It was eerily quiet as we walked along the trail, as if the presence of something sinister frightened the creatures of the sanctuary into silence. As we trudged slowly we could sense some movements along the trail – trembling leaves when there wasn’t any breeze to stir them or a shaking twig but no bird or squirrel jumping off from it. Small, dark things would swiftly scurry across the path ahead only to quickly vanish in the dense undergrowth. As we neared the pond, we could hear a faint twittering sound. The closer we approached the reeds that lined the edge of the pond, the sound became louder. Suddenly the whole placed seemed to reverberate with a thousand scolding tiny voices. We abruptly stopped on our tracks. My wife grabbed my arm and with eyes fixed on the vibrating reeds whispered in my ear.
“Marsh Wrens!”, she said.
Early on we thought that we were having spring doldrums when most of the wintering birds have left for their breeding grounds up north, while only a few of the summering birds have arrived from their tropical vacations, thus creating somewhat of a void in bird activities. Thankfully it wasn’t so. The Marsh Wrens certainly proved that. Soon there were birds everywhere! A small flock of American White Pelicans were floating serenely on the pond waters while Tree Swallows were zooming overhead, ocassionally buzzing us by just a few inches.
The other ponds at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine yielded a variety of waterfowls. One of which, the Blue-winged Teal, became the latest addition to our year list.
Later, a quick drive-by at Upper Newport Bay gave us a huge flock of Black Skimmers all standing on a mud flat, with everyone facing the same way as if watching some grand concert (or a politician promising a bailout?).
A trip to Bolsa Chica before lunch was rewarded by the sight of a wild, unruly and extremely raucous bunch of Elegant Terns.
Capping the morning was getting quite close-up views of the lingering White-winged Scoter.
It was Friday the thirteenth and it was a thriller.
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