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San Diego Co. Big Day (long)

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  • MiriamEagl@aol.com
    Hi, all! My Big Day for the year was this past Monday, and I planned it very poorly, unfortunately; I was trying some different tacts and didn t even make it
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 19, 2006
      Hi, all!

      My Big Day for the year was this past Monday, and I planned it very poorly,
      unfortunately; I was trying some different tacts and didn't even make it to
      the coast... :-P Part of my plan was to see how much I could get without
      straying too far from the car, just as an experiment, and all told it wasn't bad!
      Even so I managed to log over 100 species, so that was good. Wish I had
      time to try it again, though...

      Anyway, I thought I'd try night birding on the way out to the desert, and
      that was a disaster as the mountains were cold, foggy, windy, and wet!! The
      first bird on the list was a Raven coming down Banner Grade just as it was
      getting light, followed by a singing Bewick's Wren (2) and House Finch (3) at the
      first stop. At Scissors Crossing added California Thrasher (4), California
      Quail (5), White-crowned Sparrow (6), Crow (7), Black-throated Sparrow (8),
      and bolstered the riparian list with a calling Cooper's Hawk (9), Black Phoebe
      (10), Song Sparrow (11), Scrub Jay (12), House Wren (13), Spotted Towhee
      (14), California Towhee (15), and Nuttall's Woodpecker (16). Unfortunately I
      would dip on the Ladderback this time...

      Heading up Sentenac Canyon (it was still a gale) added Ash-throated
      Flycatcher (17), Rock Wren (18), and Lesser Goldfinch (19). Just poking around the
      parking area at Yaqui Well added Cactus Wren (20), Mockingbird (21), Verdin
      (22), a curious chattering Costa's Hummer (23), and the only migrant warbler of
      the day: a "chep"ing Wilson's (24). The Bullock's Oriole (25) that always
      seems to be hanging out there was tuning up, and a stupid Cowbird (26) gurgled
      from the trees. Rufous Hummers (27) were still buzzing around, and a
      Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (28) got mad at my pishing. A Phainopepla (29) finally
      whistled, and a Warbling Vireo (30) came in for a close look. On the way out
      had a Butterbutt (31) and a Western Kingbird (32).

      Picked up Mourning Dove (33) on the way to Borrego Sink, and just like Sue
      Smith told me, the Lucy's Warbler (34) was singing right there at the end of
      the road! Couldn't kick up a Crissal Thrasher, but the Brewer's Sparrows (35)
      were singing up a storm as well! A Barn Swallow (36) chattered overhead,
      and picked up House Sparrow (37) and Starling (38) near the human habitation.

      On a lark I decided up pull into Club Circle, and I'm glad I did: at the
      palm grove a Say's Phoebe (39) practically ran into me, and was surprised by the
      alarm call of a Greater Yellowlegs (40)! (There must be water around there
      somewhere...) A Collared Dove (41) posed and cooed nicely while a
      Great-tailed Grackle (42) provided backup. But the best show was put on by a flock of
      Vaux's Swifts (43) swooping around in great light at eye level! I spent an
      inordinate amount of time trying to shoot them (with the camera), but it was
      worth it! A Cliff Swallow (44) joined them, and almost didn't notice the
      Brewer's Blackbirds (45)! Another surprise was a Red-shouldered Hawk (46) in the
      palm grove, and some Red-winged Blackbirds (47) flew over (I think...this
      all happened three days ago and I'm forgetting already...)

      Dipped on the LeConte's at Old Springs Road, so headed to Clark Lake,
      picking up White-winged Dove (48) and Black-headed Grosbeak (49) on the way. That
      was a dud, too; the Phains were numerous at the oasis, but only picked up an
      Orange-crowned Warbler (50) and what I presumed was a Gambel's Quail (51)
      giving his "all-clear" call from deep in the mesquite (and I couldn't get him to
      move, naturally). I actually saw a pair later at Roadrunner Club, so I felt
      better about that one! Picked up a shrike (52) on the way out by the Big
      Yellow Thing.

      I wanted to check the little orchard along Di Giorgio in case the
      Brown-crested Flycatchers came back, but didn't hear or see anything except a Kestrel
      (53). Heading down to the Roadrunner Club I noticed Raptor Hal and his
      hawk-watching crew, so I stopped to see if they could give me a Swainson's Hawk!
      Got a Turkey Vulture (54) and Meadowlark (55) instead (with the wind
      everything was hunkering down), but as I blasted south, guess what flushed out of the
      dead tamarisks! You guessed it: Swainson's Hawk (56)! He even flew along
      with the car for awhile; what a look! On the wires added Western Bluebird (57)
      and a couple of Lark Sparrows (58).

      Wheeled into the Club and just cruised around, thankfully picking up Ground
      Dove (59) at someone's feeder, but only a Mallard (60) at Swan Lake, and
      nothing else new. Heading up Montezuma Grade added Anna's Hummer (61) at the base
      (by the ranger station), Mountain Quail (62) about halfway up, and
      Lawrence's Goldfinch (63) bouncing overhead somewhere along there... Even Barrel
      Springs was dead quiet with the wind.

