Friday, March 5, 2010

Balboa Park, city center San Diego

I left Lake Hodges around 1:00 pm and needed my GPS to guide me to my next location. Not having a birding address, I tapped in the address of my next Motel 6 in downtown San Diego. True to form the trusty GPS guided me smoothly to 2nd Avenue.

Now, I don't know how many reading this are Motel 6 aficionados - well, that's probably not exactly the right word to describe people who, like me, stay in Motel 6s - but, when on a birding trip (and even when not birding) I'm not likely to splurge on expensive accommodations. After all, what does one need? A shower and clean sheets to collapse into. Needless to say, I've stayed in more than just a few Motel 6s. Some are just dreadful. Others are not too bad. I find that the further southwest one travels, the better they are. Anyway, I pulled into the parking lot and noticed that the building was new and built in a hotel-style rather than motel-style. I checked in and took the elevator to my room on the 4th floor. I opened the door and was dumbfounded. I was greeted by a completely charming, small, spotlessly clean, carpetless European-style hostel room. Oh, my gosh. I was thrilled. The bed was completely comfortable. I need to check out soon, but am staying to do this last blog entry. If traveling to San Diego, I do recommend this Motel 6 on 2nd Avenue for those who, like me, would enjoy this kind of room.

Anyway, what about the birds? From Motel 6 it was only a twenty minute walk to Balboa Park. I love birding in big, old cities. Often there is a large central park that is great for birding. Other cities where I have found this to be so - Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, St. Louis are those that come quickly to mind. I've never birded in New York City, but I suppose Central Park is the most famous big city birding park.

Balboa Park was just what I needed. As I walked I had an opportunity to check out a somewhat residential area of the city. The park was great. I didn't see a lot of species, but what I did see was completely fun.

Here he is again - Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna). By now you might think that this is my favorite bird. Well, not really, but I certainly have had the chance to get to know it.

Above, this basic plumage male Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) looks very much like a breeding plumage Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis). In fact, if it was not for the full blue hood and if I didn't know where I was, I would think this was an Eastern Bluebird. Also, it does not have blue on its belly - which is an Eastern field mark. Bluebirds are people pleasers no matter what kind they are.

Another California Towhee (Pipilio crissalis). These guys don't like anyone sneaking up on them.

I was thrilled to see this Townsend's Warbler (Dendroica townsendi) which are winter residents along coastal California. There were also been many of the western Yellow-rumped (Audubon's) Warblers (Dendroica coronata) around in various plumage stages.

Finally, another bird that's everywhere. As I walked to the park I even saw one in a little grassy spot between a building and a parking lot along 2nd Avenue.

Irresistable, the Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) is a permanent resident of coastal and inland California. To me this is a completely cute bird. Check out the dainty feet.

How's this for a posing bird? Charming!

Finally, for the biggest bird of all ...

... this is how planes come into the San Diego airport - just over the trees and just above the buildings. Incredible!

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