The boat, the desert, and the lizard.

Let's start with the lizard.  I think it's a San Diego alligator lizard, though I could be wrong.

He was sunbathing in Chula Vista, making up for the lack of a Thick-billed Kingbird.  Now for the boat...

Not that boat.

My friend and I went on a whale-watching boat with Dolphin Safari off Dana Point on Saturday.  We were a bit early but this Red-breasted Merganer kept us company in the marina.

Once on the boat, I totally missed the first couple whale sightings because I was busy trying to turn Heermann's Gulls into shearwaters.  Finally I succeeded!  I caught a trio of Black-vented Shearwaters trying to sneak by while everyone was looking at whales.

We saw tons of common dolphins and a pair of gray whales interacting, possibly courting.

Piles of California sea lions are pretty cute.

On our last day we woke up early to drive out to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. 

We wandered around the visitor center area first. 

Black-throated Sparrows

 Here I encountered my fifth life bird of my trip: Costa's Hummingbird. 

We stopped at a weird little housing complex called Hacienda del Sol, hoping for Cactus Wrens...

It only took about a minute to find one! 

My sixth and final trip life bird
The area was packed with other birds- Black-tailed Gnatcatchers, House Finches, White-winged Doves, more Black-throated Sparrows, and adorable Verdins...

Our last birding stop there was the resort golf course where we fully expected to get booted at any second.  My favorite bird there was a not-so-vermilion Vermilion Flycatcher:

I wish we had more time to spend here- it was beautiful and the birds were awesome.  Obviously.  We even found a place to crash...

And that's the last of my trip!  I had the best time and can't wait to go back someday! 


  1. Looks like an awesome trip. Cool sighting of the whales, love the dolphins too. The Verdin is on my most want to see list.. Congrats on your lifers, great birds and photos.. Happy Birding!

  2. Yeah, everyone loves a romp in the whale vagina...such good birding. Multiple-lifer trips are legit.

  3. I had so much fun on your trip to San Diego! 6 lifers!!

    1. I wasn't finished and it posted, so like I was saying 6 lifers is amazing, it gets harder and harder to find a lifer after a while. Love the sea life as well as all the awesome birds you found!

  4. NIce work out there Jen!

    I'm hoping to hit up some SoCal spots next weekend, and all the more inspiration is here.

    Congrats on the lifers and photo collection, even if nothing died (maybe the Sea Lion pile counts, despite its high level of adorability. I bet it smelled like death).

  5. Wow. Totally makes me miss SD & AB Desert, the ocean, etc. *sigh* Great shots, and when I saw your photo of the verdin, I said, out loud, "I want to kill myself." WOW, what a great shot. I've only seen then once, many years ago, probably also in the AB desert, possibly at Joshua Tree. Congrats on all the great birds & fabulous outings--well done!


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