Sunday, November 12, 2006

2006 VWS Bald Eagle Survey Results

Hello Everyone: I would first like to THANK all of the volunteers who spend hours each year monitoring the Bald Eagle nestsites in your area. Many of you are recipiants of this e-mail. If I missed anyone, please forward. A heartfelt thanks for your continued dedication and support.
This Survey includes confirmed bald eagle nestsites along the Calfornia Central Coast Region, excluding Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County. This covers an area from just North of San Francisco Bay Area, East to Interstate 5 and South to Santa Barbara County.
Locations given are intentional VAGUE in order to protect them. Many, if not all of these nestsites are from first, second, even third generation REINTRODUCTION efforts of bald eagles from either Ventana Wildllife Society, at their Big Sur fieldstation , or Institute for Wildlife Studies restoration efforts on Catalina Island, . Please checkout their websites for more information on their bald eagle restoration efforts and other exciting programs. The number of nestsite territories and eaglets that actually fledge each year is probably higher than given, for in some cases the nests have been in existance and productive longer than reported to me AND let’s face it………… this is a HUGE area to monitor . Helicopter surveys would give a more accurate accounting of what is actually taking place each season, but the overall trend of continued expansion is apparent and a credit to the two non-profits listed above , and all the collaborators of the CA. Bald Eagle Working Team. As you read below…………… a lot can be said for the obvious benefits of man-made reservoirs for the successful restoration efforts of Bald Eagles.
I Alemeda County:
1) Del Valle Territory: Two eaglets on private ranch in Grey/Foothill Pine. Adult female, Ventana Wildlife Society (4G) legband, 1991 release (Canadian bald eagle). Male unbanded.
Between 1996 and 2002, this pair has fledged 7 eaglets. I need data for 2003. Please e-mail me. In 2004 they fledged two eaglets. In 2005 they fledged one eaglet. They have built two known nests, both Grey/Foothill Pines.
Between 1996 and 2006, this pair has fledged * Twelve (12) eaglets.
*(this may change once status is given on 2003 nesting season).
Total known eaglets for Alemeda County is Twelve(12), commencing 1996.
II Contra Costa County:
1) San Pablo Territory: NEW NESTING TERRITORY
Two eaglets in Pine tree (Grey/Foothill ?) . I am looking forward to meeting with biologist in the area next Spring in order to get more details and see if adults have leg bands, etc.
Please e-mail, and/or call me in Spring 2007 to arrange.
Total known eaglets for Contra Costa County is Two (2), commencing 2006.
III Monterey County:
1) Fort Hunter Liggett : El Piejo Territory: The 2004 Valley Oak nest tree is back in production ! One eaglet has fledged. The 2005 Foothill Pine nest tree died and collapsed over this past winter. I suspect, but can not confirm until 2007, that the adult female is the
original Ventana Wildlife Society (4 A) legband, 1991 release (Canadian eagle). Male unbanded. This pair has built at least four (4) nests.
This pair has fledged fourteen (14) eaglets , commencing 1997.
2) Fort Hunter Liggett: San Antonio Territory: NEW NESTING TERRITORY
Two eaglets in a Valley Oak. Unknown if adults are banded.
This pair has fledged two (2) eaglets commencing 2006.
3) Lake San Antonio: Two eaglets in Blue Oak. Initially, both Adult bald eagles were 1993
Ventana Wildlife Society released Alaskan birds. This nesting pair has built at least four (4) nests. This pair has fledged nine (9) eaglets, commencing 2000.
Total production in 2006 for Monterey County is five (5).
Total known eaglets for Monterey County is twenty-five (25), commencing 1997.
IV San Benito County:
1)Paicines Territory: Two eaglets in Valley Oak located on private property where access is an issue……….. therefore, nothing is known about this adult pair.
Total production in 2006 for San Benito County is two (2).
Total known eaglets for San Benito County is eight (8), commencing 2003.
V Santa Clara County:
1) Calaveras Territory: NEW NESTING TERRITORY
Two eaglets hatched, but both died. One at 4 1/2 weeks of age and the second at 7-8 weeks of age. This territory may have been used ultilized for several years. There are two nesting trees close by, both are in Coast Live Oaks. Looking forward to meeting with local biologist in the area next Spring to get more details and see if adults have any leg bands.
2) Isabella Territory: Status unknown. Will hopefully be able to confirm it’s existance in Spring 2007. Rumored to be active a number of years now.
Currently, no known confirmed fledging of eaglets in Santa Clara County.
VI San Luis Obispo County :
1) Tierra Redonda Territory: No reported change for the past 6 years, site remains unoccupied. Adult pair are/were Ventana Wildlife Society (1 N) and (1 K) 1988 release (Canadian eagles). They are known to have fledged twelve (12) eaglets from five (5) nests.
First successful in 1993. All nests in Foothill pines on private property where accesss became an issue.
2) Las Tablas, Lake Nacimiento (Irving): Two eaglets in Foothill Pine. Adult female is Ventana Wildlife Society (3N), 1990 Canadian eagle release. Male is unbanded. First nest built in 1995, success began in 1996. All three nests were built in immediate area in Foothill Pines, two of which in the same tree.
This pair has fledged sixteen (16) eaglets, commencing 1996.
3) Dip Creek @ Oakshores Pair #1, Lake Nacimiento: Two eaglets in Foothill Pine on the Shoreline of this very busy recreational lake. Initially, both adult eagles were Ventana Wildlife Society (5E & 5P) 1993 Alaskan released eagles. Have built two nests, both in Foothill Pines.
This pair has fledged twelve (12) eaglets commencing in 1998.
4) Dip Creek Pair #2, Lake Nacimiento: Status unknown, for unable to locate new nest which must be inland on private property. This pair has produced three (3) eaglets, commencing in 2004.
5) Bee Rock, Lake Nacimiento: Two eaglets in Foothill Pine. Both adults are unbanded.
This pair has fledged seven (7) eaglets, commencing 2003.
6) Camp Roberts: No production. This is the fourth year in the same Sycamore tree. They have yet to produce offspring.
7) Lopez Lake: Two eaglets in Sycamore Tree on private property. Unknown if adults are banded.
This pair has fledged four (4) eaglets commencing 2005.
Total production in 2006 for San Luis Obispo County is eight (8).
Total known eaglets for San Luis Obispo County is fifty-four (54), commencing 1993.
Therefore, Total number of Bald eaglets fledging in 2006 on the CA Central Coast Region (excluding Lake Cachuma) is nineteen (19).
Total number since 1993, (excluding Lake Cachuma) is One hundred one (101).
(this includes 3 previously un-reported eaglets from Del Valle in 2004/2005).
Respectly submitted,
Sal & Ada Lucido
Bald Eagle Survey Coordinators
Co-founders & Advisors
Ventana Wildlife Society

