Oct. 23, 2015. Day 5 with Gypsy.

Yes, today is the fifth day of tracking Gypsy.  Day one was the release in the Marin Headlands, and roost along the Miwok Trail.  Day two Gypsy headed northward to a location northeast of Burdell.  Day three, the teams located Gypsy near Manor on private lands.  Day four, Gypsy remained on the lands just south of Manor (same location).  And, now we are to Day five.

How creative can the teams be???  We are down to just two teams.  Barb and Kim, and Maxine and Ruth.  Barb hated to put 50% of her resources on Mt. Burdell, so it was decided that the two teams would work the area near Manor, and then move around looking for other good places to take bearings. If they couldn't locate Gypsy, then one team would head up to Burdell so they could survey the whole area.

Sonoma Mt. Rd., Stony Point Rd., Wilson Hill (used many times in prior days) continued to produce bearings, Cinnabar Rd off Petaluma Blvd., Wagner Lane, Meacham Hill, San Antonio Rd., etc.  All of these spots were visited by the teams, and they found some very interesting high points, such as the Institute of Noetic Sciences where the team left with balance and inner harmony.

Some of us were using an app called Life360, which keeps track of our location as we move all around.  So, even though the teams were moving all over, I could just check in on them to see where they actually were located.

The teams took some pictures during tracking, (and I received some from prior days), so in a few days I will return home, and I will move the pictures over to this blogspot and to our yahoo site, so that everyone can see the trackers hard at work.

So, as we neared the end of day 5, the trackers were showing some fatigue.  Same spots day after day, and Gypsy remained  on the private land in the area near Manor and Adobe. And, yes there were circling signals, so we knew Gypsy was moving locally.  It was decided that there was little new to learn from Gypsy.  He has been hanging out on the same spot since Tuesday.  Four days of visiting the same spots, and plotting bearings which pointed back to that same spot near Manor and Adobe.  So, the tracking was finished.  There are several people who were available next week to go out and track, and several of the new apprentices would like to go out again; so, I would suggest that we do some post-season tracking on this nearby raptor.  Maybe Gypsy will move to a new location, or maybe he is very happy on those private lands from which he has refused to leave.

I encourage any tracker who would like to go out next week, to check on Gypsy, and take an apprentice with you.  They have all had a good, but short, experience.  Oops, all of them except Sandra Corzantes who had an emergency and did not get out.  Give her a call and see if you can show her a bit of tracking. Otherwise, team up and go check on Gypsy.

Lynn Jesus, Season Coordinator, GGRO Radio-telemetry Program

October 22, 2015

It's Thursday, and the teams were suppose to scramble team mates.  But, sure enough, the teams scrambled the schedule by keeping their team mates from Wednesday and ignoring the detailed schedule.  Next year, I think we'll put names in a hat and each morning draw names!!!!!
Anyway, all of the apprentices were out yesterday, so they have a little experience with a planning moves, and taking bearings, and maybe even plotting.

Linda and Vick took up the highpoint, Mt. Burdell. While Libby and Emma and Barb and Ron worked the valley floor and searched for other nearby good locations for a signal.  Very quickly the teams determined that Gypsy was in that same location off Manor Rd.  Yeah, roost site confirmed.

At some point during the day, Libby and Emma headed over to Cavedale, a highpoint to the east that covers the ridge to Sonoma/Napa.

The various teams pick up several circling signals.  (A circling signal can be determined by carefully listening to the volume of the signal, and if it is rhythmically loud/soft/loud/soft, then that indicates that the bird is flying in a circle.)  The teams also determined whether the signal was vertical or horizontal.  What does that mean???  The transmitter is glued onto a central tail feather and the antenna extends a couple of inches beyond the end of the tail.  If the tail is mostly horizontal (like when flying) the signal will be stronger when the arms on the antenna are held horizontal.  Similarly, if the tail is mostly vertical (like when the bird is perched), the signal will be stronger when the arms on the antenna are held vertical.  So, there is a lot you can tell about the raptor, even when you can't see him.  That's is one of the benefits of radio-telemetry.

