Shorebirds of San Diego County Tours

Discover shorebirds in San Diego County as our feathered friends from the north
join our year-round resident birds. 

A Willet usually forages in solitude, probing the mudflats and beaches for crabs, worms and tidbits with the sensitive tip of its bill. Photo by Chris Mayne

Winter is an excellent time to go birding when the total number of birds, as well as diversity, are at their peakThrough this 3-part series, longtime birder and photographer Steve Brad will guide you to some of the most densely populated and diverse shorebird sites in San Diego.


  • Saturday, January 19: Imperial Beach
    *This event was rescheduled to Jan. 19 due to rain. 

Discover a wetland of international importance and a birders' paradise. As much as 70% of the Tijuana Estuary National Estuarine Research Reserve is made up of wetland area. This wetland contains a variety of unique habitats, including dune, salt panne, salt marsh, mudflat, brackish pond, riparian, coastal sage scrub and vernal pool. 

  • Saturday, February 23: Ocean Beach

​At the east end of Dog Beach is Smiley Lagoon. Smiley Lagoon is a landing for migratory birds in the spring and fall as well as many resident birds. This is where the San Diego River joins the ocean, an estuary of life with a constant mix of salt and fresh water. Common birds spotted along the estuary include wintering shorebirds and ducks, Osprey, Snowy Egrets, Cormorants and Great Blue Herons, to name a few. In addition to birds, we may spot crabs, snails, and limpets, mammals and reptiles. There is always something in bloom as a host of native plants, adapted to salty or drier environments, include pickleweed, evening primrose and alkali-heath.​

  • Saturday, March 9: Cardiff State Beach 

A gently sloping and protected sandy beach is popular with walkers, surfers and campers. We'll look for wintering Willets, Whimbrels, sandpipers and more that frequent this coast. We'll also visit the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center Loop Trail.  Presented by San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy in partnership with California State Parks.

Join Us for One, Two & All Three Tours!

  • Each tour is 8-10 am
  • Registered participants will be emailed meetup information and directions
  • Single Tours: Conservancy Members $20 per tour | Public $30 per tour
  • Ages 12+ welcome