Monday, December 31, 2007

Feliz Bolsa Chica

After Christmas my wife and I agreed that we needed to shed off a few pounds gained through partaking sinful foods from various holiday feasts. A walk around Bolsa Chica would do the trick was our unanimous decision.

There weren't too many people at the boardwalk when we arrived. Cynthia wasted no time joining the photographer who was so concentrated on taking pictures of something beneath the boardwalk. She was rewarded by shots of a Surf Scoter enjoying an early morning clam chowder, without the chowder. The clam was of course gone when I arrived at the scene.

Our walk up to the tidal gates was uneventful, perhaps because the water level was quite high thus no waders nor peeps were present. The resident ducks were all dozing off at some distance away from the trails. While passing by the tall, dead trees on the north side, Cynthia pointed to a fluff of feathers ensconced between the trunk and a thick branch on the shadowy part of a tree. Bringing up my binos, I at first, couldn't figure out what the creature was. It then moved its head and opened its eyes (it, too, was dozing off) and hallelujah! A Peregrine Falcon!! We have always wanted to get a photograph of this magnificent raptor, preferably in flight, but hey, a sleepy one would do just fine. We probably spent about an hour just admiring and taking photographs of our unmindful subject. Occasionally, we would proudly point it to some passing birders, as if it were our very own trophy. Actually, Cynthia was just waiting for it to fly so she could fulfill her dream (she's the expert in BIF - birds in flight - shots).

While my wife was patiently waiting for some peregrine action, I wandered off a bit and got some nice shots of a Downy Woodpecker which was loudly pok-pok-poking nearby.

A few meters up the trail, I was surprised to find a male Red-breasted Merganser swimming close to the shore. Up to this point I have only seen females at various locations (even at an unlikely place as the tiny, trickling San Diego Creek). You can just imagine my thrill in getting a male, which has a dark deep blue head, as opposed to the female's red-orange, at such close range. I also did get a photo of a female later on our return trip.

Realizing that the falcon had no intent of leaving its roost, we reluctantly moved on. As we were negotiating the middle berm, I spotted the Reddish Egret also trying to get some shut-eye.

This time as I was pre-occupied with my target wader, Cynthia's attention was caught by a Belted Kingfisher perched not too far from the egret. Despite the distance and the relatively small size of the kingfisher, my wife was still able to get her BIF shot.

And as we were leaving the area, she also got a picture of what looks like a pissed-off Anna's Hummingbird.

As we neared the tidal gates once again, we were startled by a raptor that quickly took off from a grassy spot in the middle of the channel. When I looked at where it flew from, I noticed that there was still another raptor remaining behind. The owl-like disc on its face told me it was a Northern Harrier!

We have never been this close to a Harrier before and so we started clickling away until the raptor had enough of us and decided to follow its mate. This time I got my BIF shot.

Everything was sort of anti-climatic after that. Even the Scoter has left the vicinity of the boardwalk.

We may not have lost the desired poundage that day but we sure gained a few nice surprises.

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