Friday, November 10, 2006

Condors on KSBY TV

Tonight on the news Anchorwoman Wendy Thies aired her onsite interviews
and reported on the recent California Condor release at Bitter Creek
National Wildlife Refuge. The 5 minute news ‘exclusive’ was well-done
with a very good overview of the history of the condor recovery program
and the efforts there at Bitter Creek refuge. Our own Hi Mtn. volunteer
Marcelle Bakula also attended the release that day and made a written
report previously to this listserv.
This condor news segment will be repeating on KSBY-tv news airing
tonight -Nov. 10th - at 11pm. Wendy Thies also interviewed staff and
volunteers covering the Hi Mountain Lookout Project on KSBY-tv news in
June of 2005. We appreciate the news coverage.
Steve Schubert

Sunday, October 29, 2006

10-22-06 Condor Sighting

Last weekend, Oct. 21-22, I was at the lookout and received insane signals east of the lookout. I searched with my binos but no sign. So on Sunday, I thought maybe, just maybe I would see that bird. So on Sunday morning when I did the telemetry I did not recieve any signals…needless to say I was disappointed & thought I must have missed the bird. So I went about my daily activities and about 10:50 I was saying goodbye to a group of bikers, when out of the corner of my eye I saw something flying high above the lookout. So I ran upstairs grabbed my binos and sure enough there was a condor headingeast!!! I grabbed the telonix and of course it was the bird I was tracking on late saturday afternoon. The bird soared for about 6 min then it dropped below the ridge. At this point I lost visual but still picked up signals, the bird continued flying northwest, the signals
remained stong for roughly 10 minutes, then I started getting weaker signals until finally I lost the signal at 12:30. Although I only saw this amazing bird from a distance with my binos it was a wonderful experience I will never forget.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Lookout Project Donations- 2006

The following donations to the Hi Mountain Lookout Project have been received. Thank-you!
Supplies, Materials, and Labor:
Marcelle Bakula, Cambria
display board design and exhibit materials; business card design and xeroxing; Hi Mtn. hat design (for sale)
Jeff Osborne, San Luis Obispo
construction of natural rock and concrete water bars on the trail downslope to the outhouse (built with assistance from intern Kelly Biesen).
Brian P. Lawler, Cal Poly, SLO
2 labelled Hi Mountain panoramic photos (46 inches wide)

Paul Andreano, San Luis Obispo

payment of Hi Mountain Lookout website hosting and domain name annual fees; website design and management; display board design and exhibit materials; design of Hi Mtn. merchandise, ie. coffee cups, postcards and stationary, tee shirts, vehicle license plate brackets (for sale at website

Doug Stinson, San Luis Obispo

1 10×50 Bushnell binocular

Ted and Bonnie Pope, Wild Birds Unlimited, SLO

1 10×50 Bushnell binocular
Jim Duff, Pozo
provision of generator power each year for the annual open house evening speaker presentations; providing homemade pineapple upside down cake for dessert each year at the annual open house dinner!!
Financial donations:
Dave Richardson, Sylmar and Gretchen Keeler, Northridge
4th annual birdathon fundraiser…this one day birdathon and “Big Day” event held in April started at daybreak in the Mojave Desert and concluded in the evening on the Pacific coast. $976 was received from pledged sponsors.

