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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 24 October, 2010

October 27, 2010

It’s only late October, but you know winter is definitely on its way when the temperatures plunge way, way down into the low to mid 60’s. And they say California is always sunny and warm. Who’re they kidding? Who are they, anyway?

Yours truly was out-of-town, so I, personally, haven’t much to report. Fortunately, our trusty Conservation Chairman and renowned Snowy Plover enthusiast, Lu Plauzoles, did the monthly census. He reports that bird numbers were reduced, probably due to the full moon high tide. Sand had closed the lagoon outlet, so the group was able to continue down the beach to Adamson House, where workers scurried about prepping for yet another installment in the endless sequence of weddings which occur there.

Brown Pelican flying low (C.Bragg 5/10)

The most uncommon bird was the single Herring Gull. We regularly see this species, which is abundant on the Atlantic Coast, during the winter, but usually in one’s and two’s. Occasionally their numbers spike: we recorded 35 of them on 4/25/81 and 3/27/94. The 30 Long-billed Dowitchers was also unusual; this species doesn’t spend much time at the lagoon, probably because the often-anaerobic conditions in the lagoon bottom makes foraging for invertebrates unrewarding for them, and so they go elsewhere. [See article on Lagoon restoration which addresses this problem, among other problems.]

The Brant which had spent six months at the lagoon finally disappeared. Also absent was the roosting colony of Snowy Plovers, most likely due to the high tide which had just washed completely over the beach where they normally roost and into the lagoon. Lu later discovered that the Snowy Plover colony on north Santa Monica beach was significantly larger than usual, so we think that some of the Malibu birds had (probably temporarily) relocated to that much wider beach, safely above the surf. Our records of banded birds has proved in previous years that there is movement between these two colonies and the colony at Zuma Beach. [A news update on the Snowies is here.]

The July-Oct chart below will 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]

2010 Malibu Census 25-Jul 22-Aug 26-Sep 24-Oct
Temperature 60-67 68-75 70-79 60-65
Tide Height +4.05 +4.32 +5.54 +6.02
Low/High & Time H:1036 H:0933 H:1055 H:0952
(Black) Brant 6 5 5
Gadwall 20 2
American Wigeon 1 1
Mallard 49 55 48 10
Northern Shoveler 4 8
Northern Pintail 6
Ruddy Duck 3 5 15 7
Pied-billed Grebe 5 9 18 3
Eared Grebe 2 5
Western Grebe 4 6
Brown Pelican 187 163 46 40
Dble-crstd Cormorant 20 30 38 15
Great Blue Heron 6 6 5 3
Great Egret 4 4 6 2
Snowy Egret 14 19 14 2
Green Heron 1 1
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 4 7 10 6
Osprey 1
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
American Kestrel 1
Merlin 1
Sora 1 1 1
American Coot 15 28 230 100
Blk-bellied Plover 55 78 100
Snowy Plover 26 44 62
Semipalmated Plover 6 11
Killdeer 3 3 1
Willet 7 10 56 26
Spotted Sandpiper 1 2 3
Whimbrel 48 8 17
Long-billed Curlew 1
Marbled Godwit 22
Ruddy Turnstone 3 3 10 5
Black Turnstone 8
Sanderling 4 30 20
Western Sandpiper 20 4 28
Least Sandpiper 2 4 14
Pectoral Sandpiper 1
Short-billd Dowitcher 1
Long-billed Dowitcher 30
Wilson’s Phalarope 1
Heermann’s Gull 125 62 68 41
Ring-billed Gull 4 30 97
California Gull 1 3 22 8
Western Gull 80 66 73 52
Herring Gull 1
Caspian Tern 13 13
Royal Tern 2 2 1
Elegant Tern 10 45 40 4
Common Tern 8
Forster’s Tern 5 6
Least Tern 36
Black Tern 1
Black Skimmer 35 103
Rock Pigeon 6 4 12 45
Mourning Dove 4 3 2 1
Anna’s Hummingbird 1 2 2 10
Allen’s Hummingbird 6 4 1 6
Belted Kingfisher 1 1 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Gray Flycatcher 1
Black Phoebe 2 5 5 8
Cassin’s Kingbird 1 2
Western Kingbird 4 4
Western Scrub-Jay 1
American Crow 6 4 3 18
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 2
House Wren 2 2
Marsh Wren 4
Northern Mockingbird 2 5 3
European Starling 80 7 62
Yellow Warbler 2
Yellow-rumpd Warbler 15
Blk-thrtd Gray Warbler 1
Townsend’s Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 4 5 4 10
Wilson’s Warbler 1
Western Tanager 1
Spotted Towhee 1
California Towhee 2 1
Savannah Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 3 3 4 1
White-crwnd Sparrow 4 10
Lazuli Bunting 6
Red-winged Blackbird 1 2 14
Western Meadowlark 3 1
Brewer’s Blackbird 15 1
Brwn-headed Cowbird 3 1 3
Hooded Oriole 4 1
House Finch 2 4 10
Lesser Goldfinch 2 3 2 5
Lawrence’s Goldfinch 2
Totals by Type Jul Aug Sep Oct
Waterfowl 58 71 93 28
Water Birds-Other 227 231 339 170
Herons, Egrets 28 37 36 13
Quail & Raptors 1 0 1 3
Shorebirds 127 162 325 164
Gulls & Terns 306 299 249 203
Doves 10 7 14 46
Other Non-Pass. 7 8 4 17
Passerines 152 76 176 76
Totals Birds 916 891 1237 720
Total Species Jul Aug Sep Oct
Waterfowl 3 4 6 5
Water Birds-Other 4 5 7 7
Herons, Egrets 4 5 5 4
Quail & Raptors 1 0 1 3
Shorebirds 10 10 16 5
Gulls & Terns 9 8 9 6
Doves 2 2 2 2
Other Non-Pass. 2 4 3 3
Passerines 16 19 29 14
Totals Species – 98 51 57 78 49
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