Saturday, November 10, 2007
Before today I hadn't birded much of southern Orange County at all. My dad and I spent this morning birding several different places in southern Orange County. I managed to get one life bird, a couple state birds and a few county birds.
Our first stop was Crescent Bay Point Park, a tiny park tucked in a residential area in Laguna Beach. The park is situated atop a high cliff, giving a commanding view of the ocean. There weren't very many birds there this morning, though. The only shorebird on the beach below was a Willet. I did spot a Parasitic Jaeger a short distance offshore, a state/county bird for me. I didn't see any Black-vented Shearwaters or loons of any species despite thorough scans of the ocean.
Our next stop was Treasure Island Park (where the photo at the top was taken), located a few miles south of Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach. It has a beautiful sandy beach, cliffs, and some rocky coastline. There was a whole flock of Surfbirds sitting out on a rock, but they were too far away to get good photos of. There were also lots of Black-bellied Plovers, Willets, Whimbrels, Black Turnstones, and one Ruddy Turnstone on the beach. I also saw a Pelagic Cormorant there, a new county bird for me.
We then drove down Pacific Coast Highway for several miles down to Dana Point, more specifically Doheny Beach State Park. This place is famed for gulls. There were plenty of them loafing on the beach! At first, I was only seeing the usual gulls: Western, Heerman's, California, and Ring-billed. Suddenly, I spotted a large, pale gull in amongst the flock - a first-cycle Glaucous-winged Gull! I then spotted a second individual nearby. A lifer for me, and an unexpected one at that. They aren't common in Orange County, but apparently they are fairly reliable at Doheny Beach. Here's a photo of one of the Glaucous-winged Gulls.
On the way back to the car I noticed a small tree filled with roosting Black-crowned Night-Herons. The tree was right next to a foot path, so the birds were very tame and didn't mind being photographed. One immature bird in particular cooperated well.
We briefly checked out the Dana Point Harbor in search of the King Eider that had been reported there a week ago. We dipped, but we did see another Pelagic Cormorant in the harbor. It was hanging out with a Double-crested Cormorant, so it was neat to get some comparison shots.
We decided to check out Laguna Niguel Regional Park, since we had never been there before. The lake held a fair variety of ducks, and the brushy area near the tennis courts was loaded with birds. Some of the more interesting ones included a "Myrtle" Yellow-rumped Warbler, Fox Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, and Townsend's Warbler. A really cool spot that I will definitely be visiting again in the future.
Our last stop of the morning was Forbes Road in Crown Valley in search of the Hooded Merganser that had been reported there. I've seen countless numbers of them back east, but they are not common in Orange County by any means. The bird had been spotted in a small, shallow drainage ditch in an industrial area. We looked for about half and hour and couldn't find anything.
In the afternoon I biked over to Irvine Regional Park to bird for several hours. One of the first birds I saw upon arriving was a gorgeous male Merlin that zipped by and attempted to catch a White-crowned Sparrow. I later saw it flying overhead. The park was crawling with Yellow-rumped Warblers, White-crowned Sparrows, Ruby-crowned Kingles, and Dark-eyed Juncos. I saw a single Savannah Sparrow in a flock of White-crowned Sparrows in a large grassy area, and I also spotted a gorgeous Red-breasted Sapsucker near parking lot number thirteen. I got good looks at it as it hopped around in one of the eucalyptus trees there. I also saw a Pine Siskin in my backyard in the afternoon.