Current and past Winter Bird Festival leaders and presenters are listed in alphabetical order by last name
Click on the dropdown + for a short introduction/bio
Louise Abbott is a self-proclaimed Silicon Valley escapee. She spent most of her career in the high-tech world, retiring as a program manager for Cisco Systems. Since moving to the Central Coast she has become very active as a State Park Docent, and is a past Chair of the Docent Council. Born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota, she fully appreciates the beauty and -- especially -- the moderate climate here. One of her favorite places is the heron rookery
Phil and Carole Adams began leading Adventure With Nature Walks for California State Parks over 15 years ago. Other State Park activities they are currently involved with include Sea Life Stewards and Piedras Blancas Trail Stewards. They also volunteer with Friends of the Elephant Seal and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. They enjoy sharing their passion and knowledge about wildlife and the environment.
George Armistead, a birder since the age of 9 years old, has a long history in connecting people with nature through his writing, and through ecotourism and expedition travel. Currently chief network officer at Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures, which operates over 300 tours annually, George is also a professional wildlife guide with 20 years of experience. He has led trips to all seven continents, and from 2012 - 2016, he managed the events program for the American Birding Association, and served as an instructor at ABA young birder camps. He has authored two books on birds including Better Birding: Tips, Tools, and Concepts for the Field (with co-author Brian Sullivan) and The ABA Field Guide to the Birds of Pennsylvania. Based in Philadelphia, George spends much of his free time outdoors, but also loves Philly sports teams, and the city’s dining scene and nightlife.
Rick cautiously began birding 40 years ago and has since birded six of the seven continents in search of avian colors, vocalizations, and novel behaviors. He has led tours in Alaska and California, and recently spent three weeks "twitching" in Costa Rica. He thoroughly enjoys helping beginning birdwatchers discover the joys of birding. Rick's current approach to birding reminds him of a Storm Petrel, as he/it erratically pursues sightings that move through the Central Coast.
Mike has been a State Park Docent since 2001 and leads Digital Photowalks (www.photomorrobay.com). He is a PhD Computer Scientist with an MBA, retired from ask.com, and author of Engineering Your Start-up(www.eysu.org). Mike is editor of www.morro-bay.com, a prolific local photographer, publishes at www.bairdphotos.com and www.flickr.com/people/mikebaird/, where his images have been viewed 2 million times. He is also an active social network leader.
Lexie Bell is the Executive Director of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program. The Estuary Program works to protect and restore Morro Bay for people and wildlife. Lexie plans and directs the program’s work, and collaborates with the Estuary Program’s many partners to expand the collective success in the watershed. Lexie holds a Master’s degree from UC Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and Biology from the University of Miami. Previously, Lexie worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Education, the Nature Conservancy, and the Central Caribbean Marine Institute.
A naturalist from a very early age, Daniel's interest in birding really took off while working on a degree in Ecology from Cal Poly. Since then he has worked as an volunteer on the California Condor Recovery Program, as well as a bird guide for a local outdoor tour outfit. Currently, Daniel is the Conservation Director for The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County and is working to preserve and protect San Luis Obispo County's unique and diverse landscape.
Now a retired college biology instructor, Bill began birding at 11 years of age. A lifelong love of the natural world has resulted in his continued involvement with that world. An accomplished photographer, particularly of natural subjects, he enjoys using his photographs to foster and enhance appreciation of nature when presenting programs at various local groups' meetings. His images are widely used by web sites, nature centers, universities, museums and environmental groups, and many can be viewed at:
Chris is the 2016 co-chair of the Winter Bird Festival. He is the Executive Director of Camp Ocean Pines in Cambria, CA where he strives to pass along a passion for inquiry and a love of nature. He has been a pastor, a naturalist and a consultant, and has coached soccer, driven a bus, kept bees, caught snakes, made a fire with two sticks, and has a Master's degree in organizational leadership.
Jay is a marine biologist who has worked as an environmental consultant on the Central Coast for over 35 years. His interest in birds began with shorebird censuses in Elkhorn Slough in the 1970s and later expanded during trips to southeast Alaska, the Galapagos Islands and Australia. With Morro Bay as his "backyard", he has enjoyed the opportunity to pursue his interest in birding while he and his wife Ellen have raised their family here.
Karen has been birding since the early 1990s. Besides the birds of the Central Coast, she loves to observe them in exotic places like Borneo, the Philippines, Namibia, and various parts of Alaska. She and her husband live in Cambria, where they have a seafood restaurant.
Rick Derevan is a native Californian who grew up in the San Gabriel Valley. He has also lived in the Bay Area, Sacramento, and (mostly) Orange County. He moved to the Central Coast in 2006.
