Friday, December 28, 2007

Environmental Nature Center

A pool and waterfall that attracts many birds including hummingbirds.

The Environmental Nature Center was the place that I first saw a Black-headed Grosbeak on 05/20/1984. My friend Gloria and I went to bird there. I don't even remember how we first heard about the Environmental Nature Center. Word of mouth through Sea and Sage Audubon, I think. This nature center has a very interesting history. It began in early 1970s when students and faculty at Newport-Harbor High School began to think that a junk-filled gully might be transformed into nature center for the school and for the community. When we first visited, I don't remember there being a gate or a fence. It has both now. Hard to believe that when we went, it had been around for about 10 years already.

Bushes filled with berries that attract birds and animals.

The plants in the ENC attract many birds, insects, and animals by providing food and shelter and nesting material. They also give the hawks a great vantage point.

A place to learn.

The Environmental Nature Center (ENC) in Newport Beach is a small 3.5 strip of land that used to be a gully. It varies in width from about the size of a house lot to some grass and a path. The amazing thing is that the school and volunteers have filled the gully with native plants, trees, streams, ponds, logs and benches and transformed it into an area that is extremely appealing to birds. Why? Because it has the things birds need: 1) Water 2) Food and 3) Shelter.

Paths through the trees.

The ENC is near the Newport Back Bay and not far from San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, and it is visited by at least 130 species. The Orange County Rare Bird Alert lists 39 rare bird sightings over the years. ENC has 15 different plant communities. It has insects, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals that moved in when the native plants took hold. Their website states that at one time a coyote lived there for a while. A staff member told me they have raccoons visit.

The new facility in progress heading for the platinum.

They are building a new facility to replace their trailer. They are going, not for the gold, but for the LEED platinum rating which means that their new learning center will be environmentally friendly and healthy at the highest level. Their new facility is a registered LEED project. They are striving for the best and hope to be the premier center for natural science education in the area. Quite a high goal for a lowly little gully.

Strange plant in the desert habitat area.

This is a place for children to learn about nature. There are programs galore here to teach children about the environment and nature. There are walks, classes, nature camps, teacher workshops,, and more. In May 2008, the annual Butterfly house is open again for the Spring and Summer seasons. There are plants to sell and butterflies to watch. The only one in the OC. Come and take a look.

Ferns, trees, and kids.

The Environmental Nature Center is the result of dreams, values, and hard work. It is amazing what people can do with a little determination. It is a wonderful place. Stop by when you are in the area birding or running errands. A great place to rest and eat lunch or walk. The birds you find here in this little 3.5 acre Nature Center just may surprise you. They might even make your life list.


Coming from the North, take the 55 Freeway to 17th go east to Dover. Turn right on Dover, right on 16th. The Environmental Nature Center is on the left. You may need to park on the first side street to your right. Some of the parking in front of the ENC is a no parking zone.

Coming from the South. From PCH take Dover north, turn left on 16th Street/Westcliff. Park on the first side street on the right.

View Larger Map

Rare Birds Seen in the Environmental Nature Center

American Redstart January 2007

American Redstart December 2006

Brown Creeper December 2006

Yellow Warbler possible December 2006

American Redstart November 2006

American Redstart October 2006

Black-chinned Sparrow May 2006

American Redstart imm April 2006

American Redstart imm February 2006

American Redstart imm January 2006

Winter Wren January 2006

Winter Wren December 2005

Lucy's Warbler October 2005

Gray Flycatcher May 2005

Summer Tanager (heard) February 2005

Summer Tanager January 2005

Summer Tanager November 2004

Brewer's Sparrow November 2004

Gray Flycatcher April 2004

Summer Tanager November 2003

Summer Tanager October 2003

Scarlet Tanager October 2003

Common Poorwill October 2003

Blackpoll Warbler October 2003

Canada Warbler October 2003

Canada Warbler September 2003

Yellow-throated Vireo June 2003

Yellow-throated Vireo May 2003

Common Poorwill (Possible) October 2002

Black-and-white Warbler October 2002

Black-and-white Warbler September 2002

Hammond's Flycatcher September 2002

Red-eyed Vireo September 2002

American Redstart September 2002

Red-eyed Vireo August 2002
American Redstart August 2002

MacGillivary's Warbler June 2002

Black-chinned Sparrow May 2002

Gray Flycatcher May 2002

Black-and-white Warbler January 2002

A path through the pines.


Environmental Nature Center

Check out their website for more information and current programs and events.

Lots of paths to choose.

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