Ventura County Sites
1. SANTA CLARA RIVER ESTUARY and MCGRATH STATE BEACH
Center, Parking, Fee -- McGrath St. Beach].
Habitat: Coastal estuary, salt marsh,
Location: From Hwy 101, exit at Seaward Ave. Turn left (south) onto
Harbor Blvd. Continue south to Spinnaker Drive. Turn right onto
Spinnaker and continue past entrance to Ventura Water Treatment
Plant (Site #9). Park at Surfer's Knoll (parking lot on left, to
reach it you take a U-turn once you've passed the lot). From parking
lot walk down to estuary (approx. 400 yards). During May-August
avoid fenced-off Least Tern colony on your way down there. Also
check the breakwaters at the end of Spinnaker drive for turnstones,
tattler and surfbird. Channel Islands National Park Headquarters are
at end of Spinnaker Drive, while Island Packers boats for Santa Cruz
Island leave from dock off Spinnaker Drive. For a shorter walk and
better lighting during mid-day, continue south on Harbor Blvd. Over
bridge and turn into McGrath State Beach (fee). Park at head of
nature trail and follow out to the estuary.
Highlights: shorebirds, gulls, and terns. Least Tern
and Snowy Plover nest on north side of estuary. Peregrine Falcon
often present in estuary during winter. Black Turnstone, Surfbird,
Wandering Tattler often visible on breakwaters during
Best season: All year. Shorebirds July-September, gulls
October-March. Least Terns (May-August).
2. MUGU ROCK OVERLOOK and MUGU LAGOON See Photo Album
[No Services.] Part of Mugu State
Habitat: Ocean backed by cliffs, salt marsh.
From Hwy 101, exit Las Posas Road. Drive south to Hwy 1 (PCH). Turn
left onto PCH and drive past Navy Base. Lagoon overlook is on right
side of road approx. 1 mile. Additional stops between overlook and
firing range to scan wetlands recommended. Mugu Rock overlook on
right side of PCH immediately after road cut through cliff - 1/2
mile south of lagoon. Park along cliff edge between Mugu Rock and
smaller rock to the left. Best lighting conditions during early
morning before sun is in south and wind and waves pick up. Peak
migration in mid-April when 1,000s of Pacific Loons and Surf Scoter
may pass by every hour.
Highlights: Lagoon: Herons, Egrets, Ducks,
Willet, Marbled Godwit, Whimbrel, Long-billed Curlew, Belding‚s
Savannah Sparrow. Rock: loons, grebes, shearwaters, scoters,
jaegers, gulls, terns and alcids. White-throated Swifts and Rock
Wrens resident on Mugu Rock. Mammals: Harbor Seal,
Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Common Dolphin, Gray Whale in season.
Best Season: Winter, spring.
3. VENTURA RIVER ESTUARY, RIVER TRAIL and OCEAN SHORE
Interpretive Center, Parking, Fee.]
Habitat: Coastal strand, dunes,
Location: Emma Woods Group Campground at north end of
Main St. in Ventura. Park either outside in dirt area or in park and
Highlights: Whimbrels, tattlers,
shorebirds, ducks, shearwaters and more during migration.
Best Season: Winter, early spring.
4. LAKE CASITAS
[Restrooms, Parking, Fee or park outside main gate.
Habitat: Open Lake, freshwater marsh,
oak woodland, open
Location: From Hwy 101 in Ventura, take Hwy 33 North.
Exit Casitas Vista Rd (approx. 5 miles). Turn right. Go under
freeway, cross Ventura River and continue ~1mile to 1st right turn
across another bridge (Santa Ana Rd.). Follow Santa Ana Rd. to lake
(4 miles). Entrance to lake will be on left. Pay fee to enter, or
park outside and walk in. Once in park, stay left and walk/drive to
marina area, making sure to check inlet on the right side of
Highlights: Clark's and Western Grebes year-round.
During high water they nest in protected bay inland from marina,
ducks, Osprey and Bald Eagle in winter, Cassin's Kingbird in
eucalyptus along Santa Ana Rd. White-breasted Nuthatch in pines,
Western Bluebird in open meadows. Hooded and Bullock's Oriole in
spring and summer. Good variety of sparrows in
Best season: winter for grebes, ducks, raptors and
sparrows. Spring and summer for breeding grebes, bluebirds and
5. CANADA LARGA RD.
[No services or fee.] 5-mile dead-end road. Oak woodland/savanna,
private ranch land. Respect private property. Beware fast
Location: Take Hwy 33 off 101. Exit at Canada Larga
Rd. Turn right. Park off road as you bird the canyon road to
Highlights: Early a.m. or late eve. for owls. Golden
Eagle (regular), hawks, Mountain (rare) and Western Bluebirds;
variety of sparrows in winter. Yellow-breasted Chat, Phainopepla,
grosbeaks, orioles (spring).
Season: All year, esp. in
6. ARROYO VERDE CITY PARK
[Restrooms, Parking, Fee on Sundays.] Oak woodland, grassy areas,
chaparral, long, broad
Location: From 101, exit at Victoria. Go north to
Foothill Rd. Turn left. Continue to park entrance on right. Or, exit
101 at Seaward. Turn right (inland). Follow Seaward until it
intersects Foothill Rd. and bear right to park entrance on
Highlights: kingbirds, hummingbirds, finches, orioles,
Best Season: All year.