Ricks interest in birding was sparked in 1974 when two birds, now with different names, began appearing on his balcony: a Western Scrub Jay and an Oregon Junco. Rick is an appellate lawyer, but now works part time so he can devote more time to birding, and especially to bird and wildlife photography. His photographs have been honored by Audubon, Defenders of Wildlife, and the North American Association of Nature Photographers. You can follow Rick's photography on Facebook at Rick Derevan Photography or on Flickr.
Van Dees is a retired community college professor from Orange County. She had been visiting the Central Coast for many years before moving here a few years ago. She has been birding in the US for over twenty years and has taken birding trips to Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, Peru, Ecuador, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Besides birding, Van is a docent for Friends of the Elephant Seal, sharing information about northern elephant seals, birds, and the environment at Piedras Blancas Rookery."
Claudia has been involved in wildlife rehabilitation with Pacific Wildlife Care for 27 years, concentrating on birds. She houses and exhibits Corax, the PWC education raven, leads the creance team and is a member of the oiled bird wash team. Although she finds all birds wonderful and fascinating, she has a particular fondness for corvids and seabirds. Claudia is currently a member of the PWC Board of Directors and to pay for all of this, works at the Superior Court.
Tom has lived on the Central Coast in Cayucos since 1975, when he came to Cal Poly State University where he obtained a B.S. in Natural Resource Management. Always interested in birds, an ornithology class sparked a passion that continues today. He has been the San Luis Obispo County bird records compiler for North American Birds since 1983 and the Morro Bay Christmas Bird Count Compiler since 1988. Tom is the eBird reviewer for San Luis Obispo County. He recently retired from his position as a biologist with the California Department of Transportation.
John is Central Coast Outdoors owner, 2003 to present, and an outdoor guide since 1991. He currently runs kayak eco-tours on Morro Bay and enthusiastically shares his wealth of knowledge about life in and on the bay, including shorebirds, migrating waterfowl, seabirds and many others. John's wife Virginia works at Pacific Wildlife Care and specializes in sick and injured seabirds. You can learn more about John and Central Coast Outdoors atwww.centralcoastoutdoors.com.
Virginia is Central Coast Outdoors owner, 2003 to present, with her husband, John, and an outdoor guide since 1991. She currently runs kayak eco-tours on Morro Bay and enthusiastically shares her wealth of knowledge about life in and on the bay, including shorebirds, migrating waterfowl, seabirds and many others. Virginia also works at Pacific Wildlife Care, caring for sick, injured and orphaned seabirds, songbirds and raptors. Virginia is a member of PWC's educational team and houses a western screech owl named Misty, who is one of the Educational Ambassadors. You can learn more about Virginia and Central Coast Outdoors at www.centralcoastoutdoors.com.
Karl is a Biology teacher in Los Angeles. A friend showed him a Brown creeper and White-headed woodpecker in Sequoia's Giant Forest in 1993, and a life-long passion grew from there. Karl has been bird watching in Israel, Sweden, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and around the US. He studied Marine Biology at the University of Miami and worked as a naturalist for the National Park Service in Everglades, Denali, Joshua Tree and Sequoia National Parks before becoming a classroom teacher. He writes a blog about bio-inspired ornithopters and the evolution of human flight called Great Blue Machine.
Claudia Freitas is a retired Biology professor. After teaching college Zoology, Wildlife Bio, Marine Bio and a variety of Natural History classes including Birding classes, for 33 years she moved back to the central coast where she had gone to college and became involved as a docent at the Morro Bay Natural History Museum. Besides teaching courses at Long Beach City College she has also taught Elderhostels, taught and trained staff at the El Dorado Nature Center, taught for Parks and Recreation in Long Beach and at Long Beach State University. She was also lucky enough to lead nature trips for a variety of agencies to many countries including: India, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Egypt, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Botswana. Besides those things, she loves showing people how much fun birding is. Hers is a light-hearted look at the world around us.
I started birding while I was majoring in biology at Cal State, Northridge. I went on to become a Physical Therapist, but continued birding after graduation and, with a DIY spirit, I converted a wooden salad bowl into a dish microphone with a cheap tape recorder. I simply wanted to ID the songs by comparing my recordings to my Peterson's CD field guide. In 1995 I called the phone number in the booklet that came with the CDs. I spoke with Greg Budney who is now the Audio Curator of the Library of Natural Sounds at Cornell University. I asked about proper field recorders, and on his advice, I looked up Stith Recording. I started with a Marantz PMD 222 cassette recorder, and an omnidirectional microphone with a 24-inch parabola. I switched to a Marantz PMD 661 digital recorder and added a short shotgun microphone in 2012. I've been uploading my recordings to xeno-Canto for several years now, and include links to my recordings to slocobirding: many people include links to their photos, why not audio recordings?
