Posts Tagged ‘birding’

Two weeks ago Melody and I visited Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve—which to some sounds downright nerdy, but to those who enjoy getting away from the bustle of the city and work and the confines of a clock or wristwatch, or the constant nagging cell-phone-ring-reminder that we have become slaves to our technology, it was an absolutely beautiful day.  I wrote the following at the beach:


We woke up pretty well-rested, despite the cargo trains lumbering on their tracks 50 feet from our heads. As soon as we stepped out the abnormally heavy and loud sliding glass door, the cool breeze hit our skin, ruffled our hair and pushed it back from our foreheads, and hugged us good morning.  We sat on the porch for a few minutes, looking at a very glassy Pacific Ocean that, at that hour of the day, looked as though it was hundreds of miles deep with its deep blue hue.


We walked the five minutes parallel to the beach to a small coffee shop—our typical morning haunt, called the Kailani Coffee Company.  The café mochas are always uncomfortably sweet, and I wonder sometimes if there is any coffee at all in them, but the lattes are not any better.  The bagels, though, are wonderful, and although the atmosphere is not superb, it’s the beach at San Clemente, and we sit outside, eating our bagels, drinking our oversweet brew, and watching joggers, bicyclers galore, and the odd Metrolink commuters walk by right in front of the Metrolink station.  The people who bring their dogs are the best, and the little patio outside the coffee shop is a truly excellent place to people watch.  I try to read my novel for class, but people and dogs keep stealing my attention from my book, and Mel and I talk together about what to do that day.


We decided to visit the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.  It’s a place we’ve never been to before, but we’ve read a lot about it.  It is one of the most significant birding places in Southern California with over 300 species of birds confirmed there.  We are always up for exploring an unknown place, so we got into the car and drove the 50 minutes or so to the site. 


As soon as we got out of the car, we realized it was going to be a unique day.  The preserve is a large area of wetlands with inlets from the sea creating a flat marshy area that resembles several different rivers sitting side by side.  There was a parking lot and a path that ran from the lot over a sturdy and low wooden footbridge, which we started towards, then stopped.  Across the inlet we saw more than a dozen white blobs, so we immediately reached for our binoculars.  They were Snowy Egrets, not a rare bird, to be sure, but they are water birds, so not often seen in Redlands, and almost never in these numbers.  The Great Egret is much larger, about the size of the Great Blue Heron, which we also saw in large numbers. 


Walking across the footbridge, we stopped and looked down into the water.  The shore was riddled in reeds and low vegetation, but towards the center of the inlet the water got deeper and clearer, although it remained shallow enough to see the bottom until it was more than five feet deep.  On the bottom, beds of clams sat, sifting the water, and hordes of small sea snails crept slowly around the bottom in their pretty spiral shells.  Round stingrays the size of dessert plates skimmed the bottom here and there, and schools of fish—tiny silver slivers of color—were ever-present under the long 150 meters of footbridge. 


We walked on in this beautiful place and saw Black Skimmers catching tiny fish in their bills as the skimmed the surface of the water, and when they caught something, their bills clapped shut like a trap. On one large strip of sand was a vast bird nursery where hundreds upon hundreds of birds had nests on the ground; there were also hundreds of Brown Pelicans, Terns of all kinds, shorebirds galore, and the two most interesting finds of the day for me: three Reddish Egrets, a very rare bird in Southern California, since it typically lives further south around Baja California, and a small Grey Houndfish Shark swimming slowly in very shallow water.  He was probably all of two and a half feet long. 


Yes, there wasn’t any shade.  It was hot.  But there were birds and wind and ocean and no time constraints—no looking at watches and saying we should probably be getting back; no schedules or rules or technology to get in the way.  Just the outside world—nature—and us.  And now I’m back in San Clemente, sitting watching the waves and feeling the breeze, and I have absolutely no idea what time it is.  We ate when we were hungry, and we’ll eat again when we’re hungry again.  But as for the time, I have no idea.  And you know what?  I don’t care.


Tomorrow we’ll get up when we want to.  We’ll watch the waves.  Then we’ll have some coffee and read.  Then we just might decide to go on another adventure.

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