a web page by Don Roberson

To belong to this group, one must have recorded 400 or more species on his or her Monterey County (MTY) bird list. Not everyone keeps a county list, but those who participate are shown here at their current list totals [as of the most recent update]. You can read the details regarding when they joined the Club — for example, Ron Branson was first to hit 400 on 4 Sep 1988 — and their thoughts on other birding topics. While members are careful about the species they include on their lists — and many are verified by photos, rarity committee review, publication, or a strong reputation — this is just a list. The commentary is light-hearted; words in quotation marks are quotes from the observer. There are now 28 members, plus an honorary member; sadly, seven of them are now deceased.

MTY totals last updated as of 15 January 2024

Don Roberson

Hit 400 mark: 10 Oct 1988 with Gray Wagtail at Salinas R. mouth
Current total [January 2024]: 477
Has been birding MTY since: 1973, resident since 1979, and Resides in Pacific Grove
Occupation: research attorney
Most satisfying birds? In the past, a Mottled Petrel from Pt. Pinos during a gale (12 Dec 1984) and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher in Crespi trees (21 Sep 2004) are good memories. Yet, for years I've been amazed by our yard birds, including Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Ovenbird, and Grace's & Blue-winged & Canada Warblers.
Worst miss? I missed the Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher at Pt. Lobos by five minutes and I dipped on the LeConte's Sparrow at Odello by 10 minutes — these were disappointing, but ain't it funny how time slips away.
What he likes about MTY? I've been here birding Monterey County for 50 years — it is damn difficult to add a new county bird! When I hit 460 ten years ago, I'd gone 6 years without a new MTY bird. Yet, in 2017, there were 3 news ones (all gulls!) and I added 3 more in 2023: Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Common Ringed Plover, & Yellow-crowned Night Heron (thanks to Steve Tucker, Brian Sullivan, and Sarah Lane, respectively). I fear this is the last of the big bonanzas.

Photo: Sep 2015 from what is now Jurassic National Monument, Utah © Rita Carratello

Rita Carratello

Hit 400 mark: 2 Feb 1999 with Grace's Warbler at Jacks Peak
Current total [January 2024]: 457
Has been birding MTY since: 1988 and Resides in Pacific Grove
Occupation: retired educator, now adult ed birding instructor
Most satisfying birds? My bird class and I found a Hudsonian Godwit in August at the Salinas River NWR. I was able to use it as a teachable moment on how to arrive at a confident identification. The class doesn't realize how famous they became when birders all over the state knew about how “Rita and her bird class found the first Hudsonian Godwit of the year.” We also found the most-chased and photographable Canada Warbler in county history in the Carmel River Oct 2018.
Worst miss?
A recent painful miss was the Sulfur-bellied Flycatcher at Point Lobos. I could've taken the wrong turn and seen the bird before it flew off never to be seen again in Monterey County in my lifetime. But no, I was standing 3 minutes farther up the trail where it had been last seen.
What she likes about MTY?
I can travel the world and still be happy to return home. I have a great yard list where, while sweeping the front deck, I discovered an Ovenbird (Oct 2019). We've also had other notable visitors such as Blue-winged Warbler, Townsend‘s Solitaire, Hooded Warbler, and wintering Green-tailed Towhee and Summer Tanager. Most of these species I was able to share with my friends in our close-knit birding community.

Photo: Sep 2016 O'Reilly's, Queensland, Australia © D. Roberson

Kent Van Vuren

Hit 400 mark: 6 Jan 2005 with Cackling Goose at Moss Landing
Current total [January 2024]: 448
Has been birding MTY since: 1976, resident since 1982, and Resides in Prunedale
Occupation: retired teacher
Most satisfying bird?: Kent saw a Zone-tailed Hawk fly over his Prunedale home (20 Nov 2005), and had American Tree Sparrow at his feeder (12-13 Nov 2006). He helped pioneer birding in San Benito Co., and has found many first-county records in other northern California counties while living in the Sacramento Valley.
What he likes about MTY? "I like birding in Monterey because of all the varied habitats. In 15 minutes I can be at Moss Landing or the Salinas wastewater ponds. Great weather and plenty of opportunity to find rare birds."

