Nearing the end, and I've been saving the best for last! Another breakdown from the San Diego area. This was the first and last place I visited during my trip (not quite, but close enough). My cheap motel was close, and "a huge NWR" nearly the definition of "my favourite places to visit in the USA".
My understanding of this site is similar to La Jolla shores - a hot tip on a place I'd never really heard of before... Lots of trails, access points & a decent variety of habitats to explore and (hopefully) shoot! It was the "feel good" destination of my trip... I spent my very first afternoon wandering around in search of passerines but the variety of options/habitats meant you could shoot a decent variety of things. Anyways here's a few songbirds!
I was happy to shoot a new subspecies of White-crowned Sparrow, but needless to say I was happier to get the Say's Phoebe! I never quite connected with any of the Audubon's Wabrlers, Bushtits, etc that were wandering about, but some extended time here would surely result in opportunities.
The marsh was also hopping with neat chances - herons, shorebirds, ducks, rails - usually a little too far away or with a slightly strange light angle, but the chances were there (I also blew a great chance with a tame American Kestrel).
The majority of my time was around the estuary mouth, walking south along the coast. A consideration of tides, wind, light etc. would probably result in wildly different photos and opportunities. Plus - the estuary mouth was also a great birding spot - with some really neat birds out of photo range (Pacific Golden Plovers!). While they stayed far away, I ended up with the expected "Western Willet photo ops".
Near the end of my adventure, I was lucky to have gotten shots of most target species. One that I really wanted, but didn't have, was Long-billed Curlew. With beautiful afternoon light, I sat near the estuary mouth and photographed some of the larger shorebirds that were coming and going from the mudflats to the north. The odd LBCU was taking part, but I never quite connected with "the shot" I had wanted - but it was still pretty fun!
A golden glow gave way to pink skies - and there was more shooting to be done!
Then pink skies gave way to a fiery sunset, and I made some of my favourite images of the trip! (and they were of Willets! If you can believe that...)
The good: the tone of this blog post (kid in a candy store style, not a proper review) will hopefully convey the fun I had at this site. IMO - it was the best "birding photographer" or "photographer who also wants some great birding" place during my trip. The birds aren't quite as tame as elsewhere, and it's a bit harder to get around to get the shots, but there are lots of species and lots of chances - so eventually you'll connect! I hardly scratched the surface of what could be done here (imo).
The bad: endless helicopters? Not a big deal, but it would be even more magical without the added noise! :)
The ugly: not much. It's a long walk to get to the estuary mouth, and depending on season/light/tides, it's possible you'll go long stretches without a big-time shooting chance.
I'd highly reccomend visiting this area!