Although I don’t normally consider myself a bird photographer, or much of a bird photographer, I do enjoy getting out to our local wildlife areas now and then. Last week, I met Mac at Bolsa Chica Wetlands near Huntington Beach for an early morning, pre-work photo session. I work about 10 minutes from Bolsa Chica so its the perfect place to hit before work during the week. On weekends, you can expect to find several photographers on the bridge across the bay, all with more expensive glass than I can afford. But, during the week, you have the occasional walker or runner, but otherwise it is just you and the birds.
Ecologically, Bolsa Chica is very important. It provides a rich feeding ground for several migratory species of passerines and water birds. It also has several unvegetated islands that provide a safe breeding ground for the endangered California Least Tern. In a nearby eucalyptus grove you can find nesting Great Blue Herons, and multiple species of raptors are also common, including Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, American Kestrels, and Peregrine Falcons. You can also find the uncommon Belding’s Savannah Sparrow here.
As the seasons pass, you have the opportunity to shoot many species here. Right now, several species of tern (Least, Common, Elegant, Forster’s, etc…) are beginning to get active near the bridge and with some luck you can get some good flight shots of these species (I quickly learned this is much easier said than done…see some results here and here). In winter, you can photograph Brown Pelicans in breeding plumage. Shorebirds like sandpipers and larger birds like egrets are present all year.
In addition to birds, there is the opportunity to photograph wildflowers, sunrises/sunsets and various other fauna (rabbits, southern Pacific rattlesnakes) at the wetlands. With this in mind, if you’re in the area, its worth your while to stop and spend a few hours at Bolsa Chica Wetlands.