A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Slice of California: Seabirds to Sierra I 2023

August 31-September 9, 2023 with Micah Riegner and Alex Sundval guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
This juvenile Northern Goshawk circled over our group near Clark Fork in the Sierras. What a gorgeous bird! Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

The sudden and tragic loss of Tom Johnson back in July left this tour without a leader, so I agreed to step in and lead it, along with Alex Sundval, our newest addition to the Field Guides family. It turned out to be a great trip—we cleaned up on almost all the target species, not to mention the SWALLOW-TAILED GULL that showed up for an afternoon at San Gregorio Beach!

Our day of birding the Bay Area began as we visited Byxbee Park in the early morning and witnessed a Ridgway’s Rail emerge from the reed beds. We then hit several good shorebird sites where we compared Least and Western Sandpipers among larger Wilson’s and Red-necked Phalaropes. We were birding Coyote Point when we were alerted to the presence of the Swallow-tailed Gull, only 40 minutes away. We had the time, so we headed over there and were greeted by a crowd of birders already watching the bird. And what a beautiful bird indeed! It was a full adult in perfect condition with a dark gray hood and red eye-ring.

We then made our way east over the Diablo Range, stopping to see Bell’s Sparrow in the chaparral, Yellow-billed Magpies, a singing California Thrasher and Lawrence’s Goldfinches that were coming down to a creek to drink. We spent another couple of days birding the Sierra Nevadas around Lee Vining. Highlights from those days were White-headed Woodpecker at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, a Northern Pygmy Owl getting mobbed by Townsend’s Warblers, American Dipper, Black-backed Woodpecker, a Mountain Quail and a gorgeous juvenile Northern Goshawk lifting gracefully on a thermal. We visited the sage country around Mono Lake and saw Sagebrush Sparrows, Sage Thrasher, a Gray Flycatcher, and droves of Brewer’s Sparrows milling about in the early morning light. Speaking of Sage, we saw Greater Sage-Grouse, too, but it took a bit of work. We drove into Bodie State Park and the guy at the entrance booth said he hadn’t seen the grouse for over a week. Not good. We drove around down some rather washed-out roads but no sign of the grouse. Alex and I then went scouting out on our own while the group explored the town and we happened upon a single bird at the edge of the road, so we rushed back to gather people up and, thank goodness the bird was still there! Later that afternoon we saw a big flock of Pinion Jays cruising through the sage country right at dusk.

After some fulfilling days in the mountains, we returned to the coast to join Chris’s group for our pelagic trip with Alvaro Jaramillo. It was an epic day on the water, starting with close views of Marbled Murrelets and Common Murres. When we reached the continental shelf at Pioneer Canyon activity spiked and we were surrounded by bubble-ringing Humpback Whales, swarms of Sooty Shearwaters, lots of Pink-footed Shearwaters and the occasional Buller’s Shearwater. South of Pioneer Canyon we ran into several big flocks of Black and Ashy Storm-petrels.

Our final day we drove south of Half Moon Bay and saw Tricolored Blackbird, Wrentit, Wandering Tattler and big flocks of Chestnut-backed Chickadees with Townsend’s Warbler among the Coastal Redwoods. A Red-eyed Vireo was a neat surprise. Alex and I would like to thank you for such a fun trip together—we’ll have fond memories of celebrating lifers with our endless supply of Reese’s Pieces! Until our next birding adventures…


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

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis)

This short video shows some of the great birds and mammals we enjoyed on the tour. Filmed and edited by Micah Riegner.

CINNAMON TEAL (Spatula cyanoptera)

Several of the following ducks were seen in the Bay Area.

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)

GADWALL (Mareca strepera)

MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)

GREEN-WINGED TEAL (AMERICAN) (Anas crecca carolinensis)

SURF SCOTER (Melanitta perspicillata)

COMMON GOLDENEYE (Bucephala clangula)

Seen from Coyote Point.

COMMON MERGANSER (Mergus merganser)

RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

MOUNTAIN QUAIL (Oreortyx pictus)

After a full day of searching for this high elevation specialty in the rain and the fog, we stumbled onto one posing on a log near the town of Sonora. What a way to end the day!

CALIFORNIA QUAIL (Callipepla californica)

We found these to be quite common, especially in the Diablo Range.

Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)

WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo)

We encountered several along the side of the road.

