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Field Guides Tour Report
Slice of California: Seabirds to Sierra I 2017
Sep 7, 2017 to Sep 16, 2017
Chris Benesh

Sunrise at Mono Lake. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

This year’s Slice of California tour was a treat to lead. There were some rather varied bird highlights, with Yellow-billed Magpie, California Thrasher, Blue-footed Booby, and the massive number of Vaux’s Swifts leading the pack of trip favorites. It was also a milestone trip for Jen who scored her 600th ABA classic bird with the California Towhee on the first day of the trip! Other bird highlights included huge numbers of Sooty Shearwaters, several Tufted Puffins, Wandering Tattler, Prairie Falcon, Clark’s Nutcracker, Red-breasted Sapsucker, White-headed Woodpecker, American Dipper, and the unique Wrentit.

Whales put on a good show with lots of food near the coast. It was impressive seeing a massive Blue Whale on the boat trip, a breaching Minke Whale (for those lucky enough to see it), and most impressively, the feeding frenzy of Humpback Whales near Pigeon Point. What a treat! There were some impressive trees too, with giant sequoias in the Sierra and coast redwoods in Marin County.

But perhaps most amazing of all was the spectacle of 30,000 Vaux’s Swifts coming to roost on our last evening in San Rafael. Wow! Thanks to all of you for coming out and making the trip such a treat to lead. I always love getting back to my native California and sharing with others its diversity of habitats and wildlife. I look forward to seeing you again in the future — Chris

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

The enigmatic Mountain Quail. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis) – Quite a few of these in the Bay Area these days.
GADWALL (Anas strepera)
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (AMERICAN) (Anas crecca carolinensis)

A California endemic, the Yellow-billed Magpie, flies past us on Mines Road. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

HARLEQUIN DUCK (Histrionicus histrionicus) – One long-lived bird continuing to hang out along the breakwater at Coyote Point.
SURF SCOTER (Melanitta perspicillata) – Four of these were at Coyote Point.
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (Mergus serrator) – A female bird was hanging out in the harbor.
RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
MOUNTAIN QUAIL (Oreortyx pictus) – After a lot of searching we scored with a covey on the road to the Bear Valley Ski Area.
CALIFORNIA QUAIL (Callipepla californica) – I was quite shocked to see this species at over 9200 feet at the Minarets Overlook. Turns out that this is the maximum elevation for the species in California, but they are somewhat regular up high near Mammoth.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
GREATER SAGE-GROUSE (Centrocercus urophasianus) – A wonderful encounter with several of these at Bodie on our afternoon visit there.

A tiny fraction of the thirty thousand Vaux's Swifts entering a roost chimney in San Rafael. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo) – Plentiful along Mines Road and a few elsewhere.
Gaviidae (Loons)
PACIFIC LOON (Gavia pacifica) – We had a flyby on the pelagic trip.
COMMON LOON (Gavia immer) – Pelagic trip flyby.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)
EARED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis)
WESTERN GREBE (Aechmophorus occidentalis)
Diomedeidae (Albatrosses)
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS (Phoebastria nigripes) – Some great studies of this species on the boat trip.

We were fortunate to see several wonderful Greater Sage-Grouse in Bodie. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)
NORTHERN FULMAR (Fulmarus glacialis) – A few of these chunky birds were seen on the boat trip.
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER (Ardenna creatopus) – Smaller numbers of these mixed in with the vast numbers of Sooties.
SOOTY SHEARWATER (Ardenna grisea)
Hydrobatidae (Storm-Petrels)
ASHY STORM-PETREL (Oceanodroma homochroa) – We had a couple of decent looks at this species.
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY (Sula nebouxii) – A real highlight of the trip was seeing this species at the Farallones perched alongside a Brown Booby. This bird represents the only known individual currently in the ABA classic area.
BROWN BOOBY (BREWSTER'S) (Sula leucogaster brewsteri) – Sitting alongside the Blue-footed Booby. Brown Booby seems to be expanding its range northward into the ABA area.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
BRANDT'S CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) – Quite a few on the breakwaters at Princeton Harbor.

Quite a sight in North America, two species of booby hanging out together at the Southeast Farallon Islands. Photo by participant David Baker.

PELAGIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax pelagicus) – Seen along the coast and at Coyote Point.
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus)
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) – Our first ones were at Alviso, where a lot spend the winter.
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

There is no more iconic chaparral bird than Wrentit. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi)
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – A couple of these were hanging out at Coyote Point, and more were at Mono Lake where they breed.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus) – One of the first birds of the tour, one was at Bayfront Park next to the airport.
GOLDEN EAGLE (Aquila chrysaetos) – We had one high flying bird along Mines Road.

