Sunday, December 30, 2007

Carr Park in Huntington Beach

Carr Park Lake with lots of birds including ducks and geese and coots.

Birding in Orange County is made easy by the number of great parks throughout the county. One great birding park is Carr Park is located in Huntington Beach at Springdale and Heil. You will have to park on the street. It is a grassy park with trees. The centerpiece is a lake with an island in the middle. The island makes this an especially attractive place for birds. It is a place to rest undisturbed. It is a great place for birders to look for birds.

Mallards quacking up a storm.

A big problem at this great park is that very kind-hearted, but misguided people dump huge loads of processed foods like bagels, bread, and tortillas on the ground by the lake. They do this to feed the birds. It is extremely tasty, but poor nutrition for wildlife. The birds end up unable to eat their regular food that is nutritious. It would be like stuffing your kids with candy and chips. They would not be the healthiest kids on the block.

Chinese Geese--escapees from somewhere and Mallards .

I am assuming a restaurant in the area thinks they are helping by doing this. Unfortunately, I have seen dead birds and a dead rat here testifying to the fact that birds here are at risk and the food lying around is attracting rodents.

Too much feeding attracts too many birds.

Feeding the ducks is not a good idea. Some people worry that if they don't feed them, the ducks will starve. Don't worry. The ducks don't rely on the food you give them. In fact, if you really want what is best for the ducks, you won't feed them at all. They forage and find their own natural foods. They are very self-reliant. Obey the signs at all parks. Many parks have signs that forbid feeding the birds--especially the ducks. Read this article by Rich Huffnagle, Supervising Park Ranger, County Regional Parks: Killing with Kindness.

Canada Geese finished with foraging in the grass.

If the birds are not fed processed foods they eat natural foods and the birds that can't find enough to eat will naturally move to places that can supply natural foods. There are many areas like that in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. Take a look at the many parks and wilderness areas listed on the right side of this blog. The ducks and geese have plenty of places to get good, nutritious natural food. The populations find their natural level if left to themselves. This is good for the lake, the birds, and the neighborhood.

American Wigeons. A cute little duck.

Besides Mallards and "Park Ducks," you will find American Wigeons. They are numerous in many park lakes, ponds, and in natural areas like San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve aka Newport Back Bay , and Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve -- except when they leave to head for their breeding grounds. They aren't gone long, and then they are back whistling in our county parks including Carr Park.

Double-crested Cormorant who are here for the fish. You can just see the small crests at either side of the cormorant in the middle.

In addition to ducks, the park has many wilder birds on the island in the middle of the lake. Black-crowned Night Herons, White-faced Ibises, Snow Geese, and more can be found on the island. Look sharp. It is easy to miss birds that blend in like the White-faced Ibis. Many of the birds at Carr Park feed on fish, crustaceans, and plants.

Notice how this White-faced Ibis blends in with the dry foliage behind it.

This well-camouflaged White-faced Ibis was very hard to spot until I scanned slowly with binoculars. Camouflage is one reason I missed some of the White-faced Ibises, but size was another. A small bird, the White-faced Ibisis is very close in size to the ducks. It is definitely not a Great-Heron-sized bird!

White-faced Ibis, blending in with the ducks.

So in a crowd of ducks, don't just scan with your eyes. You can miss it if you dismiss it as one of the similar-sized "park ducks" or other common ducks in the park. You may not think you could miss this bird in a crowd of ducks, but I can. With its head tucked in, surrounded by similar-sized ducks, a quick scan can miss details like well-camouflaged legs.

Winter visit by a flock of American White Pelicans.

Winter this year brought a visit of several days by a flock of American White Pelicans. They fished in formation, bringing a lot of entertainment to the lake.

Snow Goose with a black "grin patch" visits Carr Park.

Not long ago, I spotted two Snow Geese (a rare bird in Orange County) at Carr Park. One of them joined in with the ducks as people came to feed them. Carr Park is small neighborhood park with a stocked lake that attracts lots of birds in the winter. You can still see birds at other times of year, but comunity park lakes are most active in fall and winter. It is worth checking from time to time to see what has flown in. In Huntington Beach, it makes a great stop over for the birds and for birders looking for some interesting birding. Check it out.

Domestic Geese settle in for the night as the sun starts to set.

View Larger Map

My Carr Park Bird List

American Coot--Fulica americana


American Wigeon--Anas americana

Canada Geese

Black-crowned Night Heron--Nycticorax nycticorax

Snowy Egret--Egretta thula

White-faced Ibises

Chinese Geese

American White Pelicans

Double-crested Cormorant--Phalacrocorax auritus

American Crows

Ring-billed Gulls

Snow Geese

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