Morro Coast Audubon Society Board of Directors and Cal Poly Biological Sciences Department

sponsorship and salary for 4 Cal Poly student interns, summer 2006

Donations to the project can be made by writing a check to:
‘MCAS Hi Mountain Lookout Project” and mailing to:
Morro Coast Audubon Society
Po Box 1507
Morro Bay, CA 93443-1507
Contributions are tax deductible under IRS Code 501(c)(3).
-Steve Schubert

2006 Open House Event

Hi all,
On Saturday, Oct. 14th, more than 60 people attended the 5th annual Hi Mountain Lookout Project open house event. Quite a diverse group, including staff, interns, and volunteers representing the California Condor Recovery Program from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Hopper Mountain and Bittercreek National Wildlife Refuges, the U.S. Forest Service at Los Padres National Forest, Pinnacles National Park, Ventana Wildlife Society, The Peregrine Fund Condor Project and Arizona Game and Fish Department, and of course, the Hi Mountain Lookout Project. Also attending were folks representing Morro Coast Audubon Society, California Audubon, Cal Poly Biological Sciences Department, Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, The Nature Conservancy, Friends of the Carizzo Plains, Channel Islands National Park, Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, Santa Barbara Zoo, and Cuesta College astronomers. Whew, quite a turnout (on a day with threatening stormy weather, but the day turned out nice), and a good time had by all. Check out the open house photos that Paul Andreano has been busy posting to the website at
Steve Schubert
Volunteer Coordinator, Hi Mountain Lookout Project

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Open House Birding Field Trip Report

Hi All,
At the Hi Mountain Lookout Project Open House event this past Saturday, Al Schmierer, field trip chair for Morro Coast Audubon Society, led a birding field trip from Hi Mountain downslope to Hi Valley, in the Santa Lucia Wilderness Area. Following is his field trip report:
Subject: eBird Report - Hi Mountain , 10/14/06
Location: Hi Mountain
Observation date: 10/14/06
Number of species: 35
Mountain Quail 20
California Quail 10
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
American Kestrel 2
Band-tailed Pigeon 8
Northern Pygmy-Owl 1
Vaux’s Swift 1
White-throated Swift 1
Anna’s Hummingbird 6
Acorn Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker 2
Western Scrub-Jay 4
Common Raven 3
Violet-green Swallow 200
Oak Titmouse 1
Bushtit 15
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Bewick’s Wren 6
House Wren 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Hermit Thrush 10
Wrentit 20
California Thrasher 5
Yellow-rumped Warbler 5
Spotted Towhee 7
California Towhee 8
Sage Sparrow 1
Fox Sparrow 60
White-crowned Sparrow 25
Dark-eyed Junco 14
Western Meadowlark 1
House Finch 6
Lesser Goldfinch 4
-Steve Schubert

Open House birding field trip numbers

Hi All,
At the Hi Mountain Lookout Project Open House event this past Saturday, Al Schmierer, field trip chair for Morro Coast Audubon Society, led a birding field trip from Hi Mountain downslope to Hi Valley, in the Santa Lucia Wilderness Area. Following is his field trip report:
Subject: eBird Report - Hi Mountain , 10/14/06
Location: Hi Mountain
Observation date: 10/14/06
Number of species: 35
Mountain Quail 20
California Quail 10
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
American Kestrel 2
Band-tailed Pigeon 8
Northern Pygmy-Owl 1
Vaux’s Swift 1
White-throated Swift 1
Anna’s Hummingbird 6
Acorn Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker 2
Western Scrub-Jay 4
Common Raven 3
Violet-green Swallow 200
Oak Titmouse 1
Bushtit 15
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Bewick’s Wren 6
House Wren 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Hermit Thrush 10
Wrentit 20
California Thrasher 5
Yellow-rumped Warbler 5
Spotted Towhee 7
California Towhee 8
Sage Sparrow 1
Fox Sparrow 60
White-crowned Sparrow 25
Dark-eyed Junco 14
Western Meadowlark 1
House Finch 6
Lesser Goldfinch 4

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Open House '06 Birding Trip

Sunrise from the top of Hi Mountain on Saturday was nothing less than spectacular! Only three of us showed up for the birding field trip to Huff’s Hole. The rest of you missed a fun walk!!
Among the 37 species:
About 200 VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS spent the morning around and sometimes well over the peak. There was 1 VAUX’S SWIFT and a few WHITE-THROATED SWIFTS also at the peak.
On the trail we heard ~10 MT QUAIL. only a few raptors, perhaps because of a lack of wind: RED-TAILED and COOPER’S. No TVs. In the oaks in Huff’s meadow area was a PYGMY OWL that wouldn’t let us alone! It posed in every nearby tree, sat right over our heads and called continually… and no camera.
FOX SPARROWS, mostly of the inland races, were abundant. Only 1 SAGE SPARROW; usually common there. And no Lawrence’s goldfinches; also usually common there.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bittercreek Release

