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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report & July-Dec Bird Census: 25 December, 2011

December 28, 2011

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Birders gather on 1st footbridge (C. Almdale 12/25/11)

Many years ago on Christmas Day I woke up with a start, realizing that no one had volunteered to lead that day’s lagoon field trip. So off I went to make sure the trip took place.

Meanwhile, Maja Block awoke, thinking the same thing. She jumped in her car, binos in hand, and we discovered each other at the lagoon. No one else came! So we led each other around the lagoon. It was very cold and clear: ice rimmed the edges of the lagoon, believe it or not. The beach was empty, very peaceful, and loads of birds made the best of the lack of humans.

Today couldn’t have been more different. About 20 people showed up, much to my surprise. Temperatures rose to about 66°, and we had to remove clothing layers. Surfers surfed; walkers walked and resters zoned out on the beach. High tide waves were washing over a stretch of beach into the lagoon. The only similarity was bunches of birds.

Loads of ducks: 10 species in all.

Osprey (C.Bragg)

Only 12 Brown Pelicans, but far out on the sea were hundreds of Black-vented Shearwaters cruising along to the west on stiff wings. One Cattle Egret poked through the pickleweed with a couple of Snowy Egrets – this species usually follow grazing animals (hence the name) around, eating insects stirred by the animals’ hooves, and they’re appear at the lagoon about 1 out of 8 visits, mostly in Nov-Dec. Black-bellied Plovers remain relatively abundant, and the Osprey continues the every-other-month appearance schedule he’s maintained since June.

Species and numbers are probably under-counted, as many birds stayed to the inland side of the sandy island, visible only from inland. At that distance it’s difficult to identify and count them and they can and do move around by the time we get to the beach. So I just don’t count them when I can’t see them.

New arrivals were: 9 Northern Pintail, 1 Lesser Scaup, 1 Red-throated Loon, 200 (at least) Black-vented Shearwaters far out at sea, 1 Cooper’s Hawk, 1 American Avocet, 1 Mew Gull, 1 Marsh Wren, 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and 2 Western Meadowlarks.

Northern Pintail Female (C.Almdale)

Pintails don’t show up a lot at the lagoon: only 19 visits out of 180 trips for which we have counts, including 9 visits since December 1998. Western Meadowlarks are even less common: of their 18 visits, 13 have occurred since August 2000. These birds have been hanging out on the beach – not exactly a meadow! – for a couple of weeks not. Apparently they find the wrack left at the high tide line productive for invertebrates.

Mew Gulls don’t show up often. For some reason, they really enjoy sewage plants, and in winter there is nearly always a flock of them out in front of the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in El Segundo. The single bird found lurking among the Ring-billed Gulls was  a welcome surprise.

Back in the 1970’s when I first began birding at the lagoon, I could find Marsh Wrens only upstream of the bridge where there was a large bed of reeds. The torrents from a big El Nino winter in the 80’s (I think) washed all those reeds out to sea, but they’ve gradually reappeared, primarily in the 1st channel and near Adamson House. All of the wren’s 34 lagoon appearances for which we have counts have been after August 1993.

This blog gives us width sufficient only for 6 months of data, but if you check the prior lagoon June & December reports, we now have 3 years of lagoon data on our blogsite.

Our next three field trips: Antelope Valley Raptors – 14 January, 8am;  Malibu Lagoon – 22 January, 8:30am; Salton Sea – 11/12 February, 9am
Our next program: Tuesday, 7 February, 7:30 pm – Owls of Southern California, presented by Lance Benner.
The usual 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

