Sunday, March 7, 2010

Border birding

On Friday morning I birded along the US-Mexico border in two different locations. The first was Dairy Mart Ponds. I selected this location secondary to being easy to find without an address to plug into my GPS.

I saw one bird of interest to me - Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera). This is a terrible photo but as I tried to move closer the sound of one snapped twig underfoot sent this bird flying. Dairy Mart Ponds is essentially a weedy and litter infested place that, I guess, is probably good during southern California migration. But, I probably wasted time here that could have been better spent as my next location - Tijuana River Estuarine NWR.

Here the bird of the morning was the Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris). I was all by myself at the end of the trail and photographing a Snowy Egret when suddenly I saw different movement at the water's edge. I got many photos of this bird in various poses. Below is just one.

At one point the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) scared the Clapper Rail back into the undergrowth. As soon as the egret passed the rail came into the open again.

Certainly not a great photo, but the best I got of a Say's Phoebe (Sayornis saya) doing a little advertising for the NWR. Again, I'm struck by the bird's dainty feet. This must be a phoebe feature.

I like this Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) photo because it shows the russet coloration in the wings that is found in the adult California coast bird. According to Sibley, they even get redder and darker than this.

These little guys were all around, but they are fast and hard to photograph. This is a Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis).

Tijuana River Estuarine NWR is definitely not the quietest place in the world being adjacent to a naval air field where helicopter training flights repeatedly took off and returned to the landing strip next to the NWR. I think they were practicing their take offs and landings.

The above photo is just one look at the habitat. I was told that in the back corner of the fenced-in naval area there were Burrowing Owls (Athene cuniculaia), however, they were not out for me. If I had skipped the Dairy Mart Ponds and come earlier to the Tijuana River Estuarine I might have also seen the owls. I may also have had time to walk as far as the coast. By not walking out to the beach, I may have missed my best chance to see my other target shorebirds.

Today was also the first day of the San Diego birding festival sponsored by the San Diego Audubon. As I was leaving a huge bus dropped off about twenty-five birders who headed out to find the Clapper Rail.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed seeing you Sunday and hope you have a good, safe trip to FL. Love & Hugs, Aunt Doramae!