Saturday, November 24, 2007


                     Yum, yum!

The Thanksgiving holiday has been a welcome respite from my insane work schedule. We had our customary decadant dose of turkey and stuffing with my family up in L.A., AND two extra days to spend birding—what more could we want?

Even though we didn't spot too many rarities, just being outdoors with our cast of regulars was enough to be thankful for. My family, quite sensibly, has always eaten Thanksgiving dinner late (since everyone gets sleepy after a big dose of turkey, why not hold off the feast until just before bedtime?) Thus, Glenn and I had most of Thanksgiving day to spend outdoors looking for birds.

We started out at TeWinkle Park in Costa Mesa, where a couple of Hooded Mergansers and Yellow-throated Warbler were spotted last year. No rarities of that magnitude have been spotted there recently, but it still has a pretty pond filled with feisty ducks and herons, and is a pleasant place for strolling and photography. And as is the case with any park, occasional surprises do show up: last week, we saw this bird, who appears to be a female Summer Tanager:

Then we headed to the Upper Newport Bay, where we spotted two of the Eurasian Wigeons reported there earlier in the week. We also spotted a loon off near the opposite side of the bay, but from where we were, we couldn't tell what kind it was (most likely, it was the Pacific Loon reported during the last Sea and Sage monthly survey of the area).

On Friday, we celebrated Buy Nothing Day at Bolsa Chica, which was as jammed with waterfowl as South Coast Plaza was with shoppers. Over 100 Double-crested Cormorants were swimming near the footbridge, as were dozens of Brown Pelicans, Lesser Scaups, and Western Grebes. Near the tidegates were several Redheads mingling with the Scaups, as well as dozens of Snowy Egrets and White Pelicans. The only unusual birds we found were the resident Reddish Egret and a male Eurasian Wigeon, who was vocalizing loudly in one of the back lagoons.

We also saw, from a distance, the infamous bird-killing glass wall surrounding the McMansions on top of the bluff. I noticed strips of yellow tape—the kind used for police barricades—flapping from the wall: Were these put up in response to bird concerns? And who did it?

I learned during today's Sea and Sage Audubon trip to Bolsa Chica (can't get enough of that place!) that the tape wasn't actually attached to the wall, but to a chain-link fence that had just been installed directly behind the wall, in response to birders' concerns.

While a clearly imperfect solution (its looks won't go over well with homeowners, and small birds may still fly into the glass when trying to move through the fence), it at least shows that birders aren't as wimpy they look: we have the moral authority and clout to push people to do the right thing.

And this is something else to be thankful for.

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