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Bird Word: Loons and Turnstones

No, it’s not the title of an out of print Jethro Tull album.

After a satisfying Sunday breakfast at Coffee Cup Café (her: Sunrise Fiesta Bowl; him: Cajun Scramble, plus lots of hot coffee) we figured it would best if we took a walk. Since our “go bag” was in the car (binocs, hats, sunscreen, bird book, camera, fanny pack) it was an easy choice to tool over to Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve for an hour or two. Kim mentioned that someone from the Yahoo group ‘Orange County Birding’ had posted a Pacific Loon sighting near the bridge/walkway on Friday so we figured we’d check it out. 

And wouldn’t you know it – there it was, energetically paddling around and diving every few seconds for food just north of the bridge. Being the amateurs we are, if we hadn’t known ahead of time that a loon was in the vicinity, we probably would have glanced at it and moved on, thinking it to be a Western Grebe. But we were armed with mighty avian fore-knowledge! Thank you Yahoo OCB! The Pacific Loon has a white to grayish bill versus the grebe’s yellow bill, and has a neck shorter and stouter than the slender, graceful neck of the Western Grebe. And this was our first ever sighting of the species, which is always a huge thrill. (Or as a non-birder might say, “Huh? Huge thrill? Really?”) 

A few of the other interesting species we saw included Savannah Sparrows, Ruddy Turnstones (another first for us), Black-bellied Plovers, Semipalmated Plovers, and a crazily capering Reddish Egret. 

So I had eggs for breakfast, took a walk while feasting on the sight of beautiful shorebirds, and then it was close to lunchtime. Chicken sandwich, perhaps? I permit myself a rueful smile at the irony.

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