Southern Wildlife Preserve
July 10, 2011

Happy Sunday to everyone! It's another beautiful day here with the marine layer slowly dissipating off the coast. An early morning sounded like a nice change, and so I packed and left for some local Audubon-recomended locations around Mission Bay and the San Diego River that I had never considered.

The first stop, Crowne Point, on the north end of Mission Bay turned out to be an observation point into the marshland without access for photography. I continued south to Famosa Slough just across the freeway. The slough was a salt-water marsh with herons, egrets and terns happily fishing beneath the morning cloud cover. Unfortunately, the birds were too far out in the wetland for me to even consider photographing. On top of that, a pungent aroma of dung and the occasional aggressive fly made waiting less pleasant. I lingered a while to see if something would make this stop worth the time and early waking hour, and I did in fact see something. High above me flocked about sixteen red-crowned parrots, making their entrance with extremely loud calls to one another. I have seen these parrots before on walks around the bay, but I assumed they were pets that decided to pursue personal goals in the real world. Upon further research, it appears the populations are feral and limited to small regions in North America.

Still upset with the prospect of returning without any worthy photographs, I reverted to the San Diego River's Southern Wildlife Preserve. Here, the river and estuary are protected from people and boats, but an access road alongside the waterway allows runners, bicycles and birders the ability to enjoy the wildlife. Off the side of the road, I saw two great blue herons and a giant nest of branches and other less natural artifacts. I walked along in search of the peregrine falcon that lived there, but I suppose it was out for the day. The last time I came here on a birding project I stumbled upon a few birders thrilled by the arrival of a tricolored heron, uncommon to San Diego County. Here is that picture taken long past sunset.

Today's bird of interest was a lone yellow-crowned night-heron fishing along the rocks. Either due to its clever location or very effective techniques, the heron continually picked out crustaceans of varying sizes and followed by swallowing them whole. The majority of its time spent feeding was not in locating the food, but rather in repositioning it so it could be swallowed whole. Too lazy to go further in the now warm asphalt road, I packed up and called it a day.