Diana Checks Out Phil and Megan, Nov. 16, 2011

Phil captured this image of Diana as she flew directly above them. 
If you look closely, you can even see the thin antennae protruding beyond the center of the tail.

Wednesday, Nov. 16 -- Eureka, We've Found Her


Phil and Megan ventured through the gate off Sanford Rd. and walked about 1/2 mile into the Laguna de Santa Rosa Preserve.  Diana flew towards them and perched atop an old telephone pole.  Diana then flew and soared, finally stopping at a big old oak tree.  As soon as possible I'll post a great picture of Diana as she flew directly above the team.  Confirmation that Diana is alive and well in the Laguna de Santa Rosa.

Tuesday, Nov. 15 -- Zipped to San Andreas Lake

This afternoon Larry "zipped" down to San Andreas Lake to check on Coco.  Coco had moved slightly!  Coco is now at the north end of San Andreas Lake.  If you recall, Coco was last located towards the south end of the lake, close to Crystal Springs Reservoir.  San Andreas Lake is approximately 3 miles in length, so when Coco travels from one end to the other, it is not exactly a marthon effort. Our Lake Bird seems very content. 

Another storm is headed into Central California.  Willl either of our birds move?  Or, are they both happy in their chosen homelands?

Monday, Nov. 14 -- She Seems to Like the Area

Yes, two teams went out today to check on Diana.  I got a call from Larry about mid-morning.  Something about moving to winery tasting rooms.  I don't know if he meant Diana, but she's underage, so I hope she's not hanging around the tasting rooms.  So, that means that Larry and Katie must be hanging around some wineries. I checked on the DeLorme (map) and see grapes decorating the area near Vine Hill and Guerneville Rd just north of Diana's last known location (Sanford near Occidental Rd.).   I'll have to assume that is their location. [Larry has a way of locating wineries which are situated in a perfect spot from which to take bearings.  Years ago he and Phil perched for hours on the grounds of the Mt. Aukum Winery]  Back to Diana....

Bill was south of Larry's team.  The two teams determined that Diana is well, and moving around the same Laguna de Santa Rosa area. She may have moved as far as 2 miles northward (toward the wineries), but by the end of the day she was back near Occidental and Sanford.  Tomorrow, or Wednesday maybe someone will venture into the preserve.  We certainly don't want to disturb Diana, but it would be nice to have a visual.

Sunday, Nov. 13 -- We Doubled Our Chances....

As we discussed yesterday, we split the tracking teams in order to double our chances of having a moving bird.  Larry and Katie headed to San Andreas Lake, Coco's last known location, and found he had moved!  Yes, he moved ever so slightly southward to the area between San Andreas Lake and Crystal Springs Reservoir.  He was very easy to locate.

And back up near Sebastopol, Diana remained in her same location.  Everyone is reporting that the signal is "different", in that the volume changes quickly, but she does appear to be moving.  A creek runs through the area and perhaps her signal is bouncing or being carried along the creek.

The plan for tomorrow is to concentrate on Diana and to try to determine what she is doing.  Access to the area is limited, but Bill is going to try to use his charms to gain access.  The season is definitely winding down with two birds that appear to be stationary.

Saturday, Nov. 12 -- It's a Nice Day to Fly

The weather was beautiful today.  Nice flying weather, indeed.  However, Diana again spent the day doing local movements around the golf course and Laguna de Santa Rosa.  It is nice redtail territory, but trackers need something to track.  Otherwise, we would call ourselves, "Monitors". 

Other than Diana's local movements, and strange signals that are one moment soft and then loud, and the predominantly vertical signals that we get.... the teams have little to report on Diana.  No Visuals!

The teams that stay overnight in Santa Rosa, did report police action at the hotel around 2 AM.  Wonderful! A good night's sleep interrupted for about a half hour while the police quieted the party going on upstairs.  Diana was not there.

Tomorrow the teams will try to double their chances of tracking a moving hawk.  One team will head down to check on Coco.  Will he still be at San Andreas Lake?  Will he have decided to move on?  Will he be gone?  Meanwhile, the other two teams will stay with Diana.

