|The Beach at Border Field State Park|
Date: November 21, 2018
Place: Border Field State Park, Imperial Beach, California
Coordinates: 32.543509, -117.106526
Length: 3.1 miles
When we decided on the San Diego area as the destination for our Thanksgiving break Pappa Quail knew immediately that he wanted to visit Border Field State Park. It is one of the prime birding spots in the Southern California coast.
At the time of our trip approached we were getting concerned: the news reported of a large caravan of refugees was approaching Tijuana from the Mexican side of the border. According to the media they untended to storm the border fence. As the tensions increased, we wondered if the park, which is right at the Mexican border, was even going to be open for hikes.
Since no notice of closure appeared on the park's website that morning we decided to go ahead with our plan and visit there.
We arrived at the park and found that we couldn't drive inside. We parked at a gravel parking lot next to a few other cars and walked down the road, past the unmanned gate booth.
Border Field State Park is flat. There's a large, slough-fed salt marsh and a long, beautiful beach. There's also a hill at the southeast side of the park but we were heading directly west - to the beach.
|Our hike as captured by Pappa Quail's GPS|
The emptiness, vastness, and lack of human activity in the park stood in contrast with the high rises of the city of Tijuana that loomed to the south of us, just across the border. As we walked down to the beach I kept turning my head to look at the city, fascinated by the close proximity to another country. The elder chika was doing the same, but she was much more vocal about her desire to cross the border and visit Mexico and was bummed when we told her that it won't happen on this particular trip.
|View north to San Diego|
There were no birds wading the slough mud despite the bounty of snails that crawled about.
Pappa Quail and the chikas were eager to get to the beach and hurried along down the trail. Bit I saw something that made me stop in my tracks: flowers! The sand verbena was blooming. Not at it's peak, but blooming nonetheless. I was thrilled.
|Sticky Sand Verbena, Abronia maritima|
|The border fence|
Having made it to the strand line myself, I got to look for beach treasures. And there were plenty of them there, just lying around on the wet sand.
|Curlew and Tijuana|
Snowy plovers are an endangered species that after suffered a serious decline due to habitat loss is now making a comeback, thanks to preservation efforts. They are tiny, almost completely camouflaged birds, that can be detected by the untrained eye pretty much only when on the move. We've seen snowy plovers at a few other beaches along the California coast, first time being at the Oso Flaco State Beach. Nearly always these plovers wear leg bands. Of the two individuals we've seen at Border Field State Park, only one was sporting the leg bands (which Pappa Quail reported to the authorities that keep count of these birds). I chose to post here the image of the landless one.
Unlike the slow stroll we had on the beach, now we were walking quickly. We didn't see many birds there, save for a few little bush birds.
|Red-wing Blackbird, female (left), and House Finch, female (right)|
I drove slowly in the quiet road leading from Border Field State Park to the Tijuana River Valley Preserve when something large and blue crossed my field of vision. I slammed the breaks and pulled over, shouting with excitement - what flew across the road was a magpie jay, one of the biggest on our wish list for this trip.
We all got out of the car. Me with the binoculars and Pappa Quail and the elder chika with their cameras. The younger chika was less enthusiastic about seeing this magnificent bird but she did eventually, if somewhat reluctantly, come along to take a look.
|Black-throated Magpie Jay|