Date: November 22, 2016
Place: Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Huntington Beach, California
Address: 3842 Warner Ave. Huntington Beach, California
Length: 3.3 miles
|Botanical Nature Trail, near the visitor center.|
Pappa Quail didn't need much convincing to go to Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve. In fact, he was quite excited about it. The chikas, who were eager to get together with their friends as soon as possible, were willing to go an what we promised them to be a short and easy hike where we were expecting to see lots of wildlife, especially of the feathered type.
Late fall is high season for birding at Bolsa Chica, so I was very pleased indeed to see some wildflowers there too. Some where the same as I've seen at San Joaquin Fresh Water Marsh Reserve on the day before, but I was glad to see them again nonetheless.
|California Brittlebush, Encelia californica|
|Native Plants Restoration Area|
A bit further down the slough Pappa Quail spotted the reddish egret. This egret species is seen in the southeast of the U.S.A., but in California its range is limited to that area. In fact, all of the California reddish egret photos I've seen posted were taken at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.
This egret does the fishing dance. It runs in the shallows, spreading its wings to shadow the water. In this way the egret herds the fish and controls their movements until it manages to catch one.
But some times they did plunge. And even pulled out with a fish held in the beak.
|Horned Grebe with fish|
There, at the side of the packed gravel trail, I saw another wildflower in bloom. Over two thirds of the wildflowers I see blooming in fall time are of the aster family, and this was one of them.
|Telegraph Weed, Heterotheca grandiflora|
|Biglow's Pickleweed, Salicornia biglovii|
|Black-capped Night Heron|
The elder chika, who was walking a few yards ahead of me, was searching the water too. Suddenly she let out an excited exclamation she saw a sea slug!
She recognized it right away from the nature programs she'd watched (Thank you, Sir David Attenborough!) and was dancing up and down with unconfined excitement that had attracted not only the rest of us Quails, but also a few other hikes that were near by.
Of all the beautiful sightings we've had that day, this one certainly made the top.
We moved on.
|The southern bridge|
|Surf Scotter, female|
While the surf scotter female is drab like other duck females, the male wears shiny black plumage and a white forehead, but his most noticeable feature is his strangely shaped bill in bright red and white, and what appears to be high nostrils. Can't mistake that one.
|Suf Scotter, male|
|Red-breasted Merganser, female|
|Brazilian Pepper Tree, Schinus terebinthifolius. Non-native, invasive. |
|Pacific Brown Pelican|
It was slow crossing the southern bridge. Not because it was long, although it was the longest bridge in the reserve, but because there was so much to see. Also, because the elder chika enjoyed conversing with the other birders that were there and it took some effort to pull her along.
Of course, there were more birds on the other side. Just waiting, posing nicely for the camera. I wonder if they are aware that they are the centerpiece of the Bolsa Chica Reserve :-)
|A view south from the observation area|
The mostly brown shorebirds blended very well in the muddy background. Much more conspicuous were the egrets that stood there in spacious intervals, ambushing the mud wildlife.
One of the most common shorebirds in that pond were the black bellied plover which I first saw up at Point Pinole and later in other places along the coast.
|Black-bellied Plover, non-breeding|
The female scaup is very pretty, more than other female ducks I've seen. The male, however, is quite fancy. Male ducks are very beautiful birds.
We made it back to the middle bridge. It has been a couple of hours since we first crossed it. What could be different now?
The birds, of course. Now there were bufflehead ducks in the water. The males look very festive in their black and white tuxedos, but when the light shines on them in a suitable angle, they show their full, iridescent colors, which are a candy to the eyes.
Not too quick for me to ignore the blooming bladderpod, though.
|Bladderpod, Peritoma arborea|
|A view north at the first bridge and the visitor center area.|
|American Kestrel, female|