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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 27 May, 2012

May 31, 2012

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This is our last lagoon trip report before the scheduled start of the reconfiguration process, so we made a few changes to our usual trip report format.  We’ve put a bunch of scenery shots in, and the bird list compares the months of May across the past six years.  We’ll follow this format until after the project is

North channel view to west towards golf course (L. Johnson 5/27/12)

done; the data should be useful to compare during-project months to prior years.  I keep my count numbers as honest as I can; there’s never any attempt to jack any number up or down.  My obvious and mostly worthless prediction:  count totals and species diversification will drop during the project, then rebound.  No prediction how much the change will be.  This is like J.P. Morgan’s stock market prediction: “The market will fluctuate.”

The slideshow shows what the area looked like this day, excepting Jim Kenney’s February scenic photo.  The lagoon outlet closed within the past 7 days:, lagoon water level had risen so much that Snowy Plover enclosure fenceposts I’d stood next to 8 days earlier were now partially submerged.

Whimbrel on low tide rocks (J. Kenney 5/27/12)

The birds were pretty much what we’d expect for late May: a few migrant shorebirds (Whimbrel, Black-bellied Plover); some nesting birds (Mallard, Black Phoebe, Barn & Cliff Swallow, Northern Mockingbird, House Finch).  The egrets are developing a large heronry next to Starbuck’s in the shopping center: Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Black-crowned Night Heron are all nesting there.  15 Heermann’s Gulls had arrived from their breeding grounds on islands near the southern tip of Baja California; they were all 1st-year birds.  One Belted Kingfisher perched on dead branches in front of Adamson House.  We found a pair of Black Phoebes feeding 4 fledglings near the Adamson Boat House, as well as a female Mallard with 5 fluffy ducklings.  No project activity is scheduled for this side of the lagoon.  We didn’t see the young Killdeer spotted a month ago: it’ll be full-sized and flying by now, but it won’t yet have adult plumage.

View from beach across lagoon (L. Plauzoles 5/27/12)

Our next three field trips:   Mt. Piños Birds & Butterflies, June 16/17, 8 am;   Malibu Lagoon, 24 June, 8:30 am;   Malibu Lagoon, 22 July, 8:30 am.
Our next program: Tuesday, 2 October, 7:30 pm.   The usual reminders will be emailed from the blog.
Picnic:  The usual June chapter picnic is canceled.

NOTE: Our 10 a.m. Parent’s & Kids Birdwalk is canceled until the lagoon project is completed and the parking lot is again available.

