Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Up to the Mesa and Back at Bolsa Chica

A Rock Dove aka Pigeon on the railing of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve footbridge. They roost under the bridge and come up to sit on the railing.

I always see or hear Rock Doves as I cross the Bolsa Chica footbridge. Today was no different.

Willet stand off.

I like Willets even if they are as common as sand on the beach. They are always in and around the pickleweed by the footbridge.

Just beyond the bridge, opposite the first lookout, a rare bird for the OC--White-winged Scoter.

I wanted to hurry and get up to the mesa to see the activity up there, but go distracted on the way up by a White-winged Scoter. It was still there. I had seen it the other day on the way to work.

Marbled Godwit--Limosa fedoa a bird often seen in the mudflats or shallow water. In the pickleweed they are often found wing to wing with Willets--Catoptrophorus semipalmatus.

I like both Willets and Marbled Godwits which I think are quite pretty.

Semipalmated Plover. Cute little guy scooting along the soggy ground.

Snowy Plovers and Semipalmated Plovers are just about the cutest little birds in the wetlands.

Male Ruddy Duck in breeding plumage.

I always like seeing the Ruddy Duck in breeding plumage. Its blue bill is so pretty.

Snowy Egret--Egretta thula strutting through the water.

I always enjoy seeing Snowies. You never know what you will see. They are so active and full of personality.

A mature Double-crested Cormorant--Phalacrocorax auritus. They have beautiful turquoise eyes.

I don't know if they have Bette Davis eyes, but they sure have great eyes. the turquoise is so unusual. I was near the foot of the mesa. Almost there.

There is always an Anna's Hummingbird--Calypte anna or two up on the mesa as you come up the path.

Of course the Anna's was there on a shrub at the top of the mesa.

A turn of the head flashes fluorescent rose.

Up on the mesa, a disturbing sight--one of many of the European Starlings making themselves at home on the mesa.

I have to see European Starlings. They are aggressive birds who really reduce the populations of our cavity nesting birds.

Mourning Dove--Zenaida macroura on the chain link fence on the top of the mesa. I love their soft owl-like call and the whistling sound of their wings as they fly away. Mourning Dove--Zenaida macroura are common in Orange County, California.

On the mesa there was a symphony of springtime birds singing for mates: Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Yellowthroats , Northern Mockingbirds, Anna's Hummingbirds, Song Sparrows, and more I couldn't sort out. Nothing like the mesa in springtime.

Who is that masked yellow bird? A Male Common Yellowthroat singing for a mate. Common Yellowthroats can be heard down by the bridge and in the bushes and shrubs along the PCH side of the water, and up on the mesa to mention a few places you will find them. They are hard to spot and are most often heard: Witchety, witchety, witchety.

The warm smells of sage and flowering plants filled the air.

Male Red-winged Blackbird displaying for mates up on the mesa.

A female Northern Harrier--Circus cyaneus flew by and then perched up in a bare tree. When the inlet was opened, it flooded an area below the mesa and killed some trees. There are a few dead trees at the top of the mesa, too and that was where it perched.

Great Blue Herons Nesting at Bolsa Chica from OC Birder Girl on Vimeo.

A pair of Great Blue Herons were building a nest in a dead tree on the mesa. It consisted seemingly entirely of large sticks.

Great Egret--Ardea alba hunts on the mesa for some tasty non-fishy morsel, surprising many used to seeing them in the water hunting fish.

A Great Egret--Ardea alba was hunting below in among the flowing plants. I was so enraptured by the sights, sounds, and smells, that a snake moving fast across the path by my feet startled me. I forget there are there. I didn't even get a shot of it.

The first Great Egret flew away and either another one flew onto the mesa, or it returned within 10 minutes and flew behind the chain-link fence.

Yummy! A tail disappears down a Great Egret's throat proving that it ain't just fish in their diet. There were lots and lots of lizards sunning themselves on the mesa and so I am guessing at least one was gobbled up by this hungry Great Egret--Ardea alba.

Hunting behind the fence in deep grass and weeds, the Great Egret--Ardea alba mixes in with lizards, snakes, and rodents like rabbits (too large for a meal) and ground squirrels(again too large), gophers, and other little rodents that are just right for a tasty meal.

Song Sparrow singing among the flowers.

A path through the mesa near the fence. Lined with bladderpod, sage, and wildflowers, it's a nice walk by the fenced in meadow.
The baked smells of the afternoon perfumed the air. I took another sort walk along the path by the fence this time.

A Northern Mockingbird can usually be found on the mesa and there were several this day.
A Northern Mockingbird sang tirelessly. Since it wasn't midnight outside my house, I enjoyed it. I headed back down the mesa and took the path that I had come along. Wasn't in the mood for the dusty, broken PCH trail.

Male Ruddy Duck in breeding plumage.

Horned Grebe swims by--not seen here as much as the abundant Eared Grebe--Podiceps nigricollis.

As I got near the bridge a pair of Killdeer--Charadrius vociferus blocked the way standing in the path. As I waited, they began the "broken wing display," trying to draw several people away from their nest. I never saw it, but they were very persistant trying several times.

A Killdeer--Charadrius vociferus does it's famous distraction drama--"I've broken my wing and am easy prey!" All this to save eggs and or chicks from the predator lurking near by. I never saw a nest or chick, but they must have been nearby.

Killdeer--Charadrius vociferus protecting its young by drawing attention to itself. Known as the Broken Wing Display.

Finally, they gave up and flew away.

What ya didn't go for it? Killdeer--Charadrius vociferus decides to move on and I get to head for the bridge.

Back near the footbridge I ran into the White-winged Scoter again. He had some friends with him this time.

Immature White-winged Scoter now hanging out with two female Scaups--lesser or greater I'll let you decide.

Western Sandpiper? foraging by the Bolsa Chica footbridge.

All in all, it was a great day of birding in Orange County. I headed back to my car satisfied.

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