First Saturday of each month (March 2, April 6, May 4, and June 1) – 8:30am: Elkhorn Slough Reserve Start out your first weekend of every month with a bird walk around the Elkhorn Slough watershed. Depending on timing and conditions, we'll explore one or several areas with the watershed such as Elkhorn Slough Reserve, Kirby Park, Moon Glow Dairy, Moss Landing State Beach & Harbor and Zmudowski State Beach. We’ll traverse these areas looking for resident and migrant birds that utilize this dynamic ecosystem. Meet: Elkhorn Slough Visitors Center at 1700 Elkhorn Road, Castroville, CA 95076. The walk starts at 8:30am sharp. No RSVP needed. Contact: Rick Fournier 831-633-0572 or the reserve office at 831-728-2822 for questions.

Loggerhead Shrikes are regular winterers in Central California’s interior, including Carrizo Plain

Loggerhead Shrikes are regular winterers in Central California’s interior, including Carrizo Plain

 Sat-Sun. March 2-3: Thrashers & Waterfowl of the Carrizo Plain and San Joaquin Valley.
Monterey Audubon and Ventana Wildlife Society are teaming up to lead an overnight trip searching for LeConte’s Thrasher and other specialties in and around Carrizo Plain National Monument. We’ll carpool early on Saturday, March 2 for a three-hour journey to Kern National Wildlife Refuge, where we’ll find about a dozen species of ducks and a variety of other water birds. If time permits, we will make a stop at nearby Pixley National Wildlife Refuge to look for Sandhill Cranes. We will then enjoy dinner in a local restaurant and stay overnight in a hotel in Taft. Bright and early Sunday morning, we’ll get our first shot at LeConte’s Thrasher south of town before entering Carrizo Plain National Monument. We’ll take it slow as we work our way along Soda Lake Road, keeping our eyes open for Ferruginous Hawks, Prairie Falcons, Bell’s Sparrows, Mountain Bluebirds, Sage Thrashers, and other local specialties. There are sure to be mammals for us to see as well. None of us will forget the Badger we encountered here last year! We will plan to be back in Monterey by early evening on Sunday. Participation: The trip is limited to 8 participants. RSVP: Required. Once your spot is reserved, you’ll receive detailed trip information. Contact: Shawn Wagoner at swagoner@csumb.edu. Transportation: Transportation provided from a Monterey meeting location (to be announced).Fee: $25 per person to cover transportation costs. Accommodations: We will stay in a moderately-priced hotel in Taft. Each participant will be responsible for reserving and covering the costs of their room. The leaders will announce the hotel they have selected but participants are welcome to choose any of the hotels in Taft. Please wait until you are confirmed and have received detailed trip information before booking your hotel. Food: Participants will be responsible for their own food. Restaurant and grocery options are available on Saturday evening in Taft. Please bring snacks, lunch, and water for both days. Fitness: This is mostly a driving tour with numerous stops. Much of the birding will be done in the vehicles, or near the vehicles. Short (optional) walks are planned as a group. Please note that Carrizo Plain National Monument is remote, and that we will be out of cell phone range for much of the day on Sunday. Rain Policy: Rain may cancel at least a portion of this tour. We may cancel our visit to Carrizo Plain National Monument if leaders consider that roads are unsafe due to wet/muddy conditions, even if there is no current rainfall. Leaders will make every effort to communicate any cancellations to the group as soon as possible.  Recommended Equipment: Plenty of water and snacks, a jacket/warm layers of clothing (weather might be nice but prepare for cold, rain, and wind), sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, binoculars, scope and camera. Since this is an overnight trip be sure to pack accordingly.

