The Golden Gate Gulls Go Birding

Once a year, the Golden Gate Bird Alliance staff takes one of their monthly “in-field” meetings and expands it to an all day “Big Day Birdathon” effort. Last year the team saw a total of 106 bird species while raising funds for the organization. This year, the staff is headed back out as The Golden Gate Gulls, with a new goal of seeing 110 bird species and raising a total of $5,000 when all is said and done.

In the early morning of Wednesday April 26, the entire Golden Gate Bird Alliance staff will strike out from Mitchell Canyon, to Lafayette Reservoir and MLK Jr. Shoreline before heading across the bridge to Cliff House, North Lake, Stow Lake, SF Botanical Garden and Lake Merced.

So who’s on team Golden Gate Gulls? You can read about each team member below and click on a team member’s name to go directly to their fundraiser campaign page to support their efforts by donation or per-species pledge! Want to support the entire team? You can make a donation here.

Clay Anderson (Youth Programs Manager and Outreach Coordinator) 

With seven years serving in the organization’s youth program, everything Clay does for the organization is in service to Bay Area youth and their relationship to nature.

Becoming interested in wildlife conservation when he was a youth, Clay remembers being seven years old and watching a group of house sparrows eating out of his family dog Poncho’s dog bowl.

“On the surface it looked like they were mobbing the bowl, but then I noticed two would jump in and leave and another two would jump in and leave, always in pairs,” Clay shared. “They were getting the food they needed and others were waiting their turn. That’s when I realized something more is going on there than just ‘wildlife’.”

Also glad to spend the day outside, Clay will be chasing after the Sora, hoping others will support the team’s effort adding “we’re in the business of saving people because when people care about the planet they live on they are saving themselves.”

Janet Carpinelli (Volunteer and Conservation Advocacy Manager)

During her day-to-day Janet interacts with volunteers through habitat restoration, tabling at special events and conservation advocacy. As the conservation advocacy manager she also keeps up with the politics that effect birds. Tomorrow she’ll be on the lookout for Brown Pelicans.

“I love Brown Pelicans because they look like dinosaurs and they are dinosaurs, which just reminds you how long birds have been around.”

Janet hopes people support team Golden Gate Gulls to address the “current species crisis of birds and all other creatures”.

Excited to be out in nature and not behind a computer for the staff’s Big Day effort, Janet admits that although she isn’t the best memorizer when it comes to field markings, she brings an authentic appreciation for the birds while out in the field.

It’s possible her more relaxed birding approach stems from her early relationship to birding as a kid, going on walks through the forest as her dad pointed out different bird species to her.

Ryan Nakano (Communications Director) 

Bringing you everything Golden Gate Bird Alliance via monthly newsletters, The Gull magazine, the online blog and the organization’s various social media handles, Ryan spends his time making sure “bird” is the word.

Entering the birding world only semi-recently, having read Jenny Odell’s “How to Do Nothing” as a millennial, Ryan is looking forward to taking his focus offline for the day and maybe, just maybe, catching a glimpse of a Western Tanager.

Relentlessly curious and regretfully forgetful, Ryan hopes to use the day training his ear for more than just Scrub Jay and Steller’s Jay calls.

But more than anything, Ryan hopes the day will serve as a source of inspiration to continue to conserve the Bay’s local birds and wildlife.

“Aside from the general importance of caring for and protecting all life, including birds, I was reminded recently of our personal responsibility to be good stewards,” Ryan shared. “Especially as people who live in the U.S., a country which has contributed more than its fair share of carbon emissions, exacerbating climate change.”

Glenn Phillips (Executive Director)

As the Executive Director of Golden Gate Bird Alliance, Glenn Phillips spends his time “keeping his eyes on the big picture of the organization”.

Like Janet, Glenn is excited to be outdoors for the whole day and is keen to add Pacific-slope Flycatcher to the team’s eBird list.

“I just heard them on campus (UC Berkeley) so I’m sure we’ll see them,” he said.

When Glenn was eight years old he crashed a birding field trip at Point Lobos in Carmel and never looked back. Ever since he learned about the decline of neotropical migrants while working at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, Glenn has been deeply passionate about bird conservation.

“I think people should support out team because we all work hard everyday to protect birds and this is a day that we are reminded of why we do what we do.”

George Marschall (Membership Manager) 

Our most recent addition to the Golden Gate Bird Alliance team, George helps setup event registration, handles membership queries and takes care of our database system!

Currently enrolled in Jeff Manker’s beginner birding class, George is on a mission to sight a Ridgway’s Rail.

“There’s a picture of the Ridgway’s on the wall behind my desk,” George shared. “So I’ve seen it many times as a photograph but I have yet to see it in the field.”

Having lived in the Bay Area for the past eight months, George has quickly identified the area as a hotspot for different ecosystems and biodiversity.

“This organization is important because we do a lot of great conservation work in the bay and there’s so much to protect out here.”

Whitney Grover (Deputy Director)

Maybe one of the most competitive birders of the group (and all time), Whitney spends her regular work day overseeing our habitat restoration program and Eco Ed program, works to secure program specific grants and fields endless emails.

Excited by the prospect of waking up at 4:30am, Whitney is here for the Western Screech Owl, which she hasn’t heard or seen in quite some time.

Recently moving to the East Bay from San Francisco, she is looking forward to spending an entire day birding all around the rest of  Golden Gate Bird Alliance’s region.

With her Flycatcher field guide already in her bag, she’s ready to up her ID game and help the team meet its goal of identifying 110 species.

“I’ve always loved birds. About ten years ago I travelled to Belize and did a one-day birding trip. Shortly after, my brother got me binoculars for Christmas and the rest is history,” Whitney shared. “At first I fell in love with the birds which made me care about them, which led to learning about conservation threats to species and wanting to do something about it.”