The Eco-Cam Story: Part 1

Elegant Terns
Elegant Terns

The first of a three-part series all about the one of a kind Bolsa Chica Land Trust Eco-Cam.

Click here to read The Eco-Cam Story: Part 2 and Part 3

I asked Kelly O’Reilly the Reserve Manager with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife about her opinion on the Eco-Cam (Critter Cam).  Below is her response.

first photo taken with the Eco-Cam 2016
first photo taken with the Eco-Cam 2016

When in the year (range) is the best time to watch the camera?

May through August.

Why and How do you use the Eco-Cam?

I used it to watch nesting activity of Elegant and Caspian terns on Nest Site 1 (where the Critter Cam is located) and on North Tern Island in Bolsa Bay, across from the Critter Cam.  Having the camera in the office was convenient because I could see the activity remotely and that was a time saver for me since I’m not able to get into the field every day.

What has been your favorite part of using it?

Being able to watch the terns from my office at lunch time

Why would you recommend watching the Eco-Cam to the casual observer?

thousands of Elegant Terns
thousands of Elegant Terns

Folks who log on the Critter Cam website during the tern nesting season will have the opportunity to see these animals up close and they are very interesting to watch. It’s also amazing how large the breeding colonies are. One cannot really appreciate this from the public trails. Now that the terns are gone, the camera is moving around and changing its views so people can have the opportunity to see habitat that is not visible from the public trails.

Kelly O’Reilly
Environmental Scientist
Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve
California Department of Fish & Wildlife



photo Least Terns: Connie Boardman
photo CA Least Terns: Connie Boardman

Also, the final 2016 results of some of the birds seen through the Eco-Cam are as follows:

Western Snowy Plovers (Charadrius nivosus nivosus): 99 nests; 275 eggs; 246 chicks hatched; and 145 fledglings. This is the 3rd year in a row that we’ve seen record high numbers of nests and fledglings at Bolsa Chica!

California Least Terns (Sternula antillarum browni): 142 nests; estimated number of breeding pairs 284

Elegant Terns (Thalasseus elegans): 21,002 scrapes (nests); estimated number of breeding pairs 42,004 (record number at Bolsa Chica)

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