2025 California – Southern California Specialties

from $4,306
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  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
  • Activity Level Challenging
  • Group Size Medium Group
All about the 2025 California – Southern California Specialties Tour.

From the coast to the mountains and desert, the habitats of southern California are home to many of the Pacific Coast’s specialties.  We’ll begin in San Diego in search of species such as Heerman’s Gull, Wandering Tattler, and Black Turnstone.  Then, moving inland to the foothills and mountains, our targets will be species with California in their name: California Quail, California Gnatcatcher, California Thrasher, and California Towhee.

We’ll also be on the lookout for Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Wrentit, Oak Titmouse, Bell’s Sparrow, Lawrence’s Goldfinch, and Tricolored Blackbird.

Continuing on to the desert and the Salton Sea, other birds that we’ll be searching for include the elusive LeConte’s Thrasher, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Burrowing Owl, Costa’s Hummingbird, Abert’s Towhee, and hopefully, Yellow-footed Gull.

The maximum number of participants is seven.  On rare occasions it may be extended ten.

Duration: 9 days
Group Size Limit: 5 – 8
Date: 28 November – 06 December 2025
Start: San Diego, CA
End: San Diego, CA

US$4306 per person sharing assuming 5 – 8 participants
Single supplement: US$739

We can run the same trip at a price similar to the larger group price for 2 tour participants, if they rent their own vehicle and pay for fuel – please e-mail [email protected] for details.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • Meals
  • Accommodation
  • Guiding fees
  • Entrance fees
  • All transport while on tour
  • Tolls
Whats not included in this tour.Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
  • Domestic and International flights
  • Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Personal insurance
  • Laundry Service
  • Gratuities
  1. Day 1 Local San Diego Hotspots

    Plan to arrive at San Diego International Airport by late afternoon or early evening. We will bird some nearby areas such as the San Diego River Flood Control Channel, Famosa Slough, and Mission Bay, as time permits.

    Overnight: San Diego

  2. Day 2 Tijuana Slough, La Jolla, and Torrey Pines State Park

    We’ll concentrate on the coastal areas around San Diego. Stops will include Tijuana Slough where one of our targets is Ridgeway’s Rail, the estuary of the Tijuana River for ‘Large-billed’ Savannah Sparrow and possibly Pacific Golden-Plover, and the south end of San Diego Bay where we might find a Eurasian Wigeon or Reddish Egret. Later in the day we’ll continue north along the coast to La Jolla Cove for Black Turnstone, Wandering Tattler, and possibly Surfbird. If time permits, we’ll proceed to Torrey Pines State Park and look for California Gnatcatcher.

    Overnight: San Diego

  3. Day 3 Lake Hodges and Mission Gorge

    Moving inland, we’ll bird in the foothills, stopping at locations such as Lake Hodges and Mission Gorge. We should be seeing many of the ‘California’ birds by this point of the tour: California Gnatcatcher, California Towhee, California Thrasher, California Quail, and California Gull. Bell’s Sparrow, Wrentit, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, and Oak Titmouse are several other California specialties that we will search for.

    Overnight: San Diego

  4. Day 4 The Salton Sea

    Today we’ll make the drive from San Diego to the Salton Sea. Along the way, we’ll be passing over the mountains, where we’ll stop to bird the higher elevation chaparral habitat. Fox Sparrow and Lawrence’s Goldfinch are likely additions to the trip list. We’ll attempt to be at the world-famous Salton Sea for the spectacular sight as the sun sets behind the mountains.

    Overnight: Calipatria

  5. Day 5 The Salton Sea

    The Salton Sea and surrounding areas offer incredible birding, and we’ll take the entire day to explore the many possibilities. Desert birding will be the focus early in the day. Many birds of the coast are locally replaced by their desert counterparts.

