Palomar Mountain resides near the northern boundary of San Diego County, and divides the watersheds of the San Luis Rey and the Santa Margarita River systems. It is a long mountain extending east-west and the third highest peak in the county. Its biggest claim-to-fame is the 200-inch telescope and observatory. For many years it was the world’s largest telescope and remains so if you disqualify the modern matrix telescopes and specify ‘single piece of glass’ telescopes.
It was not stars and planets I sought to observe this day, so I visited other locations along the mountain and its southern flanks. The route I chose followed the course of the San Luis Rey River, at the southern foot of the mountain. I stopped at a picnic area under the oak canopy along the river. “River” is a term that only loosely applies to any stream in southern California. I was told I might find Willow Flycatchers upstream from the picnic area, but I did not.
I continued east towards Lake Henshaw and then westward, ascending East Grade Road up the slopes of the mountain where commanding views look south over most of north San Diego County. I meandered and explored my way west until I found myself at the top of Nate Harrison Grade, then followed its dirt road and switch backs down the southern face of the mountain to the valley below.
The birds I met were Common Yellow-Throat, Spotted Towhee, Dark-Eyed Junco, Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Northern Flicker, Pacific-Slope Flycatcher, Black-Chinned Sparrow, Olive-Sided Flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewee.