San Diego County Summer Birding
June to mid-September encompasses the Summer months in San Diego County. During this time birds begin to quiet down and lay low, busy feeding their new families and guarding against predators. From June through mid-July, if you want a special treat, visit one of the breeding grounds of the California Least Tern—an endangered subspecies of Least Tern (Sterna antillarum browni). San Diego County supports 60% of the breeding population of this subspecies at 12 sites including the western end of Batiquitos Lagoon, just south of Oceanside in Carlsbad. When the lagoon was dredged and re-opened to the tides in the mid-1990s, several artificial sand flats were installed there for Least Tern nesting. This local colony is most easily seen from South Ponto Beach along the Pacific Coast Highway. Park along the southbound side of the highway and point your optics east across the highway toward the fenced-off sand flats. The nearly constant high-pitched chatter of the Least Terns confirms you’ve found the spot!
As the Summer progresses, birds begin to move. The migration of shorebirds commences in late June, while the fall passerine migration takes place in August. During this time, post-breeding dispersal can result in odd species showing up just about anywhere making it an exciting time to go birding. To stay up to date with all of the latest sightings in the area join San Diego Region Birding (operated by the San Diego Field Ornithologists). Just this past month, in late May, this group reported a female Magnificent Frigatebird at Buena Vista Lagoon and three Black Skimmers where the San Luis Rey River meets the ocean! As the shorebird migration begins to pick up, the San Diego Region Birding group will be the one to check for interesting migrants. Additionally, if you have an individual species or two that you’re interested in finding, don’t forget about the “explore data” tab on eBird. Good birding!
About the Author
After birding for a quarter-century in Colorado, Tina and her family recently moved to Oceanside, where she’ll probably spend the next quarter-century trying to remember that the mountains now lie to the east. Tina is a guest blog contributor that will be sharing her insights and discoveries as she explores Southern California with her binoculars, scope, and field guide.
To learn more about regional birding opportunities, contact the Buena Vista Audubon Society and Nature Center.