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Bolsa Chica Trip Report: 11 October, 2014

October 16, 2014
A brand new species for California - Ridgway's Rail!!! (formerly known as Clapper Rail)  (Kirsten Wahlquist 10/11/14)

A new species for California – Ridgway’s Rail!!! (formerly known as Clapper Rail)
(Kirsten Wahlquist 10/11/14)

Bolsa Chica ( little pocket, small purse or ***) is an Ecological Reserve in Orange County, separated from the beach by Pacific Coast Highway, and is a tidal inlet. We met on a lovely overcast morning with the temperature never above the low 70s and set out to see what we could see. We crossed the boardwalk admiring the splashing pelicans and diving terns. Our first surprise, a Ridgway’s Rail, was spotted in the pickleweed. We tracked it around the weeds, under the boardwalk and finally to the fence which it ducked under and vanished.

Brown Pelican in winter (basic) plumage (Kirsten Wahlquist 10/11/14)

Brown Pelican in winter (basic) plumage (Kirsten Wahlquist 10/11/14)

We had a lazy day and saw several of our favorites – the Reddish Egrets – dancing and generally seeming to be enjoying the morning. We had another rail, many sparrows, Brown Pelicans, a White Pelican, a White-Faced Ibis and many others. We seemed to have the large shore birds : Marbled Godwits, Willets, Long Billed Curlews, Whimbrel, Black Bellied Plovers, Long-Billed Dowitchers and only a few little guys.

Humanoids from The Deep have invaded Bolsa Chica Lagoon  (Kirsten Wahlquist 10/11/14)

Humanoids from The Deep have invaded Bolsa Chica Lagoon
(Kirsten Wahlquist 10/11/14)

Our grebe count was interesting: at one point we had 63 Eared Grebes and several Pied-billed Grebes, but no Western Grebes. One of the most bizarre things we saw was a large hand draped in weeds coming out of the water – early Halloween ? or ??? We even had lots of Striped Mullet and Round Rays. As we came back to the parking lot, the tide was so high that most of the pickleweed was underwater and the birds had moved to drier ground. A beautiful Southern California day with good company and good birds.  [Ellen Vahan]

Beldings Savannah Sparrow is always found near pickleweed (Kirsten Wahlquist 10/11/14)

Belding’s Savannah Sparrow is always found near pickleweed
(Kirsten Wahlquist 10/11/14)

***More on Bolsa Chica: It could also be “small bag.” On the other hand,  Chica is often “girl” or “young woman”, while bolsa can be “bag,” “pocket,” “sack,” “purse,” etc., so it could mean “bag girl“, “pocket girl,” “sack girl.” Isn’t this fun? However, bolsa may also refer to a “market,” while chica is a diminutive adjective, so it could mean “small market.” Then again, it could mean “market girl,” or “young woman of the market.” As markets were usually “street markets”, maybe it means “young woman of the street” who may or may not be marketing something. What could she be marketing? Hmmm….Best to leave it there. [Editor]

Bolsa Chica Reserve 10/11 10/12 10/6
Trip List 2014 2013 2012
Brant X
American Wigeon X X
Mallard X
Blue-winged Teal X
Cinnamon Teal X
Northern Shoveler X
Northern Pintail X
Green-winged Teal X
Redhead X
Lesser Scaup X
Ruddy Duck X X X
Pied-billed Grebe X X X
Eared Grebe X X X
Western Grebe X X
Double-crested Cormorant X X
American White Pelican X X X
Brown Pelican X X X
Great Blue Heron X X X
Great Egret X X X
Snowy Egret X X X
Reddish Egret X X X
Green Heron X
Black-crowned Night Heron X X
White-faced Ibis X
Turkey Vulture X X X
Osprey X X X
White-tailed Kite X X
Northern Harrier X X X
Red-tailed Hawk X X
Ridgway’s Rail X
American Coot X X X
Black-bellied Plover X X X
Semipalmated Plover X X
Killdeer X X
Greater Yellowlegs X X
Willet X X X
Lesser Yellowlegs X
Whimbrel X X X
Long-billed Curlew X X X
Marbled Godwit X X X
Ruddy Turnstone X X
Red Knot X X
Sanderling X X
Western Sandpiper X X X
Least Sandpiper X X X
Dunlin X X
Short Billed Dowitcher X X X
Ring-billed Gull X X
Western Gull X X X
California Gull X
Black Tern X
Forster’s Tern X X X
Royal Tern X
Elegant Tern X X X
Rock Pigeon X X X
Mourning Dove X X X
Anna’s Hummingbird X
Allen’s Hummingbird X X
Belted Kingfisher X X X
Nuttall’s Woodpecker X
Downy Woodpecker X
American Kestrel X X
Peregrine Falcon X
Black Phoebe X X X
Say’s Phoebe X X X
Loggerhead Shrike X
American Crow X X
Bushtit X
House Wren X X
European Starling X X
American Pipit X
Common Yellowthroat X X X
Yellow-rumped Warbler X
California Towhee X
Savannah (Belding’s) Sparrow X X
Savannah Sparrow X X X
Song Sparrow X
White-Crowned Sparrow X X X
House Finch X X X
Total Species – 79 45 51 69
  1. October 16, 2014 10:46 pm

    What a wonderful trip! Kirsten, you said that the Ridgeway Rail( Clapper Rail) is a new species for California. Not so. I remember going to Newport Back Bay in the mid 70’s with Arnold Small’s birding class he taught through UCLA Extension and we saw one of these very shy birds there. I didn’t identify it-I think Mr. Small did. Glad to hear you saw one as I haven’t seen one since!


    • Chukar permalink*
      October 17, 2014 3:50 pm

      Ruth: Kirsten is innocent; I wrote that caption. It was a joke. It was called the Clapper Rail until sometime this year when Ridgway was split from Clapper, so it’s a “new species” in that sense. BTW, I also took Arnold’s class back around 1980-81. One of my favorite memories of Arnold’s teaching style in the field was his dry reply to my query, “Hey, what’s that weird sparrow-looking-but-not-quite bird in that bush over there.” Arnold: “Which way is it from the female House Sparrow?” Me: “Oh.”


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