Well, I feel SO lucky to have gotten to be at the “release” (not quite actually) of two juveniles . . .It was amazing and exciting and challenging . . . (I know all the Hopper folks were excited since it has been three years since the last release) I sent a few photos . . .Some are of Dan Tappe & the interns we met down there: Sean, Joe (Cal Poly) & Helen. Also, Wendy Thies & a cameraman were there to do a story for KSBY/NBC TV (to be aired in Oct or Nov) They will make a copy for Hopper of the piece when it’s all edited together . .. John was also doing interviews and will see if any newspaper or magazine wants his first person account of seeing the tagging & planned release . . .

I’ve enclosed a photo of their fly pen (it’s quite large and I think the Ventana one will bemodeled after it) Here’s how it went: Two biologists and two interns entered the fly pen - This of course, caused several of the birds to fly from one perch to another within the pen… They then determined which two male junveniles they wanted to capture. Meghan, Karinne & Kelly probably remember Sean (he was one of the interns at Hopper who had the scope for us to see the roosting condors when we arrived that evening) Anyway, he climbed up the side netting of the fly pen, literally pushed the juvenile off his perch and as he landed on the ground, Dan put a net over the bird. Then they secured the bird in a tight bundle and walked it over to another intern waiting to hold the body. Sean stayed on the head & beak, another intern held the feet . .They came outside of the pen and transferred the bird into a portable “kennel” (like a large dog-carrier) with towels draped over the open screen parts and placed it in the shade.

Then they repeated the capture of a 2nd male juvenile. This time they walked the 2nd bird straight over to a flat area behind a truck where they had a tarp laid down w/ their medical kits set up. Helen (who we also met from Hopper) sat in a chair & held the bird’s body. Sean (seen in pictures w/ pony tail) held the head/beak w/ another intern on the feet and Richard (Dan’s counterpart at Hopper) did the tagging (piercing was a little complicated as the punch didn’t go all the way through and the top & bottom holes can be hard to line up) After attaching the tags/transmitter, they drew blood and put into vacuum-sealed vials that went straight into a cooler . . .they’ll be sent to a lab for testing) Then the 2nd bird was done w/ Dan doing the blood draw and tagging and different interns helping. (one lucky intern was on her second day and this was her first live condor sighting! She was interviewed by Wendy)

One of the MOST thrilling parts for me this day . . .was that as it got to be around 9:30 or 10, as the thermals started, seven of the wild condors including AC-9 showed up and circled overhead, coming in low and landing on the top of the fly pen!!! They hung out there about 50 yards from where we all were: either handling condors or snapping photos watching, learning along w/ the interns learning how to do all the procedures in the briefest amount of time . . .I actually heard my first vocalization as one of the juveniles, complained hoarsely . . .

Then, when both birds were done, they carried them to a part of the pen that is separated from the rest of the pen. One intern (Joe) went into the blind and w/ all of us leaving the area and driving up to the ridge above. At that point all of the wild condors took off from the pen . ..later we could see them eating calf carcases at the feeding site across the canyon . . .When we were in position, via radio, Joe was told to open the “window” trap-door . . . . we watched from the ridge for about an hour (luckily I brought a huge bags of chips & salsa for the starving interns . . .ha,ha) but they just stayed in there on the ground. Later, the wild condors came back and landed back on top of the fly pen . . .

Finally, everyone needed to leave (the KSBY crew had to head back) and we all left. The plan was to leave the “door” open but close it at night. And perhaps put some food out for the next day & reopen the trap again today (Wed.) - I’ve asked Dan and Helen to let me know how it went. . . I hope they find their way out or perhaps, they’ll have to capture them again and take them up to the feeding site to release them . . .

PS Good news was that the CDF has told the Hopper staff that they CAN go back into Hopper (at least during the day) . . .Last week, when they went in, the chick was still doing ok in its cave/nest.

That’s it for now!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

5th Annual Open House and Campout- Event Schedule

Hi Mountain Condor Lookout Project 5th Annual Open House/ Campout
Saturday, October 14th, 2006
Schedule of Activities:

Birding Field Trip 8am-11:30am

Hi Mountain to Hi Valley, Santa Lucia Wilderness Area, Los Padres National Forest. Meet at Hi Mountain Lookout. Habitats: chaparral, blue oak woodland, riparian woodland, rocky outcrops. Strenuous hiking conditions and steep slopes. Bring water and snacks. Some poison oak along the trail. Advanced registration requested: contact Al Schmierer 805-772-2026

Arrival and set up for campers 11:30 – 1pm
Picnic lunch 12 noon - 1pm
Bring your own lunch. The Hi Mountain Lookout Interpretive Center will be open. Information fair with Natural history exhibits, booths, and Condor info. Please sign guest register. Raffle tickets, condor pottery, and Hi Mt. merchandise for sale.

