Sunday, November 25, 2007
It's a Short-eared Owl! Honest!
I know - it's an awful photo, but a great bird. Believe it or not, it's a Short-eared Owl. It's not a mega-rarity or anything, but its numbers have crashed in Orange County to the point where it is only a rare winter visitor. I saw it on Saturday morning at Upper Newport Bay, near the Muth Nature Center. There was an extreme high tide on Saturday (over seven feet), so I was looking for birds flooded out of the marsh. Other than the Short-eared Owl, I saw an American Bittern which was flying around looking very bewildered-looking, tons of Common Yellowthroats and Marsh Wrens, but no rails of any kind. Still, both the owl and the bittern were state/county birds for me, so I was very happy.
On Friday morning I birded Peters Canyon for a few hours in the morning with my dad and Bob Scrimger. The lake was absolutely fantastic for waterfowl; I had seventeen species. Some of the more interesting ones included Canvasback, Hooded Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Redhead, Northern Pintail, and much more. The rest of the park wasn't shabby either. In under three hours I found seventy-nine species, including eight new Peters Canyon birds for me: Canada Goose, Canvasback, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Bonaparte's Gull, and Marsh Wren. It was a beautiful morning with no wind and pleasant sunshine.
On Thursday morning, my dad and I slipped away for a couple hours to chase the Bay-breasted Warbler at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley again. One word will sum up the chase: failure. We did see a Red-breasted Sapsucker and a Gray Flycatcher, however. In the afternoon, I escaped the boredom of waiting for Thanksgiving dinner by wandering around Irvine Regional Park for several hours. I ran into birders Tom & Tiffany, from Manhattan Beach, looking at the Lewis's Woodpecker up on his dead snag in the middle of the wash by parking lot number sixteen. We were able to get great looks at it as it sat out in the open. We then tried for my "ultra-reliable" Barn Owl in a hollow sycamore by parking lot number thirteen. The owl was not there. However, I did manage to find them the Red-breasted Sapsucker that hangs around there. Later I saw a second Red-breasted Sapsucker at the other end of the park. By about one p.m. large crowds of noisy people had suddenly invaded the park, so I left.
Posted by Neil Gilbert at 9:41 PM