Ruff this evening in Orange (on the Santa Ana River)
- Today (5 May) I birded the Burris Basin/Anaheim Coves Park area, in the early afternoon, and then covered portions of the Santa Ana River (SAR), in the city of Orange, from Lincoln upstream for about a half mile. (One can park and access the bike trail on the north side Lincoln, immediately east of the SAR.) After a few mildly interesting odds-and-ends earlier in the afternoon, at about 6:15 this evening I was quite surprised to run across a RUFF. The bird was associating with a flock of about 75to 100 Long-billed Dowitchers, which was actually the only migrant type shorebirds I saw all day here. The bird appeared to be a Reeve (a female Ruff), based on the relatively small size (roughly similar to dowitcher in size) and the fact it appeared to be in full alternate plumage (completely different, of course, than the breeding plumage displayed by a male Ruff). The bird was about 0.4 mile upstream of Lincoln, just above the concrete "drop structure", which is also where the Carbon Canyon Creek Channel feeds in to the SAR. The only other shorebirds in this stretch of the SAR, not too surprising at this date, were fair numbers of Black-necked Stilts (some on nests in small islands in the middle of the river), and a few Avocets, Killdeer, and Spotted Sandpipers. At about dusk, the majority of the dowitchers picked up and flew off, with some circling back around and resettling further downstream on the SAR. Other dowitchers, however, appeared to keep going. Tom Ford-Hutchinson was also here (arriving in time to see the Ruff), but after the dowitchers took off, we did not see the Ruff again (though by this time, with the overcast skies, the light was quite poor).
Other things of note along the SAR (for the half-mile stretch north of Lincoln) included a pair of Blue-winged Teal (fairly scarce in this part of the county, and apparently latish migrants). With the low overcast skies, there were large masses of swallows and swifts, highlighted by a Bank Swallow and at least three Violet-green (the latter being late for spring migrants in the lowlands). Between Burris Basin and the SAR, I estimated somewhere between 500 and a thousand swallows (of six species) and as many as 50 Vaux's Swifts and a fair number of White-throateds.
At Burris Basin on Saturday and Sunday, some of the (presumed) breeding terns and skimmers were back, with at least 30 Forsters, a few Leasts (heard but not seen), and about 12 Black Skimmers. An apparently territorial male Blue Grosbeak, with a female, was in the riparian plantings in Anaheim Coves Park-bordering the west side of Burris (north of where Wagner terminates at Rio Vista).
Going back to Friday (3 May), at Peters Canyon Regional Park there were 2 or 3 Lesser Nighthawks flying around the lake. A flock of 7 or 8 Wilson's Phalaropes spinning around way out in the middle of the lake was interesting for here.