Lake Hodges, CA- 2018

NANPA Regional Event – Lake Hodges in Escondido and
surrounding areas

January 11-14, 2018

(invite others to join you)

Event Details –

Join Krisztina Scheeff and Ryan Rubino at Lake Hodges, CA and North San Diego County to photograph the rushing grebes, other wildlife and landscapes. Lake Hodges in Escondido, CA is one of the most diversified locations for wildlife spotting, including more than 200 species of birds (resident or migratory), mammals, gorgeous landscape and plants. Lake Hodges is a nature photographer’s perfect playground.  The lake is also home to hundreds of Western and Clark’s Grebes that live here permanently.

Grebes rushing at Lake Hodges, CA © Krisztina Scheeff, KS Nature Photography


About Lake Hodges-

Photographer Krisztina Scheeff lives at Lake Hodges and knows the lake very well. This Event is timed for grebes’ courtship season. Western and Clark’s Grebes engage in a maneuver called rushing during the spring mating season, in which they sprint up to 66 feet 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.

Two grebes rushing © Krisztina Scheeff, KS Nature Photography

We will also cover other areas in San Diego County, including La Jolla shores for the gorgeous brown pelicans in their full breeding colors, seascapes and landscapes. A visit further down south to the San Diego River Channel will keep us busy with more wildlife photo opportunities.

Pelican with spread wings © Krisztina Scheeff, KS Nature Photography

What to Expect –

This event is designed for amateur and professional photographs interested in improving their photography skills or possibly looking for location guidance to capture that perfect shot. If you are new to photography, the leaders will be available to answer questions, teach new techniques and help you improve your photographic skills. If you already have plenty of photography experience, the leaders will ensure that you’re in the best locations at the best times for those perfect shots.

© Krisztina Scheeff, KS Nature Photography


Just the Facts –

Date: January 11-14, 2018

Cost: $395 NANPA members, $595 non-members.

Last Date to Register: December 29, 2017

Location: Lake Hodges, Escondido CA and surrounding areas in San Diego County.

Maximum number attendees: 22

Lake Hodges/Escondido, CA Regional Event Cancellation and Refund Policy:  Written requests for registration refunds or cancellations must be postmarked on (or received by email or fax to the NANPA office) by December 11, 2017.  Cancellations received by December 11, 2017, will be refunded less a $50 processing fee.  No refunds will be made for requests submitted after December 11, 2017.  Refunds will not be made for no-shows regardless of the reason.  The program is subject to change.  NANPA reserves the right to cancel any event or activity due to insufficient registration or any unforeseen circumstances. It also has the right to substitute presenters if those originally scheduled cannot attend.


Lodging –

Best Western Escondido Hotel
1700 Seven Oaks Road
Escondido, CA 92026
Hotel cut-off date: December 29, 2017
(760) 740-1700

Room Rates for 2 Queens or One King are $105.99 plus tax.

NOTES: A block of rooms has been reserved under NANPA.  Call the hotel to make reservations and mention NANPA Photography Group rate when registering.  This room rate is not available online.

Leaders –

Krisztina Scheeff
KS Nature Photography

Growing up in Hungary as a young teenager, Krisztina spent her summers hiking, camping and learning about nature, wildlife and conservation. After moving to Southern California 20 years ago, she continued to enjoy and photograph the local wildlife and the natural beauty of her favorite spot, Lake Hodges in San Diego County. Today she spends her time guiding clients at Lake Hodges and roaming Scotland, where she also offers small group tours to the Highlands and Isle of Skye for nature photography.

Lake Hodges in California is home to hundreds of resident Western and Clark’s Grebes. Krisztina spent months studying the grebes and their rushing behavior and she can help photographers to capture that perfect shot. Being an avid outdoor enthusiast helped her fuel her appreciation for the natural world. Her interest in photographing wildlife is being able to share with others who may not otherwise get the opportunity. Krisztina volunteers on the NANPA Marketing and Communications Committee, is the NANPA Facebook Group Lead Administrator and is the NANPA Showcase Photo Competition Assistant.

