Quiet beauty at Maxton Brown Park in Carlsbad.

A small but very beautiful public park can be enjoyed in Carlsbad at the corner of Laguna Drive and State Street.

Maxton Brown Park is a quiet place. One can sit on a bench to read a book or gaze out at Buena Vista Lagoon.

During my recent walk in Carlsbad I rested on one bench that had a view of the lagoon. It was very peaceful.

I then briefly explored the park and found several memorial plaques that honor loved ones.

Here are a few photos…

The above plaque overlooking the lagoon reads:

LT. MAXTON BROWN PARK

515th SQDN

MARCH 5, 1915 – JULY 8, 1943

BUENA VISTA LAGOON CONSERVATOR

AMERICAN LEGION POST 146 MARCH 5, 1976

I did a little searching on the internet and learned that during World War II, on July 8, 1943, 2nd Lieutenant Maxton Brown of Carlsbad was downed over Sicily. He flew with the 515th Bomb Squadron.

The Buena Vista Lagoon is home of the Maxton Brown Bird Sanctuary. According to this page of the Carlsbad Historical Society, prior to the war Maxton “spent many hours at the lagoon sighting and recording over 150 species of birds.”

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A hike near the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center.

A beautiful, very easy nature hike can be enjoyed at the south end of Oceanside near the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center. The quarter mile hike follows a quiet looping trail with views of the Buena Vista Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

Yesterday I walked the trail and took these photographs.

The Buena Vista Audubon Society runs the Nature Center, which is located at 2202 South Coast Highway. The trail begins and ends a few steps from the building’s front entrance, directly across the driveway.

The Buena Vista Audubon Society engages the community and local students by offering nature education and various birding opportunities. They are also active in working to protect and restore wetlands and other environmentally sensitive land. You can learn more about their mission at this web page.

The Nature Center was closed when I happened by, but the trail was wide open and inviting on a sunny July day.

Here and there through dense bulrushes, or at viewing platforms, one can see the placid lagoon, and birds floating in the water or taking flight. Not only does local wildlife depend on this important natural habitat, but Buena Vista Lagoon is used by thousands of migrating birds that follow the Pacific Flyway.

One section of the hike was on a wood plank boardwalk over shallow water, then the trail turned toward dry land where I saw majestic trees, including sycamores, cottonwoods, and even a few Torrey pines.

During my walk I happened to meet Buena Vista Audubon Society’s Executive Director Natalie Shapiro. Before I began my hike, I observed her picking up trash along the Coast Highway, where it crosses the lagoon. Then I saw her again on the trail! She asked if I’d like to volunteer! Volunteers are always greatly appreciated!

She was super friendly and explained to me the difference between bulrushes and cattails, which I tend to confuse. At the margins of the lagoon, the plant community includes both of these, not to mention pickleweed and saltgrass.

Since the 1940s, Buena Vista Lagoon has been sealed off from natural tidal fluctations, and it has consequently become a stagnant fresh-water system. But there are now plans to open the lagoon to the ocean, creating a more healthy wetland.

If you’d like to enjoy this very easy, educational nature hike, head to Oceanside. And plan to visit when the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center is open! I need to do that, too!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

How to create a wildlife-friendly backyard!

I saw this great information on how to create a wildlife-friendly backyard and thought I’d share it! These four ideas were posted in a trailhead kiosk at Mission Trail Regional Park.

  1. Grow plants that provide wildlife with a natural food source such as nuts, berries or nectar, or add backyard feeders.
  2. Provide water for wildlife with a birdbath, small pond or shallow dish.
  3. Offer protective cover for wildlife by providing ground cover, a hollow log or rock piles, dense shrubs or a roosting box.
  4. Provide places for wildlife to raise their young, such as a water garden, pond or nesting box.

If you’d like to watch the birds and animals without them being spooked, or perhaps take close-up photographs, consider building a blind from which you can watch your wild visitors!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

River ducks arrive, greet, depart!

These events were recorded in Mission Valley this morning. I watched from the middle of the pedestrian bridge that spans the San Diego River by the Fashion Valley Transit Center.

