The 37 acres of Famosa Slough is a tidal slough that was once part of Mission Bay's formerly extensive salt marsh wetlands. It was long ago left isolated by the channeling of the San Diego River. When birders plan to visit San Diego, high on their list is Famosa Slough. And the city is fixing it all up by planting native vegetation and adding interpretive signs. [Friends of Famosa Slough website.]
Other people like it. So why don't I? Instead of a celebrated birding location I see a weedy mud puddle behind a gas station and a couple dilapidated apartment complexes, bordered by a major thoroughfare and its deafening roar of traffic. Gang graffiti and panhandlers. I do not feel comfortable here. I feel perfectly safe birding alone anywhere in the wilderness and wilds of southern California. Why do dense urban areas disturb me so? Please pardon my prejudice against this urban birding location--I'm sure it doesn't deserve my disdain. Please tell me why you like this birding location in the comments.
Getting there: Famosa Slough is centrally located in the middle of several great San Diego birding hotspots. It is near Robb Field and the mouth of the San Diego River, just across from Sea World and Mission Bay. It is at the base of Point Loma and a mile from the marina for those taking pelagic birding trips. From Hwy 8 at Hwy 163 interchange follow Hwy 8 west 4.3 miles until it ends, turning left onto Sunset Cliffs Blvd, then immediately left again 0.1 miles onto Nimitz Blvd and only 0.2 miles, left onto W Point Loma Blvd for 0.5 miles and park when you reach the slough. Or, from Nimitz Blvd turn east on Famosa Blvd and follow it to the end for the south parking area. Map navigation: 4275 W Point Loma Blvd, San Diego, CA (street parking main access). 2598 Famosa Blvd, San Diego, CA (south parking lot, take surface streets around until you reach it). Parking: The north side of the slough is accessible by free street parking on Point Loma Blvd. There is free parking in a small dirt lot on the south end of the slough at the end of Famosa Blvd. During my most-recent visit in summer 2016 there is no longer a walking path from the south to north sides--you must drive around.
Where to bird: The dirt parking lot at the end of Famosa Blvd (A on the map above) is the start of a loop trail in the willows on the south end of the slough. It's a small loop--maybe only 200 feet in length. Nevertheless, this is where most of the non-waterbirds are seen. Is there a rare warbler or bunting hiding in these willows? Maybe. Is there a mugger hiding in the willows? Oh no, there I went again! It's good habitat. It's worth a look. Just remember to be safe and pay attention to your surroundings.
Perhaps the city will restore a trail to the other side of the lake. But for now, drive around taking Valeta Street to Camulos Street and then turn right and park on W Point Loma Blvd (B on the map above). From here there are a couple of access points to scope out shorebirds. There is probably a best tide for choosing your visiting time, but I haven't figured it out yet.
|This is it. Park here.|
|Welcome to Famosa Slough|