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2017 Sheep Count info Messages in this topic - RSS

JBHogan
JBHogan
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6/16/2017
JBHogan
JBHogan
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Orientation is tomorrow, June 17th, 9AM-1PM. Info at theABF.org.
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ziphius
ziphius
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6/18/2017
ziphius
ziphius
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Looking forward to my 1st count. smile
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Buford
Buford
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6/18/2017
Buford
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ziphius wrote:
Looking forward to my 1st count. smile



Nice. Cool

I will be back for the third year. I think it is cool how some people have done it for 30+ years.

After orientation yesterday I hiked up to just before 3rd grove Palm Canyon. It was a little warm.
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ziphius
ziphius
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6/19/2017
ziphius
ziphius
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Ah, we probably saw each other at orientation.... maybe I'll see you at check-in. Are you counting at 3rd grove? I'm assigned Big Spring as of Sat.

Buford wrote:
ziphius wrote:
Looking forward to my 1st count. smile



Nice. Cool

I will be back for the third year. I think it is cool how some people have done it for 30+ years.

After orientation yesterday I hiked up to just before 3rd grove Palm Canyon. It was a little warm.
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dsefcik
dsefcik
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6/19/2017
dsefcik
dsefcik
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Good to see you counting this year ziphius, I will be at Rattlesnake as usual.

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ziphius
ziphius
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6/19/2017
ziphius
ziphius
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dsefcik wrote:
Good to see you counting this year ziphius, I will be at Rattlesnake as usual.
smile
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Buford
Buford
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6/19/2017
Buford
Buford
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I'll be in upper Palm Canyon, currently looking like 4th grove. It looked like they might have to reshuffle us around as some people were not sure they could commit and might bail out.
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rockhopper
rockhopper
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6/20/2017
rockhopper
rockhopper
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Hopefully it cools off a little, I mean a lot! It is predicted at 121 Deg. in Borrego Valley today! Look forward to doing it with you guys ( and gals) someday when the dust settles with moving and family issues.
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Britain
Britain
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6/21/2017
Britain
Britain
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Question. Why would the count be at this time of year? Or are there other times also?

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ziphius
ziphius
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6/21/2017
ziphius
ziphius
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Britain wrote:
Question. Why would the count be at this time of year? Or are there other times also?


It's a waterhole count and unless temperatures are above 100, the sheep can get all the moisture they need just by eating plants. Once it gets hotter than the low 100s, they need to come down to the waterholes every few days. Makes for easier counting because animals have to congregate by the water at some point during the survey. So, you are simultaneously hoping for hot weather so you see some sheep, while dreading the potential for really hot weather. Others here have done numerous sheep counts and can speak about the conditions with more authority. I've done one 'unofficial' count in temperatures about 104 for a single day, the day seemed very long until the afternoon, when sheep appeared, and then, time flew by.
edited by ziphius on 6/21/2017
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Britain
Britain
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6/22/2017
Britain
Britain
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Thanks. I was going to sign up this year but thought there might be another time. Never done this. Perhaps next year.

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Buford
Buford
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6/22/2017
Buford
Buford
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As mentioned, the sheep don't need water until it gets hot. Also as it gets hot water holes dry up and there are fewer of them that need to be staked out. The count is also ideally before the monsoon rains later in summer.

The other reason is Lamb mortality. They want the count to be after the die off of lambs. Part of the count data compares ewe counts vs lamb and yearling counts to check survival rates since every ewe gives birth to a single lamb every spring.

I think the San Gabriel mountains do a sheep count at a different time of year.
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Britain
Britain
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6/22/2017
Britain
Britain
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So for Borrego how is it divided up for the count ? Back it the late 70's I was coming back from Arizona took the S2 at Ocotillo. Theres a a guy afoot at the Carrizo Gorge entrance. His vehicle got stuck in the sand a few miles up. We went in and pulled him out. Said he was to join up with a group for a sheep count.

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dsefcik
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6/22/2017
dsefcik
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All of the sites are in the north end of the park, they do not count in the south end...not that they don't care about the "south" sheep, it is just a matter of staying consistent and I believe the DFG/DFW have their own method of tracking wildlife. I encourage anyone to volunteer that can tolerate 3 long days of sitting still scanning the landscape for BHS in 100+ temps, it can be a great experience or possibly the most boring and miserable thing you have ever done. Many people drop out after the orientation (REQUIRED for first time counters) and count site assignments shift around accordingly.

