Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Telemetry Team covered the Peninsula, South Bay and the East Bay today, with no further signals picked up from Paula.  It was a good effort to try to locate Paula, but Paula was able to avoid detection.  Mike took home a set of equipment and will see if she might pop up in the next few days.

Paula's story is rather short.  She was picked up on Monday by Brian Smucker's banding team at POAK blind. She headed down to her evening roost near Kirby Cove.  On Tuesday she began her Tour of the Headlands, which turned out to cover the western edge of the Marin Headlands and then headed into the Rodeo and Gerbode Valley.  The Teams found her Wednesday morning near the Visitor's Center and moved in closer to cover the Southern Headlands with Phil up on Hawkwatch to cover the Gate..  By early afternoon, Phil reported that Paula headed southward and crossed the Gate.  Mike stayed up by the Vortac and recorded her disappearing signal, while three teams tried to pick up her signal in San Francisco and down the Peninsula. Teams spent Thursday trying to relocate her, but it was not to be.  And that is it.  The teams will take a break, and see if we are able to go with another bird next week, or in early November.

Posted by Lynn Jesus

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Today we ended up with four teams.  It was not by design, but rather by timing.  Eileen and Brian co-team leaders were all set to go and ended up at a local highpoint near Tennesse Valley, called County View Rd.  Barb and Ron headed for the side of Mt. Tam, the northernmost team.  Mike and Brian were suppose to locate the morning roost.  Mike arrived early and located Paula just below the Visitor Center right in the valley, near Rodeo Lagoon.  How convenient.  Mike headed up to the Vortac, and when Phil arrived at 1064 he didn't know where Mike was, so he picked up the extra set of equipment (Team 4), and headed out on his own to locate Paula.  Phil then spent a couple of hours keeping track of Paula's location within the valley.  Up to the youth hostel, down to the visitor center.  Over the past two days, Paula took a complete tour of the Marin Headlands.

Early in the afternoon, Eileen and Brian left County View and joined Phil in the valley, with Paula.  Phil headed up to the Hawkwatch area.  Eileen and Brian continued the tour of the Headlands until...... Paula headed south!  Tour Over!

Phil recorded Paula's southward flight, while Mike, still near the Vortac remained in place recording the fading signal.  Eileen and Brian, and Ron and Barb headed south, soon to be followed by Phil.  Kind of nice to have four teams all in gear.  But, the results for the afternoon were a lot of miles covered along the Peninsula, but no further beeps from Paula.  The four teams met for dinner in San Francisco, and set out their plans for tomorrow.  Will they be able to pick up the signals from this small transmitter.  Phil is betting they will! Phil will be off, and Sandra will be coming on for her first day tracking a real, moving bird.  Will she get to hear the beep, beep, beep.

Only three teams will be out tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 20.  Will Paula succeed in hiding out, or did she pick up speed and head south quickly.  We'll know more of the story by Thursday evening.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016.

Day Two with Paula in the Headlands.

Paula spent last night near Kirby Cove.   The teams were able to locate her this morning, and she spent the day doing a slow tour of the Headlands.  She followed the shoreline westward towards Pt. Bonita, and continued the tour ending up in Gerbode Valley.

The team on the San Francisco shoreline (Mike Hall, solo) actually was the first team to check in on Paula, just after sunrise. Barb and Ron then spent most of the day, close in on the bird.  Meanwhile, Libby and Michelle were perched on the side of Mt. Tamalpais, only picking up minimal signals.

 Remember, one important part of the study, is to test the range on the smaller transmitter we're using. Paula seems too be very cooperative, so far.  But one day she is going to take off, and that will be the real test of the small transmitter.  Come on Paula, the clock is ticking.  We have a few more days of teams who want to follow you.  The weather is beautiful, so fly.  Fly away!

