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.