Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|The highlights are: Great views of California Condor, close views of Yellow-billed Magpie, many pelagic species and a Fur Seal rescued.
Those are the headlines from our excellent Monterey Birding trip with Happy Warblers. Our group consisted of Joe, Al, Eleanor, Gerry, Gina, Monica, Aridth, Alison and Zina. 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 a Wandering Tattler, a bird which had eluded the group on previous Monterey trips. Other birds we saw were: Brown Pelican, Brandt’s Cormorant, Black Oystercatcher, Surfbird, Heermann’s Gull, Elegant Tern and Brewer’s Blackbirds. A small pond, Crespi Pond, just opposite Point Pinos held Sora, Virginia Rail and Red-necked Phalarope. Next to the pond were two Western Bluebirds. 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 dining area. 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 Belted Kingfisher, Ash-throated Flycatcher and many Pied-billed Grebes. We left this spot and 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: Marbled Godwits, Whimbrels, Long-billed Curlews, many peeps, Willets, and Greater Yellowlegs. Land birds included Western Scrub-Jay and Chestnut-backed Chickadee. After about three hours we left this spot and took a break for lunch at Phil’s Snack Shack. While having lunch we saw four Black-crowned Night Herons in the tree next to our table. After lunch we traveled one mile and reached Moonglow Dairy. Here we saw our target bird: Tricolored Blackbird. We also picked up Peregrine Falcon and Wilson’s Warbler. After Moonglow we went to Moss Landing. First we did the bay side then the ocean side. On the bay side we had excellent views of Long-billed Curlew and Whimbrel. They were about two feet apart and made for excellent comparison. The ponds next to the ocean side had over 300 Marbled Godwits. 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 again saw Sora and Virginia Rail. We also had excellent views of Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. We left this spot and headed towards Andrew Molera SP for some land birding. We saw Bushtit, Hutton’s Vireo, Orange-crowned Warbler, Wrentit, Olive-sided Flycatcher and Pacific-slope Flycatcher. After about three hours we drove down the coast to our lunch spot, Nepenthe. On the way we had one of the highlights of the trip. We spotted flying overhead Turkey Vultures and California Condors. We were right next to the Big Sur post office so we pulled over and got out of the van. We had excellent views of the birds. It was amazing to see the size of the condor and we had them right next to TV’s so we could compare. At Nepenthe we used the second level where there was no waiting. From their balcony we had good views of the California coast while being entertained by Stellar’s Jays. We left this spot and its beautiful vistas and drove to Jack’s Peak hoping to find Golden-crowned Sparrow. No luck with the sparrow but we did get great views of the Monterey area. 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 first car in the parking lot as it is best to get there before it becomes too crowded. Our target birds were California Thrasher and Bewick’s Wren. Within 10 minutes we had great views of the California Thrasher. The Wren would elude us for the entire trip. We walked the two main trails of the park: Allan Memorial Trail and the “seal” trail. We did see a few hundred seals on the seal trail and had a good showing of land birds on the Allan Memorial trail. We saw two Townsend’s Warblers, Nuttall’s and Hairy Woodpeckers. 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. 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 disappointment. The substitute viewing was fantastic views of an adult Golden Eagle as it flew just a little above eye level and then soared above us giving great views. We drove down the road looking for other specialties that may be found along the road. At mile post 28 where we found the magpie last year again nothing. I decided to drive down Tassajara Road where the vegetation looked promising. We found many Lark Sparrows and then surprisingly we found the two Yellow-billed Magpies! We had excellent views. Also present were Lesser Goldfinches and an immature Black-headed Grosbeak. It was a highlight of the trip. 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, Black-vented Shearwater, Pink-footed Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, and Black-footed Albatross. All of these species were seen many times and at close range. We saw two jaeger species: Pomarine and Parasitic. Other birds seen on the pelagic were: Red and Red-necked Phalaropes, Common Murre, Rhinoceros Auklet and Pigeon Guillemot. Besides birds we also saw distant Humpback Whales and Dolphins. Midway on our trip we encountered a Fur Seal wrapped in fish nettings. Our skilled crew was able to capture the seal and free it from the nettings. Great job by Monterey Seabirds staff and crew! 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 6:20am flight back to NYC.
Aug. 25. We left the hotel just a little after 4:30am and got to the airport just as they were opening. Our early flight was one of the first 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 102 species seen by most members of the Happy Warblers group.
SPECIES SEEN From 8/20/2014 to 8/25/2014 ~ in California
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Species seen - 102