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. Members are shown at their current list totals; read the details of each to see when they joined the Club (e.g., Ron Branson was first to hit 400 on 4 Sep 1988). While members are careful about the species they include on their lists, this is just a listing game and should not be taken too seriously. The commentary is light-hearted; words in quotation marks are quotes from the observer. There are now 19 members.

[Last updated 1 March 2015]

Don Roberson

Hit 400 mark: 10 Oct 1988 with Gray Wagtail at Salinas R. mouth
Current total [March 2015]: 463
Has been birding MTY since: 1973, resident since 1979, and Resides at Pacific Grove
Occupation: research attorney
Most satisfying birds? probably the most unexpected or most satisfying were a singing Blue-winged Warbler at Big Sur R. mouth (9 June 2001); identifying a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at Pt. Pinos (21 Sep 2004; fortunately it called!); having a Grace's Warbler in my back yard fountain while watching football (5 Sep 2014); and succeeding in finding a Pinyon Jay at Cone Peak (7 Oct 2003) during a once-a-century 'invasion' year after dipping on a Chews Ridge bird.
Worst miss? Magnificent Frigatebird
What he likes about MTY? "The things I appreciate have changed over time. I moved to Pacific Grove in 1979 because I’d finished school and wanted out of the City, and Pt. Pinos was my favorite birding spot in the world. Alas, birding for vagrants at the Pt. Pinos golf course went downhill in the 1980s with construction of the driving range and the removal of undergrowth, but then the possibilities of Big Sur River mouth, Moonglow Dairy, and Salinas wtp were discovered. Birding at those spots peaked in the 1990s when BSOL existed and before the Salinas ponds were closed to the general public. Now I appreciate new things – like finding odes in the remote mountains or the new birding opportunities at Fort Ord N.M. – but I still treasure Pt. Pinos in a big storm, where one can still scope wonderful seabirds from the comfort of your car."

Photo: Dec 2012 Laem Paek Bia, Thailand © Rita Carratello

Rita Carratello

Hit 400 mark: 2 Feb 1999 with Grace's Warbler at Jacks Peak
Current total [March 2015]: 436
Has been birding MTY since: 1988 and Resides in Pacific Grove
Occupation: Retired educator
Most satisfying bird? Rita spotted such rarities as Canada Warbler, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and Blue-winged Warbler in the county, but writes "I had a very recent satisfying moment at Wharf #2 (Monterey Harbor). Don and I were looking at the Yellow-billed Loon that had been previously discovered in December. The bird was right below us offering fantastic views. I said that I wished somebody would come so I could share this excellent experience with them. Lo and behold somebody did come. The out-of-town visitor asked 'has anybody seen the Yellow-billed Loon?' and I was able say 'Yes, it's right there,' and all I had to do was point at it."
Worst miss?
Gray Flycatcher, again and again, and "American Tree Sparrow . . . I was standing on one side of the (Carmel) River when it was being seen by birders on the other side."
What she likes about MTY?
She's enjoyed local projects, such as desk-top publishing the Monterey County Breeding Bird Atlas, and edited the Audubon newsletter Sanderling for years. She also has hosted some great birds in her garden, including two Hooded Warblers, a Townsend's Solitaire, and a wintering Green-tailed Towhee.

Photo: July 2011, Denali NP, Alaska © D. Roberson

Steve [Stephen F.] Bailey

Hit 400 mark: 4 Nov 1997 with Brown Thrasher at Pfeiffer-Big Sur S.P.
Current total [March 2015]: 435
Has been birding MTY since: 1971, resident 1992–2004, now Resides at Arcata, CA
Occupation: Bird tour leader; retired Director, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
Claim to fame: found the rarest vagrant of anyone during breeding bird atlasing — 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 3rd highest world year list on record! His current world list is now over 7600.

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

Bob [Robert F.] Tintle

Hit 400 mark: 23 June 1996 with Whip-poor-will at Big Sur R. mouth
Current total [March 2015]: 434
Has been birding MTY since: 1983 and Resides at Pacific Grove
Occupation: retired Biology teacher, Stevenson School
Most satisfying birds? "probably Grace's Warbler since I found that one myself" (12 Dec 1998 Jacks Peak), "but Broad-billed Hummingbird, found with Chris Tenney" (29 Sep 1984 Carmel R. mouth) "and Pine Warbler, found with Bob Maurer" (24 Oct 1993 Big Sur R. mouth) "are right up there also."
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 all easily accessible, causing a remarkable diversity of plant species both native and introduced all of which favors a wonderful assortment of animals of all types, including birds of course. Also, the county is located coastally at a latitude that favors vagrants from both the far north and south of us. Finally, 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, Pt. Sur © D. Roberson [pictured with wife Rosemary]

