Crestridge Ecological Reserve.
The Crestridge Ecological Reserve is one of my top spots to photograph birds in San Diego, California. The reserve has over 2,800 acres linking the Lakeside Ecological Reserve to the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. One of the reasons I enjoy photographing birds there are the surroundings. Plants like the Diegan Coastal Sage Scrub. Southern Mixed Chaparral, and Engelmann Oak woodlands and a large variety of flowers.
The management team told me the reserve includes Golden Eagles, owls, White-Tailed Kites, Cooper’s Hawks, and a variety of hummingbirds, among many other birds. I spotted my first Golden Eagle on the reserve in the summer of 2019. It was flying pretty high off in the sky, so I didn’t get a chance to photograph it well, but I did get a picture of it and ID it.
While hiking in the area, keep an eye out, you might come across some coyotes, bobcats, foxes, and even a mountain lion.
Something else to keep in mind as I found out the hard way. Watch out for rattlesnakes in the area during the summer.
I’ll never forget that day. It was June 1st, 2019. I was headed out to photograph hummingbirds. While driving there, I decided to stop and get something to eat. A little old lady was trying to cross the middle of the street, and three cars were in front of me. The car in the front decided to stop and let her go, but she kept waving for them to go on, and I heard a loud screeching sound. I looked up in my rearview mirror, and there is a cement truck barreling down on me with wheels locked up swirling all over the road. So I turned my wheel right and punched on the accelerator and pulled into the Burger King parking lot. Luckily no one got hit.
Then, later on, I went for my hike to photograph some California Quail before looking for some hummingbirds. I was hiking down the trail, and all of a sudden, I hear the rattles. Where is the snake? It’s about two feet in front of me. So I just backed up. The rattler just curled up for a minute, I took a couple of steps back and got a couple of photographs, and then he just took off into the brush. So keep that in mind while you’re hiking there, be safe!
Directions: To reach the primary entrance, off of Highway 8, exit at greenfield drive, head southeast and Turn left on La Cresta Road, turn left on Mountainview, turn left on Horse Mill road, and enter at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Audubon Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary.
Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary is a nature preserve owned and operated by the San Diego Audubon Society. The preserve is over 700 acres and is open to the public every Sunday except in August and September when it’s too hot and dry. The hours are between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. You’ll find the entrance on the east side of Wildcat Canyon road at mile 4.8. There are four miles of hiking trails networking through the area. Over the years, I’ve been there several times and really enjoy hiking throughout the trails and photographing birds.
There are more than a hundred species of birds at Silverwood. Some of the birds you might see are California Quail, Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Flicker, American Kestrel, California Scrub-Jay, Titmouse, and the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet. Hiking up to the ridgeline provides outstanding views of the surrounding mountains and out to the ocean. Start at the Harry Woodward trail. It’s an easy self-guided hike through Chaparral with many shrubs identified with signs. Some of the bushes you’ll see are the Holy Cherry, Mission Manzanita, Spicebush, Buckwheat, and Scrub Oak.
Directions 13003 Wildcat Canyon Rd. Lakeside, Ca 92040
La Jolla Cove, Calfornia.
La Jolla Cove is one of my favorite places to photograph birds and wildlife. It has one of the best views of the Pacific Ocean. Depending on the time of day, you usually don’t have a problem finding parking. At low tide, the tide pools are my favorite subjects to photograph besides the birds. You also have a chance to photograph sea lions in the area and dolphins on occasion. Some of the birds you’ll see are Spotted Sandpipers, Caspian Terns, Double-Crested Cormorant, and Brown Pelicans. There’s plenty of places to hike along the beach while finding different birds to photograph. You can even go on top of the beach and walk along the rim and find birds like a Song Sparrow or a Say’s Phoebe and Anna’s Hummingbird.
It’s a wonderfully relaxing place to go out, strolling the beach, photograph birds, and enjoy the ocean. One of the things I enjoy most about photographing at the beach. Is watching the sunset and getting a chance to take a picture of a bird as a silhouette. Like this pelican, I shot at La Jolla Beach. So check it out I think you really will enjoy it.
Directions 1100 Coast Blvd. La Jolla, Ca 92037
Ramona Grasslands Preserve.
The Ramona Grasslands Preserve is over 3521-acre preserve; however, not all the acreage is open to the public; some lands are closed to the public. They do this to protect sensitive resources along with the natural beauty of the area. It has over 408 plant species in the area that supports a variety of wildlife. There are all kinds of butterfly species, 21 reptile species, six types of amphibians, 37 mammals, and over a hundred types of birds. If you’re lucky, you might see a mountain lion, a bobcat, or a Long-Tailed Weasel. You commonly see coyotes, raccoons, and skunks.
The variety of birds is tremendous like Killdeers, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-Tailed Hawks, Belted Kingfisher, Acorn Woodpeckers, American Kestrel, Loggerhead Shrike, California Scrub-Jay, Oak Titmouse, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Rock Wren among others. The preserve has 4 miles of non-motorized multi-use trails so that you may see horseback riding and mountain biking along your way. If you’re looking for a variety of birds to photograph, this is the place check it out.
Directions Highland Valley Rd, Romona, Ca 92065
By Michael Vance Pemberton