Afternoon activities and field trips 1pm-late afternoon
Welcoming comments and introductions.
Morning birding field trip report by trip leader.
“Hi Mountain Lookout Project Year in Review” and recognition of staff, interns and volunteers- Steve Schubert, Volunteer Coordinator, Morro Coast Audubon Society and Paul Andreano, Project Volunteer.
“Updates on the Condor Recovery Program”- brief updates on 2006 recovery activities from Arizona and California agency staff.
Raffle drawing and fundraiser- prize donations. Event announcements.
“Geographical landmarks- a 360* view from the Pacific coast to the Sierras”- Kevin Cooper, U.S.F.S. Wildlife Biologist.
Condor radio tracking demonstration.
Volunteers training session, practicing with radio telemetry.
Natural history field trip: Geology, native plants and birding. Easy stroll along the ridge top road.
Late afternoon sit down chat with condor biologists and staff…reminiscing about experiences in ‘Condor Country’.
Sunset watch, dinner and socializing. Stove and oven heating are available at the lookout facilities. Participants are encouraged to bring a potluck dish to share. Note: no campfires are permitted for cooking or during the overnight campout, but small propane bar-b-ques are OK.
Evening guest speakers 7pm-??
California Condor research and recovery program topics:
“2006 Field Research Season Highlights”- A slide show and discussion by the 2006 Hi Mt. Interns.
“Arizona Condor reintroduction efforts”- A Powerpoint presentation by Chris Parish, The Peregrine Fund Condor Project Director.
“Lead reduction efforts in the Arizona range of the California condor”. A Powerpoint presentation and discussion by Kathy Sullivan, Condor Coordinator AZ Game and Fish Department.
“Telescope observations of the evening skies”- interactive astronomy presentation with Noll Roberts, a Cuesta Physics student in collaboration with GNAT (Global Network of Astronomical Telescopes).
Optional Hi Mountain Campout
Camping sites are available for Friday and/or Saturday nights for staff and volunteers at ‘Cypress Hill’ near the lookout. Other vehicle camping sites are located on the ridgeline near the entrance gate – views overlooking the Santa Lucia mountains and the coast - and at the U.S.F.S. Hi Mountain Campground, located one mile down the road from the lookout. Picnic tables and outhouses are at the campground- bring your own potable water.
For additional information about the open house event and driving directions to Hi Mountain Lookout, see our website at:
Driving directions and maps are at:
Download/print a copy of the event flyer (pdf) at:

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

5th Annual Open House Press Release

For Immediate Release
Hi Mountain Lookout 5th Annual Open House and Condor Campout October 14-15, 2006
The Hi Mountain Lookout (near Pozo) has been restored as a California Condor research and interpretive center. Come visit the Lookout and discover one of the world’s most endangered and largest birds, the California Condor. The day will include condor tracking demonstrations, native plant and birding walk, a geology talk, potluck dinner, evening slide presentations, guest speakers, and astronomy. Guests are invited to stay the night near the Lookout and take in the amazing views from the coast to the Sierras.
For an event schedule and driving directions to Hi Mountain
Lookout, visit or call Steve Schubert 805-528-6138

Saturday, September 9, 2006

"California Condors back"- by John FitzRandolf

Special to The SLO Telegram-Tribune by Hi Mountain volunteer John FitzRandolph
Posted on Sat, Sep. 09, 2006
For those keeping track of significant dates in California wildlife conservation history, mark April 19, 1987, in bright red ink.
On that day, the last free-flying Gymnogyps californianus — California Condor — was plucked from the wild and moved to a captive breeding program at the San Diego Zoo. Along with 26 other captured condors — all that remained from the estimated thousands who soared the western skies during the last Pleistocene epoch (ice age) 10,000 years ago — that last wild condor was knocking on extinction’s door.
Still, while North America’s largest birds, weighing up to 30 pounds with 91⁄2-foot wingspans, entered the boldest captive breeding program in U.S. history, high-visibility ornithologists, biologists and outdoor experts said it would never work.
Fortunately, those dissenters were wrong, and the condor has subsequently been resurrected, rolling away the stone of doubt for this and other endangered species.
Indeed, first-time visitors making the rocky 6-mile trek through the shallow Salinas River and up twisty Hi Mountain Road to the Hi Mountain Condor Lookout Project west of Pozo are discovering the California Condor Recovery Program is a sizzling success.
Let’s be clear: the chances of seeing a condor circling the Hi Mountain lookout site are slim, albeit the colossal birds do fly near the lookout on their pilgrimages between Big Sur/Pinnacles in Monterey County and Sespe Wilderness/Bitter Creek in Ventura County.
A pivotal point of the recovery effort is to encourage the condors to travel and socialize with other condors.
Biologists and Cal Poly interns use telemetry technology to track the condors’ movements, part of the Hi Mountain daily duties visitors can witness up close, as the birds fly, hang out and eat with other recently released condors.
Ultimately, the plan is for condors to cruise the state, find their own food, meet, mate, lay eggs, raise chicks and become prolific in the same way bald eagles re-emerged from near obscurity to their proud prolific population today. The Hi Mountain portion of that plan utilizes the combined resources of U.S. Forest
Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Morro Coast Audubon Society.
Meanwhile, tentative plans are under way to create a central feeding location in the Santa Lucia Wilderness in San Luis Obispo County; condors from around the state would congregate and share nutritious meals of stillborn calves and fresh-thawed raw rats, mice and rabbits.
(Yes, that’s what they are fed by field biologists in the four release areas.)
As for the current free- flying condors, 28 thrive in the Ventana Wilderness area, 13 call Pinnacles
National Monument home, 22 live in the Sespe Wilderness and Bitter Creek areas in Ventura County and around 60 are in the Grand Canyon area.
Visitors to the Hi Mountain Research & Interpretive Center — on the ground floor of the lookout — have access to an impressive collection of native animal specimens, a Condor egg, feathers and more.
And speaking of impressive, the vistas from 3,180-foot Hi Mountain Condor Lookout are certainly that. On a clear day, looking south, the eye takes in Lopez Lake, Pismo Beach, the Nipomo Dunes, Avila and more; looking west, Santa Margarita Lake is like a little pond in the distance; to the north, Black Mountain, the San Andres Fault (Temblor Range) and some days even the snow-capped High Sierra Mountains are visible.
For camping enthusiasts, the drive up Hi Mountain Road to the condor lookout leads to the U.S. Forest
Service Hi Mountain Campground; ten campsites offer fire rings and picnic tables; it’s first-come, first served and about a mile and a half below the lookout. Other nearby hiking trails and an invitation to the public to attend the Hi Mountain Condor Lookout Open House on Oct. 14 is available online at

