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Bird Watching in Big Sur, California
Located south of Monterey in California, the Andrew Molera State Park is home to the Big Sur River Mouth. Although the name might not be familiar, many travel here for the excellent opportunities that Big Sur birding brings.

The Andrew Molera State Park is located about forty minutes south of Monterey. It is approximately five thousand acres worth of parkland and also includes about twelve nautical miles of ocean. Three hundred and seventy nine species of birds have been spotted here. The Big Sur River flows into the Pacific Ocean inside of the park. There is also a wide range of elevations located here. The Santa Lucia Mountains reach an elevation of over three thousand feet, and less than two miles away, the park dips down to sea level.

For many years, those native to the area knew that Big Sur was a great place to see birds. However, the area wasn't easy to travel through until it became a state park back in the early seventies. Even once this occurred, the area did not become a popular birding site until the 1990s when the Ventana Wilderness Society set up a bird observatory and research center. This drew attention to the Big Sur area, which is now a regular stop for those in the California area.

Birding in Big Sur is a unique experience because of the interesting nature of the area itself. Big Sur has a population of less than 1500 people. Homes in the area are quite expensive, and also quite scarce, as many areas are off limits to developers. Big Sur has a colorful past. At one time it was well known for being a refuge for those seeking a bohemian lifestyle. Big Sur is also known for its microclimates. Because the area varies in elevation so drastically, there are dramatic shifts in the types of plant life that grow with a small area. Typically though, summers are sunny and dry and the winter time is cool. The winter time also brings with it rain, which is a sharp contrast to the summer months when drought conditions often exist.

If you are traveling to Big Sur for birding, you are likely to stay on Highway 1. More than three million tourists visit Big Sur each year. The highway around Big Sur is a beautiful scenic drive. If you need accommodations while in the area, plan ahead. Hotels fill up quickly during the summer tourism season. Big Sur is somewhat unique in the sense that there are no "middle-of-the-road" accommodations. There are lodges and campgrounds available as well as five star resorts, but you will not find a typical chain hotel in the area.

With the number of birds available to be spotted and the beautiful scenery surrounding you, Big Sur is an ideal location for the bird watcher seeking a unique vacation or a day observing rare bird species. School groups are welcome at the Big Sur Ornithology Lab, and educational programs exist on bird banding as well as various other bird workshops.
About the Author
Rick Chapo is with Nomad Journals - makers of travel journals to preserve your travel experiences.
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