Photo: Mar 2006, Prunedale © Kent Van Vuren

Bob [Robert F.] Tintle

Hit 400 mark: 23 June 1996 with Mexican Whip-poor-will at Big Sur R. mouth
Current total [January 2024]: 445
Has been birding MTY since: 1983 and Resides in Pacific Grove
Occupation: retired Biology and Chemistry teacher, Stevenson School
Most satisfying birds? "Great Crested Flycatcher (30 Sep 1984 Molera SP) & Grace's Warbler (12 Dec 1998 Jacks Peak) since I found those myself but Broad-billed Hummingbird, found with Chris Tenney (29 Sep 1984 Carmel R. mouth) and Pine Warbler, found with Bob Maurer (24 Oct 1993 Molera), are right up there."
Worst miss? "Laysan Albatross, Gray Flycatcher, and Common Grackle rank at the top."
What he likes about MTY? "Monterey County has an incredible variety of habitats easily accessible, with a remarkable diversity of plant species, all of which favors a wonderful assortment of animals of all types. The county is located coastally at a latitude that favors vagrants from both the far north and the south. Plus, Monterey County is home to a terrific group of birders in whose company I have enjoyed some of the best times of my life."

Photo: 11 Apr 2004, atop Pt. Sur © D. Roberson [pictured with wife Rosemary]

Steve Rovell

Hit 400 mark: 28 July 1999 with Yellow-throated Vireo at Big Sur R. mouth
Current total [January 2024]: 444
Has been birding MTY since: 1990, and Resides in Marina
Occupation: Science teacher at Alisal High School
Most satisfying birds?: “In my opinion, my best find were some Clark's Nutcrackers up at Jacks Peak."
Worst miss?
: "Zone-tailed Hawk !!! I looked for that guy maybe a dozen times!"
What he likes about MTY?: “While Monterey County is large, the variety of birds is even larger. That’s what I like most about the county. I don’t have to go elsewhere to see a lot of species. Even my Marina yard has hosted some cool rarities, such as Harris’s Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, American Redstart, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and White-winged Dove, as well as some unexpected species such as Green Heron, Belted Kingfisher and a 3-day visit by a singing Yellow-breasted Chat!”

Photo: 23 May 2004, Big Sur R. mouth © D. Roberson

Rick Fournier

Hit 400 mark: 8 May 2003 with White-winged Dove at Carmel R. mouth
Current total [January 2024]: 443
Has been birding MTY since: 1988 and Resides in Walker Valley near Elkhorn Slough
Occupation: After 28 years, retired from Monterey Birding Adventures guiding, but still conduct seasonal avian surveys within the Elkhorn Slough Watershed.
Most satisfying bird?: "For me the most satisfying birds I've found have been the Curlew Sandpiper (15 Aug 2013), Common Eider at Bird Rock, Pebble Beach (12 Feb 2019) and, most recently, Sulfur-bellied Flycatcher at Pt. Lobos (16 Sep 20119)."
Worst miss?: Black-tailed Gull
What he likes about MTY? Rick discovered many new birding spots and has a long list of rarities in his "home patch" around Elkhorn Slough. "Two of my county fantasy birds are Eurasian Dotterel and Golden-winged Warbler."

Photo: 5 Dec 2023, Stillwater Cove, Pebble Beach © D. Roberson

Stephen F. Bailey

Hit 400 mark: 4 Nov 1997 with Brown Thrasher at Pfeiffer-Big Sur S.P.
Current total [January 2024]: 436
Has been birding MTY since: 1971, resident 1992–2004, now Resides in Italy (where he is a legal resident) when not birding the world
Occupation: Bird tour leader; retired Director, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
Claim to fame: found the rarest vagrant during the breeding bird atlas — a Yellow-throated Warbler. Steve was seabird editor for American Birds for 14 years.
What's he doing lately? Steve saw 3110 birds while globe-trotting in 2007, the 5th highest world year list on record at the time. In a blog from Feb 2023, Steve reported that he had "8,591 species of birds, 977 species of mammals (including 89 marine mammals), and 447 reptiles."

