San Diego is a great place to see waterfowl at all times of the year. San Diego’s freshwater lakes and rivers often support winter visitors and birds on migration as important rest stops and feeding areas. The following is a list of three of the most popular places where the public can view waterfowl, wild and domestic in and near San Diego. None of the places in this list allow hunting and some of these places disallow feeding. All three are in a park setting where one can bring their family and have a picnic.
Santee Lakes is located at 9310 Fanita Parkway. Visitors often praise Santee Lakes for the variety of waterfowl that can be seen there. They have the standard ducks, mallards, lesser scaups, redheads. But, they also have some exotic species such as mandarins and a good number of wood ducks. Camping, fishing, boating and exercising is encouraged there, too. There is a day-use fee of $3 for weekday parking and $5 for weekend parking. The park is open from 8AM to a half hour before dusk on weekdays and 6AM to a half hour before dusk on weekends.
Lake Murray is a reservoir that supports a lot of wildlife. Winter is the best time to see the most variety wild waterfowl and even shorebirds, there. But, watefowl viewing is good all year-round. Coots and mallards are most common, but winter visitors include redheads, scaups, ruddy ducks, canvasbacks and moorhens. There are also a small number of domestic duck breeds and geese, including non-migratory Canada geese, mostly near the parking lot areas. During wintertime, wild cackling geese can be seen visiting the area, briefly. Free parking can be found off of Kiowa Drive or Golfcrest Drive in the east San Diego/La Mesa area. Parking lot closes at 8PM in the spring, summer, and fall, and 6:30 PM in the winter, but the park can be accessed at any time. Feeding of the animals is discouraged.
Chollas Lake is a man-made pond and park that mostly supports domestic waterfowl and geese. Most of the wild waterfowl are coots and mallards. The domestic waterfowl include runner ducks, pekins, muscovies, African and Chinese geese, and there are a few wild Canada geese. The park is located off of College Grove Way and is open from about 6AM to about a half hour before sunset. Parking is free. Feeding the animals is generally allowed and encouraged. However, one should be wary of a few of the geese as they can get aggressive.
These are just a few of the places where waterfowl can be seen or enjoyed in San Diego, more places will be listed in future articles.