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“Al the Albatross,” Malibu Lagoon & Tidbits

December 28, 2012

Al the Albatross has returned to Pt. Arena yet again
Last January Lillian and I stopped by Pt. Arena in Northern California to look for Al.  We’d been standing on the pier-end in a chill wind for about an hour, watching the surfers ride the large swells far offshore, when Al came swooping in past us and landed on the water. A few minutes later one of the surfers paddled over to Al and they appeared to have a very friendly meeting and conversation. When we left after an hour or so, Al was still there. A very attractive and informative sign at the foot of the pier tells visitors about Al.

Al the Albatross in his/her element. (MCS)

Mendocino County Audubon has put up a nice webpage about Al – or Alice, as the case may be. No one knows the sex. The page records sightings from Feb. 1993 through Dec. 2011. Mendocino recently learned that an albatross was reported on 2/15/91 and it assumed that it was Al, but this data isn’t on the page.

Check it out, and if you’ve never seen an albatross in person, go see Al. Seeing one in flight is, in my opinion, one of the great moments in any birder’s life.

Malibu Lagoon Update
As usual, we continually add photos, data and links to our Malibu Lagoon 2012 Project Page, including a recent aerial photo, more photos including the big gull flock in mid-December, and data for Oct – Dec.  Species diversity during the project period still remains a tad (1.6 birds or -3%) under average. Total birds remains high, jumping from 17% over average at the end of November to +30% on Dec. 23, due to the big gull flock which showed up after the lagoon breached the beach early in the month.

Malibu Patch posted a Dec. 25 blog about the extension of the project permit to March 15, 2013.
In an email to Patch editor Jessica Davis, Craig Sap, CSP Angeles District Superintendent explained that the extension request was caused by unexpected delays, which were, briefly:
1. Longer than expected nesting by migratory birds [Mallards & Black Phoebes – Ed.]
2. The June 19 designation by USFWS of Snowy Plover habitat within the channel project area [where they’ve never been seen – Ed.]
3. Path grading necessitated by settlement with the colony about not building a border wall.
4. Unstable soil under structures required additional excavation & cement.
5. Interpretive area plan errors needed redesign.
6. Intricate designs of some structures need additional time to fabricate.
7. Legal proceedings delayed upland plant propagation which delayed implantation.
8. December was very rainy, preventing equipment use in soggy soils.

The Malibu Patch article has much more detail.

A brief story about a Christmas Curlew of a century ago, from Rick Wright. [Rick says it’s really a Whimbrel.]

If you haven’t heard about the YouTube video of an “eagle” snatching a human “baby,” here’s a link to one site which has the film and briefly discusses it. One comment I read elsewhere said the bird in the video was a Steppe Eagle, a species that barely makes it to Manchuria, China, let alone Montreal, Canada, where the film was made. So…don’t believe everything you read on the net – unless you read it here of course (unless it’s an April 1 posting).    [Chuck Almdale]

Steppe Eagle – a real one (Lynx Editions)

  1. Chukar permalink
    December 28, 2012 5:52 pm

    My sentiments exactly. Hard to tell that the wingspan is 11-12 ft. on that Wandering Albatross, isn’t it? Notice how often they *don’t* flap? One of the great moments of my life is pelagic birding out of Woolengong, Australia, and the boat was surrounded by about 200 albatross of several species.


  2. December 28, 2012 4:13 pm

    “I now belong to a higher cult of mortals for I have seen the Albatross.” — Robert Cushman Murphy.–Ezo


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