I had a lunch meeting in Orange County today. On the way home, I decided to stretch the definition of “on the way” and stop at Madrona Marsh in Torrance. Madrona is a nice little wetland oasis in the middle of urban sprawl, and is known for having an amazingly large number of vagrant birds show up there. Today, I was specifically looking for two previously-reported species: Eurasian Wigeon and Eastern Phoebe.
Unlike my usual weekend and morning visits, there was nobody present today save for a few volunteers working on a vegetation project. I made a bee-line for the south pond, not stopping much to look at other birds, to try to find the Eurasian Wigeon. I walked up to the water’s edge, scanned with binoculars, and immediately located the bird with a flock of American Wigeon. It was swimming, however, and moved quickly behind an island of cattails before I could photograph it. I was a little disappointed.
I then made my way east, and followed the walkway south and then back west along the southern edge of the pond. I found a few more waterfowl species (Northern Pintail, Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, etc.) but could not re-find the Wigeon. Working my way up the west side, I found an extremely cooperative American Kestrel.
I eventually re-found the Wigeon, but it was on the opposite side of the marsh from me, and only remained visible for about ten seconds after I re-found it. I worked back the way I came, and eventually heard the call of the Eastern Phoebe. I soon found it, and got excellent views of the bird (not that I was that excited, as they are common in the east and I see them every time I visit family in Ohio), as well as some bad photographs as the camera insisted on focusing on the surrounding vegetation.
Shortly after finding the Phoebe, I re-found the Eurasian Wigeon. It was distant at first, but gradually made its way closer where I could get decent photographs of it with American Wigeon.
The Eastern Phoebe was a new species for me for California. The Eurasian Wigeon is a species I have seen before in Orange County, but was new for me for Los Angeles County. As I don’t have all of my notes in eBird (including, apparently, the outings where I saw Eurasian Wigeon), it showed up as a new species for Los Angeles County and for California. I now sit at 292 for California and 270 for Los Angeles County, with 93 species on the year. The complete bird list from this outing is located here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S26916690