chamaea (dwarf) fasciata (striped)
Tuesday, May 8, 2001 — 11:45 am
San Diego, California — Mission Trails Regional Park
I left the hotel at 10:00, after my first session. I planned on going to the Padres game in the evening with my coworkers, so I had seven hours to bird. I originally planned on heading 40 miles east into the mountains, but the weather forecast called for 90+ temperatures there, so instead I went to Mission Trails Regional Park about 10 miles east of the hotel. It’s a large park that contains a stretch of the San Diego River where it cuts through some dry hills. There’s an old dam constructed by friars and Indians in the early 1800s and a small lake tucked into the scrubland.
I asked a lady in the visitor center to direct me to good birding places. She didn’t know much about birds, but she was very friendly. She showed me how to find the trail that ran around the visitor center and told me to watch out for rattlesnakes. The area looked a lot different from the other places I birded in San Diego, but I was seeing the same birds; Spotted Towhee, Lazuli Bunting, California Thrasher, California Towhee, Black-headed Grosbeak. At one point, I saw two small, long-tailed birds moving through a tree below me in a depression. I was pretty sure they were Wrentits, but I couldn’t get a good look at an entire bird at any one point.
The trail cut around the side of a hill then down toward the river. I was disappointed that I couldn’t walk along the river channel, but the trail stayed above the trees except for one spot where another trail crossed over. After leaving the valley, the trail climbed a steep hill covered with bushes and small trees. I spotted two birds in a tree about 20 yards off to the side. One was a Bushtit. The other was a Wrentit. It moved quickly through the branches with its long tail always cocked up. It was almost twice as large as the Bushtit.
I wandered all over the park for another three hours and saw some interesting birds, but no more lifers. The most unusual was a singing male Northern Parula near the dam. This is a rare bird in California.
I drove back to Point Loma and spent an hour on the grounds of Point Loma Nazarene College, on the cliffs above the ocean. But the Wrentit was my final lifer on the trip.