MCAS' Local Destinations

Click to read about MCAS birding locations like the 4th Street Overlook and Sweet Springs Preserve. Photo: Dave Tyra

Birds of SLO County 2013.

Follow this link to see the slideshow. 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

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Field Trip - Memorial Day Weekend in Kern Valley, Sierras, Mojave and more!

Reserve now! A few reservations remain for the Kern County trip!

Now is the time to reserve your opportunity to join MCAS in a weekend long birding extravaganza to Kern County. 

Join leaders Bob Barnes or John Schmitt over Memorial Day weekend, May 21st-25th searching for birds in the Kern River Valley, southern Sierra, and the Mojave desert. The participant-driven itinerary tentatively includes trips to Butterbredt Springs and Galileo Hill. 

This 4 day trip will require participants to pay leader fees (base fee plus food and gas). Fees are estimated to be about $65 per person, paid to MCAS prior to receiving a “confirmed reservation”. This trip is limited to 12 participants, first to reserve, first served. Additional expenses will be your own lodging, food, and gas. Additional information, leader bios, reservation information and instructions are available from Jan Surbey,

Monday, April 6, 2015

Community Program - Seabird Studies in Alaska by Lisa Andreano - April 20th

Monday, April 20th 7pm

Lisa Andreano, a State Parks Environmental Scientist, has spent 12 summers in Alaska conducting seabird monitoring for the USFWS’s Migratory Bird Management program. Her talk will emphasize studies conducted at Cape Peirce on the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge and in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Lisa graduated from Cal Poly SLO with a B.S. in Ecology and Systematic Biology and is now working toward her Master’s in Biology. In addition to her State Parks career, she is also an adjunct professor at Cal Poly for both the BioSci and Forestry and Natural Resources Management Departments.

MCAS Community Programs are usually presented on the third Monday of each month, at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden Oak Glen Pavilion, in El Chorro Regional Park, on Highway 1 across from Cuesta College. All MCAS Community Programs are free and open to the public. As always, all ages are welcome.

Here is a map to the Oak Glen Pavillion at El Chorro Regional Park.
For more information, call (805) 772-1991

Monday, March 30, 2015

Field Trip - Birding by Ear with Jessica - Sat, April 4th @ Oso Flaco

Birding By Ear Field Trip
Saturday, April 4th Oso Flaco Lake, 8:30 AM
No RSVP Required!

"Birding By Ear" is back by popular demand! Join Jessica Griffiths for a monthly bird walk focusing on bird songs and calls. She will ID all of the bird songs we hear, as well as presenting helpful tips and mnemonic devices for remembering who sings what.

For our first field trip in the series, we will start at the Oso Flaco parking lot and bird our way through the riparian woodland, across the lake boardwalk, and into the coastal sage scrub. Bring binoculars and water, and snacks as needed. Directions: Park at the Oso Flaco parking lot at the west end of Oso Flaco Lake Road, off of Highway 1, north of Guadalupe. Parking in the lot is $5 per vehicle. No RSVP Required! For additional information, contact Jan Surbey, MCAS field trips chair:

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Field Trip - Birds and Wine, in Double Harmony - March 28th

TRIP HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED TO MARCH 28. Be among the first to RSVP for this Morro Coast Audubon Society (MCAS) field trip at Harmony Headlands followed by an (optional) wine tasting and picnic lunch at Harmony Cellars. Join leaders Mike Stiles and Stephanie Little for this morning of birding along a three mile trail preceding the wine tasting on Saturday, February 28th.

Possible bird sightings include: sparrows, hawks, eagles, and other birds associated with coastal grassland and chaparral communities, and arriving at the ocean bluffs: turnstones, oystercatchers, scoters, loons and other birds associated with rocky shore and nearshore ocean habitats.

There is a $5 tasting fee and participants are encouraged to pack a picnic lunch to accompany the fine Harmony wines. Alternatively, participants may select cheese, crackers, and other lunch items at the Harmony gift shop.

The trip is appropriate for all level of birders. If possible, bring your own binoculars. MCAS will have some binoculars available for use if you do not have your own. Rain cancels. 

The trip is limited to 20 participants who must RSVP to Jan Surbey, MCAS field trip chair: Jan will let you know via email the start time and meeting location and let you know you have a “confirmed RSVP”, a necessity to join the trip.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sweet Springs Nature Preserve - March 2015 Update

It is springtime again at Sweet Springs Preserve.  With regard to weather, this winter has been a roller coaster.  If the rainfall patterns we saw in December had continued, it would have been a banner year… maybe even a drought-buster.

