Monday, October 7, 2013

Open House Photos!

Thanks to Steve Schubert for taking a bunch of photos of the 12th Annual Open House event. If you have photos from the weekend you'd like to share, please email them to!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Open House will still be this Saturday!

There are some issues impacting the open house event this Saturday because of the government shutdown and our event almost got cancelled, but we are still on!!

Hi Mountain Campground is closed to all public access and no camping allowed, so all camping this Saturday night will be at 'Cypress Hill' by the lookout.

No campfire permits can be purchased so that means that not even backpacking or camping stoves will be allowed for use, but folks are encouraged to heat their food using the gas stove inside the lookout.

No smoking. Fire danger will be severe, with warm temp. and offshore winds predicted.

We must lock up the lookout/gates and vacate fairly early Sunday morning. The gate before the campground is being kept open for our event, but will get locked after we are out. We will need some volunteer help from those camping out with locking things up.

Please help out with forwarding this information to your friends, colleagues and guests to help get the word out. Thanks!! See you there!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

12th Annual Open House 2013 Event Schedule!

Hi Mountain Condor Lookout Project
  12th Annual Open House/ Campout
Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Note: The open house event at Hi Mountain Lookout formally begins at 12:30pm, with introductions, condor program updates, lookout tours, guided field trips, potluck dinner, evening program presentations, star gazing, and an optional overnight campout. Visitors will find parking available close to the lookout throughout the day. 

For additional information about the open house event and driving directions to Hi Mountain Lookout, see our website at   View photos of past open house events and ‘like’ our Hi Mountain Lookout facebook page at

Please RSVP if you are planning to attend the open house event and the number of people in your group by contacting Steve Schubert at or phone # (805) 528-6138

Birdwatching field trip   9:00am - 11:30am   
Pozo to Hi Mountain (elev. 3,199 ft), Santa Lucia Mountains, Los Padres National Forest
Meet 9am at Pozo Ranger Station. Field trip participants are encouraged to arrange car pooling from Pozo.  Car stops along Hi Mountain Rd. – short, easy hiking conditions.
Habitats: grassland, riparian woodland (at Salinas River crossing), oak woodlands & chaparral
Field trip leader: Mike Stiles, President, Morro Coast Audubon Society
NOTE: advanced registration is required for participation in the birding field trip
Register with Steve at or phone # (805) 528-6138

Schedule of activities at Hi Mountain Lookout:

Kids activities - ongoing, beginning 11:00am 
Condor biology and radio tracking demonstrations, making plaster-of-paris animal tracks, afternoon nature hike and birdwatching on the lookout road

Picnic lunch 11:30am–12:30pm   (bring your own lunch) 
-tour the Hi Mountain Lookout facilities and Interpretive Center
- sign the guest register

Welcoming comments   12:30pm

Introductions of Hi Mountain Lookout staff, volunteers, and college student interns
Steve Schubert, Lookout Project Volunteer Coordinator, Morro Coast Audubon Society, Kevin Cooper, Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Forest Service & Dr. Francis Villablanca, Professor, Cal Poly Biological Sciences Department

Morning birding field trip report by trip leader
Mike Stiles, President, Morro Coast Audubon Society

Updates on the California Condor Recovery Program
Condor staff 

Condor radio tracking demonstration
Hi Mountain Lookout volunteers

Note: Those interested in becoming new volunteers for the lookout project are encouraged to meet with our staff to arrange future training for condor radiotelemetry, facilities use, and scheduling

Auction of donated items and merchandise sales – Lookout Project annual fundraiser    1:00pm

Afternoon activities and field trips:

Geographical landmarks - a 360 degree view from the Pacific Coast to the Sierra Nevada - and demonstration of the original Hi Mountain Lookout firefinder
Kevin Cooper, USFS Wildlife Biologist

2:00 pm  
Native plant identification walk along the crest of the Santa Lucia Mountains on Hi Mountain Road
Leader: Dr. Dirk Walters, San Luis Obispo Chapter, California Native Plant Society

3:00 pm 
Meet on the lookout catwalk – birding by ear (songs and call notes) and watch for raptors in flight
Steve Schubert, Morro Coast Audubon Society

Sunset watch and dinner   6:00-7:00pm

Saucelito Canyon Vineyard &Winery wine serving, compliments of Nancy and Bill Greenough, owners

Gas stove and oven in the lookout facilities are available for cooking and heating food.
Participants are encouraged to bring a potluck dish to share with their friends and guests.