Bell's Sparrow, of the nominate subspecies, is quite a striking bird. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus cyaneus) – Since July of 2017, now known as Circus hudsonicus, following a split from Hen Harrier of Europe.
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus)
COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)
BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) – We saw an adult sitting at the back edge of a grassy field at the east end of Del Puerto Canyon.
RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (ELEGANS) (Buteo lineatus elegans) – Several seen on various days.
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
RIDGWAY'S RAIL (SAN FRANCISCO BAY) (Rallus obsoletus obsoletus) – A quick look was the best we could muster this time around.

A Sooty Shearwater takes flight as our boat approaches, one of the many thousands seen on the boat trip. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

VIRGINIA RAIL (Rallus limicola) – One heard calling in the marshes at Alviso. [*]
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)
AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana)
Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)
BLACK OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus bachmani) – One was at Coyote Point, and several seen well at Princeton Harbor.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) – Quite a few of these wintering on San Francisco Bay, many still showing some breeding plumage.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – Small numbers seen on the mudflats of San Francisco Bay.

A Black-footed Albatross moves past the boat. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (HUDSONIAN) (Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus) – As many as four were at Bayfront Park at the start of the tour.
LONG-BILLED CURLEW (Numenius americanus)
MARBLED GODWIT (Limosa fedoa)
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres) – One was hanging out at Princeton Harbor, seen on the pelagic and again the following morning.
BLACK TURNSTONE (Arenaria melanocephala) – We had a bunch of these at the Foster City shell bar, and more at Princeton Harbor.

This Pigeon Guillemot was lingering around in Princeton Harbor. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

SURFBIRD (Calidris virgata) – About a dozen of these seen on the pelagic trip hanging out on the breakwater.
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)
WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri)
SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus) – Some nice looks at this species on our first morning birding the bay.
LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus scolopaceus)
WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata) – A really quick flyby near Bridgeport that just a couple of us managed to see.
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus lobatus) – Huge numbers of these were hanging out on the west side of Mono Lake (estimated 2300). More were seen on the pelagic trip.

An Elegant Tern flies past our boat near Half Moon Bay. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

RED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus fulicarius) – At least four of these were seen on the pelagic trip.
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)
WANDERING TATTLER (Tringa incana) – After some effort, we did manage to see one well in the scope at Princeton Harbor.
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)
WILLET (WESTERN) (Tringa semipalmata inornata)
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) – One was seen on the first day at Alviso.

This Pacific Wren belts out its song at Calaveras Big Trees. Photo by participant David Baker.

Stercorariidae (Skuas and Jaegers)
POMARINE JAEGER (Stercorarius pomarinus) – We had a lone bird on the pelagic trip.
PARASITIC JAEGER (Stercorarius parasiticus) – About six of these were recorded on the pelagic trip.
LONG-TAILED JAEGER (Stercorarius longicaudus) – A lone bird on the pelagic trip.
Alcidae (Auks, Murres, and Puffins)
COMMON MURRE (Uria aalge) – Seen along the coast near Half Moon Bay.
PIGEON GUILLEMOT (Cepphus columba) – As many as four seen near the Farallon Islands.
CASSIN'S AUKLET (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) – Small numbers seen on the boat trip.

One of the treats of the trip was this cooperative California Thrasher along Mines Road. Photo by participant David Baker.

RHINOCEROS AUKLET (Cerorhinca monocerata)
TUFTED PUFFIN (Fratercula cirrhata) – About six on the pelagic trip, most close to the Farallons.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
SABINE'S GULL (Xema sabini) – We had a single bird on the pelagic trip, but fortunately, it showed pretty well.
HEERMANN'S GULL (Larus heermanni) – Good views of this handsome gull along the coast.
RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis)
WESTERN GULL (Larus occidentalis) – The big brutes of the west coast.
CALIFORNIA GULL (Larus californicus)

A Peregrine Falcon terrorizing a flock of shorebirds on San Francisco Bay. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia) – There was a large group of 14 flying around Mono Lake on our visit there. A few were also at Bayfront Park.
FORSTER'S TERN (Sterna forsteri)
ELEGANT TERN (Thalasseus elegans) – A few were along the bay, and quite a few on our final morning along the coast.
BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger) – We had a lone bird on the bay.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata) – We had one at Coyote Park and a few in the Sierra.
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]

Nice morning light on a Sage Thrasher at Mono Lake. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)
Strigidae (Owls)
BURROWING OWL (Athene cunicularia) – We had a couple of these at the Arzino Ranch in Alviso.
Apodidae (Swifts)
VAUX'S SWIFT (Chaetura vauxi) – An amazing conclusion to the tour, our evening visit to the McNear Brickyard yielded a remarkable 30,000 birds coming to roost!!
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus rufus)
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
LEWIS'S WOODPECKER (Melanerpes lewis) – A lucky encounter with a couple of these along Mines Road.

