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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Birding California (1 Viewer)

I'm not sure exactly what you wanted to see in each site, but here's some more suggestions. Seeing bears is not so easy, as they are pretty spooked by people. One of the national parks (Yosemite, Sequoia, etc.) is the best bet, but you need to hike out of the populated areas. It is not a quick in-and-out. Coyotes you can see all through the coastal regions (and likely other places), but again it will be hit-and-miss and it won't be the the built-up regions.

This is paced about how I would like to do it based on prior travels in area. I have not checked all the travel times in Google Maps, but it should all more or less workout. An important item is to _not_ visit Yosemite over a weekend. Mid-week is best.

The area you have drawn on your map is maybe half the size of England (just eyeballing it, not a rigorous calculation). And some of it is via slower roads. Everything in the eastern side of California is going to be big areas and winding roads when you get up in the mountains.

Also, there is not food everywhere! Many of these places have no concessions. You will need to budget time to stop by a supermarket and buy rations / sandwiches / etc. for the day and lots of water. There will be lots of food options along the drives, but not so much at each destination. Yosemite, for example, has some cafeterias, but they are in the middle of the buildup areas and not where you want to be.

Day 1: From SFO, travel to Point Reyes, spend night. This assumes you arrive not too late. Depending on the day and time, it could be in _very_heavy_traffic_ as there is a large commute out of San Francisco to Marin from about 3pm - 7pm week days and 9am - 1pm weekends.

Day 2: morning at point reyes. In late afternoon, leave for Yosemite (assuming this is not a weekend!). Arrive near Yosemite in evening, such as one of the motels in Groveland. Assuming it's during good traffic and you're leaving from the tip of Point Reyes, it's maybe a 4 hour drive.

Day 3: yosemite valley and areas. In late afternoon, early evening, drive to Monterey. Another 4 hour drive. Monterey can have very bad traffic on the weekends.

Optional: Stop in, say, Hollister for the evening, and go to Pinnacles National Park on Day 4 instead. Pinnacles also has Condors, but I am not sure on the viewing.

Day 4: Monterey, Point Lobos, Carmel Valley, etc.. Or go to Big Sur and Condors. Stay in area.

Day 5: Drive to Santa Cruz (1 hour without stops from Monterey). Visit Moss Landing. Visit Santa Cruz arboretum or Forest of Nicene Marks or others like Big Basin. Stay in Santa Cruz area.

Day 6: Drive to San Francisco area. Maybe visit Marin Headlands / Rodeo Lagoon or other sites in San Francisco like Golden Gate Park. Stay in area.

Day 7: Return to airport

Marc
 
Thanks for that Marc, really appreciate the effort, I am going to collate all the information I have received on this thread and one posted on a mammal forum, and work out the best route, which may not include Yosemite due to the time scale, and don’t rate my chances of seeing Bear, which would be my main target there. Also would like to thank all other contributors for their help thus far, and will continue to update on plans being made and monitor the post for further comments.
 
Hi Marc, thank you for all your suggestions concerning my trip. Having considered yours and others comments regarding driving, I think I may be better keeping to the coast, main reason for going inland was for the bears, but from what I gather I may be too early. Just wondering if it is worth going as far down as Santa Barbara or use Morro Bay or Santa Marie as my turning point. May go inland a short distance to try for Kit Fox. I land on a Sunday evening, so was going to stay for 2 nights at Pint Reyes as a starter, and then may be start to make my way down the coast, doing at least one boat trip, want to have time at Big Sur and Pinnacles, but other than that quite flexible. Could you recommend any places to stay, and/or locations where it would be best to look for reasonable accommodation which does not cost the earth, quite open to different types of places to stay. Anyone else with suggestions please feel free to comment.
 
Hi Marc, thank you for all your suggestions concerning my trip. Having considered yours and others comments regarding driving, I think I may be better keeping to the coast, main reason for going inland was for the bears, but from what I gather I may be too early. Just wondering if it is worth going as far down as Santa Barbara or use Morro Bay or Santa Marie as my turning point. May go inland a short distance to try for Kit Fox. I land on a Sunday evening, so was going to stay for 2 nights at Pint Reyes as a starter, and then may be start to make my way down the coast, doing at least one boat trip, want to have time at Big Sur and Pinnacles, but other than that quite flexible. Could you recommend any places to stay, and/or locations where it would be best to look for reasonable accommodation which does not cost the earth, quite open to different types of places to stay. Anyone else with suggestions please feel free to comment.

