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No salesman will call, at least not from us. Maybe from someone else.
The glow worm colonies of New Zealand’s Waitomo Caves imitate stars to confuse flying insects, then trap them in sticky snares and eat them alive.
This is another installment of the PBS Deep Look series. If no film or link appears in this email, go to the blog to view it by clicking on the blog title above. If the film stops & starts in an annoying manner, press pause (lower left double bars ||) to let it buffer and get ahead of you. [Chuck Almdale]
Weather was balmy and beautiful, and about thirty birders showed up to admire the birds. Unfortunately, numbers and species were a bit on the light side. Virtually no gulls and few migrant passerines. The lagoon outlet was closed, although if lagoon water rose by about 1/64th of an inch, out it would flow. Some of us walked around the lagoon to Adamson House which was hosting some party, as usual, but we didn’t add many birds to the list. As yet, no orioles in their palms.
I checked prior years to see if my impression of numbers was correct. It was.
I don’t know if this signifies a trend, but April species diversity seems to be dwindling. As shown above, the number of gulls and terns present is always a significant factor.
There is a domoic acid outbreak, which may be what’s causing solid-ground-avoiders like murres, loons and grebes to beach themselves, and Brown Pelicans to collapse and die. We saw at least four pelicans dead on the lagoon shore or at water’s edge today. There was also a significant amount of very green algae on the surface of the lagoon. The mullet didn’t seem to mind, as they were still jumping – for joy, one presumes.
The Marine Mammal Center has this to say on domoic acid:
Domoic acid is produced by algae and accumulates in shellfish, sardines, and anchovies which are then eaten by sea lions, otters, cetaceans, and humans, among others. Exposure to the biotoxin affects the brain, causing them to become lethargic, disoriented, and have seizures that sometimes result in death.
Ventura Audubon Society put out this advisory:
So you’d better watch what you eat.
Killdeer are again nesting on the beach, as they have for decades. [I found my first Killdeer nest there in 1995. Actually the Killdeer parent found it for me. It started screaming and flopping around like a bird with a broken-wing; I looked down at my feet and found a nest-scrape with four spotted pebble-like eggs nearly under my toes.] Sharp-eyed observers may see the very long-legged chicks teetering around in the fenced area. Song Sparrows and Common Yellowthroats – judging by the number of them loudly singing – are also courting and nesting. Along the east side of the lagoon, a female Mallard led a small flotilla of nine ducklings. Four species of swallows cut through the air, including one uncommon-at-the-beach migrating Violet-green Swallow. Barn Swallows prefer swooping low over the sandy beach where they find those tiny flies so beloved by sunbathers.
Elegant Terns continued to arrive and depart all morning, all in beautiful breeding plumage. They don’t nest at the lagoon, but they do like to rest there. They were joined by seventeen of their larger cousins with the blood-red bill, the Caspian Tern.
Caspian Terns are a world-wide species, found on every continent except Antarctica. The “type specimen” – the individual used centuries ago to originally describe the species – came from the Caspian Sea in central Asia, hence the name. Yet they frequent our humble little lagoon – imagine that.
The Pacific Loons were all flybys, out past the offshore rocks, heading west (and north). It took us a while to figure out that they were Pacific and not Red-throated. The small sandpipers were mostly scattered along the north side of the channel, or east end of the lagoon. Most were Least Sandpiper, with a few Westerns and one elusive Dunlin among them.
Larry Loeher managed – through shear doggedness – to find three Snowy Plovers among the wrack on the sandy berm; one male and two females, one of whom was rr:bb, who has been a habitué of the beach for many months.
Birds new for the season were: Red-tailed Hawk, Semipalmated Plover, Dunlin, Mew Gull, Elegant Tern, Violet-green Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Red-winged Blackbird.
Many thanks to our photographer: Grace Murayama, Joyce Waterman, Chuck Bragg
Our next three scheduled field trips: Butterbredt Spring Campout Sat/Sun 29-30 Apr. 8:30am; Black Rock Canyon (Sat. 3pm) and Morongo Valley (Sun 8am), 6-7 May; Malibu Lagoon 8:30 & 10am, 28 May.
