Around San Diego (current 3/09) travel blog

The impressive Visitors Center

Wading birds feeding in the estuary

The wetland

Mud Flats

The black 'pebbles' are actually snails - thousands of them

Some of the wading birds

Blue-bellied fence lizard

It was a beautiful morning, and in a cool breeze we headed for the coast to see a wetland preserve.

The new San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve Visitors Center is a beautiful, impressive building with many hands-on exhibits and some of the inhabitants on display. The 1,000 acre Reserve with 7 miles of walkways, allows the visitor to meander through the coastal wetlands, coastal chaparral, and has several information signs highlighting the region’s plant, wildlife and geography.

This lagoon is primarily a shallow-water estuary, and one of San Diego County’s largest coastal wetlands. It lies along the coast and extends inland to the community of Rancho Santa Fe and is fed by a 77 square mile watershed with two main tributaries, Escondido Creek and Orilla Creek. The reserve encompasses six plant communities: coastal strand, salt marsh, fresh-water marsh, riparian scrub, coastal sage scrub, and mixed chaparral.

The Reserve is one of California’s rare protected coastal wetlands and is a popular rest stop for migratory birds and is one of the hot spots for birders. The brackish water from riparian watersheds feed into the tidal lagoon where wildlife of the coastal sage scrub, arroyo willow and chaparral create a rare biodiversity. Resident creatures like the blue-bellied western fence lizard, terns, numerous wading birds and the jumping mullet are commonly seen here.

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