Birds and tide pools near Coronado Island, CA - October 2011

A college friend's cousin was getting married on Coronado Island (off the coast of San Diego) so I found myself in the San Diego area for the first time since moving to Southern California at the incredibly fancy wedding of two people I'd never met with one of my closest friends whom I only get a chance to see a couple of times a year and completely adore. Pretty much the perfect weekend.

I'd taken the train down from LA so didn't expect to have the mobility to drive to any hiking or tide-pooling places but San Diego's public transportation surprised me and I was able to take the 901 bus from Coronado down the Silver Strand to an area that I believe is part of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex. There were mudflats and marshy areas and a paved bike/walking path (part of the Bayshore Bikeway) that I took south from Silver Strand State Beach to the suburb of Imperial Beach. Here's where I was:

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Once I got past the Coronado Cays subdivision the walk was beautiful. I saw many shorebirds including Great egrets, American avocets, some long-billed varieties (Whimbrels? Willets?) and a few butterflies as well. Of course, I hadn't brought my binoculars so I didn't get a close enough look to identify many birds, but they were nice to observe in any case. Mary Beth Stowe wrote a great page that explains all the common and rare birds you'll find in this area. It was strange to see these birds with the backdrop of industry that is downtown San Diego but I enjoyed it as my own little refuge from the extravagance of the weekend.

Here are some of my photos (with the rest accessible here in my Flickr set):

The next day my friend and I headed out to relax on some large boulders near the ocean. The tide happened to be low so I jumped down to see what I could find. I'd wanted to show her the tide pools since I'm always gushing about them. To my surprise there were some tide pool creatures to see.

Mainly anemone, limpets, crabs, goose-neck barnacles and mussels but it was nice to show her. She seemed pretty impressed by the clusters of exposed anemone that are closed up and covered by bits of broken shell. I might have seen more, but I hadn't brought the proper footwear (I had only flip flops) and I'm not daring enough to step into the unknown. Might come up with a crab friend or something more painful attached to my foot!

A girl and her dad who visit Coronado often but said they rarely encounter tide pools were also exploring and they had found some sand dollars that had died and washed up. I'd never seen those in tide pools before and she was generous enough to give me a couple. I'd love to see live sand dollars all covered in purple fuzz . . .

I was surprised at how the sand  in this area contains so many golden fleks which makes the sand shimmer and sparkle. According to the page on, these flakes are mica, a mineral rarely found in beach sand. Combined with the low tide (so VERY long way from hotels to water) and dark bands of sand it was a pretty beautiful beach that day.

Point Loma in the distance
Black Turnstone  (Arenaria melanocephala)

Mica flakes in the sand