Day 0: Fly to San Francisco
Fly in to San Francisco in the afternoon. Meet for dinner, discuss plans for the week. Night in San Mateo close to San Francisco International Airport.
Day 1: Pelagic from Monterey
We shall leave San Mateo at 5 AM to drive to Monterey for an all day Fall Seabird Classic pelagic trip on Monterey Bay with Shearwater Journeys. We're literally jumping straight into pelagic birding on day one. This will be a fairly typical example of pelagic birding in Monterey Bay with good chance for Black-footed Albatross, all four Skua species, Red and Red-necked Phalarope, Sabine's Gull, Pink-footed, Sooty and Buller's Shearwaters, Ashy, Black and Fork-tailed Storm-petrels, Cassin's and Rhinoceros Auklets, Pigeon Guillemot, Pacific Loon, Arctic Tern and maybe Tufted Puffin Night in Monterey/Half Moon Bay
Day 2: Half Moon Bay Pelagic
Half Moon Bay Pelagic Trip with Shearwater Journeys. Half Moon Bay is a bit farther north than Monterey where the offshore canyons are not quite as close as in Monterey which allows for a more sharply defined edge between warm shallows and cold deeper water. Consequently there are possibilities for different species. We should have a good opportunity to study many of the same species as the previous day, but may also have a chance at Short-tailed and Laysan Albatross, Cook's Petrel, Black-vented and Flesh-footed Shearwaters, Scripp's Murrelet and maybe even a Mega, such as White-chinned Petrel, if we're extremely lucky. Night in Monterey
Day 3: Birding coastal Redwood forest to Morro Bay
Head south birding from Monterey, etc. We'll meander our way south, looking for Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Townsend's and Hermit Warblers, Marbled Murrelet, Pygmy Nuthatch and other landbirds of the coastal Redwood forests. Night in Morro Bay.
Day 4: California Condor at Big Sur and travel to Sta Barbara
Head south. We'll check along the cliffs of Big Sur for soaring California Condors and check along roadsides for Yellow-billed Magpies. The beach in Morro Bay may have some migrating shorebirds like Whimbrel, Marbled Godwit, and we'll check the rocky shorelines for Surfbirds, Black Turnstones and Black Oystercatchers, Wandering Tattler and others. Along the way, we’ll stop to see a Sea Lion colony along the beach. Night in Santa Barbara.
Day 5: Birding Santa Cruz Island
Targets on the Santa Cruz Island apart from the endemic Island Scrub-Jay, endemic subspecies of Allen’s Hummingbird, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Horned Lark, Bewick’s Wren, Loggerhead Shrike, Orange-crowned Warbler, Rufous-crowned Sparrow and Song Sparrow. We usually also see the endemic Island Gray Fox. Late afternoon birding. We'll check a few spots for California Gnatcatcher, White-tailed Kite and California Thrasher. Night in San Bernardino or nearby.
Day 6. San Bernardino Mountains
Full day birding in the San Bernadino Mountains. White-headed Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Mountain Quail, Steller's Jay, Pinyon Jay, Tri-colored Blackbird, Mountain Chickadee, possiblyAmerican Dipper. In the late afternoon we drive to San Jacinto trying to pick up missing species such as Oak Titmouse, Wrentit, California Towhee, Nuttall’s Woodpecker on the way.
Day 7. Birding San Jacinto Mountain and drive to Salton Sea
San Jacinto mountains have similar species as San Bernadino Mountains. We spend the morning looking here and then we’ll head towards the Salton Sea hoping to do some birding in the afternoon and sessing out the site for the birding next morning. Night in Calipatria.
Day 8. Sunday. Birding Salton Sea and Borrego Springs
We’ll get up early and spend the cool morning hours birding around the Salton Sea looking for Yellow-footed Gull, Laughing Gull, Forster's Tern, California Gull, and other waterbirds, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, maybe Ladder-backed and Gila Woodpeckers, Costa’s Hummingbird and Abert’s Towhee, Gambel’s Quail, California Quail, Sage Sparrow. Then we’ll head to Borrego Springs where we’ll search for Le Conte’s Thrasher before heading to Cuyamaca Rancho for a quick chance at White-headed Woodpecker, Mountain Quail and Pymgy Nuthatch. We shall decide in the afternoon where we strategically shall stay this night, as we shall have most of the next day to look for species we may have missed.
Day 9. Clean up day.
Pick up day for species we may have missed. Perhaps we go to the coast to look for Elegant, Royal and Forster’s Terns, Snowy Plover, Least Tern and various shorebirds or we may need to hit more Califonrnian oak forest for any special species we still need to see. The trip ends in Ontario, CA where one can fly to various destinations in the US or get a shuttle to LA International (LAX).