Hey, happy sheep counting to all the volunteers and thank you for your efforts..!!

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Britain
Britain
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28 days ago
Britain
Britain
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So who trucks in the water to you? smile Do you camp at the site or packout everyday? Anywhere to read up on this?

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dsefcik
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28 days ago
dsefcik
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Britain wrote:
So who trucks in the water to you? smile Do you camp at the site or packout everyday? Anywhere to read up on this?

Depends on the count site, there are all levels of count site opportunities, some are easy walk in everyday from your hotel sites and others are backpack only. Most sites require you to bring your own water each day, some may have water available to filter. Our site at Rattlesnake Spring we carry water up and bury it each spring and then pack out the empty containers. The count is for the most part completely self supported, the park really only provides you with a location, advice and paperwork to fill out, everything else is up to you, that is one reason why so many people drop out after the orientation, they think the park is gonna give them everything they need and take care of them but that is not how it works.

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Britain
Britain
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28 days ago
Britain
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One shouldn't take the 120 temp to lightly its a killer even doing nothing but looking. I wouldn't have an issue with being self supporting but dealing with the heat is another issue. When I worked in Mexicali one of our customers Sony would deliver our packaging back to us in a truck. They would dump it in the parking lot, we would sort it out. Even though we had a tarp for shade we rolled through people. Only people from Mexicali could deal with the heat. I would guess in a canyon it would even be hotter. How did the heat treat you? How much water did you go through a day?

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ziphius
ziphius
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28 days ago
ziphius
ziphius
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Britian, there are a few threads on bighorn counts archived on this site. One recent one is here. I was curious about others' experiences (my 1st count this year) and looked up these trips using the site's Search window, with keywords = "Sheep Count".
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Buford
Buford
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28 days ago
Buford
Buford
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I have counted in upper Palm Canyon twice. We always have water from the stream to filter. Probably about 6L/person/day.

I volunteer for Upper Palm Canyon because even if we see no sheep at our count site, there are almost always sheep on the hike in and out. The other thing I like is there is always something interesting in Palm Canyon. Lots of birds, insects, coyotes, frogs, toads, lizards. Last year we even saw a ring-tailed cat during the count.

Some people keep coming back. There are teams that always have the same counters at the same site each year. Most people do not return after counting once. Only way to find out is to do it.

My 3rd year and I have seen few repeat volunteers in upper Palm Canyon. The temperatures, boredom, rough hike in and improper packing probably have a lot to do with it. Most pack too heavy and are not ready for the off trail portion of the hike, as mild as Palm Canyon is.

Not all sites see sheep each year. That has something to do with people returning as well.

Stay safe everyone. So far the forecast looks relatively mild.
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dsefcik
dsefcik
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28 days ago
dsefcik
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I think Buford summed it up pretty good....Thumbs Up

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Britain
Britain
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28 days ago
Britain
Britain
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Thanks good write up. I'll need to get new glasses! Do envy that 600mm lens.

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Britain
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28 days ago
Britain
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I Looked over the application for this. I certainly would check the backpacking. Question. Is there a list of spotting sites this is done from? Reason is I would like to , when its cooler pack in to the worst ones and see whats required.

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dsefcik
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28 days ago
dsefcik
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Britain wrote:
Thanks good write up. I'll need to get new glasses! Do envy that 600mm lens.

I don't take that anymore, too heavy...I got a trail camera last year to do all the work for me

http://www.sefcik.com/2016/07/bighorn-sheep-census-count-2016-abdsp.html

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dsefcik
dsefcik
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28 days ago
dsefcik
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Britain wrote:
I Looked over the application for this. I certainly would check the backpacking. Question. Is there a list of spotting sites this is done from? Reason is I would like to , when its cooler pack in to the worst ones and see whats required.

You csn see a list of the results and count sites here http://theabf.org/45th-annual-anza-borrego-sheep-count-results

Many of the sites have regulars (like Rattlesnake Spring) so it is not guaranteed you will get a site you request...you can certainly request a specific site but you may be assigned elsewhere if needed.

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Britain
Britain
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28 days ago
Britain
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Can you recommend a mad that shows these locations? My topo doesn't and I'm not familiar with this side of the park.

