Hi Mt., wondering which birds will pass by or stop to roost on a nearby ridge line. I feel like I’m really finding my niche up there right now and my internship ends next weekend. It will be strange going back to a normal life, not knowing where the condors are; not having that better than average shot at seeing a black dot rise on the horizon, turning slowly and stiff winged, as my Telonix goes beep, beep, beep, beep……..

Thanks to all the friends and volunteers (especially Bill Bouton) who’ve chipped in to beautify the Lookout lately. It should be in good form by the Grand Opening on October 12.

Thank you for your continued support and interest,
Paul Andreano

Sunday, September 22, 2002

22-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Windy and HOT on the mountain today, with temps in the mid 80’s by 0900! Gusty winds to 30mph. Began tracking at 0730, and Y-190 and Or-212 were still strong and consistent at 280º NW. They had certainly overnighted on the back of the Cuesta ridge. By 1041 they were up and moving around and Y-194 had apparently joined them. About that time I started picking up a strong, soaring signal from Y-213 out over the Castle Crags area. Safe to say he overnighted in SLO county las well. I continued to get strong signals from Or-212 and Y-190, gradually moving north west all day long. They were joined (between 1157 and 1616) by Or-209, who seemed to have come down late and return north a bit earlier), and Y-192 who remained to my distant NW. At times I lost Y-190 altogether for several minutes or an hour. I felt like the bird was perching down behind and obstruction or possibly down on the ground betwen 1323 and 1400 and between 1415 and 1600. R-112 and R-111 were apparently very close to the Lookout between 1125and 1333. I had strong, broad signals for these two near Machesna, directly out over Piney Ridge from the Lookout at that time. They seemed to be moving north for a few moments, then turned south where I lost them at 1616 (at120º SE). Between 1530 and 1759 I got moderate and inconsistent signals from B-155 at 60º N, still out near Castle Crags. Y-125 was also apparently off in that same direction, and I had intermittant signals from him between 360º N and 60º N from 1718 to1800. By1800, Or-212 broken off from the rest of the Ventana birds and was at 100ºE. The rest of the Ventana birds were still to my distant NW. B-155 andY-125 were both still moderate and inconsistent toward Castle Crags. -Paul Andreano

Saturday, September 21, 2002

21-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Woke up early to 25+mph winds and clear skys. Lots of action around the Lookout today, as the Cal Poly field crew is staying the weekend working on surveys. First signals were at 0856 when I picked up Or-212 very strong to my immediate north (just off Black Mt.). She stayed on or near Black Mt until 1040, when it seemed like she was heading north west again, toward Creston. At 1040 I also began picking up B-155, weak and inconsistent,at 60ºN. She was sitll out near Castle Crags or on the La Panza somewhere.This bird sure has been spending alot of time away from her nest in So Cal. At 1150 I got one set of signals from Y-213 at 45ºN, just south of the Pozo Summit. By 1200, Or-212 had moved into the distant NW and her signal had become faint. For the remainder of the day (until 1740) I had signals for B-155 near 60º N/NE and for Or-212 near 320ºNW. B-155’s signal vascilated between conststent and inconsistent, sometimes very strong, while Or-212’s signals remained weak and consistent. Ventana intern David Harpe joined me at the Lookout at 2100. He was out mobile tracking, hoping to locate 212, 190, and 209. We made plans to drive over toward Castle Crags early the next morning. -Paul Andreano

Friday, September 20, 2002

20-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Left the lookout at 0730 and drove over Pozo Rd toward Castle Crags with David Harpe. We were hoping to get a look at 155 or 213. Spotted a huge badger and several tule elk along the road west of Turkey Flat. Met up with USFWS/Hopper staffer Gretchen, who we spent the afternoon tracking birds through the oven-like La Panza mountains with. We made many stops, hitting Black Mt, Queen Bee, Parkfield and Redhill, and down in CA valley. We had in and out signals from B-155 and Y-213 most of the time, and we ended up following B-155 with the omni down to Bitterwater Rd. (off HWY 58). The birds seem to have spent the day in and around the Castle Crags vacinity, moving south, then back north, along the La Panzas. We met Darryl Twissleman, a long time rancher and condor watcher, along Bitterwater Rd. While we talked, B-155 moved past us and back toward the Crags. Between 1459 and 1530, we had moderate and inconsistent signals from B-155 to the SW of Queen Bee O.P., and Y-213 to the SE of the O.P. Returned to the Lookout at 1845, when I had strong, broad signals from Y-190 and Or-212 at 280º NW, in the direction of the TV towers on Cuesta Ridge. I continued to track these birds until 2329, when they were still strong and consistent on the Cuesta ridge. Looks like they are spending the night… -Paul Andreano

Thursday, September 19, 2002

19-Sept-2002 Field Notes

A clear, breezy day at the Lookout. Moderately hazy to north. No signals until 1143, when I began picking up B-168 strong at 320º NW. the signals were definately close and I was thinking maybe Atascadero again….At the same time, I briefly picked up Y-213 to my east (100º E) and I also had an inconsistent soaring signals from B-155 at 60º N. B-155 waslikely soaring out over Castle Crags or the Carrizo and I continued toget signals from her in this general location all day long (until 1654).Tracked 168 throughout the day also (until 1445), with little change in signal direction. Around 1220, Hopper bird R-112 popped up, somewhere near B-155 on the east side of the La Panza. I had intermittant signals from this bird at 1220, 1300, 1330, and 1338, all in the same direction with little change. Ventana’s Or-212 and Or-209 came into my range at 320ºNW from 1300 to 1654. The were likely near B-168, though they had come down south a ferw hours behind him. At 1654 I got R-112’s signal at 120º SE, she had moved down onto the Sierra Madre, maybe toward Lion Canyon, and could have been headed home to Hopper. I’m guessing she moved low along the east side of the La Panzas, out of my range from Hi Mt. My last signals were at 1700, when I had B-155 (m/c 60ºN), R-112(s/c 120ºSE), and Or-212 (m/c 320ºNW). A flock of western bluebirds gathered to watch the sunset with me, and a nice one it was…. -Paul Andreano

