Friday, March 14, 2014

Birding Site Guide: Tijuana River Valley Regional Park: Bird & Butterfly Garden

Bird and Butterfly Garden
Bird and Butterfly Garden, San Ysidro, California.
It's only maybe 4 acres, within the much larger Tijuana River Valley Regional Park. It has a little path that loops through a grove of tamarisk and other trees and flowering bushes. There are some purposely dripping water faucets to attract birds. It's not much, most of the time. But during migration it can be busy with birds! And there are two specialty birds here you may wish to see.

Getting there: Take I-5 S to San Ysidro on the border with Tijuana, Mexico. This is 13 miles south of downtown San Diego. Take the Tocayo Avenue exit. Go 1.0 miles and turn left on Hollister. Go 0.7 miles and turn right on Saturn Blvd and you are there! Parking: Free parking lot. Hours: Dawn to dusk. Map navigation: Hollister St & Saturn Blvd, San Diego, CA 92154

San Diego birding site guide

Where to bird: Walk the grounds and paved trails. Pay attention to raptors overhead and any unusual birds at the horse corrals across the parking lot to the south. This area usually can be covered in a half hour, or less. And then you can visit other nearby birding hotspots.

In the center of the ring of tamarisks is a dense bunch of bushes and a water drip. This is where the sparrow-sized Common Ground-Doves frequently hide. This is perhaps the most reliable spot for these birds in the county, west of the Anza-Borrego desert.

Another specialty for this area is Black-throated Magpie-Jays. These are exotic Mexican jays that seem to be regular here. They are not countable by ABA rules, but they are a fun bird to look at! If they are around, you shouldn't have too much trouble finding them....

Black-throated Magpie-Jay
Black-throated Magpie-Jay admiring his reflection.
Bird and Butterfly Garden, San Ysidro, California. March 2, 2014. Greg Gillson.

Bird and Butterfly Garden
Common Ground-Doves frequently hide in those bushes on the right! 
Sit on the bench there and wait.