It is incredible how a year has gone by when traveling was limited in the state of California.

With some restrictions lifted, it is time to enjoy the great outdoors once more.

The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve near Huntington Beach is a great place to start.

If you enjoy low-impact walking, birdwatching or being out in nature, Bolsa Chica is the ticket.

The reserve boasts 4.5 miles of low-impact, leisurely walking.

The Bolsa Chica Reserve is a wetlands that supports an abundance of wildlife and plant-life.

It is the largest saltwater marsh from the Tijuana River Estuary, south, to the Monterey Bay, north.

The trails meander around a series of levees that provide food, protection and a place to rest for thousands of migratory and resident birds.

Winter is a prime time to visit for birdwatching.

You will see a variety of ducks, shorebirds and other waterfowl on the mudflats or in the open water.

Raptors such as osprey, northern harriers and the occasional peregrine falcon can also be seen.

If the tide is low, you might see egrets catching small fish.

As the tide recedes, hikers can watch guitarfish and stingrays find their way back into deeper water.

There are several osprey that regularly perch on top of the thick branches to enjoy their daily catch of fresh fish.

Hikers can witness the spectacle from the trail directly below the tree.

At the south parking lot, there is a small bridge. From that vantage point, it is possible to see the endangered, Ridgway Rail, formerly known as the California clapper rail. The rail is small, brown and stout. Elusive by nature, it is a treat for birders to catch a glimpse of this secretive bird.

Other birds such as brown pelicans, terns, northern shovelers, scaups, mallards, coots and other birds can be seen from the bridge.

Some of the birds are so close, you can get a good picture of them using your phone.

If birdwatching is not part of the plan, the hike is a wonderful way to breathe in the salty air and feel the ocean breeze.

The outdoors is the place to be. It can be exhilarating.

Dress in layers, bring water and enjoy your day at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.

The interpretive center is at 3842 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach.

There is free parking in the north and south parking lots.

The phone number is (714) 846-1114.

The ecological reserve is nestled between Warner Avenue on the north, Pacific Coast Highway on the west and Seapointe Avenue on the south. Residential neighborhoods run along the eastern side of the reserve.

The reserve is open seven days a week.

Dogs are not allowed on the reserve.

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