Sunday, December 9, 2007

Southern San Diego County


Yesterday my dad and I spent the entire day birding southern San Diego County. We had an excellent day! We birded from Point Loma to San Ysidro. The above photo was taken at the Tijuana Estuary, a coastal salt marsh in Imperial Beach. The ridge in the distance is Mexico!

We started our day at Friendship Park in Chula Vista. A Pine Warbler had been reported there a couple weeks ago, and had been hanging around ever since. Within five minutes I spotted the Pine Warbler hopping around in a... yep, you guessed it, pine tree. We also saw a Brown Creeper there, as well as Townsend's Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and more. We then briefly stopped at the J-Street Marina, also in Chula Vista. A Eurasian Wigeon had been sighted there, but we couldn't find it. There was a large flock of over a hundred Brant spread across the protected bay, and a large assortment of ducks.

After we finished up in Chula Vista, we headed down to Imperial Beach. We dipped on the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron that roosts in the eucalyptus trees in Imperial Beach Sports Park, unfortunately. Next, we swung by the Tijuana Estuary. There wasn't a whole lot around, but we saw some ducks, shorebirds, and a Clapper Rail. The rail was sticking its head and neck up out of the marsh vegetation. A very cooperative "Belding's" Savannah Sparrow posed atop a large rock in great light near the parking area of the estuary. I couldn't resist digiscoping it...

The Imperial Beach Pier was our next destination. A female Black Scoter had been seen there recently, and I was eager to see it. We walked out to the end of the pier, but didn't spot the scoter. We did see a couple jaegers off the end of the pier, including a Parasitic that put on a good show by flying around at close range. I also spotted several Pacific Loons way out in the distance being tossed around by the waves - a lifer for me (finally!). As we were about to leave, I spotted the Black Scoter with a few Surf Scoters a fair distance off the pier. While not a big deal back in Michigan, Black Scoters are rare in southern California, so I was excited to see it. A quick drive by the end of 7th Street was our last stop in Imperial Beach. We didn't see much save a Little Blue Heron.

We spent a couple hours birding the Tijuana River Valley. There were some good birds reported from that area - Crested Caracara, Common Ground-Dove, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Black-and-white Warbler, and Snow Goose. We dipped on all of them. We actually didn't see too much at all except a few Eurasian Collared-Doves. However, at Border Field State Park, I found a Green-tailed Towhee along the entrance road. This was a good consolation prize for missing the other birds - they are rare visitors outside the mountains. Otherwise, Border Field State Park was almost completely dead.

Our last stop was the San Diego River in Pt. Loma. The river was loaded with ducks and shorebirds. I was surprised to find quite a few Blue-winged Teal amongst the more common ducks. We also found our first and only Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin, Long-billed Dowitchers, Western Sandpipers, and Whimbrels of the day. There were also several Little Blue Herons hanging around, but I couldn't get any great shots because the sun was mostly hidden behind clouds.

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