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!