Monday, July 23, was my day-off. What better way to spend free time than to go birding! I first visited Peck Pit in El Monte but suspicious looking characters made me cut my visit short.
Off to Bolsa Chica I went. Grey skies notwithstanding, I had some quite good photo ops. As usual, terns were whizzing over the boardwalk and occasionally plunging into the water to grab an unlucky fish. At the end of the boardwalk, I paused by the water's edge while a small flock of Western Sandpipers alit a few feet away. As I brought up my camera to my eyes, all of the Sandpipers flew off leaving an individual behind. Which turned out to be a Snowy Plover.For the next 15 minutes or so, it just foraged in the mud while I sat not too far taking pictures of the lovely plover.
I then moved over to the first lookout point and lo and behold - four, count 'em, four Ruddy Turnstones were busily exploring the area. This was the first time in a long time that these birds were seen here at Bolsa Chica, I was told by local birder. Continuing down the path to where the Red Knots were last seen, I saw lots of birds - tons of Peeps, Long-billed Dowitchers, Willets, Long-billed Curlews, Whimbrels and Marbled Godwits (the last three similar-looking species making a perfect example of testing a birder's ID skills). Then there were the Black-bellied Plovers. Juveniles not yet in their striking adult plumage, but beautiful nonetheless.
But the Red Knots are "knot" there!!
Further down the trail, I was greeted by frolicking Semi-palmated Plovers. Two young Least Terns dropped in front of me calling for their Mama who was hunting for food nearby. On the way back Great Blue Herons were everywhere. More than half a dozen of them all of which were...sleeping! Snowy Egrets, on the other hand, were half-submerged, stirring the waters with the tips of their beaks.
Approaching the boardwalk, I peeped through the wire fence to look at the nesting terns and skimmers. A baby Black Skimmer, looking unkempt and ugly (unlike its slim and striking parents) were being mobbed by a throng of Elegant Terns. I believe the intent was without malice because most of the terns were carrying tiny fish in their beaks which they were probably trying to offer to the fledgling. Both Mama and Papa Skimmer who were both nearby, were completely insouciant to the whole episode.
The sun has finally broken through the clouds and it was almost noon. Trips to Upper Newport Bay and San Joaquin after lunch were both uneventful and totally tiring. One sad news was that Mama Killdeer finally abandoned her three eggs. Perhaps it was the stress of being too close to human traffic that made her lose interest in the perpetuation of her species.
At least I had Bolsa Chica and her Plovers to save the day for me.
The Belted Piping Plover – Vol II # 5
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