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

17-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Following up on Roger Zachary’s sighting of a perched condor in Atascadero this morning (Tues 18), I headed up Hwy 41E accompanied by Amy Armstrong and Mike Tyner. We stopped just west of the Salinas River bridge off of Cemetary Rrd. atappx. 1010 and immediately had strong signals for the three Ventana condors Roger saw yesterday. At 1015 we stared in total awe as condors Or-212 andY-190 soared over the tall foothill pines along the river bed south of the highway. they were sharing thermals with at least a dozen Turkey Vultures, and as quickly as they appeared, they were gone over Pine Mt. We were joined by Chris Barr/USFWS, also following Roger’s lead, and the four of us sped up into the cemetary hoping for another look. We had strong signals (between 1115 and 1320) for Y-190, Or-212, Or-209, (and W-223 briefly) from the cemetary, then out Curbarail Ave a ways, and later down in the river bed near the bridge. Three of the birds moved south, then back north and were likely over downtown Atascadero but Or-209 had remained stationary and very near the carcass site. We said goodbey to Chris and drove back W on Hwy41 and then left up a private drive near Cerena Ct. The Telonix was screaming and the signal was strong in every direction for 209. Just as we were backing down the hill at 1330 a large shadow passed over and we looked up to see 0r-209 soaring appx 100 feet above. The bird made several gracefull turns over the houses before heading SW back toward Atascadero. We stopped for lunch at In-N-Out Burger at 1358 and got strong signals for 190, 209, and 212 from the parking lot. The birds had regrouped and were somewhere SE of us and close. We drove back out Hwy 41E and located what was left of the deer carcass, which we hid from view. As an interesting sideline….I guess the medical worker who initially spotted the birds cared enough to drag the carcass to the other side of the highway, out of harm’s way! We took a few more sets of signals at 1420 and 1430 and the birds were somewhere between us and the In-N-Out, likely headed backup north. Not a bad day of condor tracking. Trouble is, these birds maybe spending a fair amount of time in and around metropolitan north county,where consistent tracking and management is scarce. I worry for them. -Paul Andreano

Update from the Lookout 31-Aug to 17-Sept-2002

Greetings everyone,

Its been a while since I last posted and so much has happened I’m not sure what
I should relay. I’m sure by now you’ve read of my north county adventures this
week, getting good looks at Or-212, Y-190, and Or-209 on Tues Sept 16 in
Atascadero. I must say, its about time I finally got to see these guys over SLO
Co. I spent this afternoon uploading my telemetry notes to the website, and if
you read through the recent telemetry data posted at http:// , you’ll understand just how frequently I’ve
been tracking these birds over the north county lately. I think the total
number of condor visuals from the Lookout this summer is currently somewhere in
the neighborhood of 9 or 10 birds.

Aside from condor telemetry, which there has been LOTS of lately, the last few
weeks were rich with forward progression of the Hi Mountain Lookout Project. I
have had the pleasure of many visits from USFS and USFWS personal, each one
bringing with it a new coat of paint, more water for the tank, a sign or two,
words of encouragement, juice and water, or at least a good story over coffee.
Visitors continue to drop in, ranging from hunters to mtn bikers to families
with kids. I’m thinking that the Visitor Center will prove to be a valuable
educational facility when completed, given the surprising number of weekend drop
ins. With a new ceiling and shudders all the way around, little work is left to
do on the building itself and it should be in perfect working order by the time
my internship ends.

Cal Poly had definately made its presence known at the Lookout and they have a
massive field study already underway. Accompanied by their fearless leader Dr.
FX Villablanca, a group of students has spent several weekends camped at the
Lookout while GPS mapping their survey plots and establishing their study
design. Its been great to watch them progress with leaps and bounds, what a
unique and fun opportunity to get real field work experience.

Finally, I should put in my 2cents for two upcoming events at the Lookout. This
Friday the 20th will be another volunteer workday at the site. If you can come
help us paint, dig, or ?? please contact Steve, Kevin, or myself. Also, don’t
forget the open House/Condor campout is happening on Oct. 12. Sounds like lots
of good people will be up and I hope most of you will be there. With any luck, a
few of the birds will show up too.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement this summer,
By the way, I uploaded a dozen more photos to the photo section of the List Serv
home page…

Paul Andreano

Monday, September 16, 2002

16-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Awoke to fog as far as the eye could see to every direction but SW. A thick blanket of fog rested below winds gusting to 30 mph and the view was breathtaking. By 1030 the fog had surrendered to the winds, reforming itself as a coastal marine layer. First signals were at 1024, and I had a good strong one from Y-213 out over Machesna. Y-194 was likely out on the Santa Lucias again,giving strong signals at 280° W. Or-209, Y-190, and Or-212 sounded far off to the NW, yet I had some close sounding signals from Y-194. Signals for Y-213 lasted until 1145 and seemed centered around 100° E for most of the time. The Ventana birds remained to my N and NW, often giving clear,soaring signals out over Shandon, Chalome, Creston, and ?????, Again, I had signals from Y-194 that seemed to jump back and forth across the Santa Margarita valley, often getting very strong to my W. As the sun heaved into the ocean,I still had some faint signals for Y-190, Y-194, Or-212,and Or-209, likely just E of Cone Pk. -Paul Andreano

