#405 and 406 in Huntington Beach Wetlands

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Before I get on the plane to China I thought I’d try to catch up on recent birding events, since hopefully even with Beijing’s notoriously poor birding and my inability to recruit a local guide, I’ll pick up quite a few species I’ve not seen elsewhere.

Saturday, April 5, I woke up at 5:00 A.M. to get out to Huntington Beach at 6:00. The occasion was the quarterly bird census at the Huntington Beach Wetlands Center. This is about 100 acres of mostly salt panne habitat along Pacific Coast 1, mixed in with industrial plants, housing, and roads. Somehow several large and small parcels have been saved from the sprawling development of Huntington Beach, and the hope is to save more. Restoration projects are scheduled planned to improve the habitat, so we’re counting the birds to track the effects of this eventual work. Plans are to dig a channel to flood some of the areas starting this September. Censuses have been ongoing for about a year and a half now to establish a baseline to measure the success against.

My team of four people (me + Tom Dixon, Pat Cabe, and Dick Cabe) covered the first three parts of Magnolia Marsh. This is a contiguous rectangle divided by habitat into zones 1, 2, and 3. Zone 1 is a narrow riparian strip along Pacific Coast 1. Zone 2 is mostly salt panne in the middle of the plot, and zone 3 turns from the centerline of the levee, southwest to the border of the salt panne. A small canal borders Zone 3 parallel to Pacific Coast 1, but was not included in our territory. Other teams covered zones 4 through 19, including several areas not usually open to the public.

Magnolia Marsh along Pacific Coast 1 and Magnolia Street


First Day in Beijing

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

A few random thoughts:

This is possibly the most polluted city I’ve ever been in. Most it seems to be dust, not ozone or carbon monoxide. After Beth commented on what a foggy day this was, one of our hosts corrected her and insisted that this was a sunny day. Nonetheless, you can look directly at the sun at midday; and it’s a sort of dull orange.

The whole city seems to be under construction in preparation for the Olympics. Some very impressive buildings are going up. However Beijing doesn’t put up fences around construction sites, and if you’re not careful you’ll walk right through them. (Many people do.)

Beijing construction site

Arrived in Beijing

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

We got to Beijing. The flight was uneventful and quiet, much quieter than American and European flights usually are, even red-eyes. I slept through about half of it. They played some bland tourist fare, and a couple of American movies with Chinese subtitles: Michael Clayton and some predictable Mandy Moore vehicle. I would definitely fly Air China again. A much more pleasant trip than I expected in coach. It helps to fly with your spouse, so you don’t mind if the person in the next seat is landing against you. I’m glad I didn’t spend the extra thousands of dollars to fly business class.

I finally understand where we actually are. We’re staying at the Xiang Yun Lou Hotel about ten kilometers north of the Forbidden City. No one working in the hotel speaks English, and I don’t speak Chinese; but I’m learning fast and pointing a lot. The hotel is nice enough and cheap. It’s not the most comfortable room I’ve ever had, but I think that’s just a difference between Chinese and American tastes. The bed is the hardest (though far from the worst) mattress I’ve ever slept on. In fact, it’s very much like sleeping on a board. I presume Chinese folks just like a firmer mattress. The room is missing some amenities I’m accustomed to, but includes quite a few I’m not. However we have been warned not to drink the water.

Xiang Yun Lou Hotel

California Ground Squirrel

Monday, April 14th, 2008

California Ground Squirrel, Spermophilus beecheyi
William R. Mason Regional Park, 2008-04-11
California Ground Squirrel

A New Printer?

Monday, April 14th, 2008

My HP LaserJet 2200dn seems to have given up the ghost. It is reporting media-jam-error even though there’s no apparent media-jam. I suspect a broken sensor of some kind. At this point my options are to take it in for repair or replace it. It’s a tad more than five years old; and while I’ve seen printers last longer than this, not all do. So two questions:

  1. Does anyone know a reliable HP repair shop in or around Irvine?
  2. If I do replace it, what should I get?

Here’s what I’m looking for in a printer:

Many-spotted Angle Moth

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

Many-spotted Angle Moth, Hodges #6395, Digrammia irrorata
San Joaquin Wildlife Refuge, 2008-04-13

Gray speckled moth on wall