The October bird migration is conspicuous at Bolsa Chica in Orange County, a reminder of the importance of preserving these wetlands, but also a reminder that about 70% has already been lost along the California Coast.
Western sandpipers, among the smallest of the shore birds, are passing through Bolsa Chica on their way from Arctic breeding grounds to wintering areas as far south as Peru. They are among 180 species counted at Bolsa Chica, a measure of the benefits of the agreement that now assures more than 900 acres of protected wetlands at that site alone.
But problems abound at some of the other sites.
At the 900-acre Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge that shares rare coastal land with the Naval Weapons Station, red foxes are threatening two endangered species of birds, the least tern and the light-footed clapper rail, decimating their eggs and young. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navy have won the first round of a court battle initiated by an animal-interest group to block trapping and removal of the foxes; an appeal is pending.
The red fox is also causing problems at Madrona Marsh, the beleaguered 45-acre vernal marsh at the northeast corner of Madrona Avenue, and Sepulveda Boulevard, in Torrance. Even without the problem of the foxes, Madrona Marsh is suffering from a shortage of funds, from a drought that has left it parched, and from the intrusion of uninvited visitors and the uninvited trash from neighboring commercial operations.