Anyway, back to the trackers.  So, all day long the teams listened and recorded the signal which was coming from Gypsy's transmitter.  And all day long, the two land teams moved around and changed position.  Up to a highpoint, back to the valley floor.  Meanwhile, Linda and Vick remained stationed atop Mt. Burdell, recording relatively steady bearings pointing to the east side of the valley....... south of 116 and near Adobe Rd.  Right where Gypsy was hanging out.

Tonight, everyone goes home, except for Barb. She will be the day leader tomorrow, since she is very familiar with all of the area spots which are good for picking up Gypsy's signal.  But, maybe Gypsy will take off tomorrow for new territory.  Just maybe........

October 21, 2015

Lots of new trackers out today.  A big switch.  Libby and Emma and Elan were "on the bird."  Barb and Ron headed to the highpoint, Mt. Burdell.  And Linda and Vick went to San Pablo Ridge, so that if Gypsy hopped the ridge and headed towards Sonoma or Napa they would pick up the signal as the bird moves eastward north of San Pablo Bay.  It sounds strange to have a team so far away, but San Pablo has been great for a number of raptors moving around the North Bay.

Libby and team located Gypsy near Manor Lane off Adobe Rd. on the east side of the valley. The team moved around on Manor, trying to get cross bearings.  Later in the day Linda and Vick moved to Manor while Libby headed to other highpoints.  Barb and Ron spent most of the day on Burdell with relatively steady bearings below highway 116, pointing to the east side of the valley.

There were no changes during the day, other than Gypsy got up and circled a couple of times.... then back to the same area.  The area is private property with no public access.  Other nearby roads give funky readings as the signal rolls over the terrain.  Bounces and such can drive trackers crazy.  But miraculously, most of the trackers remained sane.

Will Gypsy try to move around a little more like a gypsy, or is he just happy to make this private plot of land his home.

October 20, 2015

Gypsy began his morning along the Miwok Trail.  Libby, Elan and Laura  headed up to Hawk Hill, to use that nearby high point to take bearings on Gypsy for as long as he remained in the Headlands.  Meanwhile, the other two teams returned to their high points on Twin Peaks and San Pablo Ridge.  All three teams had bearings as Gypsy began to head northward.  Mike and Linda on San Pablo Ridge were in perfect position to report Gypsy's progress, first past Mt. Tam and then San Rafael.  And then the picture became more murky.

Team 1 headed up to Mt. Burdell, but had no signal.  Maxine and Eileen left Twin Peaks, of course, because they were at the opposite end of the world when it comes to a northward moving raptor.  First there was no success with cross-bearings.  Then Mike and Linda reported no signal from their East Bay perch.  No one had the signal.  Oh, no, that is not the way it should work in a perfect world.  Then Mt. Burdell picked up the signal to the southwest.  Then, one by one, each team began recording their bearings.

Gypsy headed northward, past Burdell and into the flatlands.  This is familiar territory for the trackers.  It is sometimes difficult to pin down the locations, due to the gently rolling hills.  Gypsy can be up and then down.  As of this minute, I cannot report Gypsy's evening location.  The teams were out roaming around, but the last signal that I heard reported was from the entrance to Olompali State Park.

October 19, 2015

Today we prepared to start our Scheduled Tracking Period. We had training yesterday, and a great group of apprentices spent time outside taking bearings, plotting bearings and learning all of the things we do in order to follow a moving bird.

This morning, everyone met at Bldg 1064 with bags packed and ready to hit the road.  And "The Wait began." and continued, and continued.  It wasn't until 12:45 that POAK blind reported being on the board; but it was a small bird.  Then at 2 PM,  POAK called, they had a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk for us.  A little scurrying around, and the hawk was brought to the office so that Libby could apply the transmitter.  Kris held the bird, who was then named "Gypsy", while Libby applied the transmitter to a central tail feather.  Once it was glued in place, the only evidence of the new jewelry was a few inches of the antenna protruding beyond the tail.

