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Otay Mountain Road (San Diego Co)

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  • MiriamEagl@aol.com
    Hi, all! After Rick Wheeler s trip report, curiosity got the better of a bunch of us and we (Don and Marjorie Hastings and myself) decided to check out Otay
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 5, 2002
      Hi, all!

      After Rick Wheeler's trip report, curiosity got the better of a bunch of us
      and we (Don and Marjorie Hastings and myself) decided to check out Otay
      Mountain Road! One of the reasons they wanted to go in my car was because
      they weren't sure of the condition of the road (the AAA map has a broken
      double line representing it, which means it's pretty bad), but it turned out
      to be an EXCELLENT dirt road (at least compared to some of the ones I've been
      on lately)! :-P We picked it up just past Dulzura on highway 94, where at
      that point it's called Marian Valley Road (I believe). Our first stop was a
      little willow riparian area (emphasis on little), but it nonetheless produced
      some unique things for the day, such as Song Sparrow, Oak Titmouse,
      Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Black-headed Grosbeak, House Wren, and (thrills) Crow,
      along with lots of Lesser Goldfinches. The next stop was closer to a farm,
      and we got both Cassin's and Western Kingbird in here, in addition to a flock
      of White-crowned Sparrows.

      It wasn't too long after that where you have to make a sharp right turn to
      stay on the main road (there's a hand-painted sign that warns you that you
      wind up in Mexico if you go straight), and then there's a gate that
      apparently is sometimes closed, but not today (hence why it would be better
      to start this road from the eastern end). It was pretty socked in with fog
      the whole way across, and once heading up the hills the habitat was mostly
      chaparral with some boulders; no Canyon or Rock Wrens though (much to Don's
      chagrin; they needed Canyon for the year). Wrentits were all over the place,
      though, and the occasional Rufous-crowned Sparrow was nice.

      Shortly we came to the famous Tecate Cypress forest, which was really neat;
      they aren't big trees, but this is evidently a unique habitat found nowhere
      else! No unique birds, though; I DID hear some Juncos up in here, but
      nothing else you might associate with evergreen forest. There was a large
      area that had been burned off, and in here we found an excited Blue-gray
      Gnatcatcher. Came to the tower at the top of the hill where there was a
      three-way intersection, and thankfully D&M knew which road to take (they had
      come from the west end once years ago, and got on the wrong road at this
      point). I picked up my only Scrub Jay up here (Don had one at the willow
      area). It was also nice to have Marjorie along to point out all the
      wildflowers in bloom; my favorites were the tree poppies! She also found
      something called a Wooly Curly Blue (I think) that's normally associated with
      a totally different habitat ("How'd YOU get up here?" she said...).

      Ran into Doug Aguillard and a couple from LA (Herb and Olga) on their way to
      look for butterflies up in the cypress; we wished them luck! It was pretty
      cold up there! The only other people we ran onto were Border Patrol and a
      work crew oiling the road. Further on past there we stopped for a flock of
      Cliff Swallows, and it turned out to be a bonanza: a warbler flock was
      passing through which included several Black-throated Grays, and a few
      Butterbutts and Orangecrowns, along with a flock of Bushtits! A Sage Sparrow
      singing down the hill was a nice addition. Somewhere along in here we also
      had a lingering Fox Sparrow smacking.

      On a clear day I imagine the views would be spectacular, but by the time it
      cleared even somewhat about all you could see was the prison on the US side
      and the shacks packed together on the Mexican side. Heard a shrike down the
      hill but only saw a Kestrel on a pole. Down at the bottom there was some
      kind of farm or residence, but we did pick up a few new birds, such as
      Mockingbird, Brewer's Blackbird, and Western Meadowlark, plus our year
      Ash-throated Flycatcher that put on a nice show!

      Headed home after that with 42 species for the morning. Bird List:

      Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
      Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
      American Kestrel Falco sparverius
      Rock Dove Columba livia
      Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
      Nuttall's Woodpecker Picoides nuttallii
      Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans
      Ash-throated Flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens
      Cassin's Kingbird Tyrannus vociferans
      Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis
      Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
      Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula
      Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii
      House Wren Troglodytes aedon
      Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
      California Thrasher Toxostoma redivivum
      Wrentit Chamaea fasciata
      Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea
      Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus
      Oak Titmouse Baeolophus inornatus
      Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus
      Western Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma californica
      American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
      Common Raven Corvus corax
      European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
      House Sparrow Passer domesticus
      House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus
      Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria
      Orange-crowned Warbler Vermivora celata
      Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata
      Black-throated Gray Warbler Dendroica nigrescens
      Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus
      California Towhee Pipilo crissalis
      Rufous-crowned Sparrow Aimophila ruficeps
      Sage Sparrow Amphispiza belli
      Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca
      Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
      White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
      Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
      Black-headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus
      Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta
      Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus

      42 SPECIES

      Mary Beth Stowe
      San Diego, CA

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