A couple of male Yellow-headed Blackbirds perching on tufa at Mono Lake. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus)
RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus ruber) – Seen near Strawberry and again in Lee Vining.
NUTTALL'S WOODPECKER (Picoides nuttallii)
DOWNY WOODPECKER (Picoides pubescens)
HAIRY WOODPECKER (Picoides villosus)
WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER (Picoides albolarvatus) – Some great looks at this species at various spots in the Sierra.

One of the many Mountain Chickadees encountered in the Sierra. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER (Picoides arcticus) – We tracked down a drumming bird at Inyo Craters on our last morning in the eastern Sierra.
NORTHERN FLICKER (Colaptes auratus)
PILEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus pileatus) – We eventually got a good look at this species at Calaveras Big Trees.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)
PRAIRIE FALCON (Falco mexicanus) – We had great scope views of a bird at the Murrieta's Well Winery.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Contopus cooperi) – Good scope views of one on Spicer Reservoir Road.

It was a good year for Phainopepla along Mines Road. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)
SAY'S PHOEBE (Sayornis saya)
Laniidae (Shrikes)
LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus) [*]
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
HUTTON'S VIREO (Vireo huttoni) – It took us a while this year, but we had a nice pair just south of Half Moon Bay.
CASSIN'S VIREO (Vireo cassinii) – One at Calaveras Big Trees.
WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
PINYON JAY (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) – A big flock of 60+ birds near Lee Vining.

One of our most desired birds was this White-headed Woodpecker, which we saw well on a few occasions in the Sierra. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

STELLER'S JAY (Cyanocitta stelleri)
CALIFORNIA SCRUB-JAY (Aphelocoma californica)
YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIE (Pica nuttalli) – Great views of this species at various points along Mines Road. [E]
CLARK'S NUTCRACKER (Nucifraga columbiana) – A few flying around Lee Vining and spectacular ones at the Minarets overlook.
AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)

One of the Black Turnstones seen at Princeton Harbor. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta thalassina)
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE (Poecile gambeli)
CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE (Poecile rufescens) – We saw duller birds along the coast, and more colorful ones in the Sierra.
OAK TITMOUSE (Baeolophus inornatus)
Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)
BUSHTIT (Psaltriparus minimus)

This Northern Harrier made a close pass. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

Sittidae (Nuthatches)
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis) – This species was in nearly every flock we encountered in the Sierra.
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (INTERIOR WEST) (Sitta carolinensis tenuissima) – We had this subspecies on the east slope of the Sierra.
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (PACIFIC) (Sitta carolinensis aculeata) – Birds of this call type now get pretty far up in the Sierra as well.
PYGMY NUTHATCH (Sitta pygmaea)
Certhiidae (Treecreepers)
BROWN CREEPER (Certhia americana)
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
ROCK WREN (Salpinctes obsoletus)

We had this female western Purple Finch along Mines Road, with its empid like whit call. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)
PACIFIC WREN (PACIFICUS GROUP) (Troglodytes pacificus pacificus)
MARSH WREN (PALUDICOLA GROUP) (Cistothorus palustris paludicola) [*]
BEWICK'S WREN (Thryomanes bewickii)
Cinclidae (Dippers)
AMERICAN DIPPER (Cinclus mexicanus) – We did end up with a nice study of this species after our initial brief encounter.
Regulidae (Kinglets)

A Black Skimmer seen near Foster City. This species is a recent colonist to San Francisco Bay. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

Paradoxornithidae (Parrotbills, Wrentit, and Allies)
WRENTIT (Chamaea fasciata) – Great views of this species near Half Moon Bay.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
WESTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia mexicana) – Seen at a couple of spots along Mines Road.
MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD (Sialia currucoides)
TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE (Myadestes townsendi) – Some nice vocalizations from this species at Calaveras Big Trees.
AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
CALIFORNIA THRASHER (Toxostoma redivivum) – A really cooperative bird along Mine Road.
SAGE THRASHER (Oreoscoptes montanus) – A beautiful study at Mono Lake one morning.

David Baker's great capture of a breaching Humpback Whale!

