Skip to content

Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 26 August, 2012

August 28, 2012

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The west channels area begins to come into shape.
   There is a lot of water in the channels, but as the project proceeds, far more water is shifted between the basins than is piped out to the ocean.  The berm is now a temporary path to the beach.  Part of this berm will remain as the peninsula of “the boot” (see the drawing on our Project Page). The graded edges next to the water (see picture) look steep

Looking south towards the beach, the channel edges are graded (L. Johnson 8/26/12)

to me; perhaps they’ll be graded further into gentler slopes. We couldn’t get to the vegetated area in the SW corner where a picnic area will be located, depressing our overall passerine sightings. Peering through holes in the fence netting into the channels area, we managed to spot:  8 Mallard, 1 Pied-billed Grebe, 1 Great Blue Heron, 3 Snowy Egret, 2 Coot, 2 Killdeer, 1 Spotted Sandpiper, 1 Pectoral Sandpiper, 2 Least Sandpiper, 1 Black Phoebe, 5 American Crow, 2 Rough-winged Swallow, 12 Barn Swallow, 1 Bewick’s Wren & 1 Song Sparrow (both in brush between the path & PCH), 3 Great-tailed Grackle; 16 species in all. The Pectoral Sandpiper is an early fall migrant, most pass through in September. All these birds are included in the trip list below.

As in July, very little was on the ocean except two kelp-walking Snowy Egret, 1 Common Loon, 3 Western Grebe, 2 Pelagic Cormorant and 1 Brandt’s Cormorant.  Down the beach, the surfing competition had many tents and loudspeakers and little else. The ocean was unusually flat.  If anything more than a foot high rolled in, I’d be surprised. The audience was nearly as non-existent as the waves.

Still-colorful Ruddy Turnstone on the beach. Yes, they really do use their bill to turn over stones. (C. Bragg 8/26/12)

The Snowy Plovers were in their pre-high tide (scheduled for 11:36am) roost about 100 yds. east of the enclosure.  Many people counted them many times, finally arriving at 45 birds, an all-time high for any August.  Unfortunately, there are no banded birds.  As usual, most other birds were on the sand islands near the lagoon’s south shore except for the gulls, mostly Western Gull, who were on the beach near the Snowies.

The boys are back in town. Post-breeding Heermann’s Gulls back from islands off the tip of Baja California. (C. Bragg 8/26/12)

We saw at least 5 dead Brown Pelicans on the beach, lagoon edge and sandy islands. I later found out that young Brown Pelicans have been appearing all up and down the West Coast for well over a month, starving, begging and dying.  The problem seems to be that there aren’t enough right-sized fish in the ocean to feed all the pelicans.  The young birds, less skilled than adults at finding and catching fish are suffering the consequences. The cause(s) for the dearth of fish is uncertain, but I can think of plenty of  “usual suspects.”

Birds at Adamson House were mostly Allen’s Hummingbirds, busily poking around in the flowers, not one Anna’s among them. A young Bullock’s Oriole, some Song Sparrows and a California Towhee also appeared. Just before we did our final bird count we were treated to an Osprey soaring high over the lagoon. All were surprised to learn we had seen 53 species; guesses ranged from 25 to 45.

The morning began relatively cool (70°) and cloudy, but the clouds left and it was sufficiently warm by the time we left.

Our next three field trips:   Lower Los Angeles River, 8 Sep., 7:30am; Malibu Lagoon, 23 Sep., 8:30am.;  Bolsa Chica, 6 Oct. 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.

