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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report, 26 September, 2010

September 28, 2010

We start off with a mystery bird this month.


Mystery Bird (J.Waterman 9/26/10)

What do you think it is?  Joyce Waterman snapped this about 11 am. She, I, and (to settle matters) local bird maven Kimball Garrett, all agreed on what it is. Answer is at the bottom of this report, following the trip list.

Summer is technically gone but summer heat finally showed up, bringing loads of birds. When you look out over Santa Monica Bay and see a thin line of brown air to the west, you know it’s “Santa Ana conditions”: do not breathe deeply. My car thermometer claimed it was only 79° at 11:30, but I’m sure it was lying. Nevertheless, we had a throng of birders.

Eastern Kingbird (Frank/Susan Gilliland 9/25/10)

A twitchathon started last Tuesday when Todd McGrath reported both Eastern and Tropical Kingbirds at the lagoon. We’ve hosted Tropical Kingbird (this one soon disappeared) previously: Oct.’01 – Feb.’02 and Oct.’04, so we almost expect it, but the Eastern was a first. Loads of people saw it on Saturday during the Annual Coastal Cleanup, but no one I met saw it today. Disappointment was endemic.

Fortunately, the Gray Flycatcher – another first for the lagoon on our monthly field trips – was still around, and everyone got good looks, even watching its tail slowly drop and quickly rise. There certainly were plenty of water-hovering flies. Wrens and warblers were relatively common, for the lagoon. Also reported were Lazuli Bunting and Lawrence’s Goldfinch, both sighted only twice before on our field trips. I suspect that the presence of the Eastern Kingbird twitcher-throng turned up a few more species than usual. We recorded a record 78 species, beating the Sept. ’04 total of 76 species.

Black Tern juvenile (J.Kenney 9/26/10)

The ocean was flat, the tide was high, the offshore rocks were birdless and self-respecting surfers were elsewhere. The sandy island in the lagoon, however, was covered with birds. Among the Elegant Terns were 8 (uncommon) Common Terns and 1 juvenile Black Tern, previously recorded by us only once in Aug.’88. They were very nice to see. The Black Skimmers had all left, taking the Caspian Terns with them. The sole Pectoral Sandpiper remaining was on the grassy margin of the middle channel. The Brants, which looked really ratty in August were now in very nice plumage. They’ve been at the lagoon for over 6 months: we don’t know why, but it’s nice to have them around. Only one Wilson’s Phalarope remained of the small group that appeared earlier in the month. Our Snowy Plover population jumped up to 62, another record high, beating the Oct.’09 count of 61. Perhaps this signifies that 2010 was a good breeding year for the Snowies.

The July-Sept chart below will continue to grow monthly through December, but six months of data is all I can squeeze into this blog format. For prior periods, follow these links to Jan-Jun‘10, Jul-Dec‘09, and Jan-June‘09.  [Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Census – 2010 July 25 Aug 22 Sep 26
Temperature 60-67 68-75 70-79
Tide Height +4.05 +4.32 +5.54
Low/High & Time H:1036 H:0933 H:1055
(Black) Brant 6 5 5
Gadwall 20
American Wigeon 1
Mallard 49 55 48
Northern Shoveler 4
Northern Pintail 6
Ruddy Duck 3 5 15
Pied-billed Grebe 5 9 18
Eared Grebe 2
Western Grebe 4
Brown Pelican 187 163 46
Dble-crstd Cormorant 20 30 38
Great Blue Heron 6 6 5
Great Egret 4 4 6
Snowy Egret 14 19 14
Green Heron 1 1
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 4 7 10
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Merlin 1
Sora 1 1
American Coot 15 28 230
Blk-bellied Plover 55 78
Snowy Plover 26 44 62
Semipalmated Plover 6 11
Killdeer 3 3 1
Willet 7 10 56
Spotted Sandpiper 1 2
Whimbrel 48 8 17
Long-billed Curlew 1
Marbled Godwit 22
Ruddy Turnstone 3 3 10
Black Turnstone 8
Sanderling 4 30 20
Western Sandpiper 20 4 28
Least Sandpiper 2 4 14
Pectoral Sandpiper 1
Short-billed Dowitcher 1
Wilson’s Phalarope 1
Heermann’s Gull 125 62 68
Ring-billed Gull 4 30
California Gull 1 3 22
Western Gull 80 66 73
Caspian Tern 13 13
Royal Tern 2 2 1
Elegant Tern 10 45 40
Common Tern 8
Forster’s Tern 5 6
Least Tern 36
Black Tern 1
Black Skimmer 35 103
Rock Pigeon 6 4 12
Mourning Dove 4 3 2
Anna’s Hummingbird 1 2 2
Allen’s Hummingbird 6 4 1
Belted Kingfisher 1 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Gray Flycatcher 1
Black Phoebe 2 5 5
Cassin’s Kingbird 1 2
Western Kingbird 4 4
American Crow 6 4 3
Tree Swallow 1
Rough-wingd Swallow 5 3 4
Cliff Swallow 10
Barn Swallow 20 8 1
Bushtit 6 17 11
Bewick’s Wren 1
House Wren 2
Marsh Wren 4
Northern Mockingbird 2 5 3
European Starling 80 7 62
Yellow Warbler 2
Townsend’s Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 4 5 4
Wilson’s Warbler 1
Western Tanager 1
California Towhee 2 1
Savannah Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 3 3 4
White-crwnd Sparrow 4
Blue Grosbeak 1
Lazuli Bunting 6
Red-winged Blackbird 1 2 14
Western Meadowlark 3
Brewer’s Blackbird 15
Brwn-headed Cowbird 3 1 3
Hooded Oriole 4 1
House Finch 2 4 10
Lesser Goldfinch 2 3 2
Lawrence’s Goldfinch 2
Totals by Type Jul 25 Aug 22 Sep 26
Waterfowl 58 71 93
Water Birds-Other 227 231 339
Herons, Egrets 28 37 36
Quail & Raptors 1 0 1
Shorebirds 127 162 325
Gulls & Terns 306 299 249
Doves 10 7 14
Other Non-Pass. 7 8 4
Passerines 152 76 176
Totals Birds 916 891 1237
Total Species Jul 25 Aug 22 Sep 26
Waterfowl 3 4 6
Water Birds-Other 4 5 7
Herons, Egrets 4 5 5
Quail & Raptors 1 0 1
Shorebirds 10 10 16
Gulls & Terns 9 8 9
Doves 2 2 2
Other Non-Pass. 2 4 3
Passerines 16 19 29
Totals Species – 90 51 57 78

The mystery bird is a female or hatch year Blue Grosbeak.

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