How time flies, when we're ............ you know how it goes! Well, I'm not exactly having fun working on permits, phone lists, organizing work days and trainings; but soon it will be more exciting and rewarding, when all of this is behind us and we're ready to hit the tracking road. Yes, it's time to start gearing up for a new year of tracking raptors throughout California. We've got a great group of apprentices to train, and a terrific group of dedicated trackers. Trackers who will go to the ends of the earth...... or almost. Each year we add to our knowledge base of how raptors move through California. We'll be starting with a stand-by period ~September 20, waiting for a Broad-winged Hawk to stop by for a transmitter. And then, hopefully, the teams will follow the hawk southward, to the Mexican Border. Will he/she follow the ways of Zoe and Marathon and head for Tecate, or will the hawk stick to the coast all the way to the border? We hope to find out during the next month. Stay tuned for the real story.
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.
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.
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.
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!