November 16, 2014

Today is the last official day of having teams go out and check on Frosty.  Individual trackers can take equipment out, at their will, and see if Frosty remains in the area near Todd and Llano, and Stony Point and various small side streets.  So today, Lorri G. teamed up with Eileen R., and Barb W. and Maxine B. once again teamed up. Frosty's movements were minor, possibly just moving between trees, in an area of less than 5 acres,  again within the area close to Llano and Todd, which is just east of Laguna de Santa Rosa wetlands.  The teams broke off in the late morning; however Lorri and Eileen returned to the area and picked up an omni signal on the Bodega Hwy at Todd Rd.  If we pick up any post-season movement which takes Frosty out of this area, I may post an update.

So, to briefly summarize;
Frosty was released in Southern Marin (the Marin Headlands in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area) on November 8, 2014 and flew northward to Southern Sonoma County (Santa Rosa/Sebastopol Area) on November 9, 2014.  He then became stationary in an area bordered by Todd Rd., Stony Point, Llano, just east of Laguna de Santa Rosa, and he remained their through the end of active tracking which ended November 16, 2014.

On November 22, Lorri Gong returned to the area and reported that Frosty was still there.

November 15, 2014

No one went out today to check on Frosty.

November 14, 2014

A clear, beautiful day in Frosty's neighborhood.  Two teams, consisting of Lorri G. and Brian S, and Mike H.and Eileen R. went out today and initially located Frosty near the Beretta Dairy, where the teams had left him the evening before.  That's right, Frosty actually moved a little farther west and northwest,  while the teams moved to different highpoints in order to cover his movements.  So new, local highpoints were discovered and there was some excitement in actually have Frosty move to the west of Llano.  However, at the end of the day, Frosty moved back towards Beretta Dairy, and ended up just south of his starting location.  An almost "exciting" day in the neighborhood.

November 13, 2014

Some light rain showers accompanied two teams to check on Frosty.  Frosty was officially declared a stationary bird, in the sense that he is flying over the same rectangular area of earth, about halfway between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol.  So, we're reducing teams and trackers to both check on Frosty's location and to continue to train the apprentices who were able to go out during this week.  So Phil Capitolo joined up with Brian Smucker, and Lorri Gong joined with Ken Weidner to wander the roads and visit or discover new highpoints in the area, as well as document Frosty's location.  For most experienced trackers, it has been two years since they've been out in the field tracking (due to the Government Shurdown of 2013).  That's a long spell to try to remember all the details, such as protocols for record keeping, and dealing with maps and plotting.  But two things at which the teams are particularly good, are keeping up with the raptor we're tracking and public relations.  The teams visited many dairies in the area, and kind neighbors offered them access to their lands and even their "facilities".  The bottom line, on this very slow year is.... Yes, Frosty remained in the area bordered by Todd and Stony Point, and Llano.

Nov. 12, 2014

Wednesday's anticipated rains did not come until early evening, so the tracking team was able to check on Frosty's location and movements (limited) and find time mid-day to head out to Bodega for a short birding trip, which apparently was very successful.  After the mid-day break, Phil and Ken returned to Frosty's location and found him still there, while Bridget continued down Hwy 1 to the Headlands.

Phil further described Frosty's location as Butler Rd at Phillips Rd. (Still near Stony Point and Todd).  Of course, Frosty was not sitting in the intersection, but probably in the clusters of eucalyptus and oak trees which spot the area.   The area appears to be a mixed use semi-rural area with open fields and groves of trees, as well as mixed residential and light industrial.

The weather forecast for the weekend appears to have lightened up with clouds predicted but little rain.  Is it worth testing out the itty-bitty transmitter while I still have an trackers scheduled?   Or should we continue our modified schedule through the weekend.  For those involved in the program, send me an email with your opinions.  I think that we can adequately test our ability to track using the smaller transmitter in 2 -3 three days (meaning a Friday start), and if we're unable to track with it we should know very quickly.  If we were to test the itty-bitty I would need to augment the teams back to at least 3 working teams, possibly 4 to give us the best understanding of how the smaller signal would carry.

