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Malibu Creek State Park field trip report, 10 November 2012

November 12, 2012

It was a perfect day for birding — clear, cool and calm — when we left the parking lot and started toward the High Road Trail. As we started down the slope toward Las Virgenes Creek, we saw a flock of Bushtits foraging in an oak beside the trail. There were 3 Mallards in the creek and these proved to be the only waterfowl we saw all day.  Although there was water in Las Virgenes Creek, Malibu Creek was dry as far upstream as we could see. Since there was no water in Malibu Creek, we did not see many species that are usually found in the park at this time of year. For example, we saw no American Coots or Pied-billed Grebes and we neither heard nor saw any Common Yellowthroats.

We heard the melodious song of a Purple Finch and had good views of a female that perched atop a shrub above the trail. A Phainopepla was not so cooperative; it remained out of sight although it called repeated from a stand of oaks. As we walked on, we got scope views of a Loggerhead Shrike that was perched on some shrubs on the far side of the creek. Two Bewick’s Wrens perched in an oak by the trail long enough that we were able to see them well.

Bewick’s Wren, J. Kenney, 11/10/12

A Hermit Thrush came out in the open long enough for us to see its rufous tail and spotted breast and we saw several Black Phoebes during the walk.

Black Phoebe, J. Kenney, 11/10/12

We were admiring a handsome male Amerian Kestrel that regularly perches in a dead tree above the trail when a Red-tailed Hawk came soaring in our direction. The little Kestrel (wingspan ~21″) flew at the hawk (wingspan ~49″), calling loudly as it dived repeatedly at the hawk until the hawk flew away.

American Kestrel, J. Kenney, 11/12/12

We spent some time watching a group of Acorn Woodpeckers that were caching acorns in a dead tree above the trail.

Acorn Woodpecker, J. Kenney, 11/10/12

Acorn Woodpecker, J. Kenney, 11/10/12

While we were watching those woodpeckers, we spotted some other good birds in the nearby grasses and shrubs. These included a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and adult Golden-crowned Sparrow and some California Towhees.

Before we crossed the bridge that goes to the Visitors’ Center, we saw a Cooper’s Hawk, an immature Red-shouldered Hawk, and 2 Northern Flickers. There were 2 Red-breasted Sapsuckers, a Nuttall’s Woodpecker and several Yellow-rumped Warblers in the Chinese Elm trees near the Visitors’ Center.

Red-breasted Sapsucker, J. Kenney, 11/10/12

Nuttall’s Woodpecker, J. Kenney, 11/10/12

Yellow-rumped Warbler, J. Kenney, 11/10/12

From the Visitors’ Center, we walked along the Crags Road Trail in the direction of the parking lot. We saw numerous White-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and a small flock of handsome Lark Sparrows.

White-crowned Sparrow, J. Kenney, 11/10/12

As we neared the junction of the Crags & High Road Trails we heard a Phainopepla calling from the oaks. As we approached those trees, a male flew off but a female perched in the open where we were able to see her.

We were greeted by a couple of Western Bluebirds when we returned to the parking lot at midday. From there, several of us walked to the campground. That area is usually quite birdy but it was quiet when we looked around. The field by the Braille Trail was definitely worth a look. There was a Say’s Phoebe forging actively and a California Thrasher flew across the field twice so we all had a good look at it. That was a good way to end a very good day of birding in the park.

MCSP, 10 Nov 2012 final list
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 3
Cooper’s Hawk Accipiter cooperii 1 ad, 1 imm
Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus 1 imm
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis 5
American Kestrel Falco sparverius 1M
Black-hooded Parakeet  [I] Nandayus nenday 20
Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus 8
Red-breasted Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius 2
Nuttall’s Woodpecker Picoides nuttallii 2
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus 2
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans 6
Say’s Phoebe Sayornis saya 3
Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus 1
Western Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma californica 2
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos 30
Common Raven Corvus corax 2
Oak Titmouse Baeolophus inornatus 20+  (most heard)
Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus 25+
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis 2
Bewick’s Wren Thryomanes bewickii 3
House Wren Troglodytes aedon 1H
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula 2
Western Bluebird Sialia mexicana 10
Wrentit Chamaea fasciata 1
California Thrasher Toxostoma redivivum 1
Phainopepla Phainopepla nitens 1M, 1F
Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata 40+  (most heard)
Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus 8
California Towhee Pipilo crissalis 6
Rufous-crowned Sparrow Aimophila carpalis 1
Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus 10
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys 20
Golden-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia atricapilla 1M
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis 25+
Purple Finch Carpodacus purpureus 1F
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus 30+
Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria 4
total = 37 species

Thanks to all who came out with us and a special “thank you” to Jim Kenney for his outstanding photographs.

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