Birding around San Diego

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 ( .  

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

Pied-billed grebe
Western grebe
Brown pelican
DC cormorant
Great blue heron
Great egret
Snowy egret
Little blue heron – Silver Strand mudflats
Reddish egret – Silver Strand mudflats
Black-cr night-heron
Ruddy duck
Red-tailed hawk
American coot
Black-bellied plover
Black-necked stilt
Long-billed curlew
Marbled godwit
Western sandpiper
Least sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Western gull
Gull-billed tern – IB Pier
Caspian tern – Silver Strand mudflats
Royal tern – Silver Strand mudflats
Elegant tern – Silver Strand mudflats
Forster’s tern
Least tern
Black skimmer – Silver Strand mudflats
Rock pigeon
Mourning dove
White-throated swift – Old Mission Dam area
Black-chin hummingbird – Old Mission Dam area
Anna’s hummingbird
Nuttall’s woodpecker
Downy woodpecker – Old Mission Dam area
Ash-throated flycatcher
Black phoebe
Pacific-slope flycatcher
Cassin’s kingbird
Tree swallow
Hutton’s vireo – Old Mission Dam area
Bell’s vireo – Old Mission Dam area
Western scrub-jay
American crow
Common raven
White-breasted nuthatch – Old Mission Dam area
Bewick’s wren
House wren
Northern mockingbird
California thrasher
European starling
Orange-crowned warbler
Yellow warbler
Common yellowthroat
Yellow-breasted chat
Black-headed grosbeak
Blue grosbeak
Spotted towhee
California towhee
Song sparrow
Savannah sparrow (Belding’s)
Brown-headed cowbird
House finch
Lesser goldfinch
House sparrow

70 species and 3 of the 4 lifers.  Still no California Gnatcatcher.


Filed under Travel

6 responses to “Birding around San Diego

  1. Susan

    What is the picture? Are there birds I can’t see? Terrific list, btw. I’m jealous. Heck, forget your lifers, which I haven’t seen either, I haven’t seen many of the birds on the list. I gotta get out more.

  2. The park we went to was full of these fruiting elderberries. I tasted them; they are sweet, tart and delicious. The birds loved them!

  3. Pingback: Pages tagged "goldfinch"

  4. Amy

    Fantastic that you found Claude! He’s delightful. We met through the San Diego Bird Festival.

  5. Very nice blog. I will be back to enjoy more of it

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