      Wanted to head up Lost Valley Road to try and add Gray Vireo among other
      things; stopping at the PCT accesses along 79 added Acorn Woodpecker (64), Oak
      Titmouse (65), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (66), and Bushtit (67). Heading up Lost
      Valley picked up Wrentit (68) and a surprise Pine Siskin (69) "cheer"ing
      overhead! Was thrilled to pick up the Black-chinned Sparrow (70--the only one for
      the day), but dipped on Sage, which I usually get in there. No vireos,
      either... Well, got a singing Hutton's (71) at the bottom on the way out, and
      almost ran over a Turkey (72) heading back to Henshaw.

      There were a couple of puddles east of where Lake Henshaw ended, so I
      stopped to check them out and had a gold mine: both Violet-green (73) and
      Rough-winged (74) Swallows swooped over the water, and had a minor duck convention
      with American Wigeon (75), Gadwall (76), Shoveler (77), Ring-necked Duck (78),
      and Cinnamon Teal (79) all represented. A Black-necked Stilt (80) was the
      token shorebird, and at an overlook where I could scan the lake at large managed
      to pick up (at a great distance) Western Grebe (81--they were calling as
      well), several Bonaparte's Gulls (82--several in breeding gear), White Pelican
      (83), and Double-crested Cormorant (84). I was also witness to the infamous
      News 8 crew that was filming the Bald Eagles (85); I just assumed that the
      "guide" was a Vista Water District employee, but maybe not...(maybe I shoulda
      taken their picture for documentation...)

      Started up East Grade Road, adding Yellow Warbler (86) in the willows at the
      bottom and White-breasted Nuthatch (87) in the oaks. Further up at various
      stops added Flicker (88), Junco (89), Mountain Chickadee (90), and Steller's
      Jay (91). Over by the store hit a nice minor jackpot with Robin (92), Hairy
      Woodpecker (93), and Band-tailed Pigeon (94) all in one stop, with Purple
      Finch (95) closer to the state park. Heading down Nate Harrison the Cassin's
      Vireos evidently weren't in yet, but a harsh squeal overhead turned out to be a
      real Red-tailed Hawk (96) and not a Steller's Jay impersonation! Heading
      down the grade it was still windy and cold (and to think Jip was overheating
      when Oz and I went UP a couple of days previously), but added a couple of nice
      birds: a pair of lingering Golden-crowned Sparrows (97) and several
      Rufous-crowned Sparrows (98).

      About that time I was debating whether I should head for the coast or go
      ahead and continue with the original plan just to see how far I got, so I
      decided on the latter. Headed down Cole Grade Road to Bear Valley Road and Lake
      Hodges for a shot at the Thick-billed Kingbird and hopefully Clark's Grebe;
      dipped on the kingbird but got the expected Hooded Oriole (99) and the TB's
      cousin the Cassin's (100). And of course the Clark's Grebe after several tries
      (101)! Headed over to San Pasqual Valley after that, taking Old Pasqual
      Valley Road and adding Yellowthroat (102) and Great Egret (103) in the riparian
      area there, and Killdeer (104) and Horned Lark (105) in the sod farms. Stopped
      at another thick riparian area (stunk like the dickens) and surprisingly had
      another Collared Dove! At the dairy farm along Bandy Canyon Road picked out
      a Cattle Egret (106), and after sorting through tons of cowbirds and
      Brewer's was really afraid I was gonna dip on the Tricolored, but finally heard a
      strangled cat from the pens (107)! Up by the back side pished up a Lincoln's
      Sparrow (108), and down by the gate at Ysabel Creek Road added the staked out
      Bell's Vireo (109) and a flyover American Goldfinch (110). Was sweating the
      California Gnatcatcher on the way out when one finally mewed from the sage

      Headed over to Pamo Valley after that, wondering if the Black-chinned
      Hummers I usually get at the top of the grade were in yet, and they were (112)!
      Dipped on the Golden Eagle that's usually there (he was probably up in the
      cliffs by then), but by the farms got a Lazuli Bunting (113) that was hanging
      around with the lingering Savannah Sparrows (114). Unfortunately couldn't turn
      any of them into a Vesper! :-)

      Last stop was gonna be Ramona Pond, where I ran into a couple lounging in
      their chairs with their scope up! We witnessed Cattle Egrets coming in for the
      night, but so far as my list went, just added Coot (115), Ruddy Duck (116),
      and both Least (117) and Western Sandpipers (118).

      Were I to do it again, I'd refrain from going off the beaten track just to
      add a couple of species; I think that slowed me down considerably (plus too
      many stops along the long roads). Oh, well; there's always the America's
      Birdiest County competition coming up! :-)

      Mary Beth Stowe
      San Diego, CA
      _www.miriameaglemon.com_ (http://www.miriameaglemon.com)

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