Atascadero Condors

Hi all,
In response to Roger’s great condor email…….First of all, I must say
I’m very jealous, I’ve spent most of the last few afternoons tracking
Ventana condors Y-190, Or-212, and Or-209 from the Hi Mt. Lookout. They
were among several birds that I’ve had very strong and broad (indicating
close proximity) signals for during the past weeks. Several Ventana
birds seem to spread out over Shandon and Creston almost daily, yet
there have been frequent, strong and consistent signals lately along the
Santa Lucias. Or- 212 has been one of the mot frequent visitors to the
Pozo/Machesna area, yet I have not been able to spot her. Y-190 has also
been spending a bit of time south of Big Sur lately and he is one of the
birds I get signals for almost daily from the Lookout.
Roger’s posting is especially of interest because it helps me guage
signal strength from Hi Mt. It is rare that i am able to triangulate
with other condor trackers in north county, but nice visual confirmation
is even better. I had signals for these three birds for several hours
this afternoon, yet, from where I sit, they could’ve been anywhere
between Santa Margarita and Paso Robles, or as far east as Shandon.
I am curious if anyone also saw a yellow tagged bird with the numbers 94
anywhere in the vicinity. By my signals, she should’ve been right there
with the other three. Y-194 has also been spending some quality time in
SLO lately. On saturday, she spent the afternoon soaring between the
Cuesta Grade and the La Panza Mtns. I got some good looks at her as she
dwarfed dozens of TVs while working updrafts just off the Pozo summit.
She spent the night somewhere on Black Mt, I believe, and I had strong
signals from her through the night and into the next day.
The amount of condor sightings in recent months are both encouraging and
worrysome to me. I’ve heard more than a few stories this summer of
condors perched by HWY 1 surrounded by throngs of curious tourists and
those pesky birder types. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve been told
that the best thing we humans can do when in the company of condors is
scare them off. Yell, scream, honk, and wave your arms around. That is,
after you’ve written down the tag numbers and had a nice long look at
these magnificent creatures.
Thanks again Roger, Kathy, and everyone else out there watching out for
these birds. PLEASE give me a call next time!
Paul Andreano

Sunday, September 15, 2002

15-Sept-2002 Field Notes

First signals of the day were at 0630 from, you guessed it, Y-194 at 360°N. Evidently she had a nice stay near Castle Crags and was up and soaring by 0830. The early morning was wrought with gusty, warm winds and a thin layer of high clouds stretched S from the upper Salinas Valley. Y-194 seemed to be exploring the locale, and I had her at 0945 off the Cuesta ridge,then at 1030 back off Black Mt, and by 1140 she was out over Shandon, I believe. She continued to crisscross the valley several times until I lost her on the Santa Lucias at 1750. B-164 remained moderate and consistent at 320°NW almost all day long. At 1257 I had a few very strong, very inconsistent signals from Hopper birds B-155 and  B-202. They seemed to be near Castle Crags, and the brief signals were from 60° N. I later had weaker signals from these 2 birds in the same location between 1540and 1555. Y-192, Or-212, and Or-199 remained to my distant NW all afternoon. Around 1440, they were joined by B-167 who was soaring at 320°NW. Last signals of the day were at 1800, when I had a few inconsistent and moderate signals from Y-213, possible near Lion Cn at 100° E. -PDA

Saturday, September 14, 2002

14-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Spoke to Hopper crew at 0830 and they say W-100 made it home safely. No signals until 1200, when R-111 again popped up at 100° E. By 1300 I also had B-155 at 100° E as well as Y-192, B-171, Or-209, Or-204, Or-212,Or-199, and Y-190 at 320° NW. All signals were strong and consistent and I dusted off the lens on the old spotting scope. B-155 remained consistent and of moderate strength until I lost her at 1715, near 80° N, again, possibly,near Castle Crags. I continued to track the Ventana birds into the evening,all of which stayed to my NW except Y-194. By about 1530,she had movedsteadily S toward Black Mt and I was getting what may have been my strongest signals ever, due N of the Lookout. At 1745 I got a good visual of Y-194 at 50° N  as she worked a thermal with 50+ Turkey vultures off of Pozo Summit. It was truly a sight to behold, watching Y-194 cut back and forth across that wide saddle, taking only moments to span its entirety. I watched Y-194 soar from 1746 to 1820, arguably the best 34 min of bird watching I’ve had this summer from Hi Mt. At 1821 I lost her into the haze just behind the Black Mt. summit. At 1900 I was had lost all the Ventana birds except Y-194. I had one set of signals from B-164 to my NW at 1920. Incredibly, I continued to get strong and consistent signals throughout the evening from Y-194, somewhere off Black Mt.Last signals for her were at 2230, strong and consistent, at 60° N. Sweet dreams, 194……. -Paul Andreano

Friday, September 13, 2002

13-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Made it up to the Lookout by mid day and got my first round of signals done by 1320. From 1320 to 1640, I tracked Y-190, Or-212, B-171, Or-199, and Or-209 between 280° W/NW and 320° NW, signals varying from very strong to weak. At 1517, R-111 made her presence known with strong signalsdirectly out over Piney ridge, appx 80° E. Its likely that she was between the Garcias and La Panzas, though I never got a look at her. What little tropical influence blew in last week is far from gone now. At 1900 the weather station read 86° . -PDA

Monday, September 9, 2002

9-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Nick Todd took the first round of signals this morning at 0830, picking up Y-194, Or-208, and B-164 between 100° E and 120° SE. These three birds stayed localized down there for most of the afternoon. At 1047 we began picking up B-155 again, near Machesna Pk. At 1157, we had strong signals from R-111, also near Machesna Pk. By 1600, I only had Y-192, weak and inconsistent to my NW. It was time to head down the hill for a real shower…. -PDA

