Fall Birding in San Diego County
Fall—September to mid-December—is a season of movement for birds. Although mid-September thru mid-October are typically the best days of routine migration here, fall birding can also offer special treats and surprises on any given day. The combined possibilities of Eastern, Pelagic, and even Arctic or Mexican migrants, as well as unexpected hatch-year birds on post-breeding dispersal, mean that unexpected species turn up frequently making each Fall birding trip an exciting proposition!
Fall migration typically edges out spring as the most exciting, frenetic time of year for local birders. Because sea birds and shorebirds have been on the move since July, consider a pelagic trip if you can manage it.
Fall is also a season of post-breeding dispersal, when juvenile birds of any ilk can appear in unusual spots. To keep abreast of what might be new in the area consider subscribing to these two San Diego Yahoo groups: San Diego Region Birding (operated by the San Diego Field Ornithologists) and Birding San Diego.
These groups recently reported a first-time Solitary Sandpipe at Lake Calavera in Carlsbad in mid-August. Late August also brought about sightings of hundreds of migrating Phalaropes—mostly Red-necked with a sprinkling of Wilson’s and an occasionally lurking Red mixed in—at the Buena Vista Lagoon ponds and at Whelan Lake in Oceanside. Some of the Red-necks were even still in their stunning breeding plumage! At about the same time, a surprising Surf Scoter made an appearance at Peñasquitos Lagoon just south of Del Mar.
If you’re looking for specific birds, don’t forget about eBird. Make sure to click on the “Explore Data” tab to view what is currently being seen at our local hotspots, or to find where particular species have recently been seen.
Photo Credit: Steve Brad
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.