Saturday, July 18, 2009
On the move yet again...
Well, I'm back in Gainesville. I'm counting down the days until fall migration starts, and I promised Glenn that our reward for moving and unpacking in the midst of a Florida summer will be a day tubing at Ichetucknee Springs. We'll also snorkel with the manatees in Crystal River in the winter. And of course, there are zillions of Florida birding hotspots we still haven't hit.
But I'll never see our little apartment in Costa Mesa again. We were fantastically lucky to be 15 minutes away from some of Orange County's best birding spots—Huntington Central Park, Bolsa Chica, and the San Joaquin Marsh. Of course, we can always go back during our visits to my family in Los Angeles, but this will require a 90-minute drive and—the horror!—advanced planning. I'll miss having Bolsa Chica as a convenient place to procrastinate.
The only birds I saw during my last trips to my usual spots were the usual summer suspects. (The only noteworthy bird I encountered in my last week was a Least Bell's Vireo, which was singing loudly but remaining stubbornly out of sight.) So I gave up hunting for non-existent rarities, and instead made a point of trying to get shots of some typical scenes from a Southern California summer.
Here's a common sight at Talbert: a Matilija Poppy, aka "Fried Egg Poppy". These are apparently native to California.
Bolsa Chica in the summer is a sure-fire spot to see Elegant Terns, a So Cal specialty. The shot contains hundreds of them, along with Caspian, Forster's , and Least Terns. It was unclear what flushed this giant flock into the air:
Another summer treat at Bolsa Chica is the chance to see nesting Least Terns and Snowy Plovers up close. Even adult Snowy Plovers have that baby cuteness about them:
And to conclude the nature shots, here is California's state bird, the California Quail. This guy was at San Joaquin Marsh, along with a covey of about 20 others, mostly babies:
While beautiful, these birds are jaw-droppingly dim: when I was small, I was shocked to see our arthritic and slow-witted dog actually catch and kill one—while tethered on a leash! Choosing the dumbest bird in the world as our state mascot was NOT a smart move. Whoever pulled that off couldn't have played up the gorgeous-but-vapid Californian stereotype any more if he tried.
Finally, here's an ode to the non-bird-related institution I'll miss most: