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