San Diego Bird Fest intro
The San Diego area offers an amazing variety of habitats and birds that are easily accessible within a 30 minute drive. The nearby mountains of Cuyamaca State Park offer potential to see mountain bird species like Pygmy Nuthatch, Mountain Chickadee, Steller's Jay, Band-tailed Pigeon, and even White-headed woodpecker with a bit of luck (among MANY others).
The grasslands near Ramona offers fantastic potential for viewing raptors. This year in less than 4 miles of road I saw numerous American Kestrels, a perched Merlin, multiple Northern Harriers, many Red-tailed Hawks in all plumages, an adult Golden Eagle perched low in a tree, three CA race Red-shouldered Hawks, 2 perched Cooper's Hawks, and 6 individual Ferruginous Hawks including a stunning dark morph adult! All in less than 2 hours time.
The amazing Anza Borrego Desert State Park is easily reached and birded within a day trip, providing a whole host of additional desert specialty species including: Black-throated Sparrow, Roadrunner, Costa's Hummingbird, Crissal & (hopefully) LeConte's Thrashers, among many others.
LeConte's Thrasher digiscoped during San Diego Birdfest 2007 - Leica APO Televid
Of course, I've barely scratched the surface and haven't even begun to consider the enormous assortment of birds found in the IMMEDIATE area which is every bit as spectacular. The habitats listed above are merely the icing on the cake! Last year I took the maniacal approach and raced all around the area to all of these sites, however this year I opted to kick my heels back and just enjoy the more local birds and sites. I was admittedly a bit exhausted following back to back to back festivals/shows in FL, and 2 in Las Vegas....
I'll provide more on this year's SD birding in short order, now I've got to get over to yet another show! ;)