Sunday, January 07, 2007

Pipits, Pelicans and Photographers

Saturday, Nov. 25th, we purposed to do the Orange County Circuit: San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary (SJWS) in Irvine, then to Upper Newport Bay (UNB) in Newport Beach and finally Bolsa Chica (BC) in Huntington Beach.

A Red-throated Pipit (quite uncommon in Southern California) was reportedly seen at SJWS. Right at the parking lot, there were a flock of Cedar Waxwings. Cynthia started firing away as I struggled to set up my gear. To my dismay, my camera won't autofocus. John Afdem, who luckily was nearby (he was there to photograph the Vermillion Flycatchers also reported in the area) suggested I remove my 1.4 extender. I did, and true enough there were some screws loose there (just like the owner). I did not have my screwdriver with me at the time so I just settled with the 500mm lens without an extender. Just as I was ready to shoot, the Cedar Waxwing flew away.

Cynthia and I proceeded to the location where the Pipit was allegedly found, after thanking and bading goodbye to John. There were Pipits galore, but they were all American Pipits which are a lot more common species than the Red-throated.

Having had our fill of Pipits, we then moved on to Upper Newport Bay (UNB). There were a lot of birds there but they were all huddled close together that it is impossible to take any individual shots. We had better luck at the "bridge" across the bay, although Cynthia missed a good shot of the Sora. Here we met a lovely couple who were both also into bird photography; Dan and Michelle Smith. Dan suggested that we visit Bolsa Chica because "the pelicans are there". We assured him that that will be our next stop.

At Bolsa Chica (BC) just as we were gettting off the jeep we could already hear and see the pelicans doing their dive bombing antics. They would fly several feet up and then plunge hard into the waters. Pelicans are huge birds with wing spans up to seven feet and watching them do this routine is quite fascinating! Needless to say, we had a heck of a time photographing them from as close as ten feet away.

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