Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Dates: August 22-27, 2012
Location: Monterey California
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Our group consisted of Joe, Kathy, Debbie, Mary Jane, Alison and Jennifer. Except for Joe it was the first time any of our birders had been birding in Monterey. It was also the first time that Happy Warblers LLC had sponsored a trip to Monterey. The trip was highly successful with a total of 113 species of birds being seen by members of the group. At the end of the trip it was wished that we could have stayed longer and just enjoyed the wildlife, venues, food, and friendships that were made on the trip.
Aug. 22: Most of our group took the United/Continental Airways flight out of LaGuardia . The plane took off right on schedule. We transferred planes in Denver and arrived in San Jose on schedule at about 12 noon. Joe and Alison meet us at the airport and we took the van for about two hours arriving at our motel, Day’s Inn, in Monterey at 3pm. The Day’s Inn on Abrego Street was well suited for our birding trip as it was quite perfectly located, clean and with excellent internet. After checking in the birding would begin immediately. We drove for 10 minutes and arrived at our first birding venue, Point Pinos. Here our group started to register many lifers. We saw Black Turnstone, Black Oystercatcher, Brandt’s Cormorant, Black Phoebe, Pigeon Guillemot, Heermann’s Gull, Surfbird and Common Murre. Except for the Surfbird we would see these birds almost everyday. A small pond, Crespi Pond, next to Point Pinos had a very close Red-necked Phalarope. The bird spins as it searches for food. The bird was so close that we didn’t need binoculars. After about two hours of birding we headed to downtown Monterey where we had dinner at a local restaurant. The food was very good and the dessert was fantastic.
Aug. 23: We were up early with breakfast at 7am and then a full day of birding at Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing. On the way to the Slough we made a stop at Laguna Grande Pond. Here we picked up Eurasian Collared Dove as well as a flock of Western Bluebirds. Our first stop at the Slough was their visitor’s center. It was a relatively new building with exhibits and a nice book store. Heading out into the field we could not have walked 100 feet when we saw more bluebirds, Red-shouldered Hawk, and White-tailed Kite. The slough is like an estuary where salt water mixes with fresh water and the entire area is tidal. We were there just a few hours before high tide which made for excellent viewing as the flats were exposed and shorebirds were able to feed. The most obvious shorebird was the Marbled Godwit. I would estimate the there were some 350 of them present. We had excellent looks. Also present, in reduced numbers, were Long-billed Curlews. Again we had excellent looks. Our group also saw many Willets, Western Sandpipers, and many heron species. As for land birds we recorded Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Scrub-Jay, Bushtit and Lesser Goldfinch. After three hours we had lunch in a nearby food stop. The deli/restaurant had a nice pond and viewing area. We picked up Black-necked Stilts.
Our next stop was Moss Landing, it was only about a half mile away. At this location we saw many Marbled Godwits and mixed in with them were a few Long-billed Dowitchers. On the sand on the east side of the highway were two Snowy Plovers and in the pond were a large number of Red-necked Phalaropes. On the sand spit were many harbor seals and across the way were many California Sea Lions. Swimming on their backs were a good number of otters. A few Caspian Terns were coasting along with the shorebirds and different Gull species. Walking to the ocean we saw very well two Clark’s Grebes. We left this spot and made a birding stop at Zmudowski State Beach. Here we recorded a California Gull, only one of two that we would see on the entire trip. We returned to Monterey, had dinner at a Tex-Mex restaurant overlooking the harbor.
Aug. 24: We started the day by birding Point Pinos for an early look at the bay. We saw a lot of the same birds but added a good number of Sooty Shearwaters and some Elegant Terns. We went back to the motel for breakfast and then on to Andrew Molera State Park. On our way to the state park we made a few stops along Highway One to enjoy the beautiful vistas that the California coast has to offer. We also saw an unending river of Sooty Shearwaters. I estimate the number in excess of 5,000. At the admission gate of Andrew Molera we were greeted by a flock California Quail. Excellent views! We walked the ocean trail looking for birds. Here we found Vaux’s Swift, Orange-crowned Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Hutton’s Vireo and Oregon Junco. The highlight was provided by a Wrentit. We had excellent views and were able to ‘look into the eyes’ of this bird. Our group left this park and headed for lunch at Nepenthe. We used the café where there was no waiting instead of the restaurant where we would have had to wait 45 minutes. The views are excellent and anyone visiting this area should visit this spot just for the vistas. We were also looking for the California Condor. It had been reported in the area but we missed the bird. This is just a reason to visit the area again. After lunch we headed towards Pfeiffer-Big Sur. We took the route that goes towards the ocean. Here we would pick up Surf Scoter, Pacific Loon and Northern Pintail. We returned to Monterey where we would have dinner at a local restaurant.
Aug. 25: We had breakfast at the motel at 7am and then headed towards Point Lobos. This park is called the “star” of the entire California State Park system. When you visit this park you will know why they refer to this park as their best. We were the second car in the parking lot and were able to see some early morning land birds. Near the parking lot were California Thrasher and Anna’s Hummingbird. We walked the ‘seal’ trail getting great looks at the coast. Then we walked the Allan Memorial Trail. We had good looks at Band-tailed Pigeon, Peregrine Falcon, Pelagic Cormorant and fantastic looks at Rhinoceros Auklet. After about three hours we headed towards Carmel Valley to do some land birding. First we picked up sandwiches at a local deli and then ate them while we birded from picnic tables in Garland Ranch Regional Park. We picked up Bewick’s Wren, Oak Titmouse and Spotted Towhee. We left this park and on a tip headed towards an old airfield along the way. We were looking out for reported Black-headed Grosbeak and Lazuli Bunting. We struck out on both. We continued driving on Carmel Valley Road making some stops but not recording any new species. Then at mile marker 18 we hit gold. We scoped three Yellow-billed Magpies. With the magpies were about 20 Western Bluebirds and many Lark Sparrows. It was a great spot with very good views. We drove further along the road seeking other birds but came up empty. Falling behind schedule we decided to have lunch in the Valley at “Will’s Fargo”. It was voted the best restaurant of the entire trip.
Aug. 26: Today would be our last day of birding and it was the highlight on the entire Monterey Birding trip. We were going on a pelagic trip out of Monterey Bay and into the Pacific Ocean. We started the trip at 7:30 am using the services of Monterey Seabirds. There were about 30 people on the 55-foot ship. Monterey Seabirds also had 5 leaders aboard to help pick out the ocean birds. The conditions were very good with hardly any wind and 2-3 foot waves. We saw many birds including Pink-footed Shearwater, Buller’s Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater and Black-footed Albatross. These birds were all common. We also saw three species of jaeger: Pomarine, Parasitic and Long-tailed. We had distant, but adequate, views of Red Phalarope and Ashy Storm-Petrel. We also saw whales and dolphins. Some species were White-sided Dolphin, Blue Whale and Fin Whale. The trip ended at 3pm. We went back to our motel, picked up our stuff and headed towards the Radisson Airport hotel in San Jose. We went out for dinner at a local restaurant and retired for the night.
Aug. 27: At 6:15am we were on the van and headed towards the San Jose Airport. Our flight back to New York was about two hours late getting out of the gate but our connecting flight in Houston was also two hours late. The net result was that we arrived back in LaGuardia a little late. It was a great trip had by all with 113 well seen species.
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Species seen - 113