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