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Southern California Wildlife & Landscapes Regional Event (January 26-29, 2023)

January 26, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - January 29, 2023 @ 1:00 pm EST

$495 – $695

Leader | Travel and lodging | What to expect | Preliminary itinerary

Registration is now open

Event overview:

Join Krisztina Scheeff to photograph the beautiful wildlife and landscapes around the San Diego, CA area. The Southern California area in Escondido, CA and surrounding areas in San Diego County are a nature photographer’s perfect playground offering photo opportunities from gorgeous landscapes and plants, to amazing wildlife spotting, including mammals and over 200 species of birds (resident or migratory).

We will cover many different areas in San Diego County, like La Jolla shores for the gorgeous brown pelicans in their full breeding colors, sea lions with pups, seascapes and landscapes. A visit further down south to the San Diego River Channel will keep us busy with more wildlife photo opportunities. One of the interesting behaviors we will be looking out for at this time of year is the courtship dance of grebes called “rushing”.

Cost: $495 NANPA Members / $695 Non-members

Maximum number of attendees: 10

Lake Hodges Sunrise © Krisztina Scheeff, KSNaturePhotography Lake Hodges Sunrise © Krisztina Scheeff, KSNaturePhotography


Krisztina Scheeff

Based in San Diego CA Krisztina Scheeff is an award-winning and professional nature photographer. Recognized for her photographic work in National Audubon Society as well as a finalist in the prestigious Wildlife Photograph of the Year competition, Krisztina’s photos have been published in magazines and articles around the world, including National Geographic, Wild Planet Photo Magazine, California 101, San Diego Audubon Society, American Wild Magazine, Birders Digest, Marine Conservation Magazine – UK, North American Nature Photography Association, and more. They have also been featured in art shows and galleries around the country.

Krisztina operates KS Nature Photography, a successful business leading Photography Workshops and Tours to Scotland, Ireland, Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Hungary, and Bosque del Apache. She also leads workshops for bird festivals around the country and presents at various events.

Growing up in Hungary as a young teenager she spent her summers hiking, camping and learning about nature, wildlife and conservation. After getting her college degree in Animal Science & Agricultural Engineering from the University of Godollo in Hungary, she continued her studies at Purdue University. During her graduate school years, she worked as a Teaching Assistant in the Biology Department at Purdue.

Being an avid outdoor enthusiast helped her fuel her appreciation for the natural world. Her interest in photographing wildlife stems from wanting to be able to share with others who may not otherwise get the opportunity to experience it. Krisztina spent years studying and photographing the rushing grebes and now guides her clients at Lake Hodges in San Diego to experience this amazing behavior and capture their own photos.

Green heron with snack © David Hekel Green heron with snack © David Hekel

Travel and lodging


The base for this event will be at:

1250 West Valley Parkway, Escondido, CA 92029
Telephone: (760) 741-7117

Check in time: 4 p.m.
Check out time: noon

The reservation deadline for the NANPA block of rooms has passed. However, you may be able to still get a room at this or a nearby hotel by contacting the hotel directly.

Airports and ground transportation

San Diego International Airport (SAN), 3225 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

Transportation to and from the hotel and during the event is not included and is the attendee’s responsibility.

Car rental:  A regular rental car will be fine; we will not be driving on roads that require extra clearance or 4×4

Ride sharing:  We will be starting each day from the Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Escondido. Ridesharing is encouraged to reduce the size of our vehicle presence and improve the traveling/following experience. You are welcome to either drive or ride with someone.

Note that NANPA does not have insurance for carpooling arrangements and assumes no liability for them. Carpooling, ride sharing or anything similar is strictly a private arrangement among the participants. Participants assume the risks associated with this travel.

Meals: All meals except Sunday Lunch are on your own.  The Sunday lunch location will be announced at Thursday’s Meet & Greet/Orientation.

Western grebes rushing © Krisztina Scheeff, KSNaturePhotography Western grebes rushing © Krisztina Scheeff, KSNaturePhotography

What to expect

Photography locations

Some of the locations that we will most likely photograph include:

  • North San Diego County (Escondido). One of our key photo opportunities for this regional event will be to try to photograph western and Clark’s grebes, which engage in a maneuver called rushing during the spring mating season, in which they sprint up to 66 feet (20 meters) across the water in coordinated groups of two or more in about seven seconds. They’re the largest vertebrates with the ability to walk on water. We have two locations available where we can photograph the grebes, both fine birding spots at easily accessible scenic reservoirs. Species one might observe are western and Clark’s grebes, California and blue-gray gnatcatchers, the coastal race of cactus wren, white-tailed kite, osprey, golden eagle, sage sparrow, and spotted sandpiper. We will also see American kestrel, Cooper’s hawk, eared grebe, American white pelican, Canada goose, double-crested cormorant, egrets/herons, turkey vulture, Forster’s tern, Bonaparte’s gull, greater roadrunner, belted kingfisher, swallows (various) Cassin’s kingbird, and hummingbirds. Some landscape shots are possible, mostly early morning sunrises.  Photo Album:
  • La Jolla, CA – The Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla features rocky shoreline birding. Winter, when numerous shorebirds are present, is best. Some interesting pelagic birds come close to the shore in stormy weather.  We will be able to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage on brown pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive-green bill pouches.  Winter birds include Brandt’s and double-crested cormorants; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heerman’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds and California sea lion and bird of paradise flowers. There will also be some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well.
  • San Diego River Channel, CA – Both the Northern Wildlife Reserve and the San Diego River channel support thousands of waterfowl, shorebirds, and waders during migration and winter, along with small populations of Belding’s Savannah sparrow (river channel only) and light-footed clapper rail. Least terns have begun nesting on specially-constructed sandbars and alkali flats around the bay, and brant appear in small numbers in winter and spring, feeding on eelgrass beds as on nearby San Diego Bay.
  • San Dieguito Lagoon, CA – Wildlife sightings include: northern harriers, white-tailed kites, shorebirds, osprey, meadowlark, horned larks and more.

