Saturday, December 22, 2007

Irvine Open Space Preserve Nature Center

The Nature Center Building built in 1936 as a paddock and tackroom for the Bommer Canyon Cattle Camp. (Open Space Preserve Nature Center Trail Guide)

The Nature Center is located in Turtlerock Community Park which also has picnic benches and tables, grassy lawns, trees, two playgrounds, a community center, tennis courts, drinking fountains, barbeques, bathrooms, and more. It covers about 25 acres. The Nature Center itself covers about 5 acres. It has trails and streams fed by residential run-off which is true of many nature centers and parks these days. Within a short walking distance of the Nature Center are trails into the surrounding natural areas within the Open Space Preserve. In fact, the trail heads use the same Turtlerock Park parking lot as the Nature Center.

Stream meandering through the Nature Center in Turtlerock Park.

To me, this will always be Turtlerock Nature Center. Back in the 1980s I used to go here with my friend, Gloria. One time, we saw a nest high up in one of the trees overlooking the path. As we looked up, several little fuzzy barn owl chicks peered down at us. It was such a delight to see them as interested in us as we were in them. Another time, I saw a pair of ferrets running on a meadow-like area which doesn't exist anymore. That was amazing. They were so cute. Just like stuffed toys, but mobile. This was and still is a great place for birding.

American Robin.

Today as I went through the first part of the trail the "riparian (streamside) habitat," I heard a woodpecker drumming on a tree. The stream meandered by the trail. The drumming continued as I walked around a turn in the trail, and saw birds leaping from branch to branch. They were American Robins, and they were very lively. They actually did sat still for a minute, and I got a few pictures. This section has Arroyo Wilow, Douglas Nightshade, watercress, and Wild Blackberries. The trail guide also states that the Wild Blackberries attract racoons at night.

Desert habitat area

Desert habitat with Aloe and prickly pear among other plants. This section is out in the sun. Lots of cacti and dry grass.

The Pond

According to the guide, there are sometimes ducks visiting the pond, but we saw none. There are crayfish and turtles and non-native frogs. Again, the water comes from water in the neighborhoods nearby. Water from the streets.

High-flying Turkey Vulture.

The hills, nature trails and wilderness nearby provide plenty of places for Turkey Vultures to find food. Also a great place for raptors such as Red-Shouldered Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Cooper's Hawks and even Golden Eagles.


The Nature Center is a great place to go for a short walk. It has a variety of habitat, and it is surrounded by a very large the very large Irvine Open Space Preserve. Since it is near such a large wilderness area, you may see birds you might not usually see in such a small nature center. Both the Nature Center and Turtlerock Park can hold surprises for both families and serious birders. The Interpretive Center has some educational and fun things for kids to see and do. Stop by and visit the birds and animals in Turtlerock in Irvine at the Irvine Open Space Preserve Nature Center.

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Irvine Open Space Preserve Nature Center

The Nature Center's website.

Turtlerock Community Park

The Nature Center is in Turtlerock Community Park.

Irvine Open Space Preserve

Irivine's Open Spaces.

Irvine Ranch Wildlands and Parks

See the timeline. Look at a map of the Irvine Ranch Wildlands from northern Orange County to the ocean. Lots of information about the wild areas and parks on the former Irvine Ranch. The lands formerly belonging to the Irvine Ranch.

Bommer Canyon

Nearby nature area with some historical significance.

Mason Regional Park

Nearby Regional Park with lots of trees and grass and large man-made lake.

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