Two ducks splashed down. They exchanged quack-greetings with a duck that floated nearby. The single duck launched itself from the water. Contented ducks swam happily along….

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Nesting cormorants above La Jolla Cove!

It must be breeding season already, because hundreds of Brandt’s cormorants are showing their blue throat patches and building nests on the cliffs above La Jolla Cove!

Today I stood and watched peculiar bird behaviors from the roadside above the cliffs. I saw amorous flirtations and angry squabbles and seaweed tug-of-wars. Cormorants in nests would occasionally angle their heads and wings way back, staring straight up. I’m not sure if that’s a natural behavior, or if they were merely gaping at all the tourists above them!

I tried to select my best photographs. In some the cormorants appear very beautiful; in others a bit strange and primitive–almost monstrous.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

The many birds of Famosa Slough.

Yesterday I headed to Point Loma to walk by Famosa Slough, a protected wetland I have driven past on many occasions. This was my first time walking the trails of the slough south of West Point Loma Boulevard, and along the channel that runs north toward Interstate 8 and the San Diego River.

The more I walked along the water and natural vegetation of the Famosa Slough State Marine Conservation Area, the more birds I saw! There were bright white egrets, and gulls and cormorants and ducks and various shorebirds. As you’ll see in one photo, I also spotted an osprey!

My photographs begin beside the slough that motorists see from West Point Loma Boulevard, then I crossed the street and followed a dirt pathway north up the channel to the end of the path.

Famosa Slough is part of a statewide network of Marine Protected Areas. It includes open shallow water, riparian habitat, wetland upland transition habitats, and four treatment basins to protect water quality.

Here is where I crossed over West Point Loma Boulevard. First I checked out the following information signs near the path up the Famosa Channel.

Birds one can see at Famosa Slough include the great egret, American wigeon, black-necked stilt, snowy egret, little blue heron, California brown pelican, and blue-winged teal.
Famosa Slough is a 37-acre coastal wetland owned by the City of San Diego and cared for by the Friends of Famosa Slough. It is home to many rare and endangered local and migratory bird species.
Looking north up the channel through the remains of an old bridge.
A kiosk. I couldn’t read the weathered words, but enjoyed the image of two gulls.
Heading up the dirt path.
I could see many birds in the distance.
A snowy egret.
A nice bench for resting and birdwatching.
An osprey soars high overhead!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Birds in feeding frenzy at Tuna Harbor!

The birds of Tuna Harbor gobbled up a delectable meal this morning!

Pelicans, egrets, cormorants and other feathered diners pursued a school of small fish as it moved back and forth next to the shoreline.

I stood on the boardwalk above the rocks for several minutes and photographed the feeding frenzy!

The birds were so intent on breakfast they didn’t seem to mind my presence.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

See amazing birds of prey at Hawk Watch!

A spectacular event is held every winter in Ramona, California. On Saturdays, during January and February, the public can freely enjoy an educational program called Hawk Watch.

Those who go to Hawk Watch will see birds of prey up close and in the wild. The setting is the wide, beautiful Ramona Grasslands.

Hawk Watch is an event organized by the Wildlife Research Institute. WRI, in a cooperative effort with The Nature Conservancy and San Diego County, now protects 7,000 acres of Ramona grassland. This grassland is an important natural refuge where native wildlife can not only survive, but thrive.

Hawk Watch features live raptors and a fascinating educational talk by biologists. The owls are introduced during the talk by representatives of Project Wildlife, which provides wildlife rescue in San Diego County. The talk is followed by demonstrations by falconry experts.

Afterward, all of the ambassador raptors can be viewed by the public up close!

Today I went to Hawk Watch!

The event is held on Ramona’s private Begent Ranch, which features all sorts of cool artwork, including colorful sculptures arranged about a large dirt parking lot. After walking through a barn and looking at a variety of educational exhibits, I set up my lawn chair with other visitors at the edge of the scenic grasslands.

