Stormy morning at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.
When I woke up, it was raining. In a moment of weakness, I thought, "Should I go birding in the rain?" It was only a momentary weakness. What's a bit of rain to a birder? So of course, my answer to myself was "Yes, I should, I can, and I am going birding." And the AccuWeather site said the rain was about to stop. So I got ready, rain or not, and headed out to Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. There was a very damp Osprey on the light post outside the parking lot that I noticed as I pulled in. He looked wet and miserable. I checked him out, and kept up a brisk pace into the reserve to warm up. It was so beautiful with the with masses of dark storm clouds over the gray water. But boy, was it cold! I kept going, hoping my fast pace would generate heat and scanning the pickleweed for the American Bittern that keeps popping up in the Rare Bird Alert. I'd seen him before, but I wanted another chance.
A Long-billed Curlew and several Marbled Godwits make a knobby kneed line up on the shore.
At first, there did not appear to be much to see.
A bedraggled Belding's Savannah Sparrow forages in the shrubs and pickleweed with a flock of equally wet comrades.
A small flock of Belding's Savannah Sparrows, looking wet and cold, foraged in the pickleweed and the undergrowth at the edges of the pickleweed. They flittered here and there, landing on scattered pieces of branches and on pickleweed, and then dropping back down to the wet ground. How cold must they be with their little bare feet on the cold, wet ground? I hear they don't have much feeling in their feet, but I am still glad that I am not a bird today.
Huddled group of Snowy Egrets at the bottom of a bank which gives them some protection from the wind.
Then I came across about 15 Snowy Egrets puffed up and scrunched down to keep warm. They were down at the bottom of the bank that fell away from the path to the water. It was shelter from the wind.
They made me feel even colder.
Brrrr. I hot-footed it back to the back toward the Wintersburg Channel and the flooded area in the back. Wanted to get into the back area and see what was happening.
In the back--by the Wintersburg Channel--there is an area that flooded a some years ago, and the trees have died. But in nature nothing is wasted. Those dead trees now provide perches for all kinds of birds: Osprey, American Kestrels, Red-Tailed Hawks, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Belted King Fishers, Black Phoebes, Peregrine Falcons, Great Blue Herons, and much more. The waters that flooded the area provide lots of shallow water for ducks, herons and egrets and other shore birds. It is a great place to bird watch. The nearby Wintersburg Channel is very eroded, and officials are worried that it may give way in a heavy storm. Read about it here. The repair will be very costly. Lots of tax dollars to fix the channel.
As I watched the ducks and shorebirds, something that looked different caught my eye. Up on the bank above the back water just above me, I saw something large and brown moving. I looked up and saw a set of furry ears. Then a coyote moved out of the undergrowth. Then another. I decided to move away from the coyotes coming down the bank, and started heading up onto the mesa.
The rest of the coyote. One of two on the bank above the back water after 9AM in the morning. Hungry after night and early morning rain.
A lady, against all rules on the many posted signs, was walking her wet dog who had evidently been swimming which was also against the rules. He was off leash and headed for the coyotes. I said to her, "There are some coyotes here." And pointed. She seemed to think they were far away. I told her, "No, they are right here and coming this way." Then she began calling her dog with more urgency. The dog-walking problem is getting bad again here. Don't these people realize that there is a dog park very close by at Central Park and also at the Huntington Dog Beach. Don't they realize that there are wild animals here that make walking your dog on or off leash dangerous? A dog can make a tasty snack. Plus the owner can get fined. Some people don't have a lick of sense. What is it about "No Dogs Allowed" that they do not understand? This rule includes the Bolsa Chica area by Wintersburg Channel and the mesa. No dogs. For the safety of the wildlife and the dogs. Grrrr. rant over.
He left after giving me the once over.
I checked out the WWII artillery mount. Just a large round circle, but it is part of our history.
I saw a Common Yellowthroat in a bush. It flew, as they usually do, the moment I spotted it. It landed on a chain link fence and disappeared into the field.
I stood and gazed at the wetlands covered with storm clouds. It was awesome as we used to say in the Valley. The clouds reflected in the water and the shadows and silhouettes of the marsh plants made it look so dramatic.
Another encounter with a coyote.
We encountered a coyote again.
The Coyote checked out Steve, another lady, and me.
We were of only passing interest.
An American Bittern out in the pickleweed near the bridge. Thanks again to Steve for pointing out where "Waldo" was.
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