Article By: Eric Paquette
Each quarter, we like to shine the light on a volunteer who goes above and beyond the call of duty here at the Bolsa Chica Conservancy. Volunteers are the bread and butter of a non-profit organization, and without their can-do attitudes it would prove impossible for the Conservancy and other non-profits to exist. This quarter we would like to shine our spotlight on Terry Hill, a Bolsa Chica birding extraordinaire.
It all started in 2010 when the Bolsa Chica Conservancy was interested in organizing a monthly bird survey. Conservancy staff contacted Terry Hill, who is in charge of coordinating the yearly Audubon Christmas count on the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. “I was impressed that they were going to organize monthly bird counts, and that they had intelligent, eager volunteers”, said Terry Hill when the Conservancy contacted her interested in starting their own survey. Fast-forward to six years later, and Terry is still one of the primary coordinators of our bi-monthly bird surveys!
Terry’s passion for birding started at a young age, when she would go camping with her parents. She was fond of nature and wanted to start learning about the birds she saw, so she bought a bird guide. When she took bird identification classes at Coastline College, she switched from just identifying birds she saw to bird watching. She has been bird watching for over 30 years now on the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.
Terry doesn’t have a single favorite bird, but rather enjoys warblers and other colorful birds such as the Elegant Trogon (Trogon elegans). She does, however, have a favorite bird here at Bolsa Chica which is the Ridgway’s Rail (Rallus obsoletus). “The fact that the Ridgway’s Rail started nesting at Bolsa Chica two years ago for the first time in 100 years! That was truly exciting, and to be able to see their babies!” exclaimed Terry when asked about her most memorable moments. Most recently it has been the 30,000 to 40,000 Elegant Terns (Thalasseus elegans) that were seen nesting here on the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve during the summer of 2016, “I’m sure that’s the most that have ever been here”.
Apart from volunteering and coordinating the monthly bird surveys for the Conservancy, Terry is an avid reader who prefers works of fiction and enjoys traveling the country in her 32 ft. motorhome with her husband John. Some of her favorite trips have been a 5 month trip to Alaska, a 5 ½ month trip to Nova Scotia, and many more. In her free time Terry also enjoys photography, and is currently working on organizing her digital photographs she’s been taking on her journeys since 2004.
Terry is a prime example of a volunteer who makes the Bolsa Chica Conservancy what it has become today. She continues to inspire others to volunteer and furthers the Conservancy’s mission to inspire and connect all generations. “It’s a great way to educate the public about Bolsa Chica, and everyone involved is very friendly,” said Terry when asked why someone should become a volunteer with the Conservancy. You can find Terry and other dedicated volunteers on the 2nd & 3rd Friday of each month performing their bird survey on the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and Harriett Wieder Regional Park.