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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 25 April, 2010

April 25, 2010

Some of our wintering birds have left and some migrants arrived. I thought that the cool (for April) weather may have kept the passerine numbers below normal, so I checked back over the past five years and found that the totals for species and total birds were not unusual:
2005:    52 species   643 birds          2008:   61 species     807 birds
2006:    69 species   786 birds          2009:   56 species   1202 birds
2007:    70 species   922 birds          2010:   57 species      826 birds
Among the arrivals were: Common Loon and Pied-billed Grebe (both of which are usually around all winter), a Greater Yellowlegs which dropped in just as we were leaving, 3 Surfbirds which appeared on the outer rocks after the tide dropped, their sixth appearance in 20 years, a few locally nesting Cliff and Barn Swallows, 20 Cedar Waxwings (previously seen only once on 5/26/06), and a male Wilson’s Warbler by the first footbridge.

Brown Pelicans landing, Malibu hillside in distance (C.Almdale)

Our Snowy Plovers were gone. In half of the past 10 years, they’ve left before our April birdwalk, so their absence was not unexpected, but the enclosure looked a bit bereft. Most of the ducks have left as well. Poking about in the seaweed wrack was our only Willet, in a very attractive breeding plumage, highly unusual to see at the lagoon. I usually describe the winter Willet, when on the ground, as “remarkable for having no remarkable characteristics,” but that didn’t apply to this bird with it’s scaly barring on breast and back.

The group of terns kept increasing while we were there, growing from about 10 to about 70. We managed to find one Royal Tern in non-breeding plumage among the many beautiful Elegants and the much larger Caspians. Some of the Elegant Terns had pinkish breasts. This pink color comes from a shrimpy diet; the color gets into their oil gland and they spread it on their breast. The five Bonaparte’s Gulls displayed all possible plumages from dead-of-winter non-breeding to full, black-headed breeding. Birding at Malibu Lagoon is a lovely, peaceful, exciting, entertaining and rewarding pastime, but somebody has to do it, so it might as well be us.

Malibu Bird Census 2010 2010 2010 2010
for 2010 Jan Feb Mar Apr
Temperature 45-65 55-61 68-80 62-70
Tide Height +.65 +6.19 +5.48 +4.57
Low/High & Time L:1131 H:0835 H:0840 H:0744
Gadwall 20 35 16 12
American Wigeon 12 14
Mallard 10 13 12 20
Northern Shoveler 4 8
Green-winged Teal 7 2 1
Lesser Scaup 1
Surf Scoter 35 4 18
Long-tailed Duck 1
Bufflehead 6
Red-brstd Merganser 8 5 1 3
Ruddy Duck 30 14
Red-throated Loon 1 1
Pacific Loon 1 1 5 4
Common Loon 1 3
Pied-billed Grebe 1 1
Horned Grebe 1
Eared Grebe 3
Western Grebe 15 6 27 35
Brown Pelican 35 81 184 182
Brandt’s Cormorant 1 2 2
Dble-crstd Cormorant 42 21 42 22
Pelagic Cormorant 1 1 1
Great Blue Heron 2 2
Great Egret 3 3 2 2
Snowy Egret 15 4 7 13
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1 3 2
Peregrine Falcon 2
Sora 1 1 1 1
American Coot 284 175 92 35
Blk-bellied Plover 45 59 25 7
Snowy Plover 54 49 25
Semipalmated Plover 1 13
Killdeer 4 1 4
Black Oystercatcher 2
American Avocet 2 2
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Willet 15 15 4 1
Spotted Sandpiper 4 2 1 3
Whimbrel 2 3 5
Marbled Godwit 4 17 12 4
Ruddy Turnstone 13 11 2 5
Surfbird 3
Sanderling 85 172
Least Sandpiper 21 14 30
Bonaparte’s Gull 2 5
Heermann’s Gull 5 7 4 45
Ring-billed Gull 55 42 2 4
California Gull 875 45 27 108
Western Gull 45 74 48 105
Glaucous-wingd Gull 6 3 1 1
Caspian Tern 2 30
Royal Tern 12 32 1
Elegant Tern 1 1 47 40
Forster’s Tern 1
Black Skimmer 6 5
Rock Pigeon 8 4 4 4
Mourning Dove 2 2 6
Anna’s Hummingbird 3 3 3 2
Allen’s Hummingbird 2 3 3 3
Black Phoebe 4 5 6 10
Say’s Phoebe 1 1
Western Scrub-Jay 1
American Crow 5 4 4 4
Rough-wingd Swallow 1 3 10
Cliff Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 2
Bushtit 4 5 4 6
Bewick’s Wren 2 1
Northern Mockingbird 2 3 2 2
European Starling 35 41 8 4
Cedar Waxwing 20
Yellow-rumpd Warbler 8 4 5 2
Common Yellowthroat 3 1 1
Wilson’s Warbler 1
Spotted Towhee 1 1 4
California Towhee 2 1 3
Song Sparrow 3 6 8 12
White-crwnd Sparrow 4
Red-winged Blackbird 3 2 1
Western Meadowlark 1
Great-tailed Grackle 1
Brwn-headed Cowbird 2 1
House Finch 12 3 6 6
Lesser Goldfinch 4 2
Totals by Type Jan Feb Mar Apr
Waterfowl 134 73 70 38
Water Birds-Other 386 289 354 284
Herons, Egrets 20 7 12 15
Quail & Raptors 4 3 2 0
Shorebirds 251 328 87 73
Gulls & Terns 1006 209 133 339
Doves 10 4 6 10
Other Non-Pass. 5 6 6 5
Passerines 90 81 53 92
Totals Birds 1906 1000 723 856
Total Species* Jan Feb Mar Apr
Waterfowl 11 6 7 4
Water Birds-Other 12 9 8 9
Herons, Egrets 3 2 4 2
Quail & Raptors 3 1 1 0
Shorebirds 12 9 9 11
Gulls & Terns 9 8 8 9
Doves 2 1 2 2
Other Non-Pass. 2 2 2 2
Passerines 16 15 14 18
Totals Species 70 53 55 57
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