Jessica Griffiths has been working as a field biologist for over 15 years. She grew up in Chicago, got her undergrad degree at Wellesley College outside of Boston, and spent the next few years traveling around the country working for non-profits and government agencies in 7 states with a focus on songbird ecology. She then worked as a Wildlife Biologist for Ventana Wildlife Society, running the Big Sur Ornithology Lab for 4 years. She discovered a passion for public outreach and education, and has given presentations on native wildlife to thousands of people. She received her Masters at Cal Poly University, where she studied overwintering monarch butterflies. She currently works as a biologist for Althouse and Meade, Inc., and leads several birding field trips around SLO County for MCAS every year.
Kara got turned on to birds camping as a kid in Colorado. After completing her degree in Zoology, she worked as an Environmental Educator for NY State Parks. She volunteered at the Cornell Hawk Barn as a raptor rehabilitator and in 1997 adopted Sunshine, an unreleasable Red-tailed Hawk.
Together, they have presented hundreds of programs focusing on the beauty, behavior and value of raptor species. In 2010 Kara wrote, directed and produced "Sunshine's Surprise", a docu-drama-comedy about a hawk who hatched chickens. Sunshine was such an excellent mother that she went on to foster two Red-shouldered.
Marlin has been birding for over 35 years, has lived in Morro Bay that entire time, and considers the bay his back yard. He has been a leader in each of the previous winter bird festivals. He has a degree in biology, assisted in research at Mono Lake and the Farallon Islands in the 1980s, and in the 1990s he coordinated numerous local shorebird censuses in conjunction with PRBO (now named Point Blue). In the past decade he has been active as a photographer, has contributed photos for various conservation projects and has sold others. Flickr photo site: www.flickr.com/marlinharms
Steve Hendricks was born and raised in San Luis Obispo County. He achieved a A.S. Cuesta College, a B.S. in Fish Biology from Humboldt State University, and an M.S. in Fish Biology from Oregon State University. He has worked as a fish biologist in California, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska for the past 12 years, and for 10 years as a Biology Professor at Cuesta and Hancock Colleges. He is married to wife Rachael for 15 years, and has one daughter, Zoe, who is 8 years old (and part bird fairy!). Steve is an avid fisherman and an amateur birder.
Ken is a professor in the Biological Sciences department at Cal Poly, and has been birding the central coast since 2004
World traveler and explorer from an early age, Scott teaches biology at the middle school level. He thrives on making science interesting, challenging and fun for young people. He leads local school birding trips as well as adventure science trips to Costa Rica and the Florida Keys.
Jodi has worked in the natural resource management field for over 20 years and currently works as an Environmental Scientist for California State Parks in Morro Bay where she dedicates much of her time to habitat conservation and restoration. Since 2005 she has operated a Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) station in coordination with the Institute for Bird Population at Morro Bay State Park. Jodi completed her graduate work in Australia studying bird movements in a fragmented rainforest landscape, has worked with endangered bird species in Maui, and worked at other banding operations in Africa, Ecuador, and around California.
For more than 20 years David Jaffe has guided and taught a variety of audiences about our natural world and our connection with it. His childhood interest in natural systems eventually brought him to Evergreen State College where he earned a B.S. in Environmental Studies and Geology, followed by a M.S in Applied Ecology from the University of Vermont. Mingling an academic background with experience working around the world in exceptionally diverse environments, he is able to efficiently observe, understand, and interpret natural and cultural history.
He has climbed onto an elephant in Nepal, looked into the eyes of masked boobies in Galápagos, sought nudibranchs on the Great Barrier Reef, and walked the Ghats along the Ganges River in India. He has led backcountry trips in Denali National Park, learned from students in Kentucky, and gained great insights while hitchhiking home from work in Yosemite National Park. In addition to working many years in Denali National Park, he has worked in Southeast Alaska on various ships. He has experience as a naturalist in many of the lower 48 states. And he has also worked as a divemaster in Australia, Costa Rica, and India. He assisted with the establishment of a marine protected area off the coast of Madagascar and researched birds in Canada and South America. His enthusiasm about the natural world is contagious.
Vicky is an "Amateur naturalist and a professional volunteer. She is a Docent for the Small Wilderness Preservation Association (SWAP) at the Elfin Forest in Los Osos, CA.
Bob is a graduate of Penn State. He lived in Pennsylvania, Florida and now California. He is retired, living the dream splitting time between Orange County and Cambria. He has birded from Alaska to Florida, Australia to the U.K. however — must agree with Kenn Kaufman — his favorite birding area is Morro Bay.
