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Bolsa Chica Reserve Field Trip Report: 8 October, 2011

October 14, 2011
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Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve parallels Pacific Coast Hwy. between Seal Beach and Huntington Beach in Orange County. Bolsa Chica means “little pocket” in Mexican Spanish as once the area was all swamp with “little pockets” of dry land.  Nowadays it’s a large sandy series of mostly man-made lagoons, restored a few years back when a direct channel was dug under the highway and through the beach out to the ocean.  It’s a very good spot for all sorts of water birds, raptors, Belding’s race of the Savannah Sparrow, and the occasional oddity like the Lesser Sand (Mongolian) Plover than showed up there last summer.

Savannah Sparrow - salt-marsh loving Belding's race (C. Almdale 10/8/11)

It was a Goldilocks day – not too cold, not too hot – just right.

The down side is that the birding stalwarts stayed out well past the lunch hour. There were lots of birds and new surprises kept appearing.  We thought we had seen most of the Grebes (Western, Pied-Billed, and Horned) when up popped an Eared Grebe and its lunch… an eel which was fighting back. The hoped-for Reddish Egret was there – actually there were at least three of them, and we greatly enjoyed their prancing manner of foraging for fish.  We had Terns:  Forster’s, Royal, Elegant and the uncommon Common. The Osprey perching high in a tree with a large fish in its talons was having a tough time hopping down the branch with one slippery foot while hanging onto the fish with the other. We had Long-Billed Curlews – amazing how they can fly with that bill. We had a Downy Woodpecker in the east side forest fringe, and quite a few Belted Kingfishers. There were Greater Yellowlegs, Long-Billed Dowitchers and those wretched Willets which seem so bland until they fly and then I wonder what my problem was. The lucky ones saw the Parasitic Jaeger (aka the Arctic Skua) – a wanderer who is rarely seen here.

We had a total of 71 species ranging from Herons and Egrets to tiny peeps and we had lots of Belding’s Savannah Sparrows and a Loggerhead Shrike. We had a grand day – easy walking, visible birds and – it goes without saying – a great leader ( moi)!  [Ellen Vahan]
Map to Meeting Place and planned (not actual) walking route.

Bolsa Chica Reserve

 

10/8/2011  
X = present
Brant

1

American Wigeon

X

Mallard

X

Blue-winged Teal

8

Ruddy Duck

X

Pied-billed Grebe

X

Horned Grebe

X

Eared Grebe

X

Western Grebe

X

Brown Pelican

X

Double-crested Cormorant

X

Great Blue Heron

X

Great Egret

X

Snowy Egret

X

Reddish Egret

3

Green Heron

X

Black-crowned Night-Heron

X

Turkey Vulture

X

Osprey

1

White-tailed Kite

2

Northern Harrier

1

Cooper’s Hawk

1

Red-tailed Hawk

X

Eurasian Kestrel

1

American Coot

X

Black-bellied Plover

X

Semipalmated Plover

X

Killdeer

X

American Avocet

2

Spotted Sandpiper

1

Greater Yellowlegs

6

Willet

X

Long-billed Curlew

X

Marbled Godwit

X

Ruddy Turnstone

X

Sanderling

X

Western Sandpiper

X

Least Sandpiper

X

Dunlin

6

Long-billed Dowitcher

X

Heermann’s Gull

X

Ring-billed Gull

x

Western Gull

x

California Gull

x

Common Tern

2

Forster’s Tern

x

Royal Tern

x

Elegant Tern

x

Parasitic Jaeger

1

Rock Pigeon

x

Mourning Dove

x

Anna’s Hummingbird

x

Belted Kingfisher

3

Downy Woodpecker

1

Black Phoebe

x

Say’s Phoebe

x

Cassin’s Kingbird

x

Loggerhead Shrike

1

American Crow

x

Tree Swallow

X

Marsh Wren

x

Northern Mockingbird

X

European Starling

x

Common Yellowthroat

x

California Towhee

x

Savannah Sparrow

x

Savannah Sparrow – Belding’s

x

Song Sparrow

x

White-crowned Sparrow

x

Western Meadowlark

x

House Finch

x

Total Birds

70

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