Unfortunately, January was the driest on record in much of California, and the Central Coast was no exception.  We’ve had sufficient rain to rejuvenate trees and shrubs, and produce a lush growth of annual plants.  Parts of eastern San Luis Obispo County currently have extravagant wildflower blooms.  A drive east on Highway 58 will reveal some beautiful displays.  However, the rains have been too few and far between to fill reservoirs and replenish groundwater reserves.  So, for now, the historic drought in California continues.  NOAA just declared the arrival of a late and weak El NiƱo.  So, a March miracle could still happen!

Unfortunately, the timing of rain in January and February was bad, and forced the cancellation of two scheduled volunteer work parties.  Happily, it looks like the work party scheduled for March 14th will enjoy good weather.  We’ll be planting a nice batch of native plants provided by John Chesnut, and attacking veldt grass again.  This is an important work party, as it will be the last time we can attack veldt grass this season before it sets seed again, so we’re hoping a good crew will come out to enjoy the spring weather and accomplish some meaningful restoration work at Sweet Springs Preserve!

A lot of weeding has been accomplished through the spring, and nearly all of the Sahara mustard was removed before it had a chance to drop seeds.  Weeding in Central Sweet Springs was also done, especially around the entrance and the Ramona Avenue frontage.

An important step forward in the ecological restoration of East Sweet Springs was accomplished in January and February.  All invasive Eucalyptus and Monterey cypress trees less than 8 inches in diameter (dbh) were removed by a commercial tree service, using grant funds provided by the California State Coastal Conservancy.  The removal of these trees, along with the trimming of low branches on larger trees will provide the space for growing and the sunlight needed for the re-establishment of appropriate native vegetation along the edge of the marsh in Sweet Springs East.

A significant cluster of wintering monarchs used trees in Central Sweet Springs, just inside of the Ramona Avenue entrance.  Monarch surveys were also conducted in East Sweet Springs to ensure that no disturbance to clustering monarchs occurred there during tree removal.  No clusters of monarchs were ever observed in East Sweet Springs this winter.

In late February, students from a plant ecology class at Cal Poly visited Sweet Springs during class field trips.  Dave Clendenen, lands manager for MCAS met with these field trips, and provided a brief overview of MCAS’s management challenges and priorities at Sweet Springs, as well as the history and ecology of the Preserve.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Field Trip - Montana de Oro - Sat, March 14th

Montana de Oro Field Trip: Saturday, March 14th, 8AM-noon

Join leader Steve Griffith birding the campground, cove, and bluffs at Montana de Oro State Park. Meet at 8AM in front of the Visitor’s Center / ranch house across from Spooner’s Cove.Expect rocky-shore shorebirds, water birds, raptors, and passerines in various habitats. Includes 1-2 miles of slow walking. Restrooms available near the ranch house and within the campground. Bring snacks, water, binoculars and a scope if you have one.

Directions: From the main business district of Los Osos go west on Los Osos Valley Road. Los Osos Valley Road becomes Pecho Road and curves left (south). Continue to the park entrance. From the park entrance drive about 2.4 miles, turn left (east) toward the campground and park in front of the Visitor’s Center. For additional information, contact Jan Surbey, MCAS field trips chair:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Community Program - Dave Keeling Presents Birds of SLO 2014 Part 1 - March 16th

Join us on March 16, 2015 @7 PM for one of MCAS' most popular annual programs: The Birds of San Luis Obispo County 2014 (Part 1) - January to June 2014

A lively and popular show narrated by Dave Keeling. Come to see what happens when 20 talented photographers capture the best birds of our county. Listen to the music of guitarists Bob Clark and Jack Collins. Come early to get a seat. This is a popular program!

MCAS Community Programs are usually presented on the third Monday of each month, at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden Oak Glen Pavilion, in El Chorro Regional Park, on Highway 1 across from Cuesta College. All MCAS Community Programs are free and open to the public. As always, all ages are welcome.

Here is a map to the Oak Glen Pavillion at El Chorro Regional Park.
For more information, call (805) 772-1991

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Field Trip - Pontoon Boat Harbor Cruise - March 16th

Join Marlin Harms for a guided tour of the birds and other wildlife of the bay in Morro Bay aboard a pontoon boat the afternoon of  Monday, March 16th . Birders of varying levels of experience can enjoy this 1.5+ hour tour to the harbor mouth and then slowly to the back bay, with detours to birds of interest along the way. Waterfowl should still be present, some of the grebes and loons will be getting their alternate/breeding plumages, and there are always marine mammal sightings and hopefully we'll see a surprise or two. Dress with warm enough layers to keep off the chilling wind, which is always felt as the boat moves. Bring binoculars and cameras, but no scopes or tripods. Bench seats are available for all.

$20 per person. Exact time, method of payment, and exact meeting place will be provided to those wishing to reserve a seat on the boat.

Advance reservations are required and available by emailing Jan Surbey, MCAS field trip chair: