Each time I have visited my son in San Diego, I stop in Orange County before heading home. The beaches, missions and gardens in the home of Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm have given me a far greater appreciation for all that Southern California has going for it- beyond the traffic and smog, which weren’t bad this time around, and which are only the small price we pay to enjoy the O.C’s many sublime beauties.
I have been to Dana Point twice before. The town, named for Richard Henry Dana, whose statue adorns the town’s harbourside park, has a lovely promontory, to its north. I have climbed the trail to the summit of that striking overlook, and walked the harbourside path, once before, as well. This time, March 21, accompanied by my O.C. friend, Janet, I saw and heard things from a bird’s perspective, specifically that of a heron. There are two species of heron in Dana Point and neighbouring Doheny Beach. Janet and I witnessed a raucous chorale of nesting Blue Herons, as we walked along the harbourside park.
As is customary with our visits, we enjoyed lunch first- this time at Harpoon Henry’s, on the east end of the harbour area. It’s hard to not get a good seafood meal in an OC beach town, and mine was fabulous. Henry’s gave Janet a good chicken lunch as well- not every maritime-themed place does landlubber fare well, so this was a plus.
Here is a refresher of what Dana Point Harbor looks like.
Here, again, is the harbourside park.
The above photo shows a eucalyptus tree, which, along with the melaleuca (tea tree), serves as a nesting place for both the Blue Herons and their cousins, the Night Herons.
Here are some shots of blue herons and their nests. Look carefully, and you can see the heads of one or two birds in each nest.
One of our avian friends decided to go for a food run.
Meanwhile, back on the ground, a blond squirrel was competing with his grey California ground squirrel relatives, for the generosity of California park goers.
On the beach rocks, an oyster catcher was finding its prey.
After Janet left, I lingered a bit at the south edge of the park, taking in the raucous commotion of the Night Herons, whose call sounds like a cross between someone gargling and Chewbacca the Wookie, from Star Wars.
One Night Heron obliged me by sauntering in the nearby rocks.
I was fascinated for the two-and-a half hours spent watching and listening to these awesome creatures. The afternoon gave a new meaning to “Stop and smell the roses”. There were more wisteria than any other plant, but that’s another story.
NEXT: Doheny Beach