September 30, 2013

Today we had three full teams of trackers ready to follow Kachina southward.  The teams were in position and waited for the heavy fog to lift, allowing "K" to lift off and fly.  The Headlands team sat under the cover of Bill's SUV's lift door, and waited and waited.  The East Bay team were eventually in the clear, as was the team to the south.  Unfortunately, the fog never lifted in the Headlands.  Wet and drippy, right to the ground.  With concern for the status of the bird, by late afternoon Bill and Steppe walked the roads and trails surrounding the willow forest and received a stationary and consistent signal.  Was Kachina okay, hunkered down in the willows?  By late afternoon, all of the teams were called into the Headlands since there was no hope that Kachina would move that late in the day.  Hopefully, the fog would clear in the morning so that the migration towards Central and South America could continue.  We get quite nervous when a species which is truly "migrating" remains in the SF Bay Area too long.

Along with concern for Kachina, was concern for our entire program.  Washington's impasse loomed.  The updates all afternoon were first encouraging and then dire.  By late afternoon, we were told that all "Volunteer" programs were stopped due to the government shutdown in Washington, DC.  No compromise.  No way.  No waivers. No wiggle room.  What if we stay off Federal lands?  What if we stay out of State Parks?  No, no, no.

A Broad-winged Hawk's "trip" from the Bay Area to the Mexican Border, normally takes 4 travel days (based purely on our own findings).  We are the only group, anywhere, monitoring HOW Broadwings move through California.  Yes, we do it the "old" way, the "hard" way, using human volunteers who are passionate about raptors.  But our results are detailed. We know how early they rise in the morning and when they settle down for the evening.  We know the ridges and valleys that they use.  We know how far apart their roost sites are located. To be told to abandon our Broadwing was a punch in the gut. How senseless and heart-wrenching.   So, for the time being, there is no GGRO Radio-telemetry Team; just some passionate individuals.

So, there will be no more postings to this Blog from the GGRO Radio-telemetry Program regarding Kachina.  We expect by the time Washington settles down to do their business,  Kachina will be across the border.

Sept. 29, 2013

Telemetry Team Tracks Another Broadwing

With a quick call from Buzz at Hawk Blind, we were in motion.  The banders at Hawk Blind had a new Broad-winged Hawk for us track.  Forced into the 21st century by all my "smarty phone" trackers, I picked up MY new smarty phone and sent out a text to the team.  Sure, Bill was out on the Bay shepherding swimmers and Libby was riding her mountain bike over the San Mateo ridges.  Sure, we could do this. 

So, while David and I headed to the Headlands, and all of the other trackers put their lives on hold and headed to join us, I kept my fingers crossed that everything would work out. Sure, we could do this.

And we did, and it all went well.  Buzz met us at the road with "Kachina".  We headed to the office where we met the rest of the team, who one by one arrived to pick up equipment, load their cars and proceed to their assigned highpoint.

Kachina spent the first night in Rodeo Valley, across from the stables.  Will Kachina follow the lead of Zoe (1994), and Marathon (2012) and take four travel days to reach the Mexican Border?  The next four days will tell.  Stay tuned for daily updates of the teams' and Kachina's story.

Still in Bodega!

The trackers were out in the stormy weather all weekend keeping track of Echo.  He was active during breaks in the storm but did not make any major moves.  He stayed in the same area north of Bodega Highway and west of Joy Road.  Now that the skies have cleared and the wind has calmed down, perhaps Echo will leave the area. 

Echo is in Bodega!

On Friday, the teams pinpointed Echo's location to Bodega Road near the town of Bodega.  He was stationary due to the rain.  Hopefully the weather will clear enough for him to move!  Thanks to the trackers for keeping on the bird in such wet windy weather!

Echo moves further north!

The teams did not have great signals from Echo yesterday, but what beeps they did hear indicated that he was drifting slowly to the northwest, likely ending up somewhere near Occidental for the evening.  Thanks to the teams for braving the terrible weather to track Echo! (Photo by Jim Garlock.)

A break in the storm allows Echo to fly!

Echo did not go very far upon his release on Tuesday afternoon - he headed straight for the eucalyptus grove on Wolfback Ridge in the Marin Headlands and settled in for the evening.  However, at 9am on Wednesday, the teams could not get his signal!  It seems he had hunkered down to wait out the storm.  As the skies cleared just before noon, Echo popped up and the teams were able to pick up his signal!  He drifted slowly north, ending the day west of Novato, near Stafford Lake.  As the next storm rolls in, the telemetry trackers are listening to see where Echo goes next.  His estimated locations will be added to the map here:  Photo of intern Heather with Echo just before his release from Hawk Hill on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Peter Sapienza.)

Late Season Tracking Begins!

"Echo" the juvenile male Red-tailed Hawk was caught in the Marin Headlands this afternoon!  He was small but healthy, and released from Hawk Hill at 3:38 this afternoon.  Hopefully he can get moving out of the area before the storms hit, but we will have to wait and see!  Check back for updates and some photos.