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Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival

2016 Leaders & Presenters N - Z

 Paul O'Connor PAUL O'CONNOR

Paul O'Connor is retired from Cal Fire after 30 years of service in the Fire Dept. He volunteer for State Parks in outdoor activities providing walks and talks at Montana de Oro and the tidepools at coralina cove and works as a kayak, bike and hike tour guide for Central Coast Outdoors in Morro Bay. In the past he worked with CCO assisting kayak tours for bird festival and gave a photo walk at Montana de Oro also for the bird festival. His biggest joy is work and volunteering at the Point San Luis Lighthouse, restoring, giving guided tours and driving the trolley up the hill to the county's hidden gem on the coast.


Rosemary (on the left in blue), formally a consultant, Environment, Safety and Emergency Management with a major international oil company, designed this walk in 2002. She is also a back desk docent at the Morro Bay Natural History Museum and a member of the Exhibit Enhancement Committee.

Charlene (on the right in blue), formally a teacher and docent at the Santa Barbara Zoo, joined Rosemary as co-walk leader in 2005. She is also a back desk docent and a member of the Exhibit Enhancement Committee.



After earning a BS in Natural Resources Management from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Regena began working for California State Parks in 1995.  As an Environmental Scientist, she currently manages the Western Snowy Plover program for State Parks in the Morro Bay area, which has the largest breeding population of snowy plovers in the State Park System.  Regena has also been banding birds since 1998.  The two banding projects she is currently involved with are a Monitoring Avian Population and Survivorship (MAPS) station at the Powell properties within Morro Bay State Park and a study looking for Large-billed Savannah Sparrows near the Morro Bay State Park Marina.

Rachel Pass serves as the Morro Bay National Estuary Program's Communications and Outreach Coordinator. She works with community members, partners, and other stakeholders to raise awareness of the Estuary Program's mission, and to encourage participation in restoration and preservation efforts. Rachel enjoys almost any outdoor activity, and can often be found watching wildlife on the bay, or hiking along the coast.

Kaaren Perry

Kaaren Perry has been interested in birds and nature since childhood. She is an avid birder and has birded throughout the United States, Canada, Alaska, France, England, Greece and the Czech Republic.  For the past 20 years, Kaaren has enjoyed leading local field trips and conducting yearly field classes in the study of gulls, seabirds and birds of the rocky coast.   Kaaren recently lead a birding trip to Alaska for the Sierra Club.  She has also been selected as field trip leader for the Salton Sea and San Diego Birding Festivals and the Western Field Ornithologists conference. She enthusiastically shares her love for watching and learning about birds. 

Lucien Plauzoles  LUCIEN (LU) PLAUZOLES

Lu is a member and former president of Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society. He has been involved with the Snowy Plover recovery program for 15 years.  His other interests include calligraphy, native plant gardening, and backpacking.  He recently retired from a career in bookselling.  (Je parle francais!)
Roy Poucher bird leader  ROY POUCHER

Roy Poucher has also been a Sea and Sage Audubon Society (Orange County) trip leader and field trip assistant in their introductory birding classes (including aural birding) for 24 years.   He has led trips to Yosemite, the Eastern Sierra, Arizona, Texas, North Dakota (sparrows), the Great Lakes (warblers), the eastern seaboard (shorebirds).  Roy is, also, an international tour leader and, with his company Bird Odyssey Tours, has led trips to Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Kenya, Thailand and Cambodia. Tours to Trinidad/Tobago and South Africa are upcoming.  His passion is bird vocalization, and has personally mentored aural birding with Dick Walton (author of the Peterson bird vocalization audio series), Luis Baptista (late of the California Academy of Sciences), Tom Hahn (UC Davis) and Sylvia Gallagher (renowned Southern California educator). 


Donald Quintana is a Central California Nature and Wildlife Photographer whose family was an early settler in Morro Bay. He finds comfort and renewal by spending time amidst the wonders of the local natural world. His greatest enjoyment comes from capturing fleeting moments in nature that are often missed by the casual observer and sharing them with others. He has published photos in magazines, calendars and online articles, and has won awards for his photography in contests as well as from the North American Nature Photographers Association. Bird photography is one of the areas of nature photography that he is very passionate about. You can see his photos at as well as his flickr site at




Manager, Morro Bay Museum of Natural History since 2005, State Park Interpreter since 1989.  Bird Festival program committee member or co-chair since 2006.  Morro Coast Audubon Society program co-chair since 2006.  Birding informally since childhood, he began leading beginning bird walks for California State Parks in the early 1990s.  He particularly enjoy shorebirds, seabirds, raptors, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and calling birds with whistled and vocal sounds.  Rouvaishyana also works as a naturalist on local whale-watching boats, where he has numerous opportunities to observe seabirds.