7. RANCHO SIERRA VISTA -
SATWIWA -- See Photo Album
[Part of Mugu State Park Restrooms, Interpretive
Center, Parking.] Low
coastal mountain park, open meadows, chaparral and sage scrub, some
riparian, small ponds.
Location: From 101 south, exit at Wendy Dr. Turn left
(west) at 1st traffic light onto Wendy Dr. Continue to end; turn
right onto Potrero Rd. and left at stop sign. Follow signs to park
Highlights: Lazuli Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Savannah and
Grasshopper Sparrows, White-tailed Kite, Costa's Hummingbird,
Best Season: All year, esp. spring, winter.
8. MT. PINOS AREA - -
See Photo Album
[Elevation 8831 feet. Fee-Camping. Services available
in several area camps.] Mountain area in NE county. Good year-round
birding, dry in hot months when rest of county is hot and dry. All
areas produce good sightings; esp. good in campgrounds.
From Ventura (90 miles), take Hwy 126 east to Castaic Junction.
Merge onto Interstate 5 north; exit at Frazier Park. Take Frazier
Pk. Rd. west; follow signs to Mt. Pinos. One mile past the
campgrounds at the top of the mountain is a large parking lot and
Highlights: High elevation birds. White-headed
Woodpecker, Clark's Nutcracker, Pygmy Nuthatch, Western Wood Peewee,
Best Season: All year; best in spring, summer,
9. VENTURA WATER TREATMENT PLANT WILDLIFE PONDS See Photo
Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.] Coastal dunes, ponds, willows, reeds, habitat
Location: From Hwy 101 in Ventura, take Seaward
toward the beach. Turn left onto Harbor Blvd. Continue on Harbor to
Spinnaker Dr. Turn right. Then turn left at 1400 Spinnaker Dr. Park on street near the corner and enter through gate. If gate is locked call the number on the sign. Highlights: Bonaparte's Gull, ducks, Sora, Common
Moorhen, Marsh Wren, phalaropes, warblers, grebes, Peregrine Falcon;
Best Season: All year, esp. spring, fall,
10. LA JOLLA
CANYON- - See Photo Album ( Part of Pt. Mugu State
Fee.] Coastal sage scrub,
campground. Trail starts just past main parking lot, crosses the
stream several times as it climbs to the end at pond. Lower portion
fairly easy; more difficult after 2nd stream
Location: From Ventura or Oxnard, take Hwy 1 (PCH)
south past Naval Air Weapons Station and Pt. Mugu Lagoon and Rock.
La Jolla is about 2 1/2 miles south of the rock on the left. Park
outside the entrance and walk in or pay fee and drive
Highlights: Lazuli Bunting, Rock and Canyon Wren,
Costa's Hummingbird, swallows, orioles (spring), quail,
Best Season: Spring, early summer.
SYCAMORE CANYON- - See Photo Album ( Part of Pt. Mugu State
Camping -- Fee.] Coastal
sage scrub, eucalyptus and sycamore groves. Easy walking in camp
area; canyon more
Location: Follow Hwy 1 (PCH) south past Mugu Rock
about 4 miles (see directions for #10). Park on highway or pay day
Highlights: thrashers, towhees, migrant flycatchers and
warblers, grosbeaks, woodpeckers.
Season: Early spring, summer,
12. CAMINO REAL PARK
[Ventura City Park. Restrooms, Parking.] Open grassy area ringed by
pines. Eucalyptus trees along the barranca and Aurora Dr., forming
north border of park, are resting places for migrating Monarch
butterflies in late fall and
Location: In Ventura, take Main St. east to Mills Rd.
Turn left onto Mills. Turn right at 1st light (Dean Dr.) and follow
Dean west to park entrance, opposite
Highlights: Hot spot for migrants, vagrants, and
rarities. Allen's Hummingbird
Best Season: All year, esp. early spring and winter.
Early a.m. best.
PINE MOUNTAIN, [elevation 7,000
and CUYAMA VALLEYS [Fee]
Very few services and only in camps or at the few stores along
the route. Start with full gas tank. Take water and snacks. Habitat
is mix of high desert, montane, valleys, open grassland, and
agriculture. Be prepared for snow in winter. Many pockets of habitat
for excellent birding. Full day trip.
From Ventura, take Hwy 101, to Hwy 33 north, to Ojai. Turn left at
Maricopa Hwy (33). Continue on 33 for about 30-35 miles to Pine
Mountain Summit. Continue on past Ozena Station. (Good birding there
too.) About 2 miles beyond that is Lockwood Valley Rd. Turn right.
Continue for 15 mi. to Grade Valley Rd. (N703). Turn right and
follow dirt road to the camp. To bird Cuyama Valley, continue on Hwy
33 past Lockwood Valley Rd.
Valley good for many sparrows, several raptor species. Camps yield
nuthatches (including Pygmy), creepers. Mountain Bluebird,
Whiteheaded Woodpecker in high camps. Pygmy-Owl (rare).