Friday, 11-11-11 -- Diana Moves--- (well, sort of)

Diana was up and moving today, but ended the day right back in the same general location near Laguna de Santa Rosa and the nearby golf course.  All of her movements were strictly local.  We did have some strange signals today, though.

Stay tuned to see what will happen tomorrow.  Will Diana resume her flight northward?  We know she did a good move northward on release day.... Wednesday.  And yesterday it rained; and, as anticipated, she stayed put.  Or.....will we end up with two stationary birds?

Thursday, Nov. 10 -- Teams Zero In On Diana

The teams headed to their morning positions: Cheryl and Mike to Sonoma Mt., Larry to Mt. Burdell, while Phil and Ron would be a traveling team, "on the bird", if they could just zero in on Diana's location.  At 7:30, the Sonoma Mt. team sent out a page with Diana's bearing which meant that Phil and Ron could try to get closer.  Indeed, at 9:20 from Two Rock, they reported, "Visual!" [The teams carry old-fashioned pagers and are able to send out 20-digit codes which can report bearings, movements, visuals, or problems.  It's antiquated, but it works to let everyone know what is going on with each team.]  Success! Diana is found!

For the remainder of the day, the two highpoint teams have cross-bearings and the team "on the bird" is indeed able to keep up with Diana.  In fact, they have another "Visual" of her just before noon in a riparian area west of Rohnert Park.  Around 1 PM Diana began drifting to the NW and followed the riparian corridor of Laguna de Santa Rosa.  Following the other teams crossed-bearings, the team relocated Diana in the northern end of Laguna de Santa Rosa a "really fabulous, really cool area and right next door to the Laguna Foundation office."  To see more go to LagunaFoundation.org. 

Phil's End-of-Day message ended with, "So, it was some really cool tracking, 2 visuals and all worked well."

Wednesday, Nov. 9 -- Goodbye Coco, Hello Diana

Two teams met at San Andreas Lake to monitor Coco, while Larry and Ron headed to the GGRO Headquarters to be prepared to put a transmitter on our next tracking bird..... if the banders are able to provide one.  [Phil reported in the End-of-the-Day Message that "we likely had a visual.  Coco seemed quite content."]

I've been reminding the Banding Dayleader, David (aka my husband), that we would really like a new bird today; so the banding team was ready and very willing to provide one.  Bingo... before 10:30 POAK blind called the telemetry team saying that they may have our bird.  First checked for health, and feather condition, it looked like we had a new, juvenile redtail to track.  Gender?  They still had to check.  Weight was >1200 grams.... (much larger than Coco's 800+), and the tarsus measurement confirmed that we had a big, beautiful, female RT to track.  Now to come up with a name.... a "D" name.  Hawkwatchers, banders and office staff offered ideas, some good, some not-so (sure Dumbo knew how to fly, but we are NOT naming this bird Dumbo!). Delilah had several votes, and then Cheryl (long time tracker out at San Andreas Lake with Coco) suggested 'Diana the Huntress'.  Ah, a dignified, appropriate name for a hunter!

So, two teams re-positioned themselves for the release of Diana with one team to the south on San Bruno Mt., and the second on San Pablo Ridge in the East Bay.  Down at Building 1064 Larry applied the transmitter, and then he and Ron headed up to Hawk Hill to release Diana.  And she's off.  Almost immediately, she began flying NORTH!  The team on San Bruno had early bearings then lost the signal.  Larry and Ron were the traveling team, trying to keep up with Diana.  Cheryl (Queen of San Pablo Ridge) clicked off the bearings through Mill Valley, Larkspur, San Rafael and northward.  Diana was rapidly flying northward through Marin Co. [Phil's message that evening included "The San Pablo team kept us in the game."]

Phil and Mike headed from San Bruno Mt. to Mt. Burdell..... one giant leap.  Upon arriving, they picked up a loud, strong signal and determined that Diana was still to the northwest of them!  Then the signal was lost.  It was after 4 PM, so Diana probably just moved locally perhaps settling down for the evening.  The teams tomorrow will have to zero in on her location.