Thursday, September 7, 2006


Hi all,
The past couple weeks at the lookout I haven’t tracked many condors in the area. I think I could count the number of signals I picked up on one hand. Although there were few condors in the area the past couple weeks, there were other guests of the lookout- furry ones. I finally saw some bears, two to be exact. They were scampering along Hi Mtn Road between the campground and the lookout, and of course I “heard” the bears later that night just outside the lookout! They were
magnificent creatures, but it was sad to see that they were probably attracted to the area by leftover trash from visitors at the campground below the lookout.
The next time any of you are up at the lookout keep an eye out for the bears near the campgrounds.
Stuart Vik

Monday, September 4, 2006

Last Weekend at Hi Mountain

So this past weekend was the end of my intern and as I drove away I left part of my summer behind. I would just like to say that Hi Mtn was an amazing opportunity and I’m so glad that I was able to partake in it. Ever since my first time to the lookout (fall 2005), I loved the views, the wilderness, and the actual lookout. This summer was a< blast! I’ve met a lot of really interesting/cool people. Whether it was condor biologists or condor visitors or just a drive by visitor, they all will be remembered as one of the best summers in my life. no joke.
I must say, even though I didn’t see any condors from the lookout, going to Hopper and Ventana reassured that what we did at Hi Mtn was an important part of the recovery program.
Highlights of Hi Mtn:
Bobcats running up the road, coyote at the base of the mtn, deer, poorwills at night, baby quail, dense fog setting of the smoke alarm, sitting in the rain collection tank because of the very hot weather, a hummingbird perched on the antenna while I was scanning for condors, hummers in the lookout, my dogs chasing each other around the outside of the lookout, the domestic cat, now named Condi and is doing well at the CP Cat Shelter, rattlesnake that Marcelle almost stepped on during orientation. That’s all I can think about for now.
Hi Mtn. and the experiences that came with it, will always be something I will never forget. As I head back to the East Coast for a mini vacation before school, I can’t wait to tell my family about condors and tell them my summer stories. I look forward to going back to Hi Mtn as much as possible and can’t wait for Open House.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Condors and Hi Mt. Interns

