Bolsa Chica Wetlands (Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve)

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View from the Upper Mesa, 3/15/09

Bolsa Chica Wetlands (Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve) is located in Huntington Beach, across PCH from Bolsa Chica State Beach. 

Bolsa Chica Wetlands has two parking lots, one located on Warner Ave. near the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway.  The other 
is located on Pacific Coast Highway almost directly across PCH from the Bolsa Chica State Beach entrance.  There is no charge for parking.

*** Warning ***
Rattlesnakes are found in this area, especially around the mesa.  Keep on the trails and watch where you step.  Please see the 
saftey page for more tips.

Click any picture on this page for an enlarged view.

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View from the trail between Warner & the mesa, 11/15/09

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A Heron searches for fish, 11/15/09

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Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Sunrise, 12/24/10

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Bolsa Chica Wetlands, 5-17-08

Bolsa Chica Wetlands Sunrise, 11-10-07
11/10/07, Sunrise at Bolsa Chica Wetlands

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The trail from Warner Ave. to the Upper Mesa, 3/15/09

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12/22/09

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Near the Upper Mesa, 8/26/09

Two pictures on the left show the inland view from the upper mesa.  The wetland area shown here is a newer restoration.  The Santa Ana mountains are seen in the background. The largest peak is Santiago Peak, the peak on the right is Modjeska Peak (collectively known as "Saddleback Mountain"). 

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Pair of Forster's Terns

Many birds, rabbits, coyotes, lizards and even snakes...including rattlesnakes, can be found in the wetlands.  

In spring, wildflowers often line the path from the Warner parking lot to the upper mesa and the "bean field" area.   Many California native plants are also found here, for pictures see the
Plants of Bolsa Chica Wetlands.

Bolsa Chica Wetlands, 2-29-08
Wildflowers along trail near Warner, 2/29/08

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A large flock of Canadian Geese near Warner Ave., 12/22/09

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California Brown Pelican, 10/25/08

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Great Egret, 3/15/09

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Cotton Tail Rabbit

 

   

Bolsa Chica Wetlands, view of the mesa, 2/29/08
Bolsa Chica Wetlands, view of the mesa, 2/29/08

Above:  the view of the left side of the trail heading from Warner Ave. parking lot heading toward the mesa.  From the mesa you have good views of the wetlands in every direction. 

View of Bolsa Chica Wetlands from the Mesa 2/29/08
View of Bolsa Chica Wetlands from the Mesa, 2/29/08

Above:  A view of the wetlands looking toward the S/E from the mesa.  In the lower right side of the picture curving toward the center is a "berm" separating the channel from the wetlands.  Walking on the path or top of the "berm" leads to the back side of the upper mesa also called the "bean field". 

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Bolsa Chica Wetlands mesa, 2/29/08

Above:  The mesa, one of the areas of California native plant restorations which is doing very well.  In the evening many rabbits are out in this area.  Spotted a snake off the side of the path several times in this area. 

Bolsa Chica Wetlands below the upper mesa, 2/29/08
Wetlands below the mesa, 2/29/08

Above & right:  picture of the wetlands from the "channel berm path" looking towards the upper mesa.  Same place, different years.

Bolsa Chica Wetlands below the upper mesa, 2/29/08
View of the wetlands looking toward the upper mesa, 2/29/08

Above:  looking across the wetlands, above the tree line new homes are under construction.  Wow, what's this?  Right beneath the tree line almost in the center of the picture is what appears to be a storm drain from the new development (click picture to enlarge, click here to see more pictures of storm drain).

Bolsa Chica Wetlands below the upper mesa, 9/9/06
Wetlands below the mesa, 9/9/06

Bolsa Chica Wetlands below the upper mesa, 9/6/06
View of the wetlands looking toward the upper mesa, 9/9/06

Above:  water releasing back into the wetlands in September '06.  Kind of resembled running creeks in some areas.

Bolsa Chica Wetlands below the upper mesa, 2/29/08
Bolsa Chica Wetlands, 2/29/08

Above:  another view of the wetlands from the "channel path".  Click the picture for an enlarged view and you can see the new homes on the upper mesa.  I've often seen gray fox or coyotes hunting this section of the wetlands in the evening.

Bolsa Chica Wetlands below the upper mesa 10/14/06
Bolsa Chica Wetlands, 10/14/06

Above:  picture from 10/14/06.  (Compared to 9/9/06 pictures above water level had increased.) 

Bolsa Chica Wetlands below the upper mesa, 9/9/06
Bolsa Chica Wetlands, 9/9/06

Above:  picture from Sept '06, wetlands restoration was well under way.  At this point in time the inlet from Bolsa Chica State Beach was completed and this was the beginning of water release back into the wetlands.

 

Bolsa Chica Wetlands below the upper mesa, 2/29/08
Bolsa Chica Wetlands, 2/29/08

Above:  2/29/08 picture, same view as picture to the above left (10/14/07). 
Not as much water now but more plants.  Looking down into the wetlands at the foot of the berm I could see many coyote tracks in the mud. 

Bolsa Chica Wetlands, Closed Sensitive Habitat
Area near the closed Sensitive Habitat, 2/29/08

Above:  continuing on the "channel berm path" to the left is a fenced off area at the foot of the upper mesa.  I've seen a variety of small birds, hawks and a turkey vulture here.

View of Bolsa Chica Back Upper Mesa & Bean Field
The bean field on the back side of the upper mesa, 2/29/08

Above:  the back side of the upper mesa.  This is not a restoration area yet, but will be soon hopefully.  Many native plants and wildflowers here.  Walk down the side of the "berm" taking one of the paths across the bean field to get to the mesa. 

Bolsa Chica Wetlands, back of Upper Mesa, 2/29/08
The back side of the upper mesa, looking to left of trail, 2/29/08

Above:  walking across the bean field to the left, view of the mesa.  Before home development the entire back of the upper mesa area looked very much like this.  There used to be a trail you could walk along the mesa top which lead back to the PCH side of the mesa.  However this is private property and access is now closed.

Trail on back side of Bolsa Chica Upper Mesa
The back side of the upper mesa, trail continuing to mesa top, 2/29/08

Above:  continuing on the trail to the top of the mesa.  Many yellow, white and purple wildflowers everywhere.  This area gives you a good idea of what it must have looked like before development.

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Wildflower closeup on back side of the upper mesa, 2/29/08

Several trails winding around this end of the mesa still exist.  But to get back to the parking lot you will have to go back the same way you got here.
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Bolsa Chica Wildflowers, 4-4-08
     

The three pictures below are the same view from the PCH parking lot looking towards the mesa.  If you look carefully at the '05 picture you can see there is no development of the mesa or wetlands restoration project. 

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Bolsa Chica Wetlands, 2/27/05

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Bolsa Chica Wetlands, 2/29/08

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Bolsa Chica Wetlands, 12/26/10

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Bolsa Chica Wetlands, looking toward Bolsa Chica State Beach, 5-17-08

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