Pelagic Cormorants are a familiar specialty of California’s rocky shoreline

Pelagic Cormorants are a familiar specialty of California’s rocky shoreline

 Sun. March 10 – 8:30am: Asilomar Coastline Walk: We will take a leisurely walk along the Asilomar State Beach coast trail (~1 mile), checking every cove and crag for shorebirds. Common birds include Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstones, Willets and Black Oystercatchers. Songbirds seen include White-crowned Sparrow, Western Meadowlark, Song Sparrow, Western Bluebird, Say’s Phoebe and of course Black Phoebe. Trail is maintained and easy to walk on. Bring binoculars and warm clothes. Logistics: Meet at 8:30 AM at main Asilomar sandy beach (south Sunset Ave, link: https://goo.gl/maps/asehgWRsbYG2) in Pacific Grove. We will bird until noon. Please RSVP to email address listed below. Leader: Amanda Preece. Contact information: apreece24@gmail.com

 Sat. March 23 – 8:30am: Pajaro Dunes Birding: Spring birding is always fun, since it’s a transitional time for wintering species and spring arrivals. Pajaro Dunes attracts a wide variety of species, and we’ll cover both Shorebirds and PD South to locate them.First, we’ll check the Shorebirds pond and surroundings, and then we’ll head over to Pajaro Dunes South to bird the Last Mile. There should be a very good mix of waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, and all types of passerines. Meet: at 8:30 a.m. just beyond the Chevron station on Lee Rd. Coming from the south on Hwy. 1, take the Riverside/129 exit and cross over the freeway. Turn right and pass the Chevron station. Leader: Nanci Adams. Reservations appreciated: nanciconchita@aol.com or 831-728-5803. All are welcome. The walking is easy. Note: We will need to check in with the office at both locales.

 Sat. March 30 – 8:30am: San Lorenzo County Park: We’re heading down to King City to have a look around the varied environments of San Lorenzo Co. Park. Lots of raptors and woodpeckers in the park. Hopefully some of the nesting summer songbirds will be showing up. Bring binoculars, wear layers, and don’t forget snacks and water! Logistics: Meet at 8:30 AM at San Lorenzo Co. Park (1160 Broadway St # 14, King City, CA 93930, link: https://goo.gl/maps/kqXfaPXcFHr) in the main parking lot near the restrooms. Take left at first fork when driving into the park. For those who want to carpool, we will meet up at the Laureles Grade Park and Ride at 7:15 AM and will depart at 7:30 AM. Please RSVP to email address listed below. Leader: Amanda Preece. Contact information: apreece24@gmail.com

 Sun. April 7 – 8:00am: Carmel River State Beach: Long considered one of our premier birding hotspots of the peninsula, this area offers panoramic views of surrounding Pt. Lobos, Palo Corona Regional Park, and Pebble Beach as well as excellent shorebirds, waterfowl, seabirds. Sightings of Peregrine Falcon and Osprey are also possible. Meet: 8:00 am at the Crossroads Starbuck for carpooling to entry points. Leader: Paul Fenwick. No RSVP required.

Osprey are scarce, regular migrants along our coast in Spring.

Osprey are scarce, regular migrants along our coast in Spring.

 Sat. April 13 – 9am-Dusk: Installation of Heermann’s Gull breeding Colony at Roberts Lake

Sun. April 28 – 8:00am: Laguna Grande Park: This city lake area is one of our best locations for seeing a variety of birds, from vagrant warblers in the willow and eucalyptus trees to some of the marsh species like Sora and Virginia’s rail. Meet: Chili’s parking lot by the Embassy Suites at 8:00 am. We will spend a couple of hours birding around the park. Bring water and a snack. Leader: Paul Fenwick. No RSVP required, rain cancels.

Sat. May 4 – 8:30am: Asilomar’s Nesting Birds:We will check out the nesting birds at Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds in the pine forest and possibly out on the coast. We will discuss nest building, incubation, chick rearing and general natural history of the nesting bird species. Bring binoculars and warm clothes. Logistics: Meet at 8:30 AM at the Asilomar Conference Grounds (link: https://goo.gl/maps/FCaEn6iodbS2). Parking is available anywhere on grounds. Parking permits are not needed. We will gather at the main Social Hall (signs direct visitors to the Guest Check-In). There is a café in the Social Hall if anyone needs a hot drink before setting out! Please RSVP to email address listed below. Leader: Amanda Preece. Contact information: apreece24@gmail.com