Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Thursday, October 4, 2012

California - Part 3

Day 6 - Balboa Park

We spent all afternoon at Balboa Park with our Great Aunt Margie and Siena, visiting random museums and gardens. I found my lifer Umber Skipper and a Fox Squirrel here. Afterwards we ate at Hometown Buffet (again) and spent the night at Aunt Margie and Uncle Nil's.

Day 7 - SeaWorld

Talk about a fun day! I woke up around 9am (thanks to my ninja EST skills) and the window was open. From my bed I heard Spotted Towhees and Lesser Goldfinches and from the window I found two Western Bluebirds - a lifer! And to top it off it was my 8-year birding anniversary, August 1! After breakfast, we went and picked up Siena and spent the whole day with her at SeaWorld San Diego. Ten hours at SeaWorld meant we saw a lot! The Shamu show was okay, not as great as I had heard, and I wasn't the biggest fan of the acrobat show, but I enjoyed the Sea Lion and Pet shows. Lots of the exhibits we visited twice, and Kyle and Siena rode on the Atlantis ride, but our favorite part was hands-down the SkyRide cable cars over Perez Cove. We rode the cable cars so many times I lost count and from them we had a great view of the sunset and the fireworks.
There were birds at SeaWorld too! Mostly pigeons, but Western and Heermann's Gulls, Snowy Egret, and Mallards were all around and some allowed for close approach.

Western Gull

Juvenile Snowy Egret
Probably one of the most enjoyable days of the whole trip. :)

Day 8 

Lake Hodges

Early Thursday morning, Aimee's family drove down to San Diego and took Kyle and me to Lake Hodges, which is south of Escondido. We parked at Del Dios Community Park and hiked the road to the lake shore. Along this road I found my lifer Cassin's Kingbird sitting out on an exposed perch, hawking for insects. Also present was a Red-tailed Hawk being mobbed by an American Kestrel. At the shore we found Black Phoebe, Red-winged Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Forster's Tern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, and my lifers Western Kingbird, Western Grebe, and Clark's Grebe. The Clark's and Western Grebes were one of my favorite things about California. Such cool birds! They were even vocalizing for me! I have a video here.

Clark's Grebe

Female Great-tailed Grackle
Afterwards, we hiked out to the Lake Hodges headquarters, where we found Acorn Woodpeckers, Black Phoebe, California Towhee, American Kestrel, Hooded Oriole, Black-crowned Night Heron, American Coot, and Lesser Goldfinch. I also found my lifer Acmon Blue with a Fiery Skipper.

Acorn Woodpecker
Acmon Blue

Fiery Skipper

On the hike back, I found Cassin's Kingbird, Red-tailed Hawk (doing its best White-tailed Kite impression), Cliff Swallow, California Towhee, and my lifer Bewick's Wren. We heard a California Quail, but since it was heard-only, I didn't count it on my lifelist.


The rest of the day we spent with Aunt Joan and Bella. Aunt Joan promised to take us to our Dad's old hometown, Lakeside, California. We drove around the town, saw my dad's old house and his old church, and decided to take a stroll at the local park, Lindo Lake Park, after I noticed a few Black-necked Stilts. Minus the Stilts, I found Wood Duck, Mallard, Western Sandpiper, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Mourning Dove, American Crow, Common Yellowthroat, Great-tailed Grackle, House Finch, American and Lesser Goldfinch, California Ground-Squirrel, and my lifer Tricolored Blackbird - another endangered species for the lifelist!

Tricolored and Red-winged Blackbirds with a Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

Day 9

We went to Birch Aquarium around noon with Aunt Joan and both Tina and Aimee's family. All the different varieties of fish and jellyfish were amazing, and from the tidepools exhibit we had this great view of a weather front over the Pacific.

Afterwards, we drove to Encinitas to visit the San Diego Botanic Garden, also known as Quail Gardens. We had an enjoyable time, walking around and making mustaches out of fuzzy purple grass. There were some animals around, though.

Unidentified female Selasphorus sps. Allen's and Rufous are both present in San Diego in August, and a definite ID would not be possible from a shot like this that doesn't show particular retrice feathers.

There were mostly Western Fence Lizards, but this was the first Desert Spiny Lizard I had seen.
The rest of the day we spent with Aunt Joan, we took a look around Mission San Diego de Alcala to see if my grandfather's carvings were still there. We came out empty-handed, but it was a pleasant place.

That brings us to the end of Part 3, I know it was rather lengthy and pic-heavy.
Part 4 should come soon, and I believe that will be the final part of my California adventures.
Good birding!

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