Monday, January 15, 2007

A very B.C. Day

We wanted to see if the reported Varied Thrush and American Redstart are still at the Huntington Beach Central park in Orange County. They are not lifers for us but we still don't have any decent photos of either species.

We lucked out on both of our quarries. Actually we did not look very hard because it was so blustery cold! We stationed ourselves under a group of low trees where birds are quite plentiful. However our trembling hands made it difficult to handle our cameras much less click on the shutter buttons. Cynthia got a lucky shot of the constantly moving Wilson's Warbler - a yellow beauty with a black cap. I got a Bushtit which was all puffed up like a brown cottonball with a tail.
We finally gave up and decided to satisfy tradition. We couldn't find our favorite breakfast place and settled for Carl's Jr's burritos. Our bellies full and sufficiently warmed up by steaming coffee, we proceeded to Bolsa Chica. A block after leaving Carl's, Cynthia suddenly cried, "Look! a MacDonalds", pointing to the obvious. If only we were patient enough to go an extra 500 feet, tradition would not have been broken and a heartburn would not have been endured.

As we approached the boardwalk at Bolsa Chica, a familiar face was all hunched over his camera gear peering at the clump of bulrushes about a hundred feet away. After the usual hellos, Raul Roa told me that there is an American Bittern in them thar bushes. American Bitterns are quite uncommon in these parts and, of course, a lifer for me. As I plunked my gear next to his, he excitedly pointed to what appeared to be a bunch of dry reeds batched together with a pointy top. It was my lifer as I happily clicked away. Cynthia, on the other hand, was trying to shake off the cold by walking up and down the boardwalk and shooting at the various denizens swimming below. My friend and I waited for close to an hour for the bittern to show more than just its head and neck to us. It didn't happen. Cynthia and I then bade him goodbye as we planned on going to the other side of B.C. (Bolsa Chica) to explore the mesa above it.

Just as I was parking the jeep, I saw a Western Meadowlark busily working the grasses a few feet away. Cynthia grabbed her camera and fired away. I followed a few minutes later with mine as we followed the bird. The meadowlark just kept on feeding oblivious of the two crazy people running after it. Eventually it flew off and we continued our hike to the mesa. There we were treated to some almost close-up photo ops by a very cooperative American Kestrel. Only when a jogger whizzed by that the bird took off. We got 5 raptors that morning: Kestrels, a Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawks, Osprey, White-tailed Kite (and photgraphed two - the Kestrel and the Kite) - six, if you count Turkey Vultures. On our way back, we met another bird photographer acquaintance. Dan Smith related a story about our cooperative kestrel saying it even allowed him to photograph the small raptor while enjoying its rodent lunch. Just after we said our goodbyes that I regretted not remembering to tell him about a Great Blue Heron that we saw swallowing a whole mouse earlier.
Back at the parking lot, we were treated to another great photo ops by another very cooperative bird - this time a Greater Yellowlegs enjoying the nearby puddle.

It was not a bad day at all!

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