Batiquitos Lagoon
July 24, 2011

In light of the still-growing brush fire to the east, I returned to the salt-marshes along the coast line. Along San Diego County, there are five wetlands. The closest, Los Peñasquitos Marsh, bordering Torrey Pines State Reserve, is more or less restricted from human activity and is therefore not an option. Slightly north is the Del Mar Fairgrounds, which also features some sort of wetland but lacks notable trails. Even further north are the two more: San Elijo Lagoon and Batiquitos Lagoon. I had visited San Elijo Lagoon not too long ago and so I decided to check out Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad. This lagoon is notably larger and accessible. There are four trailheads along the north rim of the wetland, and each has paved parking lots. The trail below was busy, filled with runners, walkers, talkers and dogs, but there were no other photographers or birders around.

I was initially bothered by the distance between the singular trail and the lagoon, which I thought would limit my ability to photograph the water-dependent animals. There were definitely birds though, and minutes after stepping onto the trail, I watched a tight flock of black skimmers fly overhead on their way through the residential neighborhood. I began the trail, listening to the birds, and to other runners' iPods as they breezed on by. The loudest of sounds, however, emanated from the screeching of some long-tailed hawk. Due to non-ideal lighting, all I could see was its silhouette as glided through the grove of eucalyptus trees.

In the distance over the lagoon flocked willet, mallards and skimmers as they scrounged for food in the brightening day. As expected, they were all too far for me to photograph well, and I just watched from a distance. The trail moved further from the water and into a more chaparral landscape. Here, a solitary black phoebe swooped low to catch the buzzing insects and affable house finches chattered away. As I approached the overpass of Interstate-5, I took a short break in the shade alongside a small creek. Sparrows and finches also inhabited this location, and a bold American goldfinch stayed to complete his refreshment.

With the uncomfortable feeling of sunburn, I turned back to call it a day. Upon reaching the trailhead, I once again heard the screeching of the hawk. After lending some patience to this matter, I managed to see the juvenile sharp-shinned hawk closer and non-silhouetted. It was a smaller hawk with a relatively long rectangular and darkly striped tail. With photographs of the bird, I was ready to leave, and packed up soon after.

Hope you enjoyed the post!