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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 28 August, 2011

August 29, 2011

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Our August birdwalk at the lagoon was typically hot: 72°F at 8:30 a.m. and 81°F at 11:30 a.m.; clear sky with no breeze. For comparison, it was 104° at our house in the valley by the time we got home.

Common Yellowthroat skulking in his usual reedy habitat (J. Waterman 8/28/11)

The surfers had a great time. The ocean was relatively flat, but every so often a big set came out of nowhere and everyone made their move. A few new people joined us: four women who found out about us through the Malibu paper – I don’t know how that information gets in there – and a young couple from Holland who took lots of pictures. I’m hoping they’ll send us a few.

Great-tailed Grackle female on lagoon vegetation (J. Waterman 8/28/11)

It was pretty birdy for August. Migrants are definitely returning – primarily shorebirds but also one Wilson’s Warbler in the parking lot shrubs. Our 59 species and 943 birds was well above the August averages of 47 and 567, respectively. I don’t know if this indicates anything; it may simply be an anomaly.

Ragweed - Everyone's favorite pollen-producer (C.Almdale 8/28/11)

Notable sightings were four Western Kingbirds near the 3rd footbridge. They were probably a family, with two adults and two young, and they perched together several times in the same bush. At other times they’d spread out over several bushes from which they’d sally out to snag flies. The Plover population jumped from last month: Snowies rose from 13 to 36 (no bands were found) and Black-bellied rose from 4 to 46. Some of the latter still had very black bellies. The Whimbrel population rose from 25 to 41 during the 45 minutes we stood on the beach, with more arriving all the time. This was our fourth highest Whimbrel count, behind Aug’80 – 66, July’10 – 48, July’05 – 47 and Apr’81 – 44. Terns were diverse: the Least Terns had left but we still had four species. The Sora and Virginia Rails have not yet arrived; at least none were seen or heard.

Semipalmated Plover has just left the premises (J. Waterman 8/28/11)

The two most uncommon (for the lagoon) birds were the Nuttall’s Woodpecker that perched briefly in the dead tree near the 1st footbridge after working over the nearby Sycamore. This is only the 4th sighting of Nuttall’s in 30 years for our Lagoon trips.

Wandering Tattler looking a bit fuzzy in the lagoon (C. Bragg 8/28/11)

The other uncommon bird was a Wandering Tattler for which we’ve had only 7 prior sightings: 3 in Nov-Dec’79 which were probably the same individual bird, 1 in Jul’80, 1 in Oct’83 and finally 1 in Apr’00. So it’s been a while. But that’s not the unusual part.

Wandering Tattlers are denizens of rocky shores. They nest up in Alaska and Yukon and winter on our coasts from around San Francisco to the tip of Baja and well down the mainland Mexican coast. If you go to Marina del Rey outer channel and spend a while looking around during their wintering season, you’re likely to see one. Out on the rocky shores of the Channel Islands is another likely spot. But they’re nearly always on rocks, not sand. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one anywhere except on rocks. If my recollection is correct, the previous birds at Malibu were either on the offshore rocks or among the exposed cobbles on a low-tide beach. So this was a very nice sighting.

Our next two field trips are: Lower L.A. River 10 September; Malibu Lagoon 25 September.  Reminders will be emailed from the blog.

As a reminder to those coming to our 10 a.m. Parent’s & Kids birdwalk, it meets at the beach trail footbridge closest to the parking lot.

Links: Unusual birds at Malibu Lagoon.
Aerial photo of Malibu Lagoon from 9/23/02.
Prior checklists: Jan-June’11, July-Dec ’10Jan-June ’10, Jul-Dec ‘09, and Jan-June ‘09.
[Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Census 2011

24-Jul

28-Aug

Temperature

65-72

72 – 81

Tide Height

+2.61

+5.03

Low/High &Time

L:0947

H:0942

Mallard

54

60

Ruddy Duck

2

5

Pied-billed Grebe

4

15

Brandt’s Cormorant

3

Dble-crstd Cormorant

31

48

Pelagic Cormorant

1

3

Brown Pelican

407

77

Great Blue Heron

6

3

Great Egret

4

2

Snowy Egret

11

15

Blk-crwnd N-Heron

11

4

Osprey

1

Red-tailed Hawk

2

American Coot

20

75

Blk-bellied Plover

4

46

Snowy Plover

13

36

Semipalmated Plover

2

4

Killdeer

2

8

Spotted Sandpiper

2

Wandering Tattler

1

Willet

4

Whimbrel

41

Marbled Godwit

2

Ruddy Turnstone

7

4

Black Turnstone

1

Sanderling

15

Western Sandpiper

2

11

Least Sandpiper

1

6

Red-necked Phalarope

7

Heermann’s Gull

41

24

Ring-billed Gull

1

Western Gull

107

146

California Gull

8

Least Tern

13

Caspian Tern

3

12

Common Tern

1

Forster’s Tern

3

Royal Tern

18

Elegant Tern

8

36

Black Skimmer

1

1

Rock Pigeon

6

5

Mourning Dove

3

2

Anna’s Hummingbird

3

4

Allen’s Hummingbird

3

Belted Kingfisher

2

Nuttall’s Woodpecker

1

Black Phoebe

8

10

Western Kingbird

1

4

American Crow

4

3

Rough-wingd Swallow

20

22

Barn Swallow

18

45

Cliff Swallow

25

2

Oak Titmouse

2

Bushtit

8

6

Bewick’s Wren

1

1

Wrentit

1

Northern Mockingbird

2

3

European Starling

38

20

Common Yellowthroat

1

8

Wilson’s Warbler

1

California Towhee

3

Song Sparrow

1

5

Red-winged Blackbird

17

32

Great-tailed Grackle

3

5

Brwn-headed Cowbird

6

Hooded Oriole

6

House Finch

4

8

Lesser Goldfinch

4

Totals by Type

July

Aug

Waterfowl

56

65

Water Birds-Other

463

221

Herons, Egrets

32

24

Quail & Raptors

0

3

Shorebirds

32

187

Gulls & Terns

175

248

Doves

9

7

Other Non-Pass.

6

7

Passerines

167

181

Totals Birds

940

943

   
Total Species

July

Aug

Waterfowl

2

2

Water Birds-Other

5

6

Herons, Egrets

4

4

Quail & Raptors

0

2

Shorebirds

8

14

Gulls & Terns

8

8

Doves

2

2

Other Non-Pass.

2

3

Passerines

19

18

Totals Species – 68

50

59

 

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