Sunday, September 8, 2002

8-Sept-2002 Field Notes

The haze has moved back in and I’m not feeling that spotting a condor is likely today. Fall is here, though, and the heat and flies have tapered off nicely. Joined at the Lookout today by several Cal Poly students who are doing field work around the Lookout site. A few of the students tried their hand at radio telemetry, and Y-192, Or-212, and Y-194 obliged by heading S toward Hi Mt. Until 1213, we had all three birds to our NW, possibly near Shandon or Paso. From 1350 to 1441, I had intermittent signals from R-107 and Y-213 between 60° NE and 100° E. At 1431 I suddenly had a strong, soaring type signal from B-155 out over Castle Crags. About that same time I also began receiving strong signals from W-222 near the TV towers off Cuesta ridge. Almost as soon as B-155 showed up, she was gone, but I continued to track W-222, Y-194, and Y-192 as they joined Or-204 and Or-208 back up N. At 1610 I got a round of signals from R-107, R-108,and Y-125. All were strong and consistent at 100° E, maybe at the top of the Sierra Madre. At 1741, B-155 again gave me some strong signals from the Castle Crags area. At 1839 I was joined by Nick Todd who got moderate and inconsistent signals from Or-204 and B-164 somewhere SE of the Lookout(110° E/SE).He also picked up B-155, again near Castle Crags. -Paul Andreano

Saturday, September 7, 2002

7-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Another day of tracking Y-192, Or-212, and B-171. First contact was at 0844 when I had all three birds again off the Santa Lucias. The signals were definitely from W of Atascadero and could have been right off Cerro Alto. Signals ranged from consistent to inconsistent between 320° NW and 260°W. By 1248, B-171 had headed back up N and I lost her around 320° NW.Y-192 and Or-212 continued to give me strong signals off the back side of the Cuesta Ridge until 1700. I lost them at 280° W , far W of where I usually get my last evening signals from. -Paul Andreano

Friday, September 6, 2002

6-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Breezy and mild, storm seems to be clearing out. First signals of the day were between 0930 and 1100, when I began picking up Y-190 and Or-212 to my NW. A visit by Ventura condor staffers Bronwyn Davies, Dinese Stockton, Mike Stockton and Mike Barth made for some much needed excitement and condor talk at the Lookout today. Mike Barth and I ran signals off and on throughout the day. Beginning at 1100, we had Y-192, Or-212, B-171, and B-164 to our NW , and R-111, Y-125, and B-155 to our SE. The Hopper birds gave us intermittent signals until about 1345, and seemed to be localized to the SE. A cell call from Hopper staffer Tessa on McPherson Pk confirmed that R-111 was somewhere between us. I continued to track Y-192, Or-212,B-171,and B-164 until 1900, at times getting very strong signals almost due W of the Lookout. Its possible they were out over SLO or Edna Valley for a time, and they seemed to hug the Santa Lucias as they eventually moved back up NW. -PDA

Thursday, September 5, 2002

5-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Another morning of heavy skies and tropical temps. Around 0800, showers along the S Sierra and Temblors were strikingly visible. Feels like more showers are imminent and I wonder about lightening rods….. My first set of signals were at 0917 and several Ventana birds were already directly off the La Panzas. Could they have spent the night?? Between 0917 and 1145, I had Y-192,Or-212, B-164, and B-171 strong between 40° NE and 60°NE. By 1557, all the birds had moved back up N, except Y-192 who had moved steadily SE, maybe as far as Lion Cn, before returning NW. -Paul Andreano

Wednesday, September 4, 2002

4-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Woke to heavy skies and forecasts for light sprinkles and scattered showers. Feeling like SEEING condors for a change, I headed out to the Carrizo Plain in search of W-100, Y-213, and B-155. Between 1041 and 1105, had strong signals for B-155 and W-100 from Hwy 58, appx 5 mi. N of Ca. Valley.The birds seemed to be to my SE, likely S of Castle Crags by that time. Drove out Poza Rd toward Castle Crags, then down to the Soda Lake OP, checking for signals along the way. After a few more calls to Genie, who was to my S by that time, it was evident that the birds had already moved on. Oh well, it was a gorgeous day on the Plain. Returned to the Lookout by 1730, following a brief but wonderful cloud burst down at the station, just in time to track Y-192,B-171,B-164, and Or-212 on their evening forays. Or-212 and B-171 were strong to my N, just off Black Mt. The others were somewhere off the Santa Lucias. My last signals were at 1910, when I lost B-171 near Castle Crags and the rest of the group to my distant NW. -Paul Andreano

Tuesday, September 3, 2002

3-Sept-2002 Field Notes

No wind or clouds today. HOT and the best visibility in at least 2 weeks.Cone Pk looming clearly in the NW and the Sierra Madres clear to the S. Started the day at 0937 with signals from Y-192 at 320° NW and B-155 at 130°SE. Spoke to Genie, then on McPherson Pk, and she was also getting signals from B-155, somewhere on the Sierra Madre. By 1030, Or-212 was very near the Lookout, giving signals that were very strong, broad and consistent.Y-192, Or-204, Or-199, and Or-208 ventured S out of the NW  and must have been out over Atascadero or Creston between 1225 and 1519. Followed B-155 as she moved N up toward Castle Crags, and had strong signals for her off the Pozo summit between 1300 and 1407. Another call from Genie at 1400 confirmed B-155’s location with a visual from Bitterwater Rd. in Ca. Valley. There were several min of strong signals from B-155 when she was out of my line of sight, just behind the La Panzas but high up. Between 1100 and 1400, B-155 had moved from 130° SE to 360°N! Had intermittent signals between 1540 and 1725 for Hopper’s Y-213 and W-100, also in the Castle Crags vicinity. Continued to trade cell calls with Genie into the evening. She had had a few visuals and strong signal sfrom Y-213, W-100,and B-155 near Castle Crags as well. Looks like at least 3 birds are spending the night on the Crags. Signals for Or-212 continued strong and consistent in the NW until 1810. Went to sleep under gathering cloud cover and a feeling of rain in my bones. - Paul Andreano

