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1 June - 30 September, 2016 The pace of new discoveries and newsworthy events slowed considerably after the MOQU and SOGR projects transitioned from data gathering to data analysis in June.  After weeks of wrestling with unyielding computer software, preferred approaches to data analysis emerged. We are now processing our data with these techniques, which are illustrated graphically in the most recent additions to the MOQU project photo gallery and SOGR project photo gallery.
24 Apr - 31 May 2016 MOQU: Since our last update, work on the Mtn Quail project has been limited to routine maintenance of automated recorders and weather stations; refreshing batteries and downloading data on an approximately 10-day schedule. MOQU project photo gallery. SOGR: Sooty Grouse surveys were our main occupation for the past month because males cease to hoot reliably after about June 1st due to rising temperatures. JB logged about 4,800 miles, including travel to and from survey areas. After covering Sonoma County pretty thoroughly (the southernmost county for Sooty Grouse along the coast), it became clear the species is even more closely associated (in spring) with mountain meadows and huge fir trees than we had anticipated. Among the 42 territorial males we detected, 40 were in or within ~50 m of fir a tree >36" in diameter. One was associated with equally large oak trees. The species was rarely encountered on lands where intensive timber harvest had occurred and dense secondary forest now prevails. This includes most National Forest and State Park lands and extensive tracts now owned by such organizations as Mendocino Redwood Company and The Conservation Fund. On these lands, breeding grouse were found only where relict clusters of primary-growth fir trees occurred adjacent to mountain meadows, near the crests of ridges. And many of those sites appear to be of declining value to Sooty Grouse because fire suppression over recent decades has resulted in a overgrown understory. The stronghold for Sooty Grouse in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties appears to be moderately large private lands (100-1000 acres) with a history of livestock grazing and selective timber harvest, and in many cases managed as private hunting reserves. Although this survey emphasized public and "conserved" lands, we surveyed enough private land to see a clear difference. We were unable to detect breeding males on public lands anywhere in the northern half of Mendocino Co., or in Lake or Glenn Co. This is particularly alarming because Mendocino Pass Road, which straddles Mendocino and Glenn Counties, was once the site of an annual Sooty Grouse count. We will elaborate more on these concerns in our final report. SOGR project photo gallery.
27 April GBRG's Senior Research Associates now carry a DeLorme inReach satellite communicator in the field. The unit provides 2-way SMS (text) communication, SOS emergency response, and on-line tracking, all with global coverage. It greatly enhances the safety of our Associates, who frequently work in rugged and remote terrain with little or no cellular coverage. To check the current, or most recent, location of an Associate, see GBRG's tracking webpage.
07-23 Apr 2016 MOQU: We repositioned our three ARU arrays in three habitat types: open woodland (previously the "south" array), mixed forest, and chaparral. The earlier "north" array did not pan out because the initial placement of ARUs was not appropriate for the deeply undulating terrain. Learning from that misstep, we redeployed the ARUs in more advantageous terrain, and in a variety of habitat types. Fortunately, we were able to quickly find sites with good densities of quail in both forest and chaparral habitats. We also deployed a small weather station (Onset Hobo weather data logger) near the center of each array. These collect data on temperature, wind speed, and wind direction that are synchronized with our audio recordings, and will enable us to correct for the influence of air temperature on the speed of sound, and to analyze the effects of wind speed and direction on detectability of mountain quail vocalizations. MOQU project photo gallery. SOGR: We surveyed Jenner Headlands Preserve and the northeastern boundary of Buckeye Forest, both in Sonoma County. Our discovery of a small hooting group (3-5 territorial males) at JHP was somewhat monumental. Early in the last century, Joseph Grinnell, the eminent scholar of California's birds, indicated Sooty Grouse was historically distributed along the state's coast as far south as Seaview, near the mouth of the Russian River. The Jenner Headlands overlook the mouth of the Russian River. No proper survey has ever been conducted for Sooty Grouse at the southern limit of it's range, and since the 1950s there has been concern that heavy harvest of fir trees might have caused the species to decline. The site GBRG discovered at JHP is the southernmost known breeding site for Sooty Grouse on the Pacific coast (the species breeds communally, returning to the same breeding area year after year, generation after generation). The good news is that the species has not been extirpated from the southern tip of its historic range. The bad news is that a breeding group of as few as 3 males could mean the local population might be on the brink of extinction. More work is needed to determine the habitat and population connectivity of this group to others nearby. This, in fact, relates to the overall goal of GBRGs' Sooty Grouse research, to develop a spatially-explicit model that will map suitable habitat throughout the region. SOGR project photo gallery.