If you do 2 days at Point Reyes (well worth it!), then Santa Cruz, Monterey (Point Lobos is great), Big Sur, then back up to Pinnacles (eastern entrance along highway 25), that's probably your week if you spend quality time at each of those. Maybe you could loop down to Morro Bay then back up to Pinnacles (stop by Harmony, it's a quirky little town). I think Santa Barbara might be pushing it. San Luis Obispo is also very nice and pretty close to Morro Bay.

When I was last at Morro Bay (a few years ago) there were Peregrine Falcons nesting in Morro Rock. I'm not sure if they would be there this time of year.

Hearst Castle near San Simeon is pretty amazing to visit, but it would take a fair bit of time. It is all guided tours and you might need to book in advance.

If you were to skip something, I'd skip Monterey the town. Point Lobos is a nice nature spot.

In terms of places to stay, Santa Cruz has a lot of hotel capacity as a beach/vacation spot, so if you're here mid-week you could probably get an OK deal. Monterey and Big Sur would be pretty expensive. Carmel (south of Monterey, north of Big Sur) might have something more affordable mid-week.

TripAdvisor has pretty good reviews. I find their top user ranked (which are not necessarily the most expensive) are usually good.

Marc
 
For Point Reyes we stayed at Motel Inverness which overlooks Tomales Bay and is run by birders

The list from the room included Bald Eagle, Marbled Godwit, Great Egret, California Quail, Acorn Woodpecker, California Scrub-Jay and Black-headed Grosbeak. We were slightly after peak migration so probably better when you are going.

MotelInverness.com

I got load of good info from ebird before I went - I signed up for email alerts for Marin, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties so I had daily emails of scarce and rare birds both before and when I was there, although of course for me almost everything was new

Graham
 
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A couple of comments (and I am late in returning to this thread): Re birds, yellow-billed magpie is the only endemic species in California!

Regarding mammals: have you considered things like seals and sealions? there are a couple of easy, good species between Monterey and Morro Bay.

Niels
 
A couple of comments (and I am late in returning to this thread): Re birds, yellow-billed magpie is the only endemic species in California!

Regarding mammals: have you considered things like seals and sealions? there are a couple of easy, good species between Monterey and Morro Bay.

Niels

Not to forget Sea Otters.
 
Bears I've found relatively easy at Yosemite ask the rangers on recent activity. Chevron meadow has been fairly reliable in the past (also great grey owl near here) .... I've been in this meadow with a couple of bears digging around mid-day unconcerned with my presence. Bobcat - Last year about this time at Yosemite I watched a very confiding bobcat at ~ 20 feet at it's closest about 1/2 way down the valley. Coyote is common but I don't know a reliable spot in your area. Sea otters - pebble beach and many other locations. Elephant seal Hurst castle... It would be nice if there was a mammals equivalent of ebird.
 
Staying at Boulder Creek

It should go without saying, but you'll want to check out the coast redwood and sequoia forests. For the former, check out Big Basin state park, convenient to your route as you leave San Francisco. Good choice of short or longer trails to fit your schedule.

For the latter, an eastward detour on your way to Yosemite.

Staying in Boulder Creek, so will check this out, thanks
 
What a Trip !!!!!

Firstly I wish to apologise for not posting sooner, was hoping to have trip report done, but need some I.D’s first, and took well over a thousand photos, but in the meantime wish to thank those who provided information, though I did not manage to connect with any of the birds at the specific sites, however most with the exception of Roadrunner and Burrowing Owl were seen elsewhere. Point Reyes was fantastic, seeing Gray Fox, Great Horned Owl and most importantly Bobcat in my first hour, the start of which was in almost darkness. And at the end of that first day I had three sightings, at close quarters, of Coyote. Day Two believe or not was even better, which I will embellish on when I get round to doing the trip report. All the sightings at Point Reyes were on Point Pierce Road, which was a real hotspot.
 
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