Monday, September 2, 2002

2-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Another hot and sultry day on the Lookout. Visibility diminished since yesterday and wind only in light gusts. Strong and consistent signals from B-167, Y-190, B-164, B-161, B-171, and Or-212 to my NW all day long. Again,it felt like they were out over Shandon. Somewhere around 1600, B-164 began moving RAPIDLY down the La Panzas. Between 1600 and 1720, this bird had moved from 320° NW to 120° SE. I lost him for several min along the Machesna Wilderness, picking him up again near Branch Mt. Looks like he snuck south along the back of the La Panzas. I’m not sure how far 164 flew in that short time, but I’m sure he was really movin’. Interesting that the rest of the Ventana birds remained to the NW, and I wonder just what spurs a bird like 164 to suddenly head off to So Cal. - Paul Andreano

Sunday, September 1, 2002

1-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Moderately breezy and the best visibility in many days from the Lookout. Signals started early (0900) as Y-190 began to soar out of the Ventana wilderness. By 1110, I was also tracking Y-194, Or-209, and Or-212 to my NW. At times it felt like they had fanned out over Chalome Hills or Shandon, and I continued to strain for a visual. By 1315, I had also picked up B-168,B-164, B-167,and Or-204 to my NW, where the remained all day. At 1117, I started picking up Y-125 at 100° NE, in the vacinity of Branch Mt. Seems he had moved out of the Castle Crags area, where he may have spent the night, and I was able to follow him until 1552,whenI lost him at 90° E.  Spoke to Genie intermittently throughout the day. she had been getting signals from Caliente Pk and Branch Mt, down towards Cuyama. -PDA

Saturday, August 31, 2002

31-Aug-2002 Field Notes

Still,hazy and warm on the Lookout today. Thick haze to 4000′. Genie from the Hopper crew made a brief appearance at the Lookout while out mobile tracking.Strong, broad signals from Or-212, Y-190, B-167, and B-170 between 1110 and 1610. At one point, these birds were very close to the Lookout, likely on the Santa Lucias. They seemed to move back and forth across the Santa Margarita valley all afternoon. At 1250 I had a few brief signals for B-155 and R-112 at 120° SE, near Lion Cn. Got a call at 1252 from Genie who was out near Castle Crags, she had visuals on Y-125 and Y-213 soaring out over Ca Valley. Got another call from Alan Mee who reported signals for Y-192 and Or-212 from Hwy 41 and US 101 at 1315. - Paul Andreano

Friday, August 30, 2002

30-Aug-2002 Field Notes

No signals throughout the morning. At 1203, I began picking up a group of Ventana birds to my distant NW. Spoke to Hopper and Ventana crews, and determined that most of this group likely headed N from Hopper yesterday,when I was away. Between 1203 and 1517, I had signals from Y-192, Y-190, B-164,Y-194, W-231, B-167, and B-168. Most were strong and consistent between 320° NW and 350° NW. By 1600, all signals had become distantat 320° NW. - Paul Andreano

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

27-Aug-2002 Field Notes

Only signals today were from W-231, beginning at 1034 at 320° NW. She must have snuck past me yesterday (possibly on the east side of the La Panzas?),assuming she spent the night near Machesna. At any rate, she was headed south again today, and for a few hours it felt like she was following the Santa Lucias down. At times I was getting only a weak signal in the direction of San Luis Obispo. Between 1218 and 1310 I had a strong vertical or “perching”signal at 260° W/NW. At about 1415 I was getting a strong soaring signal again that abruptly moved east and rapidly dwindled in strength. My guess is that she headed back up to Big Sur. On my way home for 2 days off I continued to track W-231 along the US101 N. At 1746 I had a weak signal for 231 at 300° NW from appx 1 mile north of Santa Barbara St., Atascadero. At 1805 I checked again from the HWY 46 interchange but got no signal. -PDA

Update from the Lookout 20-Aug to 27-Aug-2002

Greetings all,

The last week on the Lookout was mild (mid 80’s), windy, and somewhat
clearer than the past few weeks. Last Saturday and Sunday were by far
the two most exciting days, punctuated by signals from both Hopper and
Ventana birds. A few of Hopper’s R series birds have been popping up
mid-day around 120°SE of the Lookout, which I am assuming is over Cuyama
and Lion Canyon. On Sunday, a group of 6 Ventana birds made the passage
down to Hopper, using the Santa Lucias as their flight corridor. This
was the first time this summer that the birds have passed the Lookout
using this more south western route and the recent change in nearby wind
speed and direction my have something to do with this. They likely
cruised down the back of the Cuesta Ridge, hopped over Lopez Lake,
continued out over Huasna toward Cuyama, and eventually arrived at
Hopper NWR. At 1610, I spotted the group soaring high above Huasna
Valley, working the thermals and dwarfing the many TV’s soaring below
them. At 1830, I was joined at the Lookout by Nick Todd who picked up my
binos and promptly picked a soaring condor out of the haze somewhere
above the Machesna Wilderness or American Canyon. We checked for signals
and ID’d the bird as W-231. I just updated the news page on our website
and you can find a more detailed listing my recent tracking endeavors at

As construction continues, and as the heat subsides, the Lookout is fast
becoming a comfortable place to live. I’m looking forward to next month
and the first real signs of fall on the mountain. Visitors continue to
trickle in, though mostlly on weekends, and hunting season has been
entirely uneventful. Most everybody I talk to seems truly surprised by
the notion that condors still pass through San Luis Obispo county
regularly. Well they sure do. And as we go an about our daily lives, so
does the California Condor….surveying the situation from high above on
ancient flyways, quietly sorting out their place in this crazy, mixed up

Thanks for all of your input and support over the last month and a
half. As always, I look forward to seeing all of you up at the Lookout
sometime. Enjoy what’s left of your summer!

