Sunday, September 27, 2015

North County coastal birding

There have been several unusual birds seen over the last ten days or so on the northern San Diego County coast. So I planned a route to try to at least visit some of the locations where these birds were seen. I wasn't expecting to see most of them and, in fact, saw none of the rare birds reported by others. This was my first birding and photography in over two months since my shoulder surgery.

Oceanside, California
View of the Oceanside Pier from the San Luis Rey River mouth, Oceanside, California. September 27, 2015. Greg Gillson.
At sunrise, or what would have been sunrise if not for the overcast skies along the beach, I visited the San Luis Rey River mouth in Oceanside. I was hoping for some shorebirds. But it was nearly a full moon, so that means high tide and mudflats under water at dawn. American Coots, Western Gulls, and Great-tailed Grackles were the most abundant birds.

Great-tailed Grackle
Great-tailed Grackle. Oceanside, California. September 27, 2015. Greg Gillson.
There was a very rare Mourning Warbler last week at the Lower Cottonwood Park in Encinitas. This small little canyon side park has a little creek, but is otherwise unremarkable. I did spot a juvenile Pacific-slope Flycatcher that allowed a quick photo with only one pesky branch in the way.

Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher. Encinitas, California. September 27, 2015. Greg Gillson.
Yesterday birders found a rare Least Flycatcher at a wet weed patch at Del Mar. There were a half dozen birders there when I arrived. None had seen the bird this morning. I found a common Orange-crowned Warbler and a couple of Warbling Vireos, but otherwise, nothing of note.

Orange-crowned Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler. Del Mar, California. September 27, 2015. Greg Gillson.
A Pacific Golden-Plover has wintered for 4 or 5 years at the nearby San Dieguito River mouth in Del Mar. I tried to see it last winter but was in the wrong place. At the correct location on the coast highway, street parking was full, and the sides of the roads were clogged with hundreds of fast walkers, runners, baby stroller-pushers and hundreds of bicycle riders. And the tide was high and still rising, so I didn't try to stop to scour the weedy edges of the small flooded river mouth. I just drove by slowly.

I had thought of birding San Elijo lagoon. But it was 9:30 a.m. and I wanted to get back home and watch the San Diego Chargers play football against the Minnesota Vikings. I was born in Minnesota and the Vikings were strong in the 1960's (I remember singing the "one eyed, one horned, flying purple people eaters" song in grade school, before it became popular in the 1970's to describe the Vikings defensive line). The family moved to Oregon in 1967, and there was no local NFL team, so I stuck with the Vikings. The Seattle Seahawks were an expansion team in 1976. But they weren't any good for many years. Even when they played against Minnesota I could still cheer for their good plays, since I knew they weren't going to win anyway! Now that I've moved to San Diego I've tried to be interested in the Chargers. But I've never been a fan of the AFC, only the NFC, and mostly the NFC North. And with a potential move of the Chargers to Los Angeles, I think I can stick with the Vikings. At any rate, the 4th Quarter has started and Minnesota is winning 31 to 7. So, a good morning all around!