Trip to Huntington Beach State Park, September 11–12, 2010
Eleven CBC members and three guests (including two from Minnesota!) participated in an excellent weekend of birding.
The weather was great on Saturday with highs in the low 80s, low humidity, and very little wind. Furthermore, the birds showed up! We spent the morning around Mullet Pond which, as a result of a leak in one of the water level control gates, was at a very low level and there were extensive areas of exposed mud. As it was only a couple of hours before high tide the mud held a variety of shorebirds, and the shallow water held the expected herons, egrets, and Wood Storks. A little excitement for both birders and shorebirds was generated at the causeway when first a Peregrine Falcon, and then a Merlin swooped over the area. We also saw a soaring N. Harrier.
On the causeway local birder, Ritch Lilly, stopped to tell us that he had seen 2 Lark Sparrows from the observation deck at the south-east corner of Mullet Pond. The observation deck was our next stop and, not only did we find one of the Lark Sparrows, but we spotted a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, well camouflaged against the light brown exposed mud. A careful scan of the area produced 5 Buff-breasted SPs! Also, 3 Roseate Spoonbills flew past, practically at eye-level.
An hour on the Atalaya carriageway was very productive: warblers, ducks, Glossy Ibis, and both Night-heron species. A Worm-eating Warbler, not currently on the HBSP checklist, was a particularly good sighting. (Later the author reported this sighting to the HBSP Education Center and was informed that a Worm-eating Warbler had also been reported on Aug 16 this year and would be added to the park checklist.)
After a picnic lunch on the grass at the north parking lot we walked north on the beach to the jetty. We stopped briefly at the pool just south of the jetty and found 2 Piping Plovers and several Semi-palmated Plovers. The jetty itself was practically birdless and we headed for the sandy point west of the bird nesting area. There we were able to observe at leisure a very large mixed flock of roosting terns, gulls, skimmers, oystercatchers, and a few shorebirds. Among the Black-bellied Plovers we found at least 3 American Golden-Plovers.
After our walk back we checked out Sandpiper Pool (an Anhinga had been seen there two days previously). No Anhinga, but a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was added to our list. A stop at the Education Center yielded the expected Painted Buntings and a few other common birds at the feeders.
We made one last stop at the causeway hoping to see the Wilson’s Phalarope last reported the previous afternoon. We did not find it and our birding finished for the day a 4 round pm. The list stood at 90 species!
On Sunday morning, despite the overnight storms, eight of us met between 7 and 8 a.m. on the causeway. We were able to observe three Roseate Spoonbills foraging very close to an observation deck. One of the Spoonbills walked out of the water with some kind of clam shell attached to a toe. Instead of trying to remove it with its bill, it simply walked around for a few minutes until the shell fell off. A walk on the road and carriageway around Mullet Pond added some common woodland birds to the trip list. Just as we arrived at the end the carriageway the rain started. We were able to take shelter under the camping store until it stopped. We made another trip to the observation deck at the south-east corner of Mullet Pond but did not find either the Lark Sparrow or Buff-breasted Sandpipers. We concluded the trip at the Education Center where a Tufted Titmouse was yet another lifer for one of the birders from Minnesota - a fitting way to finish what had been a very successful and enjoyable field trip.
The total trip list stood at a very satisfying 101 species (100 in the park itself and a Eurasian Collared Dove seen in the parking lot of the Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort where some of us had met to carpool on Saturday morning).
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
Clapper Rail (voice)
American Golden Plover
Great Black-backed Gull
Eurasian Collared Dove
Downy Woodpecker (voice)
Eastern Wood Pewee (voice)
Great Crested Flycatcher
Northern Parula (voice)
Pine Warbler (voice)
Black and White Warbler