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Old Monday 25th June 2007, 19:49   #1
joannec
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Birding in Monterey, Big Sur and Carmel, California

I am going to be in Monterey, Big Sur and Carmel in August. It will be a family holiday, not specifically birding, but I hope to see as many birds as possible. I know the area, have many happy childhood memories spent there as my grandparents lived there. I remember sandpipers on Carmel beach and raptors on the Big Sur ridges and loads of sea birds and pelicans on Monterey Bay but I wasn't a birder in those days and don't know which ones they were. Can any US birders tell me what I am likely to see and the best places. Many thanks.

Joanne
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Old Monday 25th June 2007, 20:41   #2
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Hi Joan - I highly recomend the Elkhorn Slough Safari tour in Moss Landing. It is inexpensive way to get real close to some unique coastal wildlife. I've been on the trip three times and it has never been dull. I hope it's not to far north for your trip. Here's the website: http://www.elkhornslough.com/
The Elkhorn Slough reserve is also a nice place to take a stroll in the morning and the safari can be done in the afternoon.

My other recomemdation is the Salinas River Wildlife Refuge, not to be confused with the Salinas River perserve. This can take the place of the Slough walk, and then you can take the safari. The Snowy Plover preserve is there and I've seen interesting gulls, scoters, and passerines. Here's the link to that: http://www.fws.gov/pacific/refuges/field/CA_salinas.htm

PS. If you go there, don't be distressed when you wind up in an artichoke field, the refuge sign is visible at the end of the road.
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Old Monday 25th June 2007, 20:57   #3
Jurij Hanžel
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When in Monterey, one simply shouldn't miss the seabirds the amazing the numbers of seabirds that can be encountered offshore. Even though it doesn't quite fit into an archetypal family holiday, it's well worth a try. Pelagic trips led by Shearwater Journeys are intended for die-hard seabird aficionados that don't mind braving the elements for long hours on end.

Therefore, I'd recommend a seabird, or alternatively whale-watching (shorter than the seabird excursion), trip by the Monterey Bay Whale Watch. More details can be found here: http://www.gowhales.com/

I went on a similar holiday in June 2005 and the whale-watching trip was an unforgettable experience. We went on a whale-watching trip and saw a pod of Killer Whales, Humpback Whales and Pacific White-sided Dolphins. The skipper even spotted a Sperm Whale, albeit at a great distance. The situation was a bit quiet birdwise (August is a completely different story), but I still managed to connect with a single Tufted Puffin (surely one of the highlights of the entire trip). Sooty Shearwaters and Black-footed Albatrosses were abundant throughout the journey.

A handful of trip reports can be found here: http://www.montereyseabirds.com/SeabirdTripReports.htm

Clicking on the August trips should give you a general idea about the birds present at the time of your visit.


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Old Monday 25th June 2007, 21:09   #4
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Jurij has a good point. This year has been a great year for offshore birds and the shearwater journey's has posted some of they're sighting on the CalBirds:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CALBIRDS/message/6289
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Old Monday 25th June 2007, 21:33   #5
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Point Pinos in Pacific Grove is a scenic tourist spot which happens to have lots of Black Oystercatchers. If you go down to the Big Sur area (again fooling your family with the scenery), keep an eye out for reintroduced California Condors. Julia Pfeiffer Burns S.P. is apparently a good spot for them.
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Old Tuesday 26th June 2007, 10:35   #6
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WOW, thanks Ayasuda, Jurij and emupilot. This is just the sort of information I was looking for. The Salinas River Refuge looks really good, hopefully I'll be able to persuade the other non birding members of my family to take me there. The whale watching trip looks fantastic, and surprisingly not expensive. I think everyone would like that and I get to see the birds! Thanks also for the Calbirds site link, I'll be studying it over the course of the next month.

Re California Condors, is seeing them a realistic possibiity? What other raptors are in the Big Sur area? And are there still brown pelicans in Monterey Bay?

Joanne
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Old Tuesday 26th June 2007, 14:03   #7
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Hi Joanne

Try Don Robersons Web site has plenty of stuff on it. And not just his home area.

