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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 22 August, 2010

August 22, 2010

It’s definitely August: it’s still a bit cooler than usual, but the blanket-covered beach and squadrons of surfers were unmistakable signs. Lucky for them, big ones were rolling in from a storm to the south and a windless day meant the waves weren’t blown out into foam. Tide was high; waves broke over the offshore rocks and there

Yellow-crowned x Black-crowned Night-Heron Hybrid(?) on its favorite log (L.Johnson 8/6/10

was nothing on the shore or water, so we concentrated on the lagoon. There are now two sand islands, one large and one quite small, and the birds love them. Only a foolish human ventures into the bacteria-laden lagoon water, so with no clumsy people lurching around to step on them, the birds are free to relax. So relaxed, apparently, that they may be trying to breed there, unheard of in recent decades: Kimball Garrett reported on Sunday 8/15 that he spotted a skimmer egg on the island, although no one was attending it.

Earlier this month there was a ‘flap’ when a sub-adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron (YCNH)  was reported at the lagoon. Birders went to look, pictures were taken, characteristics noted and opinions swapped. Eventually local avian maven Kimball Garrett checked it out and reported that it looked like a YCNH-BCNH hybrid. We looked for it on our walk, but all the birds were hiding deep in the reeds and the only juvenile night-herons we could see well all looked like Black-crowned.

A few of the Black Skimmers (L.Johnson 8/10)

Beyond that, the shorebird and tern populations continued to grow. An all-time high of 103 Black Skimmers were roosting and skimming: this is almost triple last month’s previous high of 35 and more than the total skimmers we’ve had in the past 10 years (96 birds spread over 11 appearances). The Black-bellied Plovers showed up but the Least Terns left.

Ruddy Turnstone still in breeding plumage (L.Johnson 8/10)

Other migrants appearing were: 6 Northern Pintail, 1 Green Heron, 1 Sora, 1 Spotted Sandpiper, 1 Belted Kingfisher, 1 Cassin’s and 4 Western Kingbirds, 1 Tree Swallow and l Western Tanager. The Downy Woodpecker sighted near the parking lot may be the same individual seen in June, but missed in July. They’re uncommon south of the highway (4 sightings over 10 years), so it’s easier to believe it’s the same bird than two different birds.

On the 10 am parents & children birdwalk, Jean and Chris each talked with a  different family and were very impressed with the enthusiasm & abilities of all the kids. We hope they all come back!

The July-August chart below will continue to grow monthly through December, but six months of data is all I can squeeze into this blog format. Here are links to field trip bird lists for Jan – June 2010 and  July – Dec 2009. [Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Census – 2010 July Aug
Temperature 60-67 68-75
Tide Height +4.05 +4.32
Low/High & Time H:1036 H:0933
Brant 6 5
Mallard 49 55
Northern Pintail 6
Ruddy Duck 3 5
Pied-billed Grebe 5 9
Brown Pelican 187 163
Dble-crstd Cormorant 20 30
Great Blue Heron 6 6
Great Egret 4 4
Snowy Egret 14 19
Green Heron 1
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 4 7
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Sora 1
American Coot 15 28
Black-bellied Plover 55
Snowy Plover 26 44
Semipalmated Plover 6
Killdeer 3 3
Willet 7 10
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Whimbrel 48 8
Ruddy Turnstone 3 3
Black Turnstone 8
Sanderling 4 30
Western Sandpiper 20 4
Least Sandpiper 2 4
Heermann’s Gull 125 62
Ring-billed Gull 4
California Gull 1 3
Western Gull 80 66
Caspian Tern 13 13
Royal Tern 2 2
Elegant Tern 10 45
Forster’s Tern 5
Least Tern 36
Black Skimmer 35 103
Rock Pigeon 6 4
Mourning Dove 4 3
Anna’s Hummingbird 1 2
Allen’s Hummingbird 6 4
Belted Kingfisher 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Black Phoebe 2 5
Cassin’s Kingbird 1
Western Kingbird 4
American Crow 6 4
Tree Swallow 1
Rough-wingd Swallow 5 3
Cliff Swallow 10
Barn Swallow 20 8
Bushtit 6 17
Northern Mockingbird 2 5
European Starling 80 7
Common Yellowthroat 4 5
Western Tanager 1
California Towhee 2 1
Song Sparrow 3 3
Red-winged Blackbird 1 2
Brwn-headed Cowbird 3 1
Hooded Oriole 4 1
House Finch 2 4
Lesser Goldfinch 2 3
Totals by Type July Aug
Waterfowl 58 71
Water Birds-Other 227 231
Herons, Egrets 28 37
Quail & Raptors 1 0
Shorebirds 127 162
Gulls & Terns 306 299
Doves 10 7
Other Non-Pass. 7 8
Passerines 152 76
Totals Birds 916 891
Total Species July Aug
Waterfowl 3 4
Water Birds-Other 4 5
Herons, Egrets 4 5
Quail & Raptors 1 0
Shorebirds 10 10
Gulls & Terns 9 8
Doves 2 2
Other Non-Pass. 2 4
Passerines 16 19
Totals Species – 63 51 57

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