Craig Hohenberger

Hit 400 mark: 9 Sep 1998 with Yellow-throated Warbler at Carmel R. mouth
Current total [March 2013]: 431
Has been birding MTY since: 1975, resident since 1985, but now Resides in Montana
Occupation: retired biology teacher
Most satisfying bird? the most satisfying was "the Garganey that I found with my MPC class" (25 Apr 1998)
Worst miss? "the bird that got away was a Upland Sandpiper at Molera"
What's he doing lately? After founding the Big Sur Ornithology Lab in the 1990s and then initiating banding project at Carmel Middle School, Craig retired in 2012 and moved to Montana, where he has built a home and intends to start another banding project.

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

Steve Rovell

Hit 400 mark: 28 July 1999 with Yellow-throated Vireo at Big Sur R. mouth
Current total [March 2015]: 430
Has been birding MTY since: 1990, and Resides at Marina
Occupation: Biology and Earth Science teacher at Alisal High School
Most satisfying birds? "I feel my best find was Clark's Nutcracker up at Jacks Peak."
Worst miss?
"Zone-tailed Hawk !!! I looked for that guy maybe a zone times!" Steve says "I'm still waiting to see Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Broad-winged Hawk, Northern Goshawk, and Least Flycatcher. I feel I can see those if I put more time into it . . . Gotta wait until the kids are gone, I guess."
What liked about MTY?
Steve mentions "the record-setting Monterey County Big Day total of 208 with John Sterling and Scott Terrill," and says "I've got a pretty good yard list of 108 species in 16 years here in Marina . . . Best yard birds would have to be Harris's Sparrow, Yellow-breasted Chat, a December Indigo Bunting, and Clay-colored Sparrow. Just goes to show how creating habitat can bring in the birds."

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

Ron [Ronald L.] Branson

Hit 400 mark: 4 Sep 1988 with Hudsonian Godwit at Salinas R. mouth
Current total [March 2015]: 423
Has been birding MTY since: 1961, and Resides at Monterey
Occupation: Physician (now retired)
Claim to fame: was very active in finding first MTY records in the late '60s, and was first member of 400 club. He was the county's first premier bird photographer.
What's he doing lately? traveled widely, photographed a lot of flowers, and Ron participated in his 53rd consecutive Monterey Peninsula Christmas Bird Count in Dec 2012

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

Brian J. Weed

Hit 400 mark: 29 Nov 1997 with Williamson's Sapsucker at Jacks Peak
Current total [March 2015]: 423
Has been birding MTY since: 1981 (keeping lists since '83) and Resides at Pacific Grove
Occupation: Grandparent
Most satisfying bird? "My favorite bird is the one from my yard - the Rusty Blackbird" (3 Jan 1987, Cedar St., P.G.)
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 ever Turkey Vulture in the county. Some I knew by name."
What's he doing lately?
a long-time Pt. Lobos docent and expert, Brian continues to teach a popular adult education class in birding. He and his class discovered the Yellow-billed Loon at Del Monte Beach, Monterey, on 31 Jan 2012, which became perhaps the most chased Yellow-billed in local history.

Photo: 1 May 2004, Monterey © D. Roberson

Rick Fournier

Hit 400 mark: 8 May 2003 with White-winged Dove at Carmel R. mouth
Current total [March 2015]: 416
Has been birding MTY since: 1988 and Resides at Walker Valley near Elkhorn Slough
Occupation: professional bird guide / bird surveys
Claim to fame: owner of Monterey Birding Adventures, guiding birders locally and beyond
What he likes about MTY? discovered many new birding spots and a long list of rarities in his "home patch" around Elkhorn Slough"In addition to other rarities, two of my county fantasy birds are Eurasian Dotterel and Rusty Blackbird," Rick says.

Photo: 26 Oct 2003, Moonglow Dairy © D. Roberson

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
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 has hosted many rarities in yard (incl. Kentucky Warbler! )
What's he doing lately? Was honored, along with wife Sheila, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for exceptional service to local natural history studies, and continues to be an important mentor with Monterey chapter of the American Cetacean Society

Alan passed away at age 80 on May 28, 2014.

Photo: Mar 2000, Andrew Molera S.P. © Rita Carratello

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 is a premier birder in Santa Cruz.

