Updated February 19, 2011.

IRWD San Joaquin Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary (SJWS)
Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) — http://www.irwd.com
California Wetlands Information System (CWIS) — http://ceres.ca.gov/wetlands/geo_info/so_cal/san_joaquin.html
Sea and Sage Audubon Society — http://www.seaandsageaudubon.org/SJWS/swjs.htm

I saw my first bobcat (Lynx rufus) on July 30, 2010, at 4:50 p.m. on the South Loop Trail at Pond 2 as I was headed back toward one of the exits on Campus Drive going toward University of California, Irvine. I had just turned the corner when I saw what I thought was a domestic cat, but then the white tufted ears and how it held itself came into focus. We stared at each other, I thought "camera," but the cat leaped into the bushes before I could whip my digital camera out of my front pocket. (UPDATE: Later, I saw my second bobcat on the nearby San Diego Creek Trail on October 18, 2010, at 6:00 p.m., and got photos.)

A volunteer at the Sea and Sage Audubon House on the grounds had once told me they had bobcats (frequently confused with mountain lions), that the cats did not bother visitors, but I had never expected to see one. With the same volunteer, I had a productive discussion about safety issues for urban hikers, especially unleashed dogs and their irresponsible owners. Though the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary has signs posted at each entry point that dogs are not allowed, I've already run across a couple with dogs who used the sanctuary as a dog run. Unfortunately, if wildlife smells dog or dog poop on the trails, they will stay away.

On some days, photographers walking around with telephoto lenses are as common as the mallard ducks. In my book, that's one of the first signs of spring at the sanctuary. They wouldn't be there unless there was something to shoot (no pun intended), such as the mating and nesting habits of the birds. The sanctuary has a nesting platform for osprey, which is an added attraction.
NO DOGS sign
sign Photos copyright © 2010-2013 Kat Avila
Time of Day: Sometimes I shoot all day, but my preference is morning or evening when the sun is not so bright and the wildlife is more active. In the evening, you can get shots of bird flocks flying shoreward to roost.
Notes: At the Sea and Sage Audubon House on the grounds, there is a board where visitors can report what wildlife they have seen. Check the board so you know what to keep your eyes open for. There are free maps of the grounds within the lidded boxes at the billboards.
Views
sign
sign at entrance
2010.4.23
view
Audubon House
office and bookstore
2010.4.23
view
2010.4.23
Pond E
Pond E
2010.4.23
Pond B
bulletin board
in front of Pond B
2010.4.23
Pond A
Pond A
2010.4.23
bench
2010.7.12
view
2010.4.23
pond
2010.4.23
pond
2010.4.23
field
2010.4.23
signpost
signpost
www.getoutdoorsoc.com/
2010.4.23
prickly pear cactus
prickly pear cactus
2010.4.23
stream
2010.4.23
bridge
2010.4.23
view
2010.4.23
stream
2010.7.12
field
Michelson Drive side
2010.7.23
trail
Michelson Drive side
2010.7.23
dry stream bed
dry stream bed
2010.7.23
clouds
2010.10.20
new road
newly laid road
2010.10.20
San Diego Creek Channel
San Diego Creek Channel
2010.10.20
windmill
Aermotor water-pumping windmill
2013.11.19
sunset
sunset
2011.3.3
Duck Club
Duck Club
2011.3.3
stream
2011.3.3
stream
2011.6.2
stream
2011.6.2
field
2011.6.2
pond
late afternoon
2011.6.2, 5:29 p.m.
misty morning
misty morning
2011.10.11, 8:20 p.m.
sun through the mist
sun through the mist
2011.10.11, 8:35 p.m.
pacific willow
2013.7.3
Bobcat (Lynx rufus)
bobcat
checking out rush-hour
traffic across the way
San Diego Creek Trail
2010.10.18
bobcat
San Diego Creek Trail
2010.10.18
bobcat
San Diego Creek Trail
2010.10.18
Brush Rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani)
brush rabbit
2011.1.28
brush rabbit
2011.1.28
brush rabbit
grumpy-looking
2011.1.28
brush rabbit
"Almost home …,
but not close enough."
2011.6.23
brush rabbit
"Gotta run!"
2011.6.23
brush rabbit
On your mark, get set, . . .
2011.1.28
brush rabbit
go! . . .
2011.1.28
brush rabbit
go! . . .
2011.1.28
brush rabbit
into the bushes.
2011.1.28
brush rabbit
nibbling on breakfast
2011.4.11
brush rabbit
feeding at edge of Pond E
2011.6.3
brush rabbit
2011.6.3
brush rabbit
2011.6.3
Common Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getulus): It was already in the middle of the path ahead when I spotted it.
common kingsnake
2012.4.18, 2:43 p.m.
common kingsnake
2012.4.18, 2:43 p.m.
common kingsnake
2012.4.18, 2:43 p.m.
Fish: Not sure who these lips belong to. Maybe some kind of carp? There was a concentration of fish feeding in a particular area along the edge of a pond.
fish
2011.4.18
fish
2011.4.18
fish
2011.4.18
fish
2011.4.18
fish
2011.4.18
Lizards (I have a separate lizards page that includes photos from other locations as well.)
Western Pond Turtle (female) (Clemmys marmorata): (the story behind the photos) I saw a woman on her hands and knees in front of a car blocking the long, narrow entry road to the sanctuary — weeping, praying, I wasn't sure what she was doing. I parked behind her car and got out to see what was wrong. As I passed the woman's car, I noticed it was full of junk and from one bag a large bird's wing was protruding. A homeless woman? Shaman? Approaching her I yelled, "Are you okay?" When she got up and turned around, I saw her camera and the turtle in the middle of the road. "Are you Trude?" I then asked, recalling a recent quick introduction to the SJWS Project Director of Education. It turns out she was. Also, she did eventually move the turtle from the road to the riverbank, though generally it's her policy to leave the critters alone since you never can be too sure which direction they're heading.
Western pond turtle
2011.3.7
Western pond turtle
Look at that left claw.
2011.3.7
Western pond turtle
close-up on beak
2011.3.7
Western pond turtle
2011.3.7
Western pond turtle
carapace (dorsal)
['kar-ǝ-peis]
2011.3.7
Western pond turtle
close-up of front
of carapace
2011.3.7
Western pond turtle
There's a deep scratch (top R)
and a curved hole (bottom R)
in the back of the carapace.
2011.3.7
Western pond turtle
plastron (ventral)
['plæs-trǝn]
2011.3.7
Snails
snails
San Diego Creek Trail
2010.7.9