Newport Bay Conservancy Co-Hosts World Wetlands Day Symposium January 29-30

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This month, a two-day World Wetlands Day celebration for the public will be co-hosted by Newport Bay Conservancy, Sea & Sage Audubon Society, Amigos de Bolsa Chica, and Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy January 29 and 30.

The theme for this celebration is Migratory Birds of the Pacific Flyway. Saturday, Jan. 29 will feature online symposium talks by eight migratory bird experts. On Sunday, Jan. 30, those who have registered for the event online can choose between guided tours of our various local wetlands and observe migratory birds in person.

To view the speakers on Saturday and take a guided tour on Sunday, attendees are asked to register early at

The speakers will cover everything from new technologies used to track migrating birds to conservation issues regarding wetlands of California’s Central Valley.

The guided tours available include everything from a driving tour behind the scenes of Bolsa Chica Wetlands with Fish and Wildlife staff, to kayaking in Newport Back Bay with Newport Bay Conservancy volunteers, to a leisurely walking tour with some of the leading bird-watching experts in Southern California at IRWD San Joaquin Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. Registration for the online symposium and most tours is free, although space is limited, so attendees are encouraged to sign up early.

Arctic Tern by Malene Thyssen

After completing their breeding and nesting much further north, migratory birds begin to arrive at Upper Newport Bay in September, and from November through February there are thousands of birds at the Bay resting and feeding. From about March through August most of the migratory birds have moved on, but then we get Least Terns that breed here after wintering in the Caribbean and along the North coast of South America, and we still have our year-long residents (e.g. gulls, terns, cormorants, herons, egrets, mallards, rails, coots, plovers).

Peter Bryant, one of the organizers of the symposium, appreciates the importance of Southern California wetlands for the birds that migrate on the Pacific Flyway.

“The most important thing we can do in our area is to protect our remaining wetlands for these special birds,” says Bryant. “Without protected wetland areas in Southern California, like those in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, these birds would have nowhere else to go in the winter.”

All talks will take place over Zoom, and the link will be emailed to attendees before the event.

Speaker Program: Saturday, January 29, 2022

9 – 9:10 a.m.: Welcome and introduction to World Wetlands Day 2022

9:10 – 9:50 a.m.: Prof. Richard Phillips, Leader of the Higher Predators group, Ecosystems Team, British Antarctic Survey: “Seabird migration, and the implications for conservation.”

9:50 – 10:30 a.m.: Robert W. Butler, co-author with Audrey Benedict of “Pacific Flyway: Waterbird Migration from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego.”

10:30 – 10:45 a.m.: Break

10:45 – 11:25 a.m.: Dr. David Duffy, Gerritt Parmele Wilder Chair, School of Life Sciences, University of Hawaii: “A Tale of Two Terns: Migration of Aleutian and Arctic Terns”

11:25 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.: Dr. Nathaniel Seavy, Director of Migration Science, National Audubon Society: “The Migratory Bird Initiative: From backyard birds to hemispheric conservation.”

12:05 – 12:35 p.m.: Lunch Break

12:35 – 1:15 p.m.: Dr. Osvel Hinojosa-Huerta, Director of the Coastal Solutions Fellows Program, Cornell Lab of Ornithology: “Conservation of shorebirds along the Pacific Flyway”

1:15 – 1:55 p.m.: Cory Overton, Wildlife Biologist, Western Ecological Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey: “The Impact of drought on waterbirds and their wetland habitats in California’s Central Valley.”

1:55 – 2:10 p.m.: Break

2:10 – 2:50 p.m.” Dr. Daniel R. Ruthrauff, Research Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center: “Alaska and beyond: Tracking migratory shorebirds across the Pacific Basin.”

2:50 – 3:10 p.m.: Mary J. Whitfield, Research Director, Southern Sierra Research Station: “The Motus Wildlife Tracking Network.”

Worth reading: “A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds” by Scott Weidensaul, published by Picador.

Kayak Tour

Optional Tours: Sunday, January 30, 2022

Tour 1: Tour of Closed area of Bolsa Chica Wetlands

Time: 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Meeting Point: 17783 Graham Street, Huntington Beach

Max Participants: 10 car maximum, each driver may bring up to two passengers (three total in car). Only the driver of a vehicle should select this ticket. Passengers should just select the “Online Symposium Only” ticket option.

Note: This field trip will have to be cancelled in the event of rain on the day itself or shortly beforehand due to the nature of the mud roads and safety considerations.

Tour 2: Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy Tour

Start time: 12 – 2 p.m.

Meeting Point: 21900 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach

Max Participants: 40

Tour 3: San Joaquin Marsh Tour with Sea and Sage Audubon

Time: 8 a.m. until participants choose to leave!

Meeting Point: Parking lot of IRWD San Joaquin Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary

Max participants: 20

Tour 4: Big Canyon Bird Tour with Newport Bay Conservancy

Time: 8 – 11:30 a.m.

Meeting Point: Big Canyon Parking Lot

Max Participants: 20

Note: Rain will cancel this event, but the threat of rain or a light drizzle will not.

Tour 5: Kayak Tour of Upper Newport Bay with Newport Bay Conservancy

Time: 12 – 2 p.m.

Meeting Point: Newport Aquatic Center, 1 Whitecliffs Drive, Newport Beach.

Max Participants: 20

Cost: $10/kayaker. This supports the maintenance of our kayak equipment.

Note: It is expected that all participants can swim and are able to help carry kayaks a short distance. Ages 8+ are welcome. All children under 12 must ride with an adult (18+) in a tandem (2-person) kayak. At least one adult must be present on the water with any minors. Teens/adults can ride in solo kayaks only if group space permits or if there is an odd number in a party. Dogs are not allowed on the tour.

Register at

For additional information about the organizations co-hosting this event, visit for Newport Bay Conservancy, for Sea & Sage Audubon Society, for Amigos de Bolsa Chica, and for Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy.

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