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WILDERNESS JOURNAL: BOLSA CHICA OBSERVATIONS

Hello everyone! Today I wanted to share with you all my latest wilderness experience. I am hoping to make this wilderness observation journal a more regular posting on the blog, and I hope you will enjoy the different wilderness explorations as much as I do!

Just this morning, on Columbus Day October 12th at 9:03 am, I embarked on a wilderness exploration in the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. I wanted to make sure to go in the morning because it has been so incredibly hot lately here, and because most animals are active in the morning. As I walked from my house to the wetlands I walked along a suburban road of houses, blacktop, and manicured yards. Even

in the suburban housing tract which backs up to the Bolsa Chica Wetlands I could hear the trilling and calling of different unidentified bird species. Over the hum of a lawnmower and the far off roar of a large jet, these birds chattered and went about their lives arguing and singing—not all that different from the lives going on in the human houses along the same road. When I came to the place where the sidewalk ends and the gravel wilderness paths through the wetlands began, I took a deep breath. The smell of the salt water was crisp in the already warm air around me. Another scorching day was ahead for us in Huntington Beach. But it was only the beginning of the nature observations ahead of me. The gravel path crunched under my feet and I could still hear the sssssing sound of a sprinkler in a backyard nearby. It’s amazing how close our lives come to such an incredible suburban (or perhaps even a little urban) wetland. A dragonfly flitted lazily across my path and off in the distance birds lined the little shorelines created by pools of saltwater in the estuary. A phoebe flicked her tail at me before bobbing away into the blue sky.

As I reached the man-made dike that channels the river water and the ocean water, I was struck by the

incredible amount of egrets and other white birds dotting the blue and gray and brown landscape. Bright white of the egrets and large white pelicans (at least twelve of them) stood out so sharply against the more somber vegetation. And then looking closer, in the grays and greens and browns other birds scampered along pecking at the mud and leaving chaotic trails of footprints in the silty gray goo. A splash startled me from my observations and turning to my right I saw a fish leaping from the water. It leaped and flopped once, twice, three times! I was impressed, even though it looked ridiculous and not nearly as dramatic or graceful as whales or dolphins doing similar stunts. The ripples it created grew and spread across the water.

Following the ripples of this fish, another dramatic display was in progress. Grebes fought and argued over a much smaller fish, bobbing above and below the water for the tasty treat. While nearby on some large rip rap a black crowned night heron, perched motionless. His large red eyes intently focused on the movements of unsuspecting brunch beneath the dark water. What more can I say? I could go on forever, but it truly was just another ordinary day at the wetlands. And yet so incredibly extraordinary it is. Oh how amazing the lives of these animals are! Their families, their travels, their arguments, their struggles, their excitement, and fear, all so full and wonderful and so very near. I can never wait until I can come back again to the ongoing animal soap opera out here.

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The Havasi Wilderness Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to heightening awareness and appreciation of the natural environment.

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