    Instead of California Quail, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, California Gnatcatcher, and California Thrasher, our targets will be Gambel’s Quail, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, and Crissal Thrasher, among others. Ruddy Ground-Dove is a good possibility. We’ll be looking for longspurs, Mountain Plover, Long-billed Curlew, and Burrowing Owls in the agricultural fields that are near the southern portion of the Salton Sea.

    Heading back to The Sea itself, shorebirds and other aquatic species will round out our list for the day. Yellow-footed Gulls, while common in the summer, are rare at this time of year, but we’ll definitely be looking for this local specialty.

    Overnight: Calipatria

  6. Day 6 Anza-Borrego Desert

    Much of the day will be spent in the Anza-Borrego Desert. We’ll stop at Clark’s Dry Lake to look for LeConte’s Thrasher, where we also hope to see Black-throated and Brewer’s Sparrows. Barn and Long-eared Owls often roost at the Tamarisk Grove Campground. Costa’s Hummingbird, Rock Wren, and Verdin are just a few of the other species we may see.

    Overnight: Calipatria

  7. Day 7 Through the Mountains to San Diego

    We’ll drive west today and visit the higher elevation habitats of the Laguna and Cuyamaca Mountains. In the mountaintop pine forests we should see Acorn Woodpecker, Steller’s Jay, and Pygmy Nuthatch. We’ll also return to some nice chaparral habitat. This is the home of Mountain Quail, a species that can be very difficult to observe. Spending some extra time in this region will increase our chances of finding this elusive bird.

    Overnight: San Diego

  8. Day 8 More Local San Diego Hotspots

    This will be an ‘open’ day to look for anything that may have eluded us. We may want to have an early start in the chaparral to try for Mountain Quail or Lawrence’s Goldfinch, or maybe we’ll visit a rocky coastal area to look for Surfbird and Black Oystercatcher. There is always the chance for a hotline bird or two for us to pursue.

    Overnight: San Diego

  9. Day 9 Heading Home

    If time permits, we will do some morning birding before heading to the San Diego International Airport to catch our departing flights, the end a wonderful nine days of birding in Southern California.

  1. Will we do any birding the first day?

    YES! – This tour will depart Tucson at noon. One of our first targets is only a few minutes from from the airport.

  2. How should I dress for the tour?

    Check the weather for the destination as close to your departure date as possible, and dress accordingly for your comfort level. You can also review our What to Bring page for more information.

  3. Besides clothes, what do I need to bring?

    There are many items the will be useful to you while on a Bird Treks tour. We have put together our list of recommendations on the What to Bring page.

  4. What language are tours conducted in?

    Our tours are all conducted in English, but we do have some experience working with client that don’t speak English well – Some English would be needed for safety reasons. In locations where another language is predominately spoken, a native guide may accompany the tour.

  5. Can you help me book flights?

    Yes, we will always try our best to help with anything at all! We’re here to serve you. However, it is usually easier if you book your flight through your own travel agent as we can’t always get the best deals from your particular country. But we will help whenever needed!

  6. Can you book accommodation for us the night before the tour starts or the night the tour ends?

    While Day 1 is usually a travel (arrival) day, and the last day of the tour is usually also a travel day (departure), many people do like to arrive early and/or leave late. We can indeed book extra nights before and after the trip, and we in fact recommend you let us book them, as it avoids confusion and allows us to book the accommodation that is most convenient for the tour.

    NOTE: Most often it is the same hotel or lodge that you use on the first night of the tour, but in some instances, it could be an airport hotel or an accommodation establishment where the guide is staying.

  7. Do you provide trip insurance?

    No, we do not. We find that it is better for trip participants to purchase their own medical, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance through their own insurance provider in the country they reside in. We expect all tour participants to have comprehensive insurance, and we encourage everyone to send us a copy of their insurance documents.

  8. Are meals included?

    For most tours, meals are included in the tour price. This may include a hotel-provided breakfast, or guide-provided box lunches. For dinners, we strive to find interesting and delicious local restaurants – this allows us to give back to the local economy, and find exciting new place to eat.