Thursday, February 21, 2013

Work trip to San Diego

My job typically involves some kind of travel about once a month. Most of the time I'm just travelling back to the office in Denver, but each year in January or February the whole office goes on an incentive trip, typically somewhere warm and sunny. The destination depends on how well we did for the year, with destinations ranging from a few days somewhere within driving distance of Denver, to a 7-day African safari. Most years we end up somewhere in the middle. This year we went to Sunny San Diego for 5 days at a resort hotel on the beach.

The view from my room. San Diego, January 22, 2013.

Technically these are supposed to be working trips, not vacations, and we spend a significant amount of time discussing the way we run our business. The trip is a big highlight of the year, both because of the destination, and because of the wonderful conversations we have. Lucky for me, each trip is another opportunity to see a few birds I wouldn't find around home.

As far as birding goes, there is very little unstructured time that I can use to look for birds, and although we typically have several outdoor activities planned, the group usually makes enough commotion that birds spook away, and we're usually moving too fast to really focus on anything.

Despite all that, I still enjoyed a few fun sightings, and snapped a few photos here and there. I saw a Willet and a Whimbrel as we took a walk near Torrey Pines State Reserve.

Willet on the beach near Torrey Pines State Reserve. January 23, 2013.
Whimbrel on the beach near Torrey Pines State Reserve. January 23, 2013.

The views were pretty great, even though the bird numbers were low. I'm sure I would have found more birds if I hadn't been on the tail end of a group of 18 people, and had been able to go at a little slower place and investigate all the sounds I heard.

Torrey Pines State Reserve, January 23, 2013.

I heard a few California Quails on top of some of the bluffs, and also saw an Anna's Hummingbird, though I wasn't able to get a picture before the crowd spooked the hummingbird away. There were a few more birds down on the beach I got pictures of, including a California Towhee and some Brown Pelicans.

California Towhee on the beach near Torrey Pines State Reserve. January 23, 2013.
Brown Pelicans near Torrey Pines State Reserve. January 23, 2013.

On another day we went to the San Diego Zoo. A few of us did their "behind the scenes" tour, which included a ride around several of the larger exhibits. I wish I could have spent more time here, because there were more birds at the zoo than anywhere else we went all week.

Black Phoebes were quite abundant all throughout the park. This one was seen inside the elephant exhibit.

Black Phoebe. San Diego Zoo, January 24, 2013.

I felt a little bad for being more interested in the wild birds flying around the zoo than the captive animals on exhibit. More than once or twice I found myself pointed the completely opposite direction from the rest of the group to identify a soaring raptor while everyone else admired the dozing undulates.

Turkey Vulture. San Diego Zoo, January 24, 2013.

The tour guide told us that this guy's name is Charlie. Apparently he hangs out behind the cafeteria where they prepare meals for the zoo animals, and eats scraps as they throw them out.

Great Egret. San Diego Zoo, January 24, 2013.

I'm looking forward to taking a trip back to southern California with my wife sometime just to go birding. I'm sure with a few well planned days we could add a few dozen lifers. It's always good to have plans to look forward to!

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