Birds in photos and nature at Mission Trails

By Jennifer Morrissey | Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation

The Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) Foundation presents art exhibitions year-round at the park’s Visitor and Interpretive Center. Focusing on themes related to nature and Mission Trails, the exhibitions offer visitors the opportunity to engage with the park in yet another way, and give artists the chance to share their vision with others.

Beginning Aug. 18, “The Art of Bird Photography” will be on view at the MTRP Visitor Center; the exhibition features stunning images of bird species, from owls to egrets, blackbirds to juncos. Award-winning photographer Blake Shaw combines his background in fine art photography with years of classroom study and field observation to create unique, artistic portraits of birds in their environment. The birds featured in the exhibition are from California, Baja California and beyond. A San Diego native, this is Blake Shaw’s fourth solo exhibition of bird photography at MTRP.

A recent guided bird walk at Lake Murray (Courtesy MTRPF)

The photographs will be on view from Aug. 18 through Sept. 14, with a public reception for the artist taking place on Sunday, Aug. 19, 2–4 p.m. at the Visitor Center. The photographs are available for sale with a percentage benefiting the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation.

If you are interested in birds or want to learn more about them, consider attending our Birding Basics class on the last Saturday of every month (except November and December) at 1 p.m. Join MTRP Trail Guide and experienced birder, Winona Sollock, for this educational bird identification class and learn five simple techniques to identify birds at a glance. You will also learn how to use a field guide, so bring one along if you have it.

The Birding Basics classes meet at the Visitor Center in Classroom A and, during summer, are a nice way to continue your engagement with nature while beating the heat. The classes are free and open to the public, with no reservations required.

Every first Sunday of the month between 9 a.m. and noon, local falconer Bob Gordon is at the MTRP Visitor Center with his feathered friend, “Huxley” the Harris Hawk. Get up close and personal with this majestic bird of prey, and learn from Gordon what makes them so special and how you can help protect them. This is a free, drop-in event.

Another monthly event for bird enthusiasts are our guided bird walks with MTRP birders, Jeanne Raimond and Millie Basden. The walks take place the third Saturday of the month from 8–10 a.m., but the locations change.

On Sept. 15, the group will explore the area around the historic Old Mission Dam. In this dry season, the water will attract birds and some migratory species will start to arrive. Meet in the Old Mission Dam parking lot and bring binoculars and/or a field guide, if you have them. Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and always bring water. A hat and sunscreen are also recommended, and walks are canceled if raining. On Oct. 20, the area of focus will be the Kumeyaay Lake; and on Nov. 17, the group will tour the Oak Grove Loop. For more information, visit the events calendar at

The MTRP Visitor and Interpretive Center is located at 1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego and is open daily from 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

— Jennifer Morrissey is executive director of the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation. Reach her at

Mission Trails Regional Park calendar of events*

Wildlife Tracking Walks: 8:30 a.m., first Saturday each month – Visitor Center

Live Hawk Talk: 9 a.m.–noon, first Sunday each month. Meet Huxely, the Harris’ Hawk! – Visitor Center

Guided Nature Walks: 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday each week – Visitor Center

Guided Nature Walks Kumeyaay Lake Campground: 8:30 a.m., second and fourth Saturday each month – KLC Campground

Discovery Table Activities: 10 a.m.–1 p.m., second Saturday each month – Visitor Center

Family Discovery Walks: 3 p.m., fourth Sunday each month – Visitor Center

Lake Murray Walk and Talk: 9 a.m., third Tuesday each month – August meet at Lake Murray Ball Fields

Birding Basics: 1 p.m., last Saturday each month – Visitor Center

Summer Evening Bird Walk: 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 11 – meet at Bushy Hill Parking Lot, across from KLC Campground; space limited, pre-register at 619-668-3281.

Spanish Language Nature Walk: 8:30 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 18 – KLC Campground

Summer Twilight Walk: 6:45 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 18 – meet at Bushy Hill Parking Lot, across from KLC Campground

Star Party: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 18 – meet a KLC Campground Day Use Lot

Native American Flute Circle: 1–3 p.m., second Sunday each month – Visitor Center Outdoor Amphitheater

Art Show Reception: 2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 19

Free Concert Series: 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, Java Jazz, featuring N. Scott Robinson – Visitor Center Theater

Free Concert Series: 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, Danny Green Trio – Visitor Center Theater

*Partial listing of Monthly Events at Mission Trails Park. View our website for full calendar of free activities and programs, visit, or call the Visitor Center at 619-668-3281.

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