Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Aug 26-28 Condor Flyby

Had a wonderful three days at the lookout this week. Tuesdays main
objective was tracking the travels of Condor or208 as it spent the
day moving through our county. I first picked up 208 at 320 degrees
from the lookout generally in the direction of Atascadero/Paso
Robles. Tracked this bird as it made its way along the Santa Lucias
at one point probably flying over parts of east San Luis Obispo and
the Cuesta Grade. After getting strong intermittent signals which
were cutting in and out as if on the other side, west slope, of the
Santa Lucias this bird came fast directly towards the lookout. I had
strong soaring signals to the south of the lookout and strained my
eyes looking for the bird down towards Lopez Lake. Suddenly directly
over Hi Valley rock about ½ mile away I noticed about 6 Turkey
Vultures soaring. I grabbed by binos and right in the middle of them
was a huge steady soaring California Condor. Primaries splayed in
full soar steadily circling. This huge bird made the vultures look
like novices as they rocked back and forth with the wind seemingly
out of control. The calm and controlled condor then made its way
towards Pozo staying east of the lookout leaving the TV’s and then
followed the Garcia Ridge to the east and south towards Cuyama
Valley. While all this was going on another bird or209 decided to
move north leaving the southern flock of condors in Santa Barbara
county and choosing the La Panza range as its guide and thereby out
of visible range. This bird stayed in San Luis Obispo county for at
least the next day and a half spending the remainder of Tuesday and
Tuesday night roosting somewhere not to far northwest of the
lookout. All through Wedensday and most of Thursday I continued to
get signals from this bird although maybe further north then the day
before. By now the bird is probably with the handful of birds in Big
Sur. The rest of the Big Sur flock are still on extended vacation
mingling with the southern flock near Hopper NWR.
Birds around the Lookout are becoming more visible feeding on the
ripening coffeeberries. In one bush there were 4 Thrashers and a
Black-headed Grosbeak all chowing down on the sweet berries. The
number of Selasphorus hummingbirds is up with a ratio of maybe 1 to
every 5 Anna’s and man some of them can be mean. Only one solid
Rufuous and only one male Black-chinned. Don’t know what happen to
the tiny gray Costa’s. A Cooper’s Hawk was a nice surprise, they
have been very uncommon for at least the last few months.