Photo: Jan 2004, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History © D. Roberson [with MTY specimen of Mottled Petrel]

John Luther

Hit 400 mark: 31 Oct 2014 with Mountain Plover at Zmudowski
Current total [January 2024]: 436
Has been birding MTY since: his "first list might have been in June 1968 with Dr. Howard Cogswell's ornithology class at Pt. Lobos." John never lived in MTY, but birded here for 50 years. Resides in Oakland, Alameda Co.
Occupation: retired Biology/Natural History teacher from College of Alameda
Most satisfying bird?: "standing next to Steve Howell on a pelagic trip when Great-winged Petrel flew by long ago" (18 Oct 1998).
Worst miss?
: Streaked Shearwater
What he likes about MTY? "I like Monterey County for its great diversity of habitats, including its spectacular coast and ocean." John keeps his county lists NIB [=no introduced birds"] for purposes of comparison on John Sterling's web site, and didn't notice reaching 400 in MTY until he got to 400 NIB with Philadelphia Vireo on 12 Sep 2015 at Big Sur R. mouth. [John's total for this 400 Club has the standard non-native species]. Recent successful chases include Common Eider, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, and Common Redpoll.

Photo: 29 Apr 2023 at Novato © D. Roberson

Brian J. Weed

Hit 400 mark: 29 Nov 1997 with Williamson's Sapsucker at Jacks Peak
Current total [life]: 435
Has been birding MTY since: 1981 (keeping lists since '83) and Resides in Pacific Grove
Occupation: Grandparent
Most satisfying bird?: "My favorite bird is the one from my yard: the Rusty Blackbird" (3 Jan 1987)
Worst miss?: "My worst miss is the Zone-tailed Hawk. I spent many hours looking for this bird while others close by in space and time were reporting 'I just saw the Zone-tailed.' I did, however, make the acquaintance of almost every Turkey Vulture in the county. Some I knew by name."
What's he doing lately?: a long-time Pt. Lobos docent and expert, Brian taught a popular adult education class on birding for decades. He and his class discovered a Yellow-billed Loon at Del Monte Beach, Monterey, on 31 Jan 2012, which became perhaps the most chased Yellow-billed in local history.

Brian passed away at age 84 on 10 January 2024.

Photo: 1 May 2004, Monterey © D. Roberson

Blake T. Matheson

Hit 400 mark: 25 Jan 2017 with Lesser Black-backed Gull in Marina
Current total [January 2024]: 431
Has been birding MTY since: 2000, when, as a High School senior, he took Bob Tintle’s ornithology elective. Blake was gone for much of 2002-2009 for undergrad and grad school, and missed some fine rarities during that era. Resides in Pacific Grove
Occupation: CEO
Most satisfying bird?: "From a rarity perspective, seeing a Hawaiian Petrel from Point Pinos was a thrill. Tufted Puffin, California Condor, Mountain Quail, any Albatross, Golden Eagle and Ferruginous Hawk are all special birds to me, even though they are, in some cases, resident. Every encounter with one of them feels supremely 'satisfying'.”
Worst miss?
: "Missing 2016’s Great Frigatebird by less than five minutes."
What's he likes about MTY?
: "Five generations of my family have now lived on the Monterey Peninsula. Discovering the birding lifestyle has deepened my relationship with home, ineffably so. Whether I'm finding a rarity like Scarlet Tanager or Slaty-backed Gull or simply watching a Pacific Wren forage in some dark, conifer-strewn canyon, the feeling I get when out in the field is a sense of profound place and deep belonging."

Photo: 3 Sep 2017, El Carmelo Cemetery, Pacific Grove © Don Roberson

Craig Hohenberger

Hit 400 mark: 9 Sep 1998 with Yellow-throated Warbler at Carmel R. mouth
Current total [January 2024]: 430
Has been birding MTY since: 1975, resident since 1985, but now Resides in Creston, Montana
Occupation: retired Biology Teacher & Field Ecologist
Most satisfying bird? most satisfying was "the Garganey that I found with my MPC class" (25 Apr 1998)
Worst miss? "the bird that got away was an Upland Sandpiper at Molera"
What's he doing lately? After founding Big Sur Ornithology Lab in the 1990s and initiating a banding project at Carmel Middle School, Craig retired in 2012 and moved to Montana, where he has built a home. Craig writes "We live near a little town called Creston, which is between Kalispell and Bigfork at the north end of Flathead Lake. We are doing well, traveling, enjoying the beauty of Montana, retirement, and birding."

