Wednesday, June 29, 2005

First Intern Shift News

Hello Everyone,
The summer field season is now well under way at Hi Mountain Lookout. Three interns started their first official shift this past weekend, and we had a wonderful time! On the first day, Greg and I hiked down to Hi Valley to do some point counts and find some study plots, while Julie and her sister Holly
did telemetry at the lookout. The Hi Valley hike was simply gorgeous! We saw an unidentified falcon (peregrine or prairie?), some White-breasted Nuthatches, a Western wood-pewee, and a Blue-gray gnatcatcher, among others. The hike back up to the Lookout was, of course, long and strenuous, but the following morning Greg (the rockstar!) hiked back down with Julie to do more point counts and some veg work. That day I did telemetry and only got signals for one Pinnacles bird. Despite the long days of field work and only a couple signals, we had a great time! I am looking forward to the rest of my summer at Hi Mountain!
A note on Lookout wildlife… The feeders and birdbath have attracted about 6 or 7 band-tailed pigeons, numerous scrub-jays, a pair of oak titmice and a family group of 5-7 Bewick’s Wrens. I also saw a Rock Wren on the road by the trail to the bathroom! I had never seen one before, but I’m not sure what else it could have been. Long slightly decurved bill, pale/buffy chest, light spotting on the back and a very light supercilliary. I think it may have been a juvenile since the coloration was subtle. Unfortunately, by the time I grabbed my camera to take a shot, the bird was gone.
A Peregrine Falcon soared by the Lookout while we were taking some signals. As it passed the Lookout, it went into a stoop (awesome!!!) and crashed into some scrub oak along Hi Valley trail. It stayed there for some time so it must have caught a fat, juicy quail for lunch! It was definitely the highlight of our day!
On the way home, Julie and I drove the AG side and stopped by a marsh to find some rails or sora. We found a Virginia rail (by almost stepping on it!) and saw a juvenile Bald Eagle fly overhead! Quite an exciting weekend!
Have a great week everyone!
~Jamie Miller
Hi Mountain Intern

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Lookout Training News

Just a quick update from the Lookout crew. The Cal Poly interns and volunters spent the early part of the week training up at Hi Mountain. We learned everything from how to keep the Lookout running smoothly to how to collect our data. We even got a lesson in how difficult it can be to get from point A to point B when faced with a dense stand of brush! Some of us went on a late afternoon hike down toward Hi Valley and were suprised to turn around to see a mountain hike between us and our dinners. Going downhill sure is easier. Some of the crew even had an up close and personal encounter with a rattlesnake. After spending a few days at the Lookout with its breathtaking sunsets and sunrises, I think we are all excited to call the Lookout home for the summer.
Emily K.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Training at Hopper

Hi All,

All the new interns and volunteers just completed great telemetry training from the folks at Hopper. The fog was unbelievable and we couldn’t see five feet in front of us but we still had a great time.
Can’t wait to put all this new knowledge to work. I’d like to give special thanks to the people at Hopper for dedicating their time and effort. We really appreciate all their help. Next week we start working at Hi Mountain and hopefully we will get a fly by and see a familiar bird. 

Once again thanks to all,
Julie Messer
Hi Mt.Summer Intern

Monday, June 13, 2005

KSBY Interview

Hi all,
Anchorwoman Wendy Thies interviewed staff and volunteers today at Hi Mountain Lookout. The interview will air on KSBY TV news at 6:30pm this Thursday, June 16th, and repeat on the following Friday morning news broadcast. The Lookout Project interview is one of the ‘Nature Watch’ series, broadcast weekly.
Steve Schubert
Volunteer Coordinator, Hi Mountain Condor Lookout Project

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Summer '05 Field Season

Since the inception of the Hi Mountain Lookout Project 9 years ago,
Morro Coast Audubon Society has had a rewarding and successful
collaboration with several organizations and many hard working staff and
volunteers. The rehabilitation of an old abandoned fire lookout into a
functioning biological research station and interpretive visitor center
has been a source of great satisfaction and pride for all involved in
the project.
This upcoming 2005 summer field season marks our 4th season of field
operations and demonstrates the breadth of these collaborative efforts.
MCAS has funded the purchase of a heavy security gate and signage that
will be installed by the U.S. Forest Service, providing staff time and
labor. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s condor staff will be
providing our interns and volunteers onsite field training in radio
tracking, note taking, and condor nest watching at Hopper Mountain
National Wildlife Refuge in Ventura County. The Ventana Wilderness
Society (VWS) near the Big Sur Coast continues to provide condor
movement information through GPS (global positioning systems) tracking,
with exact location data relayed to satellites in earth orbit by
transmitters attached to the wings of free-flying condors. Other VWS
condors equipped with radio transmitters are tracked from Hi Mountain
Lookout as they occasionally fly north and south through SLO CO on their
long flights from Big Sur country to Hopper Mountain refuge, and back
again. Hi Mountain Lookout staff also radio track condors released at
Pinnacles National Monument, in cooperation with the National Park
Service. One more example of our collaborative efforts: Dr. Francis
Villablanca through the Biological Sciences Department at Cal Poly has
recently obtained funding to hire and supervise 5 student interns, who
will be working in shifts staffing Hi Mountain Lookout (along with our
volunteers) full-time this summer! The focus of this student internship
will be on conducting several biological research projects at Hi
Mountain, including California Condor radio tracking, studying
ecological community dynamics by surveying resident and nesting birds,
live-trapping small mammals, conducting vegetation sampling, and
analyzing Geographical Information Systems (GIS) information- in study
plots set up within chaparral, oak woodland and riparian habitats. All 5
of these college students will be speaking and giving power point talks
about their research methodologies and findings, presented to professors
and their student peers at Cal Poly, following their summer internship
experiences at Hi Mountain Lookout.
Learn more about the Lookout Project at
Visit the lookout this summer, tour the facilities and visitor center,
and participate in condor radio tracking demonstrations.
New volunteers are encouraged to get involved. Please contact me in
advance to make arrangements for a visit.
Steve Schubert
MCAS Volunteer Coordinator,
Hi Mountain Condor Lookout Project