Buck Gully wildlife returning to normal

Baby egrets and herons were spotted Friday morning in Lower Buck Gully — a sight some say hasn’t occurred in years and could be attributed to a recent restoration and erosion project, Corona del Mar Today reported.

“I haven’t see egrets or herons before in Buck Gully, and I’ve been tromping around there for over five years,” said Robert Stein, an assistant Newport Beach engineer, in an email.

Stein oversaw the Lower Buck Gully erosion project, which began in September 2011 and was completed early this year. The $2 million project’s goal was to slow water flowing toward the ocean by adding metal cages filled with rocks. The project also included removal of non-native vegetation and trapping of non-native cowbirds. The cowbird trap was removed recently at the end of the nesting season, but no data was immediately available on the number of cowbirds caught and relocated.

Stein said a biologist would monitor the area for the next five years and would be quantifying the changes in birdlife.

“I expect/hope that next year when there is complete ground cover, raptors will find this a good place to hang out also,” Stein said in an email.

The Coastal Commission, which granted approval of the erosion project in August 2011, issued a report that outlined the area’s ecological history and the advantages of the project.

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