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Malibu Lagoon Black Skimmer Egg Update

September 1, 2010

The following is a message from Kimball Garrett of the Natural History Museum of LA County. This message was originally posted 8/29/10 on LACoBirds, the chat line for LA County Birders.
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I visited Malibu Lagoon yesterday (28 August) to check on the skimmer colony on the island just inland from the beach berm at the lagoon. I counted 102 adult skimmers. Of these, only 4-6 birds were sitting in incubation position; the flock flushed several times for no apparent reason while I watched from a high point on the beach berm well away from the island — when this happened I could see at least three clutches of eggs. There were also at least 3 random, scattered eggs in the colony that were not being attended. The skimmers seemed a bit agitated by the 60-70 Elegant Terns (including many juveniles) that were massing near and even within the skimmer nesting area. Fortunately, the 110+ Brown Pelicans on the island were staying near the shoreline and not impacting skimmer nests (one misplaced totipalmate foot and you have a runny skimmer omelet).

Skimmers eggs hatch after about 23 days, so if things go well (very iffy in such a crowded beach area) there’s a chance that hatching may begin around 10-15 September. I urge birders to keep their eyes on these birds (from a distance) and be vigilant in keeping people and dogs away from the island (so far this doesn’t seem to be a problem, but Labor Day weekend is coming up).

Of interest among the skimmers was an adult with a pink tape-wrapped band on the R leg — banded by Charlie Collins in Orange County (Bolsa Chica?) in 1990.

A good variety of shorebirds at the lagoon included a juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher, two adult Long-billed Dowitchers, a juv. Ruddy Turnstone, 43 Snowy Plovers, etc. (I didn’t see the ~6 Wilson’s Phalaropes others saw this weekend). The Yellow-crowned-ish Night-Heron was on its favorite log east (lagoon-wards) of the second footbridge.

Kimball L. Garrett
Section of Ornithology
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
As Kimball suggests, please don’t walk around on the sand island. Observe from a distance. If you make any observations, you can post them on LACoBirds, or call them into Kimball at the museum. [Chuck Almdale]

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