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Malibu Lagoon Field Trip Report: 27 January, 2013

January 30, 2013
Snowy Plover PV:YB & friend (Cynthia Aylesworth 1/19/13)

Snowy Plover PV:YB and friend (Cynthia Aylesworth 1/19/13)

We looked for the Arctic Loon reported earlier this month, but the loons were well offshore and towards the sun, so plumage patterns were difficult to see. Chinstraps were visible on the Pacific Loon-looking birds. Oh well.

The early morning rain had ended before we arrived, the sky cleared as the morning progressed, and everything was wet.  Someone had placed boards across the numerous puddles on the beach path, for which we were grateful.  The project permit is extended to mid-March, so – we hope – we’ll finally be able to use the new paths on our 3/24 walk, rather than be channeled like rats in a maze down the current narrow strait. It will be a relief to see the channel clearly rather than peering at it over the fence.

Despite such obstacles, we’ve tried to get a relatively accurate handle on the birds in the channel during the project period.  The channel is now permanently open to the lagoon and the birds paddle in and out at will, so the population fluctuates constantly.  Here’s what we found before 9am today. Most of the ducks were in one large flock on the channel’s north shore, still snoozing.
Ducks: Gadwall 20, Mallard 40, No. Shoveler, 20, No. Pintail 4, Green-winged Teal 20, Bufflehead 6, Ruddy Duck 20.
Others: Great Blue Heron 1, Snowy Egret 2, Coot 65, Black-bellied Plover 6, Killdeer 2, Black Phoebe 1, Allen’s Hummingbird 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler 3, Song Sparrow 3, House Finch 2.

Viewing platform construction north side of channel (L. Johnson 1/27/13)

Viewing platform construction north side of channel (L. Johnson 1/27/13)

Progress continues on permanent installations such as paths and viewing platforms.

Viewing platform & path construction southwest side of channel (L. Johnson 1/27/13)

Viewing platform & path construction southwest side of channel (L. Johnson 1/27/13)

The gull flock has subsided significantly from the horde which covered the beach in December, dropping from about 2600 birds to about 660.  Northern Pintails finally appeared, with two pair crusing around the lagoon and channel. Other new arrivals are: an Osprey (last seen in August), 3 American Avocets still in winter plumage, and 2 Mew Gulls.

Snowy Plover GG:AR who 1st appeared on Surfrider Beach on 9/25/11 (Cynthia Aylesworth 1/6/13)

Snowy Plover GG:AR who 1st appeared on Surfrider Beach on 9/25/11 (Cynthia Aylesworth 1/6/13)

Snowy Plover PV:YB wasn’t seen among the flock of 61 roosting on the beach, waiting for the tide to begin dropping, but GG:AR and NO:WW were there. GG:AR  (Left: green over green, Right: Aqua over Red) first appeared on Surfrider on 9/25/11 and was seen 11/25/12. NO:WW (Left: tan over orange, Right: white over white) appeared on 10/25/09 and recorded intermittently through 12/25/11.

Our next three field trips:   Ballona Creek Jetty, 9 Feb; 8:00am; Malibu Lagoon, 24 Feb, 8:30am; Hiker Lu’s Santa Monica Mountains Explorama, 9 Mar, 8am.
Our next program:  Tuesday, 5 Feb., 7:30 pm.   Bird Photography, presented by Ralph Clevenger. Note that the meeting place has changed.  The usual reminders will be emailed from the blog.

NOTE: Our 10 a.m. Parent’s & Kids Birdwalk will resume on 28 April, 2013.

