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Malibu Lagoon Field Trip Report: 24 Feb., 2013

February 27, 2013

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Windy welcome for the hardy souls who came out on February 24th! We were wondering what birds – if any – might be seen in such a blustery locale, but we were certainly rewarded! It was a significant contrast to earlier expeditions along the narrow temporary path to the beach. What had been the muddy mess was suddenly hardened clay with parched cracks under our footsteps. When we got to the beach little was to be seen except a distant flock of gulls on the exposed beach near The Point. Even the Snowy Plovers were scattered in little groups near tiny windbreaks such as a beached sea urchin; anything to get some relief form the wind.

But as the day wore on, the wind died down and we were able to see a number of our usual species, albeit smaller numbers of shorebirds than usual. Our reward came when we observed a group of Common Mergansers frolicking in the Lagoon while we were finishing our adventure at the Adamson House landing. Even from a distance, it was obvious we had witnessed a special event as this is a rarely-seen LA County species.

Our census of the birds in the channel during the project period this month was: No. Shoveler 2, Bufflehead 1, Pied-billed Grebe 1, Double-crested Cormorant 6, Great Blue Heron 1, Coot 3, Ring-billed Gull 4, Western Gull 2, California Gull 6, Anna’s Hummingbird 1, Tree Swallow 6, Cliff Swallow 3.

Brant – absent in January – returned in force, with 15 individuals beating their prior record of 11 on 6/27/10. The six (4 male, 2 female) Common Mergansers were unusual, as this species prefers fresh water over brackish or salt; in over 30 years we’ve recorded only 7 previous visits to the lagoon. One Raven showed up – they’re always in the general area but we hadn’t recorded one since 11/28/10. The Cliff Swallows are returning migrants – a bit early it seems to me, as we have only 1 previous record for February. Snowy Plover PV:YB was back on the beach among the 36 roosting birds.

Our next three field trips:  Hiker Lu’s Santa Monica Mountains Explorama, 9 Mar, 8:30am;  Malibu Lagoon, 24 Mar, 8:30am; Walker Ranch (Placerita Cyn) 6 Apr, 8:30am.
Our next program:  Tuesday, 2 Apr., 7:30 pm at Cristine Reed Park.   Topic to be announced.  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:   Feb. total birds of 1104 are 29% below average; low numbers are mainly in the gulls and coots.
Species Diversity:  February 2013 with 52 species was  8% below the 56.3 6-year average, a minor variance.
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%, Feb -8%. Still, the only constant is change.
10-year comparison summaries are available on our Lagoon Project Census Summaries Page.
[Lu Plauzoles & Chuck Almdale]

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Malibu Census 2012

24-Feb

22-Feb

28-Feb

27-Feb

26-Feb

24-Feb

Temperature

70-75

60-70

55-61

45-60

48-64

55-65

Tide Lo/Hi Height

L +1.2

H +5.5

H +6.19

L -0.41

H +3.37

H +5.50

Ave.

