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L.A. River Field Trip Report: 10 Sep., 2011

September 12, 2011

All invited.
Free Car Wash! (to every carpool driver)
A solid mile of drenching rain greeted us on the I-405 early Saturday morning as we headed for the LA River by the Willow St. bridge.

Half of the group, trying to stay out of the bicyclists’ way. Richard Barth in the blue jacket. (C. Almdale 9-10-11)

That certainly did not deter the 23 participants nor the thousands of birds we saw in five hours at four locations in the last few miles (see map link below) of our region’s largest waterway. We started downstream within viewing distance of the giant harbor derricks in an area where vegetation is allowed to grow in the river channel. We ended north of DeForest Park where only a few islands of green are on the concrete surface.

Wilson’s Phalaropes – pale & slim with a needle-like bill (J. Waterman 9-10-11)

Clouds of Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds rose from the shrubs; the deeper pools hosted  Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler, Mallard and thousands of Black-necked Stilt. As we worked our way north we saw large flocks of Western Sandpipers; among them lurked some Least Sandpipers and even fewer of the rarer species of the family.

White-faced Ibis feeding (C. Almdale 9-10-11)

At our first location the exceptional birds were Wilson’s and Red-necked Phalaropes, a Pectoral Sandpiper, one White-faced Ibis, and dozens of American Avocets.  Only three heron species: Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret and one adult Black-capped Night-Heron. The Gulls were mostly Western with an occasional California. A small number of Killdeer and their cousins the Semipalmated Plover were scattered about, busily foraging. The best views of the whole day featured four Pectoral Sandpipers and three Solitary Sandpipers, all juveniles, and several very bright Orange Bishop males in breeding plumage. The rarity of the day was a single, 1st Summer (i.e. born summer 2010) Common Tern, slightly oiled, with a huge black carpel bar. We also saw three Greater Yellowlegs. At DeForest Park, trees sheltered a number of warbler species as well as several Black Phoebes.

Common Tern landing – note oiled plumage on side (J. Waterman 9-10-11)

The most colorful bird of the day, well out-of-place among all the cryptic-colored shorebirds, was a day-glo yellow-green Budgerigar, escaped no doubt from some local bird-fancier.  All parrots are very social birds: this unfortunate Budgie was trying to hang out with a Western Sandpiper flock. Wherever they flew or landed, so would the Budgie, who would perch and watch while the peeps poked the wet mud for food. This is not how Budgies normally feed and I wonder how long he’ll last in this habitat.

Common Tern with large black carpal bar & black (not gray) on nape (J. Waterman 9-10-11)

Surprisingly enough, although nature unleashed its wrath early in the day, we enjoyed a rainless cloud cover that kept the temperatures in the upper sixties throughout the very pleasant morning.

Very special thanks to Richard Barth who frequently birds this area. His knowledge and enthusiastic explanations of difficult plumage are invaluable, especially during migration season!
Link to 2010 LA River Trip Report
Link to Map of Trip
[Lucien Plauzoles]

Yellow-headed Blackbirds – young males (J. Waterman 9-10-11)

Los Angeles River Trip

 

10 Sept., 2011

Number

Canada Goose

25

Mallard

100

Blue-winged Teal

3

Cinnamon Teal

20

Northern Shoveler

10

Double-crested Cormorant

10

Great Blue Heron

4

Snowy Egret

2

Black-crowned Night-Heron

1

White-faced Ibis

1

Cooper’s Hawk

1

Red-tailed Hawk

2

American Kestrel

2

Peregrine Falcon

1

American Coot

10

Semipalmated Plover

30

Killdeer

20

Black-necked Stilt

1000’s

American Avocet

100’s

Spotted Sandpiper

2

Solitary Sandpiper – juv

3

Greater Yellowlegs

3

Western Sandpiper

1000’s

Least Sandpiper

50

Pectoral Sandpiper – juv

4

Long-billed Dowitcher

100’s

Wilson’s Phalarope

6

Red-necked Phalarope

10

Ring-billed Gull

20

Western Gull

100’s

California Gull

50

Caspian Tern

8

Common Tern – 1st summer

1

Rock Pigeon

40

Anna’s Hummingbird

6

Downy Woodpecker

1

Black Phoebe

20

American Crow

20

Barn Swallow

100

Northern Mockingbird

2

Orange-crowned Warbler

1

Yellow Warbler

2

Black-throated Gray Warbler

1

Wilson’s Warbler

4

California Towhee

2

Savannah Sparrow

1

Red-winged Blackbird

100’s

Yellow-headed Blackbird

5

Brown-headed Cowbird

100’s

House Finch

30

Lesser Goldfinch

1

House Sparrow

30

Budgerigar

1

Orange Bishop

20

Total Species

54

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