I’ve hinted at this here or there on the site, but one of the springtime birding goals is to break our previous green big day record. Last year, Josiah Clark, Andy Kleinhesselink, and I set an imposing bar at 181 species, but we’ve been scheming for months to improve and diversify. We’re definitely on to something right now — it involves the ocean and the San Francisco bay, and a lot of riding.
If you want to zoom in, see the fully explorable map here.
Here’s the way we can fully the SF Bay Area’s diversity in 24 short biking hours. Start at midnight on the ocean! Crossing the Santa Cruz mountains during the day just takes too long. After an hour or two, you’re not hearing new birds but you’ve still got hours of riding. By working along the coast in the dark and reaching the mountain ridgeline at dawn, we can enjoy some ocean restricted birds without a lengthy daytime ride. We’ll be aiming for loons, rocky shorebirds like turnstones and oystercatchers, as well as roosting gulls and lingering ducks.
From there we cut into the mountains, passing through the town of La Honda and onto the quiet and beautiful Alpine Road. Here’s where we’ll find the wonderful owls of the Santa Cruz mountains. From there it’s across Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve, through Monte Bello OSP and Stevens Creek County Park, and out into the suburbs. We criss-cross the bayshore to hit all the hotspots, then head east for the second round of mountains. But you can see from the elevation profile that these are more like hills. We finish along Calaveras Reservoir, imagining the life of cattle rancher.
I’ll share a few more details as we pin down some trickier birds this weekend. But for now, the big day should happen on April 29th. The local birds are back on territory, and migrants are streaming through to points north. Get ready!