Saturday, February 16, 2008

New Territory


I love finding new places to bird, especially when they're close to home. However, I'm a bit embarrassed about this latest one.

It's hard to miss seeing the old quarry filled with water along Santiago Canyon Road when driving through Orange. I've driven past it dozens upon dozens of times - but I always put off looking for birds there. This afternoon I hopped on my bike with my scope on my back to check it out for the first time. It's about two miles - some hills and a lack of a good route make it an interesting ride. As I rolled up, I could hear the reedy calls of Aechmophorus grebes drifted up out of the quarry. After I set up my scope and started scanning, I was amazed by the numbers of the grebes. There were dozens of Western and Clark's Grebes, hundreds of Eared Grebes, and a handful of Pied-billed and Horned Grebes. Even with a scope, it was tough to get good looks at birds. The whole quarry is surrounded by a barbed wire fence plastered with "No Trespassing" signs.

Some of the other birds I saw included about ten female Common Mergansers, an Osprey, Great Egrets and three American Wigeons. Grebes outnumbered everything else. I wonder why - at Peters Canyon, only a few miles away, ducks far outnumber grebes. Now I wish I had gone there sooner - it has a lot of potential!

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