When: August 17-22, 2014
Where: Half Moon Bay, California
How Much: $TBA
Event Type: IFO Program in partnership with ALVARO’S ADVENTURES
Limit: 24 people
Instructor: Alvaro Jaramillo & George Armistead
(3rd will be added if group size warrants)
Registration: opens March 15
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What is an IFO?
The ABA’s Institute for Field Ornithology traces its origins back to 1983. The IFO was created as an ABA member service with the goal of offering novel opportunities for the study of birds. Our IFO programs combine field birding with an educational element to enrich your birding. They are meant to be fun and educational. Some IFOs are more field-oriented while others have more of a classroom element. Each IFO features expert and friendly instructors whose chief goals are to educate the IFO program’s participants, and help ensure that everyone enjoys a good experience. IFO programs are designed for ABA members and typically have a limit of no more than 25 participants, but often group size ranges from 8-20 people. An IFO may be based at a single location so that each night is spent in the same area, or a program may cover several separate regions, requiring the group to change lodging a couple of times. Most IFO programs are several days in length (4-7 days) but occasionally we offer single-day events too.
Seabird enthusiasts have long held the central California coast as one of the premier destinations in the world for accessing large numbers of seabirds and cetaceans (whales, dolphins, etc.). Year-round there is an abundance of biomass in these seas, and in August many species are beginning their southbound migration back to their breeding grounds, making this a great time to study seabirds off California. This might seem counter-intuitive; migrating to breeding grounds in August? In fact many of the seabirds we see in the ABA Area breed in the southern hemisphere only visiting our waters in their winter/our summer. Mid-late August is a fine time to see Sooty Shearwaters streaming by in the thousands, and perhaps the handsomest of all shearwaters, the Buller’s Shearwater is in numbers too.
Other species like the globally threatened Ashy Storm-Petrel occur just offshore at this time, and Fulmars and albatrosses are possible too. In addition to the tubenoses, other seabirds are active including jaegers, gulls, and terns, and local breeding seabirds have their young of the year out in the cold, nutrient-rich waters. Alcids like Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, and Marbled Murrelet ought to be around and there’s always the outside chance at a Scripp’s Murrelet.
Participants will receive 3 lectures during this IFO Program that will cover the taxonomy of the seabirds we are studying, and their evolution and natural history. We will endeavor 3 pelagic trips (weather permitting) to try see these amazing birds in the field, and in their element. The goal will be to see these birds and really peel back the layers a bit, and to appreciate the totality of their annual cycle and natural history.
Between lectures and pelagic trips we’ll enjoy some birding on land, and some good food and drink too. We’ll make attempts to see other California specialty birds, and there is a possibility that time could allow for a search for California Condor too.
This IFO Program is a continuation of what we hope will be a series on seabirds with annual offerings by these instructors. Click here to see a summary of the 2013 offering Gulf Stream Tubenoses of North Carolina
To get a sense of the species possible and their abundance at this season off/along the central coast of California, see the eBird list here.
Alvaro Jaramillo has worked as a professional birding guide for nearly two decades, and is the owner/operator of Alvaro’s Adventures. He is an author too and was the lead author of New World Blackbirds: The Icterids, and on The Birds of Chile, a place well known as a major destination for seabird enthusiasts.
George Armistead is the events coordinator for the ABA, and worked as a professional bird guide for Field Guides Inc. from 2002-2012, guiding trips to all seven continents. He’s been studying seabirds for about 20 years, and has spent over 200 days at sea (about 1/3 of them in the Pacific) making multiple trips to the Southern Ocean and also is a regular guide on pelagic trips off of Hatteras, North Carolina.