Our next program: What a Fish Knows with Jonathan Balcombe, Tuesday, 2 May, 7:30 pm; Chris Reed Park, 1133 7th St., NE corner of 7th and Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica.
NOTE: Our 10 a.m. Parent’s & Kids Birdwalk meets at the shaded viewpoint just south of the parking area. Watch for Willie the Weasel. He’ll be watching for you and your big floppy feet.
2016: Jan-June, July-Dec 2015: Jan-May, July-Dec
2014: Jan-July, July-Dec 2013: Jan-June, July-Dec
2012: Jan-June, July -Dec 2011: Jan-June, July-Dec
2010: Jan-June, July-Dec 2009: Jan-June, July-Dec.
The 10-year comparison summaries created during the project period, despite numerous complaints, remain available on our Lagoon Project Bird Census Page. Very briefly summarized, the results unexpectedly indicate that avian species diversification and numbers improved slightly during the period Jun’12-June’14. [Chuck Almdale]
|Malibu Census 2016-17||10/23||11/27||12/25||2/26||3/26||4/23|
|Tide Lo/Hi Height||L+2.63||H+5.79||H+5.49||H+5.6||H+5.21||H+4.54|
|Great Blue Heron||3||3||2||4||2|
|Totals by Type||Oct||Nov||Dec||Feb||Mar||Apr|
|Water Birds – Other||382||332||335||165||132||130|
|Herons, Egrets & Ibis||13||9||16||16||8||4|
|Quail & Raptors||1||1||2||2||1||2|
|Gulls & Terns||118||1321||1122||1445||58||160|
|Water Birds – Other||9||11||8||8||5||4|
|Herons, Egrets & Ibis||3||3||3||3||3||1|
|Quail & Raptors||1||1||1||2||1||2|
|Gulls & Terns||8||8||6||7||9||6|
|Totals Species – 101||64||64||58||59||51||46|
It turns out that they know a lot!
In this dynamic, illustrated presentation, Jonathan Balcombe combines science with story-telling to explore the colorful lives of the least understood and most exploited vertebrates on Earth. Balcombe explores fish perceptions, cognition, emotion, social behavior, and cooperation, and wraps it in the context of our evolving relationship to fishes and their vital aquatic habitats.
Link to our September 2016 review of “What a Fish Knows.”
Jonathan Balcombe is a biologist, author, and a life-long animal advocate. He has a PhD in ethology from the University of Tennessee, where he studied communication in bats. He has published over 50 journal articles and book chapters ranging from turtle nesting behavior to the ethics of animal dissection. His 2006 book Pleasurable Kingdom is the first in-depth examination of animals’ capacity to enjoy life. [Facebook page]
His subsequent books Second Nature, and The Exultant Ark also present animals in a new light and presage a revolution in the human-animal relationship. His latest book, the New York Times bestseller What a Fish Knows, explores the private lives of the planet’s most misunderstood and exploited vertebrates. Balcombe is Director for Animal Sentience with The Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy, based in Washington, DC. In January, he and his colleagues launched Animal Sentience, the first scholarly journal of animal feeling. A popular commentator, he has appeared on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, the BBC, the National Geographic Channel, and in several documentaries, and has contributed features and opinions to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Nature, and other publications. He recently moved to Florida, where in his spare time he enjoys biking, baking, birding, Bach, and trying to understand the lizards on his patio.
Our meetings are at Christine Emerson Reed Park, 1133 7th Street. (between 7th St. & Lincoln Blvd., California Ave. & Wilshire Blvd.), Santa Monica. Previously known as Lincoln Park. If you’re coming from outside Santa Monica, exit the #10 Fwy at Lincoln Blvd., turn north and drive 5 blocks north to Wilshire Blvd.
Link to Google Map
Meeting Room: Mid-park in Joslyn Hall, accessible from Lincoln Blvd, California Ave. and 7th St. Its glass wall faces north towards St. Monica Church on California St. If you’re walking from Lincoln Blvd., it’s located directly behind (west) of the large Miles Playhouse building. Not accessible directly from Wilshire Blvd.
Meetings begin at 7:30 sharp with a little business, and then our main presentation. Refreshments are served afterward. Please leave your coyote at home, however much they whine to come.