Paul Andreano

Monday, August 26, 2002

26-Aug-2002 Field Notes

Not surprisingly, today was a rather slow day for condor movement. A few signals from R-112 at 110° SE and 120° SE, which I am now assuming to be Lion Canyon or some where over Cuyama Valley. Interestingly, Hopper’s R birds have been frequenting this area of late and I hear there is alot of hunting going on in those parts right now. Last signals for R-112 wereat 1415. No other signals to report. - Paul Andreano

Sunday, August 25, 2002

25-Aug-2002 Field Notes

Conditions (especially wind and visibility) have changed significantly over the last few days. The wind has picked up tremendously (averaging 25 mph from the N/NW) and I’ve noticed the TV’s seem to be working the thermals along the Santa Lucias more than normal. Seems to be great soaring weather. Quite a bit of Condor activity to report today, as well as a few more confirmed sightings from the Lookout. At 1030, I began picking up strong signals from R-107, R-112, R-108, and R-111. They were somewhere around 110°SE,and seem to remain there until about 1500, when they dropped out of range.(I actually only had a signal from R-111 at 1030). A group of Ventana birds moved south today, and for the first time this summer,they passed the Lookout to the south. I began tracking Y-190, Y-194, B-168,B-164,B-167, Or-212, W-222, and W-237at 1250, at appx 320° NW. This group of birds stayed close together as I tracked their movement south along the back side of the Cuesta Ridge. I had strong signals as they moved past the Lookout to the south (over Lopez Lake or eastern Arroyo Grande). It wasn’t until 1610 that I got a visual on these birds, and I had to sort through dozens of TVs to get it. I located a group of at least 5 condors soaring in a thermal somewhere out above Huasna Valley, maybe 1500 feet up, headed roughly in the direction of Twitchell Reservoir. I am confident that this was the group I’d been tracking all day. Between 1322 and 1515,I was getting intermittant signals from B-161 and B-170, beginning at 85°E and headed north, where I lost them at 280° NW (at appx 1515). Throughout the late afternoon I had also been getting signals from W-231 who was also moving south, though taking the usual “eastern route” along the La Panza range, and travelling by herself. At about 1830 I was joined at the Lookout by condor biologist J. Nick Todd, who promptly picked out a soaring condor out of the haze just off the La Panzas ( a few miles south east of Pozo Summit).We ran a quick set of signals and were still getting intermittant signals from W-231 in the same direction. Minutes later, the bird was both out of sight and out of range. Could it be that W-231 spent the night at or near Castle Crags? Well, who am I to say…..

Saturday, August 24, 2002

24-Aug-2002 Field Notes

Looks like several Ventana birds made a brief trip to the south today, eventually returning back up north by late afternoon. Between 1255 and 1456 I had moderate to strong signals from B-168, Y-190, and Or-212. All signals were at 320° NW. At one point, appx 1330, signals for Y-190and B-168 became significantly stronger and it felt like the had moved in pretty close. By 1456 they had weakened again. Had a brief set of signals from Hopper bird B-155  at 1539. B-155’s signals were moderate and inconsistent at 40° NW, near Machesna Wilderness, possibly over Castle Crags. - Paul Andreano

Friday, August 23, 2002

23-Aug-2002 Field Notes

While at the Lookout delivering materials, USFS Biologist Kevin Cooper was lucky enough to watch a white tagged condor (likely W-222 or W-231) soar directly over the Lookout appx 200 feet above. According to Kevin, the bird soared off toward the Santa Lucias and San Luis Obispo. Am I jealous…..of course, but I’m extremely happy for Kevin (the lucky dog). Kevin worked out here as an intern a few decades back and has been involved in developing the Lookout ever since. A very encouraging sighting. - Paul Andreano

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Update from the Lookout Aug 10 to Aug 17, 2002

Greetings all,

I apologize for the lack of updates to the website during this past week. The wireless web connection has proved to be a bit troublesome and I still have not been able to successfully upload anything to the servers at school. I will be up here until Weds of next week, when I will get caught up on the website from

Two major themes pretty well sum up the last 8 days on Hi Mt: heat and haze. Smoke from the many fires burning at the moment has choked the visibility down to only a few miles for the past 4 days making for some surreal sunrises and sunsets. Our weather station is up and running now, just in time to report highs to 106F and RH values down to 4%. The good news is, the Lookout is now producing its own solar energy and the refrigerator is working (as long as the leftover propane lasts). I am presently drinking a glorious bottle of cold water with Hi Mountain made ice floating in it.

There has not been a tremendous amount of Condor activity detectable from the Lookout lately. Seems as though B-168 and Y-194 have made at two round trips between Hopper and Ventana. I tracked them moving north all day (with B-164 and Or-208) on Aug 10, south on Aug 11, then north again on Aug 13. Had a few more spotty signals from AC-9 to my southeast again on the 13th and 14th, and my first signals from AC-8 in the same direction on the 14th. As usual, it is only the Ventana birds that I am able to get strong signals for all day long. Y-190 and W-219 passed by on Aug 13th, and based on their signal strength and breadth, I think they passed very close. As the haze has thickened, my signals have dwindled. I have not had a single signal for two and a half days.

Aside from Condor telemetry and construction, a serious amount of human power is now being directed towards research in this striking and unique corner of the Los Padres. Last Sat/Sun, Cal Poly professor Dr. F.X. Villablanca and a dozen of his senior project students camped at the Lookout and spent the
weekend orienting themselves to the site and brainstorming projects that will be getting underway soon. We are lucky to have such an amazingly bright, capable, and motivated group interested in working out here. I was able to give a telemetry demonstration with real live birds (B-164, B-168, and Y-194 were active to the north Sunday morning), and listening in on the discussions, I was seriously impressed with the caliber of study this group is undertaking.

