Monterey Bay Birding Festival 2012

Western and Heermann's Gulls near Monterey, CA - 2004-12-10

Western and Heermann’s Gulls near Monterey, CA – 2004-12-10 photo by Greg Miller

Time again pack up and hit the road.  I am returning to California (I was in Chico for the Snow Goose Festival in January), this time to the Monterey Bay Area (read about Monterey County here and about the city itself, here) about mid-coast California for the Monterey Bay Birding Festival.  I will be on two pelagic trips to look for seabirds on 9/13/2012 & 9/16/2012 with Debi Shearwater of Shearwater Journeys fame.  I’m honored to be currently featured on Debi’s blog, too.

In addition to the pelagic trips, I’ll be co-leading two trips on land, presenting 3 different workshops, and giving a keynote presentation.  The festival runs from September 13-16 this year.

The Monterey Bay area is one of the most scenic areas that I regularly visit as a birder.  It has wonderful birding, stunning scenery, fabulous food, and…and…it’s just an awesome place!  As for seabirding, this may be the very best location for a birder to take their first trip to sea.  You can find seabirds soon after leaving the harbor.  And the seas are rarely rough, although they are rarely smooth either.  The combination of a moving boat and wave action and moving seabirds makes for some difficult viewing at times.  But pelagics are a great risk/reward.  They can be pretty ordinary…or they can be staggeringly awesome.  It’s hard to say.  Even leaders who do this often stand a small chance of seeing a brand new life bird.  It is one of the best places for unexpected surprises.

I am going to try to do mini-blogs while I am there as well as updates to Facebook here and Twitter here.  In the mini-blogs during the day I hope to name some birds of a Californian or Western flavor as well as any rarities and phone pics in close to real time.  In the evenings, depending on my energy level, I will try to post some bird pictures taken with my camera.  These are big aspirations, of course, since much of my time will be spent with other birders.

Lastly, a list of bird species recorded during the 2011 Monterey Bay Birding Festival can be found here.

So stay tuned here…I am anxious to see how well this works.

Falcated Duck – Yes!

Greetings from the Central Valley of California where it’s cold and rainy (for now). Highlights from birding yesterday include the Falcated Duck, a Eurasian form of Green-winged Teal, 8 Eurasian Wigeons, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Prairie Falcon, Merlin, 3 Ferruginous Hawks (2 light phase & 1 beautiful dark phase), Yellow-billed Magpie. For this Ohio birder it was also pretty exciting to see some western regulars like Anna’s Hummingbird, Spotted & California Towhee, Western Scrub-Jay, Lesser Goldfinch, California Gull, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Sparrow, and Cinnamon Teal.

So much for a rainy cold day in California! 🙂


Falcated Duck – digiscoped with Swarovski 80mm  photo: Bruce Webb


Falcated Duc  photo: Mike Peters

Jump Start Your Life List

Many of you probably have nice life lists already. But for those who are just starting out, here is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to boost your life list of birds in North America (southern border of the U.S. and northward) to over 500. The following are my very favorite places to go birding on the continent. All of these spots are great for birds at any time of year. But I have included my recommendations for those making their first trips. And of course, I am biased with by my own best birding experiences. The birds are spectacular and each of these places provides a very good variety of species as well. Continue reading