Here we are, one week into the City Big Month. I feel somewhat deceptive calling it a "big month," as my birding habits are virtually unchanged. I mount my bike and bird local areas almost daily--the only deviation from my normal routine is my creation of a new eBird patch for the city of Orange to track my totals.
Speaking of totals--my total is 105. I've covered the first tier of "effortless" birds--now, it's time to work on the second tier of birds that will be found with a small amount of effort--Greater Roadrunner, Cactus Wren, and Rufous-crowned Sparrow, to name a few.
The biggest black eye is the drought. Two of my key waterbird locations--Peters Canyon Reservoir and the Santa Ana River--are largely dried up. I've managed to patch together a half-decent assemblage of waterfowl, but many holes remain in my list. The most exciting find was a Surf Scoter this afternoon at the gravel pits at Katella and Hewes a few miles from my house. Per The Birds of Orange County, California: Status and Distribution, there are only three previous inland records of this species in the county; Doug Willick wrote to say that there have been no additional records since the book's publication in 1996. Though Surf Scoters are verminous on the coast, they virtually never wander inland. According to the San Diego County Bird Atlas, Surf Scoters migrate overland from coastal southern California to the Gulf of California, causing the occasional inland record (though more commonly in spring than fall). This eBird map illustrates their preference for the coast.
Doug also gave me some input, suggesting I expand my area to the Orange "sphere of influence" which extends out past Irvine Lake (see map). Doug also pointed out, "...birds at Burris Basin should be countable, at least if one was on the berm that separates the SAR from Burris (this being city of Orange). " Both Irvine Lake and Burris Basin should ameliorate the waterbird crisis.