Sunday, March 1, 2015

Birding Site Guide: Guajome Regional Park

Three dollars? Is that all that prevented me from watching birds in a large nearby park in Oceanside for over a year? The $3 parking fee? As Anthony Melchiorri says, "Are you kidding me?!!!

The first time I drove by Guajome ("wa-HO-me") park--just to check it out--the parking fee put me off. (That's what I get for taking off for a day of birding without any cash in my pocket.) Also, the parking areas don't open at dawn, so much of the bird activity has already ended by the time you can enter the park.

So I decided to check it out again 2 weeks ago. Marlene and I spent an enjoyable late morning there.

Guajome map

Getting there: 50 miles north of the I-8 & I-15 interchange in San Diego. Driving time and distance about the same taking either I-5 N along the coast or inland on I-15. Directions for I-5 N to CA-76 in Oceanside, then 7.5 miles east to Guajome Lake Rd. Directions for I-15 N to Econdido, CA-78 W to Vista, then take the Vista Village Drive exit, cross back left over the freeway, then turn right twice to go back under the freeway on S Melrose Dr for 3 miles, then left on N Santa Fe Ave for 1 mile and look for the day use parking lot. Parking: Two parking lots. $3 day use fee. Lower Parking Lot is day use only on N Santa Fe Rd south of Mesa Dr. The Main Parking Lot and campground is on Guajome Lake Rd. Hours: Day use: 9:30 am to sunset; camping 24 hours/day. Map navigation: 3000 Guajome Lake Rd, Oceanside, California 92057

Guajome map

Where to bird: Part 1: Upper Pond Loop

Starting at the day use parking area (A on the map above), walk the trail eastward, staying to the right for about 1/2 mile until you reach Upper Pond (B). When returning back cross to the north side of the creek until you reach C on the map, then return.

This loop is on the edge of dry upland areas and the reed-covered riparian area. Birds I found in mid-February on the first part of the loop included Cassin's Kingbirds, Lesser Goldfinches, and California Towhees. Just below the dam of the Upper Pond a Virginia Rail was calling, hidden in the reeds. Some Northern Shovelers were on the pond. And I photographed an Allen's Hummingbird there.

On the drier north side trail heading back to point C on the map there are several cacti patches. I found more Cassin's Kingbirds and several House Wrens, while American Kestrels and Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks soared overhead.

Guajome Park
Day use area park (A on map). Guajome County Park, Oceanside, California.

Cassin's Kingbird
Cassin's Kingbird

Fence Lizard
Fence Lizard on a... fence post!

Guajome Park
South side trail leading to Upper Pond.

Guajome Park
Upper Pond (B on map)

Allen's Hummingbird
The hunch-backed Allen's Hummingbird

Guajome Park
North side trail on Upper Pond Loop.

Pricky Pear Cactus Guajome Park
Prickly Pear Cactus

Coastal Cholla Guajome Park
Coastal Cholla Cactus

Where to bird: Part 2: Campground Loop

There are perhaps more birds and less walking in the campground area of the park. The day use parking area by the campground (D on the map) is among California Live Oaks at the eastern corner of Guajome Lake. You can expect Nuttall's Woodpeckers and Hutton's Vireo there.

Walk down to the lake shore and follow it westward to E on the map. You should find many ducks, both wild and domestic. There are many domestic Swan Geese here. Great-tailed Grackles squeak and whistle.

There is a nature trail from E to C on the map, along the riparian corridor. Birds here include Marsh Wrens from the huge reed bed in the north end of the park. There were Common Yellowthroats and Orange-crowned Warblers during my February visit. Downy Woodpeckers are regular here--this isn't a very common species in San Diego County, but this coastal riparian habitat is favored.

When you reach point C on the map you have options of returning. I came back immediately opposite the outgoing trail, along the edge of the campground to the Gazebo on the hill, and back on the campground roads.

Guajome Park
Guajome Lake, south shore.

Guajome Park
Southwest corner of Guajome Lake.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

Guajome Park
Nature Trail (E to C on map).

Cooper's Hawk
Cooper's Hawk

Guajome Park
Gazebo

Here is the eBird Hotspot page to check out recent birds at Guajome Regional Park.