2017-10-27 A Week At Southeast County

Oak Titmouse

As a part of project to study the inland wetlands of San Diego County, the San Diego Natural History Museum’s science team spent the week at a property in the southeast county located east of La Posta Road, not far from the Mexican border. The acreage has been heavily grazed. Recently acquired by an non-profit organization that specializes in habitat restoration, the goal is to restore the ecosystem, as much as possible, to its former pristine state. Measures to meet that goal include native seed collections, dismantling abandon structures, and biological surveys to assess the diversity.

The valley lies adjacent to John D. Spreckels’ “Impossible Railroad” line. In fact Spreckels thought the location was so nice, he built a small cabin there. Sadly asbestos was discovered in the structure and it was dismantled. All that remains today is a stack of notched logs and a large fireplace.

Some surprises were provided by the team this week. Several species found on the survey this week showed that colonization has been undertaken by both dessert specialists (Ladder-Backed Woodpecker) and by coastal specialists (Ornate Shrew). These findings show this is an area of transition between the coastal and desert environs. The methods for these surveys include plots for collecting data in the low wetlands and in the uplands nearby so that comparisons can be measured.

I photographed 21 bird species during my stay last week, but the team’s totals were over 65 species of birds seen on this trip. Several followup surveys are planned.

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