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Blue Sky Preserve -

Please note: This area was extensively damaged during the 2007 Witch Creek Fires (click here for pictures of the damage) and closed for awhile, but the park is now open to hikers.

Directions:    Take I-15 north to Rancho Bernardo (past Poway), and take the Rancho Bernardo Road exit.  Turn right, and follow this road for about three miles, and when it veers right, watch for the parking area for Blue Sky Preserve on your left (if you reach Lake Poway you've gone too far).

This is a delightful area of chaparral, willow/sycamore riparian, and oak woodland, with a trail that is basically wide and flat (except for the initial downslope towards the creek area).  The ambitious hiker can make their way all the way to Ramona Reservoir (round trip from the parking area is probably about five miles) or up a substantial switchback trail to Lake Poway, which is your only chance for Osprey, shorebirds, waders, and other water birds here, unless something happens to fly overhead (I've only managed to drag myself up there three times so far, hence the concentration of water birds for April, September, and October in the checklist).  If you're really ambitious and want to make a day out of it, the trail actually encircles the lake (about a three mile loop) and brings you back to Blue Sky, but otherwise you can get a nice view of the water once you clear the dam.  It takes me about four hours to bird the main trail to the end (where there's an "authorized vehicles only" sign), "Oak Grove" (a side trail to the creek about five minutes from the parking area), a peek into the chaparral along the Ramona Lake Trail, and up to the Lake Poway overlook.

Look for the usual chaparral fare along the first part of the trail, such as California Quail, Anna's and Costa's Hummingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher (summer), Western Scrub Jay, California Thrasher (beware that because of the suburban surroundings, Northern Mockingbirds are here as well), Bewick's Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Bushtit, Wrentit, White-crowned (winter) and Rufous-crowned Sparrows, and Spotted and California Towhees.  In winter look also for Fox Sparrows of both the "Slate-colored" and "Thick-billed" races.  The oak woodland can have any number of riparian-related species such as Black-chinned Hummingbird, Pacific-slope Flycatcher,  Yellow Warbler, both Bullock's and Hooded Orioles, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Lazuli Bunting in summer; Yellow-rumped Warbler in winter (keep an eye and ear out for the occasional Myrtle); and Black Phoebe, all three goldfinches, Common Yellowthroat, and Song Sparrow year round (plus migrants in spring and fall).  Oak-loving birds such as Red-shouldered Hawk, Nuttall's and Acorn Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, Western Bluebird (more likely in winter), White-breasted Nuthatch, Phainopepla, American Robin, Hutton's Vireo, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet (winter), Oak Titmouse, and Orange-crowned Warbler, can be found as well, although some species aren't as numerous here as in the foothills.  Although they only showed up one year, the habitat is marvelous for Varied Thrush, so it's worth keeping an eye out for this wintertime vagrant; the Hermit Thrush, which has a similar-sounding thook call note, is much more likely.  In the open areas check the skies for raptors, swallows, swifts, and wandering water birds that may be making their way to one of the reservoirs!


Oak Grove area

The main trail

Trail to Ramona Reservoir

Same trail, once out of the woods and into the chaparral!

View of Poway Dam and Lake from the Ramona Lake Trail

Riparian area behind the Poway dam

Poway Lake and Dam on a foggy day

Lake Poway overlook, with Ramona Dam in the background (you can see the Ramona Lake Trail cut out of the mountain...)

Lake Poway Trail near the campground

Volunteers man a display table on the weekends while the visitor center is being built!

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 denote irruptive, vagrant, or out-of-place species and should not be expected.

  J F M A M J J A S O N D
Pied-billed Grebe                      
Double-crested Cormorant                      
Great Egret                      
Snowy Egret                      
Turkey Vulture                      
Cooper's Hawk                      
Red-shouldered Hawk              
Red-tailed Hawk                    
American Kestrel                      
California Quail                    
American Coot                  
Spotted Sandpiper                      
Caspian Tern                      
Forster's Tern                      
Mourning Dove            
White-throated Swift                    
Anna's Hummingbird
Costa's Hummingbird                      
Black-chinned Hummingbird                    
Selasphorus Hummingbird                      
Northern Flicker                    
Acorn Woodpecker                
Nuttall's Woodpecker    
Ash-throated Flycatcher                  
Black Phoebe                  
Pacific-slope Flycatcher                
Olive-sided Flycatcher                      
Western Wood Pewee                    
Cassin's Kingbird                    
Hutton's Vireo              
American Crow        
Common Raven      
Western Scrub Jay    
Cliff Swallow                      
Oak Titmouse    
White-breasted Nuthatch                      
House Wren        
Bewick's Wren    
Ruby-crowned Kinglet          
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher                    
Western Bluebird                      
American Robin                      
Hermit Thrush          
Northern Mockingbird                  
California Thrasher          
Orange-crowned Warbler    
Yellow Warbler                  
Yellow-rumped Warbler        
"Myrtle" Warbler                      
Black-throated Gray Warbler                      
Townsend's Warbler                    
Hermit Warbler                      
Common Yellowthroat    
Wilson's Warbler                      
Black-headed Grosbeak                      
Lazuli Bunting                      
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow              
"Slate-colored" Fox Sparrow                  
"Thick-billed" Fox Sparrow                    
White-crowned Sparrow            
Song Sparrow  
Brown-headed Cowbird                      
Brewer's Blackbird                    
Bullock's Oriole                      
Hooded Oriole                      
Lawrence's Goldfinch                      
Lesser Goldfinch  
American Goldfinch                      
House Finch

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