As a Hi Mtn volunteer, I wanted to give another perspective on this
summer’s interns & their visits to the two condor release sites . . .
First, I want to say that I think these trips are important since the
interns are tracking these birds every day and otherwise, might never
get to see them! The intern’s interaction with the field biologists and
the work they do to help the condors recover is valuable for them to see
the “real” lives of the people who are dedicated and working so hard to
have this program succeed.
Back at the beginning of July, Kelly, Meghan, Karine (Stuart was out of
town) & I drove down to visit Hopper Mountain. Dan Tappe of US Fish &
Wildlife Service was our “guide” - As soon as we arrived, we were able
to view roosting condors in snags - we were joined by one of their
interns who brought a scope and a group hiked down to get a closer look
- We stayed at the “ranch” with Dan & the three Hopper Mt. interns (one
coincidentally also from Cal Poly) and the next day toured the whole
site, visiting their empty fly pen (as their birds had been moved out to
Bitter Creek), catching views of Lake Piru, viewing a nest site w/ a
chick inside & parent(s) guarding outside! It was very thrilling and
Then, last week, Stuart, Meghan, Karine (Kelly is away), John (who wrote
the LA Times article about Hi Mtn last fall) and I went to meet Sayre
Flannagan at the Ventana Wildlife Society office at Andrew Molera State
Park in Big Sur. We met one of their interns, Joseph Brandt, (who is
just finishing his internship) and their brand new intern: Abbey.
We caravaned into the Ventana Wilderness for over two hours to find a
rustic “cabin” with a distant view of one of their condor feeding sites
(a scope allows for identifying the birds that visit that site). Joe
Burnett joined us and we spent time helping them clear brush from the
footprint of their new flypen. As Joe chainsawed more brush, the interns
dragged it, stacked it and got scratched up by ceonothus and madrone.
We enjoyed a meal together watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
The next day there was more clearning . . .with shoveling & raking to
help improve the road to the flypen. There were a couple of large
madrone stumps that needed clearing (Only one got successfully moved. .
.) We dug a trench and laid a water line. It was hot, dusty work with
pesky flies in your nose, mouth, eyes & ears . . .we all have bruises
and scratches but no one complained! The interns worked hard and I
think helped immensely (and John & I both wished we weren’t senior
citizens! My back still aches!)
We were all able to observe junvenile condors and mature condors
interacting, feeding, socializing and the interns “knew” the specific
birds that they had “tracked’ this summer!
I am most impressed that our Hi Mtn interns want to do this type of
selfless work to help wildlife and nature and that they had the
oppportunity to see such fine role models, dedicated and living the
lifestyle it takes to protect an endangered species.
I am grateful and humbled by all my experiences with the people who are
trying to make this recovery program work! Hope to see YOU all at the
Hi Mountain Open House Sat. Oct 14th so that you too can meet these
awesome people!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Week Trip

Just thought I would let everyone know that the Hi Mtn Interns had a blast at Ventana. I would just like to extend my thanks to everyone at Ventana for having us! Besides extremely bad poison oak and mosquito bites I had a lot of fun clearing brush in order for a new flight pen to be built. I found it amazing how we watched the sunset and ate every meal with condors near by. Hi mountain was the same, still no sight of condors. However, there was a baby coast horned lizard sitting on the wall along the driveway. It was so tiny and cute! That’s all I can think of for now.
Later, Meghan

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Condors and Cats

Hi all! I’ve just returned from my stay at the mountain and had a great time, as usual.
Seeing as how Kelly is off enjoying herself in Hawaii (taking classes of course) we had to do a bit of schedule flip-flopping and Joel was kind enough to take over Sunday at the lookout. Thanks for
everything! Monday was beautiful and a bit chilly which was a nice change. I’ve been hearing that condor activity tends to die down in August, but I was surprised to track quite a few of birds from all 3
stations. Stuart and I shared duties today and almost filled an entire telemetry sheet! Sadly no sightings. I’m beginning to think our group of interns won’t be lucky enough to see any at the lookout this season. At least we are welcome at Hopper and Ventana!
The cat, whom I’ve temporarily and affectionately named “Spike”, is doing well. She pops her head out from under the porch when I arrived and continues to ‘meow’ at my heels throughout the day. Stuart and I fed her cans of tuna and bowls of milk today. I really hope we can
find a home for her.
Not a lot of visitors over the past few days, aside from the 5-6 Pozo firefighters. They drove up this afternoon just to enjoy the view and learn a little more about what we do at the lookout. They all really enjoyed the visit and we told them they’re more than welcome to come back any time. Also, an older man drove up with his (I’m assuming) grandson or nephew. Apparently he came up to the lookout 6 months ago for a local Audubon event and wanted to return. It felt really comforting to have a fellow birder up there!
That’s all I’ve got. Can’t wait for our Ventana trip!

Another week and no Condors

But it’s okay. Karine and I, maybe Stuart, Marcelle, and John are going to Ventana next week to meet more people in charge of helping these awesome, majestic birds recover. Honestly, I can’t wait. One, I love Big Sur and two we’re going to help build a flight pen!
Update at the lookout: No sightings of condors, but I did see another Bobcat and a bunch of birds. The weather once again was weird and I’ve never been that cold in August before. I had at least 4 layers on and a ski hat! The fog was desne on friday and it finally cleared up on Saturday. I get excited everytime I track a new bird or ones that haven’t been tracked in awhile. When the same old birds are flying around and are being tracked, I always wonder when are they going to stop by Hi Mtn and pay us a visit.
Interesting story of the summer: Somehow a domestic cat has found it’s way to the lookout and is loving the attention. Chances are she was dumped off by some mean person and has managed her way into the lives of the interns. If anyone knows or wants an all black, very sweet, young cat, let me know asap. As of right now, I’m planning on taking her back to civilization on Sunday. I’m just too worried about mountain lions or bears, etc getting her. When she’s back in SLO, she’s going to be living at the Cal Poly Cat Shelter were she will have a very nice living space with other cats and volunteers that will love her. And yes it’s a no-kill shelter. Please let me know if anyone wants to adopt a cat.
I think that’s about it for now. I wonder what next week will bring???

