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Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

From Opus

Revision as of 03:49, 9 September 2007 by HelenB (Talk | contribs)

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Image:Bolsa Chica sign.jpg
Photo by HelenB
Information sign at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Orange County, California, USA



The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is located on the coast in western Orange County, California, USA, in the city of Huntington Beach and is separated from the Bolsa Chica State Beach by the Pacific Coast Highway. It is part of the State Ecological Reserves system, managed by the California Department of Fish and Game, and its purpose is to protect the estuarine tidal saltwater marsh habitat, with its resident, threatened and endangered species. The Reserve is a remnant of an ancient coastal wetland, originally 4000 acres in size. The area was once part of the Nieto land grant, and on Nieto's death, his son inherited 8000 acres, 4000 acres of which were coastal wetland. He named this property Rancho La Bolsa Chica, because the bigger lagoon looked like a small purse or pocket - "bolsa chica" meaning small purse in Spanish.


Notable Species

Winter is when the most species can be sighted. Many species of tern breed here during the summer. Endangered sparrow Belding's Savannah Sparrow here. Nice trails and directly across from the beach.


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Birds you can see here include:

American White Pelican, Brown Pelican, Northern Harrier, White-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Osprey, American Kestrel, Black Phoebe, Savannah Sparrow, Western Meadowlark

Other Wildlife

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Site Information

History and Use

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Areas of Interest

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Photo by HelenBWetlands at Bolsa Chica
Photo by HelenB
Wetlands at Bolsa Chica

Access and Facilities

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Contact Details

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External Links

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Content originally posted by ceryle


raulroa's review This location is very accessible and close to the freeways. Parking is at two locations on the north end and south end and the nature center has free information about the trail and what can be seen while walking. There are many areas that are super close to water and many birds just hang out close for photo ops. Although some of the area is closed for construction, it is still real good for birding and when the reconstruction is completed, there will be even better opportunities to see birds upclose. Pros

  • Excellent proximity to freeway and right on Pacific Coast Highway; long trails and lots of birds; there is a nature center that has free trail guide; there is a small bridge where birds came very close and easily photographed


  • Some of the area is being removated so it is closed during construction but there is plenty of trail to travel and many birds all of the time; too much trash at the north end and at a point where a canal comes in.

DiggitalD's review Bolsa Chica is a great spot to catch migratory birds during the winter. White & brown pelicans share water with all kinds of wading, swimming, and diving birds. There are several types of heron and egret which are predictable. There are also plenty land-oriented birds like phoebes, meadowlarks, etc.. Harriers show up like clockwork, along with red-shoulders, ospreys, kites, kestrels, and sometimes other falcons. It's a nice, open area. Pros

  • wide variety of birds


  • pollution and limited access

Lorax Dan's review


  • Fantastic for viewing a variety of birds.


  • Close to noisy highway and industrial spoiling

droll13's review Just an update:

On August 25 2006, a sand barrier was removed, and the wetlands were reunited with the Pacific Ocean for the first time in more than 100 years. This was a milestone in a long-running restoration project.

There are reports that the inflow of ocean water has changed some of the local conditions so you might have to explore a bit to find your favorite birds' new "homes" in the wetlands. For example, shallow water feeders (ducks and other diving birds, herons and other waders), might find that their previous shallow feeding places (such as around the footbridge) are now deeper.

On the other hand, I'm hoping is that high tide will deepen the water enough so the Brown Pelicans can be seen more often from the footbridge executing their spectacular dives.

The wetlands remains a terrific, easily accessible location Pros

  • variety of fauna; convenient location


  • trash in some areas; footbridge sometimes crowded with photographers

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