California – Day 10 (August 4): San Diego Area

After a late start due to a long night’s drive (becoming a theme here!?), my dad and I started our day at the Pacific Crest Trail on Kitchen Creek Road, in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego.

Due to our incredible success with birds thus far, our targets on this day were few, and consisted of the following five species: Lawrence’s Goldfinch, Black-chinned Sparrow, California Gnatcatcher, Gray Vireo, and Mountain Quail

All species except the gnatcatcher were possible at our first stop, but, likely due to the heat of the late morning, we were only able to notch one: Lawrence’s Goldfinch.   Six individuals flushed from the surrounding brush, allowing us to hear their distinctive flight calls and observe their striking coloration in flight.

Moving on, we hit Cibbets Flat Campground further down the road, primarily in search of Mountain Quail. No quail here, but we did run into a couple of border patrol, reminding us of our much-changed geographic location.

We then decided to hit nearby Sheephead Mountain Road, where both Gray Vireo and Black-chinned Sparrow had been recently reported.

Although it took a while, I was finally able to obtain a fleeting and distant look at a singing Gray Vireo, one of two on the site.

Although the vireos didn’t allow documentation in the form of photographs, I was able to record their song (albeit poorly) with the Voice Memos app on the iPhone, which you can listen to [here] (I’d recommend headphones or good speakers for this one).

Frustratingly, we were unable to connect with Mountain Quail or Black-chinned Sparrow at Sheephead, arguably the last decent piece of habitat for these species we’d be visiting on the trip. Thus, we unfortunately missed both species. Oh well, there’s always a reason to come back!

Our last stop of the day was in the vicinity of the Otay Lakes in search of California Gnatcatcher. Although two calling gnatcatchers were audible here, we were never able to see either of them, and had to depart empty-handed. A “Least” Bell’s Vireo provided some consolation.

After hitting Otay, we headed off to what was probably the most anticipated stop of the day, Mets-Padres at Petco Park!

Being a huge baseball fan, visiting Petco was a thrill, and provided another ballpark to add to my list of visited MLB ballparks.

Petco Park

Not that it matters much, but I found Petco to be quite nice in terms of infrastructure, but also aesthetically.

It was a fitting way to celebrate the last night of such an incredible trip, one I was lucky enough to share with my favorite person in the world, my dad.

-Alex

(In addendum: the Mets took home the victory, beating San Diego 6-2. Being the Mets fan that he is, the win must’ve pleased my dad. The recap can be found here)

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