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Ballona Creek & Freshwater Marsh Trip Report: 14 Nov. 2009

November 14, 2009
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When a westerly wind comes ripping off the ocean, the swells can surge completely across the Ballona Creek middle jetty. Anyone nearby is soaked by the freezing spray. Despite our forebodings, this was not one of those days, and we soon found ourselves struggling out of our extra layers of clothing.

Greenish-yellow bill & dark around the eye makes this a Western Grebe (C.Almdale 11/09)

After checking out the ducks and the several Greater White-fronted Geese at Del Rey lagoon, leader Lu Plauzoles took us east down Ballona Creek to the tidal gate about half-way to Lincoln Blvd. We found the Burrowing Owl keeping its solitary vigil on the ice-plant covered sandy hill just east of the wetlands channel. It must now be about 5 years since this bird began wintering here. The creek was full of UCLA crews paddling up and down, shouting all the while, and the ducks did their best to keep out of their way, but there were plenty of shorebirds on the rocky edges: Willets, Whimbrels, Ruddy Turnstones, Western and Least Sandpipers; Ruddy Ducks, Buffleheads and Red-breasted Mergansers kept near the shores, but the Common Loons easily dodged the crew shells by diving under.

Black Oystercatcher on the Jetty (C.Almdale 11/09)

Along the central jetty we found Surfbirds, Black Turnstones and Black Oystercatchers in [relative] abundance, which means several dozens of the first two and about 10 of the latter. The outer jetty was covered with Brown Pelicans and Brandt’s Cormorants: amazingly we could not find a single Pelagic or Double-crested Cormorant resting there, which must be a first for me. Rafts of scoters and [probably mostly] Western Grebes were off to the south, too far to properly view. Diligent searching did not turn up any Wandering Tattlers, a rocky-shore-loving bird uncommon but regular on the SoCal mainland.

Surfbird Trio (C.Almdale 11/09)

We had spent so much time wandering up and down the creek that our visit to the Freshwater Marsh at the corner of Lincoln & Jefferson Blvds. was abbreviated. Nevertheless, we managed to scare up plenty of Black-crowned Night Herons and a Sora as well as hearing a Virginia Rail. This is a reliable spot for Common Moorhen and we found several poking along the edges of the reeds. The pond at the south end had at least 6 Wilson’s Snipe foraging among the pond-edge leaves and brush. On the way back, an American Kestrel perched on a light pole, while a Red-tailed Hawk and several Common Ravens flew overhead. Altogether, a surprisingly fine day.

Ballona Channel
& Del Rey Lagoon
Ballona
Freshwater Marsh
Greater White-fronted Goose
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Mallard
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark’s Grebe
Brown Pelican
Brandt’s Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
Willet
Whimbrel
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Black Turnstone
Surfbird
Sanderling
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Heermann’s Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Western Gull
California Gull
Forester’s Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Burrowing Owl
Anna’s Hummingbird
Allen’s Hummingbird
Black Phoebe
Say’s Phoebe
American Crow
Bushtit
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Savannah Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Brewer’s Blackbird
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
House Sparrow
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Red-tailed Hawk
Ferrugenous Hawk
American Kestrel
Virginia Rail (H)
Sora
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Wilson’s Snipe
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna’s Hummingbird
Allen’s Hummingbird
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say’s Phoebe
Western Kingbird
American Crow
Common Raven
Bushtit
Marsh Wren (H)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Hermit Thrush
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
60 Species 56 Species
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