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Wildlife Sightings

Click on a park name below to learn what wildlife is seen there.

Año Nuevo

On a regular basis, you can see elephant seals, gulls, coyotes, brown pelicans, cormorants, various hawks, ducks on the pond, rodents (mice, voles). To discover what elephant seal activity can be expected at any time of the year, click this link: Annual Cycle of Elephant Seal Activity at Año Nuevo

See a weekly census of seals for the 2011-12 breeding season.

Download thorough data on elephant seal counts at Pt Reyes, provided by the National Park Service. New

See an interesting summary of data on numbers of elephant seal pups at Año Nuevo vs Piedras Blancas between 1997 and 2010.

For a summary and comparison of weaner counts from 2000 to 2009, click here.

Half Moon Bay

This is the only beach along the San Mateo coast where western snowy plovers nest. The small shorebirds, listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act, can be seen in the largest numbers during the winter months. Between 40 and 50 have been spotted at the beach most days in January and February.

Other regular sightings include great egrets, northern harriers, kestrels hunting in the fields east of the beach, long-tailed weasels, voles, mice, and other small rodents.

Pecadero State Beach and Pescadero Marsh

Marsh wrens, great blue herons, Brewer's blackbird, western gull, Heerman's gull, western grebe, mallard, gadwall, cormorant, Caspian tern, barn swallow, violet-green swallow, song sparrow, American goldfinch, turkey vulture, raven, northern harrier, and common yellowthroat.  We heard chickadees, house finch, hummingbird, and wrentit.

The Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve, a part of Pescadero State Beach, shelters a diversity of wildlife in a complex of several habitats—a tidal estuary, freshwater marsh, brackish water marsh, dense riparian woods, and northern coastal scrub. It is an important wintering ground for waterfowl on the Pacific flyway.

In winter, visitors on the twice-monthly, docent-led nature walks have seen as many as 35 different species of birds, including great blue herons, great egrets, and snowy egrets, and many varieties of ducks, including gadwalls, American widgeons, northern shovelers, green-winged and blue-winged teals, pintails, ruddy ducks, common goldeneyes, and buffleheads.

Fewer ducks are seen as spring approaches, as migratory ducks begin to fly to their northern breeding grounds. In March, however, great blue herons put on an impressive display as they begin their nesting season in the tall eucalyptus trees that line one shore of the marsh.

You never know what you will see when you walk through the marsh. A Western pond turtle was spotted basking in the sun on February 1, and the wildflowers in spring are delightful.


Pigeon Point

Harbor seals, California sea lions, brown pelicans, black oystercatchers, different species of gulls and cormorants, and rabbits can be seen on an almost daily basis. Other sightings at various seasons include gray whales, humpback whales, orca whales, dolphins, elephant seals, loons, grebes, rhinocerous auklet, kestrels, and numerous other sea birds and song birds.

Coyote Research Project at Año Nuevo New

Docents and volunteers can participate in a study of coyotes at Año Nuevo. Read details of the study. Then download a spreadsheet to provide your observations to the researchers.