Dan Robinette Seabird Protection Network  DAN ROBINETTE

Dan Robinette is a senior scientist at Point Blue Conservation Science, a non-profit dedicated to advancing the conservation of birds, other wildlife, and ecosystems through science, partnerships, and outreach.  Dan manages Point Blue's coastal marine program.  His research interests include studying the population, breeding, dietary, and foraging ecology of seabirds in relation to local and regional oceanography.  Dan has published and presented papers on using seabirds as indicators of juvenile fish recruitment to local nearshore populations.  Dan has studied seabird foraging effort within and adjacent to the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve since 2000 and has expanded this program to investigate the new marine protected areas established under California's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.  Dan is also involved in the expansion of the Seabird Protection Network which aims to reduce human-caused disturbance to important seabird breeding and roosting sites throughout California.  Dan served on the Science Advisory Team for the South Coast Study Region of the MLPA Initiative and is a current member of science advisory groups for statewide management of the endangered California least tern and the Montezuma Wetlands Restoration Project.

Michele Roest  MICHELE ROEST

Michele Roest participated in her first Audubon Christmas Bird Count at the age of nine with her father, zoologist Aryan Roest, who served as the first Charter President of the Morro Coast Audubon Society in 1967. Michele has an M.S. in biology, specializing in vertebrate ecology. Her government agency work includes NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program, US Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. In 2009 Michele founded Science and Environmental Education Development (SEED). She works with government agencies and nonprofit organizations in developing science-based education programs for all ages. Visit Michele and SEED at
 Jim Royer


Jim got the bug for birding in the mid 70's from his brother Allen, and has led field trips for various Audubon Chapters, the WFO, the ABA, and other groups since the late 70's (including trips to Veracruz, Mexico, to see the world's largest raptor migration). Jim has an interest in "green birding" and in 2010 he found 318 species while on cycling, walking, and kayaking trips starting from his home, without using any gas. He also has organized the local "Elfin Forest Big Sit" for over 10 years. He has been a board member on several Audubon chapters, and helped establish the original Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival. He is an attorney, lives in Los Osos, and likes to bird with his wife Celeste, his two grown children Alisa and Dylan, and his dog Nike.

 John Sayers


Environmental Scientist, California State Parks, San Luis Obispo Coast District since 2005.  First started birding in earnest in 2005 while monitoring snowy plover populations along the beaches of San Luis Obispo County.  He grew up in southern California amidst all the development and habitat destruction, but also near its open space and wild elements.  An interest in ecology and gardening got him involved with native plant propagation and restoration techniques.  John has been involved with the Winter Bird Festival since 2006.

Ross Schaefer 

Ross Schaefer began birding "for real" after moving down to the Central Coast in 2006.  There he met Jim Royer, who took him under his wing and taught him all he knows now.  Ross has co-led and led trips for the Morro Coast Audubon Society, as well as for the Kern Spring Nature Festival and a Cheeseman Pelagic Trip.  Ross is now studying Biology at Allan Hancock College.
Brad Schram


Brad started birding in the 1940s as a child in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California.  After retiring early from the business world he has served since 1997 as a part-time birding tour leader for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours and as a naturalist aboard adventure cruise ships.  His tours have extended north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle as well as across the South Pacific through Polynesia and Melanesia.  Brad has birded on all continents and has led birding tours on five of them.  He and his wife Dianne have seven grandchildren.

