Thursday, January 23, 2014

Birding Site Guide: Crown Point Park


Low tide at Crown Point Park.
White manicured sandy beaches, calm blue waters, warm sunny skies,... and birds! Something about this peninsula on the north shore of Mission Bay attracts shorebirds, terns, and the local Black Skimmers. There they coexist with picnickers, dog walkers, bicyclers, and others enjoying Mission Bay--the largest man-made aquatic park in the nation. You'll probably spend an hour here if the birds are present and also visit the Kendall-Frost Marsh (see below).

Getting there: Take I-5 to I-8 and turn west for 1 mile turning right on W Mission Bay Dr across the bridge and turn right onto Ingraham St. Cross over Vacation Isle and turn right onto Crown Point Dr. Then turn right onto Corona Oriente Rd. Parking: Free parking; the south lot is closest to the beach and birds. Hours: Dawn to 10 PM. Map navigation: Corona Oriente Rd, San Diego, CA 92109

San Diego birding site guide

Where to bird: Shorebirds are on the beach or mudflats nearest the South Parking Lot. You'll have to share the beach (see photo below), but much of the use is joggers and bicycle riders on the paved trail on the upper beach. I assume summer use is higher.

Just past the North Parking Lot is the Kendall-Frost Mission Bay Marsh Reserve. With a scope you may be able to see interesting marsh birds here, including Little Blue Heron. At high tide rails and perhaps Nelson's Sparrow (winter) may be forced out of the marsh and up nearer the road.

Crown Point on Mission Bay at high tide. December 22, 2013. Greg Gillson.
eBird shows that just over 100 species have been recorded at Crown Point Park. Most birders apparently visit from late fall through early spring and avoid the summer. In the photo above note Black Skimmers, Black-bellied Plovers, Black Turnstones, Red Knots, and Royal Terns.