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dsefcik
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28 days ago
dsefcik
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Britain wrote:
Can you recommend a mad that shows these locations? My topo doesn't and I'm not familiar with this side of the park.

https://caltopo.com/

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Britain
Britain
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28 days ago
Britain
Britain
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Wow thanks. Shows some good hiking trails.

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Britain
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27 days ago
Britain
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dsefcik wrote:
Britain wrote:
Thanks good write up. I'll need to get new glasses! Do envy that 600mm lens.

I don't take that anymore, too heavy...I got a trail camera last year to do all the work for me

http://www.sefcik.com/2016/07/bighorn-sheep-census-count-2016-abdsp.html


Trail camera, those are great shots and video! Camera??

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Britain
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27 days ago
Britain
Britain
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Looks like you placed it near the sheep?

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dsefcik
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27 days ago
dsefcik
dsefcik
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Britain wrote:
Trail camera, those are great shots and video! Camera??

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EK61B4I

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ziphius
ziphius
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27 days ago
ziphius
ziphius
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I'd agree to sell my soul and not see any bighorn if I could see a ring-tailed cat. Quite rare to be seen. smile

Buford wrote:
I have counted in upper Palm Canyon twice. We always have water from the stream to filter. Probably about 6L/person/day.

I volunteer for Upper Palm Canyon because even if we see no sheep at our count site, there are almost always sheep on the hike in and out. The other thing I like is there is always something interesting in Palm Canyon. Lots of birds, insects, coyotes, frogs, toads, lizards. Last year we even saw a ring-tailed cat during the count.

Some people keep coming back. There are teams that always have the same counters at the same site each year. Most people do not return after counting once. Only way to find out is to do it.

My 3rd year and I have seen few repeat volunteers in upper Palm Canyon. The temperatures, boredom, rough hike in and improper packing probably have a lot to do with it. Most pack too heavy and are not ready for the off trail portion of the hike, as mild as Palm Canyon is.

Not all sites see sheep each year. That has something to do with people returning as well.

Stay safe everyone. So far the forecast looks relatively mild.
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tommy750
tommy750
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25 days ago
tommy750
tommy750
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Kudos to all you counters that are braving the elements this coming weekend. Happy to have contributed a teeeny amount to the endeavor hauling water to Rattlesnake Spring earlier in the year and being rewarded in turn with a great hike on old Indian trails. Take care!

Toward Pyramid by tomteske, on Flickr
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Britain
Britain
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25 days ago
Britain
Britain
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tommy750 wrote:
Kudos to all you counters that are braving the elements this coming weekend. Happy to have contributed a teeeny amount to the endeavor hauling water to Rattlesnake Spring earlier in the year and being rewarded in turn with a great hike on old Indian trails. Take care!

Toward Pyramid by tomteske, on Flickr

Does that trail drop down toward the Salton sea side? Now need to go check it out.

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tommy750
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24 days ago
tommy750
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Britain wrote:
Does that trail drop down toward the Salton sea side? Now need to go check it out.



Believe I recall hearing there's a couple places you can drop down toward Salton Sea off of this trail. Tom
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Britain
Britain
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24 days ago
Britain
Britain
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This weekend I went up a canyon to see if I could put up with the heat. Started early. By 9am it was 105. 1.5 miles in I called it quits. I'm in my 60's so this will need to be left to the younger. Hats off to those that do this!

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Buford
Buford
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20 days ago
Buford
Buford
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Well, the forum ate my first post and I had to start over.

It was an interesting count for this year.

The three other people in our group were good people to hang out with for three days, which is always a plus for randomly assigned strangers.

The upper Palm Canyon count sites do not have a trail to them and require bouldering, talus hopping, loose steep slopes and bushwhacking to hike to. Add in a full pack and the high temperatures and it is even more difficult. I cannot stress this enough for someone that wants to count these sites. All three years I have done this there has been someone assigned to count in upper Palm Canyon who is not prepared for the hike in and out and really suffers. This year was no exception.

We saw the same general group of sheep each day. They would start the day high on the slope opposite the count site and would work down to the canyon bottom by midday. They traveled down canyon out of sight. After count hours they would come back towards camp on the opposite slope from their starting point, then cut though camp and climb up to where they started.

Some cell phone pictures of the count are below. Some pictures are from the count site, others from camp. All zoom pictures were obtained by holding the 10x binoculars in one hand with the cell phone in the other with the camera sort of centered in the eye piece. I was surprised it worked at all.

