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More minor rarities

Ryan Winkleman
 

Today I continued visiting local lakes in my area including Dove Lake (via Bell View Trail), Lago Santa Margarita, and Upper Oso Reservoir. While I did not find any unexpected waterfowl, the following observations were of note:

- On the Bell View Trail, a wintering female Costa's Hummingbird found on the trail between Dove Lake and the small pond just upstream was presumably the same late bird I found on 4 October 2019. Due to lack of subsequent reports I had assumed this bird moved on, but I guess not. This species does winter in small numbers in Orange County, and this makes the third bird this winter that I have found in Rancho Santa Margarita (combined with the one I found yesterday on the edge of Coto de Caza and the one that is wintering at my house).
- Also on the Bell View Trail, at least four if not as many as eight Purple Finches were presumably part of the same flock found by Tom Wurster in this area in November 2019. I had up to four first in the same area as the Costa's Hummingbird, then two in vegetation along the upper edge of Dove Lake, and finally four seen together about 0.33 mile back up the trail again. Although this species is expected in small numbers in the lowlands in winter, this has not been a good winter for them, with very few sightings period and, at least in eBird, absolutely none away from the immediate foothills. 
- A single California Gull and at least four California Gulls on Lago Santa Margarita and Upper Oso Reservoir, respectively, were rare for this part of the county. While my part of the county is long on open space and has quite a few large water bodies, it's unfortunately short on gull diversity. Ring-billed Gull is the only expected gull species in Rancho Santa Margarita and Mission Viejo. All other gull species are unexpected in this part of the county. The only other semi-reliable and consistent place that I've found for gull diversity in this part of the county was Village Pond Park (now Veterans Park), before the City of Lake Forest turned it into a bird wasteland where American Coot is now the most exciting thing that might occur there...

No big rarities, but for status & distribution nerds like me, a fairly exciting day! 😇

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Ryan Winkleman
Rancho Santa Margarita