Photo: Sep 1992, 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 & Dickcissel in her Salinas yard

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

Photo: Sep 1985, Moonglow Dairy © D. Roberson

Kent Van Vuren

Hit 400 mark: 6 Jan 2005 with Cackling Goose at Moss Landing
Current total [March 2015]: 409
Has been birding MTY since: 1976, resident since 1982, and Resides at Prunedale
Occupation: teacher
Claim to fame: helped pioneer birding in San Benito County; has found many first-county records in other northern California counties; saw a Zone-tailed Hawk fly over his Prunedale home on 20 Nov 2005; and has had American Tree Sparrow at his feeder
What liked about MTY? "I like birding in Monterey because of all the varied habitats. In 15 minutes I can be a Moss Landing of the Salinas wastewater ponds. Great weather and plenty of opportunity to find rare birds."

Photo: Mar 2006, Prunedale © Kent Van Vuren

Bill Hill

Hit 400 mark: 5 Nov 2009 with American Tree Sparrow at Carmel R. mouth
Current total [March 2015]: 408
Has been birding MTY since: 1992, resident since 1945 (3d generation), and Resides at 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."
What's up recently? Bill is the voice of the Monterey BirdBox, and maintains the MAS-supported service. He has become one of the county's premier bird photographers.

Photo: May 2004, Monterey © D. Roberson

Chris Tenney

Hit 400 mark: 7 Sep 2000 with Yellow-throated Vireo at Carmel R. mouth
Current total [March 2015]: 406
Has been birding MTY since: 1980, and Resides at Monterey
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
What's up lately? authored two fascicles in Birds of North America project (Black-chinned Sparrow, Northern Beardless Tyrannulet), and has become a local expert on butterflies. In 2015 he embarked on a "Big Year" for U.S. butterflies.

Photo: May 2006, Monterey © D. Roberson

Scott Terrill

Hit 400 mark: 24 Oct 2011 with Black-throated Blue Warbler at Pt. Pinos
Current total [March 2015]: 402
Has been birding MTY since: 1964 (first boat trip that year) but has never lived in Monterey Co. Scott resides at Los Gatos SCZ
Occupation: environmental consultant
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 placed to bird with a remarkable diversity of habitats."

Photo: May 2004, Monterey © D. Roberson

Richard Ternullo

Hit 400 mark: 27 Feb 2013 with Nelson's Sparrow at Moonglow Dairy
Current total [March 2015]: 402
Has been birding MTY since: 1992, and Resides at Pacific Grove
Occupation: Boat captain & co-owner Monterey Bay Whalewatch
Most satisfying bird? "Prairie Warbler -- it was recorded at the old milk truck at Moon Glo [present Oct 1995-Feb 1996], I walked up and there it was, took about 10 seconds. Chasing is easy!" [Richard didn't mention it, but he has probably seen more MTY pelagics than all the rest of us combined!]
Worst miss? "I hate Evening Grosbeak."
What he likes about MTY? "I've grown up here all my life (nearly). Birding has lead me to know so 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 something are we?"

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 [March 2015]: 401
Has been birding MTY since: 1978, resident 1995-2001, now Resides at Athens, Texas
Occupation: environmental consultant
Most satisfying bird? Jim says "for me, standing waist deep in the Carmel River with Todd Easterla and spotting a Great-tailed Grackle flying north with some blackbirds" (which was a first county record at the time — 8 May 1994), "then alerting Don and the gang and attempting to re-find it without success, then on a hunch, since the bird was flying north, re-finding it later that same day at Moonglow Dairy" is his most memorable experience. He also writes that he "found the first Common Grackle for the county years after that at the housing on Point Sur" (21 Apr 1998).
Worst miss?
"Bar-tailed Godwit"
What he likes about MTY? Monterey's "incredible diversity," Jim says. Since his tenure as banding director at Big Sur Ornithology Lab 1995–2000, Jim moved to south Texas and now works with the World Birding Center in Edinburg and with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at Bensen-Rio Grande Valley State Park.

Photo: 4 Mar 2000, near Anderson Peak © D. Roberson

Tim Amaral

Hit 400 mark: 5 Jan 2013 with Arctic Loon at Monterey Harbor
Current total [March 2015]: 400
Has been birding MTY since: 1994, and Resides at 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: May 2004, Monterey © D. Roberson

400 Club wannabees — those birders who can see the Promised Land not too far away in their future . . . . Those with current MTY lists over 350:

  • the late Rich Stallcup 393
  • Blake Matheson 392
  • John Luther 388
  • Larry Rose 374
  • John Sterling 373
  • Matt Brady 371
  • Dan Singer 371
  • Carole Rose 367
  • Chris Hartzell 367
  • Ryan Terrill 366
  • Rob Fowler 365
  • Brian Sullivan 362
  • Cooper Scollan 361
  • Sarah Lane 357
  • Todd Easterla 353

If there are others in this category, we love to hear from them; email Don




  page created 18 Apr 2000, updated 15 Mar 2015  
all text & photos © Don Roberson, except as otherwise indicated; all rights reserved