Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hexed At Tijuana Slough

American Pipit in breeding colors. It was roaming the beach, chasing flies relentlessly around the mounds of kelp and algae.

One of the few places I've birded around here in the past was the mouth of the Tijuana River, when the Belcher's Gull showed up back in the 90's. There aren't any megacripplers like that hanging out there now (and yes, I saw the hell out of that bird), but I do remember it as looking like an amazing place to stare at the birdlife....so not long I ago I found myself retracing the steps of a younger, even nerdier version of Seagull Steve.

The place looks about the same as I remember it. Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge (aka Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve) has lots of tidal channels and saltmarsh, with a very birdy river mouth accessed from TSNWR trails, Border Field State Park or Imperial Beach. Nesting Yellow-crowned Night-Herons nearby are a nice perk as well. Offshore you can see the Coronado Islands, which lie in Mexican waters. They hold Brown Boobies and American Oystercatchers, birds I hold in high regard.

Unfortunately, on the day of my visit it was exceedingly dark and gray, which just makes me want to back there even more. It will happen soon. All photos today are from TSNWR.

Snowy Plover. This, at the moment, is the bird my life revolves around...that is, until the Least Terns start nesting as well.

One of the perks of the San Diego area is its abundance of terns. As you may know, I am a huge proponent of birds with forked tails. Forster's Terns are one of a number of tern species that breed in San Diego County.

Gull-billed Terns abound here, which is not something I remember from years ago. I'm not certain how their population over at the Salton Sea is doing, but they have been increasing in San Diego County. The Californian/West Mexican subspecies, Van Rossem's Gull-billed Tern, was recently petitioned to be listed under the Endangered Species Act, but Fish & Wildlife declined to do it (probably more for ill than good).

Do you see? It's like the Mercedes of terns.

This was the first time I managed to get some deec Long-billed Curlew pictures...the terns and shorebirds along the beach are somewhat acclimated to people, which is what a bird has to do to get by in these parts.

You see this clump of mussels? Whimbrel heaven. Delicious.

While California may be devoid of frigatebirds, at least we have Brown Pelicans to fill our skies.

This was the rarest sighting of the day. It's a birding church group. I have no idea what the priest is doing in this picture, maybe trying to part the slough? Put a hex on me? At any rate, it's a good thing to see.

Savannah Sparrow. When I took this picture I thought it was a Belding's (the locally common but endangered subspecies), but now I don't think it is, it's not dark enough. How embarrassing!

I never get tired of watching Sanderlings' neverending struggle to be as close to the water as possible without actually touching it. The Black-bellied Plover left for drier pastures.

There aren't many crappier looking birds than worn, first-year Western Gulls. They truly look trashy. So trashy, in fact, when they pick up an unappealing clump of mussels (maybe it was the Whimbrel's?), it makes them look better.


  1. That's one birdy beach. The idea of getting ot bird at a beach, beer in hand, is a nirvana I have not yet fulfilled, but one towards which you are pushing we with each passing posts.

    1. For some reason I'm not big into beer birding. I'm either seriously birding or seriously drinking. Mixing the two confuses me. Many people seem to enjoy it though, so you might as well plan a trip to the coast.

  2. Wow, that is a birdy beach! I don't think you were hexed though, nature is wonderful even when the weather isn't.

    1. Its true, no hex, its not like my camera decided to go for a swim again. Life is not pain.

  3. grey day maybe, but you still got sweet shots. I read the caption under the snowy as: The life my bird revolves around. (i still think you shoulda gone gcwa...)

  4. Church birding. Ick. Before I read that was a priest I thought it was some friend of yours giving you the double flip off. Guess he probably wasn't doing that. Awesome birds.. I can't explain it but I love that Sanderling shot. Jealous of all your terns and whimbrels and plovers. Not bad birds for your life to revolve around.

    1. EXPLAIN THE SANDERLING. Yeah plovers and nonplovers are nice...too bad I dont work with any other real birders!