Date: November 21, 2016
Place: San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, Irvine, California
Address: 5 Riparian View, Irvine, CA
Length: 2.4 miles
Our friends from Orange County visited us last summer, and by the end of that visit we have made plans to meet again on the days before Thanksgiving, and my friend had sealed the plans by booking us 3 nights at O'Neil Campground at Trabuco Canyon.
Being a perfect teaser for the upcoming winter, it rained on our first full day there, and all through the night. On our second day the weather cleared up and following our hosts' suggestion we all went to the San Joaquin Fresh Water Marsh Reserve in Irvine, where we enjoyed a lovely hike together.
The sanctuary is located in area of the Michelson Water Replacement Plant, and the visitor center is in a small building amidst other structures of the facility. The trail to the ponds goes through a lovely garden where butterflies were fluttering by. Nearing the first pond I found one that was sitting reasonably still. Looking at the photos I could see why. Poor thing.
There are countless ways in which one might wander through the sanctuary. Below is the map of the hike that we did, trying to get to as many areas as we could before the children got too antsy. All and all we walked there for 2.4 miles, but covering all the trails a hiker could cover at least twice the distance.
|Our hike as captured by Papa Quail's GPS|
|The Pond and the City|
|Bladderpod, Peritoma arborea|
|Clouds over Irvine|
|Pond Slider Turtle, non-native|
|A pair of Canvasback|
|California Brittlebush, Encelia californica|
Meandering between the pond we made it near pond #4 which looked more like a long, wide canal. In the water cruised a small pos of white pelicans, moving as one to dip their larch beaks in the water and get the fish.
And it was a most lovely day.
On our way t the bush birds area we passed a small pond with some solar-powered instruments in its middle. I don't know what is is - possibly a water-quality meter of a sort?
The bush birds were certainly waiting in the bushes. Well, not exactly waiting. They were all over the place, eating seeds, and singing between twigs and branches. The bush scene was very active.
|Lesser Goldfinch, females|
|Goldenbush, Isocoma menziesii.|
|Great Egret and Crayfish|
Nature, however, paced us considerably slower, because we were walking now near a shallow pond that proved to be the richest with birds yet.
But the nicest sighting we had in that pond was of two male teal - a cinnamon and a blue-winged, swimming side by side, each in turn dipping his bill to sift the murky waters.
It almost worked. Almost.
Because some sights simply can't be ignored.
But the story of this hike wasn't over quite yet. Just as we were about to get down to the buildings Pappa Quail exclaimed and moved rapidly forward, his camera raised. I raised my binoculars. There, on the trail ahead of us, was a small bright red and black bird - a northern red bishop! This bird isn't native to California but was still very exciting and impressive to see. The bird didn't mind us much, even when we got close, it simply hopped into a nearby bush.