Photo: photo courtesy of C. Hohenberger

Scott Terrill

Hit 400 mark: 24 Oct 2011 with Black-throated Blue Warbler at Pt. Pinos
Current total [January 2024]: 428
Has been birding MTY since: 1964 (he did his first boat trip that year) but has never lived in Monterey Co.
Scott resides in Los Gatos SCZ
Occupation: environmental consultant
Worst miss?: "Terek Sandpiper, Long-toed Stint, and Gray Wagtail — I was living in Germany at the time!" ["Bad timing," Scott says].
Most satisfying bird(s) in MTY?
"Best birds found by me were probably Greater Shearwater off Pt. Lobos (29 Nov 2008) and Streaked Shearwater off Cypress Point (30 Sep 2006)."
What he likes about MTY? "I have really enjoyed birding in Monterey County since I was a kid. It's an amazing and wonderful place to bird with a remarkable diversity of habitats."

Photo: 31 Dec 2023, Aptos, Santa Cruz Co. © D. Roberson

Bill Hill

Hit 400 mark: 5 Nov 2009 with American Tree Sparrow at Carmel R. mouth
Current total [January 2024]: 426
Has been birding MTY since: 1992, resident since 1945 (3d generation), and Resides in Carmel
Occupation: retired fire chief, Carmel
Most satisfying bird?: "No doubt my personal best find is the shared discovery of the Little Curlew at Carmel River mouth in 1994."
What he likes about MTY? "I love birding in Monterey County because it is a top place to bird that people travel many miles to see. I am already here. I am pretty sure I hold the record for a Monterey County list that is the highest percentage of a life list. When I started birding seriously in the early 1990s I was fortunate to meet and bird with experienced people who were very generous with their knowledge about birds and birding. That continues today. I am not much for travel so this is a pretty good place to be settled down." Bill has become one of the county's premier bird photographers.

Photo: 4 Sep 2023, El Carmelo cemetery, Pacific Grove © D. Roberson

Ronald L. Branson

Hit 400 mark: 4 Sep 1988 with Hudsonian Godwit at Salinas R. mouth
Current total [life]: 423
Has been birding MTY since: 1961, was a long time resident of Monterey and Carmel, now deceased
Occupation: retired Physician
Claim to fame: Ron was very active in finding first MTY records in the late 1960s, and was the first observer to record 400 birds for Monterey County. At the time he was the county's premier bird photographer, and many of his photos from the 1960s-1970s have not been repeated.
What's he doing lately? Ron once traveled widely, photographed a lot of flowers, and he participated in his 60th consecutive Monterey Peninsula Christmas Bird Count in Dec 2019.

Ron passed away at age 93 on 17 October 2023.

Photo: Jan 1994, Carmel R. mouth © D. Roberson

Brian L. Sullivan

Hit 400 mark: 16 Oct 2018 with Bell's Vireo at Pt. Pinos
Current total [January 2024]: 423
Has been birding MTY since: 2005, and Resides in Carmel Valley
Occupation: Published author / co-author of multiple bird books (with more in preparation), and Project Leader for Cornell's Science & Technology Digital Publications
Most satisfying bird?: Common Ringed Plover [ed: was a first MTY record and a major State-wide rarity]
What he likes about MTY? Don't know what Brian would say, but in addition to Common Ringed Plover, Brian discovered first Monterey County for Slaty-backed Gull, Arctic Loon, Neotropic Cormorant, and Black-headed Gull. So it is good place for him to bird.

