Monday, March 17, 2008

Pedal Power...

There's the proof: my trusty steed carried me about sixty miles today, all the way to Crystal Cove State Park and back. I was lacking some key coastal birds from my Bigby list, ones that I couldn't find at Upper Newport Bay. I set off from home early and pedaled steadily until I reached Crystal Cove in the mid-morning. I locked up my bike and practically sprinted down the boardwalk to the rocky beach. I arrived, panting, and started scanning. Where were all the birds?! Nothing seemed to be in sight. However, I quickly noticed a team of tightly-packed Sanderlings running in and out of the waves. I smiled - one of my favorite birds, and a new Bigby bird at that. I scrambled through the slippery, sharp rocks looking for more shorebirds. A gaggle of Black Turnstones suddenly ran ahead of me in the rocks. They're amazingly well-camouflaged amongst the rocks!

As I continued on, I noticed a big Whimbrel resting on a large rock. He paid no attention to me as I crawled closer rather ungracefully through the rocks. A Black Turnstone joined him. I liked this shot of the "shorebird buddies".

I walked up the beach, scattering hyperactive packs of Sanderlings everywhere. A movement among some dried kelp turned out to be a Black-bellied Plover. It was just starting to get some black on its belly.

As I picked my way back through the rocks, a small group of Surfbirds flew in. I couldn't help but let slip a loud "Woo-hoo!", much to the bewilderment of other people in the area. The Surfbirds were partially in breeding plumage and were very handsome. I had to wade through very chilly knee-deep water to get most of these photos...

Finally, I headed back up the stairs toward the parking lot. I paused at the nearby vista and scanned the ocean. It was almost as still as a bathtub, and it was very clear. I couldn't pick out any Black-vented Shearwaters, but I did see singles of Pacific Loon and Royal Tern. Butterflies distracted me on the way back to my bike, including this Western Pygmy-Blue (Bredphidium exile), the world's smallest butterfly.

On the way back, I stopped by Little Corona City Beach, which is located at the end of Poppy Avenue. It is a delightful little beach with lots of rocky shorebird habitat, but there were not very many shorebirds there. I did find a first-cycle Glaucous-winged Gull and several Surf Scoters there.

When I finally arrived back at home, I was stunned to find that I had seen 108 species. That tied my biggest biking day ever. I don't like tying records - I prefer breaking them. I had a couple hours of light left, so I ran over to Irvine Regional Park to find a few last species. I ended up finding nine more species for the day, giving me a total of 117 species for the day. Twelve of these were new Bigby birds: Surf Scoter, Pacific Loon, Brandt's Cormorant, Virginia Rail, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Sanderling, Glaucous-winged Gull, and Royal Tern. That gives me 165 for my Bigby list... only 35 more species to go to 200!


Bosque Bill said...

Show off!!! Haa, haa. Congratulations sounds like a fantastic day.

Don't see your name and numbers on the official Bigby spreadsheet list. I suspect you are in the running for the top spot. See the Reporting Bird Lists topic, under Announcements, in the Bigby forums (don't want to expose the URL publicly, as Richard wants folks to register first.)

Neil Gilbert said...

Thanks Bill! Everyone else will get more as migration catches up with them. I forgot to add my totals to the spreadsheet - I'll do that now.


Parus said...

Wow, Sixty miles is nothing to be sneezed at! That's a long way. My Bigby list is waaay behind you. Of course, I have no water to use. Even my year list (my "big year" year list) is behind yours. That'll change though... eventually. For now, I'm stuck at the Houston airport until noon today waiting for a ride to High Island. Check out my blog.