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Field Trip Report: Paramount Ranch to Malibu Creek State Park, 10 April 2010

April 10, 2010

I don’t think the temperature ever made it up to 70° and those of us (me) who assumed it would warm up significantly tended to be

Garlic blooms (L.Johnson)

chilled for much of the hike. The flowers and birds, however, were certain it was spring. Many of the birds noted were never seen, only heard: of the House Wrens, for example, we probably didn’t see more than 4 of the 32 cited; the rest were gaily singing from hidden perches in nearly every tree we passed. We saw so many flowers that our four-mile hike stretched out to five hours long, as we continually asked Peggy Burhenn, our indefatigable leader, “Hey, what’s this flower?” (Repeat 1000 times.) What she didn’t immediately know, she diligently looked up in her large handbook of California flowering plants.

Western Bluebird male (L.Johnson)

Valley Lupine (L.Johnson)

Western Bluebirds were in great evidence near all the buildings. At the Reagan Ranch we found both Cassin’s and Western Kingbirds bouncing over the flowers and grass. Four pairs of Orioles – both Hooded and Bullock’s – gurgled overhead in the roadside trees. At the Paramount Ranch western town a large flock of American Goldfinches contained several bright breeding plumage males among the numerous winter and molting plumage birds. Great Blue Herons stalked the fields looking for unwary ground squirrels, proving that they don’t have an exclusively aquatic menu. Overhead in several locations were flocks of swallows and swifts. We found most of the No. Rough-winged Swallows in a flock low over Malibu Creek flying through a gap in the reeds, feeding on a flock of insects close to the water.

Male Spotted Towhee in a Ceanothus

Many of the flowers were seen on our prior year’s trip but a few were new, perhaps because we were about 10 days further into Spring.

Among them were: Cliff Aster, Morning Glory, White Nightshade, Common Goldfields, Strigose Lotus, Western Wallflower, Chinese Houses, Prickly Phlox, Winter Vetch, California Bickelbush, and Fennel.

The weather, which looked like rain for a while, held, and we had a fine day. By the time we returned to Paramount Ranch, we were ready to eat.

Brian Cohee took a great selection of flower photos on this hike. You can find a nice slide show of them here.

There is also a website with hundreds, perhaps thousands of pictures of flowers of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. If you can’t figure out what was that bloom you saw on a local hike, check this out.

WHITE Mallard 10
Big Pod Ceanothus California Quail H
Coyote Brush (not in bloom) Great Blue Heron 2
Elderberry Turkey Vulture 2
Mule Fat Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Poison Hemlock Red-shouldered Hawk 2
Cliff Aster Red-tailed Hawk 5
Horehound* American Coot 4
Miner’s Lettuce Mourning Dove 12
Morning Glory Black-hooded Parakeet 1
Popcorn Flower Vaux’s Swift 20
White Nightshade White-throated Swift 12
White Sage Blk-chinned Hummingbird 1
Wild Cucumber Anna’s Hummingbird 4
Yucca Allen’s Hummingbird 1
YELLOW Belted Kingfisher 1
Johnny-Jump Up Acorn Woodpecker 11
Common Fiddleneck Nuttall’s Woodpecker H
Common Goldfields Pacific-slope Flycatcher 2
Deerweed Black Phoebe 8
Golden Currant Say’s Phoebe 1
Mountain Dandelion Cassin’s Kingbird 2
Mustard* Western Kingbird 3
Pineapple Weed* Western Scrub-Jay 14
Strigose Lotus American Crow 6
Western Wallflower Common Raven 5
ORANGE No. Rgh-winged Swallow 24
California Poppy Tree Swallow 4
Sticky Monkey Flower Violet-green Swallow 12
RED Barn Swallow 2
Hummingbird Sage Cliff Swallow 20
Indian Paintbrush Oak Titmouse 4
PINK Bushtit 4
Chinese Houses White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Milk Thistle (not in bloom) Canyon Wren H
Prickly Phlox Bewick’s Wren 2
Purple Owl’s Clover House Wren 32
Purple Sage Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Red-stem Filaree* Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Wild Radish* Western Bluebird 10
Wild Rose (not in bloom) American Robin 1
Wild Sweet Pea Wrentit H
PURPLE / BLUE California Thrasher H
Black Sage European Starling 12
Blue Dicks Orange-crowned Warbler 6
Bush Lupine Yellow Warbler H
Caterpillar Phacelia (2 types) Yellow-rumped Warbler 10
Chia Common Yellowthroat 2
Common Vervain Spotted Towhee 5
Danny’s Skullcap California Towhee 6
Fiesta Flower Song Sparrow 7
Green Bark Ceanothus Black-headed Grosbeak 4
Parry’s Phacelia Red-winged Blackbird 20
Purple Nightshade Brown-headed Cowbird 1
Valley Lupine Hooded Oriole 6
Winter Vetch Bullock’s Oriole 6
BROWN Purple Finch H
Curly Dock* House Finch 20
Dodder Lesser Goldfinch 16
Common Plantain American Goldfinch 30
NOT IN BLOOM Total Birds 60
Ashy-leafed Buckwheat H – Heard only
California Bickelbush
California Buckwheat
California Sagebrush
Laurel Sumac
Poison Oak
Scrub Oak (with gall)
California Bay Laurel
Coast Live Oak
Valley Oak
Western Sycamore
Total Plants  —  70
*  – Introduced species

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