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Field Trip Report: Malibu Creek State Park; 12 Nov., 2011

November 14, 2011

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Although rain had been predicted, it was cloudy on Saturday morning and we met in the park as planned.  We began by birding some of the shrubbery around the edge of the lower parking lot.  Although there did not appear to be many birds in the area we spotted some Purple Finches, which are always a treat to see.  We left the parking lot, crossed Las Virgenes Creek and followed the Crags Road trail in the direction of the Visitors’ Center.

There were a few periods of light drizzle as we walk toward the Visitors’ Center and we took advantage of the cover provided by some of the large oaks along the trail.  Despite the drizzle, we were able to see White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos in the Coyotebush and other shrubs near the trail.  We saw a flock of Western Bluebirds, an American Robin and a large number of House Finches in the trees on the top of the ridgeline.  Although better weather would have meant better light for viewing and photography, the cool, damp weather apparently discouraged hikers and cyclists so the park was very quiet.  Because it was quiet, we were able to hear the soft “pew” notes of the Western Bluebirds when they flew over and we heard many Yellow-rumped Warblers calling around us.  We found (and heard) many of the species typical of this habitat, including Acorn Woodpecker, Band-tailed Pigeon, Oak Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Bewick’s Wren.  There were a few species including Pied-billed Grebe, American Coot, Mallard and Bufflehead on Malibu Creek.

Two female Bufflehead cruising down the creek (J. Kenney 11/12/11)


Immature Cooper's Hawk spreads his tail (J. Kenney 11/12/11)

Weather conditions were not ideal for soaring raptors but a perched raptor proved interesting.  Its posture and small size puzzled us at first so we spent some time discussing the equally-wide light and dark bands on the tail, which are typical of Accipiters.  Since we wanted to see its wing-length, we walked a bit farther along the trail to a spot from which we could see that it, indeed, had the short wings of an accipiter.  We did not see it fly since, as raptors often do, it disappeared while we were not looking at it.

In the Chinese Elms near the Visitors’ Center, we found a couple of active Nuttall’s Woodpeckers and two Red-breasted Sapsuckers, one of which was perched in the open so we were able to see it very well.

Red-Breasted Sapsucker in his usual spot near the Visitor Center (J. Kenney 11/12/11)

From there we went back to the parking lot and walked around the lower edge of the campground.  Among the birds we saw were one Allen’s and one Anna’s Hummingbird that were foraging in the oaks near the amphitheatre.  By then it was time for lunch so we decided to try the picnic area near the park entrance.  That proved to be a good choice because there were a lot of birds in the area.  While we ate, we saw 2 Loggerhead Shrikes, several American Kestrels, some Western Bluebirds, Dark-eyed Juncos, and White-tailed Kite that perched nearby and provided an auspicious end the day.   [Cindy S.]

Malibu Creek State Park Trip List 11/12/11 
Codes: F – Female, M – Male, H – Heard, I – Immature, [I] – Introduced
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos


Bufflehead Bucephala albeola

F   2

Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps


Double-crested Cormorant Phalocrocorax auritus


Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias


White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus


Cooper’s Hawk Accipiter cooperii

I    1

Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus


Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis


American Kestrel Falco sparverius

M   4

American Coot Fulica americana


Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata


Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura


Black-hooded Parakeet  [I] Nandayus nenday


Anna’s Hummingbird Calypte anna

M   1

Allen’s Hummingbird Selasphorus sasin

F   1

Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus


Red-breasted Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius


Nuttall’s Woodpecker Picoides nuttallii

MF + 2 H

Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens


Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus

(4 H)   5

Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans


Say’s Phoebe Sayornis saya


Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus


Western Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma californica


American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos


Common Raven Corvus corax


Oak Titmouse Baeolophus inornatus

(most H)   20

Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus


White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis


Bewick’s Wren Thryomanes bewickii


House Wren Troglodytes aedon


Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula


Western Bluebird Sialia mexicana


American Robin Turdus migratorius


Wrentit Chamaea fasciata

H   3

Phainopepla Phainopepla nitens

(1 M+1 H)   2

Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata

(most H)   40

Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas

H   2

Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus


California Towhee Pipilo crissalis


Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus


Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia

(most H)   4

White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys


Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis


Purple Finch Carpodacus purpureus

(F/imm)   6

House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus


total = 46 species

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