Thursday, February 24, 2011

Southern California, February 12-21

I've recently returned from over a week in southern California. While the main purpose of my trip was the annual AAOS conference, held in San Diego this year, I extended the trip before and after the conference. This allowed me to sneak away for some birding, particularly towards the end of the trip.

I arrived to sun and warmth, as expected in San Diego pretty much year-round. This pattern changed after a few days as a series of storms swept southeastward from the Gulf of Alaska, bringing cool temps, rain, and mountain snow. Despite the intermittently poor weather, it still compared favorably to the cold and snow we've seen so much of in Connecticut this winter.

The rapidly-moving storms made the birding......interesting; my initial itinerary was drastically changed as a result. But despite the weather I was able to pick up all of my major target species with the one exception being Pacific Golden-Plover (not a life bird as I've seen hundreds in Australia, but would have been an ABA/US bird, and it's been a while since I've seen one.) That made for 8 life birds and a few interesting sparrow subspecies. Favorites included Le Conte's Thrasher, White-headed Woodpecker, Surfbird, "Large-billed" Savannah Sparrow and "Thick-billed" Fox Sparrow.

It really was hit-and-run birding while dodging the weather, as my targets were few and spread out over distances. My travels took me from San Diego, east to the Salton Sea, up to Los Angeles and finally to Ventura and Santa Cruz Island.

I'll be posting a trip report that will include digiscoped/digibinned photos of most of my targets, plus a gallery of gull photos, a few species/subspecies comparisons, and how modern technology really saved my birding ass more than once!

- Nick

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