Thursday, July 21, 2016

Birding Bonanza at Bolsa Chica

Just when you think we are going to have the summer doldrums and see only a few local birds now and then, a trip to Bolsa Chica becomes one of the most exciting birding days of the year!

Getting up early and traveling north to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Hoping to be there before the big weekend crowd I was rewarded with the overwhelming sight of thousands of birds in flight. They were Terns flying all around their nesting area, busy hunting for breakfast and food for their young. Here is a look at the tern nesting area. There are thousands of terns in this area! I saw at least three different types that I could ID.
An Elegant Tern flies by as I walk on the bridge connecting the parking area to the other side of the tide channel.

He comes up with a nice fish.

Closer look.

The tide channels were thick with baitfish. 

Another close up of the fish.

Getting ready to swallow his breakfast. 

Down the hatch. 
Two terns fly together.

One of my favorite bird flies by. Three Black Skimmers heading out to their hunting grounds. Hoping to get a few shots of them today. 
I believe this is a Forster's Tern in adult breeding plumage. He just captured himself a nice fish.

Up he comes. 

You can see the swallow type tail. 

Orange-red bill with dark tip.

Looking east, there are several sand bars. This one has quite a variety of birds.

Terns bathing.

A nice grouping of Black Skimmers.

 A Black Skimmer flying our way. 
Look at the beautiful wingspan! Black Skinner, Rynchops niger measures 18 inches long with a wingspan of 44 inches.

An adult Skimmer.

They have a soft dog-like bark as they call out to each other in the excitement of flying towards their fishing ground. 

A straight-on look.
Leading edge. 

The Skimmer flies by heading southwest.

Males and females look exactly alike but the males are slightly larger and when they are next to each other it is easier to tell them apart. 
The coloring is simple black and white. The white coloring is also on the trailing edge. 

A look at the top of the wing.
The black runs all the way down the center of the tail to the end.
Even when they are facing you, their eyes are hard to capture because the black marking comes right under his eyes. 
A glimpse of his eyes. 
A look at the orange-red bill. 
More shots. 

Their calls are much like a soft hollow dog-like bark. Yep, yep, yep.
Many Skimmers rest on the sand bar.


Wings up above the body and the tail is held higher than the head. With their long powerful wings, they can turn on a dime. 

This Black Skimmer has a white stripe around the neck, showing that this is a non-breeding adult.
Taking a good look,
Closer look.
Yep, yep, yep! An amazing bird.

A wonderful bird. So very unique!
More shots. 
A Beauty. 
As soon as one skimmer flies off, another skimmer flies by. 
Most are quite vocal. Yep, yep, yep!
Head on shot. Notice the blade-like shape of his beak. 

This one has a leg band. 
A closer look at the leg band. 
A good look at this adult in breeding plumage. 
One last shot of this beauty. 
One comes back to the sandbar skimming.

It's always a thrill to watch one skimming for fish. 
In the shallows. 

Got one! See how he snaps his head down... snapping down his upper bill shut on the lower one. 
What a fantastic morning this has been.  The only problem was the 3 hour drive home. It was stop-and-go on the freeway due to several traffic accidents. I can't wait to come back again and bird at this incredible wetland called Bolsa Chica!
Have a beautiful day and stay cool!