Sighting birds on Tijuana Slough’s McCoy Trail.

The short, easy McCoy Trail at Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge is a fine place to sight birds. I found this out recently during my own quiet walk down the nature trail.

The McCoy Trail starts south of the Visitor Center on the north side of the Tijuana Slough, in Imperial Beach. I walked along the trail once before, back when I blogged about a guided nature walk that I enjoyed. But you don’t need a guide to appreciate the beauty of this protected wetland.

Spotting birds requires patience and searching eyes. There’s a lot of helicopter activity in the area from Naval Outlying Landing Field Imperial Beach, which might spook some birds.

If birds aren’t inside the lush green vegetation feeding or nesting, they’re out on the open water channels, usually as some distance from the trail. I found it best to sit on one of the McCoy Trail’s benches, relax, and let time and serendipity reveal the hidden life.

During this walk I saw several Snowy Egrets, a cormorant at a distance, and quick little birds flying shrub to shrub that I couldn’t identify. I also saw a brown pelican and great blue heron flying overhead.

Near the trail you’ll also observe prickly pear and cholla cacti, which might seem odd. The separation between wetland and very dry habitat can be sudden in our arid coastal region. It’s one reason for San Diego’s amazing biodiversity.

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The surprising Coral Reef Garden at Scripps!

There’s a surprising garden on the campus of Scripps Institution of Oceanography. It’s called The McReynolds Family Coral Reef Garden.

Desert cacti and succulents planted among rocks strongly resemble an ocean’s underwater coral reef!

This isn’t coincidental. I read several information signs around the Coral Reef Garden and learned how two very different environments are alike in many respects.

You can view this fantastic garden for yourself by walking along the Scripps Coastal Meander Trail, where it heads down Biological Grade. Look for it by the Eckart Building.

Fascinated? Read more about this very unique coral reef-inspired garden here!

As I explored the garden, I saw this plaque by a bench. It reads:

Ricky Grigg

Big Wave Surfer

PhD Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Pioneer Coral Reef Ecologist

Devoted his life to the sea and all it’s [sic] splendor

Two different ecosystems compared: a coral reef and a desert environment. Harsh habitat and abundant life. A seeming contradiction called Darwin’s Paradox.
The fore reef, with its many ridges and channels, contains the greatest diversity of corals, fishes, invertebrates and algae.
At the reef drop off, deeper, less turbulent water allows corals to grow taller and make more intricate shapes. Much like plants not subject to strong winds!

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!

Beauty at San Diego Cactus and Succulent show!

There’s plenty of beauty to enjoy this weekend in Balboa Park, at the San Diego Cactus and Succulent Society’s Winter Show and Sale!

The public is invited to check out tables full of amazing displays inside Room 101 of the Casa del Prado. There are jewel-like flowers, exotic species, and bizarre plant forms will make you look twice!

If you’d like to take a potted cactus or succulent home, there’s also a big sale in the Casa del Prado’s outdoor courtyard.

Learn more here!

This is some of the beauty you’ll see…

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 Ysidro mural painted for California Clean Air Day.

A mural was recently completed in San Ysidro to raise awareness for the 4th Annual California Clean Air Day, which took place last Wednesday.

Today I headed down to Casa Familiar’s new Environmental Justice office at 161 San Ysidro Boulevard to see the mural, which was painted by Amanda Kachadoorian and other artists along a low wall nearby.

My photos show just how gorgeous the artwork is!

According to information I received concerning it, the “mural represents the fight for clean air by elevating conservation and restoration of natural habitats. The mural focuses on the Tijuana River Valley depicting a natural landscape with native plants…”

San Ysidro is home to the world’s busiest land border crossing. This San Diego South Bay community experiences a disproportionate amount of air pollution. The high level of pollution comes from 60,000 idling cars every day as motorists wait at the border.

The beautiful mural was commissioned by the community organization Casa Familiar in collaboration with Coalition for Clean Air.

You can learn more about a past Air Pollution Study in San Ysidro here.

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!

A spring walk down Robyn’s Egg Trail.

A couple weekends ago I took photos as I walked down Robyn’s Egg Trail in Mission Hills.

