Bolsa Chica with an Audubon guide

Bolsa Chica with an Audubon guide

When:  January 2020           Weather: Cool.  12C

Nikon P900

As it happened, I had a morning free which coincided with one of the Sea and Sage Audubon Society of Orange County’s guided field trips to Harriet M Wieder Park on the edge of Bolsa Chica Wetland reserve.  This walk was led by Vic Leipzig who was incredibly knowledgeable about all things to do with the area and its wildlife.  By 8am there were about 20 birders there meeting up with Vic in the car park of Harriet M Wieder Park…the birding started right there….and on to the wooden bridge and a new housing area on Graham Road.  The birding started right in the carpark…


The Harriet M Wieder Park where the birding started

yellow rumped warbler

One of the most active birds was the yellow rumped warbler which was chirping continuously

yellow rumped warbler (2)

Yellow rumped warbler

western bluebird (2)

Western bluebirds were common in the car park

female western bluebird (3)

Female western bluebird

song sparrow

Song sparrow

Juvenile golden crowned sparrow

Possible juvenile golden crowned sparrow

white crowned sparrow

white crowned sparrow

Male housefinch (2)

Male housefinch

Lesser goldfinch

Lesser goldfinch

Green-tailed towhee (2)

and then this beauty appeared ..a green tailed towhee

Green-tailed towhee (3)

green tailed towhee with its reddish chestnut crown

California Thrasher (2)

A california thrasher shouldn’t be in this location but it was!

Allen's HB

Allen’s Hummingbird

Allen's HB (3)

flashing his gorget this way

Allen's HB (6)

and then that way exposing the brilliant orange gorget

Downy woodpecker (2)

Downy woodpecker

Egyptian geese

A flight of Canadian geese overflew us


after an hour or so, we drove over to the famous wooden bridge of bolsa chica to resume the birding

ring billed gull (2)

Ring billed gull on the bridge


A willet waded in the reeds

great egret

snowy egret also on the bridge

Caspian tern and chick

A Caspian tern and a demanding chick

Caspian tern and chick (2)

Caspian tern and chick


Pipit in the enclosed nesting area


Killdeer in the same area

killdeer (2)

Killdeer with its typical two black bands

mountain plover

and the Vic pointed out this bobbing head just over the ridge of the nesting area…..a mountain plover

mountain plover (2)

The Mountain plover showed itself very briefly from afar

red throated loon with fish

A red throated loon with his breakfast

red throated loon

red throated loon

Least sandpiper

A pretty least sandpiper presented itself

Least sandpiper (2)

Least sandpiper


We then arrived at a promontary overloooking this island with lots of gulls on it…

Western gulls with immature

Western gulls with an immature gull and dunlin in foreground

single herring gull among the western gulls

Single herring gull among the western gulls with darker backs

california gulls with first winter gull

California gulls with first winter gull

ruddy turnstone (2)

A ruddy turnstone

semi palmated plovers and dunlin

Semi palmated plovers with a dunlin

pintailed ducks

pintailed ducks male and female

pied billed grebe (3)

pied billed grebe

black bellied plover

single black bellied plover on the island doing its best to blend in with the background


Pair of brants

white pelican (2)

white pelican

brown pelican

brown pelican

male red throated merganser

male red breasted merganser

female red necked merganer

female red breasted merganser

marbled godwit

marbled godwit

western sandpiper (2)

western sandpipers in a huge flock were on a sandbar in the distance

reddish egret (2)

and then Vic pointed out a reddish bird chasing a brant

reddish egret

I thought it was a reddish egret but Vic has just pointed out that it’s a Marbled godwit

male lesser scaup (2)

Walking back to the bridge and the car park, we saw the lesser scaup

long billed curlew

Long billed curlew

horned grebe (2)

Horned grebe


Male bufflehead

female bufflehead

Female bufflehead

surf scoter (2)

surf scoter

surf scoter (5)

surf scoter up close next to the wooden bridge


Departing the car park at the bridge we turned up Warner and into Graham Street and at the end of the road, we took a walk to the large canal…

anna's HB

Anna’s Hummingbird greeted us

anna's HB (4)

and flashed us

red tailed hawk

A red tailed hawk from afar

white tailed kite (2)

and a splendid white tailed kite flew overhead

northern shoveller

Northern Shoveler

northern shoveler

Northern shoveler with his broad beak

female shoveller

A ruddy duck



blue winged teal

Blue winged teal

American wigeon

American Widgeon

snow goose

And the final bird of the day was this Snow goose in the bush

snow goose (3)

Snow Goose


and to end the morning’s ramble, one of the lady’s on the walk brought me to the Norma Gibbs Butterfly Garden where the Monarch butterflies migrate to every winter….


I’d been to Bolsa Chica two or three times before over the years but I can safely say that I saw and identified so many more birds on this trip than any previous one, thanks to the Sea and Sage Audubon Society’s brilliantly organised and guided tour by Vic Leipzig.  May their conservation efforts continue long !  Highly recommended!!

Thanks to Bob Kaufman and Betty Kanne for help in IDs.   Some of my gull IDs are also not correct …my bad. Apologies





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