Cuyama Valley has Ferruginous Hawks in Winter Best Season: Winter, spring, late fall.
14. WHEELER GORGE CAMPGROUND
[Elevation 1,500 feet. Restrooms, Parking,
Interpretive Center, Fee.] Mountain park with variety of trees, small
gorges, and chaparral. Bird camp area plus river trail that fords
creek (fairly difficult) and on up the mountain.
Take Hwy 33 from Ventura. Drive north past Matilija Springs and NE
along the Maricopa Hwy (33) through 2 tunnels to the campground.
Park on right side of road and walk across to camp.
orioles, Olive- sided Flycatcher, Steller's Jay, dipper (rare),
thrushes, Solitary Vireo, Golden- crowned Kinglet (rare).
Best Season: Spring, summer.
15. WHEELER CANYON RD. and ALISO CANYON RD.
[No services.] Dead-end canyon roads lined with
private ranches, pastures, orchards, oak woodland and chaparral.
Respect private property and bird from road only.
From Ventura, take Seaward Ave. inland until it deadends at Foothill
Rd. Turn right and follow that about 12 miles east toward Santa
Paula. Both canyons on left.
orioles, warblers, sparrows, raptors; wintering Zone-tailed Hawk
(fairly regular); bluebirds, kites.
Season: All year, esp. early
spring; owls nearly morning or evening.
16. SANTA PAULA CANYON and STECKEL
[No services, Camping,
Fee.] Varied habitat-Live
Oak, open grassy areas, creekside trails. Canyon is accessed from
the grounds of St. Thomas Aquinas School. Expect a guard just inside
grounds of school. Register and follow trail
Location: From Ventura, take Santa Paula Fwy (Hwy
126) east to 10th St. (Hwy 150 to Ojai). Exit. Turn left, follow 150
north to Steckel Park. Santa Paula Canyon is about 2 mi. farther
along 150. Park outside on 150.
woodpeckers, raptors, warblers, kinglets, vireos in park. Canyon
yields spring warblers, vireos, flycatchers, Dipper, tanagers,
orioles, grosbeaks, wrens (Canyon), swifts, Costa's Hummingbird,
Golden Eagle, Zone-tailed Hawk (esp. in
Best Season: All year, esp. spring.
17. ORMOND BEACH
[Restrooms, Parking, free at end of Perkins Rd and Arnold Rd.] Coastal strand, dunes, marsh between ocean
edge and water treatment
Location: From Ventura, take Harbor Blvd. (becomes
Channel Islands as curves to left). Stay on that to Ventura Rd. and
turn right. Turn left on
Port Hueneme Rd., continue to Perkins Rd. (just past J St.), turn
right, go to end. Free parking at end of road on
right. You may also continue east to Arnold Road. Turn right and drive to parking lot at the end.
Highlights: Endangered Least Tern/Snowy Plover nesting
site. Sea and shorebirds, terns, Brown Pelican, bitterns. Rare
migrants often found.
Best Season: All year, esp. summer for shorebirds; late
spring and summer for nesting species.
18. LAKE PIRU PARK and CAMPGROUND
[Restrooms, Parking, Camping, Fee.] Varied habitat, inland lake.
Popular for boating, swimming, water skiing, fishing, and
Location: Take Hwy 126 about 25 mi. through Santa
Paula and Fillmore to Lake Piru turnoff. Turn north. Follow signs to
Highlights: Several varieties of sparrows, warblers,
raptors, ducks. Bird entire area, esp. perimeter and perimeter
approach road. Occasionally Condors are seen at the dam end of the lake. Best season: Fall, winter, spring.
GROVE PARK, CAMARILLO - See Photo Album
[Restrooms, Parking, Fee.] Varied city park habitat:
cactus, oak, grassy areas,
Location: Take 101 south through Camarillo to
Camarillo Springs Rd. Exit freeway and turn left under 101 to stop
sign. Turn right and continue to
Highlights: Cactus Wren, Hermit Thrush, Ground Dove,
Cedar Waxwings, raptors, bluebirds, woodpeckers,
Best Season: All year, esp. fall, winter,
20. HAPPY CAMP, MOORPARK
[Parking, Restrooms.] Riparian habitat, open
Location: From 101 south, take Rt. 23 north to 188
(old 23 extension). Follow old 23 west 1 mile and turn right at
Moor- park Ave. Follow that to Broadway. Turn right and go to
parking lot (with kiosk). Take trail to
Highlights: Vireos, goldfinches, raptors, sparrow
species, orioles, grosbeaks, thrushes.
Season: Fall, winter,
21. ROCKY PEAK PARK, SIMI VALLEY
[Chumash Park and
trail. Parking, limited, at trailhead.] High chaparral
and creekside trail.
From 101 south, take Rt. 23 north to 118 east. Follow 118 to
Yosemite Ave. in Simi Valley and turn north. Follow that to Flanagan
and turn right and go to the end. Park on street at right. Take
trail north from map
Highlights: sparrows, wren, thrashers roadrunner,
grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, finches. Great wild
Best season: Early spring.