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Naturalist Edie Berendsen helps Graham Williams, 5, of Carlsbad, spot egrets and ducks. San Elijo Lagoon gives birdwatchers a close up view. Photo by Promise Yee
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Lagoon Family Fun Day engages all ages in spring bird watching

ENCINITAS — Families enjoyed a morning of activities and bird watching at San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center on March 6.

This month’s Family Fun Day engaged kids in a bird bingo game where they learned about common bird behaviors and then looked for them in the field.

A spotting scope was set up on the trail to help families get a closer look at wildlife.

Edie Berendsen, park volunteer naturalist, helped kids spot ducks, egrets and Ridgway’s rails.

Berendsen said the reserve provides a safe sanctuary for birds and allows people to see nesting birds and endangered species.

At low tide water birds can be seen feeding, and fiddler crabs spotted running across the shoreline.

Berendsen said caterpillars and lizards are also fun for kids to see.

Graham Williams, 5, of Carlsbad, was at the lagoon event with his mom and dad. He learned that birds preen their feathers to groom themselves, and quickly spotted a snowy egret preening.

“He just learned about preening” Nikki Williams, Graham’s mom, said.

Park Ranger Michelle Levesque said learning basic bird behaviors helps beginning bird watchers recognize song birds, shore birds and predators. From there birders learn to identify bird species by knowing their beaks, feet and other distinct features.

“It’s a great place to learn it,” Levesque said. “There are 1,000 acres of healthy saltwater lagoon.”

The lagoon will be undergoing major restoration to improve saltwater tidal flushing that keeps the habitat healthy.

“It’s really important, the lagoon is a nursery ground for important fish like halibut,” Levesque said.

Some preliminary coring work and fish studies have already been done.

Major dredging work to restore the lagoon will begin when coastal railroads are double tracked and I-5 is widened.

San Elijo Lagoon Family Fun Days are held the first Sunday of each month rain or shine. Educational topics compliment seasonal changes at the lagoon.

This month the nature center will also hold a Spring Egg-ucation event March 19 and 20, to teach families about egg laying animals. The two-day event features an egg hunt, live critters, crafts and other fun activities.