4 Park visits nets 3 rarities for Orange County on December 29, 2014

The day started with a brief 1 hour visit to Mission Viejo Lake of which a male Bullock’s Oriole was located in the sycamore trees near the basketball court.  The completed checklist for Mission Viejo Lake can be found here for December 29, 2014.  Around 12 noon I met up with Mike Sanders and we headed up to North lake in Irvine to attempt to locate the Franklin’s Gull.  Jeff Bray was on location and offered to assist us as he had seen the Franklin’s Gull prior.  We were successful via a spotting scope initially then attempted to locate the gull on the opposite side of the lake where we ultimately had success.  In addition, Bonaparte’s Gulls were seen here as well as a Mew Gull (adult) and other more common gulls such as Ring-billed and California Gulls.  Here’s the eBird checklist for North Lake, Irvine CA for December 29, 2014.

Next stop;  Miles Square Park – though a Dusky Flycatcher had been seen earlier by Bruce Aird and Jeff Bray, we had no such luck and perhaps just missed the flycatcher by 30 minutes or so.  However, nice closeup shots of the Cattle Egret standing alongside American Coots were easily obtainable.  Here’s the checklist for Mile Square Regional Park for December 29, 2014.

Finally, a 3:30pm dash to Huntington Beach’s Harriet Wieder Park proved fruitful in locating the Vesper Sparrow.  Somewhat non-descript sparrow that can be easily confused for novice birders.  Mike and I found the Vesper Sparrow foraging in the green grassy areas near the intersection of Palm Ave and Sea Pointe.  This sparrow’s behavior was quite different than say of the White-crowned Sparrow.  Constantly low to the ground with much hopping and running vs. quick thrusts from bush to bush. The Vesper Sparrow was also alone and not commingling with any other birds.  It could hide itself beneath the grass cover and easily overlooked if not using binoculars or other eye piece magnification.  The completed eBird checklist for Harriet M. Wieder Regional Park can be found here for December 29, 2014.

Images can be seen below of some of the aforementioned species.

Vesper Sparrow (2110), Photo taken at Harriet M. Wieder Park, Huntington Beach, CA on December 29, 2014
Vesper Sparrow (rare), Photo taken at Harriet M. Wieder Park, Huntington Beach, CA on December 29, 2014
Mew Gull (adult), Photo taken at North Lake, Irvine, CA on December 29, 2014
Mew Gull (adult)(rare), Photo taken at North Lake, Irvine, CA on December 29, 2014
Franklin's Gull, Photo taken at North Lake, Irvine, CA on December 29, 2014
Franklin’s Gull (rare), Photo taken at North Lake, Irvine, CA on December 29, 2014
Cattle Egret, Photo taken at Mile Square Regional Park, Fountain Valley, CA on December 29, 2014
Cattle Egret, Photo taken at Mile Square Regional Park, Fountain Valley, CA on December 29, 2014

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