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

Comments on list below:  Of 75 total species appearing in May for 2007-12, no more than 62% of them have appeared on any one day, something to keep in mind if you wonder why what is there is much less than what could be there.  Species low of 39 in 2010 is 17% below the highs of 47 for 2007, 2008 & 2012, not a huge drop.  Total birds low of 413 in 2011 is 66% (787 birds) below the high of 1200 in 2007.  Species making up most of this difference: Brown Pelicans – 549, Western Gulls – 109 and Heermann’s Gull  – 61 (total of 719 birds, 91% of total difference).
NOTE: Right column averages of less than 1 bird/month are shown in tenths; all other averages are rounded to nearest whole number.   [Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Lagoon Census 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012  
May 2007 – 2012 5/27 5/25 5/24 5/23 5/22 5/27  
Temperature       54-62 54-68 68-72  
Tide Lo/Hi Height H+3.4 L+0.1 H+3.7 H+3.76 L-.13 L+0.38 Ave.
Tide Time 0742 0801 1042 0638 0816 0844 Birds
Brant 4 7 2
Gadwall 6 8 12 12 3 5 8
Mallard 45 20 20 18 48 32 31
Surf Scoter 9 2
Red-brstd Merganser 1 2 0.5
Ruddy Duck 5 1 2 3 2
Pacific Loon 1 5 1
Common Loon 2 0.3
Pied-billed Grebe 3 3 2 3 2
Western Grebe 3 1 0.7
Brandt’s Cormorant 5 1 1
Dble-crstd Cormorant 7 5 28 7 46 15 18
Pelagic Cormorant 1 0.2
Brown Pelican 630 231 70 124 81 265 234
Great Blue Heron 5 2 1 2 1 3 2
Great Egret 3 4 4 2 3 3
Snowy Egret 12 9 7 12 3 14 10
Green Heron 1 0.2
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 6 10 2 3 4
Osprey 1 0.2
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0.2
Red-tailed Hawk 1 1 1 1 0.7
Peregrine Falcon 1 0.2
American Coot 25 6 32 8 25 30 21
Blk-bellied Plover 3 22 4
Killdeer 1 1 4 2 3 2
Willet 3 4 1
Whimbrel 4 1 20 4
Marbled Godwit 1 0.2
Black Turnstone 1 0.2
Western Sandpiper 6 1
Dunlin 1 0.2
Boneparte’s Gull 26 2 1 1 5
Heermann’s Gull 61 1 20 17 15 19
Ring-billed Gull 5 2 1 2 16 4
Western Gull 119 56 65 68 10 85 67
California Gull 1 95 8 4 18
Glaucous-wingd Gull 1 1 0.3
Caspian Tern 7 61 15 25 4 6 20
Royal Tern 2 1 2 5 2
Elegant Tern 15 23 40 9 12 35 22
Rock Pigeon 8 2 6 6 8 2 5
Eur. Collared-Dove 3 1 0.7
Mourning Dove 1 4 6 1 2 2
White-throated Swift 5 2 1
Anna’s Hummingbird 6 2 2 1 1 2 2
Allen’s Hummingbird 4 8 6 4 5 5
Belted Kingfisher 1 0.2
Western Wood-Pewee 2 0.3
Pac.Slope Flycatcher 1 0.2
Black Phoebe 12 6 12 10 4 13 10
American Crow 8 4 6 4 3 5 5
Common Raven 1 2 0.5
Rough-wingd Swallow 6 10 10 1 2 5
Violet-green Swallow 6 2 1 1 2
Barn Swallow 12 6 1 8 8 2 6
Cliff Swallow 55 40 12 12 31 12 27
Oak Titmouse 1 0.2
Bushtit 4 20 4 4 5
Bewick’s Wren 1 0.2
Northern Mockingbird 3 5 6 4 2 6 4
European Starling 20 20 2 3 40 45 22
Cedar Waxwing 32 5
Common Yellowthroat 4 2 2 3 2
Spotted Towhee 1 2 0.5
California Towhee 1 1 5 1 1 2
Song Sparrow 10 2 8 10 4 12 8
Red-winged Blackbird 20 6 4 2 10 7
Brewer’s Blackbird 2 0.3
Great-tailed Grackle 1 4 16 2 4
Brwn-headed Cowbird 2 1 3 1 1
Hooded Oriole 4 1 1 1
Bullock’s Oriole 2 1 1 0.7
House Finch 10 3 8 6 8 8 7
Lesser Goldfinch 2 1 2 4 2
Totals by Type 5/27 5/25 5/24 5/23 5/22 5/27 Ave.
Waterfowl 57 38 38 37 51 42 44
Water Birds-Other 668 252 132 148 152 313 278
Herons, Egrets 26 25 13 16 6 23 18
Quail & Raptors 1 1 1 1 3 1
Shorebirds 10 1 5 5 5 51 13
Gulls & Terns 235 148 144 216 51 151 158
Doves 12 2 10 12 9 5 8
Other Non-Pass. 15 4 10 7 5 8 8
Passerines 176 139 79 106 131 127 126
Totals Birds 1200 610 432 548 413 720 654
 
Total Species 5/27 5/25 5/24 5/23 5/22 5/27 Ave.
Waterfowl 4 4 4 3 2 4 4
Water Birds-Other 5 6 5 7 3 4 5
Herons, Egrets 4 4 4 3 3 4 4
Quail & Raptors 1 1 1 1 3 0 1
Shorebirds 3 1 2 2 2 6 3
Gulls & Terns 7 9 7 6 6 7 7
Doves 3 1 2 2 2 3 2
Other Non-Pass. 3 2 2 2 2 3 2
Passerines 17 19 16 19 16 16 17
Totals Species – 75
47 47 43 45 39 47 45
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