Diego & Laguna Mts.
by Henry Detwiler
Two days of wonderful birding with Chuck & Diane Gooding in San
Diego and the Laguna Mountains.
thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.
Chuck and I started out at 6:30
again and drove north to sunny San Elijo Lagoon. We scanned in vain
for Royal Terns, but did add Shoveler to our trip list. From the
trail we again heard Wrentits in the chaparral, and soon after the mewing
of California Gnatcatchers. They were uncooperative at first, but
with persistence we got some very nice views of a family group.
California Thrasher at San Eligo Lagoon
A California Thrasher jumped up to see what all the fuss was, and we
got some nice scope views. On the north side of the lagoon we
added Short-billed Dowitcher and Eared Grebe, but struck out on the
Yellow-crowned Night Heron. We left the warm coast behind us
as we climbed into the Laguna Mountains. Clouds shrouded the
peaks and old man winter decided to come out for a stroll.
Drizzle and fog continued to be our companions as we
topped out at the Wooded Hill Trail (6000'). But Dark-eyed Juncos,
Acorn Woodpeckers, Pygmy Nuthatches, and Stellar's Jays made the chilly
|At the Burnt Rancheria Campground we were accosted by
hungry Pygmy Nuthatches. One brave bird landed first on Chuck's
hand, and then on my fingertips! We went back for my camera and some
cookies, but the nuthatches wanted nothing to do with our chocolate
Raining? No, it's
Chuck waiting for the Pygmy Nuthatch to return
Burned Chaparral east of
At El Prado
Campground we found our first W. Bluebirds. Much of the
forest and chaparral east of Sunrise Highway was burned in a
forest fire last summer. It was a stark and sobering
sight--we drove past this area on the way to Lake Cuyamaca.
White-tailed Kite, Lake Cuyamaca
Along the north shore of Lake Cuyamaca we watched
this White-tailed Kite ripping into a vole. In the water was
a small flock of Wood Duck, 3 Lesser Scaup, Canada Geese, American
Wigeons, Pintails, and 100s of Mallards. We scoured a small
blackbird flock for Tri-colored, but found only Red-wings
At the south boat dock a Red-shouldered Hawk screamed and landed
on a near-by limb for a great view. As we we scanned the
lake, two birds landed in a close maple tree sapling-- Lawrence's
Goldfinches! Then, to add icing to the cake, the male flew
over to the top of a boulder directly in front of us--what a
Great Blue Heron at Lake
Wood Duck at Lake Cuyamaca
|We bypassed the crowded Paso Pichacho Campground and
stopped at the south end of the park. A male Lesser
Goldfinch gave Chuck much nicer views than the ones in Smuggler
Gulch. A Hairy Woodpecker called from the trees, but always
managed to stay on the far side of the trunk.
Our final stop on the way back to San Diego was Lake
Jennings Park. The park was closed (due to low water?), and we
could spot nothing from outside the fence except for a Western
Gull. Back at the hotel we said our goodbyes, and with the wind at
my back, I headed home to Yuma.