all photos & text by Don Roberson
all photos taken in California
male Eurasian Wigeon with American Wigeon
14 Feb 1999 at Huntington Beach
County is small county on the southern California coast. It was created
in 1889 from the then-existing southern 'arm' of Los Angeles County. Once
famous for its orange groves, the county is now rapidly urbanizing. Native
habitats are disappearing here perhaps more quickly than any other county;
the coastal plain and coastal sage scrub in particular subject to development
pressures. In the eastern portion of the county, that Santa Ana Mountains
rise to 5687' elev (1734 m) at Santiago Peak, assuring that there is a
wide range of foothill and montane habitats. Orange County's premier birding
spots are now large urban parks and coastal estuaries, and there is an
efficient cadre of local hardcore birders who scour them regularly in migration.
Seal Beach NWR, on Anaheim Bay, and Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve are
especially well-known. The latter has a famed nesting colony of Royal and
Elegant Terns which has, over the years, attracted such vagrants as Sooty,
Sandwich, and Bridled Terns. Upper Newport Bay and Doheny State Beach are
among a list of other productive birding locales.
County birding statistics and links are on Joe Morlan's site. Joel Weintraub & Bob Allen's guide to local birding spots has on-line directions to many Orange County birding locales. Orange County has both a status & distribution book (Hamilton & Willick 1996) and a published Breeding Bird Atlas (Gallagher 1997). Both were published by the Sea & Sage Audubon Society.
| For Orange County I have chosen a favorite
shot of a male Eurasian Wigeon following a feeding frenzy of American Wigeon.
Rita & I spent a day in Feb 1999 running around Orange County, ticking
off vagrants; this one was at Carr Park (we saw another at Westminster
Memorial Park that same day). Orange County birders have turned up some
remarkable rarities. Ivory Gull is one that we chased but missed by a few
hours. Another prize species was Nutting's Flycatcher, this one calling
and nicely chaseable (below left; 26 Dec 2000 at Mason Regional Park, Irvine).
Some of sparked controversy. Was the pristine appearing Gray Silky-Flycatcher
in Cleveland National Forest a wild stray from montane Mexico, or an upslope
record of an escaped cage bird? Opinion were (and are) split; my photo
of the bird itself is below (right; 13 Feb 1999).
|All photos & text © 2006 Don Roberson; all rights reserved.|
TO NEXT COUNTY