Note: no campfires are permitted for cooking or the overnight campout.

Evening programs   beginning 7:00pm (wear layered clothing)
Popcorn and refreshments will be served!

PowerPoint slide show presentations:  

7:00 – 7:10pm
The 2013 Perseid meteor shower, photographed from the lookout by astrophotographer Tom Lott

7:10 – 7:30pm
Fire Ecology in SLO County (the 1994 Hwy. 41, 1996 Hwy. 58, and 2012 Montana De Oro fires), presented by Steve Schubert, Hi Mountain Lookout Project Volunteer Coordinator

7:30 – 8:30pm
Movie: The Condor’s Shadow, a year-in-the-life film on the California condor recovery program, presented by documentary filmmaker Jeff McLoughlin.  See website at

Astronomy observations
Telescopic observations of the evening skies

Optional Hi Mountain campout

Camping sites are available Saturday night at ‘Cypress Hill’ near the lookout. Other vehicle camping sites are located on the ridgeline near the entrance gate on Hi Mountain Rd., with a view overlooking the mountains and coast, and also at the USFS Hi Mountain Campground located one mile down the road from the lookout. There are picnic tables and outhouses at the campground.  Bring your own potable water.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Summer Interns' End of Season Report, 2013

Our point count data collection went smoothly; poison-oak proved to be the greatest hurdle as we climbed and crawled through it all summer to find our GPS coordinates. We saw some amazing birds this summer. Our most commonly recorded species were Mourning Doves, Acorn Woodpeckers, and Wrentits to name a few. We all had our favorite birds picked out when our bird data collection came to an end. 

Then it was on to vegetation data collection. It was not as enthralling as the bird data collection but we got very familiar with the common native (and  non-native) plants in the area. We hiked back to each GPS location and  recorded information on the plants that existed 25 meters in four directions from the GPS location center, North, East, South, and West. This data allows us to understand the vegetation composition of each area where birds are detected. This  valuable data will be used by the US Forest Service and by students at Cal Poly for senior and independent projects concerning which species occur in which habitat/ vegetation types. 

Even for the vegetation work, we hiked early in the morning to beat the heat. After our morning of hiking, our downtime consisted of working together on some puzzles, reading, playing cards, sun bathing (if we could stand it), and telemetry for tagged condors. We got a few beeps on the
telemetry receiver towards the Pinnacles National Monument which was exciting! 

With the fire danger in the area reported as "extreme", we also reported a couple fires! We worked hard through the summer heat and recently completed our work at the lookout, setting a record for the fastest intern group to finish the necessary data collection. 

We had so much fun working up at Hi Mountain this summer and are looking forward to more visits, especially the open house! We hope to see some or, even better, all of you there! 

Yours in birding, Summer 2013 Hi Mountain Interns Jackie, Shane, Desiree, EB, Sophie, and Adam

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Interview with Mike Tyner's brother Tim Skeens

Photo courtesy of Ventana Wildlife Society
On May 19, 2012, a memorial gathering was held at the Hi Mt. Lookout to celebrate the life and work of our dear friend Mike Tyner. A number of Mike's family members were in attendance that day, and Hi Mt. volunteer John Fitzrandolph sat down with Mike's brother Tim Skeens to ask him a few questions about Mike's life.

John recently found the recording he made of the interview, and thought it might be something Mike's friends would enjoy hearing. Mike's family has given their blessing to share it with the world via this website. Tim has a great speaking voice, and he shares some wonderful and poignant insights.

We hope that Mike's story will continue to inspire and uplift both those who knew him, and those that have only heard of him. Thanks to Tim Skeens, Nancy Tyner, and John Fitzrandolph for making it possible to share this interview.

You can listen to a web stream of the interview here:

Or, you can download the interview as an mp3 podcast (13mb) from this link.