Photo: 27 Aug 2017 on a boat in Monterey Bay © D. Roberson

Paul Fenwick

Hit 400 mark: 27 Sep 2019 with Plumbeous Vireo at San Carlos Cemetery, Monterey
Current total [January 2024]: 421
Has been birding MTY since: 20 Apr 2012 [Blue-winged Teal], and Resides in Carmel Valley
Occupation: Fire Captain – City of Salinas
Most satisfying bird?: "Nelson’s Sparrow (Nov 2012) at Moon Glow Dairy; Blue-footed Booby (Sep 2013) Moss Landing, a 7-species Hummingbird day (May 2014) at my home feeders, and Plumbeous Vireo (27 Sep 2019) at San Carlos Cemetery, Monterey."
Worst miss?
: "Great Frigatebird – after spending 8 hours at the Point Pinos Seawatch, the Great Frigatebird flew past the Seawatch at point-blank range within 10 minutes of my departure."
What he likes about MTY? "The habitat diversity in Monterey County is incredible! From the rolling grassland hills of Gabilan Range to the rugged Sugar Pine-capped Santa Lucia Range that fades dramatically into the vastness of the Pacific, the species potential for our County is immense. This variety of territory allows one the potential to tally 200+ species in a day with a little determination."

Photo: 17 Oct 2018 Pt. Pinos © D. Roberson

Larry Rose

Hit 400 mark: 1 Nov 2018 with Broad-winged Hawk over his Monterey home
Current total [January 2024]: 422
Has been birding MTY since: 2000, and Resides in Monterey
Occupation: retired physician's assistant [after 40 years]
Most satisfying bird?: Locally, it was "seeing my first Merlin on attack." From Neotropic travels, Larry mentions "Harpy Eagle with fledgling [Panama]; Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe at 13000 ft. [Andes]; and the rare Orange-throated Tanager [southern Ecuador]."
Worst miss?
: "Snowy Owl in November 2017 in Oklahoma. [We didn't know about it] and drove right by it." [Worst miss in Monterey — he mentions missing the Pt. Lobos Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher in Sep 2019 by just a few minutes.]
What he likes about MTY? Larry is from Oklahoma, but he admires Monterey for "The climate, bird diversity, and local birders." He is a fan of a baseball team with a bird logo . . . perhaps you can figure it out.

Photo: 20 Sep 2023 at Pebble Beach © D. Roberson

Carole Rose

Hit 400 mark: 28 Sep 2019 with Plumbeous Vireo at San Carlos Cemetery, Monterey
Current total [January 2024]: 421
Has been birding MTY since: 2001, and Resides in Monterey
Occupation: retired
Most satisfying bird?: Carole mentions these: "We went to Paul Fenwick’s hummingbird feeders to see a stakeout Costa’s. Paul wasn't but he invited us to his backyard anyway. We were getting satisfied looks at Black-chinned and another Costa's when a male Calliope came in and surprised us. I got multiple photos and really enjoy this rarity in Monterey.", and "We were at Carmel River mouth to chase a Blue-winged Warbler that Tim Armaral had found, and I happened to photograph a vireo that turned out to be a Blue-headed Vireo. Others got to chase it too. Nice when you can share the find!"
Worst miss?
: "Great Frigatebird (2 Nov 2016) "I was just around the corner when it passed by Pt. Pinos;" and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher (16 Sep 2019) "I was heading to where it was last seen when others found it at the parking lot I just came from. First record for Monterey and would have been a great #400 bird for me!"
What she likes about MTY? "Besides being a large county with varied habitats hosting such a great diversity of birds, I like the community of birders here with this shared passion. Before moving to Monterey I didn't have any mentors to learn the art of birdwatching. Rob Fowler changed that as well as others since. It has become a fun pastime that has resulted in great travel opportunities, but it is always nice to come home and know the birdwatching will continue not far from our backyard. "

Photo: 5 Dec 2023, Stillwater Cove, Pebble Beach © D. Roberson

Cooper Scollan

Hit 400 mark: 28 Sep 2019 with Great Crested Flycatcher at Laguna Grande Park, Seaside
Current total [January 2024]: 420
Has been birding MTY since: 1987, and Resides in Monterey
Occupation: Landscape Designer & Contractor
Most satisfying bird?: Cooper mentions three: (1) "a Little Gull flyover at Zmudowski Beach which was the finale at the end of our record-setting MTY Big Day" on 28 Apr 2017; (2) finding a "Rusty Blackbird at San Carlos Cemetery just as we were leaving," that remained to "put on a show for many;" and (3) the "Gyrfalcon found by Blake Matheson, which is on my son's very first eBird checklist!"
Worst miss?
: Two frustrations from fall 2019: Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher ["Just missed it!"] and "Yellow-throated Warbler ["Never should have stopped for coffee!"]
What he likes about MTY? "I love the immense diversity of Monterey County and all of its different habitats and ecotypes. On the same day I went from a flyby Laysan Albatross miles out at sea to the Big Sur mountains where a California Condor stole my backpack and lunch! My favorite Hotspot is the Carmel River mouth and surrounding area. I grew up a block away and walked down there almost every afternoon in Middle School to see what was there. With habitat loss and some of our finest hotspots disappearing seemingly annually, hopefully we can find a way to preserve what we have and find new areas to bird and explore in this great county!"

