Saturday, October 25, 2008

Two-stop Birding

Peeps. Hmmm. My best guess is Least Sandpipers and Western Sandpipers.

I like to hit several birding places in one outing. So today I went to Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve aka Newport Back Bay, and it was somewhat quiet.

Black Skimmers. Some lighter juveniles in the mix.

All over Orange County I am seeing mulefat going to seed. It catches the sunlight and looks pretty. So I took a picture. Provides lots of food for the birds in fall and winter.


I am thinking this is mulefat. Isn't it pretty?

A closer look at the mulefat.

It attracts lots of White-crowned Sparrows, House Finches , Lesser Goldfinches and lots of Bushtits, and other seed eaters.

Marbled Godwit and a peep of some kind. Peeps are beyond my scope. I am guessing a Western Sandpiper.

There are always mixes of Marbled Godwits, Willets, and Black Skimmers just beyond the parking lot on Back Bay Drive.

And the American Wigeons back from their breeding grounds. I often see them near the drainage pipe from the surrounding neighborhood.

The American Wigeons are often beyond the parking lot on Back Bay Drive, and occasionally have a Eurasian Wigeon tucked in among them. Many of the sightings of Eurasian Wigeons come from this spot. None today. I met a birder/photographer looking for an Osprey. He had been there for hours and hadn't found one. I mentioned he might want to check at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary since it is so close. Sometimes if you don't see them at Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve, they are at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. It was fairly quiet at Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve aka Newport Back Bay , so I got back onto Jamboree and turned left. Turned right on Michelson, right on Riparian to the end, and down into the parking lot of San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. The Sea and Sage Pancake Breakfast was finishing up. I had completely forgotten about.

Black-necked Stilt with its black-and white feathers and red legs mirrored in the water.

I had to park in the auxiliary parking lot which provided a closer view of the first pond. It was full of shore birds and ducks.

American Avocet in winter plumage foraging.

Lots of shorebird action.

Dowitchers. Long-billed? Short-billed? Guesses?

Semipalmated Plover

Pair of Killdeer--Charadrius vociferus scurrying about being vociferous.

Northern Shovelers shoveling.

Female Northern Harrier scattered the shorebirds.

When the shorebirds take flight, I look for a hawk. This time it was a female Northern Harrier looking for a fast meal.

Northern Harrier coming around for another turn around the pond.

Common sight. American White Pelicans coming into San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary for a rest.

Overhead a flock of American White Pelicans flew looking for a resting place deep in the marsh. I see them often on the islands or strands of mud in one of the ponds back in the marsh. Often see Black Skimmers there as well, but not today.

Osprey up in the Eucalyptus between the Audubon House and the trail by the pond. Notice the fish under his left foot. Look at that bill!

I met a birder and photographer in the parking lot that I seem to see everywhere in the Southland. Dave. Sunburned and peering through his telephoto lens. He pointed out an Osprey in the tree by the Audubon House. Many thanks to Dave.

He stayed up there eating for hours.

People told me the Osprey was in the eucalyptus tree eating for hours. He had a very large fish. Look at that seriously sharp, hooked bill. A bill made for fish!


Are you still there?

I took a lot of photographs, and all in all it was a good birding day. Have fun birding the Orange County!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Study in White

Filled to the brim with fish and birds.

I went walking one morning at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve before the crowds got there. As the tides go in and out, they form various temporary ponds. This one above was evidently filled with fish. There were 60 plus birds feeding out of this one little pond. Almost all the birds were white: Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, American Avocets in winter plumage. It was quite a sight.

Coming up to the pond at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.

Look at that crowd!

I have never seen a sight like this before.

In the early morning light.

Study in White from OC Birder Girl on Vimeo.

I came back later on the way out of the Reserve, and they were almost all gone. Like the temporary ponds that form in the tides, the birds come and go depending on the food and the tides. You never know what you will see and when while birding in Orange County. It is an adventure.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

The Santa Ana Winds

Channel 8 Weather man gives brief explanation of Santa Ana Winds

With the Santa Ana winds picking up, I thought I would check out some facts behind the winds.

Brief Explanation from the Weather Channel

If you live in Southern California--especially the Los Angeles, Orange, or Riverside counties, you have experienced the Santa Ana Winds.

The Weather Channel describes Santa Ana Winds this way:

The hot, dry winds, generally from the east, that funnel through the Santa Ana river valley south of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains in southern California, including the Los Angeles basin...."

Next time you feel those hot, dry winds you might remember more about it. Remember, too, that the Santa Anas often bring some interesting birding our way. Bird in all weather as long as it is safe, and you will find some interesting and even rare birds. Have fun birding in Orange County in all kinds of weather!

External Links and Resources

Meterology Online

UCLA: The Santa Ana Winds FAQ

University of San Diego: Santa Ana


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Whistling Wintering Wigeons Are Back

Carr Park in Huntington Beach

I went to Carr Park in Huntington Beach with the goal of seeing if American Wigeons had returned. They disappear sometime in Spring to go to their nesting grounds. Neighborhood ponds had become very boring without the wintering waterfowl. Just Mallards and American Coots.

Canada Goose

I saw lots of Mallards, American Coots, and Canada Geese.


I looked carefully and saw no American Wigeons.

Keeping an eye on me.

Strange-looking Mallard-Muscovy hybrid?

I saw some strange ducks, but no American Wigeons.

And lots of Mallards.

Then I heard it. I thought. Was that a American Wigeons whistle?

Male and Female Mallard.

I carefully scanned the lake and the edge of the lake. Nothing.

One lone American Wigeons.

I saw one at the far side of the lake. But then I heard more and more whistling. I kept walking around the lake. Then as I rounded the corner, there they were.

American Wigeons at last.

At last. American Wigeons have returned.

Now it really feels like fall. I have missed these whistling Wigeons. The few months without them made the lakes feel really tame. Next on the list of fall and winter migrants: Northern Shovelers and Red-breasted Merganser. The stray Eurasian Wigeon . Who says we don't have seasons in Southern California?

OC Birder Girl Links to Other Parks with Lakes

Greer Park Lake View

Huntington Central Park

Irvine Regional Park in Orange, California

Mason Regional Park

Tewinkle Park -- Costa Mesa

Birding Hot Spots in Orange County, California

Bird Walks and Nature Programs in Orange County

OC Birder Girl Links of Interest

American White Pelicans

Black-crowned Night Heron

Double-crested Cormorant

Eared Grebe

Eurasian Wigeon

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Green Heron


Migration--The Pacific Flyway and Orange County

Northern Shovelers

Odd Ducks


Red-breasted Merganser

Snowy Egret

Turkey Vultures

The Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns of Orange County

The Wild Ducks of Orange County

Orange County Bird Checklists