Malibu Lagoon Field Trip Report & July – Dec 2010 Trip Lists: 26 December, 2010
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.
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
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|
|Low/High & Time||H:1036||H:0933||H:1055||H:0952||L:0842||L:0649|
|Great Blue Heron||6||6||5||3||7||1|
|Blk-throated G. Warbler||1|
|Totals by Type||July||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
|Quail & Raptors||1||0||1||3||3||6|
|Gulls & Terns||306||299||249||203||1481||4113|
|Quail & Raptors||1||0||1||3||3||4|
|Gulls & Terns||9||8||9||6||9||8|
|Totals Species – 120||51||57||78||49||67||68|