I parked at the staging area ten miles south of Julian California where Milk Ranch Road meets Route-79. The path I traveled on my bike is displayed on a map saved in the gallery below.
Before I parked and took my bike out on the Los Vaqueros Trail, I spotted my first surprise bird of the morning. A Red-Breasted Sapsucker was drumming out its ‘shave-and-a-haircut’ cadence on the face of a road sign, sending out his message over the entire valley. This was my first introduction to this bird. I’ve since learned all western USA sapsuckers share the drum rhythm; dut-de-de-dut-dut dut dut.
Milk Ranch Road leads west from the Cuyamaca Valley between the higher peaks of the Laguna Mountains, then down the west-facing slopes, but my interest in the trail led me only as far as the upper elevations.
The birds I met this day were Red-Breasted Sapsucker, Steller’s Jay, Lazuli Bunting, Spotted Towhee, House Wren, Dark-Eyed Junco, Blue Grosbeak, Lark Sparrow, Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Mountain Chickadee, Western Tanager.