Dave Keeling taught Chemistry at Cal Poly for over 35 years. He has been a serious amateur photographer since high school, with an initial emphasis on landscapes, but drifted and evolved to wildlife, and in the last 20 years to bird photography. He has photos of over 1,700 bird species, with over 300 in San Luis Obispo County. He reports his best asset to be dogged persistence.
Melissa is the Park Naturalist/Ranger at Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve.
Jerry is a State Park Docent for the CCNHA as well as a Pecho Trail Docent and is very active leading various AWN (Adventures With Nature) walks. Those dealing with natural history and his passion for photography include local Flora and Fauna along with Digital Photo Instruction. He teaches programs dealing with Digital Photo Walks, Birds, Estuary, Wild Flowers, Plankton, and Intertidal Hikes. A retired bio/zoo instructor, he posts both common and scientific names on flickr. He is a member of NAPP, the SLOCC, to name a few.
Will Knowlton was born and raised in Templeton, CA. He graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in biology, and now works as a biologist in the county. His birding exploits have taken him to many exotic places, including Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Panama, and most recently, Taiwan.
Gale began to love birds in the mid-70's when she purchased her first Lovebird. Then, in the early 90's while on a trip to Point Reyes National Seashore, she noticed birds on a rock in the ocean and wondered what they were. This led Gale to buy her first bird book, a Peterson Guide, and ignited her passion for bird watching. Gale attended the first Morro Bay Bird Festival as a participant, later as a representative for Morro Coast Audubon and the Snowy Plovers, and for the past several years as a Co-leader of the North Coast trip where she enjoys the birders as much as the birds. In addition to birding, Gale has found another passion in horses and is working towards a career in gentle horsemanship training.
Sally has lived on the Central Coast since 1972, when she came to Cal Poly to study Biological Sciences. A phycology class from Dr. Shirley Sparling introduced her to the enthralling marine life on our coastline and involved her in marine science research. She observed the impact that tide pool visitors have on the intertidal marine life and became involved in marine science education programs. Sally is employed as a biologist for Pacific Gas & Electric and works throughout San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, including Diablo Canyon, on environmental permitting. She is also a member of Diablo Canyon's land stewardship program, and works closely with ranchers and fireman on managed access programs. Sally is a board member of Central Coast State Parks Association.
Dave Lamkin and wife Marcia lived in Flagstaff, Arizona from 1982 to 2017, where they were active members of the Northern Arizona Audubon Society. For the first 20 of these 35 years, Dave was a faculty member in the College of Engineering at Northern Arizona University. Since retirement in 2002 opened his calendar, they have attended the Morro Bay Winter Birding Festival annually. These visits expanded over time to 3 month escapes from Flagstaff winters. Also expanding over this time was their infatuation with the Central Coast, especially the birding. Finally, in August, 2017, they were able to move permanently to Los Osos.
Ken Levine is a retired veterinarian who practiced in Arroyo Grande for 35 years. He is a charter member of San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden, and has been a docent there for over 20 years. Two of his favorite things are plants and birds. This has resulted in a particular interest in the role that birds play in the pollination of many of our plants. He enjoys sharing the many adaptive variations that can be seen in bird-pollinated flowers with other participants at the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival.
John Lindsey is a media relations representative and marine meteorologist for Pacific Gas and Electric Company at Diablo Canyon Power Plant. He has worked for PG&E for more than 12 years.
He has forecasted weather and oceanographic conditions along the Central Coast of California for over 25 years. His forecast can be heard every morning on 920 KVEC radio and weekly on Mondays in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
Before PG&E, he was a marine meteorologist and research scientist with Tenera Environmental. He served in the U.S. Navy for over 24 years and completed the U.S. Naval Aviation Meteorology and Oceanography Program. He attended Santa Rosa Junior College and Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.
He is currently on the Board of Directors of the PG&E Veterans Employee Resource Group and the president of the board of directors of Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers. He was also named Los Osos citizen of the year.
He currently lives in Los Osos, California and is married to Trisha. They have two children, Chloe 17 and Sean 11
Curtis lived on the Central Coast from 1980 to 1988 while attending Cal Poly State University, where he received a B.S. in Environmental and Systematic Biology and a M.S. in Computer Science. He went on to get a second M.S. in Zoology at Louisiana State University and a Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts in Biology, both concentrating on song variation and systematics in a group of Neotropical birds known as woodcreepers. For his research, Curtis spent parts of 15 years in South America recording the songs of woodcreepers and other birds, yet he has always retained an interest in the birds of California and in particular San Luis Obispo County, for which he and Tom Edell are currently working on a book covering the status and distribution of birds found in the county. Curtis is currently employed an a biological consultant, a job that takes him to various sites across central and southern California.
