Thursday, September 30, 2004

Hi Notes

Greetings from Hi Mountain Lookout. Since my postings have been sporadic, I’ll do some catching up on past happenings and sightings from the top of the world:

9/1/04 Mountain Lion sighting and 10 minute observation (already posted). There are castings of the tracks at the lookout for those who would like to see what they look like. I’m assuming that Cal Poly
student Jeremy White made the castings, as they are dated 9/2/04 and that was part of his ‘four day shift’. Good job, Jeremy! Tues. 9/14/04: Took a short walk down the trail leading to Hi Valley,
looking for the Sage Sparrows we had been seeing for several weeks. Nothing exciting to report….except…. Wed. 9/15/04: Tony Kent came up to the lookout and we took the same short hike and found mountain lion tracks on top of my tracks! The lion had probably gone down the trail late that night or early the next morning since the tracks were on top of all my tracks, both coming and going to the lookout. We also saw some very good prints of a bear near the gate. Never did find the Sage Sparrows!

Tues. 9/21/04: Arrived at lookout and immediately picked up signals from four Condors as they headed toward the lookout from Hopper Mt. Three of the four (#164, #168 and #190) continued to Big Sur, but one (#204) spent the night at Huff’s Hole. We TRIED REALLY HARD to get a visual sighting on the bird, but he flew to the West of the lookout and probably remained behind the ridge, out of view. He continued on to Big Sur also. Interestingly, all four Condors are males. It must have been the guy’s night out! Also seen Wed. were a flock of Cedar Waxwings and the first White- crowned and Golden-crowned sparrows for the fall.

Tues. 9/28/04: Tony came up to the lookout again (he has become addicted to the beautiful views and allure of this special place, just like most everyone who visits Hi Mountain!). We hiked down to Hi
Valley for a sneak preview of the birds that we might see on Sat. Oct 2 at the Open House. A short list includes Fox Sparrows (the first since last year), Woodpeckers (Nuttall’s, Acorn and N. Flicker), Kestrel, Hutton’s Vireo, White & Golden-crowned Sparrow, and all the usual suspects (Towhees, Thrashers, Goldfinches…etc.). If you are planning to come to the Open House (and I hope you are!), you will have a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains, the ocean and a beautifull star-filled sky at night. Bring warm clothes (parka, gloves, hat) for the evening, as it does get chilly in the late afternoon.

See you Saturday October 2, 2004 for a fun and very interesting Event Filled Day and Evening!

Thursday, September 9, 2004

Hopper Mountain Visit

Hi all,
Following is an interesting report from Cal Poly student and Hi Mountain Lookout volunteer Ali West, regarding her recent field training and orientation tour at Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Ventura County. This was the second field training opportunity our lookout interns and volunteers have been provided this summer. ‘Thank-you’ to the staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for making this valuable field experience possible.
Steve Schubert
Ali’s message….
Hey Hi Mt. Crew~ Just wanted to give you an update on our Hopper trip!  Kathleen, Joel,
and I had an awesome time.  After a very long, hot drive there…we spent a fabulous day with Dave, an intern from Minnesota.  He was really nice and spent his entire day being our personal tour guide. We visited the flight pens, checked out a blind they use near one of the feeding sites, and of course saw about 20-something Condors feeding at another feeding site.  We also got acquainted with the telemetry equipment that they use, and came to realize how off some of our frequencies are from theirs, for most of their birds.  Needless to say, Kathleen made sure to record all of those frequencies so that we can experiment with them at the lookout and see if we have better luck trackng Hopper birds. I would have to say, and I’m sure Kathleen and Joel would agree, that the highlight of the day was hiking way down into the valley to meet up with Jenny, another intern, who watches over the Condor chick in a nest across the valley.  On our hike down we walked right past these
huge snags only to find two magnificent Condors roosting in them!!!! They were so close!!!! Like twenty feet up in a tree! I got some great photos! Once we got way down in the valley, and met Jenny, we were lucky enough to watch the chick through a telescope and have Jenny explain to us everything she records about it’s behavior throughout the day!  Very awesome.  Just before we turned around to head up the trail Joel spotted a Black Bear in the distance….a nice place to spot
a black bear…I say.  But that was really neat too.  The hike back up was pretty hard-core and we were all quite impressed that Jenny did the hike every day. We didn’t get back to the ranch until around 8pm.  We did sooo much on Tuesday, that we decided to head out around 10:30ish on Wednesday.  After a little car trouble and a nice lunch in Santa Barbara we were home.  All-in-all this was a great experience that we all gained a lot from.  We were sure to remind everyone down there to try and make it to our open house on Oct. 2nd! Anyway, Just thought I’d fill you all in!  
Talk to you guys soon.   ~Ali

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Hi notes

It’s been eons since I posted the happenings at Hi Mountain Lookout…even though I still make my weekly visits to paradise! Yesterday was an especially unusual day, however, and needs to be
shared! On my usual morning walk down the road from the lookout, I stopped to look at a covey of California Quail through my binoculars and what should meander into my field of view but a Mountain Lion! And she was much closer than binoculars warrented! Not having encountered any Mountain Lions in the past, I wasn’t sure if I should try to scare her away, sneak away, or just watch. I decided on the later and was rewarded with 10 minutes of observation as she strolled down the road, sat down a couple of times and just seemed to be enjoying the view towards Huff’s Hole. Gradually she became aware of me and I could see her body language change as she became more wary (kind of the way I was feeling for the last 10 minutes!). She got up from her sitting position and began to lope away down the road. She seeemed to float on the air, her movements were so fluid and effortless. Such a beautiful sight…I was spellbound! It’s been a great summer sharing the lookout with the Cal Poly Interns and volunteers. The Condors have been regular visitors to Hi Mountain for a couple of months now (although they haven’t favored the middle of the week when I’m there!). Jeremy, Ali, Jenn, Amy and Joel have had great views of up to 8 Condors at a time…and mostly on the weekends! Visitors are always welcome and you may be lucky enough to see Condors or Hi Mountain Lions!