San Diego and the Salton Sea Trip Report
Karen and I birded San Diego and the Salton Sea area as I sandwiched a business trip between two weekends of birding. San Diego has the title of being the best birding city in the country and we found out why. That part of California has sunk with respect to the Pacific. The streams flowing into the ocean now have lagoons reaching inland up to several miles. With highway construction, many of these lagoons have tidal saltwater sections and freshwater sections providing good marshes for a wide range of waterfowl and shorebirds. Unfortunately the freeway noise can be loud. The birds don't seem to mind, but I do.
We saw nearly 140 species and added 26 life birds. Some of the highlights were BURROWING OWLS standing near their burrows - 21 near the Salton Sea and Sonny Bono NWR; GILA WOODPECKERS and nest-building CACTUS WRENS in Brawley; two LEWIS'S WOODPECKER in the foothills; and SURFBIRDS and (I love this name) a WANDERING TATTLER from the tourist filled walk at La Jolla. There were hummingbirds everywhere - mostly Anna's. The Tijuana Slough NWR has shorebirds galore and INS Border Patrol helicopters continuously flying overhead.
The ABA book for Southern California is a little out-of-date as compared to some other ABA book locations, but is still a good guide. The local Audubon chapters also have local suggestions on good birding sites. By Karen and William Parker