Birdathon 2017 – it’s a wrap! May 18, 2017

Posted by GGAS in Golden Gate Audubon

By Ilana DeBare

Golden Gate Audubon Society just wrapped up another successful Birdathon — great trips, great birds, and a great deal of money raised to protect Bay Area wildlife.

Birdathon 2017 culminated with a festive garden party on Saturday, May 13, where we announced winners of the birding and fundraising prizes, as well as the local heroes being honored with our annual Elsie Roemer Conservation Award and Paul Covel Education Award.

About 265 people took part in Birdathon events, which ranged from Big Six Hour trips to behind-the-scenes tours of California Academy of Sciences, International Bird Rescue, and Pixar, where attendees met the director of Piper, the Oscar-winning animated short about a young sandpiper. (It turns out the director is a fan of our Osprey nest cam and watches it over breakfast!)

Behind the Gates trip to Hayward Shoreline

Released a rehabilitated cormorant during the Behind the Scenes at IBR trip / Photo by Marjorie Powell

Tasting gourmet chocolates during our first-ever Birds & Chocolate trip / Photo by Leonard Stanton

Fifty inspired fundraisers spread the word about Audubon to their friends and family: Four raised over $2,000 each, and ten raised $1,000!

In total, our generous donors and fundraisers generated over $57,000 — close to our goal of $60,000. (There’s still time to help us reach that goal: Click here to make a tax-deductible contribution to Birdathon.)

And now… drumroll please… our award winners:

Elsie Roemer Conservation Award

Our top conservation honor — named after the Alameda activist and GGAS member who led numerous fights to protect East Bay shoreline habitat in the 1960s and 70s — went to Tony Brake. Tony, a longtime volunteer with Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, has been an outstanding leader of citizen science efforts to understand the population of nesting Ospreys along San Francisco Bay. He was also an invaluable help in launching the Bay Area’s first Osprey nest cam this spring.


Tony Brake receives the Elsie Roemer Conservation Award from GGAS Executive Director Cindy Margulis.

Paul Covel Education Award

Named after the GGAS leader who introduced thousands of East Bay residents to nature as Oakland’s first city naturalist, this award went to Eddie Bartley, Jack Dumbacher, and Bob Lewis — founders and instructors of the Master Birding class that we’ve co-sponsored with California Academy of Sciences for four years. About 80 local birders deepened their birding skills, ornithological knowledge, and conservation leadership through the intense year-long class. The class not only produces better birders but it is building the next generation of Bay Area bird conservation leaders.

Eddie Bartley, Jack Dumbacher and Bob Lewis receive the Paul Covel Education Award.

Birding Awards

Birding honors for Birdathon 2017 went to:

Best Bird: Dan & Joan Murphy and Murphy’s MOB, for a Eurasian Green-winged Teal on the Peninsula

Most Birds in 24 Hours: Dave “Doc Quack” Riensche and his146 Birds in a Day in East Bay Parks team, for sighting 168 species

First Place, Big Six Hours: Bob Power and his Alameda County team, with 116 species

Second Place, Big Six Hours: Bruce Mast and his Contra Costa team, with 114 species

Third Place, Big Six Hours: Glen Tepke and his Oakland team, with 104 species.

Fundraising Awards

First Place: Dan Harris, who raised $2,795 from 50 donors. Way to go, Dan!! This is the third year in a row that Dan has been our top fundraiser. It’s getting hard to imagine a Birdathon without him.  🙂

Second Place: Bruce Mast

Third Place: Eric Schroeder

Top First-time Birdathon Fundraiser: Marjorie Powell, who had never raised money before but brought in a whopping $550! Marj emailed her friends and told them about our Oakland heron rescue program. Then she went on the Behind the Scenes at IBR Birdathon trip, where she got to see some of the rescued herons as they recovered in IBR’s good care. And afterwards, she sent a follow-up letter to her donors with photos from the IBR trip. Not only did she raise money… she raised awareness about the plight of Oakland herons, and about the great rescue partnership we have underway with IBR and Oakland Zoo.

Watching the winners at the Birdathon Awards Celebration

Of course we can’t wrap up Birdathon without mentioning the people and organizations that made it possible, starting with our generous corporate sponsors:

Silver Level
Dolphin Charters

Bronze Level
Hanson Aggregates
SCS Global Services

Copper Level
Coast Litho
Emergency Management and Safety Solutions

And then:

Our welcoming hosts for the Birdathon Awards Celebration, Carol Baird and Alan Harper. Click here to view an online album of photos from the Celebration.

Our Birdathon 2017 Steering Committee: Linda Carloni, Ilana DeBare, Daryl Anne Goldman, Dan Harris, Lisa Hern, Steve Lombardi, Joyce Mercado, Beth Moseley, Eric Schroeder, and Chris Winn.

And all the field trip leaders who made Birdathon trips possible! We couldn’t do it without you. View a slide show of photos from some of the trips below or at .

Now… do you have ideas for fun new trips in 2018? Or want to help plan Birdathon 2018? Email Ilana at

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Tags: Birdathon, Elsie Roemer Conservation Award, Golden Gate Audubon Society, Paul Covel Education Award.