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!