So, two birds in one day.  The transition to a new bird went great.  And at the end of the day the teams have moved through five counties.... but they've kept up with Diana.

Tuesday, Nov. 8 -- "Coco Must Really Like This Place"

Coco spent the entire day at San Andreas Lake.  This is the same location since Saturday.  In the End-of-the-Day Message, Bill James said, "Coco must really like this place."  Larry has wondered whether this is a good place for a red-tailed hawk, since it's coastal chaparral with lots of shrubs and a few trees.  We're so used to seeing redtails hunt over more open lands that this kind of habitat doesn't fit our image of good redtail country.  In talking with Buzz (GGROResearch Director), he commented that sometimes we do not remember the wide variety of prey that redtails are looking for.  Sure, they like ground critters, but they also take small birds; and chaparral is full of small birds.  We've tracked many redtails who flew right past this location... and kept going.  To each, his own.

After a tracked bird remains in the same location for a fourth day, we declare it a stationary bird, and seek to move on to a new bird.  So, we'll leave Coco to his chosen home..... by the way, he's our first "Lake Hawk"..... and tomorrow we'll ask the banders to provide a new subject.  There's a storm headed our way, so we hope we can get another raptor before the rains arrive.  Meanwhile, we'll leave two teams with Coco until we get the call that we have a new bird.

Monday, Nov. 7 -- The Sun Comes Out

Finally the skies cleared, the sun came out and it warmed up a bit.  All right, Coco, let's fly.

With all the teams again in position on San Bruno Mt., Black Mt., and one team "on the bird" we're ready to track.  We're back to nice weather..... good flying weather....... nice tracking weather.  But by the end of the day, Coco remained on the western side of San Andreas Lake.  Yes, he's occasionally up and flying around, but he never goes far.  Has Coco found his place in the world? 

The teams are getting antsy.

Phil Capitolo Tracks Coco, 11-4-11

Sunday, Nov. 6 -- Another Gray Day

The weather didn't improve much today, and Coco stayed put.  Being on a mountain top is not enjoyable for man (or woman) or hawk when the weather is cold and gray and windy and drippy; but, that describes the weather on Sunday.  Two teams were station on mountain tops; one on San Bruno Mt. and the second on Black Mountain which is farther down the Peninsula.  The third team was "on the bird", which in this case means that they were across the lake from Coco, near Hwy 280. They had difficulty getting a clear bearing, since the signal seemed to be all around them.  That was probably due to bounce off the surrounding hills, as well as the signal spreading out across the surface of the water.  

However, it was clear that Coco remained on the western (inaccessible) side of San Andreas Lake.  He made several short flights, so we know he's there.  At least when he does a short flight, San Bruno Mountain can pick up his signal.  The Black Mountain team heard only a few beeps, since they were just too far away. They will be in "perfect position" if/when Coco moves south.  Hopefully, the weather will clear tomorrow.

Saturday, Nov. 5 -- Coco Leaves Mt. Sutro

Coco hung out at Sutro Towers all morning.  The teams were in place...waiting....with one team on Grizzly Peak above Berkeley in the East Bay, and two teams on the Peninsula.  The weather was cold, gray and wet.  As Bill James put it, around 1 PM Coco "left the shadow of Sutro Towers".  He flew to the east side of San Bruno Mountain (where one team was stationed), and ended his 12.5 mile journey at the SE side of San Andreas Lake.  Coco seems to like to go AROUND mountains.  He stayed in that position for about a half hour, and then flew back to the north about 2.6 miles.  Quite a circuitous flight path for the day.  He ended up near the north end of San Andreas Lake which is just west of Hwy 280 and north of Hwy 92.  The lake is part of the San Francisco Peninsula Watershed and inaccessible.

Friday, Nov. 4 -- Coco Takes the Teams for a Ride

In the morning, Phil and Lorri re-located Coco near Ring Mountain.   Larry and Robyn would protect the south from Twin Peaks in SF (even though the Sutro Tower causes lots of interference), while Cheryl and Dan have the East Bay highpoint.  Phil and Lorri were "on the bird".  What a plan!

