Lifer! – Pinnacles National Park

Original Publication Date: 5/27/2011 3:38:32 PM

Day two of the journey to Mexico found a stop at the Pinnacles National Monument. I can’t believe I had never been there before–especially since I have thought about it often. It is the poster child for the land of the ghost pine in my mind because of a photograph taken here which appeared in Ron Lanner’s Conifers of California. In addition to the plants, I got up close and personal with Condor 99–a juvenile who was quite photogenic perched in a ghost pine. This was particularly exciting because I had spent so much time in the late ’90’s looking for condors in the Sespe and Sisquoc Wilderness areas but had never yet seen one. I finally got my glimpse. Later in the day I was driving through the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge along the Cerro Noroeste Road and got to see a bird on the nest, incubating an egg. I was cued into this because a scientist was monitoring the nest from the San Diego Zoo. The condor return is an amazing success story.

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The high route through the Pinnacles National Monument.

Ghost pine wonderland.

Ghost pine wonderland.

Condor 99

Can you find Condor 99? I almost missed him/her.

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I used to want to be a turkey vulture in my next life, now that I have seen a California condor I have changed my mind.

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Seemingly endless nesting sights at the Pinnacles.

COMMENT:
AUTHOR: Allison
DATE: 5/27/2011 4:00:19 PM
Ghost pine wonderland indeed! Beautiful. I can easily picture you as a condor… sitting in conifers, circling mountain tops, swooping in to snack on meat — you two already have quite a bit in common!
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COMMENT:
AUTHOR: Gary Lester
DATE: 5/27/2011 4:59:26 PM
Nice Michael. Lifer #99! Condors are nice, we should lobby for reintroductions in Humboldt! Good luck with Gray Thrasher (from about 2.6 miles up from Hwy 1, opposite the willows & look in the cacti covered foothils as well & the Matir highlands (Mexico likely for Mt. Quail, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Williamson’s Sapucker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Mountain Chickadee, Purple Martin, Pinyon Jay, Pygmy Nuthatch, Townsend Solitaire, California Thrasher, Gray & Bell’s Vireo, Black-chinned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Fox Sparrow, Cassin’s Finch, Lawrence’s Goldfinch & Red Crossbill. Take good bird notes, the Baja hinterlands don’t get regular birder coverage). Meling Ranch is worth the stop (riparian). Gary
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COMMENT:
AUTHOR: Marla Peterson
DATE: 5/31/2011 11:20:18 PM
Wow the pics of the Condor are amazing… Must’ve been with your spotting scope? S/he looks so medieval perched up there, like a castle gargoyle. Very neat!

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