It was an early start. But, as it turns out, it was worth it. When we reached Kitchen Creek on the east side of the Laguna Mountains and started up the road, we stopped frequently to look and listen. At about the third stop we heard the call of Mountain Quail, but it was far away. Not to be put off, John got out his scope and scanned the ridge line. "I've got it," he said. Sure enough! There was a male with topknot sticking straight up. We heard a couple more before we left the valley.
At Jacumba we visited a postage stamp sized cattail marsh adjacent to the library where a colony of Tri-colored Blackbirds holds forth with their squeaky calls (photo). There were also a few Red-winged Blackbirds and a Marsh Wren there. At that point we took a break and had breakfast at a great local place. The placemat gave a history of the town from being a pony express stop, to railroad stop, to its current status as a border town. The big fence south of town is courtesy of the US government.
Driving north to Anza-Borrego State Park, we stopped at the campground. As we walked in, we met several birders who had seen a Long-eared Owl roosting in the tamarisk trees. They pointed us in the right direction and had good daytime looks at a beautiful owl (photo). So it was a little like the Masked Duck was in Florida: find the birders looking at the bird and you find the bird.
On to Borrego where we searched a grove of date palms for Scott's Oriole without success. We abandoned our search for Brewer's Sparrow because of the time of day and the fact that the group from the San Diego Festival, whom we met when we arrived, didn't find any at a much earlier time during the day. By the way the festival group had to wait three hours while their bus was extricated from the soft sand where it had gotten stuck turning around. No! I didn't park anywhere near the soft sand, but thanks for worrying about the possibility I might again get stuck.
On our way back to San Diego we cruised a road along which several Lewis's Woodpeckers have been seen. On the second pass we spotted one atop a telephone pole. It flew off to the next pole with its crow-like wing beat. The third photo is of one of the many ground squirrels we've seen the past several days. So today we added five more to the year list bringing the total to 401. The Long-eared Owl was number 400. Tomorrow we take a full day pelagic trip on the same boat we went out on Thursday.