Coco got up and started moving by mid-morning.  Bearings to the northwest indicated that Coco headed around the north side of Mt. Tam.  Phil and Lorri caught up with Coco at Bolinas.  At the same time, the Twin Peaks team in SF picked up the bearing "peak" pointed back up the coast to Bolinas.  The East Bay team had occasional signals, including an afternoon signal pointing directly to the Golden Gate Bridge.  (The signal often carries across water, leading to inaccurate or erroneous bearings). 

Phil and Lorri lost the signal in Bolinas.  The Twin Peaks team discussed heading north to help the Bolinas team.  After a quick discussion with homebase (who stated that it is probably safe for the team to head north, 'cuz it's unlikely that Coco will come south that late in the day), Larry decided to stay on Twin Peaks until 3 PM.

Larry and Robyn, on Twin Peaks, re-acquired the signal.  Through interference from Sutro Tower they  got westward bearings, and decide to "put pedal to the metal" and head down the coast in pursuit of Coco.  After checking out Verde Road (Athena's haunt last year), they return to SF.  Guess who was waiting for them near Sutro Towers!  Yes, Coco flew down the coast from Bolinas directly towards the Twin Peaks team. Having Sutro Tower's interference as a cover, Coco was not 'hiding in plain sight'.  More accurately, he was 'undercover' less than a mile from the team's original location on Twin Peaks. 

So, Coco started his day at Ring Mt., flew counter-clockwise around Mt. Tamalpais, and slipped down the coast to SF.  He was located hiding out amid the interference of Sutro Tower.

Written by Homebase, Lynn, who didn't think Coco would fly south so late in the day.  Oops!

Barb Releases Coco, Nov. 3, 2011

Telemetry 2011 is Off and Running

On Thursday, Nov. 3, through gray clouds, threatening skies and occasional drizzle, Hawk Blind presented the Telemetry Team with an absolutely beautiful juvenile Red-tailed Hawk!   When we asked the blind, "Fritos or Chocolate?" The response was "Always Chocolate!".  (As a thank you for giving us such a handsome bird to track, we provided chocolate in exchange to the banders). 

Now, if you remember, we name the birds alphabetically, and this was our "C" bird.  On the Name Board were such suggestions as Charlie, Claudius, Clyde (in deference to Bonnie last year), and even Citi-group (never!).  Hm.... chocolate is a "C" word, but hard to keep saying over the radios.  How about cocoa? So the bird was named, "Coco".  Now if you think about chocolate, it comes in white, milk and dark forms.... just like Coco.  His head was a little light, and he had beautiful milk chocolate eyes.  His white chest medallion was actually surrounded by hearts..... really!  And, of course, he had feathers of all three varieties, including dark.  Silly isn't it!  Although we try to be very scientific in our approach to tracking and data, we do have a little fun, when we can.

Anyway, in addition to being beautiful Coco was very mild mannered and cooperative.  Larry and Barb affixed the transmitter and the Hawkwatchers (rained off Hawk Hill) were able to see him before release. We released Coco near the base of Hawk Hill above Kirby Cove.  It was drizzling lightly and we wanted him to be able to find cover; so Kirby Cove with its assortment of eucs and pines, was our choice. 

The skies remained mostly gray with occasional drizzle.  Coco moved through Southern Marin county.  He was actively moving around even as the sun set.  The teams had his last location at Ring Mountain (east of Hwy 101, near Mill Valley/Tiburon).  And, on Friday morning he was relocated there.

Will he be a Lean Mean Flying Machine? ...... maybe today will tell.

Getting Ready for the 2011 Tracking Year

We're trying a new flexible schedule, and the sign-ups are moving along pretty well.  We are hoping to track a Prairie  or Broadwing during this special, early schedule.  Prairie Falcons and Broadwings come through the Headlands early during the Fall, so we're hoping to be ready to hit the road IF one stops by.  As soon as we hit the tracking road, we'll actively post to the 2011 Telemetry Blog.