California condor spotted soaring over coast near Diablo Canyon

Biologists report seeing the endangered bird near Point Buchon; it is identified as Miracle, a bird that fledged wild in Big Sur three years ago

dsneed@thetribunenews.comMay 8, 2012 

Biologists working for PG&E have sighted a California condor near Point Buchon.

PG&E biologist Sally Krenn said the sighting Monday of the endangered bird on land surrounding Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is believed to be the first since the 1970s. The utility owns 14 miles of coastline from Point Buchon south to Point San Luis.

The large carrion-eating bird was spotted and photographed by two consulting biologists who do biological surveys along the Point Buchon Trail, a public hiking trail operated by PG&E just south of Montaña de Oro State Park.

“It rode the thermals around for a while, higher and higher and eventually sailed off to the east high over the ridge — pretty spectacular,” said one of the biologists, Peter Gaede.

The condor was sighted near Windy Point at an overlook on the Point Buchon Trail about a mile and a half south of the point.

By enlarging one of their photographs, the biologists were able to determine that the condor is No. 538, a female given the name of Miracle. All California condors are radio tagged and numbered for identification.

According to the Ventana Wildlife Society, Miracle was hatched May 23, 2009, in Big Sur. She was named Miracle because she was the first completely wild chick to fledge in Big Sur without management intervention.

California condors are North America's largest bird. Superb gliders known for riding hot-air currents high in the sky, California condors were on the brink of extinction until scientists began a captive-breeding program. Their historic range extends from Big Sur south and east toward Arizona.

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