Thursday, January 16, 2003

Hi Notes

My trip to Hi Mountain on Wed. Jan 15, 2003 was quiet as far as
Condor signals were concerned. The big birds are staying in Ventana
where they belong…boring for us, good for them! I arrived at the
lookout at about 0845 and it was freezing! The wind was blowing 30
mph from the north and, with the wind chill, it was 26 degrees. It
was a bit foggy and there was not much visibility except to the west
where I could see the coastline. It warmed up to a balmy 56 degrees
by 1500 hours. The highlight of my day came while driving down from
the lookout and seeing what I initially thought was a red tailed hawk
on a snag near the Lopez Lake fork. Upon closer inspection, it turned
out to be a Golden Eagle! The sun was shining like, well…GOLD, on
its head and shoulders. I waited for about 1/2 hour hoping it would
fly. An accipiter, either a Cooper’s Hawk or a Sharp Shinned Hawk,
zoomed by the eagle, but even that wouldn’t encourage it to fly. My
next encounter was with a Bobcat high-tailing it accross the road in
front of my pickup above the campgrounds. Not to be outdone, ANOTHER
Bobcat ran accross the road just above the Salinas River crossing.
Another soul soothing and beautiful day at Hi Mountain!
Bye for now and maybe I’ll see some of you during the Winter Bird
Festival this week…

Thursday, January 9, 2003

Hi notes

The Condors are still shunning Atascadero, so as far as monitoring
goes, it’s pretty quiet on Hi Mountain. I arrived at the lookout at
0830 Wed. Jan 8 and picked up no signals all day. It was sunny and
warm in the morning and got cooler as the day progressed. There was a
lot of bird activity: Calif. Thrashers, Spotted and Calif. Towhees, a
flock of American and Lesser Goldfinches, Golden Crowned Sparrows,
two Red Tailed Hawks, a Northern Harrier, Wrentits, Scrub Jays, Calif
Quail, and Turkey Vultures. With monitoring taking up little time, I
was able to go for a few longer walks and explore the trail that
leads toward the south. After having watched the Lord of the Rings’
second installment, The Two Towers, I could imagine the movie having
been filmed in the rugged ranges around Lopez Lake! The sun and
shadows were spectacular on the mountains surrounding the lookout!
That’s all for now…I miss the Condors, but it’s a good thing that
they aren’t hanging out in Atascadero. Bye for now…

Saturday, January 4, 2003

Hi notes

If you just got a blank message from me…sorry! I composed a message
and then went to the help screen and apparently lost the message. I
was trying to find ’spell check’…if anyone knows how to access it,
let me know! In the meantime, please excuse any typos I don’t catch!.
So here goes again…
The road to Hi Mountain was finally opened at about noon Friday
1/3/03. I navigated the river crossing in my ‘72, 4 wheel drive pick-
up with no problems. A US Forest Service crew was busily cutting up a
huge oak tree that had fallen accross the road at the camp grounds
when I drove by.

We were concerned about rain damage from the two recent storms, and
sure enough, some water had gotten into the downstairs visitor’s
center. My rag mop and I made quick work of THAT, however!
I did some Condor tracking at about 1430 hours, but didn’t pick up
any signals. I had called Mike Barth (at Hopper Mt.) before leaving
Friday morning and he said that two of the Ventana birds that had
been frequenting Atascadero (B161 and Y192) had flown down to the
Hopper Mt. area and were hanging out down there. I had also spoken to
Ryan at the Ventana release site and he said that there were no
Condors in the Atascadero area that he knew of…and he was right!

Mike Tyner arrived at the lookout at about 1600 hours and said he had
seen about 20 Elk near the ranch houses at the Pozo ranger station.
The weather was beautiful: 70 degrees and NO wind at noon. A Northern
Harrier circled below the lookout at 1300 hours while a Calif.
Thrasher accompanied it in song. The Sierras, with a thick covering
of snow, were plainly visible off the North East. It should be
beautiful this weekend if any of you care to visit the lookout!



Today, 1/04/02, I spent half the day at Hi Mountain lookout, with good
views to the coast of Point Sal and Point Arguello and inland to the
snow-covered southern Sierras. All afternoon a sustained wind more than
20mph blew from the north. Red-tailed hawks and turkey vultures
occasionally sailed by. The weather station recorded about 6 inches of
rain during the month of December and a maximum wind gust of 82mph on
Dec. 16th! Unfortunately, the smaller of the two cypress trees near the
lookout has been broken and knocked down badly and is a smaller version
of its previous self.

“Thank-you” to Kathleen Intorf and Mike Tyner for cleaning up these past
two days after the rain leakage problems, and today Mike gave a very
helpful training session to volunteers DIck and Pat Boyd and myself
regarding lookout operations and radio tracking. Several visitors
stopped by today, by walking, mountain biking, and motorcycling.

This morning there was a non-native red fox near the Pozo Ranger
Station, and when driving by again at dusk a striped skunk was rambling
around. Looking back up to the lookout ridgeline, there was a crescent
moon suspended low over the Santa Lucias.

Steve Schubert
Coordinator, Hi Mountain Condor Lookout Project