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 Lists Below
Total Birds:   January total birds of 1,818 are 20% below average for the same reason Dec. 2012 birds were 30% above average: large fluctuations in the number of gulls.  Monthly numbers relative to average continue to be up, down, up, down, etc.
Species Diversity:  January 2013 with 65 species was a whopping 2% above the 63.7   6-year average.
Summary of species diversity from the 6-year average so far:  June -10%, July +10%, Aug. -6%, Sep. -20%, Oct. +5%, Nov +2%, Dec -4%, Jan +2%. Still, the only constant is change.
10-year comparison summaries are available on our Lagoon Project Page.
[Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Census 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
January 2008 – 2013 27-Jan 25-Jan 24-Jan 23-Jan 22-Jan 27-Jan
Temperature 65-70   41-65 68-75 50-59 52-62
Tide Lo/Hi Height L +1.7 H +5.9 L +0.65 H +4.94 H +6.49 H +5.76 Ave.
Tide Time 0622 0814 1131 1117 0803 0849 Birds
Brant 1 0.2
Gadwall 7 15 20 15 31 34 20.3
American Wigeon 10 12 2 7 5.2
Mallard 4 18 10 24 23 45 20.7
Cinnamon Teal 2 0.3
Northern Shoveler 23 16 4 4 46 22 19.2
Northern Pintail 10 4 2.3
Green-winged Teal 9 14 7 12 37 19 16.3
Lesser Scaup 1 0.2
Surf Scoter 7 12 35 14 15 13.8
Long-tailed Duck 1 0.2
Bufflehead 2 11 6 5 26 10 10.0
Red-brstd Merganser 4 8 6 6 6 5.0
Ruddy Duck 5 20 30 40 59 55 34.8
Red-throated Loon 1 1 2 0.7
Pacific Loon 1 1 1 1 5 1.5
Common Loon 2 1 0.5
Pied-billed Grebe 1 1 3 3 2 1.7
Horned Grebe 1 1 1 1 2 1.0
Eared Grebe 2 3 3 4 7 3.2
Western Grebe 65 23 15 6 8 46 27.2
Blk-vented Shearwater 200 33.3
Brandt’s Cormorant 5 2 1 3 7 3.0
Dble-crstd Cormorant 21 30 42 57 37 33 36.7
Pelagic Cormorant 1 1 4 1 2 1.5
Brown Pelican 34 256 35 42 48 73 81.3
Great Blue Heron 2 4 2 2 7 4 3.5
Great Egret 4 2 3 1 2 2.0
Snowy Egret 6 8 15 8 7 9 8.8
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 4 1 2 1.2
Osprey 1 1 1 0.5
Cooper’s Hawk 2 1 0.5
Red-shouldered Hawk 1 1 1 0.5
Red-tailed Hawk 1 1 1 0.5
Peregrine Falcon 2 0.3
Virginia Rail 1 0.2
Sora 1 1 4 2 1.3
American Coot 298 180 284 145 345 270 253.7
Blk-bellied Plover 16 38 45 1 65 62 37.8
Snowy Plover 39 42 54 60 81 61 56.2
Killdeer 2 1 4 3 2 2 2.3
Black Oystercatcher 2 5 1.2
American Avocet 3 4 2 4 2 3 3.0
Spotted Sandpiper 1 4 2 2 3 2.0
Willet 6 10 15 1 3 7 7.0
Whimbrel 1 2 2 1 1 3 1.7
Marbled Godwit 7 12 4 15 6.3
Ruddy Turnstone 2 9 13 15 10 8.2
Sanderling 106 60 85 200 17 78.0
Least Sandpiper 2 21 10 12 7.5
Heermann’s Gull 9 46 5 62 16 12 25.0
Mew Gull 2 0.3
Ring-billed Gull 80 180 55 120 150 90 112.5
Western Gull 110 125 45 100 120 75 95.8
California Gull 192 450 875 2500 1900 480 1066.2
Herring Gull 1 1 1 0.5
Thayer’s Gull 1 0.2
Glaucous-wingd Gull 2 6 6 2 5 1 3.7
Caspian Tern 1 0.2
Forster’s Tern 3 1 0.7
Royal Tern 9 4 12 16 2 7.2
Elegant Tern 1 0.2
Black Skimmer 8 30 6 7.3
Rock Pigeon 6 8 8 5 5 8 6.7
Mourning Dove 4 2 2 2 2 2.0
Blk-hooded Parakeet 6 1.0
Anna’s Hummingbird 1 2 3 3 2 1 2.0
Allen’s Hummingbird 2 4 2 6 2 5 3.5
Belted Kingfisher 1 1 1 0.5
Black Phoebe 6 8 4 4 3 4 4.8
Say’s Phoebe 1 1 1 1 0.7
Western Scrub-Jay 1 0.2
American Crow 21 10 5 6 4 3 8.2
Tree Swallow 8 1.3
Barn Swallow 1 0.2
Oak Titmouse 2 0.3
Bushtit 5 4 9 26 7.3
Bewick’s Wren 2 2 1 1 1.0
House Wren 1 0.2
Marsh Wren 1 0.2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1 0.2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1 3 0.7
Northern Mockingbird 1 2 1 1 2 1.2
European Starling 100 60 35 1 22 36.3
Ornge-crwnd Warbler 2 0.3
Yellow-rumpd Warbler 17 10 8 6 3 14 9.7
Common Yellowthroat 2 1 3 4 4 3 2.8
Spotted Towhee 1 1 1 1 0.7
California Towhee 4 2 1 1.2
Savannah Sparrow 2 0.3
Song Sparrow 5 6 3 8 2 8 5.3
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1 0.2
White-crwnd Sparrow 17 5 4 22 6 9.0
Red-winged Blackbird 3 1 0.7
Brewer’s Blackbird 6 1.0
Great-tailed Grackle 1 1 1 13 2.7
Brwn-headed Cowbird 2 0.3
House Finch 22 8 12 5 25 2 12.3
Lesser Goldfinch 2 4 1 1.2
American Goldfinch 8 1.3
Totals by Type 27-Jan 25-Jan 24-Jan 23-Jan 22-Jan 27-Jan Ave.
Waterfowl 59 120 134 106 255 217 149
Water Birds-Other 430 496 386 267 452 649 447
Herons, Egrets 16 15 20 11 18 13 16
Raptors 2 1 4 2 2 3 2
Shorebirds 182 181 251 82 388 183 211
Gulls & Terns 416 841 1006 2785 2207 663 1320
Doves 10 10 10 7 7 8 9
Other Non-Pass. 3 12 5 10 5 7 7
Passerines 200 125 90 70 110 75 112
Totals Birds 1318 1801 1906 3340 3444 1818 2271
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Total Species 27-Jan 25-Jan 24-Jan 23-Jan 22-Jan 27-Jan Ave.
Waterfowl 8 9 11 7 11 10 9.3
Water Birds-Other 10 10 12 11 10 12 10.8
Herons, Egrets 4 4 3 3 4 2 3.3
Raptors 1 1 3 2 2 3 2.0
Shorebirds 9 11 12 8 11 10 10.2
Gulls & Terns 11 7 9 6 6 8 7.8
Doves 2 2 2 2 2 1 1.8
Other Non-Pass. 2 3 2 3 3 3 2.7
Passerines 13 16 16 17 16 16 15.7
Totals Species 60 63 70 59 65 65 63.7
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