Santee Lakes
July 23, 2011

At around 82 degrees Fahrenheit, Santee seems warmer than the its nominal temperature suggests; I suppose the desert-like sun and air could be the main cause of this. The original plan was to make a trip further inland, but due to the fire currently burning near Warner Springs (according to CAL FIRE site, it is 30% contained at 9,000 acres), I decided to beat the heat and stay closer to the ocean.

It has been a few years since I was first recommended to visit Santee Lakes for a self-proposed photography project on birds. It is a surprisingly accessible birding location, almost like an oasis in the desert, where the birds are amiable and seemingly coexist with humans. There is a large community living in Santee and thus the seven lakes are constantly used for fishing, walking, running, boating, and birding.

At first sight, the abundance of wildlife is attributed to the overwhelming population of dabbling ducks. However, over an hour or so, I was able to record nineteen species of birds, and carefully photograph a few. The bigger birds, like the herons and egrets, were easily scared away by rambunctious toddlers while ducks and swans huddled around with the prospect of white bread. In identifying today's sightings, I noticed that my previous identification of the "seaside sparrow" actually turned out to be a female red-winged blackbird.

Today's pictures followed the usual theme: birds like food. First, a wood duck scooped up a fish and paddled over to a good picnicking spot. Then, a mallard picked up a water snail and I am not entirely sure what it did to ingest it. As I transitioned to another lake, I stopped to watch a house sparrow deliver some bread to the nest in the knot of a tree. To finish the set, a great-tailed grackle pranced on through the grass holding three green dragonflies.

It was a fun and short outing, and although still on the subject of aquatic birds, it was a nice change from the ocean.