Comments on Bird List Below
Total Birds:   Total birds numbers for August were down the same 9% as in July, or 732 of the 6-year average of 807, which is not really significant.  Low numbers of Mallard (32) and Brown Pelican (37) were the primary reason.  However, the 10-year comparison chart on our Project Page shows August 2012 as 9% above average. Go figure!  Notably, August 2012 was an all-time August high count of 45 Snowy Plovers.
Species Diversity:   Of 103 total species appearing in August for 2007-12, no more than 68% 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. Since we began these 6-year comparisons in May, this “maximum appearance rate” has fluctuated from 61% to 68%, intriguingly consistent, I think.  It seems to indicate that – whenever you visit – what you see will be 1/2 – 2/3rds of what is possible to see there at that time of year.  August 2012 with 53 species is slightly (6%) below average.
Summary of species diversity from the 6-year average so far: May +4%, June -10%, July +10%, August -6%. If anyone can draw significance from that fluctuation, let me know, because I can’t, other than thinking that the project is not having a significant adverse or beneficial effect on diversity.
 [Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Census 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012  
August 2007 – 2012 8/26 8/24 8/23 8/22 8/28 8/26  
Temperature     65-75 68-75 72-81 70-78  
Tide Lo/Hi Height H +4.4 L +2.9 H +5.7 H +4.32 H +5.03 H +2.59 Ave.
Tide Time 0928 0819 1201 0933 0942 1136 Birds
Brant 5 0.8
Gadwall 5 4 1.5
Mallard 35 42 35 55 60 32 43.2
Northern Shoveler 4 0.7
Northern Pintail 6 1.0
Green-winged Teal 6 1.0
Surf Scoter 4 0.7
Ruddy Duck 3 5 5 2.2
Common Loon 1 0.2
Pied-billed Grebe 10 3 7 9 15 10 9.0
Western Grebe 3 0.5
Brandt’s Cormorant 3 1 0.7
Dble-crstd Cormorant 22 18 12 30 48 34 27.3
Pelagic Cormorant 6 2 3 2 2.2
Brown Pelican 66 15 185 163 77 37 90.5
Great Blue Heron 9 8 7 6 3 5 6.3
Great Egret 14 5 5 4 2 1 5.2
Snowy Egret 31 23 17 19 15 14 19.8
Cattle Egret 1 0.2
Green Heron 1 0.2
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 15 2 3 7 4 5.2
Osprey 1 1 1 0.5
Cooper’s Hawk 1 1 0.3
Red-tailed Hawk 1 2 0.5
Sora 1 0.2
American Coot 25 15 28 75 33 29.3
Blk-bellied Plover 52 45 71 55 46 64 55.5
Snowy Plover 26 41 36 44 36 45 38.0
Semipalmated Plover 8 2 10 4 2 4.3
Killdeer 3 6 3 3 8 5 4.7
Black Oystercatcher 1 0.2
Black-necked Stilt 2 0.3
Spotted Sandpiper 8 2 2 1 2 4 3.2
Wandering Tattler 1 0.2
Greater Yellowlegs 2 0.3
Willet 24 18 16 10 4 2 12.3
Lesser Yellowlegs 1 0.2
Whimbrel 10 12 29 8 41 52 25.3
Marbled Godwit 2 3 2 2 1.5
Ruddy Turnstone 18 4 11 3 4 9 8.2
Black Turnstone 1 1 0.3
Red Knot 1 0.2
Sanderling 17 20 105 30 15 1 31.3
Western Sandpiper 25 12 8 4 11 10.0
Least Sandpiper 20 13 3 4 6 6 8.7
Pectoral Sandpiper 1 0.2
Short-billd Dowitcher 1 3 3 1.2
Red-necked Phalarope 2 7 1.5
Boneparte’s Gull 2 0.3
Heermann’s Gull 45 8 21 62 24 17 29.5
Mew Gull 1 0.2
Ring-billed Gull 4 2 4 1.7
Western Gull 204 108 132 66 146 134 131.7
California Gull 3 1 1 3 8 4 3.3
Least Tern 35 20 1 9.3
Caspian Tern 1 1 13 12 4.5
Common Tern 2 0.3
Forster’s Tern 40 2 5 3 1 8.5
Royal Tern 1 3 2 18 3 4.5
Elegant Tern 20 4 1 45 36 69 29.2
Black Skimmer 103 1 17.3
Rock Pigeon 6 3 6 4 5 12 6.0
Mourning Dove 4 3 2 2 1.8
Anna’s Hummingbird 5 1 2 4 2.0
Allen’s Hummingbird 4 2 2 4 7 3.2
Belted Kingfisher 1 1 2 0.7
Nuttall’s Woodpecker 1 0.2
Downy Woodpecker 1 0.2
Western Wood-Pewee 1 0.2
Pac.Slope Flycatcher 1 0.2
Black Phoebe 8 3 6 5 10 8 6.7
Ash-throated Flycatcher 1 0.2
Cassin’s Kingbird 1 1 0.3
Western Kingbird 3 5 2 4 4 4 3.7
Western Scrub-Jay 2 0.3
American Crow 6 5 3 4 3 5 4.3
Rough-wingd Swallow 4 1 3 3 22 2 5.8
Tree Swallow 1 0.2
Barn Swallow 12 6 25 8 45 22 19.7
Cliff Swallow 15 2 2 1 3.3
Oak Titmouse 2 0.3
Bushtit 15 17 6 14 8.7
Bewick’s Wren 1 2 0.5
House Wren 1 0.2
Marsh Wren 1 0.2
Northern Mockingbird 5 1 2 5 3 4 3.3
European Starling 2 15 8 7 20 28 13.3
Ornge-crwnd Warbler 3 0.5
Yellow Warbler 5 0.8
Yellow-rumpd Warbler 2 0.3
Common Yellowthroat 2 4 1 5 8 1 3.5
Wilson’s Warbler 1 1 0.3
California Towhee 1 1 1 0.5
Song Sparrow 2 3 4 3 5 3 3.3
Western Tanager 1 0.2
Red-winged Blackbird 2 1 2 32 6.2
Brewer’s Blackbird 3 0.5
Great-tailed Grackle 5 7 2.0
Brwn-headed Cowbird 1 1 0.3
Hooded Oriole 1 1 0.3
Bullock’s Oriole 1 0.2
House Finch 4 4 5 4 8 4.2
Lesser Goldfinch 1 3 4 1.3
Totals by Type 8/26 8/24 8/23 8/22 8/28 8/26 Ave.
Waterfowl 53 42 39 71 65 36 51
Water Birds-Other 129 53 204 231 221 121 160
Herons, Egrets 70 38 32 37 24 20 37
Raptors 2 1 1 0 3 1 1
Shorebirds 217 180 303 162 187 196 208
Gulls & Terns 356 145 162 299 248 232 240
Doves 6 3 10 7 7 14 8
Other Non-Pass. 10 2 3 8 7 7 6
Passerines 98 51 64 76 181 105 96
Totals Birds 941 515 818 891 943 732 807
 
Total Species 8/26 8/24 8/23 8/22 8/28 8/26 Ave.
Waterfowl 5 1 2 4 2 2 2.7
Water Birds-Other 5 5 3 5 6 8 5.3
Herons, Egrets 5 4 4 5 4 3 4.2
Raptors 2 1 1 0 2 1 1.2
Shorebirds 15 14 16 10 14 13 13.7
Gulls & Terns 11 7 8 8 8 7 8.2
Doves 1 1 2 2 2 2 1.7
Other Non-Pass. 3 1 2 4 3 1 2.3
Passerines 23 14 13 19 18 16 17.2
Totals Species – 103 70 48 51 57 59 53 56.3
Advertisements
One Comment
  1. ballonadocent permalink
    August 28, 2012 7:08 pm

    Great job Chukar.

    Like

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: