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.

A Birding Moment To Remember

February 5, 2000 Hatteras, North Carolina

Brian Patteson’s team of leaders, clad in Grunden orange foul weather gear, cut up fish near the stern of the boat. The air was tinged with a fishy smell that was soon overcome by the diesel fumes from the idling motors of the Miss Hatteras. The cold, gusty winds whipped into our faces as we bantered loudly over the sound of wind and engines. The wetness of the ocean air seemed to sneak into the warmest of apparel and surprise the wearer with an unexpected shiver.

Several birders opted to stay in the warmth of the cabin as we motored out of Oden’s Dock and headed into the gray-green waters of the winter Atlantic. The rest of us positioned ourselves around the perimeter of the boat as well as on the upper deck. The latter was my choice on this February 5 pelagic birding trip out of Hatteras, North Carolina. Continue reading