Photo: 28 Sep 2019, Monterey © D. Roberson

Tim Amaral

Hit 400 mark: 5 Jan 2013 with Arctic Loon in the Monterey harbor
Current total [January 2024]: 420
Has been birding MTY since: 1994, and Resides in Prunedale
Occupation: Adult education teacher
Most satisfying bird?: "My favorite find is the 12 Oct 2008 Streaked Shearwater on a Monterey Seabirds trip. It was one of those rare moments where my brain and my tongue were actually synchronized. I called out the Seabirds' leader trifecta: the right bird, the right directions, and the a "stop the boat!" shout that everyone could hear."
Worst miss? "My arch-nemesis bird is Evening Grosbeak."
What he likes about MTY? "Reasons why I love birding in Monterey County: First, because I don't get to travel very often (I only have an ABA list of 537 species but because I live in this area I have 400 of them in one county). Second, after a tough day in the field, I can get a really good taco just about anywhere. And most of all, I can go to sea and find cool things with a great group of people on Monterey Seabirds."

Photo: Aug 2015, Monterey harbor © fide Tim Amaral

Alan Baldridge

Hit 400 mark: 15 Nov 2001 with Scarlet Tanager at Laguna Grande Park, Seaside
Current total [life]: 413
Had been birding MTY since: 1966, was a long time resident of Pacific Grove, now deceased
Occupation: Retired librarian, Hopkins Marine Station; now deceased
Claim to fame: co-wrote The Bird Year (1980), a natural history of local birds. Alan discovered the Swallow-tailed Gull at Hopkins in 1985, and had hosted many rarities in his yard, including a Kentucky Warbler! (21-29 Oct 1990). Alan was honored, along with wife Sheila, long time librarian at the Moss Landing Marine Lab, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for exceptional service to local natural history studies, and was an important mentor with the Monterey chapter of the American Cetacean Society. The research vessel "Sheila B" was named for her.

Alan passed away at age 80 on May 28, 2014; his wife Sheila passed away at age 88 on August 11, 2023.

Photo: 8 Aug 2013 Carmel Valley, on Alan's 80th birthday © Rita Carratello

John Sterling

Hit 400 mark: 7 June 2018 with Eastern Kingbird at South Bank Trail, Carmel Valley
Current total [January 2024]: 413
Has been birding MTY since: first birding trip in Monterey was in 1975 and John has returned many times but always as a visitor; he has never lived in MTY. Resides in Woodland, California
Occupation: biologist
Most satisfying bird?: "A Magnificent Frigatebird that flew up from its perch on the Monterey Harbor jetty in 1977 was very satisfying. John Parmeter & I were still in high school in Napa County and were dropped off to do some birding. The frigatebird circled over our heads and slowly drifted out to sea. Also, standing next to [Laurie] Binford as he pointed out field marks of Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel in Monterey Bay in 1977 was a treat."
Worst miss?
: John writes: "Way too many, but it still hurts when I remember telling the Parmeters and Binford that I wouldn't join them on a trip to Monterey in January 1978. I had just finished a State big year and was a senior in high school. I made a conscious effort to focus on high school. Crap, I missed Roseate Spoonbill and the state’s first record of Lesser Black-backed Gull that my friends found at Roberts Lake."
What he likes about MTY? John says: "I love the magic of the vagrant traps and their history, including many of my fond memories of lifers and exciting vagrants when I was a kid. And I love the pelagic birding and the habitat diversity still found in the county!"

