San Diego County Summer Birding
First, a little bragging! The 2018 City Nature Challenge, a worldwide competition to see which area can make the most observations of their local flora and fauna, took place over a 4-day period in late April. Spearheaded locally by the San Diego Natural History Museum, birders came out in force to document our avian diversity. San Diego County came in first for birds, photographing and identifying 264 species! Second place fell to Houston (241 species), with Dallas-Fort Worth coming in third (196 species). And you, kind visitor, can enjoy this extreme diversity for yourself!
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. This local colony is most easily seen from South Ponto Beach along the Pacific Coast Highway. Park along the southbound side of the highway (if you can find a spot) 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 Summer progresses the post-breeding dispersal and migration of shorebirds in late June, and the Fall passerine migration in August, can result in odd species showing up just about anywhere. For example, in early May a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak was reported near the trailhead at La Orilla Trail in Encinitas; in late May, one appeared in a yard in Encinitas as well. Also in late May, two pairs of stunning but notoriously nomadic Lawrence’s Goldfinches appeared in Oceanside’s Whelan Lake area. 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), and 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.