We are going to San Diego CA soon. Does anybody know an interesting place to look for porcupines, pumas, bobcats, skunks, long-tailed weasel, fisher even opposum or so close to San Diego?
Porcupines and fishers do not occur in San Diego County. Skunks and opossums are common but not site-specific. Best thing is to go to Balboa Park on Day 1, go to the Natural History Museum, and buy the book they sell there, “San Diego County Mammal Atlas.” It has very detailed records for all genera of mammals and also includes transcriptions of bat calls, so if you have a bat detector, you can cross-reference your recordings with the program’s auto-ID suggestions. My book, “A Californian’s Guide to Mammals Among Us,” turns up odd places —- somebody told me they just saw it at the Ferry Terminal Building in San Francisco, and Pt Reyes always has it, but not Sequoia or Yosemite. The best bet is Amazon.
Echoing what others have said, most of those species are either very difficult or impossible around San Diego. The only one that is doable is Bobcat, which is regularly reported around campgrounds in Cuyamaca Rancho SP. That said, they become mostly nocturnal in summer due to the heat so would be more difficult to see. You could try night drives around there or at Mt. Palomar.
Puma is a crapshoot. You could theoretically see it on night drives in natural habitat almost anywhere in CA, but the chance is usually <1% (except in a few remote areas far from San Diego).
Striped Skunks and Opossums are common in suburbia but hard to recommend good places to look as I never search specifically for them, just see them accidentally. I do know of a couple of Western Spotted Skunk sightings on Mt. Palomar and Campo Road (where LT weasels are also sometimes reported), but again this species is very rare and elusive (<5% chance) outside specific sites far away from San Diego.
Porcupine and Fisher don't occur within 3-4 hours of San Diego.
What I'd recommend is to spend a night driving roads around Cuyamaca and Campo for the chance of Bobcat as well as more common stuff like Striped Skunk, Opossum etc. You can then go to Aguanga/Hemet area for rare Stephens' Kangaroo Rat (see my report) for a night (or theoretically Palomar if you want to try for larger stuff), and then spend a couple of nights in Anza-Borrego SP. Great for Desert Bighorn Sheep, desert rodents, bats, and herps. Possibility of Kit Fox and Ringtail. IMO the best mammalwatching site near San Diego.
The mountain lions have been active lately 20 mins. Northeast of San Diego. Many being photographed by door and path cameras. Some have been jumping the fence at the Wild Animal Park and have taken out some gazelle and other species that some are endangered and in breeding programs for the San Diego Zoo.
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Yes – the San Diego Zoo!
JK, I had to.. It’s pretty ambitious for San Diego…
In general, California is good for bobcats, and not so much for pumas (though they are found in almost all habitats, even suburban areas of Los Angeles).
I doubt you will see a fisher in California.
The California Mammal watching page is very useful:
including all the trip reports submitted by others, at the bottom.
Personally I’m less familiar with mammal watching in Southern Cali, but obviously if you could make it up North for even just a couple of days there’s Point Reyes (N.A. otters, elephant seals, gray whales, bobcats, raccoons, skunks, gray foxes, coyotes, elk, chance for L.T. weasels, etc…) and then Yosemite and/or Sequoia (American marten, bobcat, tons of squirrels, coyotes, foxes, american black bears in the right season, small chance for weasels and extremely tiny chance for fisher).
Personally I lucked out in Yosemite when I was there right after a huge snow storm – you had to put chains on your tires even in the valley. Anyway, within 24 hours I saw both American marten and bobcat, which were back then my 2 top species to see in the States. So that was awesome.
Also, if you’re already in the “area” then of course whale watching out of the Bay is a must.
But as far as San Diego I really don’t know – look at the reports.