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"Easy Birder" Driving Routes

La Posta Road

/    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 BlackbirdWhite-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 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.

  J F M A M J J A S O N D
Great Blue Heron                      
Lesser Scaup                      
Ruddy Duck                    
Turkey Vulture                    
Sharp-shinned Hawk                      
Cooper's Hawk                    
Red-shouldered Hawk                      
Red-tailed Hawk      
Golden Eagle                      
American Kestrel              
California Quail    
Mountain Quail                  
Wild Turkey                      
American Coot              
Mourning Dove            
Rock Pigeon                  
Greater Roadrunner                    
White-throated Swift                
Anna's Hummingbird            
Northern Flicker      
Acorn Woodpecker  
Nuttall's Woodpecker          
Ladder-backed Woodpecker                    
Hairy Woodpecker                      
Ash-throated Flycatcher                  
Black Phoebe          
Say's Phoebe    ●                
Pacific-slope Flycatcher                    
Western Wood Pewee                      
Cassin's Kingbird                    
Western Kingbird                  
Loggerhead Shrike                  
Gray Vireo                    
Warbling Vireo                      
Hutton's Vireo                
American Crow            
Common Raven  
Steller's Jay                  
Western Scrub Jay
Cliff Swallow                  
Barn Swallow                      
Oak Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch              
House Wren              
Bewick's Wren
Rock Wren                    
Ruby-crowned Kinglet              
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher                      
Western Bluebird            
Hermit Thrush              
Northern Mockingbird                ●  
California Thrasher
European Starling      
Orange-crowned Warbler                    
Nashville Warbler                      
Yellow-rumped Warbler                  
Common Yellowthroat                  
Western Tanager                      
Black-headed Grosbeak                
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee  
Rufous-crowned Sparrow                
"Bell's" Sage Sparrow                  
Black-throated Sparrow                      
Black-chinned Sparrow                  
White-crowned Sparrow            
"Slate-colored" Fox Sparrow            
Song Sparrow              
Dark-eyed Junco          
Brown-headed Cowbird                      
Red winged Blackbird        
Brewer's Blackbird            
Great-tailed Grackle                    
Bullock's Oriole                    
Scott's Oriole                    
Lawrence's Goldfinch          
Lesser Goldfinch    
Purple Finch                      
House Finch  
House Sparrow                

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