Monterey Bay is located on the California coast, sandwiched between Santa Cruz to the north and the city of Monterey to the south. The entire area of Santa Cruz, the bay itself, and Monterey proper are sometimes referred to as the “Monterey Bay Area.” Though the bay was well known to the indigenous Esselen, Ohlone, Costanoan, and other native communities who’ve called this region home for millenia, it was formally “discovered” by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo – the first European explorer to reach the region – on November 16, 1542. The current name “Monterrey” for the bay was given in 1602 by Sebastián Vizcaíno from Spain. The word is a different spelling of Monterrei, which is a municipality in the Galicia region of Spain.
The bay is well known for its diversity of wildlife, as it is home to many marine mammals, fish, mollusks, turtles, and birds. There are several marine protected areas that help conserve the wildlife. This area is well known in the birding community as a national birding hotspot and every fall, the bay area hosts a birding festival with lectures, special guests, and field trips to explore the region and all it has to offer.
The best spots for birding in the area include Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve, Carmel State River Beach, Moss Landing, and Point Lobos State Reserve. These hotspots boast lists of upwards of 300 species, revealing the quality of bird-friendly habitat in the region. Elkhorn Slough is actually known as one of the top 10 birding destinations in the United States, with a site list of over 340 species. There is a wide variety of different birds that can be found here, with many local and special species that call the bay home. Owen has photographed the Snowy Plover, Townsend’s Warbler, Snowy Egret, Brandt’s Cormorant, and Northern Harrier here, as well as many other species.
Owen traveled to the Monterey Bay area in November 2021.