Monday, October 22, 2007
Ventura County 10/20-21
I went on a camping trip this weekend with the Junior Naturalists from Sea & Sage Audubon. We camped at McGrath State Beach, which is between Ventura and Oxnard. Our first stop was Ventura Harbor, a beautiful spot with a nice beach and several jetties. Some of the first birds we saw were a pair of beautiful Black Oystercatchers, which were life birds for several members of the group. I was able to creep over the rocks and get this digiscoped shot.
This Whimbrel was also very cooperative. It was too close to squeeze the whole bird in the photo!
Surfbirds were also very common around the rocky jetties. Unfortunately, most were distant, but this one cooperated at close range. Not the best photo, but a very neat bird!
We next birded a series of sewage ponds right next to the harbor. They were filled with ducks, coots, and grebes. We also briefly heard a Sora, and saw lots of herons. Trevor and I managed to catch this tiny lizard which I believe is a young Western Fence Lizard.
After eating a tailgate lunch at the sewage ponds, we headed to the campground to set up camp. McGrath State Beach is located right at the mouth of the Santa Clara River, which had been dammed up by a sandbar at its mouth. As a result, the campground was mostly flooded, with vast shallow puddles. These puddles attracted lots of birds - ducks, grebes, coots, shorebirds, and more. By wading through one of the [nasty] puddles, I managed to get close to this White-faced Ibis. I like how the photo captured the iridescence on its upperparts.
There were several Greater Yellowlegs foraging in the various puddles around the campground. Although I find them to normally be fairly wary, this one paid little attention to me as I stalked it.
Killdeer were also present in good numbers. I know - they can be obnoxiously common, but they are still really interesting birds to watch.
Sunday morning was beautiful but windy. The dunes were crawling with pipits and Savannah Sparrows, and a Northern Harrier flew right in front of me. After a breakfast of delicious pancakes, we were ready to start birding again. A large flock of blackbirds were hanging around our campsite, and to our surprise it contained at least two Tricolored Blackbirds. A lifer for everyone, even me! Unfortunately, the flock was moving around a lot and it was very windy so I wasn't able to get any good photos. Singles of Dunlin and Long-billed Dowitcher briefly visited the large pond on the edge of the campsite. After we were all packed up, we briefly checked the harbor, finding little because of the wind. We headed home early because of the wind, arriving back at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Orange County around noon. There wasn't much active in the heat of the day, but there were a few very tame Long-billed Dowitchers in Pond C. I couldn't get a whole-body shot (they were too close!), so here's a close-up head shot. I love the feather detail!