Steve Schubert


Steve is an active member of the Morro Coast Audubon Society: President 2000-2001; past Program Chairman; author "The Peregrine Falcons of Morro Rock: A 40-Year History"  (; Volunteer Coordinator (1996-present) for the Hi Mountain Condor Lookout Project (  Steve teaches at a residential environmental education program attended by more than 3,000 students each school year and teaches natural history courses for Community Programs at Cuesta College. He has been a speaker and field trip leader for the Winter Bird Festival each year since its inception. His wildlife and landscape photography can be found at

 Dennis Sheridan


Dennis Sheridan is a native Californian who grew up in Arcadia.  He graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in biology, specialty entomology.  He moved to Morro Bay in 1974 and began a career in photography, concentrating on birds of prey and native wildlife, as well as fungi, lichens, insects, wildflowers and California scenery.  Dennis has traveled worldwide photographing nature. Dennis has published many photographs in magazines, books, and calendars including Audubon field guides.  He contributes his photography and naturalist services to the California Native Plant Society, Audubon Society, Small Wilderness Area Preservation, and Morro Estuary Greenbelt Alliance.


An avid surfer and extreme rock climber for more than 30 years, Tom only recently "discovered" birding in October 2011. A self-starter (inspired by the book and movie "The Big Year"), he bought a Sibley's guide and some binoculars and then scoured the Central Coast with his 7 year-old son Owen in search of anything with feathers. He has seen and enjoyed over 270 county species. Tom has been mentored by Maggie Smith and others in the SLOCO community. What he lacks in experience he makes up for with enthusiasm. He has led trips with Lifelong Learners of the Central Coast to Oso Flaco Lake and Oceano Lagoon, and he enjoys passing on his newfound joy for birds to anyone who will bird with him. He welcomes entire families to join, as he will be birding with his son Owen during this year's festival. When he isn't birding, he is teaching English at Mesa Middle School in Arroyo Grande.

 Greg Smith


Greg Smith has birded and searched out nature's wonders on all seven continents and has led natural history and birding tours in California, Alaska, Argentina, Chile, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica. He is recently retired after a 27-year career with the California State Park System. Formerly a park ecologist, Greg was a superintendent of eight park units, focusing on education on the importance of preserving natural and cultural resources. An accomplished wildlife photographer, he also maintains a U.S. Master Bird Banding permit. Greg plays an integral part in planning and administration of Naturalist Journeys. As the WEST COAST REPRESENTATIVE for Naturalist Journeys Natural History & Birding Tours ( www.Naturalist ); he has designed a number of itineraries in California, Baja, Oregon and Washington.

 Maggie SMith


Maggie began noticing and identifying birds in 2004.  She has led field trips for Morro Coast Audubon Society, Winter Bird Festival and Western Field Ornithologists since 2005.  As a volunteer, she's helped with a series of Sea Bird surveys for Cal Poly and two Tricolored blackbird surveys in San Luis Obispo County.  Though she prefers being outside, she has organized the yearly Morro Coast Audubon pelagic trip and served as a Christmas Bird Count sector leader for the past four years.  Her bird and nature photos can be seen at

 Mike Stiles


Mike is a local native and has been birding in the area since 1973. He has led trips for Morro Coast Audubon Society and the Winter Bird Festival. He has been a board member for the local Audubon Society for the last 7 years as Field Trip Chair, and as the Communications Chair, and is in charge of their website.

Jeanette Stone


Jeanette serves as the Center Operations Director for Pacific Wildlife Care in Morro Bay, CA.  She has volunteered with PWC for over 3 years in different capacities; as a center worker, website designer, board vice-president and president. As Center Director, Jeanette oversees the activities and operations of the rehab facility, conducts trainings/orientations and works closely with staff to provide the highest level of care. As a CA licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist, she uses her knowledge and skills to implement effective treatment plans for wildlife undergoing rehabilitation. PWC holds permits from the Department of Fish & Game and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to possess and rehabilitate wildlife and is a primary response group for wildlife in the event of oil spills or other environmental crises. The Center which opened in March of 2007 takes in over 1,500 animals annually.


Jan Surbey


Jan has been a Morro Coast Audubon Society Board member 2006 to present (Hospitality, chair, President, Past President).  A retired teacher from St. Louis, Missouri, Jan moved to the Central Coast in 1999 to enjoy year-round running.  Even after traveling to all seven continents, Jan's favorite places on this planet remain southern Utah and Santa Margarita Lake, where she birds and previously lived and worked.

