Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|A Skua Slam!
Largest Bird in North America seen!
Up close and personal with a California endemic!
Those are the headlines from our excellent Monterey Birding trip with Happy Warblers. Our group consisted of Joe, Al, Wolfgang, Debbie, Kathy, Eleanor, Gerry, and Sandy. Gerry has provided us with a photo history of the trip which can be found at:
We left NYC at about 8am on Aug. 20 and arrived in San Jose at about 2pm. Our group took the van for about an hour and a half and arrived at our destination, Day’s Inn, Monterey Calif. The birding would begin immediately. After putting our stuff in the hotel we drove to Point Pinos, about 10 minutes away. Here we saw our first Calif. birds: Brown Pelican, Brandt’s Cormorant, Black Oystercatcher, Surfbird, Heermann’s Gull, Black Phoebe and Brewer’s Blackbirds. A small pond just opposite Point Pinos held Western Sandpiper and Red-necked Phalarope. Overlooking the pond was a Red-shouldered Hawk. This was a very nice start. We had dinner in a local restaurant and headed back to our hotel.
Aug. 21. Breakfast was at 7am in the hotel restaurant. We left the hotel and headed north towards Elkhorn Slough. Before getting there we had a stop at Laguna Grande, in Seaside. We walked the pond finding many swallows including Cliff Swallow. We also saw Eurasian Collared Dove, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Ruddy Duck and a surprising Great-tailed Grackle. This is one of only a few spots where this bird can be found in Calif. Our group arrived at Elkhorn Slough in less than one hour. This preserve has the reputation as being the best migratory spot on the entire west cost of Calif. We were not disappointed. We saw: White-tailed Kite, Northern Harrier, many egrets and herons, over 300 Marbled Godwits, Whimbrels, Long-billed Curlews, many peeps, Willets, and Greater Yellow-legs. Land birds included Lesser Goldfinch, Hutton’s Vireo, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Pacific-slope Flycatcher and Western Scrub-Jays. After about three hours we left this spot, traveled one mile and reached Moonglow Dairy. Here we saw our target bird: Tricolored Blackbird. In the pond next to the cattle bins were Blue-winged Teal and Black-necked Stilts. It was time for a lunch break. Just on the other side of the preserve we had lunch while overlooking a pond that had Black-crowned Night heron and more Black-necked Stilts. After lunch we went to Moss Landing. We saw many Red-necked Phalaropes but missed our target bird, Snowy Plover. We drove to the other side of Moss Landing next to the Ocean Beach. We saw Caspian Terns, California Gull and Western Grebe. It was an excellent day. We headed back to the hotel and then dinner at a local restaurant.
Aug.22. After breakfast we drove to Point Pinos for an early morning view of the Calif. coast. We added Black Turnstone and Virginia Rail. On the ocean we added Pacific Loon, Common Murre and Pigeon Guillemot. We left this spot and headed towards Andrew Molera SP for some land birding. We saw Bushtit, Orange-crowned Warbler, Wrentit, Belted Kingfisher, Vaux’s Swift, and one of the highlights of the trip: California Condor. The condor was an adult and we could see the white underneath and in the wings. It was a satisfying view. We stayed about three hours enjoying the park and seeing more birds. Our group checked off: Brown Creeper, Wilson’s Warbler, and Acorn Woodpecker. We drove down the coast to our lunch spot, Nepenthe. We used the second level where there was no waiting. From their balcony we saw four more California Condors, even better views than before. We saw more swifts and added Black-chinned Hummingbird and Stellar’s Jay. We left this spot and its beautiful vistas and drove to Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park. The park was crowded with people, not making for the best birding opportunities but we did add Spotted Towee and Junco. We missed on the American Dipper. We went back to our hotel and then dinner at a local restaurant.
Aug.23. After our 7am breakfast we left the hotel and headed to Point Lobos. Besides birds the park is known for its beautiful vistas of the Calif. coast. We were the fifth car in the parking lot as it is best to get there before it becomes too crowded. Our target birds were Pelagic Cormorant and California Thrasher. Before the first hour was over we had seen both. We also had great views of Bewick’s Wren. It was noticed by some that this was the best view ever of this hard to see bird. We walked the two main trails of the park: Allan Memorial Trail and the “seal” trail. We did see a few hundred seals. After about three hours we left this spot, picked up sandwiches and headed towards Garland Ranch Regional Park, in the Carmel Valley. The birding was light at the park and we only added Oak Titmouse to our list. The park makes for a good bathroom stop and they have nice shaded picnic benches. We drove east on Carmel Valley road heading towards mile post 18 where in previous years we had seen the California endemic, Yellow-billed Magpie. When we got to the spot we could not find the bird, a big disappointment. We drove down the road looking for other specialties that may be found along the road. At mile post 28 we found Lark Sparrow and then surprisingly we found the Yellow-billed Magpie! We had excellent close views. It was a highlight of the trip. Overhead was an immature Bald Eagle which we also added to our trip list. We went back to the hotel. With a little time to spare some people made a short stop at the Monterey Aquarium. Then it was on to dinner at a local restaurant.
Aug. 24. This was our last full day of birding and we were going on a pelagic trip sponsored by Monterey Seabirds. This morning we had breakfast at 6:30 and by 7:30 we were on our boat and ready for 7 hours on the water. We saw many seabirds. Of special note were: Buller’s Shearwater, Pink-footed Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, and Black-footed Albatross. All of these species were seen many times and at close range. We also completed a Skua Slam seeing all four possible skuas in the area. The skuas were: South Polar, Long-tailed, Pomarine and Parasitic. These birds were all seen repeatedly and again at close range. Other birds seen on the pelagic were: Sabine’s Gull, Common Murre, Rhinoceros Auklet and Pigeon Guillemot. On the water were both Red-necked and Red Phalaropes. Besides birds we also saw Blue Whales and Risso’s Dolphins. It was an excellent birding adventure on the ocean and held with good conditions. We went back to the hotel, picked up our stuff, and headed towards San Jose and the airport hotel. We had dinner at the hotel and got to bed early because most of has had a 5:45am flight back to NYC.
Aug.25. We left the hotel just a little after 4am and got to the airport just as they were opening. Our 5:45 am flight was the first one to depart the airport. We arrived back in NYC about 2pm a little ahead of schedule. It was a great trip had by all with 116 species seen by most members of the Happy Warblers group.
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
South Polar Skua
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Species seen - 116