Field Journal: Cabrillo National Monument Tidepools

In the afternoon of our second and last full day in San Diego, after we visited Tecolote Canyon we headed towards the Pacific Ocean. I wanted to find tide pools to visit at low tide and read that Cabrillo National Monument had some pretty nice marine fauna. Unfortunately, what I didn’t realize was that it was a free parks day and by afternoon the place was absolutely packed. There was no parking near the tide pools and when we finally arrived, after low tide had already peaked, there were so many people that navigating the rocky shore was more like navigating cars at rush hour. Sadly, I didn’t get to thoroughly investigate the tide pools and animals and instead had more of a fleeting glance. I’d love to go back another visit when it’s less busy and the tide is further out, because it does look…

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Field Journal: Tecolote Canyon

To begin our second day in San Diego, I chose to visit a place I’d heard about but had not yet seen, Tecolote Canyon. The park is named tecolote which also means owl and indeed, Great-horned Owls and Barn Owls can be found there with some even nesting. The morning started as overcast, but plenty warm enough for us Seattleites. We immediately encountered a few California Towhees at the entrance area, rather dull brown birds at first glance, with with a subtle orange/red color upon closer inspection. I also found a few California Thrashers, jay-sized birds, also a dull brown, but with impressively long, curved beaks. I noticed a woodpecker on a phone pole and took a photo. Later I realized it was a Nuttall’s Woodpecker, a new bird for me. I then encountered some birds decidedly more colorful, a Black-headed Grosbeak and a Hooded Oriole…

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Field Journal: Winged Balboa Park

Whenever we visit San Diego, one of the very first places we head is Balboa Park. This time was no exception and we arrived at the park early in the morning and started wandering around looking for wildlife. I heard and saw birds like California Towhees and Black Phoebes, but couldn’t find many bugs. Much of the park is highly manicured and the flowering plants had little wildlife visiting, despite the warm morning sun. We visited a couple of gardens finding not much more than a very large grasshopper. Although I’ve been to San Diego many times to visit family, I’d never been in the spring and I was eager to find butterflies. Seattle has had a very wet (wettest on record in fact) and cold spring with little bug life as yet and my hopes were high for something with six legs.

One of my favorite places in the…

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Zoro Garden and Desert Garden, Balboa Park

Balboa Park is one of my favorite parks to visit, and I do so every other winter. The 1,200 acre park is a beacon of green space in a sprawling city, and it’s easy to spot when flying into the San Diego airport. In the park are eight distinct gardens, well over a dozen museums and a major zoo. Two of my favorite gardens in the park are the Zoro Garden, which is a butterfly garden, and the Desert Garden, which features a huge variety of succulents and cacti.

The Zoro Garden has to take the prize for the most interesting history of a butterfly garden. As with the rest of Balboa Park, which was originally built for the Panama-California Exposition in 1915, it was again used for the

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