Bolsa Chica revisited (I)

When:  May 2019    Weather: Cool 15C

Nikon P900, Leica M10/35 summilux

After my meeting in San Diego, I was very fortunate to be invited to stay in Orange County, at the Brightwater estate which borders the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve(BCER).  Over two overcast mornings, I spent a few hours in blissful solitude enjoying the open space, cool morning air and many bird encounters…even though I’d seen many of them on a previous visit on 2015, there are always new things to see…

Accessing the BCER from Brightwater, you access one of 3 or 4 gates on OceanRidge Drive or at the end of Bolsa Chica Street…

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access to BC wetlands from OceanRidge Drive

 

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I turned left past the houses facing the reserve…

 

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until I reached this feature and turned right down the slope towards the Wintersburg Channel

 

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I started at the Brightwater trail, the red line at the top left and then down to the wintersburg channel to the north overlook, the turned left onto the inner bay loop to the south overlook and the nesting site. At this point is the long wooden bridge linking the nesting area to the south car park. I then walked on the outer bay loop along the PCH back up towrards the Tide Gates and the pocket loop trail before heading back along the north side of the channel to my start point….took 3.5 hours…

 

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first bird of the morning…the mourning dove

 

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there were literally thousands of these little snails crossing the trail….

 

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in the dawn gloom, this beautiful black headed grosbeak glowed

 

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california towhee

 

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view along wintersburg channel looking to the north east with mallards in foreground

 

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stark landscape

 

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view from the bridge across the channel looking towards the Pacific Coast Highway in the southwest

 

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Black necked stilt in the channel

 

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Great egret and snowy egret

 

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An Osprey in the distance

 

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a pair of black skimmers doing what they do best…skim!

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a pair of canadian geese on the water

 

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from the north outlook we can look across to the famous wooden bridge where terns are aplently

 

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on distant sandbanks Elegant terns gathered

 

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and within the area fenced off for nesting least terns and snowy plovers, this horned lark was active

 

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there were also a few Killdeer present

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Song sparrow

 

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and on to the wooden bridge at the south carpark

 

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Fosters tern on wooden bridge

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Fosters terns

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4 white pelicans…reminiscent of Tchaikovsky’s 4 little swans dancing

 

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white pelicans

 

I’d heard about the Rails that frequent  the wetland parks in this part of California but had never seen one before….till a kindly gentleman I met on the bridge said he’d seen one on the car park side of the bridge….he played  the call for me and we heard the response…..then…

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from the undergrowth on the car park side of the bridge, nonchalantly strode the bird of our quest…

 

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The magnificent Ridgeway’s Rail…an endangered species of Rail living from California to Mexico

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Ridgeway’s Rail

 

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and he waded off into the shallows…definitely the star bird of the morning

 

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snowy egret by the bridge

 

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heading back to the channel by the side of the PCH…heavy traffic and not many birds on this stretch

Getting back to the tidal gates, I went up some steps to get to the Pocket Loop Trail…

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Song sparrow with breakfast

 

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common yellowthroat

 

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common yellowthroat with insect

 

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and from afar, this raptor watched majestically…?northern harrier

 

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and then I heard some very loud squawking from a palm tree….

 

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A great blue heron feeding his chicks

 

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a very wet Wrentit

 

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the colourful red accented male house finch with the ladies

 

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Brilliant yellow warbler

 

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the pocket loop trail….there was lots to see near the fencing

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?Lesser goldfinch

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male housefinch

 

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willett

 

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Eared grebe

 

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double crested cormorant cruising over the channel

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California Towhee

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and last bird of the morning….a black phoebe

 

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the Bolsa Chica wetlands

 

Still a totally engrossing morning with many sightings,  BCER is not the very scenic, but the birding is always good….highly recommended yet again.

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