Southern California – 2020

NANPA Southern California Wildlife & Landscapes Regional Event

Escondido, CA–February 6-9, 2020



©Krisztina Scheeff

About the Regional Event-

Join Krisztina Scheeff and David Hekel around San Diego Area to photograph the rushing grebes, other wildlife and landscapes. San Diego, CA is one of the most diversified locations for wildlife spotting, including over 200 species of birds (resident or migratory), mammals, gorgeous landscape and of course plants. San Diego is a nature photographer’s perfect playground.

This event is timed for grebes courtship season. Western and Clark’s Grebes engage in a maneuver called rushing during the spring mating, 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.

We will also cover other 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 farther down south to the San Diego River Channel will keep us busy with more wildlife photo opportunities.

We ran a successful NANPA Regional Event in this location 2018, and are looking forward to another great one in 2020.



©David Hekel



Just the Facts –

Date:  February 6-9, 2020

Leaders: Krisztina Scheef and David Hekel

Cost:  $495 NANPA member;  non-members: $695

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

Last date to register: January 17, 2020

Maximum number attendees:  20

2020 Southern California Escondido, CA 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.

Lodging –

Best Western – Escondido Hotel
1700 Seven Oaks Road
Escondido, CA 92026
Phone:  760-740-1700

Rates: $115 per night (plus tax).

Reservations:  NANPA has reserved a block of rooms, and you are responsible for making your own reservations.  Mention the NANPA19 Group when booking.  Booking can be made online or by phone at 760-740-1700 or 800-752-1710.


Leaders –

Krisztina Scheeff
Growing up in Hungary as a young teenager she spent summers hiking, camping and learning about nature, wildlife and conservation. After earning her college degree in Animal Science and Agricultural Engineering from the University of Godollo in Hungary, she continued studies at Purdue University. During her graduate school years, she worked as a Teaching Assistant in the Biology Department at Purdue. Later she moved to Southern California where 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 time between San Diego and roaming Scotland, where she also offers small group tours to the Highlands and Isle of Skye for nature photography.  

Being an avid outdoor enthusiast helped fuel her appreciation for the natural world.  Her interest in photographing wildlife is to share with others who may not otherwise get the opportunity. 

Publications & Exhibits:
Wild Planet Photo Magazine – 2017 & 2019 – Photographer of the Month
San Diego Audubon Society
National Audubon Awards – 2018
PV/South Bay Audubon Society – First Place
Del Mar Fair – Photography Exhibit
Orange County Fair – Photography Exhibit
Escondido Municipal Art Gallery – 2017 & 2018
Bird Watcher’s Digest
North American Nature Photography Association Showcase – Top 250 for 2018
Workshop Leader (Grebes Dancing on Water) for the San Diego Audubon Society’s Bird Festival – 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019


David Hekel
David has been the Senior Park Ranger for the San Dieguito River Park for 18 years and has worked around Lake Hodges for close to 25. He is a great photographer/ tour guide and brings a vast amount of knowledge about both the birds and animals that reside and arrive seasonally around the lake as well as the many native plants that make up the park’s ecosystem.

He has taken a particular interest in one of Lake Hodge’s full-time residents the Western/ Clarks Grebes and is able to spot and identify their many unique behaviors. He guides clients of KS Nature Photography around and on the lake to capture that perfect photo of the grebes rushing.

His job has also made him a superb spotter and he is very aware of what’s in or around us on the tour. If it’s in the area he will more than likely find it for you!

David’s Exhibits:
San Diego Audubon Society – Art Exhibit 2019
Workshop Leader for KS Nature Photography – Photographing Nature Field
Workshop Leader (Grebes Dancing on Water) for the San Diego Audubon Society’s Bird Festival – 2018, 2019

Potential venues for the Southern California Regional Event

Leaders are very familiar with all sites and will have scouted the areas prior to the event. We will photograph in the areas that offer the best photography opportunities at the time of the event.

North San Diego County (Escondido). Our main concentration for this regional event will be the 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 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 species 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 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 also be some nice scenics with birds 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 in nearby San Diego Bay.

San Dieguito Lagoon, CA  –  a possible behind-the-scenes tour of the San Dieguito Lagoon with Ranger Dave (David Hekel.)  Special access to areas of the lagoon that are normally off limits to the public and tour of the new facilities. Wildlife sightings include: Northern Harriers, White-tailed Kites, shorebirds, Osprey, meadowlark, Horned Larks and more.

Tentative Schedule —

Thursday, February 6, 2020
Arrival and check into hotel. Welcome at 6:30 pm, short presentation, meet and greet. The presentation will include “How to photograph the rushing grebes” (settings, what to look for and more.)

Friday, February 7, 2020
Morning shooting session  – Grebes and their friends at a lake in Escondido.
Depending on weather, there may also be an opportunity for a great sunrise shoot. (This will be decided a few days before.)
Lunch – break for mid-day. (on your own, not included in registration fee)
1:30 pm review photos from morning session. Challenges, setting etc. for better rushing grebe shots.
Late afternoon shooting session – back to the grebes in Escondido. If weather permits, include a sunset at lake in Escondido.

Saturday, February 8, 2020
Early morning we will drive to La Jolla shores for photo session, to catch the best light as the sun comes up.
Lunch (on your own, not included in registration fee)
San Diego River Channel and Estuary
Behind the scenes with Ranger Dave at the San Dieguito Lagoon.
Dinner (on your own, not included in registration fee)

Sunday, February 9, 2020
One more option to photograph the rushing grebes or there will be other options for those who wish to do something else.
Final Lunch (included in registration fee)

Note:  This schedule is subject to change depending on weather and/or photographic conditions at the time of the event.

Meals:  All meals are on your own. Attendees are encouraged to eat together with their groups as part of the overall experience.

Transportation: On your own.