Steve discovered birding at the age of 10 when he borrowed a Peterson's Field Guide and a pair of binoculars from a family friend. His Natural Resource Management degree led him into a career of environmental planning, and he currently works for the County of San Luis Obispo. He has been a Central Coast resident for most of the last 40 years (with a stint living in Central Oregon), and enjoys the outdoors including cycling, hiking, running and paddle boarding. He especially enjoys combining two of his favorite interests..travelling and birding.
Ron is a lifelong birder and naturalist. He currently resides in Sacramento, and is working for the CA Department of Water Resources on river conservation and restoration within the Central Valley of California. He is also completing his doctorate in geography at the University of California, Davis, where his research is focused on river meander and bird habitat dynamics within the flood management system of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. Ron has worked with birds in wetland, riparian, and montane systems throughout California, Oregon, Washington, and southwestern British Columbia, specifically with species such as Black Rail, Least and Western Sandpiper, Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Sawwhet Owl, and many songbird species including Bank Swallow and Least Bell's Vireo. Outside of his school and work pursuits, he enjoys working with Rocky Point Bird Observatory on their migration monitoring efforts and banding workshops within the Partners in Flight Bird Conservation Region 5.
Neidhardt grew up on a lake in South Carolina, obsessed with everything that flies, hops, crawls, slithers and swims. He retired in 2009, after a 40 year career as a construction manager/estimator, building projects in many parts of the country and began volunteering with the California Condor Recovery Program at Pinnacles National Monument (now a National Park).
Paul O'Connor is retired from Cal Fire after 30 years of service in the Fire Dept. He volunteer for State Parks in outdoor activities providing walks and talks at Montana de Oro and the tidepools at coralina cove and works as a kayak, bike and hike tour guide for Central Coast Outdoors in Morro Bay. In the past he worked with CCO assisting kayak tours for bird festival and gave a photo walk at Montana de Oro also for the bird festival. His biggest joy is work and volunteering at the Point San Luis Lighthouse, restoring, giving guided tours and driving the trolley up the hill to the county's hidden gem on the coast.
After earning a BS in Natural Resources Management from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Regena began working for California State Parks in 1995. As an Environmental Scientist, she currently manages the Western Snowy Plover program for State Parks in the Morro Bay area, which has the largest breeding population of snowy plovers in the State Park System. Regena has also been banding birds since 1998. The two banding projects she is currently involved with are a Monitoring Avian Population and Survivorship (MAPS) station at the Powell properties within Morro Bay State Park and a study looking for Large-billed Savannah Sparrows near the Morro Bay State Park Marina.
Rachel Pass serves as the Morro Bay National Estuary Program's Communications and Outreach Coordinator. She works with community members, partners, and other stakeholders to raise awareness of the Estuary Program's mission, and to encourage participation in restoration and preservation efforts. Rachel enjoys almost any outdoor activity, and can often be found watching wildlife on the bay, or hiking along the coast.
within Morro Bay State Park and a study looking for Large-billed Savannah Sparrows near the Morro Bay State Park Marina.
Ella Pennington lives and birds in Los Angeles with her husband with whom she participates in a California Naturalist citizen science project investigating population fluctuations of American Kestrels with the Peregrine Fund. She grew up on the eastern seaboard where her passion for nature and birds arose, and she has been studying California birds, their behavior and their vocalizations for the past 10 years. After recently retiring from social services management, she's been volunteering with several habitat rehabilitation projects in California when not traveling the world seeking outdoor adventures. It is her great joy to share her love of birds and nature with others to foster a greater respect and sense of awe for California's natural wonders.
David Pereksta is an Avian Biologist with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, where he studies and analyzes the effects of offshore oil and gas, and renewable energy development on birds off the Pacific coast and Hawaii. Prior to his position at BOEM, Dave spent 16 years working on endangered species issues with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ventura. Throughout his career with various Federal and State agencies, he has studied several imperiled bird species including snowy plovers, piping plovers, least terns, ospreys, northern goshawks, brown pelicans, spotted owls, and ivory-billed woodpeckers. An avid birder for 40 years, Dave has traveled throughout North America, South America, the American tropics, the South Pacific, and East Asia including leading trips to Belize, Costa Rica, and Peru. He has seen over 1,700 species of birds in his travels; photographing in excess of 1,100 species along the way.
Kaaren Perry has been interested in birds and nature since childhood. She is an avid birder and has birded throughout the United States, Canada, Alaska, France, England, Greece and the Czech Republic. For the past 20 years, Kaaren has enjoyed leading local field trips and conducting yearly field classes in the study of gulls, seabirds and birds of the rocky coast. Kaaren recently lead a birding trip to Alaska for the Sierra Club. She has also been selected as field trip leader for the Salton Sea and San Diego Birding Festivals. She enthusiastically shares her love for watching and learning about birds.
