For those of you looking to do birdwatching in the Santa Clara County area, the best places to get started are:
- South Bay Birders Unlimited: Birding in Santa Clara County.
- There’s also the Santa Clara Valley Audubon web site for local birders
- if you’re a photographer, don’t forget the Bay Area Bird Photographers group that meets monthly in Palo Alto.
- Finally, a key resource is the South Bay Birds mailing list, now hosted on Yahoo, which is where the sighting reports happen. If you bird in this area, you really should keep an eye on that list for the interesting birds showing up.
With the bay access in the county, the wetlands are a huge part of the county birding environment. Much of the bay edges were converted over the years into a series of salt ponds for harvesting salt; this is slowly being reversed over time, fortunately. There is a web site with information on the restoration project and maps of the areas being restored
We’ve had maps of the salt ponds available, but when I fired up my site, I did some experimenting of re-doing the maps in Google Maps. My Google Map version of the Salt Ponds is available here.
Ashok Khosla, who’s a board member with SCV Audubon, did a version of the maps that’s really pretty neat in Google Earth. It’s a free download from Google, and if you have Google Earth installed, you can download Â this file and load it into Google Earth and fly through the area and see how the ponds are laid out.
This is a neat hack, if you ask me. I’ve been experimenting with some of the Google Maps I did and trying to figure out how to improve them and make them more useful and start building an updated listing of the common birding spots here in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, where I do about 95% of my birding. Until I relaunch the birders site, I’m going to post that information here and make it available, because I think for now, it’s better to focus on the content and then migrate it to a site when it’s complete than build a site and then fight to populate it with content.
Ultimately, I hope to have things set up so that all my photos are geotagged with a latitude/longitude so the location can be found, and that Santa Clara and San Mateo counties have tagged maps that can be used as birding guides for those counties, at least in Google Maps, but hopefully in Google Earth as well. I have some other interesting ideas I want to explore, including seeing if we can interface to eBird in various ways and mapping out notable birds and rarities into some kind of automated map. Lots of ways we can take advantage of today’s online environment to make birding more fun and make birders better informed. All it takes is time and energy…