You know how once you have been to a place several times birding on your own and have seen most of the easy/common birds how frustrating it becomes, right? Where are the other harder-to-find birds? Are there local hot spots? This trip I gave up and hired a guide. I was looking for 4 life birds (elegant tern, bell’s vireo, black-headed grosbeak, california gnatcatcher) and I had no idea where they might be. Local expertise was needed.
I have had a terrible track record with finding guides. I twittered-nothing. I emailed some of the birdingpal folks-nothing. Finally, I emailed San Diego Audubon. Score! I got an email back recommending Claude Edwards. What a terrific find. He knows all the bird songs and chip notes, where the birds are likely to be locally and has a vehicle. A big bonus for me, is that as a biologist, he also knows plants, wildflowers, lizards, insects and points them out too. If you are going to San Diego and need specific target species, I recommend hooking up with Claude (firstname.lastname@example.org) .
Here’s the list of what we saw from 6:15-11:15 am.
From the San Diego River Floodway to Old Mission Dam and Lake Kumeyaay,
to the bayside of Silver Strand, Imperial Beach Pier. and south Seacoast Drive
Great blue heron
Little blue heron – Silver Strand mudflats
Reddish egret – Silver Strand mudflats
Gull-billed tern – IB Pier
Caspian tern – Silver Strand mudflats
Royal tern – Silver Strand mudflats
Elegant tern – Silver Strand mudflats
Black skimmer – Silver Strand mudflats
White-throated swift – Old Mission Dam area
Black-chin hummingbird – Old Mission Dam area
Downy woodpecker – Old Mission Dam area
Hutton’s vireo – Old Mission Dam area
Bell’s vireo – Old Mission Dam area
White-breasted nuthatch – Old Mission Dam area
Savannah sparrow (Belding’s)
70 species and 3 of the 4 lifers. Still no California Gnatcatcher.