#444 and #445 at Robert E. Badham Marine Life Refuge

Since moving out here to Orange County, I’ve spent a lot of time birding in the marshes, mountains, and beaches in about that order. However I’ve managed to miss the rocky coast aside from a couple of not especially productive trips in the early summer. Yesterday I decided to correct that. I checked the tide tables, and they didn’t look good (high tide about 4:00 P.M.) but Beth was at the ballet and I didn’t have anything better to do so I decided to go anyway.

I got to Corona del Mar about 5:30, and parked at the end of Poppy Ave. I started scoping the ocean and rocks from above. Western and Hermann’s Gulls were in abundance. from the road I spotted a couple of Black Turnstones, #444. They were soon joined by several Ruddy Turnstones. A Willet was also hanging out. There was one more bird on the rocks I couldn’t quite make out, so I walked down to the beach.

From the beach, I could easily pick out birds on the rocks with binoculars alone. The turnstones and Willet were still present and surprisingly unafraid of people. I relocated the mystery bird. It acted a lot like a Spotted Sandpiper, but was larger and grayer. There were two obvious possibilities, either of which would be life birds for me: Surfbird and Wandering Tattler. Then it flew from one rock to another giving a distinct flash of white on the tail. That’s usually a good field mark, and checking my Sibley’s, sure enough, there it was: Surfbird! #445. I hung around till dusk hoping for a Tattler to wander in, but no such luck. I did add a Black Phoebe, a Brown Pelican, and a Black-bellied Plover. Maybe I’ll see the Tattler next time if the tide’s lower.

Sadly I forgot the camera in the car. I wish I hadn’t. These shorebirds were a lot more cooperative than usual, and would have given some great pictures. I may try again tomorrow.

Total species count was 12:

  • Brown Pelican
  • Brandt’s Cormorant
  • Black-bellied Plover
  • Willet
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Black Turnstone
  • Surfbird
  • Heermann’s Gull
  • Western Gull
  • Black Phoebe
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • House Finch

Pretty good for an hour after work.

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