Monday, May 26, 2003

Huff's Hole

I hiked in with Gary Guliazi today, 5/26, from Hi Mtn. Rd, through Hi
Valley, where we met up with Mike Tyner who hiked down from Hi Mtn.
Lookout early in the morning. There were mountain lion scratches on the
large outcrop with the grinding holes near Hi Valley Rock, and we
followed bear tracks and scat signs into Huff’s Hole.

This is my Huff’s Hole 25th anniversary year- camping out 3 1/2 months
in 1978 as a peregrine falcon nest guard with John Schmitt, employed by
USFS, at a time when peregrines were still very rare and endangered.
Today, as I was reminiscing at our old campsite among the oaks, we were
suddenly alerted by the familiar vocalizations of peregrines. The female
carried prey to the ‘eyrie cliffs”, soon the tiercel went off on a
hunt. During 2 1/2 hours prey was delivered 3 times to a prominent ledge
with a deep recess at the back, so, there are chicks being fed. Last
confirmed peregrine nesting in Huff’s Hole was 1994. There are now two
known inland peregrine nest sites in SLO CO.

The perched female got up in the air once to ‘cak’ angrily at a golden
eagle passing through. I was also surprised to see a prairie falcon fly
to the edge of a cave on ‘condor cliffs’, to the left of DragonHead, and
only a couple hundred yards away from the peregrine perched above her
eyrie. The prairie took flight in the wrong direction and was attacked
and chased away by the peregrine, but nevertheless, the resident prairie
falcons are probably also nesting in relatively close proximity.

Radio signal strength was sometimes weak and broken up talking with Lisa
Andreano, who was staffing the lookout above. We also had a disconnected
cell phone problem and a poor signal trying to call the lookout (1 mile
away), but had no problem at all calling to Jamey Eddy’s residence in
Laramie, Wyoming to report our finding! Jamey and Merlyn Felton reported
a peregrine in Huff’s Hole 3 weeks ago, which prompted our followup
visit today.

There was a constant chatter today of white-throated swifts above us and
a constant swarm of biting deerflies around us. Canyon wren, mountain
quail, raven, ash-throated flycatcher, black-headed grosbeak,
orange-crowned warbler, wrentit, and house wren were some of the other
background bird vocalizations. Clarkias (farewell-to-spring) and
Mariposa lilies are flowering in abundance in the grassy understory
among the blue oaks of Hi Valley, with occasional bright patches of
larkspur and golden yarrow, and some late blue-eyed grass and owl’s

Weather was sunny with high cirrus clouds, afternoon temp. 70’s, and
light breeze.A memorable Memorial Day…

Steve Schubert