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332. Ocean Trails Reserve, Rancho Palos Verdes, California

This 113-acre reserve protects native plants and habitats for the federally threatened California Gnatcatcher and Cactus Wren, and it’s home to many other species.

On a trip to the Los Angeles area in October, I went birding with Contributing Editor Brian Small, and one of the highlights of our morning was a stop at the Ocean Trails Reserve, which is one of 11 reserves within the fantastic Palos Verdes Nature Preserve network.

The 113-acre reserve protects native plants and habitats for the federally threatened California Gnatcatcher and Cactus Wren. We didn’t catch sight of a wren, but we tallied four gnatcatchers, as well as Anna’s and Allen’s Hummingbirds, Black and Say’s Phoebes, California and Spotted Towhees, and a couple of California Scrub-Jays, among other birds.

Over the years, more than 180 bird species have been counted at the reserve, which has 3 miles of trails that wind through grasslands and coastal scrub. The birdlife includes year-round species like Brown Pelican, Lesser Goldfinch, Bushtit, California Gnatcatcher, and California Towhee, as well as seasonal stars such as swifts, hummingbirds, rails, shorebirds, kingbirds, swallows, and warblers.

You won’t find much shade, so bring water and a hat and enjoy the stunning views and lovely birds.

332. Ocean Trails Reserve, Rancho Palos Verdes, California

Directions

This public reserve is in Rancho Palos Verdes, which sits on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, south of Los Angeles. Street parking is available at the east end of the preserve, where Palos Verdes Drive South becomes W. 25th St. Parking also available on an adjacent golf course.

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
33°43’34.1″N 118°19’52.3″W

Habitat

Coastal scrub, grasslands, beach.

Terrain

Steep switch-back trail leading from road into reserve. Some elevation changes on 3 miles of trails within reserve.

Birds

Year-round: Anna’s and Allen’s Hummingbirds, American Coot, Western and California Gulls, Brown Pelican, Brandt’s and Double-crested Cormorants, Bushtit, California Gnatcatcher, Rock, House, Bewick’s, and Cactus Wrens, Lesser Goldfinch, Song Sparrow, California and Spotted Towhees, Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat. Spring: Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Surfbird, Western Kingbird, Wilson’s Warbler, Lazuli Bunting.

When to go

Year-round.

Amenities

Parking and restrooms available on adjacent golf course. Street parking also available at east end of preserve, where Palos Verdes Drive South becomes W. 25th St. 

Access

City-owned nature preserve co-managed with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy. No fees. Open one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. Closed during adverse weather conditions.

Tips

Spotting scope not necessary unless you want to scan for ocean birds.

For more info

Palos Verdes Nature Preserve, (310) 544-5353.

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Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall is the editor of BirdWatching magazine and BirdWatchingDaily.com. You can reach him at [email protected].

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