 Dean Thompson  DEAN THOMPSON

Dean Thompson is a naturalist who also happens to enjoy birding.  Trained as a wildlife biologist, he has worked with a variety of raptors in California, Arizona and Wyoming for The Peregrine Fund and the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Group.  He traveled to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji before finally settling down here in SLO county.  Since then he has worked as an outdoor science school instructor in Montana de Oro State Park.  For the last 26 years he has led natural history tours along the central coast, conducted Least Tern surveys, raised 2 children, coached and managed to stay sane by spending as much time as possible outdoors .  Dean's skill as a professional storyteller makes his tours both entertaining and educational.
 Bert Townsend


Bert Townsend has been birding since age 11, including several area of North America; from Michigan to Florida and California to Texas.  He has also birded in Central America and Europe.  Bert has been anticipating in the MBWBF from the beginning.

 Karen Watts


Karen Watts has a bachelor's degree in Biology from UCSB and a master's degree in science education from Cal State East Bay.  She is a former molecular biologist and high school science teacher.  She has been a docent at the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History since 2007, where she works with education programs for students of all ages and leads nature walks. Karen helped to develop a plankton program that is regularly presented to school groups from grades 4 through college, and the general public.  She is also a bacteria monitoring volunteer for the Morro Bay National Estuary Program and a substitute naturalist at Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School.

Dean Wendt  DEAN WENDT

Dean Wendt is director of the Center for Coastal Marine Sciences and dean of research at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. His research and teaching focuses on marine ecology and conservation. He is also the founding director of the San Luis Obispo Science and Ecosystem Alliance (SLOSEA), an organization of scientists, stakeholders, and resource managers working together on improving management of California's marine resources. He served for two years on the Master Plan Science Advisory Team as part of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which called for the establishment of California's Marine Protected Areas. He currently serves on the Board of the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS) and the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS). During the past decade he has procured over $10M in external funding for his research program and has published 39 peer-reviewed publications. Dean earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University (1999) and conducted postdoctoral research at the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.  He held an assistant professorship at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro before arriving at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2002. 

 Ray Weymann RAY WEYMANN

Dr. Weymann is a retired astronomer with 40 years experience at major universities and observatories in teaching and research. His research has varied from the history of the early universe to the atmospheres of stars, and combines calculaitons and observations with some of the world's most powerful telescopes, including the Hubble. Since moving to Atascadero he has tutored students in advanced math courses at Atascadero High School.  More recently his interests have turned to public education about science for adults and students, espcially concerning climate science and global warming. Dr. Weymann is the author and webmaster of a website about the CA central coast climate science.
 Sheri L. Williamson SHERI WILLIAMSON

After more than 20 years of general birding and hawkwatching, Sheri L. Williamson's life got hijacked by hummingbirds when she and her husband and colleague Tom Wood moved to Arizona to manage The Nature Conservancy's Ramsey Canyon Preserve. A quarter century later, Sheri is still obsessed with these rainbow-hued warriors, feeding them year round, maintaining a hummingbird garden, writing about them in her blog, and banding hundreds of them each year. She currently serves as Director of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory and is working on a revision of A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America in the Peterson Field Guide Series, originally published in 2002.
Tom Wood  TOM WOOD

Tom Wood is co-founder of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory, a non-profit conservation organization. A native Texan, he has a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and was director of the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge for 14 years before moving to Arizona in 1988 to manage The Nature Conservancy's Ramsey Canyon Preserve. Tom and his wife, Sheri Williamson, have conducted a 21 year banding study of hummingbirds on the San Pedro River, conducted breeding bird monitoring on National Park Service sites, and worked on development of birding tourism in southeastern Arizona and Sonora.

Chuck is the resident park ranger at Santa Margarita Lake for the County of San Luis Obispo and has been birding the Central Coast since 1986, when he came to Cal Poly SLO and obtained a B.S. in Natural Resource Management. He has done waterfowl and shorebird research for the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and worked on the California Condor Recovery Program for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He often leads interpretive outings at Santa Margarita Lake and Lopez Lake recreation areas and has been leading outings for the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival for 7 years.
 Roger Zachary ROGER ZACHARY

Roger is a recently retired Biology teacher and former North Cuesta Audubon President and Field-trip Leader.  He has been a compiler of the Carrizo Plain CBC since 1983 and is presently an active field-trip leader for Morro Coast Audubon Society and  enjoying digital photography. (