Birding At Monterey Bay
Discover birding at its best in the Monterey Bay region. Learn about local ecology and habitats from experts while seeking waterfowl, waders, shorebirds, songbirds, seabirds and more.
Program No. 11812RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
15 meals
5 B 1BR 4 L 5 D
Getting There
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Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Carmel Valley, CA
Hidden Valley Inn

Activity note: Check-in 2:00-5:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration. When you arrive at Hidden Valley’s campus, come over to the main office next to the parking lot to register with the program staff, receive your room assignment, and get your welcome booklet containing your name-tag and up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute updates. All information for our week together will be reviewed at Orientation after dinner. Please let us know if you will be arriving late. At 5:00 p.m. we’ll meet our fellow participants for a wine and cheese reception in the Fireside Room. We’ll enjoy some California wines and/or juices and savor cheese and crackers before dinner.

Dinner: In the Dining Room, dinners will feature a buffet with copious greens from the "salad bowl of the universe" and from our own organic garden, as well as tastefully prepared entrées made in our own kitchen. All baked goods are also prepared here on campus. Coffee, tea, water, juices, and California wines included.

Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Every day the program begins with breakfast at 7:00 AM in the Dining Room and departs with our expert birding guide, Rick Fournier, at 7:30 AM for that day’s birding field trip. The best birding happens in the morning. Please note, while we will endeavor to look for all birds described in the program and more, seasonality, weather, and birding behavior makes finding birds not guaranteed. A free afternoon is reserved for your personal independent exploration as a way to offer an opportunity to make the program more meaningful and memorable by engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Evenings will have a scheduled activity or class. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Point Lobos Birding and Natural History of Monterey
Carmel Valley, CA
Hidden Valley Inn

Activity note: Walking up to 1.5 miles with stops. Getting on and off the van or bus. Warm layers that can be taken on and off are recommended as coastal conditions are cool and can vary.

Breakfast: 7:00 AM In the Dining Room, the breakfast buffet is prepared fresh each day in the campus kitchen and includes baked goods warm from the oven as well as offerings such as oatmeal, eggs, grits, fruit, and toast with coffee, tea, juice, water.

Morning: 7:30 AM After an introductory talk during breakfast with our birding guide and local expert, Rick Fournier, the group will depart to Point Lobos. With its diverse vegetation of oaks and pines, coastal scrub and meadows, plus its rocky coast, pocket sand coves, offshore islands and ocean water, Point Lobos offers a very likely spot to attract a wide variety of bird species, both endemics, and migratory birds. A walk through the Reserve at various times of the year might yield Pygmy Nuthatches, Band-tailed Pigeons and Pine Siskins, Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Brown Creepers checking for insects at mid-level, and California Quail and sparrows working the forest floor. A check of the coastal scrub could offer a chance to see its resident denizens Anna's Hummingbird, Wrentit or White-crowned Sparrow. Along the shoreline a glance at the rocks or just offshore should give you an opportunity to observe the resident Pelagic Cormorants, Black Oystercatcher, Western Gulls, and during spring and summer migration, perhaps seabird species of alcids and shearwaters.

Lunch: Back in the Hidden Valley Dining Room, we’ll enjoy a lunch buffet with soups and sandwich makings, all prepared in our kitchen and served by the staff that’s been with us for over 20 years. Beverages include water, ice tea, tea, and coffee.

Afternoon: A coastal biologist will join us in our Theatre to introduce and explain some of the fascinating natural history of this extraordinary area. His presentation will be accompanied by a wealth of gorgeous slides.

Dinner: Hidden Valley buffet

Evening: A talented pianist, teaching from the keyboard, will introduce us to the music of Scott Joplin and others. You may even recognize some of his hit tunes from the turn into the 20th century that are still engrained in the music world.

Endemic Birding at Garland Park & Free Time
Carmel Valley, CA
Hidden Valley Inn

Activity note: Walking up to 2.5 to 3 miles with stops. Getting on and off the van or bus. Warm layers that can be taken on and off are recommended for the morning field trip.

Breakfast: 7:30 AM Hidden Valley buffet

Morning: 7:30 AM The birding lesson continues with our expert guide in Carmel Valley’s Garland Ranch Regional Park. The park is home to a variety of California landscapes, from the willow-covered banks of the Carmel River through the cottonwood-sycamore stand of the old flood plain, dense oak woodlands and chaparral, where we will look for endemic species. Throughout the park there are reminders of Carmel Valley’s past with Native American habitation sites and homestead remains. Birding here reveals a wide diversity of in-land California endemic and native bird species. Sighting possibilities may include White-tailed Kite, Oak Titmouse, Bushtit, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Say’s Phoebe, Golden-crowned Sparrow, and Nuttall’s and Acorn Woodpeckers – just to name a few.