GREATER SAGE-GROUSE (Centrocercus urophasianus)

I thought this would be the tour that would miss Sage-grouse. We tried all afternoon around Bodie until finally, Alex and I came across one strutting along the road and we were able to retrieve the group so that we could all see it. What a save!

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)

EARED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis)

There was no shortage of Eared Grebes on Mono Lake! We saw several hundred from the overlooks.

WESTERN GREBE (Aechmophorus occidentalis)

The big Aechmophorus grebes that were on Bridgeport Reservoir.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This gorgeous Brewer's Sparrow was in the sage flats near Bodie. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata)

Seen at Calaveras Big Trees and along the road south of Half Moon Bay.

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Apodidae (Swifts)

VAUX'S SWIFT (Chaetura vauxi)

A couple of these flying cigars shot overhead at Byxbee Park.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus alexandri)

All three species of hummers were coming in to the feeders at The Junction Restaurant.


RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus rufus)

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

RIDGWAY'S RAIL (SAN FRANCISCO BAY) (Rallus obsoletus obsoletus)

It took about 15 minutes of patiently waiting until one of these scampered out of the vegetation onto the mud in front of us at Byxbee Park.

SORA (Porzana carolina)

One was strutting out in the open at Charleston Slough.

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana)

Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)

BLACK OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus bachmani)

We scoped these at Coyote Point and around Half Moon Bay.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This is certainly the first California tour that has seen Swallow-tailed Gull! Photo by guide Micah Riegner.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

SNOWY PLOVER (Charadrius nivosus)

These were out on the beach at Half Moon Bay.

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

WHIMBREL (HUDSONIAN) (Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus)

LONG-BILLED CURLEW (Numenius americanus)

MARBLED GODWIT (Limosa fedoa)

BLACK TURNSTONE (Arenaria melanocephala)

We saw these at Pillar Point Harbor.

SURFBIRD (Calidris virgata)

A few were mixed in with the Black Turnstones at Pillar Point Harbor.

SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

Just one individual was out with the Snowy Plovers at Half Moon Bay.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

Huge flocks of Least and Western Sandpipers were out at Charleston Slough.

WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri)

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus scolopaceus)

The Dowitchers out at Charleston Slough we identified as Long-billed based on voice.

WILSON'S PHALAROPE (Phalaropus tricolor)

Big flocks were in the shallow pools at Don Edwards NWR.

RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus lobatus)

Mono lake was full of these migrants.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)


Seen at Pillar Point, Half Moon Bay.

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

WILLET (WESTERN) (Tringa semipalmata inornata)

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

Field Guides Birding Tours
This was one of two Blue Sharks we saw on our pelagic trip off of Half Moon Bay. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.
Stercorariidae (Skuas and Jaegers)

POMARINE JAEGER (Stercorarius pomarinus)

One shot by on our pelagic.

PARASITIC JAEGER (Stercorarius parasiticus)

The jaeger we saw at Pillar Point Harbor.

Alcidae (Auks, Murres, and Puffins)

COMMON MURRE (Uria aalge)

Seen close to shore on our pelagic trip.

PIGEON GUILLEMOT (Cepphus columba)

Another alcid seen on our pelagic.

MARBLED MURRELET (Brachyramphus marmoratus)

As we left Pilar Point Harbor we encountered a few of these diminutive alcids that nest in trees.

CASSIN'S AUKLET (Ptychoramphus aleuticus)

Seen a ways offshore on our pelagic trip.

RHINOCEROS AUKLET (Cerorhinca monocerata)

This species was quite numerous offshore on the day of our pelagic.

TUFTED PUFFIN (Fratercula cirrhata)

Yipee! We saw one well offshore on our pelagic trip.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

SWALLOW-TAILED GULL (Creagrus furcatus)

While we were at Coyote Point we received word that someone had found a Swallow-tailed Gull at San Gregorio Beach south of Half Moon Bay, so we rushed over and the bird was still there when we got there. It was an absolutely stunning adult with dark hood and crisp red eye-ring. The crowd of birders it drew was also stunning.

SABINE'S GULL (Xema sabini)

Several flocked offshore.

HEERMANN'S GULL (Larus heermanni)

WESTERN GULL (Larus occidentalis)

Common along the coast.