Lu is a member and former president of Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society. He has been involved with the Snowy Plover recovery program for 15 years. His other interests include calligraphy, native plant gardening, and backpacking. He recently retired from a career in bookselling. (Je parle francais!)
Roy Poucher has been a Sea and Sage Audubon Society (Orange County, CA) trip leader and field trip assistant in their birding classes (including aural birding) for 25 years. For them he has led trips to Yosemite, the Eastern Sierra, Arizona, Texas, North Dakota (sparrows), the Great Lakes (warblers), the eastern seaboard (shorebirds). Roy also is an international tour leader and, with his company Bird Odyssey Tours, has led trips to South Africa, Kenya, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Thailand and Cambodia. Tours to Trinidad/Tobago and India are upcoming. His passion is bird vocalization, and has personally mentored aural birding with Dick Walton (author of the Peterson bird vocalization audio series), Luis Baptista (late of the California Academy of Sciences), Tom Hahn (UC Davis) and Sylvia Gallagher (renowned Southern California educator). Roy teaches aural birding for the Monterey Bay Birding Festival and the Mono Basin Bird Chautaugua.
Donald Quintana is a Central California Nature and Wildlife Photographer whose family was an early settler in Morro Bay. He finds comfort and renewal by spending time amidst the wonders of the local natural world. His greatest enjoyment comes from capturing fleeting moments in nature that are often missed by the casual observer and sharing them with others. He has published photos in magazines, calendars and online articles, and has won awards for his photography in contests as well as from the North American Nature Photographers Association. Bird photography is one of the areas of nature photography that he is very passionate about. You can see his photos at www.donaldquintana.com as well as his flickr site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/donaldquintana/sets/
Manager, Morro Bay Museum of Natural History since 2005, State Park Interpreter since 1989. Bird Festival program committee member or co-chair since 2006. Morro Coast Audubon Society program co-chair since 2006. Birding informally since childhood, he began leading beginning bird walks for California State Parks in the early 1990s. He particularly enjoy shorebirds, seabirds, raptors, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and calling birds with whistled and vocal sounds. Rouvaishyana also works as a naturalist on local whale-watching boats, where he has numerous opportunities to observe seabirds.photos at www.donaldquintana.com as well as his flickr site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/donaldquintana/sets/
Dan Robinette is a senior scientist at Point Blue Conservation Science, a non-profit dedicated to advancing the conservation of birds, other wildlife, and ecosystems through science, partnerships, and outreach. Dan manages Point Blue's coastal marine program. His research interests include studying the population, breeding, dietary, and foraging ecology of seabirds in relation to local and regional oceanography. Dan has published and presented papers on using seabirds as indicators of juvenile fish recruitment to local nearshore populations. Dan has studied seabird foraging effort within and adjacent to the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve since 2000 and has expanded this program to investigate the new marine protected areas established under California's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. Dan is also involved in the expansion of the Seabird Protection Network which aims to reduce human-caused disturbance to important seabird breeding and roosting sites throughout California. Dan served on the Science Advisory Team for the South Coast Study Region of the MLPA Initiative and is a current member of science advisory groups for statewide management of the endangered California least tern and the Montezuma Wetlands Restoration Project.
Michele Roest participated in her first Audubon Christmas Bird Count at the age of nine with her father, zoologist Aryan Roest, who served as the first Charter President of the Morro Coast Audubon Society in 1967. Michele has an M.S. in biology, specializing in vertebrate ecology. Her government agency work includes NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program, US Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. In 2009 Michele founded Science and Environmental Education Development (SEED). She works with government agencies and nonprofit organizations in developing science-based education programs for all ages. Visit Michele and SEED at www.sciencecurric.org.
Jim got the bug for birding in the mid 70's from his brother Allen, and has led field trips for various Audubon Chapters, the WFO, the ABA, and other groups since the late 70's (including trips to Veracruz, Mexico, to see the world's largest raptor migration). Jim has an interest in "green birding" and in 2010 he found 318 species while on cycling, walking, and kayaking trips starting from his home, without using any gas. He also has organized the local "Elfin Forest Big Sit" for over 10 years. He has been a board member on several Audubon chapters, and helped establish the original Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival. He is an attorney, lives in Los Osos, and likes to bird with his wife Celeste, his two grown children Alisa and Dylan, and his dog Nike.
Environmental Scientist, California State Parks, San Luis Obispo Coast District since 2005. First started birding in earnest in 2005 while monitoring snowy plover populations along the beaches of San Luis Obispo County. He grew up in southern California amidst all the development and habitat destruction, but also near its open space and wild elements. An interest in ecology and gardening got him involved with native plant propagation and restoration techniques. John has been involved with the Winter Bird Festival since 2006.
