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Suggestions on birding hotspots in July in California (1 Viewer)


Registered User

I am planning a holiday in California in the second half of July and would like to do some birding as well. Given the season - could you recommend the best hotspots to visit? Out of the 2 week trip I can dedicate 7-8 days to birding and would like to see as much as possible. I've done very little birding in North America, so most of Nearctic species will be new to me.
Specifically I am curious if I can go on a pelagic anywhere during this season.



Registered User
California spans a decent range of habitats and is sizeable, about one tenth the size of European Russia.
Two weeks is much too little for anything comprehensive, you have to decide whether you want to do the Disneyland/ Universal Studios/Hollywood stuff, scenery things such as Death Valley, Yosemite and Big Sur or the nature sites, the pelagics, the redwoods, the Elkhorn Slough and perhaps the Salton Sea.
You can do a southern tour centered on LA, ranging from San Diego to Monterey, with a desert excursion, or a northern loop out of San Francisco, with Napa Valley wineries, Yosemite and the redwoods.
Seen that the fauna will be mostly new, there is not much point imho to chasing rarities, rather just enjoy the gifts nature provides generously.


Registered User
I understand I will not be able to cover much. It is my first time in California, so I will do a standard circle route from LA via Big Sur to SF and then back through Yosemite. I will try to go at least once on a whale watching cruise to see some sea birds as well. I realize that this is the hottest season and probably it's not ideal to visit some of the places, so just need your advice on where to stop by. I have no ambition to see everything:).
It's like if you come to Moscow in January and will ask for my advice where to go, I will not send you to wetlands etc, as you will not see much!


Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
It is not too far from Monterey to see Yellow-billed Magpie, a central California Endemic. (There might also be good places between SF and Yosemite. ) I did not prioritize this one on my first CA visit which did much of the same as you describe, and in spite of several visits back to other parts of CA, it took me more than 20 years to bag this one. California Condor along Big Sur is another species I would prioritize.

Not too far north of SF is Point Reyes which is a place I remember fondly from my first visit to the US. A Redwood grove was on my list of priorities and that can be found not too far away either.


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