SAND DUNE PARK

Habitat: Dense shrubbery and tree cover, small areas of open grass.

Terrain: If you want to cover the entire park be prepared for a strenuous walk. Several sets of steep stairs separate the different levels of the hillside.

Facilities: Restrooms, drinking fountains

Parking: On-street parking in front of the National Guard Armory on Bell Ave. Pay attention to the parking restriction signs, as the rules are strictly enforced.

Birding in Sand Dune is a lesson in how to find song birds in thick vegetation! As you stroll along the middle or upper paths, song birds dart back and forth, seeking cover in the trees and shrubs. You'll see the odd gull flying over the park, and sometimes a raptor, but mainly, you will be looking through leaves and branches for the small guys. Towards the north end of the planted slope, just below the path, look for the Golden or Silk Oaks, native to Australia. When in bloom in spring, these two trees are magnets for migrants. In spring (March-May), look for Hooded and Bullock's Orioles, Western Tanagers and Black-headed Grosbeaks high up in these trees. In late May, also look for the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, one of the more striking birds to migrate through.

Warblers can abound in the park during spring migration. Look for the Yellow-rumped (common), Hermit, Townsend's, Orange-crowned, Black-throated Gray and more. Many of these will also go to the two oaks, but will also feed on insects throughout the shrub-covered hill. In early spring, check the ground for Hermit Thrush, Fox and White-crowned Sparrow, and California Towhee. Listen for Mockingbirds and California Scrub-jays. House Wrens are present, and, during winter, look for Ruby-crowned Kinglets in the trees.