The hiking trail begins north of Pioneer Park by Washington Place. It descends first west then southwest along the bottom of narrow Mission Hills Canyon, and finally ends by some homes on Titus Street. It runs perhaps half a mile. From nearby Pringle Street I then walked a block down to San Diego Avenue.

Robyn’s Egg Trail in spring is very green. A variety of flowers can be spotted here and there and birds are plentiful. The rough trail winds through grass, trees, prickly pear and other vegetation–some of it native, some of it invading the canyon from the backyards of the homes above. This trail in the city feels a bit wild. Few people seem to use it.

Should you try hiking Robyn’s Egg Trail, please be careful. In many places the path is badly eroded and merges with a stony creek bed. I suspect that during rains it’s very muddy. Even on a sunny spring day, there were narrow and steep places where I could have easily slipped and fallen.

You can see the trail marked on Google Maps.

During my walk I encountered one friendly lady walking her dog, and one homeless person who acted a bit odd. But otherwise I found quiet.

Robyn’s Egg Trail is a retreat from the city above into a small slice of nature.

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!

Fog at Balboa Park’s Desert Garden.

Early this morning, an overnight fog obscured Balboa Park’s Desert Garden.

As the rising sun began to brighten the fantastic cacti of the Desert Garden, banks of fog lingered in Florida Canyon and beyond, appearing like ghostly, faraway islands…

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!

The succulents and cacti of Seaport Village.

I discovered a little bit of history yesterday!

You know all those beautiful old succulents and cacti you see in Seaport Village, particularly around the plaza containing the main fountain?

As I walked around the circular plaza I happened to spy a painted tile on top of one planter wall.

Words explain: The beautiful succulents and cacti you are enjoying here were selected and planted by Mr. Chuck Ito of Leucadia, California. 1980.

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!

Nature and art at San Diego River Garden!

There’s a very special garden in San Diego that few people visit. It’s called the San Diego River Garden. It’s situated near the center of Mission Valley, a short distance south of the San Diego River.

Every so often I drive past this native plant garden, but I never see a place to park. The stretch of Camino del Rio North beside it is mostly used by people going to and from nearby office buildings, and no street parking is available.

The gate of the San Diego River Garden’s small dirt parking lot is usually shut. The only other way in is to walk along a dirt path beside the road and pass through an entrance in the fence. Which is what I did this morning!

All was quiet. The early morning summer breeze was pleasantly cool. The few picnic benches were empty. I saw no other people. But I did see many active birds. And bright flowers. And lots of flourishing native plants including some cacti. And modest planters holding more greenery. And many winding trails. And Bigfoot! Yes, you heard me correctly! And–to my additional delight–a whole lot of nature artwork created by young students, including painted tiles scattered here and there on the ground and a cool mural on a shipping container!

According to the San Diego River Park Foundation website: “This site used to be a vacant area reserved for future use by the City of San Diego. But thanks to the City and the many volunteers, sponsors, groups that have come out to garden, the River Park Foundation is caring for this 5 acre area to make it attractive for the community.”

If you or your group would like to volunteer and do a little gardening out in the warm San Diego sunshine, or if you simply want to visit this beautiful kid-friendly park or learn more about it, click here!

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!

Historic Old (1935) Cactus Garden revitalized!

During my walk this weekend through Balboa Park, I was excited to discover that the historic Old (1935) Cactus Garden behind the Balboa Park Club has been recently revitalized!

Dead and unsightly vegetation has been removed, the cacti and succulents look more beautiful than ever, and the pathways are in great condition!

I was also surprised to see a family of cats walking casually about in the sunshine, greeting me and a few other visitors who were passing through the cactus garden!

If you ever find yourself in Balboa Park and would like a quiet place to read or eat lunch, head over to the Old (1935) Cactus Garden. Not only will you be surrounded by natural beauty, but there are views of the Cabrillo Bridge and the distant California Tower.

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!

Natural beauty near the Sikes Adobe.

Early this morning, before the summer sun could make hiking very hot, I enjoyed a slow, quiet walk near the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead in Escondido.

I followed the Coast to Crest Trail for a bit, passed over Kit Carson Creek, and gazed off toward the willows and sycamores that line the edge of Lake Hodges and the San Dieguito River.

I lifted my camera when my eyes happened to perceive another instance of natural beauty.

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!