Saturday, March 15, 2014

Imperial Beach to Point Loma - S. California

As the skies cleared we traveled into Imperial Beach for a week.  Our RV site overlooked the south end of San Diego Bay, a National Wildlife Refuge Estuary area where high tides make great mud flats for shorebirds, egrets and ducks.

We walked to the ocean and the IB pier, where we found this Pelagic Cormorant, new for the year.  Note the beautiful iridescent colors on the neck and head.  We spent several days birding along the Tijuana Slough from the berm along the beach finding: Elegant Tern, Snowy Plovers, Pacific Golden Plover, Brandt Cormorants, Whimbrel, Marbled Godwits, Western & Clark's Grebes, and a distant look at a Brown Booby.

We saw on the bird list that a Thick-billed Kingbird was near-by and they put GPS coordinates to the exact tree it was seen in.  Something new to learn, but we did it - the bird was not there but very near - within 50 yards.  A fun addition to the trip list.

A day trip to the Mexican border - and Border Field State Park gave us some other new birds including this Mexican migrant; the Black-throated Magpie-Jay that we found on the way at the community gardens helping themselves to everyone's fruit and vegetables.  We found about 12 in the area along the Tijuana River.

We also found the California Gnatcatcher, Wrentit, Yellow-headed Parrots, California Thrasher and a few warblers.  We then drove over to the Dairy Mart Ponds and found this Box Turtle that crossed our path.

We moved up to Chula Vista RV Resort and one of our day trips took us northwest of San Diego to the Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma.  We had beautiful vistas of the wave washed cliffs and tide pools.  We spotted Red-throated Loons in the surf along with California Sea Lions, and spouts from Gray Whales, and Black-vented Shearwaters.

As we were reading graphic panels on Gray Whale migration we had this three-foot, South Pacific Rattlesnake slither by within 6 inches of our feet.  I stepped back while Ty got down on his knees with the camera.

This Chula Vista park is one we visited on our first trip to California back in 1988 with our sons.  It is located on the San Diego Bay and I remember Travis saying that he would one day live out here in California.  He made it happen and has enjoyed the LA area for 22 years.

Daily walks along the bay produce many shorebirds, waterfowl, herons, grebes, coot and nesting osprey.  New for our year list were Black Brant geese and many Surf Scoters in nuptial plumage.

As much as we disdain San Diego traffic, exotic birds beckoned us to venture forth.  We walked the Fomosa Slough trails, a small urban wetland that produced, Tropical and Cassin's Kingbirds and Bullock's Orioles.  Large flocks of Lilac-crowned and Red-Crowned Parrots and Blue-crowned Parakeets announced their presence before they came into view.  We also had Costa's and Allen's Hummingbirds joining the already nesting Anna's.

Our next stop was the San Diego River across from Sea World where we scoped hundreds of American Wigeons to successfully find the one reported Eurasian Wigeon.  Also of note were the large concentration of American Avocets.

After receiving poor directions and a couple stops for clarification we found the Tecolote Canyon Natural Park and Nature Center.  The naturalist on duty led us to the locations where Nutmeg Mannikins could be observed.  Five minutes later, 7 of the mannikins came in to the shallow water to bathe and preen.

This large, fuzzy, golden bee (one of the bumble bees - but couldn't find it in the insect book) was active around the flower beds.  He was not camera shy, hovering in front of the lens.  
Heermann's Gull

We sometimes don't have to walk very far to see birds, this Great Egret was hunting for lizards around the RV.

Enjoying the winter with the "Snow Birds"
Ty & Ida Baumann


  1. We really enjoyed meeting you and learning more about birds and birding locations in Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and SanDiego. Today we went to Tecolote and saw the Nutmeg Mannekins! Thanks. We also went to the dog park on Fiesta Island, which was fabulous. We love reading your blogs and will continue to follow your travels and birding adventures. Libby and Bonnie (from Chula Vista RV Park)

  2. Ty, that shot of the Black-throated Magpie-Jay is amazing. What a magnificent bird. Hope you are having a good time in CA.