23-Oct

27-Nov

25-Dec

Temperature

65-72

72 – 81

61-69

59-64

70

50-66

Tide Height

+2.61

+5.03

+5.33

+5.40

+6.63

+6.80

Low/High &Time

L:0947

H:0942

H:0830

H:0178

H:0945

H:0850

Canada Goose

9

Gadwall

10

6

4

35

Eurasian Wigeon

1

American Wigeon

3

15

4

Mallard

54

60

48

25

30

8

Blue-winged Teal

2

Northern Shoveler

10

12

10

30

Northern Pintail

7

Green-winged Teal

2

4

40

Lesser Scaup

1

Bufflehead

8

12

Red-brstd Merganser

9

4

Ruddy Duck

2

5

8

3

40

Red-throated Loon

1

Pacific Loon

1

Common Loon

1

1

Pied-billed Grebe

4

15

13

4

1

3

Eared Grebe

5

3

6

3

Western Grebe

10

6

25

Blk-vented Shearwater

200

Brandt’s Cormorant

3

1

3

2

6

Dble-crstd Cormorant

31

48

47

32

31

62

Pelagic Cormorant

1

3

2

1

1

Brown Pelican

407

77

60

12

8

12

Great Blue Heron

6

3

2

3

2

2

Great Egret

4

2

2

2

3

Snowy Egret

11

15

23

26

30

22

Cattle Egret

1

1

Green Heron

1

Blk-crwnd N-Heron

11

4

12

5

Osprey

1

1

1

Cooper’s Hawk

1

Red-tailed Hawk

2

2

American Kestrel

1

Merlin

1

Peregrine Falcon

1

1

Virginia Rail

1

2

1

2

Sora

3

1

3

2

American Coot

20

75

410

370

57

280

Blk-bellied Plover

4

46

40

700

263

140

Snowy Plover

13

36

62

5

52

58

Semipalmated Plover

2

4

Killdeer

2

8

6

15

5

1

Black Oystercatcher

2

Black-necked Stilt

1

American Avocet

1

Spotted Sandpiper

2

2

3

2

2

Wandering Tattler

1

Willet

4

7

10

4

1

Whimbrel

41

26

28

3

Marbled Godwit

2

2

1

Ruddy Turnstone

7

4

7

10

1

2

Black Turnstone

1

3

Sanderling

15

3

308

110

Western Sandpiper

2

11

1

Least Sandpiper

1

6

3

16

15

12

Dunlin

2

Long-billed Dowitcher

2

2

Red-necked Phalarope

7

Heermann’s Gull

41

24

15

14

13

Mew Gull

1

Ring-billed Gull

1

7

18

60

175

Western Gull

107

146

66

80

50

90

California Gull

8

16

120

30

1200

Herring Gull

1

Glaucous-wingd Gull

1

Least Tern

13

Caspian Tern

3

12

Common Tern

1

Forster’s Tern

3

2

3

Royal Tern

18

15

1

Elegant Tern

8

36

4

Black Skimmer

1

1

Rock Pigeon

6

5

5

4

4

Mourning Dove

3

2

2

2

2

Vaux’s Swift

100

Anna’s Hummingbird

3

4

3

2

2

1

Allen’s Hummingbird

3

2

2

2

Belted Kingfisher

2

1

2

1

1

Nuttall’s Woodpecker

1

Western Wood-Pewee

1

Black Phoebe

8

10

6

10

5

3

Say’s Phoebe

1

2

2

Cassin’s Kingbird

1

Western Kingbird

1

4

Western Scrub-Jay

2

American Crow

4

3

2

4

4

4

Rough-wingd Swallow

20

22

1

Barn Swallow

18

45

30

Cliff Swallow

25

2

Oak Titmouse

2

Bushtit

8

6

6

20

30

30

Bewick’s Wren

1

1

1

1

1

2

House Wren

1

1

Marsh Wren

1

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

1

Wrentit

1

Northern Mockingbird

2

3

2

2

1

1

European Starling

38

20

23

60

40

5

Ornge-crwnd Warbler

1

1

Yellow-rumpd Warbler

8

2

8

Common Yellowthroat

1

8

5

9

4

4

Wilson’s Warbler

1

2

California Towhee

3

1

Savannah Sparrow

1

1

Song Sparrow

1

5

3

4

3

4

White-crwnd Sparrow

18

8

15

Bobolink

1

Red-winged Blackbird

17

32

18

15

Western Meadowlark

2

Brewer’s Blackbird

2

Great-tailed Grackle

3

5

12

8

4

2

Brwn-headed Cowbird

6

Hooded Oriole

6

House Finch

4

8

12

5

30

5

Lesser Goldfinch

4

2

1

2

5

Totals by Type

July

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Waterfowl

56

65

79

48

92

181

Water Birds-Other

463

221

542

440

115

598

Herons, Egrets

32

24

40

31

36

30

Quail & Raptors

0

3

1

5

1

2

Shorebirds

32

187

161

797

650

331

Gulls & Terns

175

248

124

233

143

1482

Doves

9

7

7

6

0

6

Other Non-Pass.

6

7

106

6

3

4

Passerines

167

181

133

157

134

111

Totals Birds

940

943

1193

1723

1174

2745

   
Total Species

July

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Waterfowl

2

2

5

6

9

10

Water Birds-Other

5

6

9

12

9

13

Herons, Egrets

4

4

5

3

4

4

Quail & Raptors

0

2

1

4

1

2

Shorebirds

8

14

12

13

8

11

Gulls & Terns

8

8

7

5

5

6

Doves

2

2

2

2

0

2

Other Non-Pass.

2

3

4

3

2

3

Passerines

19

18

23

17

13

20

Totals Species – 116

50

59

68

65

51

71

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