I always enjoy birding on January 1st every year. Every bird is special - even the most common birds like Yellow-rumped Warblers and White-crowned Sparrows are new additions to the year list. This year I'm keeping a few year lists; a "Bigby" year list (a list of birds I see this year while birding under my own power; see http://www.sparroworks.ca/bigby.html), an Orange County year list, and an overall year list. I spent the morning starting off the year at Peters Canyon and Irvine Regional Parks on my bike, so I was able to start my Bigby list as well.
Most birds were hunkered down out of the strong, steady winds at Peters Canyon, but I still managed to dig out some interesting birds. Most of the ducks on the lake were tucked in protected coves, which made them harder to see. The variety and numbers of ducks weren't as good as they have been recently, but I did see a modest variety of ducks. There were three Osprey hanging around the lake. One circled above the lake briefly and took off towards the south, but the other two hung around for awhile. One of them caught an enormous goldfish and chased the second Osprey around while carrying the fish! At times they flew right above my head, so I was able to get a few photos. Here's a shot of the fish-carrying Osprey right overhead:
Here's another shot showing both birds:
Passerines were elusive, but I saw some interesting ones including California Gnatcatchers, Fox Sparrows, Golden-crowned Sparrows, and Hermit Thrushes. I left for Irvine Regional Park around 9:30, and saw a flock of Lark Sparrows as I rode along. I easily found singles of Red-naped and Red-breasted Sapsuckers near the horse arena, along with Pine Siskins, Dark-eyed Juncos, Acorn Woodpeckers, and more. There were at least sixty Ring-necked Ducks on the lakes, as well as two Green-winged Teal, the first ones I have ever seen at the park. I did not see the Lewis's Woodpecker or the Barn Owl. I suspect the woodpecker was hunkered down somewhere, since the wind was really whipping through the wash where it normally is! I ended up with sixty-nine species for the morning, which I guess isn't bad considering I was out for less than four hours and the constant wind.
In the afternoon my dad and I chased a couple rarities that had shown up on the Coastal Christmas Bird Count. We first looked for the Rock Wren that had been seen at Sepuldeva Vista Point in Irvine, just south of the UCI campus. Within minutes of arriving, I spotted a pair of them bouncing around in the jumbled boulders by the point. Rock Wren has gotten very tough to find in Orange County, so I was happy to see them. It was also only the second time I'd ever seen one, and I got much better looks. What cool birds! They often poked around under and in between rocks, and therefore were hard to photograph. I managed to get one decent shot.
Next on the agenda was a Pine Warbler which had also been found on the Coastal CBC. It was at Estancia Park in Costa Mesa. Fortunately, the park is small and there aren't too many pines in it, so it took only about ten minutes to find the Pine Warbler. It readily responded to a little bit of pishing and put on a great show at close range for a couple minutes. A very beautiful bird! Another great bird to see in the county.
On the way home we quickly stopped by Carl Thorton Park in Santa Ana, and saw a few White-faced Ibis, and a few different species of ducks. We also briefly stopped by the San Diego Creek behind the Irvine Civic Center and I spotted about ten Wilson's Snipes in the creek bed. A very good day of birding overall!