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…..