Monday, October 17, 2016

The sky was beautiful this morning.  No rain, a little wind and some poofy white clouds.  What a change.  Okay, so this is the day we are going to get our bird!  I had to watch from afar, while the Telemetry Team waited at Bldg 1064.  The banders were out in the blinds doing their thing, and we all just waited.  Late morning, and we heard from Brian Smucker, both a bander and a telemetrist, that they had caught an adult Cooper's Hawk.  Our study was for juvenile Cooper's Hawks, but it was so tempting to go with the adult.  However, an important part of the study was not just whether we could track with a smaller transmitter, but it was also to compare the behavior of the prior 15 juvenile Cooper's Hawks to the new bird we were waiting for.  With much anxiety, it was decided to wait for a juvenile.  The weather was beautiful, and surely there were hungry juvenile coops out there.  Right??

And then the call came!  The banders have a juvenile Cooper's Hawk for us.  Thank Goodness.  Doubt had been festering in my mind.  Did we do the right thing, by not taking the adult?  Would the adult be the only bird the banders would see today? No, surely the sky would be full of accipiters on such a beautiful day...... especially after the heavy rains for the past days.  How am I going to confidently justify passing over the adult?  And a loop of "A Bird in Hand is Worth Two in the Bush", kept playing over and over in my internal voice.

I will have more details later this evening, but for now I know the bird has been named "Paula", and she settled down on the south edge of the Headlands, overlooking the Golden Gate, between Kirby Cove and Pt. Bonita.  The San Francisco team (Libby and Michelle) and the FM Tower team (Phil, solo) both had the signal from time to time, while team #2 (Theresa and Nick) stayed with the bird.

Today, was a Great Day!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Another wet, windy day.  Well, today breaks the record for cancellations.  The banders did their morning chores, and went home.  There was no hope for them to be able to entice a Cooper's Hawk from the sky.  Rain, and wind and dense fog obscured the entire sky.

So when the banders go home, so do the waiting telemetry team.  Maybe the sky will clear for tomorrow.  The weatherman seems to think a change is in the wind.

Saturday, October 15, 2016. First Day of Tracking Season

I can't say first day of tracking, because there was no tracking. There was no bird to track.

 A wet storm spoiled the day for both banders and trackers.  The banders headed up to the blinds, while the Telemetry Team waited down at Building 1064 doing final preparation.  Permits needed to be placed into Team binders, and Libby and Theresa reviewed transmitter application instructions.  Trackers are ready to hit the road.  But midday the banders gave up.  Wind, heavy fog and mist ended their day, which ends the day for the Telemetry Team.  And after the banders gave up, the weather turned even more blustery.  The Telemetry Team left 1064 and will return tomorrow at 9 am.

Written by Lynn Jesus

October 2, 2016

We had training for all apprentices and returning trackers today.  Libby Rouan was in charge of the day and everything went really well. Many of last year's apprentices came back for a refresher course in the morning.  And in the afternoon, we switch gears to Advanced Tracker Training.  Thanks, Libby, for a great training day.

Step Wilson, Telemetry Manager, came by to give "official" guidance. James Raives, Theresa Rettinghouse, and Mike Hall helped Libby.  And, I, Lynn, added my two cents worth, and did a presentation on Cooper's Hawks' Movements (from tracking in the mid-1990s).   And, of course, all of the experienced folks added their two cents, as well.  What a great group of volunteers!

This year we're going to return to tracking Cooper's Hawks.  The 15 Cooper's Hawks that we tracked in the mid-90s showed us a very diverse track of movements.  North all the way to Shasta, and East to the rough wilderness just west of Lake Tahoe.  South?, you say?  No, not unless you believe that Half Moon Bay is south!  Or La Grange, CA.  A line between Half Moon Bay and La Grange would created the most southern that any of our coops traveled.  This was truly a Northern California story.  Why didn't any of our birds go South?  Always more questions......

We've got two weeks to get everything ready, and things are looking pretty good. We will be testing some smaller transmitters, and their range will be much more limited than we're used to using.  Will we be able to track, at all, with the smaller transmitters?  It will be both exciting and challenging.  We'll start on October 15, and see where the Coops will take us this year.