Monterey area wildlife

http://montereybay.com/creagrus/MTY.html

and his home page

http://montereybay.com/creagrus/

Cheers
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Old Tuesday 26th June 2007, 17:10   #8
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Hi Joan, I'm giving you a link to check out the Ventana Wilderness website. You can call them to find out about viewing oportunities for condors. The Fall raptor migration should start in the bay area about August so you should have ample opportunity to see all kinds of raptors passing through Monterey. Look for hills, the hawks use them for lift as they migrate south.
http://www.montereybay.com/creagrus/MTY_condors.html (you have this link from the GDK.

I'm including one more link: http://www.montereybaybirding.org/

You will miss the birding festival, but there should be some good info. on possible locations.

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Old Tuesday 26th June 2007, 17:56   #9
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Originally Posted by joannechattaway View Post
Re California Condors, is seeing them a realistic possibiity? What other raptors are in the Big Sur area? And are there still brown pelicans in Monterey Bay?

Joanne
As others pointed out, the Ventana Wildlife Society has information about Condors. Brown Pelicans are easy to see anywhere on the immediate coast.
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Old Tuesday 26th June 2007, 19:18   #10
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Thanks everyone, you've given me some great links. I'm already starting to plan my getaways from the teenagers.

Looks like Monterey County and Monterey Bay just might be one of the best birding spots on the whole West Coast!!! To think what I missed all those years ago...........

Joanne
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Old Wednesday 27th June 2007, 12:50   #11
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Some years ago my wife and I birded around Monterey for a few days and one of the best places we found was a small reserve called (I think) Jack's Point, which was a wooded hill just inland of Monterey. We also spent some time up a back road where we had been told Lawrence's Goldfinch and Wild Turkey could be found. We didn't get either but I had an excellent view of a Bobcat!

Its all a great area, hope you have a good time.

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Old Wednesday 27th June 2007, 16:48   #12
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Thanks John, another good tip.

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Old Friday 20th July 2007, 20:11   #13
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Plans have come on a bit more since I first asked for info. We're going to be there for a week and staying in Carmel. Nobody has mentioned Carmel beach for birding. Is it any good? I seem to remember the southern end of the beach is pretty people free.

The problem is trying to please 6 people, 4 of them the dreaded teenagers. Everyone wants to do the whale watching trip, that's great and I will get my fill of new seabirds. Really looking forward to that.

Thanks everyone who has provided information and links to various sites, I can't tell you how useful it's been.

Joanne
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Old Friday 20th July 2007, 20:56   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joannechattaway View Post
Plans have come on a bit more since I first asked for info. We're going to be there for a week and staying in Carmel. Nobody has mentioned Carmel beach for birding. Is it any good? I seem to remember the southern end of the beach is pretty people free.

The problem is trying to please 6 people, 4 of them the dreaded teenagers. Everyone wants to do the whale watching trip, that's great and I will get my fill of new seabirds. Really looking forward to that.

Thanks everyone who has provided information and links to various sites, I can't tell you how useful it's been.

Joanne
I've seen Elegant Tern at Carmel Beach, so it's good for something. Basic sandy beaches have limited shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Sanderling, Willet, and Black-bellied Plover. You can always watch the Heermann's Gulls too - I never get tired of them. The mouth of the Carmel River is a few blocks south of the main Carmel Beach IIRC and might be more productive than the main beach. Good luck with the teenagers.
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Old Friday 20th July 2007, 21:27   #15
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I don't know Joan, this is real touristville beach. Great for those youngsters, but not for a birder. Maybe some else has a different opinion. Unless you want to add Clint Eastwood to your lifer's list.
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Old Wednesday 8th August 2007, 19:18   #16
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Joanne

Point Lobos just south of Carmel on Highway 1 is a beautiful location for sea otters, seals, deer, even bobcat. There is a cormorant nesting colony, and opportunities for shore birds, and lots of woods to walk, we generally go in November and have seen Hutton's Vireo and Pygmy Nuthatches amongst many other woodland birds.

Also seventeen mile drive, has some spectacular spots. Last year we saw a feeding frenzy at one point with thousand of birds present, plenty of them Brown Pelicans.
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Old Wednesday 8th August 2007, 22:28   #17
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Hey Joan, I heard from the grapevine that the recent cold weather brought another upwellling of nutrients for the fish. This means that the pelagic trip should be a fantastic for you.
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