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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 22 July, 2012

July 24, 2012

Don’t forget to visit our new page for the Malibu Lagoon 2012 Project, frequently updated with new photos.

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The west channels area continues as a muddy mess.   The remaining vegetation is almost gone and the footbridges are gone.   In the channel area we found 10 Mallards, 7 Snowy Egrets, 1 Coot, 1 Spotted Sandpiper, 2 Western Gulls and 3 Black Phoebes.   At the southwest corner of the path, which is slated to get a few picnic tables, we found an active feeding flock: Mourning Dove, Allen’s Hummingbird, Black Phoebe, Western Scrub Jay, American Crow, Oak Titmouse, Bushtit, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, California Towhee, Song and Lincoln’s Sparrows, Hooded Oriole and House Finch.   Whew!

How many birds and what are they? Answers below; no peeking! (A.Albaisa 7/22/12)

Almost nothing was on the sea, save a few Snowy Egrets staggering across the floating kelp, which always shocks those who haven’t witnessed this before. An odd-looking White-winged Scoter, uncommon here at any time of year, was diving in the surf zone.   Next to the colony fence we found the dewatering system outlet pipe, the end of which was hanging over a large wooden framework full of boulders.   The boulders are to dissipate the force of the discharged water so it doesn’t significantly erode the sand.

Odd-looking White-winged Scoter (L. Johnson 7/22/12)

As usual, most of the sea- and shorebirds were on the sand islands near the lagoon’s south shore.  June’s unusually large flock of 340 Brown Pelicans had dwindled to only 17 birds.   The numbers of  SwallowsRough-winged, Barn and Cliff – were also about average.   The Barn Swallows were especially busy swooping low over the sand, scarfing up the sand flies.

Snowy Plovers were back from breeding, as they always are in late July.   It was just before high tide, so all 22 of them were still roosting about 75 yds. east of the symbolic enclosure.   If they continue roosting there, we may have to move the enclosure.

The large “cliffs” at either end of the controversial June beach breach area had eroded to become almost unnoticeable.   In fact, I didn’t notice their absence until pointed out to me.   Farther on, Adamson House was notable primarily for a single Bullock’s Oriole, and the 8 Allen’s Hummingbirds frequenting the flowers.   Other than being cool and overcast, it was a fairly typical July day for birding at the beach.

Our next three field trips:   Malibu Lagoon, 26 Aug.; Lower Los Angeles River, 8 Sept., 7:30am; Malibu Lagoon, 23 Sep., 8:30am.
Our next program: Tuesday, 2 October, 7:30 pm.   Water Conservation and Sustainability – Kimberly O’Cain.   The usual blog reminders will be emailed.
NOTE: Our 10 a.m. Parent’s & Kids Birdwalk remains canceled until the lagoon project is completed and the parking lot is again fully 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.

Photographer thinks 7 Snowy Plover, 2 Least Tern; I think one more Snowy. (A.Albaisa 7/22/12)

