Corona del Mar Today: Cowbird trap back in Upper Buck Gully


A cowbird trap is again in Upper Buck Gully, all part of a five-year restoration plan.

The traps usually are placed March 15 and will be removed Tuesday, following the birds' nesting season. The first year of the restoration plan, the trap was in Lower Buck Gully, but last year and this, it has been placed along an Upper Buck Gully trail.

Cowbirds are not native to Buck Gully, and they lay eggs in other birds' nests, threatening those native birds' existence.

Brian Leatherman, a wildlife biologist and owner of Yorba Linda-based Leatherman Bioconsulting Inc., is working with the city of Newport Beach to trap and eventually relocate the birds. Last year, 11 birds were captured and relocated.

Trapping the cowbirds, along with removal of non-native vegetation, was included in the Lower Buck Gully erosion project completed in 2012. City staff said that the cowbird traps will be placed during nesting season for five years as part of the restoration part of the project.


CdMHS water line to be replaced

Beginning Friday and lasting through Monday, Corona del Mar High School's campus on Eastbluff Drive will be without water because of construction, according to a school email.

Several school construction projects are underway, including finishing a new theater, which is due to open in November, along with an upgraded entryway, lunch shelter and improvements to the senior parking lot.

"During one of these projects it was noted that the main water line to campus needs to be replaced and relocated," the school's email said. "Thus, we will be without water for four days, resulting in the closure of the main office and all locker rooms and bathrooms."

The water shut-off will begin at 7 a.m. Friday and run through 6 p.m. Monday.

"All water will be shut off," the email said. "No use of locker rooms, bathrooms, drinking fountains or any other water sources will be available during that entire time."

Portable toilets will be available, but athletes should bring their own water, if on campus, for practice.


Sweet Lady Jane Bakery waits for city permits

Sweet Lady Jane Bakery fans, who are anxious for the new location to open in Corona del Mar, will have to wait a little longer while the owner works with city staff on tenant-improvement permits.

"I am hopeful we will have them very soon," owner Daniel Mafrice said in an email.

City officials confirmed that the bakery applied for permits on April 3, but corrections need to be made before they will be approved.

In April, a psychic shop closed in the space at 3732 E. Coast Highway, about two years after it opened in the former John Blom photography studio space.

Sweet Lady Jane Bakery received a special use permit from the city's zoning administrator in November 2012. Lease negotiations stalled, however, until October 2013.

Mafrice had said in an interview last year that he planned to be open in 2014.

The 25-year-old bakery will sell sandwiches, salads, bread, 29 flavors of cakes, as well as pies and tarts. It will serve breakfast and lunch, as well a late-night dessert menu.


Mobile tidepool project may be complete this summer

A first-of-its-kind mobile tidepool truck could be complete by summer's end, letting beach visitors get touchy-feely with tidepool creatures without disturbing protected marine areas.

"It is a true mobile aquarium," said Michelle Clemente, marine education supervisor for the city of Newport Beach. "It's never been done before."

The truck is called ISOPod, which stands for Interactive Sealife Outreach Pod.

The ISOPod will cost more than $150,000, paid with grants and part of a collaborative project among Newport Beach, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Newport Bay Conservancy, Clemente said.

Fish and Wildlife will use the truck for 12 free programs a year at nearby schools, and the truck will be parked at Little Corona Beach, near the restrooms, on weekends and holidays and daily in the summer season. In the off season, the truck will be available for school visits. It will be parked at the Back Bay Science Center on Shellmaker Drive when not in use.

The mobile tidepool originally was supposed to be finished by the summer of 2012.

But the project faced hurdles that caused delays, Clemente said.

"We've run into some engineering issues with the electrical system, and then with weight distribution with one of the tanks," she said.

Most mobile tidepool trucks transport water and creatures separately, but the ISOPod actually has working aquariums built in, she said.

It should be complete and in action by the summer's end, possibly at the end of July, she added.

The truck will feature a touch tank and will educate beach visitors about tide pools and marine life. The Little Corona tidepools are a major attraction, and marine educators talked to about 80,000 visitors a year.

Teaching visitors not to take rocks, shells and creatures from the protected beach is crucial to protect wildlife, she said.

Corona del Mar Today appears Sunday in the Daily Pilot. Read daily updates at

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