On a bright, sunny Saturday, the place to be is at the beach. It has been awhile since we visited Bolsa Chica in Orange County and sightings of a Little Blue Heron - a California rarity - was incentive enough.
There weren't that many people there when we arrived. Usually, the boardwalk would be filled with photographers of various shapes and sizes wielding lenses of various shapes and sizes. Not this time. Perhaps it was the obvious lack of birds - only terns were whizzing by - or the ridiculously high gasoline prices that prevented my colleagues from visiting this popular place.
Anyway, the first bird that we saw was a Savannah Sparrow. For some reason they were bolder this year. I put my heavy artillery to good use (I decided to bring my 500mm lens) and got this:
Later on I got another one bursting in song:
Meanwhile, Cynthia was busy capturing a Black-necked Stilt tending its nest.
How can such a long-legged bird sit on its nest? you might ask. Well, here's how:
At the end of the boardwalk, a Least Tern was also patiently sitting on its egg.
As I mentioned earlier, there weren't that many birds along the trail. A Black-bellied Plover was starting to put on it's summer plumage. Marbled Godwits competed with Willets for foraging rights on the mudflats. By the tidal gates, terns of different varieties were having a field day diving for tiny fish.
Somehow, mama duck and her brood of eight managed to evade the dive-bombing terns.
We rounded the trail without seeing the Little Blue Heron. Cynthia needed to answer the call of nature so we drove to the nearest fast food restaurant. "Do you want to return to Bolsa Chica?" she asked me afterwards. It was still quite early, so we did. This time I chucked my big lens and opted for the smaller 300mm. We planned to hike to the mesa and a lighter gear would give my aching shoulders a much needed relief.
Halfway up the boardwalk, I noticed something blue fly by us. It was the Little Blue Heron! Half-running we chased after it until it landed on the shallow part of the lagoon some 30 yards away from the trail. Slowly, it worked it's way northward. About 50 feet ahead, the lagoon would be only a few feet away from trail. Anticipating that the heron would end up there, we positioned ourselves and waited. And waited. And waited. Just as it turned the bend, we started shooting but then the sun was overhead and cast shadows on the heron's blue face. Besides, it was still too far for our short lenses to get a decent shot. I dared not go back to the jeep to get my big lens, pessimistically assuming it would be gone by the time I got back. It was then it decided to fly off towards the tidal gates. We thought of chasing after it, but not knowing where it landed, we both agreed that it was enough that we saw what we came for and still got some "documentary" shots of it.
As we walked back to the parking lot, Cynthia reminded me that we already had some gorgeous photographs of the Little Blue Heron that we took in Texas. No need to get frustrated here, she said consolingly. My wife has always been the voice of reason in a situation like this. Now how can you argue with that?