I spent most of the day today birding with David Hollie, a young birder from northern Georgia visiting southern California. We birded Peters Canyon and Irvine Regional Parks, Huntington Central Park (briefly), Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Crescent Bay Park, and Treasure Island Park. I managed to find David nineteen lifers.
We started at Peters Canyon, finding mostly the usual birds for me, but seven lifers for David - California Towhee, Allen's Hummingbird, Wrentit, California Thrasher, California Gnatcatcher, Cactus Wren, and Cassin's Kingbird. We were in a hurry, so I didn't thoroughly scan the lake, but there were lots (15+) Ring-necked Ducks there. We moved on to Irvine Regional Park, quickly finding David's first Oak Titmice and Hutton's Vireos. We birded there for only about half an hour in a small area, but the trees were loaded with warblers. The Barn Owl remained in his hollow sycamore.
We headed for the coast after finishing up at Irvine Regional Park, hitting Huntington Central Park quickly on the way in hopes of finding the Painted Redstart that had been reported last week. We dipped on it, but that's what I had been expecting. We moved on to Bolsa Chica, finding it almost completely flooded because it was high tide. Nevertheless, we came through and found three more lifers for David - Snowy Plover, Elegant Tern, and Western Gull. There were several Eared Grebes hanging out within feet of the boardwalk, and we were able to see them swimming underwater chasing fish through the clear water - really very fascinating.
We also photographed a very cooperative Great Egret through the fence of the tern colony. The bird realized that there was a barrier between us, so it casually stood there just feet away. I poked my camera lens through the fence and got some decent head shots.
Our next destination was Laguna Beach, some fifteen miles down the coast. At Crescent Bay Park, I was shocked to find a flock of eighteen Black Oystercatchers resting on the beach! While common in northern California, Black Oystercatcher is rather uncommon in southern California. There were lots of other interesting birds here, including Wandering Tattler, Black Turnstone, Heerman's Gull, Whimbrel, and Brandt's Comorant. These, along with the oystercatchers, gave David six more lifers; the oystercatchers were lifers for me as well. Here's a shot with eleven Black Oystercatchers visible:
We finished up at Treasure Island Park, just a couple miles south of Crescent Bay Park in Laguna Beach. Here, one can descend to the beach on several staircases. We managed to find five Surfbirds here - lifers for both of us. We had to scramble over some rocks and wade through water to see them, but we ended up getting killer views. An excellent way to wrap up a great day. I recorded 107 species for the day - not too bad considering we missed lots of easy birds, for example Western Sandpiper! I had also managed to find almost all of David's target birds.