Thursday, January 22, 2004

Hi Notes

OK…I’ve been remiss is posting of late, so I’ll play catch-up, beginning with the great news from yesterday’s trip to the top of the world (well, SLO County): I picked up signals from Blk287, one of the newly released Condors in the Pinnacles National Park! This precocious bird jumped to the head of his class by escaping from his holding pen while still at Ventana Wilderness a few months ago. He flew free for about a week before being re-captured and transported to the Pinnacles with the rest of the group of six youngsters and their mentor, Hoi. Having gained this vast amount of prior experience, he has become the ‘Alpha’ bird at the Pinnacles and tends to fly higher and farther than his fellow feathered friends. Just prior to these birds being released (end of Dec.’03, beginning of Jan.’04), we had a scare concerning the whereabouts of AC9, as he had been missing for more than a week. As it turned out, his transmitters had ceased to function. Since then they have managed to capture him (not an easy task as he has become quite good at avoiding the trap) and fit him out with a Satellite as well as a radio transmitter. As most of you probably know, AC9 is the only free flying Condor from the last 22 Condors in existence, taken into captivity in the late 1980s. Needless to say, he is a VERY special bird!

Last week (Jan 12) while at the lookout with a potential volunteer, Donna Bower, and her friend Rick Clack, Rick spotted two mature Bald Eagles perched in a tree between the lookout and Pozo. Quite a
beautiful sight! We also saw a Bobcat darting across the road on the way up to the lookout.

The week before that (Jan 7) I had gone to the lookout with yet another Donna (O’Shaunnesy). We were amazed to see a flock of 175 to 200 Wild Turkeys just passed the Santa Margarita Lake turnoff on the way to Pozo. Once at the lookout, we embarked on a hike to Hi Valley and REALLY enjoyed the hike DOWN. The hike back UP from Hi Valley caused my heretofore under-used hiking muscles to protest vigorously for the next of couple of days. During the winter months there isn’t a lot of Condor activity, as the birds tend to stay ‘home’ in Ventana, Hopper Mt., and now the Pinnacles, most of the time. It is always beautiful at the lookout, with a view of the Sierras to the East and the Pacific Ocean to the West on clear days. The weather can be chilly, giving us an opportunity to sport our warmest cold weather togs.

Don’t miss the Condor exhibit at the Natural History Museum in Morro Bay and learn more about these grand birds!

‘Til next time,