Nov. 11, 2014

This morning the teams located Frosty exactly where they had left him the previous night, along Todd Rd west of Stoney Point in Santa Rosa.  Again teams took their positions with Sonoma Mt. and English Hill (a local highpoint) being the highpoints of choice for the day.  The team which was "on the bird" found a nearby place to park, and watch a great deal of raptor action in the area of Frosty.  The area has eucalyptus and oak trees, and although the team was able to view the area where they believed Frosty was hanging out, they were not able to confirm a visual of him.

The weather was gray and dreary in the morning.  It felt like it was going to rain. Would Frosty choose to move today?  The answer by the end of the day, was a definitive "No."  Well, Frosty did move in the sense of changing trees and flying a bit; but he did not move in the sense of being able to draw a start and stop line on a map.  The end of day found Frosty on Todd Rd, west of Stoney Point in Santa Rosa.

So the teams ended their day by discussing the coming schedule and the prospects of rain.  It was decided to break down the schedule, and limit the coverage; so tomorrow, Wednesday, Phil (a very experienced tracker) would be out with Bridget (GGRO Intern, and apprentice tracker) and Ken (apprentice tracker) mainly to check on Frosty and try to give both Bridget and Ken a little more experience in the field. I would like to say "a little more experience in tracking", however it is hard to "track" a very stationary bird.  Rain is predicted on and off for the next few days.

For the remainder of the week, we will continue to check in on Frosty.  With the predicted rain, we will not start a new bird; unless, of course, a really cool or really unusual bird comes through like a late Broadwing or Swainson.


Nov. 10, 2014

Sorry for the late posting.  My computer decided to lock me out, so I'm now in the office on a more friendly computer; however all of the data sheets are out in the field, so I'm going to be somewhat vague as to who did what.

So we left off with Frosty north of Mt. Burdell.  On Monday, the teams set off for highpoints with Team 3 on Sonoma Mt as a stationary team. Team 2 went to English Hill, and Team 1 to Cobblestone (Santa Rosa).  And all teams were able to pick up Frosty's signal.  The teams had good bearings for most of the day, except when two teams had bearings indicating that Frosty had gone east.  So Sonoma Mt. team stayed while Team 1 headed for Calistoga and Team 2 headed east.  Oops, Frosty's signal reappeared to the west.  Both moving teams then made a U-turn and fought traffic to regain a good position.  Frosty was determined to be located along Todd Rd, west of Stoney Point Rd.  The teams left him there that night.

November 9, 2014

Bill picked me up in Corte Madera and as we headed south along 101, we listened as we passed by.... beep, beep, beep.  Frosty had hopped slightly northward to a another nearby eucalyptus grove, and spent the night just south of Marin City.

We headed to 1064 to pick up the equipment from the prior day, which was left there to charge overnight.  With Maxine's Prius fully loaded with all of the equipment, we headed to San Pablo Ridge.  From that location we had the signal until almost mid-afternoon.  From that location we were also able to keep the other teams informed as they tried to keep up with Frosty as he flew NORTH!  Yes, Frosty is another juvenile Redtail who headed north.

The three team leaders each had a handy app on their phones.  By checking the app, we knew where each team was located, as well as how they were moving.  Pretty cool.  Barb and Monica were heading south on 101 on their way to Twin Peaks, and Bill and Rondi were heading westward to go up Hwy 1 (his last bearing headed westward).  From San Pablo Ridge, our bearings indicated that Frosty was headed north, ...not south, ...not west..... north!  We were able to stop Barb right before she was about to head across the GG Bridge.  And we were able to stop Bill before he was on the wrong side of  Mt Tam.  It was cool.

