Each spring hundreds of people migrate to the northern coast of California. They come to see migrating and resident birds. They also gather for camaraderie, art, education, and fun.
The event is called Godwit Days, California’s North Coast Spring Bird Migration Festival.
The event is held in Arcata, California, USA.
Participants can spend up to a week going on field trips, with the main events happening over a weekend. These field trips provide easy walking tours of ancient redwood forests, grasslands, coastal marshes, rocky shores, and high elevation forests. Participants can also take kayak tours and other boat trips in coastal waterways and bays. There are over 100 field trips. There are also workshops, lectures, and opportunities to view huge birds of prey up close and visit an operational bird banding and research facility.
Whatever your impression of bird watchers is, the range of ages and interests of Godwit Days participants defies stereotyping. The things they seem to have in common is an enjoyment of the outdoors and learning about birds and the natural systems that they thrive in.
This is the second year that I have volunteered to take photographs of the event to provide promotional photos for Godwit Days. This year I was assigned a high elevation forest field trip, a field sketching workshop with local illustrator and artist Gary Bloomfield, and a shorebird field trip to local restored marshlands.
This photo is from the high elevation forest field trip. The tour travels about 40 miles inland to the Coast Range. By ‘high elevation’ they mean 1200-1800 meters (4000-6000 feet). Most of the other field tours are near sea level so it is a relative term. On this field trip participants heard or saw about 30 different bird species, even though the birds were still mostly at lower elevations or had not arrived yet from their winter homes to the south.
Each of my assignments was interesting and fun. The field guides were very informative and provided a fun atmosphere. And I got to see and learn about things in my own ‘backyard’ that I haven’t seen before.
This event is a good way to learn about the birds and habitats of the north coast of California and the clouds of spring migratory birds that travel through the area. You can learn more about it at: http://www.godwitdays.com/