Tide Time

0759

0728

0835

1243

1136

0802

Birds

Snow Goose 1 0.2
Brant 15 2.5
Canada Goose 6 1.0
Gadwall 13 18 35 22 35 13 22.7
American Wigeon 10 16 4 8 6.3
Mallard 8 20 13 24 30 14 18.2
Cinnamon Teal 5 0.8
Northern Shoveler 6 28 2 35 22 15.5
Northern Pintail 8 2 1.7
Green-winged Teal 11 23 2 17 38 1 15.3
Surf Scoter 6 4 8 40 9.7
Bufflehead 8 2 4 14 4.7
Common Merganser 6 1.0
Red-brstd Merganser 8 5 5 8 8 3 6.2
Ruddy Duck 7 12 14 33 24 41 21.8
Red-throated Loon 1 2 0.5
Pacific Loon 2 1 1 3 2 1.5
Common Loon 1 1 0.3
Pied-billed Grebe 1 1 2 2 2 1.3
Horned Grebe 1 1 0.3
Eared Grebe 2 0.3
Western Grebe 1 9 6 12 40 2 11.7
Brandt’s Cormorant 3 3 2 15 4 4.5
Dble-crstd Cormorant 25 25 21 37 28 40 29.3
Pelagic Cormorant 1 2 1 3 2 1.5
Brown Pelican 41 107 81 23 12 10 45.7
Great Blue Heron 1 1 1 0.5
Great Egret 3 4 3 1 2 1 2.3
Snowy Egret 2 10 4 9 8 1 5.7
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 3 1 0.7
Turkey Vulture 1 1 0.3
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0.2
Red-shouldered Hawk 2 0.3
Red-tailed Hawk 1 3 2 1.0
Virginia Rail 1 0.2
Sora 2 1 3 3 1.5
American Coot 226 152 175 175 285 82 182.5
Blk-bellied Plover 36 42 59 65 93 50 57.5
Snowy Plover 39 49 49 59 54 36 47.7
Semipalmated Plover 1 0.2
Killdeer 1 4 10 1 2.7
Black Oystercatcher 1 2 0.5
American Avocet 2 2 2 1 1.2
Spotted Sandpiper 3 2 2 1 1.3
Willet 6 8 15 7 2 1 6.5
Whimbrel 7 2 5 2 2.7
Marbled Godwit 6 24 17 2 8.2
Ruddy Turnstone 5 9 11 5 13 7.2
Sanderling 52 130 172 135 100 170 126.5
Least Sandpiper 4 18 3.7
Boneparte’s Gull 1 13 1 2.5
Heermann’s Gull 14 19 7 6.7
Mew Gull 1 0.2
Ring-billed Gull 103 20 42 250 35 120 95.0
Western Gull 79 125 74 120 55 40 82.2
California Gull 145 1360 45 1050 360 280 540.0
Herring Gull 1 0.2
Glaucous-wingd Gull 12 3 3 2 2 3.7
Caspian Tern 1 0.2
Forster’s Tern 1 0.2
Royal Tern 2 8 32 1 3 7.7
Elegant Tern 1 0.2
Black Skimmer 5 3 1.3
Rock Pigeon 4 6 4 4 4 1 3.8
Mourning Dove 2 2 0.7
Anna’s Hummingbird 2 3 2 2 1 1.7
Allen’s Hummingbird 3 3 3 3 1 3 2.7
Belted Kingfisher 1 1 1 0.5
Downy Woodpecker 1 0.2
Black Phoebe 5 4 5 5 4 3.8
Say’s Phoebe 1 1 0.3
Cassin’s Kingbird 2 0.3
American Crow 5 6 4 4 8 7 5.7
Common Raven 1 0.2
Rough-wingd Swallow 20 1 2 3.8
Tree Swallow 180 10 31.7
Barn Swallow 3 0.5
Cliff Swallow 1 12 2.2
Bushtit 4 16 5 6 4 10 7.5
Bewick’s Wren 1 0.2
Marsh Wren 1 1 0.3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2 0.3
Hermit Thrush 1 0.2
Northern Mockingbird 1 3 2 2 2 1.7
European Starling 12 41 35 15 52 25.8
Ornge-crwnd Warbler 1 0.2
Yellow-rumpd Warbler 10 4 2 2 3.0
Common Yellowthroat 1 2 1 2 2 1.3
Spotted Towhee 1 1 0.3
California Towhee 1 1 2 0.7
Savannah Sparrow 2 0.3
Song Sparrow 2 5 6 8 8 2 5.2
White-crwnd Sparrow 1 3 4 4 4 2.7
Red-winged Blackbird 4 15 3.2
Western Meadowlark 1 0.2
Brewer’s Blackbird 1 0.2
Great-tailed Grackle 2 8 5 2.5
House Finch 12 6 3 3 10 3 6.2
Lesser Goldfinch 4 2 1.0
Totals by Type 24-Feb 22-Feb 28-Feb 27-Feb 26-Feb 24-Feb Ave.
Waterfowl 63 141 73 126 231 131 128
Water Birds-Other 299 305 289 257 395 142 281
Herons, Egrets 9 14 7 12 10 3 9
Raptors 1 2 3 0 2 3 2
Shorebirds 153 274 328 301 278 260 266
Gulls & Terns 345 1545 209 1440 455 445 740
Doves 4 8 4 4 6 1 5
Other Non-Pass. 3 6 6 6 4 5 5
Passerines 30 269 81 81 93 114 111
Totals Birds 907 2564 1000 2227 1474 1104 1546
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Total Species 24-Feb 22-Feb 28-Feb 27-Feb 26-Feb 24-Feb Ave.
Waterfowl 7 10 6 10 11 10 9.0
Water Birds-Other 8 11 9 9 12 7 9.3
Herons, Egrets 4 2 2 4 2 3 2.8
Raptors 1 2 1 0 1 2 1.2
Shorebirds 8 11 9 10 10 6 9.0
Gulls & Terns 7 7 8 7 7 5 6.8
Doves 1 2 1 1 2 1 1.3
Other Non-Pass. 1 3 2 3 3 3 2.5
Passerines 7 15 15 15 19 15 14.3
Totals Species 44 63 53 59 67 52 56.3

 

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2 Comments
  1. Mary Prismon permalink
    March 8, 2013 9:21 am

    Nice write-up, Lu. Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2013 00:18:53 +0000 To: goldcrownking@msn.com

    Like

    • Chukar permalink
      March 8, 2013 1:41 pm

      And just a teensy assistance from the unflagging editor.

      Like

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