We continued to get bearings moving ever northward.  Eventually Bill and Rondi  ended up on Mt. Burdell, and Barb and Monica ended up on Sonoma Mt.  We remained on San Pablo Ridge, still receiving the signal when neither of the other teams did.  Very frustrating.  Finally, the Sonoma Mt. team picked up Frosty's signal.  Actually, Frosty finally moved in a way which allowed the team to pick up his signal.  The Burdell team came down from the mountain, and began to scour the Petaluma area and headed out to Bodega.  No signal.

Meanwhile, back on San Pablo Ridge, we finally lost the signal and prepared to head north to the action.  Maxine's faithful Prius, which was suppose to be in retirement from tracking, decided to let us know that it really wanted to retire.  Dead Battery!!!  So there we were off-road, with our phones close to dying, and we were unable to help the other two teams.  So, about a hour later AAA came to our rescue.  By this time, it made no sense to drive an hour northward, just in time for sunset, so we quit for the day.

So, an end of the day summary puts Frosty in the region around Petaluma, and the teams will work tomorrow to try to zero in on his location.  I will be off the team tomorrow, but everyone else will continue.  Oh, and checking with the two other team leaders, I learned that the two brand new apprentices, out in the field for their first day, did very well, indeed.  An exciting day comes to a close.


Nov. 8, 2014

This morning it was clear and beautiful, as we drove into 1064 to wait for the banders to catch a raptor for telemetry tracking.  This was officially, Day 2 of  the "Wait".  But, with no fog we were optimistic that this would be a good day for the banders to provide a healthy bird for tracking.

Most of the "waiting" trackers headed up to Hawkwatch, to watch the skies.  I remained at 1064, listening to the radio.  Soon my husband called from Hawk Hill to tell me that they had just seen a juvenile redtail fly into Hawk blind.  No word from the banders, though.  Soon, I heard the conversation between the banders and my husband, "Yes, they had a juvenile redtail hawk for us".  Hooray!!! The "Wait was over."

Brian S. walked over to Hawk blind and picked up the redtail.  They brought the redtail down to 1064 so that the transmitter could be applied.  Barb applied the transmitter and named the juvenile, male redtail......."Frosty", since it's bib was very white.

We headed to a highpoint within the Marin Headlands for release.  Joggers and hikers stopped by.  It is easy to be noticed when you are holding a calm, beautiful raptor in your arms and lots of gear in your hands.  After a few minutes of PR, explaining who we were, what we were doing, and what kind of bird we were holding, Frosty was released.  The banders, from the blind across the valley, were also able to watch as Frosty was released, and then flew to a nearby eucalyptus grove, just as expected.  Redtails, love eucalyptus groves, and there are many to choose from in our area of California.  By the end of the day, Frosty had taken a short flight north to another eucalyptus grove just west of Hwy 101, above Sausalito.

Tomorrow, I will be heading out into the field to help track Frosty. One of the, experienced banders had a serious family emergency, so I will be taking his place.  I don't know when I will be able to return to my computer to update you on the travels of Frosty. I will apologize, in advance, for the late post.  Where will Frosty lead us?  Stay tuned!


November 7, 2014

 All of the teams met at Building 1064 with great expectations, but with fog covering the Headlands.  Teams loaded their cars with their tracking equipment, and waited.......

Hours passed with some trackers heading up to Hawkwatch to see what the hawkwatchers were seeing.......

By 3:30, our wait time was up, with no telemetry bird.  We will return to the Headlands tomorrow, waiting a little while longer for our bird.

Sept. 20, 2014 "The Wait" Begins

We began "TheWait" for a Broad-winged Hawk on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014.  The teams are ready.  The equipment is all charged.  The bags are packed.......

It is now Monday, Sept. 22.  Yesterday, was a terrific year for the migration.  More than 500 raptors were counted on Hawk Hill.  The banders had a great day...... but No Broadwings!!!  And so "The Wait" continues.........

Apprentice Training, Sept 12, 2014

Mapping and Plotting Practice during Training

Apprentice Training, Sept 12, 2014

We have a bumper crop of bright, eager apprentices. 

September 11, 2014

Gearing Up for a New Tracking Year

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.