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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 28 Feb. 2010

February 28, 2010
Beach-wrack & lagoon-foam (L.Johnson 2/10)

Beach-wrack & lagoon-foam (L.Johnson 2/10)


Fortunately the tsunami (if any) from the Chilean earthquake hit the lagoon on Saturday
or we might all have been swept out to sea. As it was, about half of us got our feet wet when – backs to the ocean, diligently studying Black Skimmers and assorted gulls, terns and peeps across the narrow outlet stream – we were rudely assaulted by a 6-inch-high wall of water and foam lunging at us across the beach berm. Gradually the tide receded, but even three hours after (predicted) high tide, the occasional big one sent us scurrying. The surfers were having a great time frolicking in the water (check Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Galapagos for where this activity may lead).

American Avocets (L.Johnson 2/10)

The beach was significantly altered by the recent storm and the birds had a section all to themselves, separated from the “human-dominated” zones by two outlet streams running more-or-less parallel to the shore. Here they snoozed or stalked the water-edge searching for invertebrate snacks. Among them were 5 Black Skimmers (down from 6 in Jan.), 3 1st-year Glaucous-winged Gulls, 2 American Avocets, now with almost solid red heads (probably the same two birds we had in Jan.), and 7 Heermann’s Gulls, not yet fled to their breeding grounds on islands in the southern Sea of Cortez, where they nest early to avoid the fierce heat of late spring.

Leftmost Royal Tern begging food (L.Johnson 2/10)

Leftmost Royal Tern begging food (L.Johnson 2/10)

32 terns in various postures and black-crown plumages initiated, as usual, a few debates among those who are never quite certain what differentiates a Royal Tern from an Elegant. After the combatants were separated, they unanimously agreed they were all Royal, or all Elegant, or some of each. Like all trip leaders who follow the Bird Guide’s Official Motto of “Often wrong but never in doubt”, I pronounced them all Royal Tern (save the solitary Elegant added later).

High tide in 1st channel (L.Johnson 2/10)

Other than that, 1 early Northern Rough-winged Swallow and 1 Semipalmated Plover were notable early additions to the 2010 list, the 35 Gadwall was the 2nd highest total ever, while the large drop in total numbers from January (especially California Gulls) was probably due to yesterday’s rainstorm, the condition of the beach and the high water in the lagoon created by high tide inflow.

Malibu Lagoon Bird 2010 2010 2010
Census for 2010 Jan Feb Qtr 1
Temp> 41-65 55-61 Totals
Tide> +.65 +6.19
Time> L:1131 H:0835
1 Gadwall 20 35 55
2 American Wigeon 12 12
3 Mallard 10 13 23
4 Northern Shoveler 4 4
5 Green-winged Teal 7 2 9
6 Lesser Scaup 1 1
7 Surf Scoter 35 4 39
8 Long-tailed Duck 1 1
9 Bufflehead 6 6
10 Red-brstd Merganser 8 5 13
11 Ruddy Duck 30 14 44
12 Red-throated Loon 1 1 2
13 Pacific Loon 1 1 2
14 Common Loon 1 1
15 Pied-billed Grebe 1 1
16 Horned Grebe 1 1
17 Eared Grebe 3 3
18 Western Grebe 15 6 21
19 Brown Pelican 35 81 116
20 Brandt’s Cormorant 1 2 3
21 Dble-crstd Cormorant 42 21 63
22 Pelagic Cormorant 1 1
23 Great Blue Heron 2 2
24 Great Egret 3 3 6
25 Snowy Egret 15 4 19
26 Red-shouldered Hawk 1 1
27 Red-tailed Hawk 1 3 4
28 Peregrine Falcon 2 2
29 Sora 1 1 2
30 American Coot 284 175 459
31 Blk-bellied Plover 45 59 104
32 Snowy Plover 54 49 103
33 Semipalmated Plover 1 1
34 Killdeer 4 4
35 Black Oystercatcher 2 2
36 American Avocet 2 2 4
37 Willet 15 15 30
38 Spotted Sandpiper 4 2 6
39 Whimbrel 2 2
40 Marbled Godwit 4 17 21
41 Ruddy Turnstone 13 11 24
42 Sanderling 85 172 257
43 Least Sandpiper 21 21
44 Heermann’s Gull 5 7 12
45 Ring-billed Gull 55 42 97
46 California Gull 875 45 920
47 Western Gull 45 74 119
48 Glaucous-winged Gull 6 3 9
49 Royal Tern 12 32 44
50 Elegant Tern 1 1 2
51 Forster’s Tern 1 1
52 Black Skimmer 6 5 11
53 Rock Pigeon 8 4 12
54 Mourning Dove 2 2
55 Anna’s Hummingbird 3 3 6
56 Allen’s Hummingbird 2 3 5
57 Black Phoebe 4 5 9
58 Say’s Phoebe 1 1 2
59 American Crow 5 4 9
60 Rough-wingd Swallow 1 1
61 Bushtit 4 5 9
62 Bewick’s Wren 2 2
63 Northern Mockingbird 2 3 5
64 European Starling 35 41 76
65 Yellow-rumped Warbler 8 4 12
66 Common Yellowthroat 3 1 4
67 Spotted Towhee 1 1 2
68 California Towhee 2 1 3
69 Song Sparrow 3 6 9
70 White-crwnd Sparrow 4 4
71 Red-winged Blackbird 3 3
72 Western Meadowlark 1 1
73 Great-tailed Grackle 1 1
74 House Finch 12 3 15
75 Lesser Goldfinch 4 4
Jan Feb Qtr 1
Site Visits 1 1 2
Total Birds 1906 1000 2906
Totals by Type
Waterfowl 134 73 207
Water Birds-Other 386 289 675
Herons, Egrets 20 7 27
Quail & Raptors 4 3 7
Shorebirds 251 328 579
Gulls & Terns 1006 209 1215
Doves 10 4 14
Other Non-Pass. 5 6 11
Passerines 90 81 171
Totals Birds 1906 1000 2906
Total Species* Jan Feb Qtr 1*
Waterfowl 11 6 9
Water Birds-Other 12 9 11
Herons, Egrets 3 2 3
Quail & Raptors 3 1 2
Shorebirds 12 9 11
Gulls & Terns 9 8 9
Doves 2 1 2
Other Non-Pass. 2 2 2
Passerines 16 15 16
Totals Species 70 53 62
*Species quarterly
totals averaged
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