Sunday, March 30, 2003

March 30, 2003

Greetings all,

I woke up in Los Osos yesterday morning (an unusual occurrence for me
lately) and got a call from Nick Todd who also happened to be in Los
Osos with Jan Hamber. Anyone who was outside yesterday can attest to
what a beautiful one it was, and Jan suggested a drive up to Hi Mt.
Along with Lisa and Henry Ponterelli, we took an unusually smooth drive
up the hill to the Lookout. It was mild and slightly breezy on the
mountain. The lush green carpet on the valley floor is such a striking
contrast to the parched, sun baked hills I stared at all last summer. I
hesitate to say that I’d forgotten just how incredible the view is from
Hi Mt. I’ve never seen anything like it on the Central Coast.

As you can imagine, the birds were also out enjoying this most
spectacular day. They may also have heard that Jan was in the
neighborhood and just come out to say Hi. Our first set of signals were
at 1237, when we had Y-194, B-168, and Y-190, all moderate and
inconsistent signals, to our SE. By 1242, these three birds were joined
a fourth Ventana bird who is not on my list. This group of birds stayed
to our SE until 1350. For a time we felt that they were moving north,
though our last set of signals were south of where we first picked them
up. Getting to the Lookout so late, I’m not sure if these guys were
headed south all day, or had just made a day trip to the north from
Hopper/Sespe. At any rate, I’m sure they ended up near Hopper by day’s
end. At about 1345 we began picking up signals for another group of
Ventana birds on the west Cuesta Ridge. Between 1400 and 1600, we had
moderate to strong and consistent signals from Or-204, B-167, and W-231
to our immediate NW. At times B-167 was giving a very strong, broad
signal that I’ve always interpreted (scientifically) as being “real
close”. B-167 and W-231 seemed to move east and closer by 1530. These
could easily have been Atascadero-area signals. By 1530, Or-204 was to
our distant NW, the other two still lingering to the south. By 1605, I
had lost Or-204 and W-231 altogether, but began to get weak signals from
R-256 (a recently released juvenile and my first time tracking one of
the new Ventana cohorts!). Between 1630 and 1708, B-167 and R-256 seemed
near and to our NW, still on the west Cuesta Ridge. By 1730, I only had
a now distant signal from 256, and by 1745, all signals dropped off.
Ahhhh, it felt great to stand on Hi Mt and track again, especially in
the company of such great folks…. Enjoyed a postcard sunset in the
company of Mike Tyner and headed down the road about 1930.

Other notable sightings and stuff……
Numerous Mountain Quail near the campground and up by the Lookout.
Counted 19 common Poorwills on the drive down the hill. Also saw 2
Bobcats near the gate and a HUGE Mountain Lion that bounded across W.
Pozo Rd. about 1mi west of Pozo Station. (I remember, last summer,
several of the guys at the Pozo Station talked of seeing Mountain Lions
at this spot late at night). Also, I wanted to commend Amy Scarp on her
efforts in the Hi Mt. Visitor Center. There is now an amazing collection
of past/present condor field notes downstairs and I spent some time
soaking up inspiration from Karl Koford, Fred Sibley, John Schmitt, Dave
Clendenen, and of course, Jan Hamber. Very cool, thanks Amy.

Until my next trip up the mountain, thanks to all who continue to keep
the Lookout alive. Seems like its time to really start waving that Yagi
around up there. The road is prime for driving, so plan you next visit
to the Lookout soon!

Cheers, Paul