As we were introduced to different species of hawks, falcons and owls, and learned about their special characteristics and adaptations, we could watch wild raptors and some ravens circling in the distance above the grasslands. Birds of prey that can be spotted in the blue skies of Ramona include hawks, kites, kestrels, golden eagles, and recently bald eagles!

The event has become so beloved that visitors today came from as far away as India, China and Israel. For two hours, everyone, including many families with children, sat enchanted by all that was seen and learned. Many of the visitors had high powered photographic equipment and binoculars. I made due with my little old camera.

Here are some photos. I’m afraid they’re just adequate. I couldn’t really record the falconry demonstrations very well, which included the clever use of a drone, but they were fantastic.

I know I’ll be going to Hawk Watch again. You can learn more about this amazing event and the work of the Wildlife Research Institute at their website here.

One last thing. The photo you’re about to see is a painting of WRI Director and Wildlife Biologist, co-founder of Hawk Watch, Dave Bittner. He tragically passed away about a month ago doing something he loved: tending to a camera near a golden eagle’s high cliff nest.

I was told Hawk Watch will live on.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Birds flock along the sand in Coronado.

Today I enjoyed a short walk in Coronado. I strolled along the edge of San Diego Bay, from the Coronado Ferry Landing to Tidelands Park, then turned around and made my way back. The overcast winter day was chilly and even a few raindrops fell.

I was in the mood to walk slowly, while gazing across the gray water.

As I began south, a flock of seagulls stood preening on a strip of wet sand below the rocks near the Coronado Island Marriott Resort. From time to time gulls stretched their wings. Some would suddenly launch into the sky. I paused to watch and take photos.

When I reached Tidelands Park, I spotted a great blue heron and a few shorebirds that I believe were marbled godwits.

I took a few random photos of this scenic stretch of the Bayshore Bikeway as I made my way back to catch the ferry. San Diego’s skyline beckoned in the distance.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

San Diego Audubon Society’s fun Bird Festival!

People enjoying the annual Bird Festival at Marina Village have walked to the San Diego River Estuary where many aquatic birds congregate.
People enjoying the annual Bird Festival at Marina Village have walked to the San Diego River Estuary where many aquatic birds congregate.

Today during my walk I encountered of group of enthusiastic birders at the San Diego River Estuary. These folks were all participating in the San Diego Audubon Society’s annual Bird Festival, which takes place this weekend at the nearby Marina Village Conference Center.

Later during my walk I visited the Bird Festival’s registration room, where anyone can purchase dozens of different birdwatching and reference books, plus other gifts. A friendly lady informed me that the San Diego Audubon Society has about three thousand members! During the Bird Festival and throughout the year, members can go on all sorts of field trips around San Diego County, and take every sort of bird-related class imaginable.

Members and volunteers are also involved in working to restore critical bird habitat in Mission Bay! I blogged about that a couple years ago here!

Do you make your home in San Diego? Do you love birds? Then you probably should join the Audubon Society! Here the local chapter’s website, where you can also learn more about the very cool Bird Festival, which continues through tomorrow!

The San Diego Audubon Society offers many birdwatching opportunities. The organization also has a conservation program.
The San Diego Audubon Society offers many birdwatching opportunities. The organization also has a vital conservation program.

If I joined the Audubon Society, maybe I'd learn what sort of behavior these birds are displaying!
If I joined the Audubon Society, maybe I’d learn what sort of behavior these birds are displaying!

Poster at the Bird Festival shows how the San Diego Audubon Society is helping to restore the nesting habitat of the endangered California Least Tern in Mission Bay.
Poster at the Bird Festival shows how the San Diego Audubon Society is helping to restore the nesting habitat of the endangered California Least Tern in Mission Bay.

I believe this little guy on the bank of the San Diego River is a snowy egret.
I believe this little guy on the bank of the San Diego River is a snowy egret.

Members of the San Diego Audubon Society enjoy a perfect sunny day and identify lots of birds!
Members of the San Diego Audubon Society enjoy a perfect sunny day and identify lots of birds!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!