San Diego County, Nov 13, 2015
by Henry Detwiler

A full day crossing San Diego County from the desert to the ocean

122 species seen  Click here for bird checklist

I got an early start on Friday the 13th and birded San Diego County until the sun set--which made it a 12-hour "Big Day". Started at the Tamarisk Grove Campground about an hour before sunup, but all I got was a cold red nose (36 degrees)--not one owl or nightjar. Once the sun rose I added a few desert dwellers like Phainopepla, Black-throated Sparrow, and Costa's Hummingbird. Yaqui Well added Gambel's Quail, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, and Bewick's Wren.Bushtit

At Scissor's Crossing the temperature dropped to 27 degrees, and my only addition was a Northern Flicker. As I ascended the Banner Grade to Julian the temperatures increased and the birds starting coming out. Western Scrub-Jay, towhees, Bushtit, Wrentit, Fox Sparrow, and other birds hopped about and called from the chaparral. At the Bird Watcher Nature Store in Julian hordes of Pine Siskins were sitting in the trees above the thistle feeders.

My next good stop was at Lake Henshaw, where hundreds of Western Grebes idled about on the water and dozens of American White Pelicans lined the San Luis Rey River estuary. Herons and egrets fed along the shoreline, Western Meadowlarks called from the surrounding grasslands, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk zipped by looking for a meal. Just north of the lake the San Luis Rey River passes through a canyon in the Cleavland National Forest, now the site of a developed picnic area and scenic trails. Nuttall's Woodpecker, Oak Titmouse, and Hermit Thrush were additions here.Oak Titmouse



Doing research for my upcoming "Finding Birds in San Diego County" I headed uphill to visit Palomar Mt. State Park. The views were awesome and the birds were plentiful. A bit of pishing attracted a large crowd of montane species, including Purple Finch and Townsend's Warbler. Oak Titmice and Mountain Chickadees were everywhere. At the Silvercrest Picnic Grounds were some truly immense incense cedars, and the rest of the park had wonderful forest as well.






From the mountain top I drove down to the coast and visited San Elijo Lagoonhe, a most reliable California Gnatcatcher spot. Alas, perhaps due to the late hour I missed the gnatcatchers, but a family of Wrentits Black Phoebebut on a great show in their stead. Also present was this truly cooperative Black Phoebe, and many distant waterfowl, waders, and shorebirds to add to the day's list..








Brown Booby




Next up was La Jolla Cove, where I spotted one of the Brown Boobies that have been regular there for the past month. Suzanne and I saw the one I photographed here on Nov 4th. In the distance I ticked off a few pelagics and Surf Scoters, and along the cliffs I watched a Wandering Tattler feeding along with several Black Turnstones.

Long-billed Curlew








I ended up the day at the mouth of the San Diego River, hitting it at low tide. What a spectacle! Fourteen species of shorebirds, including Red Knot and Snowy Plover.






Dozens of Brant, Bufflehead, more grebes, and four Red-breasted Mergansers. Both Royal and Elegant Tern, and then the regulars like Little Blue Heron and Brown Pelican. In the end I didn't add any new birds to my "Big Year" list (now at 606), but it sure was a fun day, with a final total of 122 species.


About Us | Site Map | Advertising | Contact Us | ©2012 Southwest Birders