Monday, May 12, 2014

Birding Site Guide: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center

Indian Head: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Indian Head Mountain to the west of the Visitor Center. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
The largest Desert State Park in the nation has many bird watching opportunities within its borders and in nearby areas around Borrego Springs, California. Why not start at the Visitor Center?

Getting there: From Escondido it is 72 miles, go through Valley Center, then CA-76 E for 20 miles, then CA-79 N for 4 miles, San Filipe Rd E for 5 miles, then Montezuma Valley Rd N for 17 miles, then Palm Canyon Dr W into the Visitor Center. From San Diego it is 93 miles, take I-8 E for 26 miles, then CA-79 N for 20 miles, then CA-78 E for 18 miles, then Yaqui Pass Rd for 7 miles, west 5 miles into Borrego Springs, around the traffic circle, then Palm Canyon Dr W 2 miles into the Visitor Center. Parking: Free parking. [Update: In 2018 rangers were charging $7 to park.] Hours: Visitor Center hours are 9 am to 5 pm, daily October 1 - May 31, Weekends and holidays only June 1 - September 30. Map Navigation: 200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004

Where to bird: The Visitor Center area is about 5 acres, including the parking lot and trails out into the desert. Most of the birds are found in the trees planted near the Visitor Center. The desert here has only small bushes and cacti. Thus the water drips, small pond, and planted trees attract many birds, especially migrants in spring and fall.

Map: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Off the beaten path! It's over 90 miles from San Diego to Borrego Springs, over two mountain ranges.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
The visitor center is underground to keep cool and more natural.

Map: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
The Visitor Center is 2 miles west of the traffic circle ("Christmas Circle") in  the center of Borrego Springs.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Desert bushes and cacti near the entrance of the Visitor Center.
Resident birds include Black-throated Sparrows, Cactus Wrens, Verdins, Black-tailed Gnatcatchers, White-winged Doves. There are quail here; quite a few seem to be hybrid California x Gambel's. I photographed one here that appeared to be California. I found a pure-looking Gambel's Quail about 5 miles east in the mesquite bosque south of Borrego Springs. I heard other quail in Borrego Springs that were hidden, so species was not determined. Here's the list of birds I saw on April 27, 2014.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Palo Verde trees along the trail.

Visitor Center: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
The Visitor Center features some panoramas. There's an impressive Smilodon, too!
My next few posts will be of birds that I saw here on April 27, 2014.

Another site guide to nearby Borrego Springs waste treatment ponds and the mesquite bosque.

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