CALIFORNIA GULL (Larus californicus)

These were all over Mono Lake.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Numerous Ashy Storm-Petrels darted past our boat during our Half Moon Bay pelagic. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)

Seen around the Bay Area and Mono Lake.

FORSTER'S TERN (Sterna forsteri)

ELEGANT TERN (Thalasseus elegans)

The rocks at Pillar Point Harbor were covered with Elegant Terns.

Gaviidae (Loons)

RED-THROATED LOON (Gavia stellata)

Seen at the Swallow-tailed Gull site.

Diomedeidae (Albatrosses)

BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS (Phoebastria nigripes)

Hearts pounded as these monstrous seabirds sailed past our boat.

Hydrobatidae (Northern Storm-Petrels)

ASHY STORM-PETREL (Hydrobates homochroa)

It was incredible to see mixed flocks of Ashy and the larger Black Storm-Petrels during our pelagic trip.

BLACK STORM-PETREL (Hydrobates melania)

Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)

NORTHERN FULMAR (Fulmarus glacialis)

Seen offshore.

PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER (Ardenna creatopus)

Several of these large shearwaters appeared as we approached the continental shelf on our pelagic trip.

BULLER'S SHEARWATER (Ardenna bulleri)

These delicate shearwaters with contrasting upper-wing patterns maneuvered past our boat during the pelagic trip.

SOOTY SHEARWATER (Ardenna grisea)

These highly abundant shearwaters gave us repeated views during the pelagic.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

BRANDT'S CORMORANT (Urile penicillatus)

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our group watching Greater Sage-Grouse outside of Bodie. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

PELAGIC CORMORANT (Urile pelagicus)

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Nannopterum auritum)

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

We had nice close views at Charleston Slough.

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus)

We watched one hover over the marsh at Byxbee Park with a pastel sunrise in the background.

GOLDEN EAGLE (Aquila chrysaetos)

I was really excited to see and hear some calling from up the slope during our morning in the Diablo Range.

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus)

One was circling over the road near Butano State Forest.

COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)

Seen on a snag near Mono Lake.

NORTHERN GOSHAWK (Accipiter gentilis)

While we were looking for Black-backed Woodpeckers along Clark Fork, a gorgeous juvenile circled overhead and remained in view for extended study. For me this was one of the best birds of the tour.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A Black-footed Albatross meanders into view off Half Moon Bay. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (ELEGANS) (Buteo lineatus elegans)

SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni)

Alex spotted one cruising overhead at the Black-backed Woodpecker spot in the Inyo National Forest.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

Strigidae (Owls)

WESTERN SCREECH-OWL (Megascops kennicottii)

Our drive to McClellan Ranch Preserve was completely worthwhile when we found the roosting Western Screech-Owl in the barn.

GREAT HORNED OWL (Bubo virginianus) [*]

NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL (PACIFIC) (Glaucidium gnoma californicum)

Another excellent bird to get in the Sierras. We saw this one at the Cascade Creek Campground.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus ruber)

During our chilly morning walk at Log Cabin Mine Road, we found a family group of these sapsuckers in a grove of Aspens.

LEWIS'S WOODPECKER (Melanerpes lewis)

We had nice looks of this elegant woodpecker around Mono Lake.

ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus)


Alex found us a female in the Inyo National Forest. Tough bird.

DOWNY WOODPECKER (Dryobates pubescens)

NUTTALL'S WOODPECKER (Dryobates nuttallii)

We had good views around the Bay Area.

HAIRY WOODPECKER (Dryobates villosus)

WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER (Dryobates albolarvatus)

It was dwarfed by the Giant Sequoias at Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The Northern Pygmy-Owl we saw dart overhead at Cascade Creek Camprgound. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

NORTHERN FLICKER (Colaptes auratus)

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)

One flew across the road as we were driving to Sonora.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)


WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus sordidulus)

HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER (Empidonax hammondii)

A Hammond's/Dusky Flycatcher was hanging around the Cascade Creek Campground. It's tough to tell which one without hearing it vocalize.

GRAY FLYCATCHER (Empidonax wrightii)

One was up on some sagebrush near Mono Lake.

PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER (Empidonax difficilis)

The empid we saw on our way up the Diablo Range.

BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)

SAY'S PHOEBE (Sayornis saya)

WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis)

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

HUTTON'S VIREO (Vireo huttoni)

We saw several at Butano State Park.

