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.

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.


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.
Seemingly endless nesting sights at the Pinnacles.

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!
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
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!