Malibu Lagoon Trip Report, Picnic & Jan-June Bird Lists: 27 June, 2010
Surf – and the surfers – was definitely up as storms off Baja and New Zealand sent us large swells, and few birds were in the surf zone or offshore as a result. Although June is typically our lowest point for bird diversity and numbers, there were loads of Brown Pelicans resting in the lagoon, accompanied by an assortment of gulls and terns. Fortunately, before the arguing got too fierce, 4 Elegant Terns dropped in among the 2 Royals, 9 Caspians and 5 Black Skimmers to provide some comparison of bill shape, head plumage and size. Yes, that Royal is are almost as big as a Caspian, and that Elegant’s bill is quite long, thin and curved. This time of year, when feathers begin to molt from breeding back to basic plumage, the pictures in your field guide aren’t entirely reliable, but the black eye of the Royal Tern is almost separate from its black “crest”.
Many swallows – mostly Barn and Cliff with a few No. Rough-winged tossed in – were in the air demonstrating why they’re higher up the “food chain” than the various insects who otherwise find the reed beds and channels a wonderful place to live. Barn Swallows build their nests under local eaves and the footbridges across the lagoon; the Cliffs adhere their mud nests to the sides of the buildings in the mall and the civic center; the Rough-winged dig tunnel nests in sandy banks, a resource not abundant on lower Malibu Creek.
The Heron/Egret colony in the big tree in the shopping center across PCH seems to be doing well – much to the annoyance of neighbor Starbucks, it is rumored – as there were over 20 such birds stalking the grasses and mud banks of the lagoon. It’s always useful to remember that it was the looming extinction of these plumy birds over a century ago which provided the initial spark for the creation of the Audubon Society. Fortunately for them, women’s tastes in hats changed, and demand for the birds plumes collapsed.
A surprise visitor was a single Downy Woodpecker in the dying trees near the first footbridge. Our two previous sightings at the lagoon were also of single birds: Jan. 2006 and Feb. 2009.
A bit more common were the Brants: we’ve seen them three out of the previous four Junes, but these sighting s were of single birds, certainly not the 11 birds now there, an all-time high for the lagoon. Whether this number indicates anything significant or is only an anomaly is unknown to me.
After the walk ended we sat down to our annual potluck picnic: lots of salads, main courses and delicious desserts. The sounds of serious chomping ensued. Our bird book exchange managed to re-distribute some interesting and attractive books along with fresh grapefruits. Thank you to everyone who came and brought all the food. You could tell how good it was by noting the lack of leftovers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Chuck Almdale]
|Malibu 2010 Census||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||June|
|Low/High & Time||L:1131||H:0835||H:0840||H:0744||H:0638||H:1139|
|Great Blue Heron||2||2||2||6|
|Totals by Type||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||June|
|Quail & Raptors||4||3||2||0||1||1|
|Gulls & Terns||1006||209||133||339||216||105|
|Quail & Raptors||3||1||1||0||1||1|
|Gulls & Terns||9||8||8||9||6||7|
|Totals Species – 91||70||53||55||57||45||40|