CASSIN'S VIREO (Vireo cassinii)

Seen in during our rainstorm birding above Sonora.

WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus)

RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus)

Alex picked one of these eastern vagrants in the big feeding flock along Gazos Creek.

Laniidae (Shrikes)

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus)

We watched one warming up in the early morning light at South Tufa.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A Ridgway's Rail emerging from the dense saltmarsh vegetation at Byxbee Park. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

PINYON JAY (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus)

These proved to be a bit tricky this year but persistence paid off and we found them along the north shore of Mono Lake in the sage flats.

STELLER'S JAY (Cyanocitta stelleri)

CALIFORNIA SCRUB-JAY (Aphelocoma californica)

Seen at several sites in the Diablo Range and around the Bay Area.


The Magpies on the east side of the Sierras.

YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIE (Pica nuttalli) [E]

I was blown away by how many we saw! We passed a flock with 60 individuals on our drive to Sonora.

CLARK'S NUTCRACKER (Nucifraga columbiana)

These noisy corvids were regular around Lee Vining.

AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE (Poecile gambeli)

We had good views at Calaveras Big Trees.


Seen too at Calaveras Big Trees and along the coast.

OAK TITMOUSE (Baeolophus inornatus)

These were coming in to get seeds at the feeders at McClellan Ranch Preserve.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor)

VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta thalassina)

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)

Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)

BUSHTIT (Psaltriparus minimus)

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Belding's Ground Squirrel was just outside of Bodie. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.
Sylviidae (Sylviid Warblers, Parrotbills, and Allies)

WRENTIT (Chamaea fasciata)

Wow! We had nice close looks at this skulker at Pillar Point.

Regulidae (Kinglets)


Sittidae (Nuthatches)

RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis)

WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (PACIFIC) (Sitta carolinensis aculeata)

Seen at McClellan Ranch Preserve.

PYGMY NUTHATCH (Sitta pygmaea)

A couple of these were along the Log Cabin Mine Road.

Certhiidae (Treecreepers)

BROWN CREEPER (Certhia americana)

It was cool to see these scaling up the Giant Sequoias at Calaveras Big Trees. They looked so small!

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

ROCK WREN (Salpinctes obsoletus)

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

PACIFIC WREN (PACIFICUS GROUP) (Troglodytes pacificus pacificus)

We had nice close looks at Calaveras Big Trees. Also heard at Butano State Park.

MARSH WREN (PALUDICOLA GROUP) (Cistothorus palustris paludicola) [*]

BEWICK'S WREN (Thryomanes bewickii)

Cinclidae (Dippers)

AMERICAN DIPPER (Cinclus mexicanus)

After missing it on our way to Lee Vining we caught up with it at Kennedy Springs Campground in the Sierras.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A troop of Yellow-billed Magpies off Mines Road. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.
Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

CALIFORNIA THRASHER (Toxostoma redivivum)

California Thrashers can be really tough to see. We managed reasonable views in the Diablo Range.

SAGE THRASHER (Oreoscoptes montanus)

It was incredible to see so many out on the sage flats around Mono Lake.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

WESTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia mexicana)

MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD (Sialia currucoides)

Seen along the road to Bodie.

HERMIT THRUSH (Catharus guttatus)

AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)

PURPLE FINCH (WESTERN) (Haemorhous purpureus californicus)

We saw a couple in the bushes at Pillar Point.

CASSIN'S FINCH (Haemorhous cassinii)

A male and female were sunning themselves in a dead Aspen along Log Cabin Mine Road.

RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra)

Type 2 birds were in the near Sonora Pass.

LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)

LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCH (Spinus lawrencei)

It took all but 15 seconds to find these at Del Puerto Canyon. Great bird.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This was just one of several Sage Thrashers that we saw sunning in the early morning light near South Tufa. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.


At Pillar Point.

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina)

BREWER'S SPARROW (Spizella breweri)

I was amazed at how abundant these were around Mono Lake. It was cool to hear them singing.

LARK SPARROW (Chondestes grammacus)

FOX SPARROW (THICK-BILLED) (Passerella iliaca megarhyncha)

Seen several times in the Sierras. Our best views were at Log Cabin Mine Road.

