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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
213-763-3368
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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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