CA/AZ – Day 2 (March 16): Los Angeles to San Diego

Following another night in the LA area, my dad and I found ourselves at UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Field early the next morning. We weren’t there for baseball, but instead for a wintering Virginia’s Warbler, one of the few remaining North American members of my favorite family I have yet to see.

The Virginia’s had been frequenting a nursery adjacent to the field, which in turn bordered the LA Veterans’ Garden. Upon arrival, we found there to be quite a bit of activity in the parking lot, stalling our progress. White-crowned Sparrows and Yellow-rumped Warblers were particularly prevalent (no surprise there) and a few Townsend’s Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets were moving about. A friendly Black Phoebe was also nearby.

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

Heading into the nursery, we were directed to the area the warbler had been frequenting by a helpful employee. Surprisingly, we found this overgrown nursery/garden/neighborhood to be quite birdy, and got our first decent taste of California landbirding on the trip.

Highlights included Red-shouldered Hawk, American Kestrel, Oak Titmouse, California Towhee and “Sooty” Fox Sparrow

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

California Towhee

California Towhee

"Sooty" Fox Sparrow

“Sooty” Fox Sparrow

Unfortunately, the Virginia’s never showed in an hour and a half of searching, prolonging my wait for this sneaky parulid.

Heading south, we made our way to the Village Green, a community of sorts containing a nice variety of old trees, and attractive plantings. A Cassin’s Vireo had been wintering here, even singing on some mornings, and we hoped to possibly nail my last breeding North American vireo at this spot.

Forty-five minutes of searching failed to yield the vireo, although Allen’s and Anna’s Hummingbirds, Bushtit and Common Raven kept us occupied during our visit.

Again moving south, we decided to put in a good chunk of time at Cabrillo Beach Park in the Long Beach area, aiming to see both Glaucous-winged and Mew Gulls.

An hour at Cabrillo was extremely productive, with 30 species seen. We were also able to connect with Mew Gull, a life bird for both of us. Other highlights included Lesser Scaup, Surf Scoter, California Brown Pelican, Whimbrel, Black Turnstone, Heermann’s Gull, Royal Tern and Black Skimmer. No Glaucous-winged, unfortunately, but we did get halfway there with a nice hybrid Glaucous-winged x Western Gull.

Mew Gull

Mew Gull

Mew Gull

Mew Gull

Showing off the remaining immature plumage.

Showing off the remaining immature plumage.

A nearby Ring-billed Gull for comparison.

A nearby Ring-billed Gull for comparison.

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

Black Turnstone

Black Turnstone

Heermann's Gull

Heermann’s Gull

Black Skimmers

Black Skimmers

Glaucous-winged x Western Gull

Glaucous-winged x Western Gull

After lunch in the Long Beach area, we began the push to San Diego, arriving at our last location of the day, San Dieguito Lagoon, a few hours later.

A Pacific Golden-Plover had been wintering here, but we dipped on this bird in nearly an hour of scanning. A few Redhead and a Whimbrel were meager consolation.

Overall, Day 2 appears to not have been too successful a day when you count the number of misses we experienced. However, we were finally able to pick up Mew Gull and also enjoyed seeing a number of common California species, which definitely made it a success in my book.

-Alex

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