Talbert Marsh at Huntington Beach has been quite popular lately among birders. This narrow, block-long strip of mudflat is the site where a Gull-billed Tern has been observed quite regularly this past week or so.This species is unusual in this part of California, normally only being seen at the Salton Sea about 200 miles from here.
Saturday morning, after our traditional breakfast at McDonalds, we proceeded to the marsh. We parked along Brookhurst Avenue about three blocks from the marsh entrance, unaware that people were allowed to drive in (there is a paved road alongside the marsh). Well, we needed the exercise anyway and besides I don't have my heavy equipment to lug through that distance.
We met a young guy carrying a camera and a scope (sure signs that he is a birder), Pornpat Nikamanon, a grad student from UCI, and immediately asked him if he saw our quarry. He said he did but it flew away heading eastward. We thanked him and decided to walk up to the south end of the marsh. Just as we were approaching the bike path, I saw a tern fly over. We turned back right away, despite the uncertainty that the tern I saw was the Gull-billed.
I spotted a tern eating something from the mudflat. It's black-bill confirmed that I have now gotten my 76th life bird for the year!
For the next hour or so, we followed its antics, and taking photographs of the other avian denizens of Talbert Marsh as well. Like this Brown Pelican
and a Willet
Soon Leigh Johnson (http://avidbirder.blogspot.com) came with a group of birders who were doing a survey on the birds of the area. Satisfied at seeing the rare tern, they soon left to continue with their survey.
Taking a cue from them, we decided to call it a day and bypass Bolsa Chica altogether. Near the entrance, a couple of Ospreys made some close fly-bys. Naturally we took advantage of that opportunity and practiced on our BIF (birds in flight) shots.
The three-block walk back later to the Jeep wasn't bad at all, considering we were quite elated that we were able to see the bird which we came for.