While Libby was busy with Gypsy, the other two teams headed for their assigned high points.  One team to Twin Peaks and the other to the San Pablo Ridge.  Gypsy, with new transmitter attached, was taken up to Hawk Hill and released in front of the Hawkwatch.  Just in time for the end of their day.

That evening Gypsy settled down near the Miwok Trail, and the teams went home to sleep in their own beds for, maybe, the last time for a while.

Monday, Sept. 28, 2015 continued

Mike's Last Day of Journey

I simply can not convey nor condense everything that Mike accomplished on this last day with Journey.  I don't want to change Mike's words, so I will try to post some snippets to give you a sense of Mike's last day with a mission.

The story begins back on Double Peak on Monday morning.  "This is called Chase Syndrome-- the anxiety that something up ahead is getting away from you -- and the only antidote is to have a nice, calm experienced Day Leader there to tell you either to sit tight or to take off while she sits tight and monitors the scene.  So anyway, you know which way I twitched."

Mike then "drove up Sunrise Highway into the piney-woods community of Mount Laguna -- and found the High Point turnoff, perfectly described in the directions........  Then, at .3 mi. from the highway, as I approached a locked gate up a rise, my omni started beeping.  I coasted backwards to the off-pavement parking area, disconnected stuff, grabbed stuff, connected stuff, and charged up toward the gate.  I pulled on the padlock -- no luck -- and squeezed through, levelling my yagi in the same direction I'd been hearing the signal as I moved, and in the dip between roadway and scrub to the left I found my peak.  And then it went quiet."

Trying to access another high point in order to pick up Journey's signal, Mike heads towards Monument Peak.  Blocked by locked gates, he continues, "Yagi in the right hand now.  I'm determined to take the bull by the horns, but where ARE the horns?  Back to the gate.  Holy Toledo, there's a Forest Service truck at the bottom of the dirt lot, 75 yards away.  I holler 'Wait up?', but he doesn't hear me.  I scream at the nonplussed elderly couple just out of their car on the left, 'Tell him to wait?'  They do, and he seems to notice.  He walks away from us,.....then gets ready to slip behind the wheel.  At this point The Syndrome kicks in.  Without thinking, I'm at a dead run, full tilt down the hill toward him, waving the yagi from side to side high over my head, hollering 'Wait! Wait!Wait!   Well, he waited.  He was very nice, deferential, and informative.  His name was Chuck."

So Chuck gave Mike a couple of leads, and Mike continued his quest.  Through fences and escorted back out, heading higher and higher in the quest for the golden signal. Then Mike meets Troy who is Captain at a Fire Station/Cleveland National Forest/ USDA.  Mike lays out his mission and Troy offers to have one of his men go up and unlock a gate for him, plus gives him a padlock so that he can unlock the gate on his way out.  And Mike succeeds on getting up to Monument Peak.  Success to the Mountain, not to Journey.

"So, here's out best shot, Telemetry.  What's out there?  Hmm.  We know exactly who's out there, but we can't find him.  He's not reporting in.  And that's the way it is, says Walter Cronkite in my mind's ear.  I stay for two quarter-hour readings, then regretfully toodle back down, lock up, revisit Troy at Camp Ole to thank him and convey the 'Mission accomplished but without success' news, and call it a day."

"How I wish Bill could have stuck it out, and how I wish Phil and he and Libby and everybody were down here at the bottom of the state to experience this surge of fulfillment, kind of, at giving it your best shot and covering a lot of ground and coming back with a certain amount of data and a whole lot of percolating, hard-to-define satisfaction.  Joy even, maybe."

"Journey made good time on his final US day -- we have proof of that -- and we can surely be confident that he was over the border before 2 PM.  Good enough."

Posted by Lynn Jesus, Season Coordinator, GGRO Radio-telmetry Program
from Mike's Notes from Sept. 28, 2015