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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 25 September, 2011

September 29, 2011

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Even though today was abnormally cool, it’s unlikely that climate change has been called off: 61°F at 8:30 a.m. and 69°F at noon; cloudy with hints of rain or precipitating fog. The waves were crowded: plenty of surfers on a descending tide, plus a big class of paddleboarders (or whatever people who stand on a surfboard and move themselves along with a long-stemmed oar call themselves).

Some new faces: a woman from Brazil and her friends from Colombia.  They were introduced as such by one of our members so I [naturally] assumed they were fresh off the plane and hungry to see local birds.  It turned out they’ve lived here almost 20 years, working in the film industry.  We hope they’ll join us again.

Ducks, grebes and shorebirds are returning, as are the rails; at least 3 Sora plus one very dark juvenile Virginia Rail, oddly located on the grassy channel edge about 20 ft. NW of the 2nd footbridge.  American Coot numbers exploded, and a overflight of about 100 Vaux’s Swifts surprised early birders.  Snowy Egrets were relatively abundant, while the Snowy Plover population nearly doubled from August, with 62 birds on the beach.  They were very busy dodging the numerous humans, especially one jogger who – lost in his own world, apparently – continually ran back and forth through the middle of the flock.  We found a new banded bird – GG:AR. [Left leg: green over green – right leg: aqua over red.]  This bird was one of three fledglings banded with this combination this summer at Oceano Dunes, just south of the cities of Pismo Beach & Oceano on the central California coast.

Snowy Plover in his habitat, cute as a button (C. Bragg 9/25/11)

Among returning passerines (songbirds) were Say’s Phoebe and Cassin’s Kingbird, who usually stay the winter, and several warblers passing through, including Orange-crowned and Wilson’s WarblersCommon Yellowthroats, denizens of the reeds and nearby brush, will be with us all winter.

A pale fall male Common Yellowthroat in the reeds(C. Bragg 9/25/11)

Early Fall is a good time for unusual birds at the lagoon, and on Friday 9/23 a Northern Wheatear was reported.  (Wheatear translates roughly as “white rump.”)  This species has what is probably the longest migration route of any land bird in the world: from their wintering grounds in Southern Africa they migrate NW through England & Iceland to Greenland and NE Canada, as well as NE to Siberia, Alaska and NW Canada, possibly meeting somewhere in central northern Canada.  The bird at the lagoon (for which I’m trying to get permission to reproduce) is far, far off it’s usual route.  It could not be refound on Saturday, but searchers did see a 2nd year hybrid Black-crowned X Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, probably the juvenile seen last year, now one year older.  Unfortunately, we did not see this bird, although some struggled to turn a juvenile Black-crowned into a hybrid.

Supposedly a twilight-hunter, Black-crowned Night-Heron is out and about (C. Bragg 9/25/11)

What we DID find was pretty good.  A fall plumage Bobolink – a species which usually stays east of the Rockies on it’s southward migration – showed itself for about 30-45 seconds before flying off towards the east end of the Colony, never to be seen again.  It was a life bird for some, and a state or county bird for others, and was the 1st sighting for this species at the lagoon.  Flycatching from the brush on the lagoon west edge was a migrating Western Wood Pewee, our 6th sighting in 30 years.  On the sand island in the lagoon was a Black-necked Stilt – not a rarity except at the lagoon, and our 8th lagoon sighting of this species.

Our next three field trips: Bolsa Chica Preserve – 8 October; Malibu Lagoon – 23 October, Butterbredt Spring Campout – 29/30 October.
Our next program: Tuesday, 4 October – Birds of California, Part III with Guy Commeau.
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

25-Sep

Temperature

65 – 72

72 – 81

61 – 69

Tide Height

+2.61

+5.03

+5.33

Low/High &Time

L:0947

H:0942

H:0830

Gadwall

10

American Wigeon

3

Mallard

54

60

48

Northern Shoveler

10

Ruddy Duck

2

5

8

Pied-billed Grebe

4

15

13

Eared Grebe

5

Brandt’s Cormorant

3

1

Dble-crstd Cormorant

31

48

47

Pelagic Cormorant

1

3

2

Brown Pelican

407

77

60

Great Blue Heron

6

3

2

Great Egret

4

2

2

Snowy Egret

11

15

23

Green Heron

1

Blk-crwnd N-Heron

11

4

12

Osprey

1

Red-tailed Hawk

2

Peregrine Falcon

1

Virginia Rail

1

Sora

3

American Coot

20

75

410

Blk-bellied Plover

4

46

40

Snowy Plover

13

36

62

Semipalmated Plover

2

4

Killdeer

2

8

6

Black-necked Stilt

1

Spotted Sandpiper

2

2

Wandering Tattler

1

Willet

4

7

Whimbrel

41

26

Marbled Godwit

2

2

Ruddy Turnstone

7

4

7

Black Turnstone

1

Sanderling

15

3

Western Sandpiper

2

11

Least Sandpiper

1

6

3

Long-billed Dowitcher

2

Red-necked Phalarope

7

Heermann’s Gull

41

24

15

Ring-billed Gull

1

7

Western Gull

107

146

66

California Gull

8

16

Herring Gull

1

Least Tern

13

Caspian Tern

3

12

Common Tern

1

Forster’s Tern

3

Royal Tern

18

15

Elegant Tern

8

36

4

Black Skimmer

1

1

Rock Pigeon

6

5

5

Mourning Dove

3

2

2

Vaux’s Swift

100

Anna’s Hummingbird

3

4

3

Allen’s Hummingbird

3

2

Belted Kingfisher

2

1

Nuttall’s Woodpecker

1

Western Wood-Pewee

1

Black Phoebe

8

10

6

Say’s Phoebe

1

Cassin’s Kingbird

1

Western Kingbird

1

4

American Crow

4

3

2

Rough-wingd Swallow

20

22

1

Barn Swallow

18

45

30

Cliff Swallow

25

2

Oak Titmouse

2

Bushtit

8

6

6

Bewick’s Wren

1

1

1

House Wren

1

Wrentit

1

Northern Mockingbird

2

3

2

European Starling

38

20

23

Orange-crwnd Warbler

1

Common Yellowthroat

1

8

5

Wilson’s Warbler

1

2

California Towhee

3

1

Savannah Sparrow

1

Song Sparrow

1

5

3

Bobolink

1

Red-winged Blackbird

17

32

18

Great-tailed Grackle

3

5

12

Brwn-headed Cowbird

6

Hooded Oriole

6

House Finch

4

8

12

Lesser Goldfinch

4

2

Totals by Type

July

Aug

Sep

Waterfowl

56

65

79

Water Birds-Other

463

221

542

Herons, Egrets

32

24

40

Quail & Raptors

0

3

1

Shorebirds

32

187

161

Gulls & Terns

175

248

124

Doves

9

7

7

Other Non-Pass.

6

7

106

Passerines

167

181

133

Totals Birds

940

943

1193

   
Total Species

July

Aug

Sep

Waterfowl

2

2

5

Water Birds-Other

5

6

9

Herons, Egrets

4

4

5

Quail & Raptors

0

2

1

Shorebirds

8

14

12

Gulls & Terns

8

8

7

Doves

2

2

2

Other Non-Pass.

2

3

4

Passerines

19

18

23

Totals Species – 87

50

59

68

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