Desolate short grass prairie and boulders make up this unique area. Birders visit mostly for raptors. Ferruginous Hawks are common in winter. A pair of Bald Eagles nest, as do Burrowing Owls.
Getting there: Ramona Grasslands Preserve is about 35 miles north of downtown San Diego, east of I-15 about 10 miles on scenic and winding Highland Valley Road. From I-15 take the W Bernardo Dr/Pomerado Rd exit, turn east on Pomerado Rd, then take the first left onto Highland Valley Rd. Parking: Free parking in a gravel lot obvious on the north side of Highland Valley Rd. Hours: 8 AM to 5 PM (winter) or 7 PM (summer). Map navigation: Approximate address: 17464 Highland Valley Rd, Ramona, CA 92065.
Where to bird: From the parking lot on Highland Valley Rd (A on the map below). Walk west and slightly uphill to a regrowing brushy area that was burned over a few years back. This trail loops around back to the parking lot about 0.8 miles. You will likely want to walk a bit farther to the start of the 2-mile Wildflower Loop Trail. Turn west into the oak woodland to the small pond there (1 on the map below).
This is a multi-use trail used by equestrians, dog walkers, and families.
|Parking lot (staging area) on Highland Valley Rd.|
In spring I will look for Grasshopper, Black-chinned, and Rufous-crowned sparrows.Summer birds include Blue Grosbeaks and Lazuli Buntings. Roadrunner is resident, as is a pair of nesting Bald Eagles east of Rangeland Rd. eBird checklist.
On your visit you'll want to drive the 1 mile of publicly accessible Rangeland Rd (from 2 to 3 on the map above) and pull over on the broad shoulders to check the boulders for Bald Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon, and Burrowing Owls.
|Oak woodlands around the small pond at the start of the Wildflower Loop Trail.|