Photo: 29 Apr 2023 at Novato © D. Roberson

Bruce Gerow

Hit 400 mark: 22 Nov 1998 with Chestnut-collared Longspur near Gonzales
Current total [life]: 412
Had been birding MTY since: 1981, was a life-long county resident; now deceased
Claim to fame: discovered the birding potential at the Salinas wastewater ponds and found MTY's first Upland Sandpiper there on 12 Sep 1997

Bruce passed away at age 73 on 15 June 2004. His son Steve was a premier birder in Santa Cruz until his death at age 61 on 10 May 2017.

Photo: Sep 1992 (digitized from slide), Moss Landing © D. Roberson

June Buntin

Hit 400 mark: 3 Jan 1999 with Grace's Warbler at Jacks Peak
Current total [life]: 410
Had been birding MTY since: 1984, a long-time resident in Salinas, now deceased
Claim to fame: discovered (with Ruth Doudiet) the first on-shore Masked Booby in California, at the Salinas R. mouth in June 1992. She also hosted such great backyard birds as Harris's Sparrow and Dickcissel in her Salinas yard

June was in her 80s when she passed away on 23 Nov 2008

Photo: Sep 1985 (digitized from slide), Moonglow Dairy © D. Roberson

Sarah Lane

Hit 400 mark: 25 Oct 2022 with Pine Warbler at Monterey
Current total [January 2024]: 409
Has been birding MTY since: 2004, and Resides in Pebble Beach
Occupation: retired
Claim to fame: Sarah has traveled extensively with husband Jerry Stengel across North America, including long stays in coastal Texas. She enjoys photographing birds, as well as her West Highland terriers, and is often in the field with Jerry, her terriers, and her camera.
What's up lately? Sarah discovered Monterey County's first Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at a day roost at Stillwater Cove, Pebble Beach, in December 2023. In fact, she's photographing it in this photo.

Photo: 5 Dec 2023, Stillwater Cove, Pebble Beach © D. Roberson

Chris Tenney

Hit 400 mark: 7 Sep 2000 with Yellow-throated Vireo at Carmel R. mouth
Current total [January 2024]: 407
Has been birding MTY since: 1980, and Resides in Pacific Grove (when not traveling)
Occupation: retired teacher, now freelance researcher & traveler
Claim to fame: co-editor of Monterey County Breeding Bird Atlas (1992); during the Atlas project, spent more hours atlasing than anyone and created the data-base used for publication. He also authored two fascicles in Birds of North America project (Black-chinned Sparrow, Northern Beardless Tyrannulet).
What's up lately? Chris's primary natural history interests have evolved from birds to photography to butterflies. He has become a local expert on butterflies and in fall 2023, with Jan Austin, published Butterflies of Monterey County. In 2015 he set a record doing a "Big Year" for U.S. butterflies.

Photo: 6 May 2023, South Bank Trail, Palo Corona RP © D. Roberson

Richard Ternullo

Hit 400 mark: 27 Feb 2013 with Nelson's Sparrow at Moonglow Dairy
Current total [life]: 403
Had been birding MTY since: 1992, legendary boat captain; now deceased
Most satisfying bird? "Prairie Warbler -- it was recorded at the old milk truck at MoonGlow, I walked up and there it was, took about 10 seconds. Chasing is easy!" [ed: Richard also probably saw more MTY pelagics than all the rest of us combined!]
Worst miss? "I hate Evening Grosbeak."
What he likes about MTY? Richard wrote in 2015: "I've grown up here all my life (nearly). Birding has led me to know many wonderful people that helped 'show me the way' by their helpfulness and kindness. I can't help driving around the county and see the changes that I would have never appreciated without keeping a list. Listing, if done well, is the most educational of experiences. And we never are done learning, are we?"

Richard passed away at age 66 on August 24, 2016.

