Friday, June 27, 2003

June 24-26 at the lookout

The birds were quiet on Tuesday but with the hot weather and favorable flying conditions the condors were quite active on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday afternoon b167, r260, r251, and w231 were all being picked up on the telonix in north county at their usual bearing of 315 degrees nw somewhere on the east slope of the Santa Lucias. Also picked up or204 to the south around cuyama valley. By 5pm w231 had made the flight down to the branch mountain area and I had signals for this bird until 7:18pm meaning this bird did not go all the way down to Hopper Mtn. and instead may have spent the night in the Lion Canyon area of the Sierra Madre’s. Sure enough Thursday morning at 9:45 I picked the bird up again and by 10:30 the signal had faded out completely as the bird continued its flight south to Hopper NWR. Two other Ventana birds decided to make the flight Thursday and now over half the Ventana flock is down south. Thursday was the hottest day at the lookout so far this year with a high of 93 with the night before’s temperature only dipping down to 72. John, one of the local ranchers who lives down in Pozo came up and he shared some great stories of bear and mountain lion encounters in the area. Aparently his dog can hunt and has treed plenty of big cats in the past but lately he has not see any. I informed him of the lion scratches down by hi valley rock.


Monday, June 23, 2003

This weekend at the Lookout

Well, we didn’t have any Condors on Friday (6/20) or Sat (6/21) but at about 4pm on Sunday (6/22) we picked up signals from R260 and B167 out near Atascadero. The signals only lasted for about 20 min. and we had no visuals. Other than that, the weather was wonderful–sunny skies and a slight breeze. We had few visitors — a handful of mountain bikers, a family and another couple–but we did spot both a bobcat (out on the ridge road) and a grey fox (inside the gate). We also had a few Ash-throated Flycatchers around, and heard an ear full from the Bewick’s wren.
Hope we see up on the Mountain!
Lisa A.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Hi notes

Monday, June 16, 2003…Finally heard from three Condors: W231, a
three year old Female; B167, a 6 year old Female; and R260, I think
must be a newly released one or two year old Condor (no other
information available). W231 and B167 may have flown over the Cuesta
Grade area to Atascadero area and spent most of the day north of the
lookout there. By 4:30 p.m. the signals were lost, so they may have
gone back to the Ventana area. We ((Joan Carter, Matt Willis (a
resent Cal Poly graduate) and I))only picked up signals from R260 a
couple of times, so don’t know if this young bird was alone or with
the other two…?

We had a visit from Letty French and her two friends from Indiana in
the morning, luckily while the weather at the lookout was still
pleasantly warm and semi bug free. As the day progressed, so did the
heat and the bug count. You may be noticing a theme here…summer
time at the lookout is a gnatcatcher’s and swallow’s dream!
We saw a Great Horned Owl near the last ranch house before the climb
up the mountain. It was sitting there in the morning and still there
in the afternoon when we left. Matt said he saw several Tule Elk in
the same general area when he drove up in the morning.
Bye ’til next time,

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Lookout visit

Today, 6/14, I drove up with my parents-visiting from Oregon- and my
brother for their first visit to Hi Mtn. Lookout. Mike Stiles was also
there to take a look at all the work that has been done. Just as we
stepped outside from the visitor’s center downstairs an adult pair of
peregrine falcons flew by 50 yards away at eye level- a nice greeting
from the Huff’s Hole falcons, I presume. A few more seconds lingered
indoors and we would have missed them completely.

The butterflies are numerous around the lookout (so are the flies, so it
helped a light breeze was blowing today) and there are many
swallowtails, blues, and checkerspots flying about and ‘hilltopping”. I
saw several blues feeding at yerba santa flowers along Hi Mtn. road on
the stretch between the gate and the lookout, and deerweed and woolly
blue curls shrubs are also flowering in abundance roadside. Wild mustard
appears to be the more abundant ‘weed’ in the disturbed roadside border
this growing season compared to the yellow-star thistle invasion there
one year ago (perhaps those eradication efforts last summer helped to
prevent some reseeding of the thistle). The very small flowers of a
coffeeberry shrub growing near the water cistern were being visited by
numerous honeybees. It was a buggy kind of day.

Steve Schubert

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Hi Notes

The Condors have not been visiting our area for a couple of weeks now. The weather has probably been too cool for their liking. I have to agree with them…it never got above 50 degrees yesterday, Wed.
June 11, and the cloud that was BELOW the lookout last week decided to rise a couple 100 feet and shroud Hi Mountain with a very chilly fog this week.

Those of us who are staffing the lookout (Cal Poly Interns and volunteers like myself) have new schedules and I will be reporting for duty on Mondays from now on. There will be people at the lookout seven days a week now and visitors are always welcome! So ’til next Monday…

Bye for now,

Sunday, June 8, 2003

Hi notes

Joan Carter and I (and pooch Mica) spent Wed. 6/4/03 at the lookout again this week. It was a dry hole as far as Condor signals went, so the only ‘bird news’ is that two House Finch babies have hatched in
one of the three nests that were built under the cat-walk grating of the lookout. We have a, hummmmm, birds-eye-view of the nests, as they are about 3 inches under our feet as we stand on the grating. It was about 75 degrees all day with almost no wind…and about 1,000,000,000 very friendly flys, gnats and assorted bugs. The early morning view was spectacular: very dense fog hung over the whole 360 degree view, with only the rock outcropping of Huff’s Hole and other peaks peeking up through the cottony clouds.
Bye ’til next week,

Monday, June 2, 2003

Hi Mountain weekend summary 5-31-03

Arrived at the lookout in the afternoon Saturday, May 31st. The Lookout looked great thanks to the help of the volunteers from the Cal Poly Wildlife Club. Upstairs now has a desk, file cabinet, and new comfy chairs fully ready for the upcoming Summer internship to begin June 15th. Downstairs additions included a couple of tables and a bookshelf for housing our great collection of field guides and natural history books. All three House Finch nests on the lookout are active. NW nest has two nestlings that should fledge this week. SW nest is still incubating 2 eggs (1 egg abnormally narrowly oblong). SE nest with 4 eggs. Looking forward to more nestlings hopefully by next weekend. Highs this weekend at the lookout were in the lower 80s and breezy with nights in the 60s. Although the conditions seemed favorable the Condors we not out in our neck of the woods this weekend. Coast Horned Lizards are a common sight on the trail down to Hi Valley, both big and small, and I have never encountered them so reliably. They don’t seem to mind being out in the middle of the day when other creatures are taking cover from the heat. The floral displays keep coming with Clarkia spp. Golden Yarrow, and Monkey Flower, among others in full bloom on Hi Mountain road and at the lookout. The Yellow Star Thistle is just beginning to become nasty but still easy to pull out thanks to the lingering moisture in the soil.

Some birds seen/heard this weekend from the lookout:

Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Mountain Quail, California Quail, Band-tailed Pigeon, Morning Dove, Common Poorwill, White-throated Swift, Anna’s Hummingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Western Scrub- Jay, Common Raven, Oak Titmouse, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Wrentit, Spotted Towhee (nest with 4 young in Deerweed along Hi Mountain trail next to lookout), California Towhee, Sage Sparrow, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lesser Goldfinch.

Highlights in Trout Creek east of the lookout from Hi Mountain road to the fork to buckeye camp were abundant Warbling Vireo, Black- headed Grosbeak, and House Wren. WESTERN TANAGER and CASSIN’S VIREO were also present in much smaller numbers.