Natural History Classes

Natural History of the Mono Basin
July 11 - 13, 2017

Please join me to explore one of my favorite places, and one of the most dynamic ecosystems on the planet, Mono Lake. On the first morning of this tour we will explore the lake's southern shore in the best way possible, by kayak. As we slide by oddly wonderful tufa towers we may encounter hundreds of phalaropes that rest and feed here as they migrate thousands of miles. A simple, but important food chain ties them to the trillions of brine shrimp in the lake. The tufa formations are just one geologic aspect of a wondrous basin that includes both the oldest lake on the continent and its youngest mountain range. Lundy Canyon, the focus of day two, has incredible botanical diversity and waterfalls in a spectacular glacial canyon. The rest of this discovery tour features several short hikes to young volcanic domes, sagebrush meadows, mixed conifer woods and riparian forests. These habitats are the breeding zones for many birds including Green-tailed Towhee, Sage Thrasher and Townsend's Solitaire. The battle to save Mono Lake was one of the most influential environmental victories of the twentieth century. Come and discover the protected shores and other dynamic habitats of the mazing Mono Basin. Tour fee includes kayak rental, instruction and equipment, but not lodging. Participants can stay at motels in Lee Vining or camp in the area.

Tour fee; $160.00. This is a private tour sponsored by the California Naturalist. To register contact David directly.
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Birds and Natural History of Malaysian Borneo
October 23 - November 8, 2017

Tour Fee $9,220 single / $8,450 double occupancy
Leaders: David Wimpfheimer, Steve Shunk and a local guide

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Tour Fee $9,220 single / $8,450 double occupancy
Leaders: David Wimpfheimer, Steve Shunk and a local guide
This special tour is sponsored by Paradise Birding. Consult this link for a full description and itinerary.

We will only take a maximum of eight participants to Borneo, truly a naturalist’s paradise. If you have any interest in joining this
special tour contact David or Paradise Birding.


Few areas on the planet offer the amazing diversity of the island of Borneo, the world’s third largest. In addition to hundreds of birds, including hornbills, barbets, broadbills and sunbirds the number of primates including orangutan, prboscis monkeys, gibbons and several others is truly astounding. Because we are visiting the oldest rainforests in the world, with some of the highest species diversity on the planet, we will encounter a stunning variety of wildlife; from mammals like pygmy elephant and flying squirrels to Colugo, a wonderfully unique lemur-like nocturnal glider.

Over 15,000 plants are found here, from strangely wonderful carnivorous pitcher plants and hundreds of orchids to Rafflesia, which has the largest flower in the world. The species diversity will boggle your mind; multilayered canopy of the rainforest with epiphytic orchids, bromeliads and strangler figs. Myriad insects like the world’s largest walking stick, giant moths and beetles are among the fascinating invertebrates in Borneo.

This tour strives to show you the diverse and globally unique wonders found in the Malaysian state of Sabah, on the northern tip of Borneo.

We will visit a variety of habitats including the cool cloud forests of Mount Kinabalu, the virgin lowland rainforests of Danum Valley,
the coastal wetlands around Sandakan, and the freshwater swamps of the Kinabatangan River valley.

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Baja: West Coast and Sea of Cortez:

March 25 - April 6, 2018

This is one of my favorite tours and I’ve enjoyed leading it for the Oceanic Society and Wild Wings for over twenty years. Simply put, the Pacific coastal zones of the Baja peninsula and Sea of Cortez are feeding and migratory regions for the greatest variety of whales, dolphins and other cetaceans on the planet. Blue, Humpback, Fin, Sperm and Bryde’s Whales some of the cetaceans we encounter. This tour includes two days in San Ignacio Lagoon, an extraordinry habitat where Gray Whale mothers approach our skiffs with their young calves, often close enough to touch. Laysan and Black-footed Albatross, Black-vented Shearwater, Red-billed Tropicbird, Craveri’s Murrelet, Blue-footed and Brown Booby are some of the many seabirds seen on this expedition. In total over 120 species of birds are usually seen including Reddish Egret, Xantus’ Hummingbird, Gray Thrasher, Black-throated Sparrow and Pyrrhuloxia. Although diverse wildlife, wonderful snorkeling and rocky, desert landscapes are awesome this special tour offers a unique opportunity to escape to tranquil sites far from the stresses of modern civilization.

Natural History of Coastal Monterey

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Spring 2018
The varied habitats of Monterey County are wonderfully scenic especially during the spring. Over 450 species of birds have been found here and the botanical diversity is also remarkably rich. On Friday, explore the justly famous Point Lobos State Reserve, peering into coves for breeding cormorants and watching oystercatchers feed in the tidal zone. Not far beyond the cypress bluffs and kelp forests, migrating grey whales can often be seen and sea lions are always present. You will continue exploring this dramatic coast to the south towards Big Sur, visiting a surprise canyon where a redwood and fern-lined stream flows out to a dramatic headland. A special feature of this class will be our lodging for Friday and Saturday nights at Hastings Preserve, a unique University of California reserve not open to the public. We will enjoy a full day exploring the grasslands, oak woodland and riparian habitats here and adjacent parts of the Carmel Valley where the display of lupine and other wildflowers can be spectacular. At the UC reserve you will learn about the natural history of lizards, gophers, oaks, Acorn Woodpeckers, magpies and many other birds that breed locally. Sunday will be the time to explore Elkhorn Slough by pontoon boat, offering an excellent platform from which to see and photograph the myriad of godwits, willets and other shorebirds. The boat also provides a perfect opportunity for close viewing of sea otters and harbor seals. Grebes, loons, pelicans, ducks and many other water birds are almost constantly in view. In addition to the boat trip, you will walk a trail through lichen-draped oaks and salt marshes at the National Estuarine Preserve, affording even more birding opportunities. Includes access to Hastings Preserve, two nights lodging, meals from Friday night through Sunday morning and boat trip on the Elkhorn Slough.
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Exploring the Tomales Bay Watershed
Spring 2018

Tomales Bay is one of the most productive and dynamic estuaries on the California coast. This class will be a unique opportunity to explore the watershed from its headwaters to the terminus of Lagunitas Creek as it flows into the bay. Our first walk will be on the slopes of Mt Tamalpais. The firs and oaks here are the home of Black-throated Gray Warbler, Pileated Woodpecker and Calypso Orchid. Our second creek walk will be below Alpine Lake through a riparian canyon. Another walk along the creek is near Samuel P Taylor State Park where the creek now flows widely by large alder, willow and maple trees. Redwoods tower above the side canyons here. Our final walk will be to a point overlooking the Giacomini wetlands where Lagunitas Creek flows into Tomales Bay. There are few watersheds such as this where one can travel from the headwaters to its tidal mouth in a relatively small area. Come join us to explore these unique and diverse sites that are joined by the waters flowing through them.

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Mono Lake: Birds and Natural History
July 7 - 9, 2017
sponsored by the Mono Lake Committee
This field seminar will concentrate on the identification and ecology of birds that breed in the Mono Basin and others that migrate by Mono Lake during the summer. In sagebrush meadows and riparian and montane forests, the class will explore a number of sites, mixing short leisurely walks with periods of observation and natural history discussion. Woodpeckers, corvids, flycatchers, warblers, and other passerines display fascinating, varied behaviors. However, a major focus will be Mono Lake and other wetlands where phalaropes and other shorebirds feed. David Wimpfheimer has been educating and interpreting birds and California's natural history for over 20 years. His seasoned focus and knowledge make for enjoyable and educational outings

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The following program is sponsored by
Point Reyes Field Institute


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