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Please begin with an informative title:

I recently returned from a short road trip to San Diego to celebrate a 100th birthday in the family. Although the purpose of the trip wasn't for sight seeing, I managed to snap a few photos here and there.

Traveling west on I-8, on the border of Imperial and San Diego counties, the landscape abruptly changes from flat desert sand into a steep mountain terrain with heaps of boulders.

In-Ko-Pah Gorge 1

In-Ko-Pah Gorge 2

By the time we reached the In-Ko-Pah Gorge it was high noon and the temperature well over 100 degrees. The only critter I saw was the Mearns' Rock Lizard and the only bird I heard was the desert wren.

Mearns' Rock Lizard

The rocky landscape was dotted with ocotillo, barrel cactus, cholla, yucca, agave and a wide variety chaparral shrubs. Considering the challenging environment, an amazing variety of plants.

Strawberry Cactus
Strawberry Cactus Mammilaria dioica

Echinocactus polycephalus
Echinocactus polycephalus Ferocactus cylindraceous

California buckwheat
California buckwheat

If you will, jump over the orange surf to see the birds feeding along San Diego's coastline.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

The birthday celebration took place at Silver Strand State Park. There were plenty of seagulls to volunteer for the clean-up crew. I noted the Heermann's gull, Ring-billed gull and this stately Western gull. Frankly, I didn't realize how many different gull species lived along the pacific coast before. For a novice birder, the plumage changes in the stages before maturity made idenification even more complicated.

Western Gull

The crustacean hunters were a bit more wary of my intentions. I had to be patient for them to wander close enough to get a clear picture.

Western Willet

Marbled Godwit
Marbled Godwit

Western Sandpiper
Western Sandpipers

The following day, the family chose the Ocean Beach Pier to meet-up. First thing I noticed was there was a lot of activity going on about midway down the pier. On either side of the pier, Brown pelicans were performing their death defying dives into the ocean. The gulls, in rapid pursuit, crowded in gangs to lighten the pelican's load.

Brown Pelican 1

Brown Pelican 4

Common Terns jet through the crowded sky looking for the floating fish that strayed away from the confusion.

Common Tern 2

Common Tern 3

The Double-crested Cormorants kept a low profile. They calmly drifted along the water with a sharp eye for the silvery flashes. In a fraction of a second, they dived through the surface.

Double-crested Cormorant

Back on the pier, a different set of characters were vying for food. These Gulls had a bit of a scuffle on the railing. Probably because just behind me, a fisherman was pulling out a net full of herring and spilled them out on the deck..

Gull scuffle

Moments later, a lovely Snowy Egret appeared on the hand rail. At first it was rather timid but the flapping herring on the floor of the pier was a strong lure. Food can inspire bold behavior.

Snowy Egret

Speaking about bold, is there a pier without a Rock pigeon population?

Rock Pigeon

Well then, how about adding a Macaw into the mix.

Hybrid Macaw

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