Lunch: Hidden Valley buffet

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to your booklet or the office for Free Time opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Public bus service available across from the campus driveway.

Dinner: Dining Room buffet

Evening: A local winemaker will join us in the Dining Room for an introductory class during which we will learn about new wines, the process that goes into producing them, and ultimately experience them through a tasting. Carmel Valley is one of the seven appellations comprising Monterey County’s diverse wineries; of these, Carmel Valley is perhaps the most distinct. Nestled in the Santa Lucia foothills, our summers yield exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other red varietals.

Day Long Birding Adventure on Monterey Bay
Carmel Valley, CA
Hidden Valley Inn

Activity note: Walking up to 1.5 to 2 miles with stops. Getting on and off the van or bus. Warm layers are recommended as coastal conditions are cool and can vary.

Breakfast: 7:00 AM Hidden Valley buffet

Morning: 7:30 AM This day-long excursion begins birding up Carmel Valley seeking resident species, like the Yellow-billed Magpie and California Thrasher, along with seasonal breeding neo-tropical migrants, for example maybe Orioles, Flycatchers, Buntings, or Lazuli Buntings. Mid morning finds our birding enthusiasts at the mouth of the Carmel River on the Pacific Ocean, the 17 mile drive in Pebble Beach and North America’s hometown, Pacific Grove, looking for rocky shorebirds and near shore seabird species. Sighting possibilities may include sandpipers, Sanderlings, Willets, Black-Bellied Plovers, Sooty Shearwaters, Western Grebes, Pacific Loons, Brandts and Pelagic Cormorants, Western Gulls, Common Murres, Surf and White-Winged Scoters and Marbled Murrelets.

Lunch: Sack lunches prepared with fresh greens, a protein, fruit, and water.

Afternoon: Day Long Birding Adventure continues.

Dinner: 6:00 pm Dinner

Evening: At Hidden Valley, we’ll enjoy a performance given by one of Hidden Valley’s talented instructors. It may be anything from a musical performance or a show by a local magician. Be surprised by magical Monterey.

Elkhorn Slough Birding & Safari Boat Trip
Carmel Valley, CA
Hidden Valley Inn

Activity note: Walking up to 1.5 miles with stops. Getting on and off the van or bus. Embarking a boat for a 2 hour cruise. Warm layers are recommended as coastal conditions are cool and can vary.

Breakfast: 7:00 AM Hidden Valley buffet

Morning: 7:30 AM Depart for the Elkhorn Slough Safari Boat Trip. Playful sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, and hundreds of bird species abound as we explore one of California’s most spectacular wetlands aboard a 27-foot pontoon boat. The Elkhorn Slough is one of the premier bird watching sites in the western United States. More than 340 species visit or find permanent refuge here, including several rare and endangered species, such as the Brown Pelican, Snowy Plover, and Peregrine Falcon. Learn about this diverse ecosystem and birds from both the expert boat captain and our guide.

Lunch: Sack lunches provided for Field Trip

Afternoon: The second half of the day will find us birding other microhabitats around Elkhorn Slough. Perhaps birding the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve or one of the premier vagrant traps in Monterey County, Moon Glow Dairy. Visit a variety of habitats including oak/eucalyptus groves, a Great Egret/Great Blue Heron/Double-crested Cormorant rookery, mud flats, salt marshes and freshwater ponds for ducks and shorebirds. A number of raptors frequent the Slough, including the White-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Merlin, Golden Eagle, Elegant Tern and a target bird for many, Tricolored Blackbird – just to name a few.

Dinner: Hidden Valley buffet

Evening: Enjoy a film about Monterey or continue enjoying the company of new Road Scholar friends with informal activities such as board games, cards, puzzles, or sharing your favorite experiences of the day over coffee or tea in the Fireside Room.

Campus Birding and Program Concludes
Carmel Valley, CA

Breakfast: 7:00 AM Light offerings of baked goods, toast, cereal, coffee, tea, juice, milk, and water are available in the Dining Room.

Morning: 7:30 AM Morning birding around Hidden Valley’s campus or chase species not seen during the program – as determined by the guide. Conclude the week with our expert as we re-cap the birds we saw, skills we learned and answer questions.

Brunch: 10:30 AM In the Dining Room, we’ll enjoy a farewell brunch buffet to commemorate the great program we have had with new Road Scholar friends. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoyed your week birding at Monterey Bay. Travel safely.

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