Tuesday, September 17, 2002

17-Sept-2002 Field Notes

Following up on Roger Zachary’s sighting of a perched condor in Atascadero this morning (Tues 18), I headed up Hwy 41E accompanied by Amy Armstrong and Mike Tyner. We stopped just west of the Salinas River bridge off of Cemetary Rrd. atappx. 1010 and immediately had strong signals for the three Ventana condors Roger saw yesterday. At 1015 we stared in total awe as condors Or-212 andY-190 soared over the tall foothill pines along the river bed south of the highway. they were sharing thermals with at least a dozen Turkey Vultures, and as quickly as they appeared, they were gone over Pine Mt. We were joined by Chris Barr/USFWS, also following Roger’s lead, and the four of us sped up into the cemetary hoping for another look. We had strong signals (between 1115 and 1320) for Y-190, Or-212, Or-209, (and W-223 briefly) from the cemetary, then out Curbarail Ave a ways, and later down in the river bed near the bridge. Three of the birds moved south, then back north and were likely over downtown Atascadero but Or-209 had remained stationary and very near the carcass site. We said goodbey to Chris and drove back W on Hwy41 and then left up a private drive near Cerena Ct. The Telonix was screaming and the signal was strong in every direction for 209. Just as we were backing down the hill at 1330 a large shadow passed over and we looked up to see 0r-209 soaring appx 100 feet above. The bird made several gracefull turns over the houses before heading SW back toward Atascadero. We stopped for lunch at In-N-Out Burger at 1358 and got strong signals for 190, 209, and 212 from the parking lot. The birds had regrouped and were somewhere SE of us and close. We drove back out Hwy 41E and located what was left of the deer carcass, which we hid from view. As an interesting sideline….I guess the medical worker who initially spotted the birds cared enough to drag the carcass to the other side of the highway, out of harm’s way! We took a few more sets of signals at 1420 and 1430 and the birds were somewhere between us and the In-N-Out, likely headed backup north. Not a bad day of condor tracking. Trouble is, these birds maybe spending a fair amount of time in and around metropolitan north county,where consistent tracking and management is scarce. I worry for them. -Paul Andreano