DARK-EYED JUNCO (Junco hyemalis)

WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (NUTTALLI) (Zonotrichia leucophrys nuttalli)

This coastal form of White-crowned Sparrow was common around Half Moon Bay.

SAGEBRUSH SPARROW (Artemisiospiza nevadensis)

We had good looks our morning at South Tufa.

BELL'S SPARROW (BELLI) (Artemisiospiza belli belli)

Finding one in the chaparral along Mines Road was a highlight of the day.

VESPER SPARROW (Pooecetes gramineus)

SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis)

SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia)

CALIFORNIA TOWHEE (Melozone crissalis)

RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW (Aimophila ruficeps)

Seen along Mines Road in the Diablo Range.

GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE (Pipilo chlorurus)

A regular in the Sierras.

SPOTTED TOWHEE (Pipilo maculatus)

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

Just one was hanging out with the Brewer's Blackbirds at Mono Lake.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our group among the Giant Sequoias. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

WESTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella neglecta)

HOODED ORIOLE (Icterus cucullatus)

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

TRICOLORED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius tricolor)

There were a couple mixed in with a flock of Red-wings at Half Moon Bay.


BREWER'S BLACKBIRD (Euphagus cyanocephalus)

We watched them foraging along the shoreline at Mono Lake.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER (Leiothlypis celata)

Lots were passing through along Log Cabin Mine Road.

NASHVILLE WARBLER (RIDGWAYI) (Leiothlypis ruficapilla ridgwayi)

Migrants seen in the Sierras.

VIRGINIA'S WARBLER (Leiothlypis virginiae)

One tried to land on our boat during the pelagic trip.

MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER (Geothlypis tolmiei)

We saw one way up in an oak at Cascade Creek Campground. I have never seen one up that high before.

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (AUDUBON'S) (Setophaga coronata auduboni)

BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (Setophaga nigrescens)

Seen in a feeding flock at Cascade Creek Campground.

TOWNSEND'S WARBLER (Setophaga townsendi)

Our final day of birding at Gazos Creek we saw numerous Townsend's Warblers fattening up for their journey south.

HERMIT WARBLER (Setophaga occidentalis)

We had a couple brief views in the Sierras.

WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla)

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

WESTERN TANAGER (Piranga ludoviciana)

BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus melanocephalus)

Field Guides Birding Tours
The soggy Mountain Quail we saw above Sonora. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.


BRUSH RABBIT (Sylvilagus bachmani)

The cute little rabbits seen at Pillar Point.


The cottontails in the Sierras.

LEAST CHIPMUNK (Tamias minimus)

The chipmunks we saw around Mono Lake. They were crawling around in the tufa formations.

LONG-EARED CHIPMUNK (Tamias quadrimaculatus)

Seen crossing the trail at Calaveras Big Trees.

YELLOW-BELLIED MARMOT (Marmota flaviventris)

Wow! One crossed the road in front of us as we were going over Sonora Pass.

BELDING'S GROUND SQUIRREL (Spermophilus beldingi)

We saw one in the sage country just outside of Bodie.

CALIFORNIA GROUND SQUIRREL (Spermophilus beecheyi)

Highly abundant throughout the tour.


These handsome squirrels posed nicely along the roads in the Sierras.

EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus carolinensis)

Seen in the Bay Area.


Seen along the road above Sonora.

CHICKAREE (Tamiasciurus douglasii)

Heard and seen at Calaveras Big Trees.


A few were mixed in with the Pacific White-sided Dolphins offshore from Half Moon Bay.

PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHIN (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens)

These gorgeous cetaceans we saw right along the continental shelf during our pelagic trip.

NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHIN (Lissodelphis borealis)

These made a brief appearance in the frenzy of dolphins humpbacks and seabirds during our pelagic trip.

HARBOR PORPOISE (Phocoena phocoena)

We saw one right close to shore as we departed Pillar Point Harbor on our pelagic trip.

HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Wow! We watched a group bubble feeding during our pelagic trip.

Field Guides Birding Tours
White-headed Woodpecker at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

COYOTE (Canis latrans)

Two stood on the road ahead of us near Mono Lake and howled in front of us.

CALIFORNIA SEA LION (Zalophus californianus)

HARBOR SEAL (Phoca vitulina)

MULE DEER (Odocoileus hemionus)

Totals for the tour: 203 bird taxa and 20 mammal taxa