San Diego County Birding, Aug 2014
by Henry Detwiler

Another fine weekend of bird photography, this time in the Laguna Mountains and along the Pacific Ocean

102 species seen  Click here for bird checklist

Red-faced warbler


Suzanne and I left Yuma after work on Friday afternoon and arrived at the Agua Dulce camping circle close to 7:00 p.m. An evening walk down to the Agua Dulce pump house was pretty quiet. Later in the evening a pair of Great Horned Owls starting hooting to each other.


Santa Rita MountainsOn Saturday morning we found a trail down to the pump house (we'd been going cross-country). Mountain Chickadees were the most visible of the many birds visiting the creek, but not far behind in numbers were Acorn Woodpecker, Wilson's Warbler, Pygmy Nuthatch, Spotted Towhee, and Dark-eyed Junco. Less frequent were Western Wood Pewee, Dusky and Pacific-slope Flycatchers, and Nashville Warbler. We even flushed a Mountain Quail when we first walked down to the creek. Birds would creep through the brush and trees as they descended to the flowing water, trying to remain under cover as much as possible. Also in the vicinity were Hairy Woodpecker and this handsome Band-tailed Pigeon that Suzanne snapped.

Yellow-eyed Junco

Cooper's Hawk

In the afternoon we drove west to Lake Murray, but aside from a clacking Least Bittern, a few California Towhees, and a hungry Cooper's Hawk, we didn't see much. At Robb Field we looked over hundreds of shorebirds along with Forster's, Royal, and Elegant Terns. A Ruddy Turnstone in basic plumage was striking. Sunset Cliffs offered up handsome Heermann's Gulls and Brandt's Cormorants.





Black-headed Grosbeak

A quick trip to Cabrillo National Monument turned up Black Turnstones and good numbers of Black-vented Shearwaters following one of the large fishing boats. Our final stop of the afternoon Five-striped Sparrowwas at Point Loma Nazarene University, where we encountered another Nuttall's Woodpecker, a chattering pair of Hooded Orioles, and a small flock of vociferous Mitred Parakeets devouring juniper cones. We watched these colorful, exotic, parakeets for ten minutes until they flew off to another neighborhood.






Sunday morning saw us chasing down Scaly-breasted Munias from the parking lot of Tecolote Natural Park. We eventually got nice looks and photos of a small flock. A short walk up the canyon nature trail turned up California Thrasher, California Towhee, Wrentit, and a large flock of Bushtits.

Scaly-breasted Munia


Gila Monster


Our next stop was the south side of San Elijo Lagoon, accessed from Rios Ave. We did a loop through the coastal chaparral, looking for California Gnatcatcher and Allen's Hummingbird. We scored with the little gray California endemic--good but fleeting views. Lots and lots of Anna's Hummingbirds, but we never did connect with an Allen's.






Also lots of "clapping" Clapper Rails this morning. We then moved to the north side of the lagoon, parking at the visitor center. We heard another California Gnatcatcher, and farther along the boardwalk in the riparian grove found Hammond's Flycatcher and Yellow Warbler.

Pygmy Nuthatch

Back up in the Laguna Mountains we drove to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. In the beautiful Green Valley we found that the creek still had a bit of flowing water, and enough pools to attract Nashville, Orange-crowned, Black-throated Gray, and Wilson's Warblers. A nice surprise was a singing Canyon Wren--a bird I don't come across very often in Southern California. While eating our lunch, a bit of pishing brought in two families of Oak Titmice and a young Steller's Jay.


Cowbird & GnatcatcherOur final stop of the afternoon was a Jacumba, where we spied one of the resident Barn Owls, heard a Green Heron, and added White-winged Dove and Ash-throated Flycatcher.

It was a fine weekend, with a grand total of 102 birds spotted. We'll be back soon!

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