New Project: Birds of Santa Clara County

I’ve been mulling over a new project for a while, and over the last couple of days this has crystallized and so I’m ready to kick it off.

I have been frankly struggling with my photography for a while, and it’s gotten frustrating enough that I decided to effectively reboot it — throw all of the old plans and ideas out and take a look at everything with a fresh eye. Because I’ve been struggling so badly with the wide angle work, I decided to more or less abandon my landscape for for the time being and focus on what really got me interested in cameras from the start — my bird photography.

I also realized I needed a project to focus this on. I have my national wildlife work, which I love and which will continue, but the reality is that with the ongoing drought impacting the refuges and the seasonality of it that work didn’t really fit for this project.

In looking over my images of the last few years, I realized I’ve been doing very little bird photography here in my home territory, and that’s a stupid on my part because this is a great and beautiful place for it, and that offers me both an easy opportunity and a challenging one that’s ongoing. So today I’m starting a new project, the Birds of Santa Clara County.


Which sounds simple: put together a good online environment for my bird photography here in Santa Clara County, identify species where I need to get updated photos (or don’t have good photos at all) and go out and create those. And as rarities move into county, get out there and try to get them photographed.

Not incidentally, as another major project of mine is to improve my exercise and conditioning programs, this will force me to get outside and wander around, visiting local birding areas and (gasp) like even walk around and stuff.

We hates a unitasker

In scoping out this project last night, I realized I could leverage this project to do a few more things that benefit the larger community as well. Santa Clara County is home to a large number of amazingly talented bird photographers, and yet we really don’t have a list of them or any central place to link to their sites or showcase their work.

So I’m going to create one: as this Birds of Santa Clara County project develops, I’ll be adding a directory of county bird photographers and looking into how I can create some kind of online showcase of their new and interesting work.

This is also a good time for me to identify and document the best locations for bird photography in the county. As you talk among bird photographers in the area, most of us know most of the folklore about where and when to go shooting, but it’s not information that’s organized or easy to find. This seems like a good time to fix that problem as well.

I can see a couple of other possible opportunities for this project: I’d like to look into turning it into a place where local photographers can let us know when they have exhibits or work being published, or when they give talks on their photography. It might also make sense for it to be a place where we can announce meetups or photography events here in the county as well, but I want to make sure that’s all coordinated with some of the existing groups like Bay Area Bird Photographers so we’re all working together on these things.

Your action items for today

If you’re a bird photographer in the Santa Clara County region and you want to be listed in the directory I’m going to build, let me know via email at I’ll be building out some of the list from those photographers I know, but I’d prefer to know explicitly that you want to be listed.

I’d also appreciate it if bird photographers here in the county would send me a quick list of their five favorite photography locations in the county. This will let me see what the most popular places are so I can prioritize getting them documented and listed.

Don’t forget the Bay Area Bird Photographers Audubon Group

If this project interests you, you might want to consider getting involved with Santa Clara Valley Audubon’s Bird Photography group which organizes monthly meetings in the fall on different topics.