Yesterday I participated in the Coastal Christmas Bird Count (CBC) in Orange County. I helped out with the Mile Square Park area, led by Irene Horiuchi. We gathered at Irene's house for breakfast and to plan our attack, and started counting shortly after eight. We began in the fenced-in nature area. Birds were plentiful. We managed to find a few interesting birds around there, including singles of Costa's Hummingbird, Gray Flycatcher, and Bullock's Oriole. All of these birds have been hanging around since November. Other interesting birds we saw in the nature center included Fox Sparrows, Lincoln's Sparrows, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and more. Here's an overexposed shot of the Gray Flycatcher - at least you can tell what it is!
After finishing up in the nature center, Irene and I started birding some other areas of the park. Jim (another birder on our team) showed us a beautiful Red-naped Sapsucker nearby. Otherwise, birding was relatively slow. After a quick lunch at Carl's Jr., we headed out again. Irene and I birded some other nearby urban parks, all of which were mostly birdless. Irene was delighted to find a flock of chickens wandering around in the street in a neighborhood we drove through - this shot is for you, Irene. :D
We spent the rest of the afternoon finishing up at Mile Square Regional Park, including counting birds on the upper lake. Late in the afternoon we gathered at Irene's house to tally the species and numbers for our area (we had 1,149 American Coots in our area alone...), and then later went the tally for the entire circle at a nearby pizza place. It was a fun day!
This afternoon I decided to end 2007 by doing what else... birding. It was quite windy all afternoon, so bird activity was low. The female-type Red-naped Sapsucker continued near the "Peacock Hill Equestrian Center" sign near the entrance to the park. Neither the Barn Owl nor the Lewis's Woodpecker put in an appearance; I suspect the woodpecker at least was hunkered down out of the wind. I spent most of my time around the lakes, doing some sketching. I also decided to try to count all the waterbirds on the lakes - I was particularly interested in the numbers of Wood Ducks there, since the population seems stable. Here is what I counted:
Wood Duck 97
Ring-necked Duck 22
Lesser Scaup 1
Pied-billed Grebe 2
Double-crested Cormorant 2
American Coot 36
Belted Kingfisher 1
I sincerely doubt that the Wood Ducks are naturally ocurring - I think they might be part of an introduction program, but I'll have to check that out. The Lesser Scaup (a female) was fairly tame and was diving just fifteen feet away from me. The light was pretty bad, but I tried to get pictures anyways.
2007 was a year full of changes. I managed a decent yearlist, considering I spent half the year in Michigan, did the World Series of Birding in New Jersey, and spent the rest of the year out here in California. My total was 411. I managed to find 235 in Orange County in less than half a year. Maybe I'll be able to push my Orange County list over 300 in 2008... I can always dream.