Thursday, October 29, 2009

Movement within the Lexington Reservoir area

We did a second day of tracking based on Monday's sighting at Lexington Elementary School, mostly to see if Raven stayed in the area. We know it is very rare to be tracking and to come across the object of your search. Mostly, we are tracking to know where to do promotion and feeding stations at this point. Here is the track:

R7 at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: GPS Trip Sharing with Google Maps

We started at the CDF alma station where we had left off the previous day. Raven went south back towards the school but veered off towards the shore of the reservoir. She basically went south from there until she could not go south anymore. If you look on the google map, the reservoir appears full but the reality of the situation at this point in time is that the thing is maybe 1/4 full. The south end, where the creek comes into it from the mountains is pretty much just a mud flat with a creek running through it. There are some houses along Oakmont Drive and she basically headed for them and skirted their backyards which look out over the expanse of reservoir to the north. We passed an old bridge which normally would be under water. Because of the low water levels, it was walkable and covered with grass. This is some road remnant of the old town of Alma we later learned which was submerged to form the reservoir.

Passed the Oakmont area homes, raven actually got into the creek and then went north for a short while on the eastern side before doubling back south in the creek bed itself. She progressed into increasingly muddy and reedy areas until we encountered what appeared to be a beaver dam with an actual small but rather deep pond behind it. We were not sure if Raven had gone further south at this point, but we knew that we could not go further south. Cursing under our breath and hungry for lunch, we backtracked ourselves towards the Oakmont area and came out onto that street only to find that Dino had the scent again - Raven had not gotten past the pond but we don't know how she got herself from there to Oakmont. Elaine brought lunch at the intersection of Oakmont and Old Santa Cruz highway and then we were walking north again on Old Santa Cruz.

The Lexington Elementary school is not far, and Raven must have realized this, because she basically made a bee-line there. We stopped at the entry gate after realizing that Raven had gone into their campus to check with the office to see if it was okay that we be there. It was, so we proceeded. Raven had gotten in through the main gate and proceeded to do about three or four loops around the entire campus. At first she was exploring and looking for food, but the later loops started to be more about checking out the fence for a way out. Somewhere in the middle of the campus track segment, Raven had actually walked into their cafeteria building through door 1 and then across the length of that room and out the door 2. No one noticed her - this might have been early morning or late in the afternoon when few people were around. We saw various food items on the ground here and there so it was apparent that this was a decent place for her to get a meal.

From the school she walked north on Old Santa Cruz until she got back to the CDF station, which she entered again and did another loop around, leaving there by picking up the trail that runs through their backyard - an extension of the Los Gatos Creek trail. She took this trail (which she knew well from the previous day) straight north to the Dam and then walked across the dam due east until finding the boat ramp parking lot. She explored the area there and then went down to the water where we stopped for the day.

The last thing we did was significant. While on the dam we took the dogs down the north side to the actual Los Gatos Creek Trail terminus from where you can get to Los Gatos or Campbell and asked Dino and Dot to tell us whether Raven had headed North. The answer was no.

So - we see here more of the same behavior that she's been engaging in - continuous movement - searching for food and new movement opportunites. One of the things we noticed today is that with the exception of her visit to the Lexington school, she was not near garbage cans. We are thinking that maybe she has been hunting and this accounts for her ability to maintain such an energy level in an area where she has much less human food opportunities. Not sure. If this is the case, it's a bad thing because that makes her less likely to stay near people -- and there are a lot of opportunities to go into places where no one lives (so she becomes invisible completely) and where we cannot track her. all she needs to do is to go south or east and she disappears.

I was debating whether it made sense to continue tracking after today and have decided (with the assistance of Monica and Elaine) that for the moment, further tracking won't help. The reasoning is this. If she is merely staying in the Reservoir area, more tracking won't help us. If she goes further south or east, tracking won't help us because there really aren't many people in those directions (if any in some directions!). She didn't go north. West is cut off by 17 and we saw no signs of crossing 17 (although she could do that). If she did go west, it's pretty much the same as if she went east - few people and roads and difficult to track her there. We have a very poor understanding of the area and the prospects for where people live and where she might be seen if she goes east south or west, so if you live in the area and/or have an intimate knowledge of the terrain there, can you please comment and tell us if we're missing something? That could be helpful.

We've kept the feeding station at the CDF in place so maybe she will make the rounds again and find the food and we'll get her to come back there on that basis. Or maybe she won't. This is not a situation which can be forced, unfortunately.

Tired now. More as we have it, but at this moment I'm not expecting more for a bit unless something pops at the feeding station. Would be that this was an easier task.


  1. On the Lexington Trail, would it be feasible to set up a camera, perhaps near the food, or somewhere on the trail where Raven has back tracked? I know that gets a little expensive.
    Just a thought.

  2. Thank you for the updates. I have been following your story since the Open Space District was notified of Raven's disappearance. We hike in the area a lot and we have been keeping an eye out for her and spreading the word. We figured the more people know the better. We are keeping our fingers crossed!

  3. There is a camera near the food - I did not make that clear but there is. Maybe we need more than one camera/food station ...