Northern California:  September, 2012

Have you always longed to bird the Pacific Coast?  In five days, you will add dozens of lifers, if California is new to you.  Or, have you
not seen those Black Oystercatchers and Chestnut-backed Chickadees since you got a great digital camera?  Well, this is your trip.  
Come see the embattled Yellow-billed Magpie, a California endemic decimated by habitat loss and West Nile Virus.  As an extra you
will be able to go on one of the Pacific Coast’s finest pelagic trips, and you’ll  have a chance for enjoy some of America’s most
elusive species.  The whales, Sea Otters, California Sea Lions, Giant Sequoias and Redwoods are a bonus.

In one day alone, you will see Brandt’s Cormorant, Heermann’s Gull, California Towhee, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Pacific Loon,
Clark’s Grebe, Hutton’s Vireo and Townsend’s Warbler.  Plus a few dozen more western birds.  Your guide has been birding
California for decades and can even tell you about Brandt,  Heermann, Townsend and Clark.  Nobody knows anything about Hutton,
sorry.

Among the birds with limited range that you should see: Wrentit, the only babbler in America; Surfbird; Black Turnstone; White-tailed
Kite; the Western Scrub-Jay that is soon to be split from its inland congener; Nuttall’s Woodpecker; Oak Titmouse; and California
Quail.

If you eat after birding, this trip can guarantee some of the best food in a region that is full of foodies.  Or you can eat in your room, if
you prefer.  
Why Northern California for birding?

Northern California is one of the few places in the United States where mountains, marshland, deep forest, open
ocean and arid grassland exist within a short drive of one another.  Because of its location, you can find birds that nest
above the Arctic Circle and migrate south in the same area as birds that breed in Mexico and migrate north!  In
addition, California’s endemics can be found in this area including Yellow-billed Magpie, California Towhee, and
California Thrasher.  Shearwater Journey’s pelagic trips provide the best access anywhere in the country for Pacific
coast pelagic birds.  Most birders add at least 10 lifers on their first Pacific pelagic trips, and an September trip (for
example) often includes Black-footed Albatross, Pink-footed Shearwater, Buller’s Shearwater, Rhinocerous Auklet,
Cassin’s Auklet, Red Phalarope, 2 and sometimes 3 Jaeger species, a few rarities, sometimes mega-rarities,
whales, and other marine mammals.  With Point Reyes to the north and with Monterey to the south, starting a trip in
San Francisco gives you quick access to two of the best birding spots along the Pacific Coast.  Adding a few days of
guided birding to your trip to find a few more target birds (such as Black Turnstone, Wandering Tattler, Surfbird, White-
tailed Kite, White-headed Woodpecker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, and Golden-crowned Sparrow), and a trip to Northern
California becomes a great birding vacation.  
Northern California
September 2012
with Audubon Society of         
                    Greater Denver  

(all birders and nature lovers welcome)

For more
information, contact
us at
1-888-203-7464 or
by email at
info@PIBird.com.
Nice Birds in Northern California

Yellow-billed Magpie, greatly reduced in numbers by West Nile Virus and
potentially endangered. One of two California endemics.    California Thrasher,
California Quail, Anna’s Hummingbird, Black Oystercatcher, Chestnut-backed
Chickadee, Pygmy Nuthatch, California Towhee, Oak Titmouse, Band-tailed
Pigeon, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Western Tanager, Black Phoebe, American
Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, Marbled Godwit, Black Turnstone, Surfbird,
Wandering Tattler, Elegant Tern, Sooty Shearwater, Buller’s Shearwater, Pink-
footed Shearwater, South Polar Skua, Sabine’s Gull, Arctic Tern, Marbled
Murrelet, Cassin’s Auklet, Tufted Puffin, White-tailed Kite, all three jaegers,
Northern Fulmar, Ashy Storm-Petrel, Clapper Rail.  Gulls: Western, California,
Thayer’s, Glaucous-winged, Heermann’s.  Both pelicans.  Clark’s and Western
Grebes. Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorant.  Red and Red-necked Phalarope.  
Pacific Loon, Pigeon Guillemot.

Also Interesting Mammals

California Sea Lion, Sea Otter, Harbor Seal, Harbor Porpoise, Pacific White-
sided Dolphins, Wright Whale Dolphins, Dall’s Porpoise, Elephant Seal, Steller’
s Sea Lion, Humpback Whale and more.
Northern California Bird Watching

with Harry Fuller, as Guide

September 9 to 14, 2012

Brief Itinerary:

Sunday, September 9:  Arrival in morning, and then bird Lake Merced,
Golden Gate Park and Land's End
in San Francisco, before heading up to
Marin County and Point Reyes National Seashore.

Monday, September 10:
Point Reyes National Seashore and Marin
County
birding.

Tuesday, September 11:  
Inland to Livermore for Yellow-billed Magpie and
more.

Wednesday, September 12:  Calaveras Big Trees in the
Sierra Foothills bird
watching.

Thursday, September 13:  
Big Sur for California Condor and more.

Friday, September 14:  
Bird Monterrey Bay in the morning, and then
afternoon transfer back to airport and/or spend the weekend enjoying a
Shearwater Journey's pelagic trip.

