Located in the San Luis Rey Watershed on the northern end of the City of Oceanside lies a 73-acre bird sanctuary called Whelan Lake. Bordered by Camp Pendleton and adjacent to the City of Oceanside San Luis Rey Wastewater Treatment Plant, Whelan Lake is a man-made body of water that was used in a dairy farm operation owned by the Whelan Family. Ellen Whelan, upon her death in 1985, donated the entire 305-acre property to a Board of Trustees with the understanding that the land was to remain protected and used as a sanctuary for migratory and resident waterfowl.
The water table in Whelan Lake is fed by tertiary-treated effluent from the San Luis Rey Wastewater Treatment Plant. Tertiary-treated waters, high in nutrients, help promote the growth and sustainability of the many species of plant life. Grassland habitat predominately characterizes the area around the Lake. However, some scrub and chaparral habitats can also be found.
Volunteers from Buena Vista Audubon Society conduct a monthly count of the bird species to be found at Whelan Lake. To date, 170 species of birds have been sighted there, including Canadian Geese, Willow Flycatcher, Least Bell’s Vireo, White Pelicans, and 15 different duck species including Wood Ducks.
Whelan Lake is not open to the public except by prior arrangement by contacting the Buena Vista Audubon Society at 760-439-BIRD (2473). It has been preserved to function solely as a sanctuary for resident and migratory waterfowl. The Lake is behind gates to protect the sanctuary and the surrounding undeveloped area.
Recreational Activities: Bird Watching
Public Access: Contact Audubon Society to make arrangements.
Report any water running in the street when it is not raining or someone dumping something in the storm drain or curb and gutter by calling the
Urban Runoff Hotline at 760-435-4500.