The varied habitats of Monterey County are wonderfully scenic especially during the spring. Over 450 species of birds have been found here and the botanical diversity is also remarkably rich. On Friday, explore the justly famous Point Lobos State Reserve, peering into coves for breeding cormorants and watching oystercatchers feed in the tidal zone. Not far beyond the cypress bluffs and kelp forests, migrating grey whales can often be seen and sea lions are always present. You will continue exploring this dramatic coast to the south towards Big Sur, visiting a surprise canyon where a redwood and fern-lined stream flows out to a dramatic headland. A special feature of this class will be our lodging for Friday and Saturday nights at Hastings Preserve, a unique University of California reserve not open to the public. We will enjoy a full day exploring the grasslands, oak woodland and riparian habitats here and adjacent parts of the Carmel Valley where the display of lupine and other wildflowers can be spectacular. At the UC reserve you will learn about the natural history of lizards, gophers, oaks, Acorn Woodpeckers, magpies and many other birds that breed locally. Sunday will be the time to explore Elkhorn Slough by pontoon boat, offering an excellent platform from which to see and photograph the myriad of godwits, willets and other shorebirds. The boat also provides a perfect opportunity for close viewing of sea otters and harbor seals. Grebes, loons, pelicans, ducks and many other water birds are almost constantly in view. In addition to the boat trip, you will walk a trail through lichen- draped oaks and salt marshes at the National Estuarine Preserve, affording even more birding opportunities. Includes access to Hastings Preserve, two nights lodging, meals from Friday night through Sunday morning and boat trip on the Elkhorn Slough.