After having birded places like Arizona, Texas, and Florida, it seems I very well could’ve saved the best for last with California. Just a few days ago, my dad and I had returned from a very successful trip to this beautiful state, starting in the San Francisco area and ending in San Diego.

Our plans executed at a near-perfect level, and we enjoyed little weather problems, save an over-wavy pelagic and a disastrous afternoon of rain. We also ran into some wonderful people along the way, and savored some incredibly delicious meals. Oh yeah, the birds were pretty awesome as well.

From the start, I knew we were taking on a pretty aggressive and possibly exhausting itinerary, with a wide margin for error. However, most everything went according to plan, and we found that, most of the time, the only thing holding us back was ourselves. Here’s what we did:

Day 1 – July 26: Arrival in San Fran; birded the Point Reyes area then moved on to our lodging in Half Moon Bay.

Day 2 – July 27: Started the morning up in the coastal redwood forests, then moved towards the coast where we finished up our day.

Day 3 – July 28: Definitely one of the most anticipated days of the trip! Our Shearwater Journeys pelagic out of Half Moon Bay.

Day 4 – July 29: Started making the long drive east towards Yosemite, stopping at one spot in the Central Valley before arriving in the park for some late afternoon birding.

Day 5 – July 30: Spent the day birding incredible Yosemite National Park, visiting spots like Gaylor Lake, Tuolumne Meadows, and Tamarack Flat.

Day 6 – July 31: Birded the arid regions east of the Sierra Nevada, stopping at places like the ghost town of Bodie and Mono Lake before making our way to Ridgecrest for the night.

Day 7 – August 1: Hit some of the prime spots in Kern County, including Galileo Hill and the Greenhorn Mountains before heading to the LA area.

Day 8 – August 2: We spent most of this day birding a few sites in the vicinity of La Cañada Flintridge, including two locations in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Day 9 – August 3: One of the best days of the trip. Took the boat from Ventura to Prisoners Harbor on Santa Cruz Island. We then drove south to San Diego.

Day 10 – August 4: Started the day a little late, making our way to the San Jacinto Mountains east of San Diego, before  heading to one of the biggest non-birding highlights of the trip: Mets-Padres at Petco Park.

Day 11 – August 5: Hit La Jolla Point and Torrey Pines early before our flight home. An awesome way to end the trip at these two stunning places!

I hope to start going into detail about some of these incredible days soon. But, as many of you know, my past history with trip reports is less than stellar. We’ll see if I can come through this time!

In the meantime, I’ve posted a photo quiz (below) for your enjoyment and challenge, as well as to expose some of the fun birds we saw. None of the photos have been cropped or edited in any way. Just throw your answers in the comments, and I’ll make sure to put the results into one of the later Cali posts.


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4 Responses to California!

  1. Deanna Becker says:

    What a wonderful synopsis of your trip! We heard from your dad via e-mail every couple of days so were able to keep track of you where you were, what you were doing, and the birds you were seeing. So happy you saw all the birds that were on your agenda–what a great vacation the two of you had. Love, Deanna

  2. Helen says:

    Sounds like you had an awesome trip, Alex! Thanks for posting you synopsis and photos. – Best, Helen

  3. Betsy Hermann says:

    Hi Alex,

    What a good synopsis of your CA trip. Rumor has it you are now in the process of sorting through 1500+ bird photos taken on the trip. Looking forward to the next birding newsletter.

    Flushed out 5 grouse walking down the woods path to Lu Lodge yesterday. I don’t know who jumped higher me or the grouse!

    Big hugs from Rangeley,

    Betsy and Bruce too

  4. James Purcell says:

    Ok here are my best guesses, but done quickly so are probably very wrong

    1. Common Raven
    2. California Towhee
    3. Pelagic Cormorant
    4. Ashy Storm-Petrel
    5. Pink-footed Shearwater
    6. Arctic Tern
    7. Townsend’s Solitaire??
    8. Dusky Flycatcher
    9. Hammond’s Flycatcher
    10. Another Hammond’s??
    11. American Kestrel
    12. Anna’s Hummingbird

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