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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Photo Essay: The Riches of Birding and Railroading at El Dorado Park, Long Beach

It took me two visits, one year apart to see everything I wanted to see in El Dorado Park, Long Beach—just east of Long Beach Airport (LGB) and the historic site of archery competitions for the 1984 Summer Olympics.


circa 2017
I came for two things, really: birding and railroading. 


circa 2017

Thanks to its geographical position along the Pacific Flyway, the LA metro area has got no shortage of birds, that’s for sure. Credit at least to see the migratory flights headed north and/or south. But it's not always guaranteed that you'll see any fine, feathered flocks out in the wild.


circa 2017


Sometimes it feels more like bird-searching instead of birdwatching.


circa 2017


Fortunately, the El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach has both a body of water that attracts the water-loving, fish- and invertebrate-snacking birds and feeders that attract nectar-thirsty hummingbirds.


circa 2017


From there, spotting birds along the couple of miles of trails that wind through riparian, woodland, and grassland habitats gets a little more hit-or-miss.


circa 2017


El Dorado Park provides habitat for an abundance of scrub jays, mallards, Canadian geese, coots and quite spectacularly, great blue herons perching visibly in trees.


circa 2017

Although all those species might not always be visible...


circa 2017


...you can definitely hear them, wherever they're not-so-silently hiding out.


circa 2017


Other birds that are known to appear at El Dorado include flycatchers, woodpeckers...


circa 2017


...and of course songbirds like warblers, goldfinches, the song sparrow, and Hutton's vireo.


circa 2017

A red-shouldered hawk might even swoop somewhere above. 


circa 2017

It's hard to look everywhere a bird might be, all at the same time. 


circa 2017

You're bound to miss some of them—on the water, in the trees, or in the sky—as you're looking at the others.


circa 2017


But if you spend your entire time at El Dorado Park looking for birds...


circa 2017

...you might miss out on the lizards, red-eared slider turtles...


circa 2017

...and wildflowers that can be pretty spectacular.


circa 2017

And in the end, if the bird-searching doesn't turn into a lot of bird-finding over by the Nature Center, one surefire way to see a bunch of winged wonders is to visit the El Dorado Duck Pond next to the El Dorado Park Golf Course.


circa 2017

Who knew there were so many different kinds of ducks, geese, and swans?! Among the specimens at El Dorado that share the classification in the family Anatidae are the wood duck, cinnamon teal, Northern shoveler, a mute swan, and domestic swan geese.


circa 2017

I'd never seen so many feisty snowy egrets perching in the same palm tree!


circa 2017

I'd never gotten so close to a black-crowned night-heron.


circa 2017

Not to mention two. 


circa 2017


And I may never again.


circa 2018

As if the birds weren't enough for me to hightail it 40 miles to Long Beach, El Dorado Park also features something else I can never resist: a tiny train. 


circa 2018


The El Dorado Express, located at Caboose Corners, is a live steam engine train originally built in 1946 as a kiddie railroad ride, acquired in 1988 after sitting in a dirt lot for two decades, and refurbished by Tony Ruvolo and his son Greg from 1989 to 1991. 


circa 2018

Locomotive "No. 2" can carry a maximum of 38 passengers...


circa 2018


...as it travels a maximum of 7 mph along the 18-gauge miniature track...


circa 2018

...through ye olde ghost town and its corresponding tunnel (made out of shipping containers) and along nearly a mile's worth of track.

It can, however, be tough to catch this train. The El Dorado Express runs only on weekends and only from March to October—and if the crowds aren't lining up towards the end of the day, it might close up shop early.

So, for now, I'll have to be satisfied having seen the train but not ridden it. Its lease with the park is at least through September 2018 with at least one, one-year renewal option—so, while I've got some time, I don't have forever.

I never do.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Hatchlings In the Marsh
Basking in the Gloom at Bolsa Chica Wetlands