Sunday, December 28, 2014


California Thrasher!

The great West can be daunting.  It's even more intimidating when one treks the vast desert alone.  I purchased water and all kinds of rations just in case my car decided to act up.  Cell phones don't work in certain areas and the landscape changes from Sonoran desert into the sandy Imperial Dunes near Yuma.  Eventually the driver reaches the forgotten lands of the Salton Sea full of pesticides, agricultural lands and the infamous Sonny Bono wildlife preserve.  Even further, one must cross the great mountains of rock and alpine shrubs.  Then begins the descent into the crowded urban area known as San Diego. I summoned the courage of the great Indian spirit, Chief Geronimo.  As I shouted his name, I took the plunge one last time into the area known as San Diego!


The end of the year would bring me once more back into Southern California to clean up most of the endemics found in this area.  However this trek was made alone since Pat had to work.  The year is winding down fast and I needed to find more birds! So I went into some of the most eccentric places around SoCal.

White-crowned Sparrow
I hit 4 major places.  The Salton Sea. The Tijuana Estuary.  Discovery Lake of San Marcos. And Lindo Lake of Lakeside.

California Towhee
Within the recently burned city of San Marcos, I found an oasis known as Discovery Lake.  There I witnessed mothers running with their children on the trails listening to annoying songs like, "Let It Go!"  Go ahead and click on the link.  I dare you:)  I was trying to listen to the lesser known "California Thrasher" song.  According to birders, it's one of California's better tunes...even topping the Momma and Papa's "California Dreamin!"

Discovery Lake was a pretty amazing area full of incredible birds!  I think I spent the entire morning there birding.  I heard the California Quail but I never saw them.  I heard all the other birds and DID see them.  Sometimes you just have to learn to "Let It Go, Let It Goooo!"  I had that damn song stuck in my head all day!

Another new bird for me was the Wrentit.  I'm never sure about these combo names in the bird world.  So what is it?  More Wren or more Tit?  Either way, I thought it would be harder to ID.  It wasn't.  The call was distinct and the bird was much larger than the Bushtits also found in the area. 

After getting a visual on 2 out of the 3 life bird targets, I decided it was time to move south to the Chula Vista area for the Brants.  I met up with friends Libby and Bonnie at their place and walked along the waterfront enjoying their company while of course observing the birds!

Surf Scoters
We were super thrilled to spot Surf Scoters.  I don't know why they are so cool, but they are.  Their bill is so strange and colorful!

Scaly-breasted Munia
And then there were these birds!  The Scaly-breasted Munia were almost on every one of my counts this last time.  I would hear them squeek and I'd think, "Are those strange Cedar Waxwings calling?" They can also sound like mice! Then they'd fly up and remind me that they're taking over Southern California.  And as for parrots!  A month ago I reported on the Red-crowned and Lilac-crowned Parrots of Orange County!  Well they are around the San Diego area as well.  I sometimes forget that there are parrots around those parts.  When it finally registers inside my tiny little brain, they are flying over my head!  

This was my road trip song to keep me going.  I want to let everyone know that I'll be catching up with you all soon.  I've been on the road way too much these past two weeks trying to keep up with the end of the 2014 year:) I'll carry on with my report from the other two areas next week. And when I'm feeling intimidated by the challenge, I just have to remember to say, "Geronimo!" 


  1. With your passion and pursuit of birds, I see those you've never seen before. Thank you for this and best regards,

  2. Hi Chris. Great series of bird shots. Love the comical face of the Scoter and I have never seen that Brant, saw thousands of Dark bellied yesterday on the I.O.W. And of course we have 39,000 pale bellied in a Northern Ireland. May I wish you a great birding 2015

  3. Nice shots of all those birds. I wonder what the little Bushtit eats with that tiny tiny beak.

  4. Great collection of birds, Chris. You amaze me with your continued interest in finding those new birds... I love birds, especially my little backyard birds, but not sure I'd ever go as far with my birding interests as you have... WOW---that's so neat.. Proud of you.

  5. Great birds and photos Chris - well done on more life "ticks". What an amazing birding year you have had :) Wishing you a very Happy New Year with many bird sightings.

  6. Chris, awesome trip report and great bird sightings.. All of these birds would be lifers for me.. Wonderful photos. I hope the new year 2015 brings you lots more birds! Happy Birding!

  7. really great finds! love the bushtits and wrentits and the munia is neat! a new one i hadn't heard of before!

  8. That's gorgeous.

    All of your birds are super.

    Happy New Year to you and yours.

  9. Great series and Happy New Year.

  10. Sounds like you had a wonderfully successful trip. Your photos are just fabulous!

  11. Great pictures and especially like the Thrashers. Happy New Year

  12. Had a few chuckles this morning over the Frozen song! :-) My hubby said to tell you that when he used to take his Air Force guys into the Grand Canyon for a hike across (he did so seven times), they would start on the rim with a look at "where they were going." He said a bus would arrive and tourists get out and inevitably someone would say "That doesn't look very far." Those annoying moments! :-) Loved the photos. Love that you got back to S Cal. Hope you have a nice wrapping the year up quiet time before school starts again, and have a Happy New Year!

  13. A great series of photos and the little Wrentit is very beautiful. I hope you have a new challenge all ready for the new year and that it is a good one for you. Thanks for commenting on my blog.

  14. I too laughed about Frozen. I have a four year old great-niece who knows every word. It has been years since I lived in San Diego but I didn't do any birding and don't know the lake you mentioned. Truth be told I was too busy running after my toddler son who at the time loved Star Wars. Your photos are outstanding! Happy New Year!

  15. Beautiful collection of bird photos! I just love the Wrentit and it is, to me, hard to photograph! Your shot is great. Happy New Year and Happy Birding!

  16. gorgeous set of bird species. Many of them I have not seen. Thanks for sharing. :)

  17. Great birding trip! I used to live in San Diego and never saw many of these there, especially the Scaly-Breasted Munia, which is not in my bird book. I've noticed that black and white birds, especially with colorful accents like the Scoters, have a special appeal, kind of like clowns. The white eyes are dramatic as well as the beaks. Great photos!

  18. Great sightings Chris! The Wrentit and female Bushtit photos are awesome, and the Surf Scoters a real bonus! Here's wishing you a super 2015 birding year!


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