[Tweeters] San Diego hotspots Pt 3

Nadine Drisseq drisseq.n at gmail.com
Fri Mar 15 01:54:26 PDT 2019

Best Overall Hotspots: Where to Bird In San Diego

This is just a synopsis of all the info folks sent to me. Thanks to Ken
Brown, Caren Park, Hal Michael, Candy Plant, Jennifer Standish, Pat
Grainger, Donna Ferrill, Hans Feddern, Gary Cummins, Jack Nolan, Paul Hicks
Hank Heiberg and John Bishop, for the tremendous response! I very much
appreciated Paul Hicks' detailed information on how to bird BOTH sides of
the San Diego river. I figured it out with a little scooting around in the
very luminous Beetle...unfortunately 3 days was not enough to see
everything so I am planning a second trip in the next 12 months.

So here's the list:

Cabrillo National Monument

Also in Point Loma (1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive), the 144-acre Cabrillo
National Monument features an interpretive center, lighthouse and great
views of San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The area’s tidepools and
protected sage scrub habitat are home to many birds such as the wrentit,
western scrub jay, California towhee and many more. Pelicans can be seen
soaring above the shoreline. Seagulls and other shore birds dot the sand
and rocks.

Tijuana Estuary and South Bay Refuge

At Imperial Beach (Fifth Street and Iris), the Tijuana Estuary
South Bay Refuge, maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
features an interpretive center and 2,500 acres of coastal wetlands. Over
370 species of birds have been documented here, and 320 of them are
migratory. In addition to the rare Belding’s savannah sparrow there are the
American peregrine falcon, white pelicans, egrets, plovers, sandpipers,
jaegers, ospreys, short-eared owls, clapper rails and blue herons.

The lower Tijuana River NWR is great, as is the more accessible refuge.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron and Ridgeway's Rail. There is a small colony of
Mexican species of crested jay along the river (we missed them). Look at
E-bird for some specific locations. Most are pretty easy to drive to and
not much walking. Last time we were there we saw some boobies near the
mouth of the river. (Note: this was flooded and I could not cross into the
lower area while there.)

The San Diego Tourism Authority lists some places. We like the Tijuana
Estuary & Tijuana Slough Nat Wildlife Refuge. Watch out for flooding at
this time of year. Reserve may be closed in places. It rained. They
couldn't handle it.

Dairy Mart Ponds Ecological Reserve (take Interstate 5 South to Dairy Mart
Road south) has freshwater ponds that were left by an old salt mining
plant. Scan this area for the blue grosbeak, the common moorhen, white
pelicans and common yellowthroats.

Formosa Slough, (an ebird hotspot) and the other was the mouth of the San
Diego River.

Sonny Bono Refuge at the south end of the Salton Sea. Take food/water as
there is not much around there. It’s been below normal temperatures here
lately but is supposed to warm up next week. Salton Sea might be a long
drive but the refuge at the south end would be pretty good.

Salton Sea spot is visitor center for Sony Bono Wildlife Refuge. They have
resident Burrowing Owls at the entrance and wonderful spot for all kinds of
birds. Ask were to go specifically at the Visitor Center.

If you do go to Sonny Bono Dalton Sea NWR, the quails there are Gambel's
and the towhees are Abert's! I have found the volunteers at the visitors
center not too helpful. You need to go east from the visitors center and
turn north on the first road to find access to water with good birding.

Ana Borrego is closer and the various oases should have interesting stuff.
My husband & I just returned from Borrego Springs. Birding was slow, but we
still saw plenty. The visitor center is very helpful.

Buena Vista Audubon has a wonderful set of sites if you are closer to san
diego... this includes their wetland on the south side of oceanside, but
also a quick tour of the marina will usually turn up snowy and great egrets
hanging out...

San Diego River estuary

For water birds (ducks, egrets, gulls, terns), the is nice. There is a park
on one side, and on the Seaworld side there is an old road that can still
be accessed by car. You can park and walk or bird by car. I was there this
time last year and saw thousands of birds.

The San Diego River is great for waterfowl ( all three teals within a 100
yards) shorebirds galore and herons and egrets, white pelican and more. i
always find Little Blue Herons there. I also like to go south to imperial
Beach and the Tijuana Slough NWR. I managed to find Ridgeway's Rail there
the last couple of years and even had one on the south side of the San
Diego River close to the mouth. Walk the dyke trail there as far as the
ball fields and look for Horned Larks and an Osprey nest. The lagoons
mentioned are good.

Balboa Park is also very birdy, as is the zoo. Check out the desert garden
in Balboa Park. The zoo is big, but they do offer tram tours. (Ebird had v
few checklists for these spots so I did not visit)

Near Carlsbad: Batiquitos Lagoon, with flat trails all along the estuary. I
also had some nice birds at San Elijos Lagoon south of Carlsbad, but check
the construction schedule before stopping there. Def was construction which
drowned out the bird noise so I didn't visit.

San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge (west of Hemet) is about an hour or so drive
north of san diego, and is a driveable reserve. whenever i'm in town, i
tour the whole reserve over several hours. multiple large raptors, many we
don't see here, can be found... roadrunners, numerous ducks and their kin,
shrikes, phoebes, stilts, and frequently both snowy and great egrets are
regulars... i sometimes (always accidentally) flush ring-necked pheasant...

Bolsa Chica State Park, if you are closer to Los Angeles...

for ocean-ish spots (to include both pelicans, egrets, and other shore

Kit Carson Park in Escondido is another spot not mentioned.

Then there is Lake Henshaw and Mount Palomar.

Rosencranz National Cemetery (which is beautiful and has amazing views)

Birding around the neighborhoods in town can be quite good- also the
cemetery. Had Vermillion Flycatcher and Phainopepla there last March. In
any case, there are lots of good birds to be seen.

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