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Malibu Lagoon Field Trip Report & July – Dec 2010 Trip Lists: 26 December, 2010

December 29, 2010

 

Are we all looking at the same bird? (C.Almdale 12/10)

The deluge of rain broke for a few days (6” in 3 days at our house) and we found sunny skies at the lagoon. As expected, the lagoon was largely dry. I was surprised to find the outlet channel at the east end of the lagoon; usually the rain-filled creek blows straight through the beach, taking the sand with it. Instead, the beach was relatively intact, although obviously much water had washed over it and out to sea. The largest tree between the parking lot and the north channel has fallen. Salt water intrusion into the soil (since the park stopped watering the lawn) probably killed it and recent high winds blew it down.

In case anyone reading this has never visited the lagoon, the coastline runs east-west in Malibu. Thus the lagoon is south of the highway, with the beach and the ocean farther southward. Here’s an aerial photo. There are three channels in the green area left of the lagoon: the northernmost, nearest the parking lot, is so reed-filled in the photo that you can’t see any water. We reach the beach via the narrow brown path. If you look closely at the Malibu Colony houses in the lower left, you might find a Hollywood star reading a script (then again, probably not) or spot a Western Roof-Owl (more likely).

Gulls. Whew! Over 4000 gulls, most of them California, but also Ring-billed, Western, a handful of Heermann’s, even fewer Glaucous-winged, and 1 each of Boneparte’s and Herring to round out the lot. Plovers and shorebirds were down from November, but ducks were up, especially Ruddy Ducks, with 51 of them slowly drifting around on the north side of the highway bridge. A lone male Cinnamon Teal was in the 3rd (southernmost) channel. Cinnamon’s used to be quite common in the lagoon. For example, they averaged 25 in number during four visits in Feb-Apr 1981, 29 years ago!. It’s been over 20 years since they’ve numbered in the double digits.

Local film star NO:WW spends his 2nd winter at the Colony (C.Almdale)

Pelicans, herons & egrets, sandpipers and plover numbers all dropped. Our Snowy Plover population was 46 (down from November’s 58). Incidentally, last September’s count of 62 Snowies was an all-time high for the lagoon. Last month’s AY:AA (A=aqua, Y=Yellow) was joined by fellow bandee NO:WW (left: tan over orange, right: white over white).  NO:WW was at the lagoon Oct ’09 – Jan ’10. I guess he (or she) liked it and came back. This bird was banded as a nestling in Summer ‘09 at Vandenberg Air Force Base west of Santa Barbara. (In case you didn’t know, our coastal military bases are excellent breeding habitats for our endangered Least Terns and threatened Snowy Plovers, as they keep out pesky human foot traffic and condo developers.)

We found only two Soras, both in the 1st channel reed beds. A Virginia Rail was in the same patch of reeds where we found it last month, so it’s probably the same individual. A Sora got quite miffed by the Virginia and hotly pursued it. It was odd to see the smaller Sora chase off the

Proof that mysterious Handwalkers live under the highway bridge (C.Almdale 12/10)

larger bird. Raptors were more numerous: a pair of Red-tailed Hawks soared high overhead, while two Osprey took turns kiting over the lagoon, looking for a fish (big & juicy mullet preferred). Several times the gulls startled into flight by the Peregrine Falcon zooming past their heads, but we didn’t see it catch anything. A Red-shouldered Hawk snoozed in the cypresses near the golf course. A small flock of White-crowned Sparrows gleaned the brush not far from the parking lot. Even the hummingbirds were out and about, so I guess it wasn’t all that cold.

