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/ The first half of the road is paved; north of the freeway it turns into a good graded dirt road (despite what the sign says...), but be aware that after a good rain the road quality can can go downhill fast (no pun intended...).
Approximate Length: 18 miles round trip
Approximate Birding Time: 3.25 hours
Traffic: Light to moderate along the paved portion to very light along the dirt portion.
Facilities: None; best bet is behind a tree in the National Forest portion...
Directions: Take I-8 east about 45 miles, past the turnoffs to Cuyamaca and Laguna Mountains, and exit on Buckman Springs Road. Take Buckman Springs south all the way to highway 94 and go left (east) for about 3.3 miles. Turn left on La Posta Road and start birding here.
This is a good road to do after birding Cameron Valley, as the latter dumps off on Buckman Springs, and it's just a short drive south to 94. The birdlife is similar along the paved portion of the road as you pass through open sage and chaparral with some oaks, particularly around residential areas. Look and listen for California Quail, Anna's Hummingbird, Greater Roadrunner, Cassin's Kingbird, Western Scrub Jay, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Western Bluebird, California Thrasher, Bewick's, House, and Rock Wren, Bushtit, Wrentit, Bell's Sage, and Rufous-crowned Sparrows, and California and Spotted Towhees year-round; Ash-throated Flycatcher, Gray Vireo (rare), Black-chinned Sparrow, and Bullocks and (on rare occasion) Scott's Orioles in summer; and Hermit Thrush, and Fox and White-crowned Sparrows in winter. Although very rare, disbursing Hairy and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers may show up in the oaks around the houses, and in winter Purple Finches may come down from the high mountains. Check the telephone poles for raptors, and in the more open meadow areas check for Say's Phoebe in winter, Loggerhead Shrike year-round, and Western Kingbird in summer. Under the Interstate is a small riparian area (La Posta Creek) that can house widespread species such as Black Phoebe, Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrow, and Red-winged Blackbird. White-throated Swifts and Cliff Swallows nest under the interstate. Shortly after the dirt road begins, there's a very small pond on the left; when there's water there you may add American Coot or some other puddle duck to your day list.
La Posta Creek
...in the fall!
Small seasonal pond shortly after the road turns to dirt
Beyond this point you enter National Forest land. Don't let the "Passenger cars not recommended" sign scare you (unless there's recently been a good rain); the rough part veers off to the left about six miles down and becomes Thing Valley Road, at which point even I don't drive it! (Border Patrol has recently closed the road shortly beyond that point, anyway...) You enter thick chaparral with most of the previously-mentioned species (with the addition of Mountain Quail) as you ascend the slope; Gray Vireo may be present along here as well. Keep an eye out to the right for a rather large lake in the La Posta Indian Reservation; while distant, with a scope you might be able to pick out some things, such as coots, ducks, herons, or Great-tailed Grackles. The road passes through several stands of good oak riparian habitat, where you can look and listen for Acorn and Nuttall's Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, Hutton's Vireo, Phainopepla, House Wren, Oak Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, both Lesser and Lawrence's Goldfinch, and Orange-crowned Warbler year-round; Black-headed Grosbeak, Western Wood Pewee, and Pacific-slope Flycatcher in summer; and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Dark-eyed Junco in winter. Later in the summer, species that nest higher in the mountains such as Western Tanager start showing up. Wandering some of the dirt roads in the primitive campground could be productive, as migrants will often come down to the creek to drink and bathe. The turnaround point is easy to discern as previously mentioned, as Thing Valley Road to the left goes straight up the hill, and to continue straight on the main road brings you to a locked gate into private property. The views along this road, however, are lovely, and always be checking the skies for raptors; Golden Eagle is always possible here!
Chaparral habitat along the upper part of the road
Side road into the primitive campground
Personal Checklist ●=small numbers █ = large numbers (10+)
Please keep in mind that these lists are NOT comprehensive, and that some months may have had poor overall coverage. Species in red indicate vagrant, out-of-place, or irruptive species and should not be expected.
|Great Blue Heron||●|
|Western Wood Pewee||●|
|Western Scrub Jay||█||█||●||█||█||█||●||█||█||█||█||█|
|"Bell's" Sage Sparrow||●||●||●|
|"Slate-colored" Fox Sparrow||●||●||●||●||●||●|
|Red winged Blackbird||█||●||█||█||●||●||●||●|
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