John Schmitt has been a prolific bird artist for many years. As well as bird species, John has had an early and continuing interest in their feathers and has become an expert on both the appearance and function of feathers.
His work has formed the major artistic contributions to several books and journals, including: A Field Guide to the Raptors of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa; The Ripley Guide to Birds of South Asia; A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad & Tobago; The Birds of Peru; Birds of Prey of the Indian Subcontinent; Raptors of Mexico and Central America; 7th edition of National Geographic Guide to the Birds of North America; is currently illustrating hummingbirds for A Handbook to the Birds of South America.
Brad started birding in the 1940s as a child in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. After retiring early from the business world he has served since 1997 as a part-time birding tour leader for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours and as a naturalist aboard adventure cruise ships. His tours have extended north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle as well as across the South Pacific through Polynesia and Melanesia. Brad has birded on all continents and has led birding tours on five of them. He and his wife Dianne have seven grandchildren.
Steve is an active member of the Morro Coast Audubon Society: President 2000-2001; past Program Chairman; author "The Peregrine Falcons of Morro Rock: A 50-Year History 1967-2017"; Volunteer Coordinator (1996-present) for the Hi Mountain Condor Lookout Project. Steve teaches at a residential environmental education program attended by more than 3,000 students each school year and teaches natural history courses for Community Programs at Cuesta College. He has been a speaker and field trip leader for the Winter Bird Festival each year since its inception. His wildlife and landscape photography can be found at here.
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Dennis Sheridan is a native Californian who grew up in Arcadia. He graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in biology, specialty entomology. He moved to Morro Bay in 1974 and began a career in photography, concentrating on birds of prey and native wildlife, as well as fungi, lichens, insects, wildflowers and California scenery. Dennis has traveled worldwide photographing nature. Dennis has published many photographs in magazines, books, and calendars including Audubon field guides. He contributes his photography and naturalist services to the California Native Plant Society, Audubon Society, Small Wilderness Area Preservation, and Morro Estuary Greenbelt Alliance.
An avid surfer and extreme rock climber for more than 30 years, Tom only recently "discovered" birding in October 2011. A self-starter (inspired by the book and movie "The Big Year"), he bought a Sibley's guide and some binoculars and then scoured the Central Coast with his 7 year-old son Owen in search of anything with feathers. He has seen and enjoyed over 270 county species. Tom has been mentored by Maggie Smith and others in the SLOCO community. What he lacks in experience he makes up for with enthusiasm. He has led trips with Lifelong Learners of the Central Coast to Oso Flaco Lake and Oceano Lagoon, and he enjoys passing on his newfound joy for birds to anyone who will bird with him. He welcomes entire families to join, as he will be birding with his son Owen during this year's festival. When he isn't birding, he is teaching English at Mesa Middle School in Arroyo Grande.
Greg Smith has birded and searched out nature's wonders on all seven continents and has led natural history and birding tours in California, Alaska, Argentina, Chile, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica. He is recently retired after a 27-year career with the California State Park System. Formerly a park ecologist, Greg was a superintendent of eight park units, focusing on education on the importance of preserving natural and cultural resources. An accomplished wildlife photographer, he also maintains a U.S. Master Bird Banding permit. Greg plays an integral part in planning and administration of Naturalist Journeys. As the WEST COAST REPRESENTATIVE for Naturalist Journeys Natural History & Birding Tours ( www.Naturalist Journeys.com ); he has designed a number of itineraries in California, Baja, Oregon and Washington.
Maggie began noticing and identifying birds in 2004. She has led field trips for Morro Coast Audubon Society, Winter Bird Festival and Western Field Ornithologists since 2005. As a volunteer, she's helped with a series of Sea Bird surveys for Cal Poly and two Tricolored blackbird surveys in San Luis Obispo County. Though she prefers being outside, she has organized the yearly Morro Coast Audubon pelagic trip and served as a Christmas Bird Count sector leader for the past four years. Her bird and nature photos can be seen here.
Mike is a local native and has been an avid birder since 1973. He leads trips for the Morro Coast Audubon Society and the Winter Bird Festival, and was a long time board member of MCAS. He started and moderates the county's rare bird email system, and maintains a SLO County birding website. He is a recent retiree from the Cal Poly Biology Department and looks forward to expanding his county, North American, and world bird lists.
Jeanette served as the Center Operations Director for Pacific Wildlife Care in Morro Bay, CA. She has volunteered with PWC for over 9 years in different capacities; as a center worker, website designer, board vice-president and president.
PWC holds permits from the Department of Fish & Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to possess and rehabilitate wildlife and is a primary response group for wildlife in the event of oil spills or other environmental crises. The Center which opened in March of 2007 takes in approximately 3,000 animals annually.
