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August 9, 2007

Red-Winged Blackbird



Red-winged Blackbird (agelaius phoeniceus)
San Diego Creek runs through the city of Irvine from the east to the south-west where it enters the "Back Bay" of Newport Bay. It is certainly an urban creek with stretches of it that are cemented, and others that are mostly natural. The last stretch of it passes by the Irvine Ranch Water District's "wetland" where the water is diverted through a series of ponds to remove nitrates and other pollutants before sending it on its way into Newport Bay. The ponds known as the San Joachim Wetlands have been landscaped with native California plants, and are frequented by hundreds of water birds. The Audubon Society has an office and visitor center there, and it is a wonderful place to visit and hike around.
Despite the predominance of concrete along long stretches of the creek, bird life abounds. One stretch of the creek between Jefferey and Sand Canyon was until recently a micro-environment replete with birds of all kinds; mallards, herons, hawks, avocets, and many others that I don't recognize. A reed had naturalized in this stretch of the creek over the last couple of years, and this past spring red-winged blackbirds that build their nests in reeds moved in in force.
I actually ride my bike past this stretch of the creek on my way to work, and it was a joy each morning and evening riding by the birds which have a beautiful song that they call out to defend their territory. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of birds nesting in this stretch of the creek in the spring. And then along came the Irvine Company, The Evil Empire of this area of Orange County. It appears that somehow they own this stretch of the creek and while the birds were still nesting they sent in gangs who cut the reeds down. Now they have heavy equipment in the creek bed having completely destroyed the habitat and my fear is that they are going to cement the creek.
This photo was one of the many I took one Saturday morning this past spring.


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