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Parks & Recreation

Self Guided Tour of Wildlife Preserves

Mariner's Point

Mariner's Point is home to the smallest tern species, the California least tern. The California least tern is an federally-listed endangered subspecies nesting in patches of fairly flat sandy ground with little or no vegetation. Like many species, the least tern may abandon its nest if disturbed. Effective conservation measures, including fences and signs provide some protection for these birds. The least tern breeds along the Pacific Coast as far north as San Francisco. June or July is the best time to see the least tern nesting at Mariner's Point. You can see them hovering high above the water's surface, then plunging in head first in pursuit of small fish, or skimming low over the water.

Perez Cove

Perez Cove is one of the three known nesting sites of the great blue heron in San Diego County. These enormous long-legged, long-necked birds are commonly sighted nesting in the tops of Torrey Pine trees. Throughout the year the great blue heron are visible around bays, lagoons, ponds and lakes throughout San Diego County. The great blue heron feeds primarily on fish, but their diet may also include mice, small birds, frogs and other small animals.

Kendall-Frost Reserve & Northern Wildlife Preserve

In 1952, Lena Kendall donated 9 acres of salt marsh to the University of California. Soon after, the A. H. Frost estate donated an adjoining parcel. Today, the Kendall-Frost Reserve protects 16 acres of salt marsh adjacent to the salt marsh, mudflats and open waters of the Northern Wildlife Preserve owned by the City of San Diego. Two endangered species depend entirely on this marsh: the light-footed clapper rail and the Belding's savannah sparrow.

The light-footed clapper rail builds a floating nest in the tall cordgrass stands of the marsh. The platform nest rises during high tide but does not float away because the tall cordgrass anchors it in place. The light-footed clapper rail feeds on invertebrates, larval fish, and local vegetation.

The Belding's savannah sparrow weaves its nest among the dense pickleweed and feeds on seeds and insects throughout the wetlands. The Belding's savannah sparrow has a long nesting season from March to August.