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)
Sturnidae (Starlings)
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]
Ptiliogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)
PHAINOPEPLA (Phainopepla nitens) – A good year for these along Mines Road where we saw several.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER (Oreothlypis celata)
NASHVILLE WARBLER (RIDGWAYI) (Oreothlypis ruficapilla ridgwayi) – In one of the flocks at Calaveras Big Trees.
MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER (Geothlypis tolmiei) – A couple of nice studies at Calaveras Big Trees.

The steely blue back of a massive Blue Whale seen on the pelagic trip. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (AUDUBON'S) (Setophaga coronata auduboni)
BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (Setophaga nigrescens)
TOWNSEND'S WARBLER (Setophaga townsendi)
HERMIT WARBLER (Setophaga occidentalis) – Seen at Calaveras Big Trees.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla)

Douglas's Squirrel, sometimes lumped with Red Squirrel and called Pine Squirrel, was a frequent sight in the Sierra. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina)
BREWER'S SPARROW (Spizella breweri)
LARK SPARROW (Chondestes grammacus)
FOX SPARROW (THICK-BILLED) (Passerella iliaca megarhyncha) – Seen at various spots in the Sierra.
DARK-EYED JUNCO (Junco hyemalis)
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (ORIANTHA) (Zonotrichia leucophrys oriantha)

A pensive Golden-mantled Ground-Squirrel, another one of the various squirrel fauna on the tour. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (NUTTALLI) (Zonotrichia leucophrys nuttalli)
BELL'S SPARROW (BELLI) (Artemisiospiza belli belli) – A great study of this species along Mines Road. By far the most distinct of the "Sage" sparrows.
SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis)
SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia)
CALIFORNIA TOWHEE (Melozone crissalis)
GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE (Pipilo chlorurus)

A Western Fence Lizard hanging out along Mines Road. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

SPOTTED TOWHEE (Pipilo maculatus)
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
WESTERN TANAGER (Piranga ludoviciana) – Seen in the Sierra.
LAZULI BUNTING (Passerina amoena) – Seen in the meadow along Spicer Reservoir Road.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus) – Including quite a few bicolored blackbirds along the coast.
TRICOLORED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius tricolor) – It took a lot of effort, but we did eventually track down some of these near Pigeon Point.
WESTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella neglecta)
YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) – A few of these were at the South Tufa at Mono Lake.

One of the vintage structures in the ghost town of Bodie. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

BREWER'S BLACKBIRD (Euphagus cyanocephalus)
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)
PURPLE FINCH (WESTERN) (Haemorhous purpureus californicus) – We had a couple of these along Mines Road.
CASSIN'S FINCH (Haemorhous cassinii) – We had a couple of individuals in the Sierra.
RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra) – We had a couple of interesting encounters with this species. At Donnell Vista, we had two call types, both of which were unexpected for the area. Most were Type 3 birds, a Sitka Spruce/Western Hemlock specialist. Even more interesting were a few Type 4 birds mixed in. According to experts, this represents the first documented occurrence of this type in the Sierra Nevada!
PINE SISKIN (Spinus pinus)

A picnic lunch along Del Puerto Canyon road. Photo by David Baker.

LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)
LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCH (Spinus lawrencei) – Some good views of this species along Mines Road.
AMERICAN GOLDFINCH (Spinus tristis) [*]
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

BRUSH RABBIT (Sylvilagus bachmani)
BLACK-TAILED JACKRABBIT (Lepus californicus)
LEAST CHIPMUNK (Tamias minimus)

The moon showing well, with the bright star Aldebaran nearby. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

LONG-EARED CHIPMUNK (Tamias quadrimaculatus)
LODGEPOLE CHIPMUNK (Tamias speciosus)
CALIFORNIA GROUND SQUIRREL (Spermophilus beecheyi)
EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus carolinensis) [I]
FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus niger) [I]
CHICKAREE (Tamiasciurus douglasii)
BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus)

Stormy skies over Mono Lake one evening. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

COMMON MINKE WHALE (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) – We had a breaching one on the pelagic trip which was a rare sight!
BLUE WHALE (Balaenoptera musculus) – A real highlight seeing this massive sea mammal!
HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae) – An amazing experience with this species along the coast. The feeding frenzy going on near Pescadero was quite a sight.
COYOTE (Canis latrans)
LONG-TAILED WEASEL (Mustela frenata)
CALIFORNIA SEA LION (Zalophus californianus)
STELLER'S SEA LION (Eumetopias jubatus)
NORTHERN FUR SEAL (Callorhinus ursinus) – Seen along with the other pinnipeds at the Farallons.
HARBOR SEAL (Phoca vitulina)
MULE DEER (Odocoileus hemionus)


Totals for the tour: 196 bird taxa and 21 mammal taxa