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.