Thursday, July 31, 2008

Leavin' on a Jetplane

Well, the next time you all hear from me, I will be in the United Kingdom! My flight is at 6pm tonight, and I'll arrive by noon tomorrow in London. Here's to hoping it's a safe, exciting, and amazing adventure.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

HBWC Wetlands Survey

This morning I participated in a bird survey in Huntington Beach. Me and my partner, Irene Horiuchi were assigned to the central portion of Brookhurst Marsh - an area between Magnolia and Brookhurst on Pacific Coast Highway. We were documenting species in this area, because they are about to begin restoration construction, and want a clear picture of what is currently there, and what it'll be like after rehabilitation.
Resortation success story, Bolsa Chica

When we finished our survey area, we drove over to Talbert Marsh and met up with a UCI grad student from Thailand, Pornpat Nikamanon, to check out the gull-billed tern being seen there. The bird is very cool, and has a clearly visible aluminum band on it's left leg, which Lena said indicated it had been banded in San Diego. County bird for Leigh, sweet!

Gull-billed Tern, Talbert Marsh

The three of us then headed to Hariet Weider for a quick check in, and finding nothing besides a kestrel on the hunt, and a very dry overlook that's usually filled with water, we headed north to Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve. Bolsa Chica is a conservation success story, it was fought for, preserved, and then restored, and it currenty flourishing. While there we saw thousands of terns and gulls, endangered snowy plovers and least terns, as well as a reddish egret doing it's "running-crazy" foraging pattern.
Snowy Plover - endangered and too cute!

We ran into a birder friend of mine, Tom Wurster, without his usual partner in crime, Leiga Auzins. He needed gull-billed tern for the county, so after a quick walk out to the observation point, he and his companions headed to Talbert to catch the bird before they locked the gate. Overall it was a gorgeous day to be out birding, and I was very happy to help with the survey - hopefully I'll be able to help with the next one, which I believe was scheduled for October.

California Least Tern - endangered and cute!

When I spend such a beautiful day in the field, it reminds me how much I love Southern California, and how I will miss it when I'm in the UK. Hopefully I'll come back with lots of great photos, stories, and experiences - and come home a better birder than I left!

Bolsa Chica is an absolute photographer's delight - terns fly inches overhead providing a photographer with a plethora of opportunities to get cool shots =)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Back Bay Birding

I woke up early enough to sneak a little birding into my day. I cruised down to Upper Newport Bay to bird along Back Bay Drive. It was absolutely gorgeous out, sunny but with a steady cool breeze. In typical summer fashion, it was fairly subdued bird-wise, but I had some nice surprises, like a great look at a vocal black-headed grosbeak, a close fly by barn swallow, and a Cooper's hawk that nearly took off my face.
Gray Hairstreak

Audubon Cottontail


It was a very nice day, but to be perfectly honest, I'm having a hard time focusing on birds here when visions of blue tits, European robins, and little owls keep dancing through my head! An ecologist in the Cambridge area has graciously extended an offer to arrange to let me tag along on a banding program at Monks Wood Nature Reserve - that's gotta be the best way to learn new species, see them up close and personal! 10 days and counting...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Countdown to Cambridge!

I leave for Pembroke College of Cambridge University, in England in 21 days and I couldn't be more excited. I've decided to take a page out of Amy Hooper's book and asking for some travel advice. I've never been to the UK before, and I've definitely never birded there.
Hopefully I'll have shots of my own that look like this to post here in August =)
I'd appreciate any advice on what to bring with me for birding and just general everyday (don't worry, the raincoat is already in my suitcase), where to go on my free weekends - again birdwise and in general, preferably by foot or public transport - no way I'm attempting to drive.

 Another big help would be a smallish list of which birds to study up on beforehand (I bought the Birds of Europe guide by Mullarney, Svennson, et all) taking into consideration that I'll be there the month of August, and some of September.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

San Elijo Lagoon - 4th of July

I birded San Elijo Lagoon in San Diego county on the 4th of July. It was muggy, and not too birdy, but I still got a nice walk in, and saw some beautiful birds and butterflies during my short walk.

Highlights included multiple Lorquin's admirals and a blue species I need to identify. Birdwise, I saw the expected least and forster's terns, as well as plenty of house finches, goldfinches, and both CA and spotted towhees. An osprey carrying a fish was a nice sighting, but was too far off for a decent photo, dang.

At my aunt and uncle's beautiful home in Del Mar, CA, where I spent my 4th of July, I saw a red-tailed hawk fly by at eye-level from their deck that overlooks a valley, straight out to the ocean! Ravens were also incredibly abundant, with their croaky calls.
I'll post photos if they turned out well when I return to Orange County - I hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day!