Contact MCAS

Click to contact MCAS Board Members and Chairs. Photo: Dave Tyra

Birds of SLO County.

Follow this link to read or download SLO County checklists. Photo: Teddy Llovet

MCAS Birding Guides

Follow this link to discover our trove of SLO County birding guides. Photo: Maggie Smith

Field Trips!

Click to read about MCAS field trips. Photo: Paul Andreano

MCAS Community Programs

Click to read about monthly MCAS community programs. Photo: Al Schmirer

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

15th Annual Hi Mountain Condor Lookout Campout and Open House Event

Hi Mountain Lookout Project & the California Condor Recovery Program
15th Annual Hi Mountain Condor Lookout Campout and Open House Event
Saturday, October 1, 2016 (all day event)
Hi Mountain Lookout, San Luis Obispo County, Los Padres National Forest

Come and discover one of the largest and most endangered flying birds of North America. California Condors are radio tracked from Hi Mountain Lookout, flying near release sites in Big Sur and Pinnacles National Park in Central California and Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge, the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, and Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Southern California. This is an opportunity for you to learn more about condor biology and the reintroduction of these magnificent birds back to the wild.

The Hi Mountain Lookout Project is a collaboration between Morro Coast Audubon Society, U.S. Forest Service at Los Padres National Forest, U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service California Condor Recovery Program, Cal Poly Biological Sciences Department, Ventana Wildlife Society, and Pinnacles National Park.

Hi Mountain Lookout has been restored as a biological field research station and visitor center. Tour the interpretive visitor center with condor and other local wildlife displays and an extensive collection of local natural history references. Meet and socialize with our staff and community volunteers. Cal Poly student interns will discuss their ongoing field research projects in the Hi Mountain area, including small mammal live trapping, bird surveys, and vegetation analysis.

The open house schedule includes condor radio tracking demonstrations, native plant identification, bird watching field trip, and a local geology walking stroll. Bring a picnic lunch at noon. Families with children are welcome. For those staying until the sunset watch, a potluck dinner is followed by evening speakers. Overnight camping sites are available at ‘Cypress Hill’ near the lookout or at the USFS Hi Mountain Campground one mile down the road.

For driving directions and other information go to Visit the Hi Mountain Lookout Facebook page at To RSVP for the event please call Steve Schubert at (805) 440-9390, or e-mail at

MCAS 9/4 Pelagic Boat Trip Report

A brief report on the MCAS boat trip. We found loads of Sooty, Pink-footed, and Black-vented Shearwaters with Humpbacked Whales off Point Buchon in the morning as we heading out for the Santa Lucia Bank. Unfortunately, weather and sea conditions prevented us from going to the bank, so after getting well off Point Buchon we headed back to the feeding activity and then northwest along the 200 fathom line. At our furthest point west we were about 23 miles west of Point Estero and 15.6 miles from Point Piedras Blancas. We returned to the harbor following the 100 fathom line.

This trip had the most jaegers I can recall on a trip out of Morro Bay, with 18 Pomarine, 12-13 Parasitic, 1-2 Long-tailed, and 20 left unidentified. Two South Polar Skuas were seen including one the circled the boat and landed on the water for over ten minutes. Another highlight was the five Black-footed Albatross that came to the boat.

We also saw a couple of Northern Fulmar, 7 Sabine’s Gulls, at least one Red Phalarope among the 100 or so Red-necked Phalaropes, The choppy conditions were not good for alcids, but we managed to see about 100 Common Murres and one Cassin’s Auklet. Overall, 20 different bird species were seen offshore.

Mammal wise, in addition to the Humpbacked Whales, were many California Sea Lions, Common Dolphins, a Sea Otter, and a Sunfish (Mola mola).

Thanks to Morro Coast Audubon for sponsoring the trip, Mike Stiles for organizing it, and my fellow trip leaders Brad Schram, Curtis Marantz, and Wes Fritz.

Tom Edell
Cayucos, CA

Friday, August 26, 2016

Shorebirds 101: a Field Trip

What:  Shorebirds 101: Field trip
Date: Tuesday, September 20th
Time:  8:30-10:00am

Join leaders Norma Wightman and Jan Surbey for this trip along Morro Strand.

Targeted for beginners, but all ages and experience levels welcome. Expect to walk about a mile or two along the beach.

Meet at the Morro Strand campground entrance to the beach at the north end of the campground. (Turn towards the ocean at Yerba Buena off Highway 1 in Morro Bay, then turn left when road bends to the campground). Restrooms are available in the campground.

Dressing in “layers” recommended. Bring binoculars if you have them; if not, the leaders will have some binoculars you may borrow for the trip.

No RSVP needed. Rain cancels.

For additional information, contact Jan Surbey, MCAS field trip chair:

Monday, August 22, 2016

MCAS Community Program: CONDORS!

Who:    Presented by Mike Stake, Ventana Wildlife Society Biologist
What:   Condors Spreading their Wings in Central California:
              an Update on the Progress of Recovery Efforts
Where: SLO Botanical Garden Oak Glen Pavilion in El Chorro Park
When:  Monday, September 19th, 7 pm

Photo courtesy of Richard Lewis, Cambria

Once on the verge of extinction, the California Condor is on the comeback, thanks to reintroduction and management efforts in the last 20 years. The central California population, centered around Big Sur and Pinnacles National Park is spreading south into San Luis Obispo County.

Join Ventana Wildlife Society biologist Mike Stake as he provides an update on the population, describes current efforts to manage the threat of lead poisoning, and shares why the increase in condor observations along the San Simeon coast is a good thing for condor recovery.

Originally from the Bay Area, Mike received a Master's Degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Missouri in 2003. He spent several years with The Nature Conservancy working with endangered Black-capped Vireos and Golden-cheeked Warblers in central Texas, and coordinated avian research projects for Hawks Aloft, Inc., a non-profit in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He joined Ventana Wildlife Society in 2009, where he now assists with California Condor recovery and manages various research and consulting projects.  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Birding Field Trip - Sept. 10th

What:   Birding Field Trip
Where: El Chorro Regional Park
Date:    Saturday, September 10th
Time:   7:30-11:30 AM

Join leader Steve Griffith for a morning of birding around the grounds of El Chorro Regional Park. Meet Steve at 7:30am in the first parking lot after the park entrance. There are no daily fees for park use this time of year.

Plan on 1-2 miles of easy walking. All ages and abilities are welcome. Bring binoculars, water, snacks. Restrooms are available at several locations along the walk.

El Chorro Regional Park is located between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay on Highway 1 directly across from Cuesta Community College. No RSVP necessary.

For additional information, contact Jan Surbey, MCAS Field Trip Chair: