Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Condors in flight - The Video

Given the vacation described in the previous entry, we shot probably 1/2 hour of raw footage of California Condors, sitting on the guard rail next to us, collecting into a "gang" to look quizzically at the visitors who stopped to look quizzically at them, and some great shots of them flying overhead. This was one of the most delightful and amazing encounters of big birds we've ever had. So, it caused me to write a little pan-flute tune to use as "movie background music", called "Andes Off!"... and I've been working tirelessly for several weeks to trim the footage down to a 10-minute flight with these great creatures.

After fighting with the special YouTube uploader on Windows, I finally gave up and used a lower-quality movie format to get the size down so I could upload it from a Mac (which worked fine.) So, the quality on YouTube isn't as clean as I would like, but I think you'll get a good feel for the breathtaking experience we had up by Big Sur. I hope you enjoy the video. Be sure to leave a comment over at the YouTube video page, or here on the blog and tell me what you think... about condors, re-introduction efforts, the music, the video, etc. I am putting together the raw footage to send off to the biologists up at Ventana Wildlife Society, and possibly to the San Diego Zoo too (if they respond to my e-mail). :-)

(Updated to NEW version of the video 11/2009)


Anonymous said...

I love to see the birds flying. I love the brief segments without people especially.

The whole thing - the birds, the people, the cars, the road, the woman with the squirt gun, the numbers on the birds - reminds me how we are trying to reverse the damage we have already done to the wild and yet at the same time we are continuing to destroy it.

In the segments in which the birds are flying, in which there are no people, cars or road and in which we cannot see the numbers it is possible to pretend that we are seeing back in time when condors were free and wild.

Drakonis said...

The damage is not completely reversible, and I'm ambivalent about that.

Part of me wanted to edit this to just be the condors, since I agree, they are fascinating, and I get lost watching them too. But part of me wanted to show their interaction with people... for better or worse, that however hard we tried raising them with "Condor Puppets" so they wouldn't bond with people, they still seem rather comfortable saying hi to the tourists. I'm delighted to have an opportunity like this in person, and on film. However, I'm also worried for them about their curiosity and lack of fear of humans. This can only spell disaster as they get shot at and hit by cars.

Although I'm hopeful that a balance can be struck between man and bird... I also am reminded of man's repeated inability and unwillingness to balance.

My ambitious goal is to have my video of these birds and little bits of membership donations to SD Zoo and Ventana help with this balance.

Thank you so much for your friendship and support, Ken!

Anonymous said...

When I first saw the still photos and the video of the birds I felt excited to see saw rare creatures and thought of them being wild.

As I learned more about what you had seen and watched the video again I began to realize that they were not wild and I began to see the true story. That true story troubles me a lot. Certainly it is valuable to show the whole story in the video and not pretend the story is something different.

Maybe you could write some creepy music to go with the video.

Of course, I know that not everyone would see the creepiness in the images - the numbered birds, the gawking tourists, the woman with the squirt gun, and the cars whizzing by - the way I do.

Julia said...

I have yet to see these guys in person but it is on my list to do. I am going to schedule some time a trip to Pinnacles NM since it's about 1.5 hrs from my house. They are giant. I am always amazed at the hulking size of golden eagles but to see the condors in person will be even more astounding.

Drakonis said...

Oh, if you are that close, you really ought to take the time to get over to see them... maybe contact Ventana Wildlife and get on a Condor-release-day tour, so you're more likely to see one:

Luckily I live near the San Diego Wild Animal Park, which has had a small group of them on display for decades (though I never got up to see them until this year, blush.)

And despite this awesome once-in-a-lifetime condor experience and their grace in the air, I must admit that the Golden Eagle remains my lifelong favorite bird.

Thank you for visiting my little cyber-spot, Julia.