Your leader will have visited the areas prior to the event and the field trip locations will be based on what’s most photogenic at the time, weather conditions, etc.  These will be announced on Tuesday afternoon during the Registration/Orientation.

Health and fitness

Please note a moderate fitness level is required. There may be a hike/walk (easy) up to 3 miles total to see the grebes.


We will be based in Escondido, California during this regional event.

This event is designed for nature photographers at all levels of experience – amateur, intermediate, advanced and professional. For the best experience, please know your camera before you arrive, and bring your manual in case we need to look up something. Assistance will be available in the field for those who wish to improve their photographic skills. If you already have plenty of photography experience, Krisztina will ensure you get to the best locations at the best times to capture those perfect shots.

Please keep in mind this NANPA Regional Event is designed to be a photo tour, not a photo workshop. In other words, there are no formal instruction sessions planned, there are no assignments, you will not be receiving any handouts or the like. That being said, your leaders, Krisztina has experience as photography workshop leader and is available to answer questions and give you guidance. If you need help, please advocate for yourself and speak up and ask for help – Krisztina is happy to help. Be aware that many of your fellow participants may also be accomplished photographers in their own right and may be able to help you, too.  Part of the regional event experience is the camaraderie that comes from sharing experiences and lessons learned among participants. If you notice someone with the same or similar camera, perhaps they can help you with an issue you’ve been wondering about, and maybe you can return the favor.This tour is open for 18 participants to give each plenty of time with the instructor and to retain flexibility based on weather and the best opportunities.

Weather: Winter temperatures in southern California can range from the 30-40s (F) overnight to high 70s (F) during the day.  Mornings can start out cool, but warm up to the 70s by 10am.

Camera gear: There will be diverse opportunities for wildlife and scenic photography, so you may need a range of telephoto (500mm or so) to wide angles.  A medium telephoto in the 70-300mm range, and a longer focal length will be a benefit if you have one to bring.  Be sure to bring a sturdy tripod with a ball head/gimbal head.  Polarizing and Neutral Density filters would be helpful, especially for sunset shots. If you have a longer telephoto, 150-600 and extender please also bring them, especially since some days the grebes are further out.

There are 3 camera shops in San Diego if you need to pick up something.

Miscellaneous: Please note that specific wildlife sightings can not be guaranteed. For example, bird location and behavior can depend on what’s happening with the weather and wind on a specific day. A hot spell and Santa Ana wind conditions could keep birds further out. If you have your heart set on capturing wildlife, we recommend you extend your stay beyond the dates of the regional event in order to increase your chances of getting that treasured shot.

If you do decide to extend your stay, here are some other area photo opportunities (for you to explore on your own):

  • Anza Borego Desert – Borrego Springs (pretty this time of the year, especially if we get rain in January!)
  • Orange County (1.5 hour drive north): San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Idyllwild – Laguna Mountains

Regional event cancellation and no refund policy

NANPA will not offer any refunds for registrations for this event regardless of when the cancellation is made or the reason for the cancellation. NANPA reserves the right to cancel any event or activity due to insufficient registration or any unforeseen circumstances. NANPA will offer refunds if NANPA has to cancel the event. It also has the right to substitute presenters if those originally scheduled cannot attend. Registrants may purchase event insurance as part of the registration process through NANPA’s partner, Allianz. More information on this option will be shown during the checkout process for the event registration.

NOTE:  If you do not purchase event insurance at the time that you pay for your registration, you will NOT be able to go back and purchase it with Allianz later.

If you choose to purchase travel insurance separately, you can do so with your own insurance carrier, or NANPA members can receive a special travel insurance rate through USI Affinity/Travel Insurance Services.

COVID-19 policy

NANPA is committed to the health and safety of all participants and leaders at any of our events.  We have taken steps to reduce the inherent risks surrounding any public location where people are present.  We ask that you familiarize yourself with our COVID-19 health and safety precautions and requirements prior to your trip.  Masks are discretionary unless required by a particular venue or location.

You should evaluate your own risks when determining whether to participate.  By attending this event and signing the NANPA Regional Events Liability Release you acknowledge and agree that you assume these inherent risks associated with your attendance as we have explained them to you.

Most importantly:

If you have been feeling sick or have been exposed to someone in your household who is feeling sick or has tested positive for COVID-19, PLEASE STAY HOME.

NANPA follows the CDC rules and the rules of the state in which an event is held.  Those rules currently are:

NANPA will let you know if anything changes prior to the event.

We thank you in advance for your adherence and support as we work together to keep everyone safe.


Thank you to NANPA’s 2022 Regional Events Sponsor


January 26, 2023 @ 6:00 pm EST
January 29, 2023 @ 1:00 pm EST
$495 – $695
Event Category:


USA States/Territories