ABA #400 – Birding Southern California in November

Even though the migrants had moved on and I knew the number of species present wouldn’t be large, my new position at work gave me a chance to bird the San Diego area for two days in November.

I reached out to San Diego blogger Greg Gillson for the best spot to see some of the western birds I haven’t seen. Resident birds like Black and Say’s Phoebe’s, California Towhee, Cassin’s Kingbird, Nuttall’s and Acorn Woodpecker. Since I was sitting at 397 species on the ABA (American Birding Association) list, seeing just a few of these birds would put me over 400.  Greg replied that Mission Trails Regional Park would be a choice in November.  And he was correct.

I decided to go to Mission Trails the first day for traffic reasons and work the coast the second day.  I didn’t even get out of the motel parking lot when I heard and then saw a Black Phoebe calling.  ABA #398.

Really bad photo in early morning light. Black Phoebe – San Diego 11/21/14

I eventually got moving towards the park after seeing a Western Gull, and numerous Anna’s Hummingbirds and Audubon’s Yellow-rumped Warblers.

The gull had been eating from a McDonald’s bag, but I decided not to take that photo. Western Gull – San Diego 11/21/14
Anna’s Hummingbirds were all around the motel parking lot. San Diego – 11/21/14


Odd seeing the yellow throat. The most numerous species on the day. Audubon’s Yellow-rumped Warbler – San Diego 11/21/14

Once reaching Mission Trails I had the same problem as the motel, getting out of the parking lot. There were lots of birds flying and calling and I since I wasn’t sure if there would be more down the road, I stayed put in the parking lot.  Lesser Goldfinches were in good numbers.

I lightened the photo to show the distinctive dark cap. Lesser Goldfinch – Mission Trails 11/17/14

A Western Scrub-Jay flew in.  More Anna Hummingbirds.  Then two Nuttell’s Woodpeckers called and flew into a distant tree,  ABA #399. I watched them for some time but they never came closer.  Interesting on the barred back versus the stripped of the Downy Woodpecker.

Finally crossing over to the campground parking lot there was a Lark Sparrow that puzzled me for a minute.  Guess I had missed it when studying up on the status and distribution.

Lark Sparrow – Mission Hills, San Diego 11/17/14

Then a House Wrens flew in along with Bushtits.

Secretive House Sparrow popped out for a moment. Mission Hills, San Diego 11/17/14


I saw several flocks of Bushtits on the day. Wish we had them back east… Mission Hills, San Diego 11/17/14

Then a bird I initially thought from its flight was a Jay, flew by and out to an open field.  It perched on a distant pole but sat and gave a good, if distant view.  Cassin’s Kingbird – ABA #400. (For the record #300 was a Baird’s Sandpiper in Illinois on 8/21/10).

By the time I got done looking at the bird through my binocs, a second one flew in on another pole. Cassin’s Kingbird – Mission Hills – San Diego – 11/21/14

I will post about the rest of the trip at a later date.

So on to #500.  I am guessing the time gap between 400 and 500 will be a lot shorter than the gap between 300 and 400 and will come in Arizona.