As I write this, the haze is finally clearing out and I can once again see across the valley to Black Mt. There is a fire on the backside of Pozo Summit burning up Mariana Canyon. We’ve been watching it since about 1530 and it seems to be growing slowly. Two helicopters were dropping water from the lake at Pozo
all afternoon while planes circled overhead. I haven’t yet heard any acreage or containment estimates yet, but from the looks of the smoke plume, it could become serious.

The Common Poorwills (not Nighthawks, sorry) have moved out and my new distraction in camp is a pair of American Kestrels that have taken to plucking dragonflies (mostly Darners) out of the air for breakfast and lunch. It’s really quite a site. Hope all is well and look for new photos and news on the website next week sometime.

Paul Andreano

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

14-Aug-2002 Field Notes

At 1235 I began picking up signals from birds to both my north and south. Between 1230 and 1301 I had strong, soaring type signals from AC-8 and AC-9 in the vacinity of 120° SE. As for Ventana birds, I had consistent signals of varying strength from Y-190 and W-219 between 1230 and 1742. The birds seemed to be hanging around the Ventana back country, moving between 340°NW and 320° NW over the 5 hours I tracked them, and never made the journey south. - Paul Andreano

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

13-Aug-2002 Field Notes

Had brief and intermittent signals for a few birds today. Most were in and out, often strong for several minutes, then dropping off completely.Likely a few of these birds were heading north behind ridge lines (like the La Panzas) and in and out of my range. Weak signal from B-161 at appx 110°SE between 0945 and 0958. Between 0958 and 1135 I had moderate and consistent signals from AC-9, Y-125, Y-190, and W-219 at appx 120°SE as well. Again, based on my maps, it seems like this is directly over Cuyama Valley, probibly in the vacinity of Lion Canyon. No signals after 1135. - Paul Andreano

Monday, August 12, 2002

12-Aug-2002 Field Notes

Today was the hottest day yet for me on this Lookout. High temp was 106°F,with a whopping 5%RH. It was 90° F by 0700. Only a few scattered and sparse signals to report. I had B-167, B-171, and Y-214 at appx 120°SE, at 1230 and 1245. Faint signals from R-112, Y-190, and B-161 from 1345 to 1657 in the same direction. Incidentally, 120° SE is roughly in the direction of Lion Canyon, where several birds were seen this weekend. - Paul Andreano

Sunday, August 11, 2002

11-Aug-2002 Field Notes

A group from Cal Poly Biology was up for the weekend and I was able to give a telemetry demonstration using more than just the Pozo Beacon. We tracked B-164, Y-194, and B-168 between 1045 and 1310. They remained north of here,at appx 320-340°, apparently somewhere south of Ventana and then back up again. Between 1230 and 1245 I had moderate and inconsistent signals from AC-9 and R-112 (a first time bird from the Lookout). Interesting that I’ve been picking up Hopper birds lately, though always weaker signals and in the same south easterly direction. - Paul Andreano

Saturday, August 10, 2002

10-Aug-2002 Field Notes

Got good signals from a group of three Ventana birds moving north today. B-168,Y-194, and Or-208 stayed close together as I tracked them from 120°SEto 320° NW. I had signals for a good 5 hrs, from 1254 to 1759, and I’m guessing that they could easily make a Ventana to Sespe trip in that time. Still no visuals since the last, but I am getting very strong signals along the La Panza range. I had been expecting to see the birds soaring high above this ridge line. It seems, though, that they prefer to soar below the ridge, maybe working thermals off the extensive canyons on the south facing slopes. Was getting weak signals for Or-208 until the evening(1827), possibly off of Cone Peak. - Paul Andreano

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

6-Aug-2002 Field Notes

Another hazy day and my optimism for seeing condors today is rapidly melting in this heat, only to be lapped up and hauled away by the millions of Bot Flies swarming around my head. Had a few weak to moderate signals from W-98 and Or-209 between 1123 and 1254. They seemed to be quite distant and in the direction of Cuyama (appx 120-130° E) of the Lookout. - Paul Andreano

Monday, August 5, 2002

5-Aug-2002 Field Notes

The last few days have been exceptionally hazy and today was no different. I’m assuming the haze is mostly smoke from the many fires currently burning in California at the moment. However, the visibility (especially to the north and south) has steadily declined since I first came up in June. Today I could hardly make out Black Mt. to my immediate north. Only signals for today were for W-219, moderate and inconsistent at 320° NW, at 1011 and 1131. - Paul Andreano

Sunday, August 4, 2002

4-Aug-2002 Field Notes

Not much activity and a thick, low haze has reduced the visibility to less than half of what I usually enjoy. Tracked Y-192 beginning at 0936 at appx320°NW and continuing until 1325 when I lost her at appx 135°SEof me. I would estimate that it took her roughly 2.5 hrs. to pass between Hi Mt and Black Mt. She headed south along the La Panzas, as seems to be acommon flyway for these Ventana birds. Also had brief signals from AC-9 again today, at 1410 and 1416, in the direction of 135°SE as well. - Paul Andreano

Saturday, August 3, 2002

3-Aug-2002 Field Notes

First signals from AC-9 received today between 0955 and 1015. Although weak and varying in consistancy, the signals were audible at appx 110° SEof the Lookout. These were also the first signals from a Hopper bird that I’ve recorded this summer. - Paul Andreano

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Lookout Update 19-July to 31-July-2002

Hi folks,

Sorry for the lag in updates last week. I’ve been really busy and have only a small window of time each week for online duties. This email should get you all up to speed on the last two weeks of progress.

The weather out in Pozo has been sweltering, still, often hazy, and always buggy. My schedule, for the time being, has settled into a Friday through Weds. shift up on the mountain. I’m trying to remain flexible
and make sure I’m up there when the birds are moving. Speaking of moving birds, there have been several days worth of signals in the last two weeks. For more details on recent telemetry, check out the Hi Mountain
News page at So far, I have received signals for Ventana birds Or-208, Or-212, Or-199, B-171, B-170, B-164, B-165, Y-192, Y-194, and Y-190. On Friday July 27, I had my first sighting of 3 condors moving north along the southwestern edge of the La Panza Mtns! Frequent communication with the Hopper and Ventana field crews has mad the tracking much more interesting and fun. If the birds continue to move this summer, I am confident that the Hi Mountain Lookout will help us to better understand their flights, patterns of movement, and possibly roosting/foraging locations along the way.