Ryan Rubino

Ryan began a lifelong fascination with birds when he picked up a bird field guide at a book mobile when he was 10. Ever since that day he has pursued his interest in birds and other wildlife by studying the local fauna, rearing parrots in aviculture, and through marine and freshwater aquarium husbandry. In 2012 he made the decision to try and document his observations in the field through photography. What started as a simple undertaking of documenting birds in the field with a bridge camera quickly snowballed into an obsession to get the best images he could.

Today he spends much of his time at local birding hot spots like Lake Hodges, Lake Jennings, Ramona Grasslands, Famosa Slough, and around the San Diego River channel. For Ryan the thrill of being close enough to see the intricacies of wildlife behavior and documenting them through images and sharing his knowledge is a reward all its own.

Photo Locations – 

Lake Hodges, CA – our main concentration for this regional event will be the rushing Western and Clark’s Grebes that engage in a maneuver called rushing during the spring mating season. The birds sprint up to 66 feet 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. Lake Hodges is a fine birding spot at an easily accessible scenic reservoir. Species one might observe are Western and Clark’ Grebes, California and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, the coastal race of Cactus Wren, White-tailed Kite, Osprey, Golden Eagle, Sage Sparrow, and Spotted Sandpiper. Other bird species in the area include Loggerhead Shrike American Kestrel Cooper’s Hawk, Eared Grebe, American White Pelican, Canada Goose, Double-crested Cormorant, egrets and herons, Turkey Vulture, Forster’s Tern, Bonaparte’s Gull, Greater Roadrunner, Belted Kingfisher, Swallows (various), Cassin’s Kingbird, and hummingbirds. There are also opportunities for mammals, snakes, and other wildlife. We’ll also photograph some landscape shots–mostly early morning sunrise.

© Krisztina Scheeff, KS Nature Photography

Photo Album on Lake Hodges:

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 of 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 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 (typically more than 5000 in winter) and waders during migration and winter. Smaller populations of Belding’s Savannah Sparrow and (river channel only) Light-footed Clapper Rail may be seen. Least Terns will 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 on nearby San Diego Bay.

San Diego Safari Park, CA – Like a journey to Africa, a day at this spectacular park lets you see some of the world’s most magnificent—and endangered—animals at close range and in expansive naturalized enclosures. A tram ride leads you past roaming groups of rhinos, gazelles, giraffes, and other species ranging freely through savannah-like expanses. African lions wrestle with their cubs in specially designed enclosures that look like part of the whole, but are safely contained from other animals. There’s plenty to see on foot too: the amazing Tiger Trail exhibit lets you get remarkable underwater views of Sumatran tigers swimming in the Tiger Trail exhibit.

Come for the animals; then take time to see the plants. The park has extraordinary landscaped areas, all worth strolling. Especially beautiful in spring is the Nativescapes Gardens, focusing on drought-tolerant species adapted to the region’s sunny, dry climate.

Schedule –

Basic 2017 Lake Hodges Regional Event Schedule
(subject to change depending on weather, etc.)

Thursday, January 11

Arrival and check into hotel. Welcome orientation meeting at 6:30pm, followed by a short presentation, and meet and greet. Attendees should eat dinner prior to the meeting.

Friday, January 12

Morning – visit Lake Hodges and photograph the rushing grebes. Depending on where the grebes are that day on the lake, a hike will be required – flat easy walk, up to 3.5 mile round trip, could be less. There are hundreds of resident grebes, with a new set of chicks this year, so we are looking at a very busy rushing season in the winter.

Depending on weather, there may also be an opportunity for a great sunrise shoot. This will be decided a few days before.

Lunch (on your own, not included in registration fee)

Afternoon we will head back to Lake Hodges for more photo opportunities from the west side of the Lake.

Saturday January 13

Drive to La Jolla shores for photo session.

Lunch (on your own, not included in registration fee)

San Diego River Channel and Estuary

Dinner (on your own, not included in registration fee)

Sunday January 14

Safari Park photo session—entrance fee included in registration.

Final Group Lunch –included in registration fee.

Meals: all meals are on your own except Sunday brunch/lunch, which is included in the event registration fee. Attendees are encouraged to eat together with their groups as part of the overall experience.

Transportation: is on your own. We will be based at the Best Western Escondido Hotel in Escondido, CA.