Parking: The entire block between Wilshire and California Ave, 7th and Lincoln, on the sides closest to the park, is metered. Meter enforcement ends at 6PM, so free parking for the meeting! We had almost 50 attendees in February and we know of only two people who couldn’t find parking. However, the local natives are engaged in a survival-of-the-fittest scramble for free parking, so the after-6pm free parking spaces disappear quickly. We suggest that you arrive no later than 7:15 pm.
If all those spaces are filled, go south of Wilshire, not north of the park, as resident-only permit parking zones abound to the north. The east side of Lincoln Blvd. is also by permit parking only. We found plenty of spaces on 7th St. or Lincoln south of Wilshire. Most of those seem to be “until 6PM” meters also. Wherever you park, please read parking signs carefully and avoid a big fat $40+ parking ticket. [Chuck Almdale]
Big Morongo Canyon Preserve is one of the finest birding spots in southern California, known as a springtime migrant trap, frequently catching rare eastern migrants, hummers and orioles at the feeders, regular but local specialties such as Vermilion Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Summer Tanager and Yellow-breasted Chat. On a busy day, the trees are fulled with migrating birds, especially warblers. Many local desert species are also seen such as Gambel’s Quail, Costa’s Hummingbird and Verdin. Reserve hours are 8:00 a.m.-sunset.
Nearby Yucca Valley has several motels and Joshua Tree National Monument has several campgrounds. Campsites at Mission Creek Preserve, several miles south of Morongo Valley, must be reserved at least a week in advance. (60550 Mission Creek Road, Desert Hot Springs, CA. 760.369.7105 Manager: April Sall)
Saturday, 3pm – Black Rock Campground near Yucca Valley: For those staying overnight Saturday, we meet at the Campground Visitor Center and bird in and near the campground, looking for Gambel’s Quail, White-winged Dove, Roadrunner, Ladderbacked Woodpecker, Pinyon Jay, Scott’s Oriole and whatever else is around. If you’re late, just drive around until you spot some birders. The campground is fully occupied Saturday night. Know how to get there as local signs are not well marked. Allow at least 2.5 hours – better yet, three hours, for the 140 mile trip from Santa Monica.
Leaders: Jean Garrett (310)472-7209 Email: jeangarrett2001 [AT] aol [DOT] com
Google Map to Black Rock Campground
Sunday, 8am – Big Morongo Canyon Preserve: We officially start at 8am in the reserve parking lot, but feel free to arrive early. Birding is great in next-door Covington Park and some of the neighbors put out feeders and water, especially the corner house across from Covington Park. We’ll walk around the large reserve until we’re too hot, tired, thirsty, hungry or all of the above to continue, then lunch, probably in the reserve. Allow a minimum of 2 1/4 hours for the 125-mile trip from Santa Monica.
Leaders: Jean Garrett(310-472-7209) Email: jeangarrett2001 [AT] aol [DOT] com
Family Guide: Can get quite hot; not for younger children. 1-2 miles of boardwalk, cinder and hard dirt paths. Dress in layers & hat. Bring water. Lunch near the cars.
Map of motels in Yucca Valley, the nearest town to Morongo Valley: Super 8, Best Western, TraveLodge, Sands Motel, Desert View.
Directions to Preserve: Allow a minimum of 2 1/4 hours. Santa Monica #10 Fwy East about 115 miles to Highway 62. North on #62 about 11.5 miles, passing partway through small Morongo Valley town. Angle right on Park Ave. to Covington Park. Turn left on Vale St., then bear right through several turns until you reach Covington Dr., the entrance to the preserve. If the preserve is not yet open (7:30am), retrace your path back to Covington Park where the birding is great. [Jean Garrett]
Beyond what we can touch, taste, smell, and hear, we experience the universe through light. But how did we come to discover light, and how did we learn light’s true nature, as the fastest thing in the universe, an electromagnetic spectrum, a wave and particle capable of the most amazing things? Here is the history of light, according to physics.
This is an installment of the PBS – It’s OK to be Smart series. If no film or link appears in this email, go to the blog to view it by clicking on the blog title above. If the film stops & starts in an annoying manner, press pause (lower left double bars ||) to let it buffer and get ahead of you. [Chuck Almdale]