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"Easy Birder" Driving Routes

Cameron Valley

/    At present the road (which is dirt) is well-graded, but there can be muddy spots and good-sized ruts (and even impassable) after a bad rain.

Approximate Length: 5 miles

Approximate Birding Time: 1.5 hours

Traffic: Very light; traffic consists mostly of local land-owners and Border Patrol.

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 Kitchen Creek Road.  Turn right, and then left at the T, which is Old Highway 80.  Drive about one mile to the "town" of La Posta, and just beyond the buildings and fenced-off construction area there's an unmarked dirt road on the right, almost right against the little ridge of hills coming up to the road (just past the "slippery" sign).  This is the start of Cameron Valley.

The first part of the road passes some in-progress building construction, but beyond that there's plenty of open sage along most of the length of the road, which happens to be one of the easiest places in the county to get Bell's Sage Sparrow.  Look also for raptors and kingbirds (Western in summer), Say's Phoebes (winter), Loggerhead Shrikes, Western Bluebirds, Scott's Oriole (very rare), Western Meadowlarks, Brewer's Blackbirds, and Brewer's (rare in migration) and Lark Sparrows.  Greater Roadrunners and California Quail like to hide in the scrub but can occasionally be seen scampering across the road or between patches of scrub; in winter look also for Mountain Quail (although they can tarry late into the spring).  In the chaparral areas listen for Bewick's Wrens, Wrentits, Hermit Thrushes (winter), Western Scrub Jays, California Thrashers, California and Spotted Towhees, Dark-eyed Juncos (winter), and White-crowned (winter) and Black-chinned (summer) Sparrows

Open sage area with riparian corridor along the mountain

All along the road are small groves of oaks which should house the usual suspects: Band-tailed Pigeon (occasional), Anna's Hummingbird, Acorn and Nuttall's Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, House Wren, Oak Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Hutton's Vireo, Phainopepla, and Lesser and Lawrence's Goldfinches year round, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Western Wood Pewee, and Black-headed Grosbeak in summer, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Yellow-rumped Warbler in winter.  Rarely you may flush a Barn Owl or two in these woodlands!  It's not unusual to have Steller's Jays this low down, so beware of counting Red-shouldered Hawks solely by ear here!  A narrow riparian corridor along the base of the mountains to the west is on private property and thereby inaccessible, but you might still be able to hear riparian-associated birds such as Song Sparrow, Lazuli Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, and Red-winged Blackbird.  Keep an ear out for Canyon Wrens singing from the distant rocky hillsides or White-throated Swifts chattering overhead.

Oak woodland

There's a "major" intersection at the top of the hill with some homes close to the road; the owners have requested that people not stop along the road from this point to a point a little over a half mile down the road (marked by a pair of railroad ties stuck like posts on either side of the road; the road is quite narrow in here, so stopping probably isn't a good idea anyway).  Beyond this point is more chaparral but also more disturbed areas as you approach private homes with horses, etc.  The corvid population increases dramatically along this stretch; look also for Black Phoebes along the fences, plus other human-associated birds.

View from the "intersection"

View coming down the other side of the hill

The route ends at Buckman Springs Road; seeing as Cameron Valley only takes an hour or so to bird, you might want to consider birding La Posta Road as well.  To do so, turn left and continue to highway 94, and turn left again.  La Posta Road is about 3.3 miles down (there's a good sign on the right, so you shouldn't miss it).  To return to San Diego, turn right on Buckman Springs and follow it to the freeway.

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. 

  J F M A M J J A S O N D
Mallard                      
Turkey Vulture                  
Cooper's Hawk                    
Red-shouldered Hawk              
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel                  
Prairie Falcon                      
California Quail      
Mountain Quail                  
Mourning Dove        
Rock Pigeon                  
Band-tailed Pigeon                      
Greater Roadrunner                
Barn Owl                      
White-throated Swift                      
Anna's Hummingbird                    
Costa's Hummingbird                      
Northern Flicker  
Acorn Woodpecker        
Nuttall's Woodpecker            
Ash-throated Flycatcher                    
Black Phoebe                    
Say's Phoebe                      
Western Wood Pewee                      
Western Kingbird              
Loggerhead Shrike                  
Hutton's Vireo                    
American Crow
Common Raven
Steller's Jay              
Western Scrub Jay
Northern Rough-winged Swallow                      
Cliff Swallow                    
Oak Titmouse  
Bushtit          
White-breasted Nuthatch                  
House Wren          
Bewick's Wren
Canyon Wren                      
Wrentit  
Ruby-crowned Kinglet            
Western Bluebird          
Hermit Thrush                    
Northern Mockingbird                      
California Thrasher        
European Starling    
Phainopepla            
Yellow-rumped Warbler              
Black-headed Grosbeak                    
Blue Grosbeak                      
Lazuli Bunting                    
Spotted Towhee  
California Towhee
"Bell's" Sage Sparrow    
Black-chinned Sparrow                  
Brewer's Sparrow                      
Lark Sparrow                    
White-crowned Sparrow          
Song Sparrow                
Dark-eyed Junco            
Western Meadowlark      
Brown-headed Cowbird                  
Red winged Blackbird                  
Brewer's Blackbird    
Bullock's Oriole                  
Scott's Oriole                      
Lawrence's Goldfinch          
Lesser Goldfinch    
House Finch
House Sparrow      

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