Progress still continues to be made on the Lookout structure itself. We now have shutters and a front door and the final remodeling and installation stages will proceed through the next 2 weeks. We have a
work party happening at the Lookout tomorrow (Sat Aug. 3) which should be fun and productive. Other ongoing projects include Greg Frugoli’s design ideas for erosion control , revegetation, propagation of on site
natives and constant removal of the dreaded yellow star thistle. I think Greg has some good, common sense ideas. Now we just need to figure out how to keep the ORV’s out.

I have uploaded several photos to the Lookout photo archive at

Also, check out the collection of condor images made available to us from Nick Todd/USFWS. Most are photos shot at Hopper by Nick. Others were shot by Dave Clendenen/USFWS. You can see Nick’s photos at

I guess that’s all for now. Thanks for your interest and please come on up and visit me some time!
If you’re interested, volunteers will be meeting @ Pozo Station to carpool up the hill at 0830 sharp. Bring gloves, food, water, and sunscreen. You are of course welcome to spend the night.

Paul Andreano

Monday, July 29, 2002

29-July-2002 Field Notes

The morning began at 1000 with strong signals from Y-192 and Y-190 at appx86° NE. By 1010, I was also picking up a weak signal from Or-212 at 320° NW (in the vacinity of Cone Peak by my strained-eye estimation). By about 1100, I was getting very strong and consistent signals from Y-192,Y-190, and B-167, all of which were moving steadily north and seemingly close. Signal strengths and compass bearings indicated that these birds were moving along Garcia Ridge or the La Panza Mtns. By 1134 I began picking up faint signals for Or-208, Or- 212, and B-171, all in the same vacinity (appx 320°NW). At 1145 I SAW MY FIRST CONDORS FROM THE LOOKOUT! A group of three soaring birds appeared at the base of Black Mt., moving rapidly NW along the tip of the La Panzas, on the Pozo side. Though too far away to read tag numbers, I was able to positively identify B-167 by watching her movements and listening carefully to my Telonix. Needless to say, I was excited. Within in minutes, the birds were lost in the haze, north in the general direction of Creston. By 1440, I still had signals for Y-192, B-167, B-171,and Or-212 in the Cone Peak neighborhood. -PDA

Sunday, July 28, 2002

28-July-2002 Field Notes

Several more Ventana birds moving north today. First signals were at 1140 from B-171 (at appx 125° SE). By 1302, I was picking up B-164, who seemed hot on B-171’s tail. Signals for the two birds remained strong and constant throughout the day. My last signals of the day were at 1555, when I had B-171, B-164, and Or-212 at appx 320° NW. - Paul Andreano

Saturday, July 27, 2002

27-July-2002 Field Notes

Tracked Or-212 for most of the afternoon, moving north. First signals were around 1345 at 139° SE. By 1545, she was already at 320°NW. For about an hour (around 1600), I was getting strong signals for this bird near 290° NW. This is the western most area I have recorded signals from to date, and could be the east side of Cuesta Ridge. - Paul Andreano

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Update from the Lookout 7-8 to 7-13-02

Greetings all,

Just a quick update on my activities up on the mountain from 7-8 to 7-13-02….

Last week was a very hot, buggy, yet productive week on Hi Mountain. Several ofthe big chores were tackled and I’ve often felt more like a laborer than a biologist. The Lookout now has windows and a new propane line. The existing propane tank was moved by crane to a new, safer location closer to the Lookout.
The downstairs has been power washed and half a dozen deer mice were erradicated.We have started the process of gutting/framing the interior of the upper level and the steel window shudders have been drilled and are ready to be hung. We received a generous donation (thanks Dick and Pat) of a pristine generator which has already seen 15 hours of use on this project.

Friday the 12th was by far the most exciting day for me yet, as it was the first time that I had strong and consistent signals for condors almost all day long. At 0935 I began picking up B-167 at about 320deg N.W. (right toward Cone peak). At 0940 I picked up B-164 in the same general area.My heart began to race. By
1200 I had signals for B-170, Or-199, and Y-194 as well. I continued to take signals every 30 min or so throughout the day, until I lost all 5 birds at about 1635. They had moved slowly but steadily SE for about 7 hours, and went out of range in the general direction of Hopper Mtn.NWR (appx.110deg S.E. of the
Lookout). Needless to say, it was encouraging to finally be tracking, though I strained for hours and never got a visual. I have yet to pick up any Hopper birds’ signals from Hi Mountain.

In my spare time I’ve been doing plenty of birding, bugging, botanizing, and being a bio nerd. There is a large bobcat the frequents the road just below the Lookout in the early evenings. I’ve seen 6 mule deer nearly every morning and the abundance of Sulfurs, Blues, Swallow-tail and Dogface butterflies is striking throughout the day. There are three Red-tailed Hawks and an adolescent golden eagle that frequent Hi Mt., and I have been surprised by the numbers of Black-chinned Sparrows and California Thrashers in the surrounding chaparral. I have briefly spotted a Sage Thrasher twice on the north slope of the Lookout.

Until the next update, hope everyone is having a great summer. Come on up and visit some time!
Paul Andreano

Friday, July 12, 2002

12-July-2002 Field Notes

Had signals for several birds today, from 0935 (at appx 320° NW) until 1617 (at appx 110° SE). Moderate to strong signals were recorded for B-167, B-164, B-170, Or-199, and Y-194 as they moved south from Ventana. - Paul Andreano