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Birding Escapes: La Jolla, California

By Tim Gallagher

La Jolla has it all. Less than 20 minutes from downtown San Diego, it has a rugged scenic shoreline, with cliffs, rocky outcroppings, and secluded coves, plus plenty of interesting birds to watch, such as shorebirds, gulls, Brown Pelicans, and an occasional Peregrine Falcon.

It’s best to start by birding along the cliffs between Point La Jolla and the Children’s Pool—a tiny lagoon that should probably more aptly be called the Harbor Seal Pool, because these charismatic marine mammals took it over long ago. The Children’s Pool has become a favorite area of bird photographers, because it’s so easy to get close-up shots of Brown Pelicans, Brandt’s and Double-crested cormorants, and various gulls on the rocks there.

Winter is the best time to bird in La Jolla, in terms of species diversity. During strong westerly winds, Point La Jolla is a good place to watch for pelagic species, such as shearwaters, flying past over the deep water just offshore.

DIRECTIONS: Driving north from San Diego, exit at La Jolla Parkway (Highway 56) going west and follow the road for five-and-a-half miles. Turn left on Torrey Pines Road and then right on Prospect Avenue and right again on Coast Boulevard. Then start looking for a parking place, which can sometimes be difficult in this favorite tourist spot, so plan on getting there early in the day.

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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library

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