Jan has been a Morro Coast Audubon Society Board member 2006 to present (Hospitality, chair, President, Past President). A retired teacher from St. Louis, Missouri, Jan moved to the Central Coast in 1999 to enjoy year-round running. Even after traveling to all seven continents, Jan's favorite places on this planet remain southern Utah and Santa Margarita Lake, where she birds and previously lived and worked.
Dean Thompson is a naturalist who also happens to enjoy birding. Trained as a wildlife biologist, he has worked with a variety of raptors in California, Arizona and Wyoming for The Peregrine Fund and the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Group. He traveled to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji before finally settling down here in SLO county. Since then he has worked as an outdoor science school instructor in Montana de Oro State Park. For the last 26 years he has led natural history tours along the central coast, conducted Least Tern surveys, raised 2 children, coached and managed to stay sane by spending as much time as possible outdoors . Dean's skill as a professional storyteller makes his tours both entertaining and educational.
Lars Tomanek is a birder, hiker and biologists. He is an associate professor for biology at Cal Poly and teaches physiology and marine mammals and birds. He has given dozens of lectures on The Biological Effects of Climate Change. He is also a co-author of Biochemical Adaptation: Response to Environmental Challenges from Life’s Origins to the Anthropocene (2017).
Bert Townsend has been birding since age 11, including several area of North America; from Michigan to Florida and California to Texas. He has also birded in Central America and Europe. Bert has been anticipating in the MBWBF from the beginning.
Raymond VanBuskirk is a passionate birder, environmentalist, and vegan whose love for feathered creatures was born in the mountains of the Land of Enchantment. His career experience includes president of the Central New Mexico Audubon Society, owner and lead guide of BRANT Nature Tours (www.BrantTours.com), researcher in field and lab ornithology, ABA youth camp instructor and Birding Specialist for Leica Sport Optics. Since age seven Raymond’s travels have taken him to eleven countries where he has had the great privilege of deepening his connection to the natural world through multi-cultural outdoor exploration. His international travel experiences have not only deepened his admiration for the natural world but have further fueled his desire to protect it and share it with all generations of humans.
Karen Watts has a bachelor's degree in Biology from UCSB and a master's degree in science education from Cal State East Bay. She is a former molecular biologist and high school science teacher. She has been a docent at the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History since 2007, where she works with education programs for students of all ages and leads nature walks. Karen helped to develop a plankton program that is regularly presented to school groups from grades 4 through college, and the general public. She is also a bacteria monitoring volunteer for the Morro Bay National Estuary Program and a substitute naturalist at Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School.
Eric has been birding since his teen years, and has enjoyed searching out birds from arctic Alaska to Costa Rica. He likes sharing his love of birds with others, and since retiring from a career as an environmental specialist with the County of San Luis Obispo, he has more time to pursue birding.
Dean Wendt is director of the Center for Coastal Marine Sciences and dean of research at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. His research and teaching focuses on marine ecology and conservation. He is also the founding director of the San Luis Obispo Science and Ecosystem Alliance (SLOSEA), an organization of scientists, stakeholders, and resource managers working together on improving management of California's marine resources. He served for two years on the Master Plan Science Advisory Team as part of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which called for the establishment of California's Marine Protected Areas. He currently serves on the Board of the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS) and the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS). During the past decade he has procured over $10M in external funding for his research program and has published 39 peer-reviewed publications. Dean earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University (1999) and conducted postdoctoral research at the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. He held an assistant professorship at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro before arriving at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2002.
Dr. Weymann is a retired astronomer with 40 years experience at major universities and observatories in teaching and research. His research has varied from the history of the early universe to the atmospheres of stars, and combines calculaitons and observations with some of the world's most powerful telescopes, including the Hubble. Since moving to Atascadero he has tutored students in advanced math courses at Atascadero High School. More recently his interests have turned to public education about science for adults and students, espcially concerning climate science and global warming. Dr. Weymann is the author and webmaster of a website about the CA central coast climate science.
Chuck is the resident park ranger at Santa Margarita Lake for the County of San Luis Obispo and has been birding the Central Coast since 1986, when he came to Cal Poly SLO and obtained a B.S. in Natural Resource Management. He has done waterfowl and shorebird research for the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and worked on the California Condor Recovery Program for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He often leads interpretive outings at Santa Margarita Lake and Lopez Lake recreation areas and has been leading outings for the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival for 7 years.
Roger is a recently retired Biology teacher and former North Cuesta Audubon President and Field-trip Leader. He has been a compiler of the Carrizo Plain CBC since 1983 and is presently an active field-trip leader for Morro Coast Audubon Society and enjoying digital photography. (www.flickr.com/photos/sloroger).