Pelagic Extension and More Extension Options:
  • Nearly everyone on the trip will extend at least one day for a pelagic
    trip.  Scheduling our trip soon will allow a better chance to get on one of
    Shearwater’s Journeys.  Book early to link well with our trip.  
  • In addition, with enough group interest, we could add a trip to Southern
    California, adding a few sights and specialties down south (including
    California Gnatcatcher).  A morning trip out to see the Island Scrub Jay
    would also be worthwhile.
More on Harry Fuller:
  • Harry Fuller has led numerous professional
    tours in Northern California and the United
    Kingdom. Harry Fuller, is a long-time San
    Francisco resident and birder. He was a
    founding member of the San Francisco Field
    Ornithologists. In addition Mr. Fuller has led
    dozens of field trips for Golden Gate Audubon
    Society, for the Strybing Arboretum, and for the
    Golden Gate National Recreation Area. He is
    also the Northern California tour leader for
    Island Holidays.
  • Mr. Fuller is currently writing a bird guide for
    Interstate 5, covering California, Oregon and
    Washington.  
  • Mr. Fuller has taught classes on early
    American ornithology at the California Academy
    of Sciences.  Elsewhere on his website (www.
    towhee.net) you can find some of his articles
    on the history of American ornithology with an
    emphasis on the Pacific Coast and San
    Francisco area.  Also he's written and
    published Now and Then, a history of changes
    in San Francisco's natural habitats and wildlife
    since the earliest written records.
  • Mr. Fuller has also spent considerable time in
    Europe and the United Kingdom.  He's written
    accounts of birding in several countries
    including suggestions that may prove useful to
    North American birders.  His series of pieces
    on birding in major European cities can be
    found in Winging It, the newsletter of the
    American Birding Association.
  • Harry has raised 3 children, and all of them
    remain birders today. His granddaughter
    already builds little cardboard binoculars in
    preschool.
Trip Pricing and Costs and Contacts:

We estimate the price of this trip will be $1,390 for the main trip, including lodging for 6 days of birding, 5 nights,
five breakfasts, lodging taxes, bird guide, driver, trip planning and other services.  Single supplement $390.  
$150 to $200 will likely be your cost for additional meals at restaurants and for box lunches (your choice here).

Please call Charles Thornton-Kolbe at 888-203-7464, ext. 912 or by email at
charles@pibird.com to learn more
and/or to book this trip.   Also, feel free to call Harry Fuller toll free at 888-203-7464.  

Also, feel free to call Tom Bush, host from Audubon Society of Greater Denver, at the Front Range Birding
Company at 303-979-2473.
Trip Description

Sunday, September 9:  Arrival and San Francisco Birding:  Arrive at San
Francisco International Airport by 10 AM.  We will spend the day birding Lake
Merced, Golden Gate Park and Land's End.   Here we should find Black
Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Brandt’s Cormorant, Chestnut-sided
Chickadee, Heermann’s Gull, Thayer’s Gull, Clark’s and Western Grebe.  Short
seawatch for loons and other ocean birds.  Migrants could include Western
Tanager, Bullock’s Oriole Hermit Warbler and Townsend’s Warbler.  In the late
afternoon, we will drive into Marin County for the evening.

Monday, September 10: Point Reyes National Seashore and Marin County:  
We will look for some of Point Reyes’ storied vagrants.  All three scoters
possible, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Oak Titmouse, Acorn Woodpecker, California
Quail, Hutton’s Vireo, Wilson’s Warbler, Black Phoebe, Western Bluebird,
Wrentit, Spotted Towhee, Tricolored Blackbird.

Tuesday, September 11:  Inland to Livermore:  The highlight of this day will be
Yellow-billed Magpie.  But other excellent birds (and tough to get elsewhere)
will be California Thrasher and Nuttall’s Woodpecker.  In addition, we will try for
Lawrence’s Goldfinch, Rufous-crowned Sparrow and Nuttall’s Woodpecker.

Wednesday, September 22:  Calaveras Big Trees in the Sierra Foothills:  
Along with Giant Sequoias, we will find White-headed Woopecker, Mountain
Chickadee, Mountain Bluebird, possible Sooty Grouse, American Dipper,
Burrowing Owl, and possible Mountain Quail.

Thursday, September 13:  Big Sur:  We will again leave early, but this time
head to Big Sur for California Condor.  There are now more condors in the wild
than in captivity as the restoration program continues to work for the largest
birds in North America.  Also possible American Dipper, Sea Otter and any
ocean birds we may have missed.   

Friday, September 14:  Monterrey Bay in the morning, then extend trip over
the weekend or off to the Airport
  • We will spend the morning birding the Monterrey Bay area,
    birding along the sea shore and other nearby sites.
  • Later in the day on September 14, those not staying for pelagic
    extension, return to San Francisco International Airport in the afternoon.   
  • All pelagic birders will overnight in downtown Monterey near boat docks.
    Friday afternoon in Monterey can used for sight-seeing, a visit to the
    huge Monterey Aquarium or general loafing about.

Pelagic Extension Available over the Weekend:

We will hope to get any pelagic birders onto the September 15 (Saturday)  
Shearwater Journeys trip.  (They also offer pelagic trips on Sunday and
sometimes more often).  This pelagic trip will be with California’s premiere
offshore birding outfit.  Expect three or more species of shearwater, Black-
footed Albatross with Laysan possible, Ashy Storm-Petrel, a handful of alcids
including Cassin’s Auklet and Marbled Murrelet, Arctic Tern, Sabine’s Gull and
all three jaegers.  With luck at least one South Polar Skua as well.  Nearly all of
these trips come up with some ultra fantastic bird, and you will see more
marine mammals than on any whale watching trip.

Further extension possible for those wishing to make the trip south to Ventura
and a short boat ride out to see the Island Scrub-Jay on the only island it
inhabits, Santa Cruz Island.  We will figure out interest and then schedule as a
pretrip and/or after everyone has had their fill of pelagic birding.  We will likely
take 2 or 3 day for this trip.  We will also add some additional Southern
California birding to these additional two days.  Participants could fly out of LAX
(as in Los Angeles).  

We can work out the extension details, once we have six participants on the
trip.  Please sign up early so we can get you on the Shearwater Journey trips on
Saturday.
Photo Credits:


Photos by Bill
Schmoker.