Orange County & The Coast

The morning was a bit gray but the rain had stopped. We started off for the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary which is probably in Irvine but runs into Newport Beach. It is in fact a place with 12 miles of trails and a series of lagoons, ponds, and vegetated wetlands. And, no surprise, it is fed by treated wastewater. there is no aroma here and the trails are wide and hard-packed. We entered the office building and chatted with the staff, looked at the gift shop, and picked up a checklist. We then spent about four hours walking the trails. We had a very nice time of it – but as it was pretty gloomy still I didn’t carry the camera.

We had lunch and headed for the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve were we walked another four miles or so. Forty years ago there were dozens of oil pumps working this area and the surfers at Huntington Beach were just across the street. It was cold today, but I’d guess the surfers are still there; however, the oil fields have morphed into the reserve.

This is river water and tidal water. There are thousands of shorebirds, herons, egrets, terns, and gulls in this area. I did carry the camera all afternoon and the photos below are representative.

The willet is divided into two distinct populations. The Western Willet shows up in the east in September on occasion but out here they are all Western Willets. This one if walking marsh vegetation looking for anything that moves.

The Long-billed Curlew has the longest and curliest bills of all the shorebirds. It probes deeply and finds all sorts of things at a level no other bird utilizes. 

The Green Heron, shown below, is on a floating boom that deflect flotsam that rushes down the man-made rivers when the rains come. The junk is deflected into a corner where it can be gathered. The floating boom was the nicest part of the habitat – I cropped out tons of garbage.

There are many types of terns out there – the Forster’s Tern is widespread across the southern part of the US. They lose their black caps and develop these black eyepatches after breeding season.
The California Brown Pelican is rebounding from hard times. We have seen them in several places and they seem to be doing pretty well.

The Belted Kingfisher is very widespread. The double bands on the chest marks this as a female. The male has one band.
The Say’s Phoebe is named after Say, a doctor who was assigned to western forts (so he could study birds) by a willing Chief of Staff after the Civil War. There were many such appointments and there are many western birds named after these men.

I do the blog in public libraries as we travel – and they are now closing —- more later.

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