Comments on Bird Lists Below
Species Diversity:
  No census was taken in July 2008, so June 2006 is included to keep comparisons at six years.   Of 79 total species appearing in July for 2006-12, no more than 66% of them appeared on any one count day, something to keep in mind if you wonder why what is there is much less than what could be there.  July 2012 gets the species high count of 52, 5 species (11%) above average; so far, the project is not having an adverse effect on diversity.   This contradicts my expectation expressed in June that diversity would continue lower than average, so my only prediction this month is that some of you will get the plover quiz right, some won’t.
Total Birds:   The opposite of June – species diversity was high, but total numbers were low, 556 (91%) of the 610 average, which is not really significant.  Unusually low numbers of Brown Pelican (17) was the primary reason.
[Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Census 2006 2007 2009 2010 2011 2012  
June 2006 – 2012 23-Jul 22-Jul 26-Jul 25-Jul 24-Jul 22-Jul  
Temperature     68-75 60-67 65-72 64-70  
Tide Lo/Hi Height H +3.9 L +2.2 L +0.4 H +4.05 L +2.61 H +2.34 Ave.
Tide Time 1015 0848 0704 1036 0947 1121 Birds
Brant 1 6 1.2
Gadwall 7 12 4 3.8
Mallard 65 50 25 49 54 42 47.5
White-winged Scoter 1 0.2
Red-brstd Merganser 2 0.3
Ruddy Duck 1 3 2 1.0
Pied-billed Grebe 1 12 6 5 4 4 5.3
Dble-crstd Cormorant 6 9 15 20 31 24 17.5
Pelagic Cormorant 1 1 0.3
Brown Pelican 37 78 40 187 407 17 127.7
Great Blue Heron 11 9 3 6 6 1 6.0
Great Egret 17 5 5 4 4 1 6.0
Snowy Egret 12 10 40 14 11 11 16.3
Green Heron 2 1 0.5
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 5 3 2 4 11 4.2
Osprey 1 1 0.3
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0.2
Red-tailed Hawk 1 1 1 1 0.7
Sora 1 0.2
American Coot 2 28 20 15 20 12 16.2
Blk-bellied Plover 1 4 45 8.3
Snowy Plover 10 4 1 26 13 22 12.7
Semipalmated Plover 6 2 1.3
Killdeer 2 3 2 3 1.7
Black Oystercatcher 1 0.2
Spotted Sandpiper 1 0.2
Greater Yellowlegs 1 0.2
Willet 3 1 7 1.8
Whimbrel 5 3 1 48 42 16.5
Ruddy Turnstone 3 7 5 2.5
Black Turnstone 8 1 2 1.8
Red Knot 2 0.3
Sanderling 6 4 1.7
Western Sandpiper 8 1 20 2 2 5.5
Least Sandpiper 2 1 3 1.0
Short-billd Dowitcher 2 0.3
Boneparte’s Gull 2 0.3
Heermann’s Gull 7 12 12 125 41 12 34.8
Ring-billed Gull 8 4 4 1 2.8
Western Gull 55 109 30 80 107 95 79.3
California Gull 2 1 2 0.8
Least Tern 12 8 36 13 3 12.0
Caspian Tern 6 5 13 3 4.5
Common Tern 1 0.2
Royal Tern 2 2 3 1.2
Elegant Tern 33 10 8 45 16.0
Black Skimmer 35 1 1 6.2
Rock Pigeon 2 6 1 6 6 2 3.8
Eur. Collared-Dove 1 0.2
Mourning Dove 2 1 4 3 2 2.0
Anna’s Hummingbird 2 3 1 1 3 1 1.8
Allen’s Hummingbird 2 4 3 6 3 9 4.5
Belted Kingfisher 1 0.2
Black Phoebe 7 4 6 2 8 5 5.3
Western Kingbird 5 1 1.0
Western Scrub-Jay 1 0.2
American Crow 7 6 1 6 4 6 5.0
Rough-wingd Swallow 3 6 2 5 20 5 6.8
Barn Swallow 20 30 12 20 18 20 20.0
Cliff Swallow 5 25 24 10 25 15 17.3
Oak Titmouse 1 0.2
Bushtit 8 6 6 8 8 6.0
Bewick’s Wren 1 0.2
Wrentit 1 1 0.3
Northern Mockingbird 3 2 3 2 2 5 2.8
European Starling 8 8 6 80 38 17 26.2
Common Yellowthroat 1 3 2 4 1 1 2.0
California Towhee 1 2 2 3 1 1.5
Song Sparrow 1 4 1 3 1 4 2.3
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1 0.2
Western Tanager 1 0.2
Red-winged Blackbird 37 6 2 1 17 10.5
Great-tailed Grackle 1 1 3 5 1.7
Brwn-headed Cowbird 1 1 1 3 6 2.0
Hooded Oriole 2 4 6 2 2.3
Bullock’s Oriole 1 0.2
House Finch 5 6 24 2 4 35 12.7
Lesser Goldfinch 2 0.3
House Sparrow 4 0.7
Totals by Type 23-Jul 22-Jul 26-Jul 25-Jul 24-Jul 22-Jul Ave.
Waterfowl 73 62 26 58 56 49 54
Water Birds-Other 47 128 81 227 463 57 167
Herons, Egrets 47 28 50 28 32 13 33
Quail & Raptors 2 2 1 1 0 1 1
Shorebirds 22 23 4 127 32 128 56
Gulls & Terns 123 140 44 306 175 161 158
Doves 2 8 3 10 9 4 6
Other Non-Pass. 4 7 5 7 6 10 7
Passerines 99 121 95 152 167 133 128
Totals Birds 419 519 309 916 940 556 610
 
Total Species 23-Jul 22-Jul 26-Jul 25-Jul 24-Jul 22-Jul Ave.
Waterfowl 3 2 2 3 2 4 2.7
Water Birds-Other 5 5 4 4 5 4 4.5
Herons, Egrets 5 5 4 4 4 3 4.2
Quail & Raptors 2 2 1 1 0 1 1.2
Shorebirds 4 7 4 10 8 11 7.3
Gulls & Terns 7 6 3 9 8 7 6.7
Doves 1 2 3 2 2 2 2.0
Other Non-Pass. 2 2 3 2 2 2 2.2
Passerines 13 18 16 16 19 18 16.7
Totals Species – 79 42 49 40 51 50 52 47.3
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2 Comments
  1. August 1, 2012 6:00 pm

    It seems to me that there are almost as many aquatic birds now in the restoration area than there were just before the project began.

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    • Chukar permalink
      August 2, 2012 10:51 am

      Matthew: As always, for the overall lagoon area, species diversity & total birds numbers fluctuate. June had higher birds than the 10-year average, lower diversity; July was exactly the opposite. So far, the only trend is no trend.

      In July, we counted 24 birds in 6 species in the channels area, which is probably about the same as May, which was pretty barren there, and higher than June, where there were maybe a dozen, but which I didn’t tally separately. In some months, usually winter, there could be 25-75 birds in the channels area. Typically, whatever number there was in the channels, it ran (very roughly) about 5% of the total lagoon count.

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