Where I've been/What I've seen
Today’s trip was Birding the Border. I got up at about 4:40, and left my house around 5:00. I met a ton of people immediately on the van, all of whom were really friendly. We immediately left after making sure everyone was on the van and departed for our first stop, Dairy Mart Ponds.
We walked down the trail a little and stopped at the blind, where we had plenty of common waterfowl, California Gulls, and a Herring Gull.
Continuing on the trail, we had an Orange-Crowned Warbler, three American Goldfinches, some more gulls, and even more ducks. We then checked the other pond where I found a Cinnamon Teal, California Gnatcatcher, and Tree Swallows. We then saw a flash of bright red, and had a Northern Cardinal, and exotic in San Diego still, but still cool nonetheless. We were headed back to the van when somebody called out Common Gallinule, a day bird, and everyone in the group got looks at it.
eBird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S34820070
Our next stop was “Goat Canyon”, so close to the border, during storms, Mexican coins wash up here(also probably in other cases too). Border Patrol here seemed to be pretty tight, as the border was pretty much 1000 ft away(you could see Mexican License Plates on the cars on the other side). Some people requested a bathroom break at the trailhead, where we had both gnatcatchers and a Downy Woodpecker. We hiked into the canyon where we had great looks at Rock Wren, and California Gnatcatcher. Our trip leader told us to stop, as it was around the spot that he had Rufous-Crowned Sparrows, an uncommon bird in the county. He tried some playback, and almost immediately, the birds came in, only the second time I had seen them(the first happened to be in my yard for some reason).
eBird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S34820064
We then left Goat, and decided to make some “quick” stops at the Bird and Butterfly Garden, as well as the nearby ball fields. At the first stop, the Ball Fields, we had the know Vermillion Flycatchers, found an awesome TROPICAL KINGBIRD as well as some pipits.
eBird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S34820054
Our next stop was the “fabled about” Bird and Butterfly Garden. We stopped here to look for some reported CGDO, and Sapsuckers. I spotted the first CGDO, and tried without success to re-find it. Of course, while most of the group was looking for it, a smaller group found three of them at one of the drips. We then tried to find a sapsucker. A very keen eyed member of the group found two woodpeckers in a group, one being a Nuttall’s, and the other refusing to show itself. We eventually identified this as the seldom reported Red-breasted Sapsucker here(a lifer). Nobody could get photos as, well, whenever a camera got focused on it, it moved or flew. Another highlight at the gardens were some swifts and swallows flying above. VG swallows were the highlights of these birds.
eBird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S34820060
One of our final stops(we skipped a couple because of time), was the TJ River Slough. Here we looked for the nearby resident Yellow-crowned Night Herons, and other local marsh birds. We heard, and saw a Ridgeway’s Rail, some ducks, and shorebirds. That was about it, but on the way back, we added TUVU, Red-breasted Merganser, and three Northern Harriers.
We then proceeded to the J Street Mudflats, where we would tidy up some of the more common birds we were missing. We saw Green-winged Teal, a wide variety of gulls, including a Glaucous-winged, a lot of Brant, and some Scoters. We decided to hop back in the van after about thirty minutes of scanning the bay and the gull flock.
On the way back to conference center, we counted our species total. I wasn’t anticipating too many, but somehow we managed to get to 100. I missed the Great-Blue Heron at the mudflats, but I saw every other bird on the list, but I was pretty happy with the 99.
eBird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S34820031
Again I wasn’t getting picked up until later so I decided to walk over with another young birder to look for a Burrowing Owl. I got my best pics of the species ever, and I’m pretty happy with the results:
eBird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/ybn/view/checklist/S34774615