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Summer 2006

This summer has been amazing! We started the summer with a trip to Hopper, where we saw about 10 Condors. This was amazing must of us had never seen a California Condor so it was a thrilling experience. The rest of the summer has been spent tracking these wonderful birds,
some days we get over 10 different signals, other days fewer but everyday is a new experience at the lookout. Although there has not been a Condor sighting at the lookout the sightings of other wildlife
are abundant. There have been sightings of Black Bears, Bobcats, Coyotes, Poorwill and a Golden Eagle to name a few. OF course there are the resident birds which include Dark-eyed Junco, Band-tailed Pigeon, California Towhee, Bewick’s Wren and Anna’s Hummingbird. The hummingbirds have been going crazy with about 20 or more visiting the lookout daily! NOt only is the lookout visited by wildlife but we have had many visitors over the past couple weeks including a group from
Pozo on the 4th of July, the Atascadero Fire Crew, a couple from Michigan and some kids from Napa Valley. All of the visitors have been extremely excited about Condors and the lookout.
The weather has been interesting as well. Some days it is so hot with temperatures in the upper 90’s and then just two days ago it was in the 60’s. This past weekend the humidity was over 85% and the fog was so thick you could only see for a 100 feet.

I hope everyone else is enjoying their summer as much as we are at the lookout!!
Take Care, Kelly

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Crazy July up at Hi Mt.

The month of July has been an exciting month for all the interns. We’ve been able to master the equipment, track condors successfully, and learn to manage life in the wilderness. So far we haven’t seen any condors hanging out by the lookout, but we’ve been tracking a lot of Pinnacle birds and a few from Hopper and Ventana. Hopper called us the other day, because they lost signals from another bird. We finally tracked the bird a few days later and everyone was very excited to hear the good news. The past weekends up at the lookout have been very hot and hardly any wind, the dogs don’t like this weather at all. Karine and I have made several trips down the mountain to the Forest Station to get ice in order to keep semi-cool. Then we stop by the creek and let the dogs go swimming for a while to cool off. Last weekend, what a change. I got up there on friday in shorts and a t-shirt. I later had to put on sweat pants and a thermal. Well, mother nature once again played a trick on me. It was only 65 and 35 mph winds. Later that day the fog blew in and set off the smoke alarm, because of the humidity. Needless to say I woke up the next morning and I couldn’t see no more than 150 feet because of the dense fog. No condors yet, but the other wildlife has kept us entertained for the time being. That’s it for now.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Hi Mt. Visit

Hi all,
I sent this out to some of you, here it is again. Good feedback for the project.
Date: Sat, May 27, 2006, 9:34pm Subject: A nice surprise!
I am an avid outdoorsman and Dual Sport motorcycle rider and would like to put in a good word for the volunteers who were working the lookout on May 27,2006. I was a first time visitor today and had no idea there would be anyone up here. Well I have to say that I was quite surprised to see someone here and was rewarded with a warm welcome and tour of the facilities. What a treat it was to be in such a remote and scenic area only to find such nice people as your volunteers were. I realize that
some hikers and bird watchers frown on the Dual Sport aspect but I must say that I was treated with a warm welcome and the hospitality was superb. I plan on bringing my wife and kids up to see the Lookout and will always extend my fullest courtesy to those on foot. Thanks Again for a great experience and best wishes.
Phillip Eubank

Hi Mt Visit

I am an avid outdoorsman and Dual Sport motorcycle rider and would like
to put in a good word for the volunteers who were working the lookout on
May 27,2006. I was a first time visitor today and had no idea there
would be anyone up here. Well I have to say that I was quite surprised
to see someone here and was rewarded with a warm welcome and tour of the
facilities. What a treat it was to be in such a remote and scenic area
only to find such nice people as your volunteers were. I realize that
some hikers and bird watchers frown on the Dual Sport aspect but I must
say that I was treated with a warm welcome and the hospitality was
superb. I plan on bringing my wife and kids up to see the Lookout and
will always extend my fullest courtesy to those on foot.  Thanks Again
for a great experience and best wishes.
Phillip Eubank

Saturday, May 13, 2006

10-Year Anniversary Event

Hello all,
Twenty-two people attended the Hi Mountain Lookout Project 10-year anniversary event. During the lunch break we were joined by another 15 who were attending the annual Pozo Wildflower Weekend field trip.
Special guest Don Parham shared his recollections of the 1970*s Huff*s Hole peregrine falcon nest watch. Hi Mountain Lookout was staffed by volunteers from Morro Coast Audubon Society, working several day shifts, observing and protecting the endangered peregrine site each nesting season before the USFS fire lookout would come on duty. It was great to have Don make a visit again after all these years!
We also appreciated an update on the condor recovery program and recent events at Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, presented by USFWS biologist Dan Tappe.
It was a good day to be up on the mountain!
-Steve Schubert