I just love working with the young men and women of the Orange County Conservation Corps. I had a crew of new hires at Bolsa Chica last week for an introduction to wildlife, habitats and conservation. Vic often joins my classes for lunch, but he was heavily engaged in final exams at Golden West College and wasn't able to participate in the fun.
Part of my morning program is a wildlife survey of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Over time, we've accumulated valuable data on what time of year certain species of wildlife are likely to be seen.
The corps members choose a captain who is responsible for making sure everyone sees our target species. The captain appoints five lieutenants, each one in charge of a different family of animals: invertebrates, fish, reptiles, birds or mammals.
Each lieutenant uses a photo sheet that I created to help with species identification. The mammal person has the easiest job, as we're only likely to see Audubon's cottontails and California ground squirrels. I also have coyotes on the list, but they're usually holed up during the day and active only during the early morning or late afternoon. The raccoons and opossums that live at Bolsa Chica are nocturnal and we've never seen them.