Check out our previous blog created especially for Unusual Birds at Malibu Lagoon, the permanent location for pictures of our uncommon birds. For prior period bird lists, follow these links to Jan-Jun‘10, Jul-Dec‘09, and Jan-June‘09.  Trip lists for July – Dec. 2010 follow. [Note: we have little control over how this list appears in your email, so if you can’t make heads or tails of it, check the blogsite.]  [Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Census 2010 25-Jul 22-Aug 26-Sep 24-Oct 28-Nov 26-Dec
Temperature 60-67 68-75 70-79 60-65 55-65 50-62
Tide Height 4.05 +4.32 +5.54 +6.02 +2.59 +2.13
Low/High & Time H:1036 H:0933 H:1055 H:0952 L:0842 L:0649
Brant 6 5 5
Gadwall 20 2 6 16
American Wigeon 1 1 14 8
Mallard 49 55 48 10 18 29
Cinnamon Teal 1
Northern Shoveler 4 8 10 18
Northern Pintail 6
Green-winged Teal 7 17
Lesser Scaup 1
Surf Scoter 15 10
Bufflehead 6 6
Red-brstd Merganser 5 3
Ruddy Duck 3 5 15 7 26 51
Pacific Loon 1 5
Common Loon 1 1
Pied-billed Grebe 5 9 18 3 2 4
Horned Grebe 1
Eared Grebe 2 5 6 2
Western Grebe 4 6 16 35
Brown Pelican 187 163 46 40 40 13
Dble-crstd Cormorant 20 30 38 15 37 47
Pelagic Cormorant 1 1
Great Blue Heron 6 6 5 3 7 1
Great Egret 4 4 6 2 4 3
Snowy Egret 14 19 14 2 31 16
Green Heron 1 1 1
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 4 7 10 6 8 6
Osprey 1 1 2
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1 1 2
American Kestrel 1 1
Merlin 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Sora 1 1 1 7 3
Virginia Rail 1 1
American Coot 15 28 230 100 206 237
Blk-bellied Plover 55 78 100 110 44
Snowy Plover 26 44 62 58 46
Semipalmated Plover 6 11
Killdeer 3 3 1 5 3
American Avocet 5
Willet 7 10 56 26 2 8
Spotted Sandpiper 1 2 3 2 3
Whimbrel 48 8 17 2 2
Long-billed Curlew 1
Marbled Godwit 22 43
Ruddy Turnstone 3 3 10 5 13 11
Black Turnstone 8 1
Sanderling 4 30 20 290 150
Western Sandpiper 20 4 28
Least Sandpiper 2 4 14 7
Pectoral Sandpiper 1
Short-billd Dowitcher 1
Long-billed Dowitcher 30
Wilson’s Phalarope 1
Boneparte’s Gull 5 1
Heermann’s Gull 125 62 68 41 37 11
Mew Gull 1
Ring-billed Gull 4 30 97 800 130
California Gull 1 3 22 8 500 3850
Herring Gull 1 1
Western Gull 80 66 73 52 130 110
Glaucous-wingd Gull 1 4
Caspian Tern 13 13
Royal Tern 2 2 1 2
Elegant Tern 10 45 40 4
Common Tern 8
Forster’s Tern 5 6 5
Least Tern 36
Black Tern 1
Black Skimmer 35 103 6
Rock Pigeon 6 4 12 45 6 13
Mourning Dove 4 3 2 1 2 1
Anna’s Hummingbird 1 2 2 10 3 3
Allen’s Hummingbird 6 4 1 6 1 2
Belted Kingfisher 1 1 1 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Gray Flycatcher 1
Black Phoebe 2 5 5 8 6 5
Say’s Phoebe 1 1
Cassin’s Kingbird 1 2
Western Kingbird 4 4
Western Scrub-Jay 1 1
American Crow 6 4 3 18 3 18
Common Raven 1
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 3
House Wren 2 2 2 2
Marsh Wren 4 1
Northern Mockingbird 2 5 3 1
European Starling 80 7 62 15
Yellow Warbler 2
Yellow-rumpd Warbler 15 8 12
Blk-throated G. Warbler 1
Townsend’s Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 4 5 4 10 5 4
Wilson’s Warbler 1
Western Tanager 1
Spotted Towhee 1 1
California Towhee 2 1 4
Savannah Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 3 3 4 1 2 4
White-crwnd Sparrow 4 10 9
Blue Grosbeak 1
Lazuli Bunting 6
Red-winged Blackbird 1 2 14 2
Western Meadowlark 3 1
Brewer’s Blackbird 15 1
Great-tailed Grackle 1 1
Brwn-headed Cowbird 3 1 3
Hooded Oriole 4 1
House Finch 2 4 10 4 2
Lesser Goldfinch 2 3 2 5 2
Lawrence’s Goldfinch 2
American Goldfinch 2
Totals by Type July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Waterfowl 58 71 93 28 108 159
Water Birds-Other 227 231 339 170 319 349
Herons, Egrets 28 37 36 13 51 26
Quail & Raptors 1 0 1 3 3 6
Shorebirds 127 162 325 164 490 315
Gulls & Terns 306 299 249 203 1481 4113
Doves 10 7 14 46 8 14
Other Non-Pass. 7 8 4 17 5 5
Passerines 152 76 176 76 37 86
Totals Birds 916 891 1237 720 2502 5073
Total Species July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Waterfowl 3 4 6 5 10 10
Water Birds-Other 4 5 7 7 12 11
Herons, Egrets 4 5 5 4 5 4
Quail & Raptors 1 0 1 3 3 4
Shorebirds 10 10 16 5 10 10
Gulls & Terns 9 8 9 6 9 8
Doves 2 2 2 2 2 2
Other Non-Pass. 2 4 3 3 3 2
Passerines 16 19 29 14 13 17
Totals Species – 120 51 57 78 49 67 68
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