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