24 Mar - 03 Apr 2016 MOQU: We used audio recordings from ARUs scattered around Hunter Creek Drainage to identify two sites where territorial (singing) male MOQU were especially abundant. The ARUs were then redeployed at these sites in arrays of four units each. Many hours were spent determining optimal positions for the ARUs, trying to maintain a square configuration on convoluted terrain and trying to space the units at appropriate distances for MOQU audibility. The next objective will be to review the recordings made at arrays and adjust distances between ARUs as necessary to ensure simultaneous detection at multiple recorders. MOQU project photo gallery. SOGR: JB searched for hooting males along Meyer's Grade Road, Fort Ross Road, and the eastern end of King Ridge Road, all in northwestern Sonoma County. He only found birds where he had found them previously along King Ridge Road. JB and Director Howard Higley also searched the southeastern portion of Buckeye Forest in northwestern Sonoma County, and found a single hooting group at the southern tip of Oak Ridge, near the confluence of Gualala River and Wolf Creek. The next objective will be to search the rest of Buckeye Forest and Jenner Headlands and Austin Creek State Parks in Sonoma County. SOGR project photo gallery.
14-22 Mar 2016 JB started field work on our Mtn Quail and Sooty Grouse studies. MOQU: 12 Autonomous Recording Units (ARUs) were deployed in areas within the 2013 Rim Fire (northwest of Yosemite) to initially assess the presence of breeding quail, which is the first step to choosing sites for intensive bioacoustic research. The ARUs are being serviced, fine-tuned, and sometimes relocated, every 3-4 days, and initial recordings are being used to fine-tune the ARUs. MOQU project photo gallery. SOGR: On 18 March JB searched for hooting grouse along several rural roads in north-central Sonoma County, including Rockpile Road, Cherry Creek Road, Skaggs Springs Road, Tin Barn Road, and King Ridge Road. The first grouse of the study was found hooting near the gate that marks the northern end of public access on Rockpile Road (Lake Sonoma). Unfortunately, the gate was only at the beginning of what appeared to be good breeding habitat: ridgetop meadows flanked by patches of broadleaf trees and a few very large Douglas firs. Additional hooting males were found along the western portion of King Ridge Road, where habitat conditions were similar. No grouse were found along Cherry Creek Road, where large firs were lacking, or along Skaggs Springs Road, much of which is deep in the Gualala River canyon. There are historic sightings from this portion of the road, but the habitat is not right for breeding males. SOGR project photo gallery.
11 Feb 2016 Special Director's meeting. Directors agreed unanimously to hire JB to conduct mountain quail and sooty grouse studies under CDFW grants.
08 Aug 2015 The California Franchise Tax Board granted GBRG state tax-exempt status, effective 21 Apr 2014.
15 Jul 2015 Annual Director's meeting. All standing Directors and Officers were re-elected.
02 Jul 2015 CDFW awarded GBRG grants totaling $73,000 to conduct field studies on Mountain Quail and Sooty Grouse in 2016. See GBRG's Projects page for additional information. 
01 Mar 2015 Submitted two grant proposals to CDFW, one to develop census and habitat assessment methods for Mountain Quail, and another to develop a predictive habitat model for coastal Sooty Grouse populations.
09 Jan 2015 GBRG was granted federal tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service, effective 21 Apr 2014.
27 Jul 2014 GBRG held its first Board of Director's meeting, by way of internet videoconference.  All 5 Directors were in attendance.  James Bland was elected President/Chief Executive Officer, Robert Reighard was elected Secretary/Treasurer, and the location of GBRG's principal office was officially designated, all by unanimous vote.
18 Jul 2014 GBRG applied to the Internal Revenue Service for recognition of tax-exempt (501(c)(3)) status.
14 Jul 2014 GBRG's Bylaws were formally adopted by the Board of Directors.
01 Jul 2014 GBRG's Initial Board of Directors was formally constituted.
14 May 2014 GBRG submitted a proposal for a California Department of Fish and Wildlife Upland Game Bird Account Grant, titled "Habitat distribution modeling for the Sooty Grouse at its southern limit on the north coast of California."
21 Apr 2014 GBRG's Articles of Incorporation were certified by the California Secretary of State.