Saturday, December 16, 2006

CBC: Starr Ranch and Caspers Wilderness Park

Well, today was my first CBC of this season, and it started, despite the weather, pretty well. I was up at 5am, to get myself down into Rancho Santa Margarita area by 6:30ish, where we all gathered at Starr Ranch, private property of the Audubon Society, occasionally opened to birders for events like this, to receive our marching orders from Justin Shew, a biologist from the ranch, and the compiler of the count area.

I was given Caspers Wilderness Park, a place I have fond memories of my first camping trips with the Junior Naturalists back when I was beginning birding. I was accompanied by Barbara Bruce, and her daughter and grandson. We worked our way from the back of the park, towards the nature center and entrance, where I ran into a ranger friend of mine who used to work at Upper Newport Bay, Joy Barnes. I hadn't seen her in a while and it was great to catch up.

The main highlights were the Cactus Wren in their typical location in the park, a Grasshopper Sparrow which we were able to I.D. by ear, after only seeing it singing silhouetted from afar, and a flock of Lark Sparrows feeding on the ground, which were absolutely gorgeous. A Sharp-shinned Hawk stooping on some birds in a tree, then going after a Red-tail that wandered too close was also fun to watch, as was the Great-blue Heron eating a gopher that fought valiantly, but unsuccessfully for its life.
We were lucky to get only sprinkles of rain sporadically through our count, but after around 10:30 everything hunkered down and shut up, and we added almost no new birds the second half of our count period. All in all, it was a very pleasant day of birding, weather notwithstanding.


Laura Washburn said...

Your blog came across my google alerts because you mention the Salton Sea. I work with a group of organizations that have been fighting to save the Sea. As you may know, this ecosystem is one of the most important stopovers on the Pacific Flyway -- two-thirds of the N. America's migrating birds depend upon the Sea. Please look at our website to learn how your feedback to the State of California will make a difference. Thank you.

Laura Washburn
Salton Sea Coalition

Leigh said...

Hello Laura,

Thanks for the information, it's an amazing place, and well worth preserving! I would love to get involved with your efforts. Great website =)