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a short history of Carlsbad Outlet tipu birding, and comments on coverage in general

a short history of Carlsbad Outlet tipu birding, and comments on coverage in general
By – 12:06 pm
If anyone was wondering about the history of the Carlsbad Outlet Mall parking lot as a birding hotspot (!), I think the first visit by a birder was when I stumbled into the place while scouting for the Oceanside CBC about 6 or 7 years ago. It immediately struck me as having high potential to turn up good birds, given the vast number of tipus, the location close to the coast, and the high visibility to migrants passing by. This was not long after many of us first gained an appreciation for how how birdy tipu trees can be in fall and winter during many, but not all, years. But my first several visits there were underwhelming, with not large numbers of birds, relatively very few non-Yellow-rumps present, and the Yellow-rumps there seemed especially merciless in chasing everything they could. The best I ever found there over the ensuing several years were multiple wintering Black-throated Grays and a single winter Yellow. But I did tell a few of the active North County birders to keep tabs on the place in fall and winter, and then a couple years ago either Tito or Pete found a fall Lucy’s Warbler there. And then this past late fall the floodgates were opened when Alex found the Scarlet Tanager there, and mostly folks looking for that bird then discovered the Palm Warbler and Green-tailed Towhee, and now folks who were chasing the Palm found the Tennessee. A good example of the “Patagonia Picnic Table Effect” in which birders chasing a stakeout rarity at a site find more rarities. But I wonder how many folks going there recently to see these several birds have then also explored the entire rest of the huge parking lot sea of tipus? In past years, birds are spread all over the place, though not in large numbers, except perhaps at the exact opposite end, near the Armstrong Garden Center.Speaking of North County tipu parking lots, how can we forget the Jenny Craig office park tipus which hosted a wintering Palm Warbler a couple years ago. There are more such sites out there (e.g., shopping-center and office-park parking lots with tipus and pink-flowered eucalyptus) which likely host annual rarities but which receive scant coverage. In part because birder numbers locally aren’t as large in North County as in South County, and in part because a fair percent of birders probably don’t find such sites as being aesthetically all that pleasing and thus such birding isn’t their cup of tea.Lastly, a plea to many birders who, for example, are traveling up from South County to see their 2022 Palm and/or Tennessee Warbler, but only a very, very small fraction of whom drive there to help for a few hours on the local CBCs, when often such species are originally discovered. The coastal-slope “northern” San Diego County CBCs at Oceanside, Rancho Santa Fe, and Escondido seem to get precious little assistance from South County birders, and these counts were all hurting for coverage this year. And it would also seem that the reverse is true as well: that precious few North County birders come south to help on the San Diego CBC! Even just a few hours can be much appreciated.–Paul Lehman, San Diego