Old Major:


Tagged ewe through binoculars:



Tagged ewe closer to camp this time:


Ram from camp through binoculars:


Count site, most sheep were seen high on the slope across the canyon from us:


Panorama from count site:

edited by Buford on 7/3/2017


Added a picture and clarification
edited by Buford on 7/3/2017
edited by Buford on 7/3/2017
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ziphius
ziphius
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20 days ago
ziphius
ziphius
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Nice photos Buford. Were you at 3rd or 4th grove? My team of 3 was at Big Spring, where we saw zero (same result as the 2015 count), but had fun recording all the bird life. The sheep liked the sites adjacent to us much better (Tubb and Middle springs). smile We plan on returning next year. - Jim
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dsefcik
dsefcik
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20 days ago
dsefcik
dsefcik
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@Buford Thanks for the report and glad you had a good count

@ziphius Sorry you had no sheep, I saw that in the final results. At least you got to experience the count. Not every site will see sheep every year, it can vary dramtically year to year...glad you have decided to return next year.

Our Rattlesanke site was quite different this year. One of our veteran counters had some issues with the heat about 2 miles in so we turned around and hiked back out with him to get him to his vehicle and safety. There is no room for taking chances out there in the heat and so far away, phones do not work and any help is as far away as the hike out and drive into town and then back again. With 4 extra miles added to our hike my remaining partner and I got to the count site around 11:30pm, just in time for some star gazing and tequila from our hidden stash. Lots of shooting stars that night, beautiful.....

In the morning though we noticed a total absence of sign from sheep, no tracks, scat or urine stains, something very obvious year after year...sheep had not been coming here recently. We found the spring dry. We discussed options and decided to hike out before the sunrise and the heat, otherwise we would have had to wait until dusk to hike out in the cover of shade.

We did see 1 ram so our total count was 1, a historic low I am sure.

Thanks to all who participated, your efforts are appreciated very much!

Daren

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ziphius
ziphius
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19 days ago
ziphius
ziphius
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Daren,

Your decision to turn back (we heard about it the 1st night at a group dinner and I talked with Gary a bit at the check-out) is highly commendable and the sign of excellent backcountry sense. Bummer to not see any sheep, but like Gary said, why would the sheep keep walking uphill if they had all the water they needed at Tubb and Middle Spring(s)? Great bird sightings, including a pair of peregrine falcons (good eyes Alex!) and an audio identification of an American Bittern (a rarity, again, good ears Alex!). We collected a nice water sample at Big Spring after an enjoyable 2.5 days of counting. Met some nice folks from the San Diego tracking team (Bob and Dick) who were counting at Lower Hellhole and we did a field trip with them on Thursday evening to the 'dump' area east of town. Saw 3 coyotes walk through and then tried to find their tracks, very humbling experience. The Bighorn 47th count year coffee mugs were a great 'consolation prize'. It's a unique group of people and I recommend that anyone that eventually signs up (campers excepted) consider staying at the Steele / Burnand Research Center. It's fun to hang out and see fellow counters each evening and at 4:30 in the morning, a lot of camaraderie with 'like-minded people', as one person put it.
edited by ziphius on 7/3/2017
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Buford
Buford
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19 days ago
Buford
Buford
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Ziphius, I must have missed you at checkin. We were a little late to checkout.

I was at 4th. Gary Was at 3rd and had to stay late waiting for us so we could reconcile counts.

Daren, I heard about your groups adventures from Mike when he walked us out. Ouch. He speculated some of the seismic activity might have shutoff the water supply to the spring.

Glad everyone made it out safe.

No exotic wildlife for us this year. Lots of frogs, water bugs, white preying mantis, lizards and some hawks. The hummingbirds kept trying to get nectar out of our orange tarp lines, confused things. Lots of other small birds but no birders in our group.
edited by Buford on 7/3/2017
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Buford
Buford
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14 days ago
Buford
Buford
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The reporter that was interviewing people and tagging along put up her report:

https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/07/09/volunteers-brave-extremes-to-count-bighorn-sheep-in-the-desert/

There are some minor differences between the audio and written report, but the gist is the same.
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dsefcik
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12 days ago
dsefcik
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Buford, thanks for posting that story link, much appreciated...

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