Tuesday, October 7, 2003

California Condor in Montana De Oro State Park

I was leading a Camp KEEP walk with our 6th grade students at Islay
Creek in MDO this afternoon when the radio we carry for emergencies was
suddenly crackling with an excited voice- although the reception was
very poor I was barely able to make out the phrases “condor flying!’ and
then ‘yellow tag’ in the broken-up communications from my co-worker
Cathy Chambers. That got my attention. I was ‘trapped’ beneath the
willow canopy at the creek without the chance to see the condor in
flight somewhere above, but up on the Valencia Peak Trail at 700 feet
elevation Cathy and her students were watching in astonishment as a
yellow-tagged California Condor glided by along the slopes just below
eye-level only about 40 feet away and continued north, over the dunes
and towards the eucalyptus forest 1 mile away, before apparently turning
inland and eastward through the Irish Hills and was gone.
Others on the KEEP staff had also heard the radio communications and a
total of 5 staff members and dozens more of our students on their hikes
saw the condor in flight (some of the kids took photos). The condor
sighting was the talk of the day, overshadowing the excitement of a
possible flight of Pinyon Jays from the desert here along the coast.
Cathy had also reported the jays on her earlier morning hike up the same
mountain trail, seeing a dispersed flight of about 40 jays flying south
towards the Field’s Ranch- they were not Scrub or Steller’s Jays in her
estimation, but confirmation of this I.D. by other experienced birders
is needed if the flock can be refound.
The last condor report from Montana De Oro State Park that I am aware
of dates back about 30 years ago. MDO SP is on the coast south of Morro
Steve Schubert