[Tweeters] Carry on Birding, San Diego Part 2

Nadine Drisseq drisseq.n at gmail.com
Thu Mar 14 21:59:58 PDT 2019

On Sunday morning I was up at 6am (thank you noisy doctor in the next
room!) and I ventured straight down to the River again for HORNED LARKS, AM
PIPITS and eventually a LONG-BILLED CURLEW (L) showed himself plus a COMMON
LOON in the far side of the river, in non breeding plumage. Note: I have
been after a Curlew since I was age 12 ( a long time ago).

After a very short stay I left and found roosting Night Herons showing off
for my camera nicely. And then I was off to the rich and fertile swamps of
the Tijuana Reserve. 6 inches of rain had caused flooded river and closed
roads and trails but I saw a group of people off Dairy Mart Pond Roads with
scopes so of course I did what any birder in their right brain would do,
pull over and sidle up with my best british accent again.

This is where I met a true master and elder birder, Guy McCaskey and was
warmly greeted by his friends who he birds and plays bridge with. I was
blown away. Within minutes he gave me

In the scrub wasteland on Dairy Ponds Road (on left west of sod farm) a


LAUGHING GULL (Immature) (L)


After Guy showed me 5 hotspots of the area to find specific birds, it was
noon and very warm. All birds had gone to siesta so I trolled around for a

I stopped at Imperial beach park nest tree for nesting GOLD CROWNED NIGHT
HERONS. I found two black and one gold hanging out. There is a back story
here too. A bird-lover who spends his days watching the tree explained that
all but one of the nest trees were cut down and only one was left. There
used to be an enormous colony. I counted about 9 nests in the one tree and
wondered at the herons who lost their homes, and what a spectacle this must
have been in such a residential neighborhood. Right next to the restrooms,
this is a very convenient stop, so I visited several times on both Saturday
and Sunday. The birds are about 20 feet above your head, the leaves are on
the tree but the birds are still quite visible for birder eyes. One was
even adding twigs to his nest. When I talked to them a little, they looked
back down at me, responding with curious bills and questioning eyes. There
seems to be no rhyme or reason for the loss of the other trees – nothing
had been built in their place.
But I was elated nonetheless.

On Monday, my last day, I was up at 5.45am (a miracle), out of the hotel by
6.15am and driving to the Tijuana Reserve to find gnatcatchers. My first
bird was a ROADRUNNER (who saw me and scuttered off). I had heard an
anecdotes from Guy of when he was on the trail and two Roadrunners were
startled by joggers on the other end of the short lane, and they both ran
towards him! I don’t think he’d seen that before. Looking for gnatcatchers
and even soliciting them a little with my phone, didn’t work out but I had
forgotten the other bird Guy told me about but that was OK. Within a few
minutes to my surprise a most UNUSUAL bird landed at my feet and got
interested in thrusting the decaying matter under the bushes in a most
Towhee like fashion. With his gaudy tail, I recognized him at once as the
continuing GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE that Guy said “no one came to see anymore.”
Well, I got coy looks and photos but no time to get the whole bird with
amazing vivid green tail and huge orange splotch of a crown on his head. An
amazing bird and what a thrill to see! Of course, another lifer added to my
list. The rest of the day was spent in the reserve finding things like
HARRIERS, RED TAILED HAWKS, COPPER’S HAWKS but I had much less luck despite
my early start. It’s such a fecund and beautiful area that I roamed slowly
with my stupid Beetle, but at least it had a Turbo which I liked on the
freeway – about the only good feature on it. (I drive a purposeful Forester
at home with a sunroof and can actually get out of it without looking like
someone with jelly for legs.

I should also mention Guy also gave me a

LESSER GOLDFINCH (L) and ID'd a YELLOW WARBLER I had shot earlier in the

Thus ends my spiel. I hope it has helped many or at least not brought tears
to anyone’s eyes. My favorite bird was the Gold-Crowned Night Heron with
the Green-Tailed Towhee and Reddish Egret running a close second. The Kites
were beautiful too.

To sum up the main places I birded were:
San Diego River (both sides – there are ways to get access if you snoop
about well enough)

Formosa Slough

Cabrillo Monument and Nat Cemetery
Tijuana Refuge including Dairy Marts Ponds Rd, Sod Farm (for kites) the
swamp next to the sod farm, the refuge trails, the little league ballpark,
and Imperial Beach Sports Field.

I would VERY MUCH like to thank everyone who gave me advice, especially my
mentor Harold Erland, and Guy McCaskey, as well as my Guardian Bird Angel
who helped me find such a Lifer!

I suffer from a neurological syndrome which impacts my health and ability
to travel greatly but this year I am working hard to stretch my wings and
see the birdies. My next trip is already being planned. It involves a
"Magic Bush". Can you guess where I’ll be going?). J

If you have read thus far thanks for sticking with me!

:May the Birds be with you:

*Nadine D*
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