San Diego Trip - Mission Bay / Crown Point

Next up in my San Diego Bird Photography Trip breakdown - the Mission Bay / Crown Point area!

Another area I only managed to shoot at for a single afternoon, so this "review" is somewhat limited, but it was such a great place - I had to write about it! I arrived early and managed to get amazing views of a long-staying Painted Redstart! It wasn't my photography-target, but will surely be one whenever I make it to their proper range in the future. Other tame passerines were out and about, but I found the shooting options were fairly limited. The Cassin's Kingbird (above) was a quick grab from the parking lot on route to the waters edge. The wind & light were a bit tricky at times, so I kicked things off with some "boring" photos of Western Gulls (in bland light). Nothing amazing, but I also didn't want to leave California without doing their age classes some (basic) justice. 

As the day wore on, the light improved. I moved down to the shoreline where an impressive collection of Coots, Snowy Egrets, Marbled Godwits, Willets and (especially) Black Skimmers had amassed. It's possible I was very lucky in hitting the "right" tides without giving them any consideration, as there was some excellent activity of birds coming and going. I spent a fair bit of time working the shorebirds flying past in irregular groups. 

I spent the last 2+ hours of daylight in close proximity to the skimmers, as I wanted to gain their trust and try to make some interesting images. They're a species with a "wow" factor due to their behaviour, structure, colours etc.... But they can be a real challenge to create a truly compelling image of (other than when they're skimming on calm water - or through a wave washing upon a beach). They seem to mass-up like Zebras, so even getting one standing by itself is a tall order. As the sun was setting, most of the birds began to leave for their evening roost - but luck was on my side when a mere FIVE birds decided to wait with me to get some basic shots under a beautiful pink sky. It won't win any awards, but I couldn't have been happier to get some true "field guide" style portraits of an isolated bird in that light.

Final rundown:

The good: lots of tame (to tame-ish) birds to shoot. I didn't come across many of my "target" bird species here, which was part of the reason for only visiting one afternoon - but I somewhat regret it, as I'm sure there were more great opportunities to be had. 

The bad: not much... I can imagine this area gets pretty busy at times, which might interfere with a shoot  - but I can't really say that for sure (just a guess). 

The ugly: again, I'm stretching, but a key drawback was a lack of perches for songbirds (mostly sitting on picnic tables or high in trees) and nothing particularly fancy about the shoreline...

Overall it's very much worth a visit (and perhaps plan some extra scouting time to fully take advantage of the area)!