aba events

ABA Birding Rally: San Diego, California

When: October 12-16, 2013
San Diego, California
How Much: $1195
Hosts: Gary Nunn, Jon Dunn, Forrest Rowland, Jeff Bouton, George Armistead, Jeff & Liz Gordon, Bill Stewart, John Puschock, and more. Pelagic leaders include: Paul Lehman & Guy McCaskie.

It’s time to head for SoCal, and there is no better time to do it than October. Join the ABA staff and local experts as they explore one of the birdiest cities in the world in search of migrants and regional specialties. We’ll be joined by Eagle Optics and Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures, each of which will bring their own brand of expertise. In and around San Diego there is an incredibly diverse range of habitats hosting a great variety of birds. Our field trips during the rally will visit four major areas, and those that opt for the extension will visit the Salton Sea as well, where vast numbers of migrants are encountered and there is always the chance to see the Yellow-footed Gull.

Surfbird (Photo by Dorian Anderson)

Surfbird (Photo by Dorian Anderson)


In the Tijuana River Valley we’ll visit Dairy Mart Ponds, and Border Field State Park and other nearby areas in search of raptors (including White-tailed Kite), flycatchers, vireos, warblers and sparrows and hope to encounter local specialties like California Thrasher and Wrentit. This riparian patchwork of habitats provides excellent birding opportunities at a leisurely pace.

Just outside of San Diego are the Laguna and Cuyamaca Mountains which host a nice array of birds which may include Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Pygmy Nuthatch, Lawrence’s Goldfinch, and even Mountain Quail is possible. Migrant birds are also making their way through the mountains at this time of year, adding to the diversity of species encountered.

Another field trip day will feature a variety of San Diego Migrant Traps and other hotspots for birds such as Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Elegant Tern, and more chances for regional endemics such as California Gnatcatcher.

California Gnatcatcher (Photo by Bill Schmoker)

California Gnatcatcher (Photo by Bill Schmoker)

The pelagic waters off San Diego are great for seabirds, and we will endeavor a pelagic trip that tours the near shore waters, as well as out to bird rich regions at the important 9-Mile Bank and 30-Mile Bank. We will search for a good variety of storm-petrels (including Black, Least, and possibly others) and hope to encounter a vast storm-petrel flock known in these waters. We’ll keep a vigilant watch for alcids also, with the hope that we spy a murrelet or two.

Black Storm-Petrel (Photo by Tom Johnson)

Black Storm-Petrel (Photo by Tom Johnson)

Evening Speakers

Gary Nunn, Rally Field Trip Coordinator
The Past, Present and Future – Trajectories of Bird Conservation in Southern California
From the immense efforts regenerating populations of California Condors to grass roots activities protecting sensitive Snowy Plovers, the conservation of birds in Southern California continues. Human population growth, habitat change and fragmentation, and complexities of bureaucracy, among other factors, have all impacted birds in the southwestern United States. We will learn about species saved, species at risk, and what’s being done to keep our avifauna on the right trajectory for future birders, and all nature lovers, to enjoy.

Jeff Gordon, ABA President
Birding Together: How Birding Can Save Your Life and Maybe, Just Maybe, Save the World
Alvaro Jaramillo has said that if golf is a good walk spoiled, then birding is a good walk perfected. It’s such a simple, compelling, positive message. But that positivity is something that birders as a community have relatively rarely managed to convey. Why is it that with as great a “product” to sell as the redemptive power of a passionate curiosity about nature and belonging to community of of some of the most interesting, caring people anywhere, we’ve made so little traction with the wider public? Join American Birding Association President Jeffrey Gordon for a celebration of the power of birding to heal and transform, not only our own lives but even our world.

Jeff Bouton of Leica Sport Optics & Bill Stewart (ABA Director of Partnerships & Marketing) will also present talks.

Gary Nunn has spent two decades in California, and is the local host for this San Diego Rally. He hails from England originally, where he grew up birding at the crucible of twitching – the county of Norfolk. Gary’s scientific background in bird evolution and taxonomy provides a unique perspective to bird species identification as well as lots of debate material about just how many species of bird we are looking at! He has led worldwide birding tours from Cape Horn to the Islands of the Mediterranean. Recently he discovered San Diego County’s 508th bird species and ABA Code-5 rarity – a Great-winged Petrel!

Jon Dunn, a birder since the age of 8, is today one of the ABA Area’s best known birders. In 2012, Jon was presented the ABA’s Roger Tory Peterson Award, given for a lifetime of achievements in promoting the cause of birding. Jon has spent most of his life living in California, and served as Chief Consultant/Editor for all six editions of the National Geographic Society’s Field Guide to the Birds of North America. He is a member of the Committee on Classification and Nomenclature of the American Ornithologists’ Union and also the ABA Checklist Committee, and has devoted over 20 years on the California Bird Records Committee. He leads tours for Wings: Birding Tours Worldwide.

George Armistead is a lifelong birder and the events coordinator for the ABA. He spent 2002-2012 organizing and leading birding tours and has guided trips on all seven continents. He enjoys vast open country habitats and seabirds most of all. A Philadelphia native, he is an associate at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

Forrest Rowland began guiding at Sacha Lodge, then spent field seasons working on various field projects in Delaware, Texas, Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and in Alaska where he worked for St. Paul Island Tours. Currently he works as the New World Operations Manager, and guide, for Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures.

Jeff Gordon is the president of the American Birding Association. There’s very little about birds, birding, and birders that he doesn’t find fascinating, though he’s especially interested in birding culture and the many ways we all communicate our passion for birds.

Liz Gordon has been a birder for 25 years. While growing up in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas she discovered Green Jays and chachalacas in her backyard. Soon her goal became to teach others that birds and bird habitat were worth caring for and protecting, and as a hairdresser she had a captive audience every day! She was one of the founders of the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. After she and husband Jeff moved to Colorado Springs, Liz was first a volunteer and eventually became Adjutant at the ABA office, getting things done and making things happen. A passion for birds and protecting their habitats drives her every day.

Bill Stewart is the Director of Partnerships and Marketing for the ABA and a birder for over 37 years.  Bill also serves as the Coordinator for the ABA’s Young Birder Programs and Camps.  For the past eight years, Bill has served as the Conservation Chair for the Delmarva Ornithological Society and is the Founder and Director of the Delaware Bird-A-Thon, the Wilmington Peregrine Falcon Webcam Project and the Lights Out! Wilmington initiative. Currently serving on the Board for the Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp, he was awarded the 2010 Conservation Champion Award from the USFWS and the 2010 Citizens Award from the US Dept. of Interior for his bird conservation efforts.  In his free time, Bill likes to spend time with his five children, grandson and do a little surfing.

John Puschock manages #ABArare for the ABA, and is a frequent participant in rare bird forums around the web and has knack for gathering details necessary to relocate birds. He has been a birder since 1984 and now leads tours for Bird Treks, as well as for his own company Zugunruhe Birding Tours. He has led tours to locations across North America, from Newfoundland to New Mexico and from Costa Rica to Alaska. He specializes in leading tours to Adak in the Aleutian Islands.

Black Turnstone (Photo © Steven Tucker)

Black Turnstone (Photo © Steven Tucker)


Allen's Hummingbird (Photo © Steven Tucker)

Allen’s Hummingbird (Photo © Steven Tucker)