Photo: Apr 2007, Monterey Bay © D. Roberson

Jim Booker

Hit 400 mark: 24 May 2000 with White-eyed Vireo at Big Sur R. mouth
Current total [January 2024]: 402
Has been birding MTY since: 1978, resident 1995-2001, now based in Mission, Texas, or living overseas, teaching English, in Asia or Central America
Occupation: environmental consultant and teacher
Most satisfying bird?: "finding, and then assisting other birders to see, birds that were on the county list but had no recent records at that time, so were nemesis birds for many people. Cape May Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, and Brown Thrasher are good examples." [Jim mentions a couple Asian pheasants as recent adventures — Elliot's Pheasant and Cabot's Tragopan].
Worst miss?
: "mega-rare pelagics — I went to extraordinary lengths to try and increase my odds of seeing some of the incredible pelagic species on the county list but came up rather short. Pelagic rarities really are rare and hard to see. No Streaked Shearwater, Short-tailed Albatross, Horned Puffin among many others."
What he likes about MTY? Since his tenure at Big Sur Ornithology Lab 1995–2000, Jim moved to south Texas and worked with the World Birding Center in Edinburg. As to the "best thing about Monterey County: it has a little something for everybody, so many different habitats for so many different species . . and a tenacious county overlord to rule them all! It was great birding with you Don!"

Photo: 2019 at a hide for Hume's Pheasant in Asia © J. Booker


Rich Stallcup

Current total [life]: ~395, maybe more
     As far as we know, Rich Stallcup's MTY list was in the 390s when he passed away in 2012. John Sterling's "county birding" pages list his MTY total at a "minimum" of 387 NIB [=no introduced birds], and to this we must add the prior standard of 5 introduced populations in MTY, for a "minimum" total of 392. There have been taxonomic splits since then, and his final MTY total may be about 395, without any serious effort on his part to add species on his occasional visits, often when leading birding tours. For all his accomplishments in Monterey County, he is entitled to "honorary" membership here, although, given his many honors during his lifetime, I suspect he wouldn't have noticed this one.
Had been birding MTY since: early 1960s but never lived here, except for a short stint as a soldier at Fort Ord in the 1960s. During much of his life he resided at Point Reyes Station, Marin County, CA.
Occupation: Naturalist, environmentalist, teacher, writer, and magic-man; now deceased
Claim to fame: Drafted in the Vietnam War era and posted to Monterey for a short time, Rich became a force in Monterey County. He is associated as finder or co-finder of 18 first MTY records from as far back as 1967 (Broad-winged Hawk) to as recent as 2002 (Crested Caracara), more than any one else, even those who lived here. He always had a serious interest in seabirds, and his paper on the Pelagic Birds of Monterey Bay (1976) is a classic; the article has been reprinted as a booklet and sold for years. His Ocean Birds of the Nearshore Pacific (1990) provided an exceptional introduction to sea-birding, but also to cetaceans and sea-turtles. Rich also took what he learned from teaching bird classes and leading bird tours to self-publish Birds for Real (1985), a detailed critique of the then-popular Robbins et al. (1966) Golden Press field guide. In Marin County, Rich was a co-founder of Pt. Reyes Bird Observatory in 1967 (now Point Blue). His i.d. pieces in the PRBO newsletter in the 1980s-90s were gems on our common birds, from "Gnat-kings" [Empidonax flycatchers] to the "Eye-ringed Leaf-gleaners" [Hutton's Vireo vs. Ruby-crowned Kinglet] that were heavily used by students and others, like me, who taught birding classes at some point in time. -- D. Roberson

Rich passed away at age 67 on 15 Dec 2012. More on Rich's impact on the California birding community between 1965-1989 is on this website.

Photo from a pelagic trip, perhaps in the 1980s © Janet Wessel

400 Club members are those with current MTY lists of 400 or more species, including the now-revised standard of 6 non-native introduced birds [i.e., Wild Turkey, Rock Pigeon, Eur. Collared Dove, European Starling, House Sparrow, and Scaly-breasted Munia]. Non-established non-native birds are excluded from MTY county lists **

  • if there are more who may qualify for membership in the 400 Club, I'd love to
    hear about it; email Don
  • many thanks to those who contributed to this web page, and special thanks to Rita Carratello, who edited the accounts for spelling and clarity



MTY border in Cholame Valley


** non-established non-native species include Mute Swan, Ring-necked Pheasant, Chukar, Red-crowned Parrot, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Northern Red Bishop, and European Goldfinch, among many other escapees and/or releases
there may be one or two other observers who may qualify



  page created 18 Apr 2000, updated 20 Jan 2024  
all text & photos © Don Roberson, except as otherwise indicated; all rights reserved