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Paramount to Malibu Creek Wildflowers & Birds Hike: 6 April, 2013

April 9, 2013

We’ve been really lucky with 

Rabbit (J. Waterman 4/6/13)

Rabbit (J. Waterman 4/6/13)

the weather for this hike; I can’t recall it ever being less than great. Twenty-two of us roamed around the Paramount movie ranch for about 20 minutes, during which time much of the morning fog burned off.  Plenty of birds were singing and rabbits hopping; especially notable were White-breasted Nuthatches, House Finches, Western Bluebirds, Acorn Woodpeckers, House Wrens and a flock of five Nanday (aka Black-hooded) Parakeets.  We shed a few garments back at the cars, then set off towards the Reagan Ranch portion of Malibu Creek State Park, which lies kitty-corner across Mulholland & Cornell Rds. from Paramount Ranch.

Ash-throated Flycatcher (J. Waterman 4/6/13)

Ash-throated Flycatcher (J. Waterman 4/6/13)

Many of the flowers were not yet or just barely in bloom – probably the result of a dry winter with only 6.4” of rain since Oct 1st, 54% of normal.  So the Lupine were barely in bloom, but the Buckwheat, Dudleaya, Horehound, Milkweed, Soap Plant, White and Black Sages, Golden Current, Penstemon, Milk Thistle, and Wooly  Blue Curls – all of which we saw – were not in bloom.

On the other hand, the Ceanothus, Elderberry, Bedstraw, Fiddleneck, and many others were beautiful. As usual, it was hard to make progress hiking with so much to look at. The total plant list was 66 species (see below).

Pacific Slope Flycatcher (J. Waterman 4/6/13)

Pacific Slope Flycatcher (J. Waterman 4/6/13)

Our bird trip list came up to a respectable 59 species, of which only five species – California Quail, Bewick’s Wren, Wrentit, Phainopepla and Black-headed Grosbeak were heard and not seen. As in prior years, every tree seemed to hold a singing House Wren. House Finches were abundant, particularly around the Reagan Ranch buildings.  We rediscovered for the umpteenth time that when you hear an unfamiliar bird song in the Santa Monica Mountains, it’ll be either an Oak Titmouse or a Bewick’s Wren; the former’s song is rich in tone while the latter’s song is usually a bit more buzzy.

Cooper's Hawk (J. Waterman 4/6/13)

Cooper’s Hawk (J. Waterman 4/6/13)

We spotted a Sharp-shinned Hawk soaring over the Reagan Ranch meadow, just before we got to the top of Cage Creek Trail. Or I should say, some of us did. I called out the bird, and some others said, “No, it’s a Cooper’s Hawk!”  It turned out that the possible was the actual – we had both.  It gave us a good opportunity to compare the tail shapes and head postures – the best field marks when flying – of these two similar species.

By noontime we found ourselves by Malibu Creek, the day had warmed, the birds weren’t so vocal anymore, and large crowds of humans now abounded.  Our last trip flower is usually Chia, which we find only on a roadside hill near the Malibu Creek parking lot – but there were so few this year that we had a hard time finding them, and some missed them altogether.

Hooded Oriole female (J. Waterman 4/6/13)

Hooded Oriole female (J. Waterman 4/6/13)

We couldn’t get all 22 people into the two shuttle cars we’d left, so we had to make two trips to get everyone back to Paramount, where most of us had lunch at the picnic tables under the large “ghost gum” eucalypts, while a sizable wedding party gathered under the large oak in the western town, drinking wine and getting dusty.

As always, the hike was led by Peggy Burhenn, Calif. State Parks docent specializing in native plants and wildflowers.  We went back toour original one-way-with-car-shuttle route, as last year’s hike back up Cage Creek Trail nearly did many of us in.  I’ve also been advised to mention that there are actually “several” small up and down slopes.

The lists below give a five-year comparison of this hike.  There are significant differences from year-to-year, both in what we find and what is in bloom.
[Chuck Almdale]

X – Seen     NB – Not in Bloom     * – Introduced Species
  4/6 4/15 4/9 4/10 3/29
WHITE 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
Ashy-leafed Buckwheat X NB X
Big Pod Ceanothus X NB X X
California Buckwheat NB X X NB
California Everlasting X X
Cliff Aster X X
Coyote Brush X X NB NB NB
Dodder X X X
Dudleaya NB X
Elderberry X X NB X X
Horehound* NB X X X X
Lace Pod (green) X X X
Lanceleaf Dudleaya NB
Linanthus X
Miner’s Lettuce X X X X
Morning Glory X X
Mulefat X X X X
Narrow-leafed Bedstraw X X
Narrow-leafed Milkweed NB
Onion – not specified X
Poison Hemlock NB NB X
Poison Oak X X
Popcorn Flower X X X X
Soap Plant NB X X
White Nightshade X X
White Sage NB X X X X
Wild Cucumber X X X X X
Yucca X X NB X X
Burr Clover* X
Canyon Sunflower X
Collarless California Poppy X
Common Fiddleneck X X X X X
Common Goldfields X
Deerweed X X
Golden Currant NB X X X X
Golden Yarrow X X X
Johnny Jump-up X X X X X
Lomatium X
Microseris X
Mountain Dandelion X X X
Mustard* X X X X X
Pineapple Weed* X X X X X
Stringose Lotus X X
Western Wallflower X X X
Bush/sticky Monkeyflower X X X NB
California Poppy X X X
Scarlet Pimpernel* X X
Chalk Live-forever X
Crimson Pitcher (Hummingbird) Sage X X X X NB
Heart-leaved Penstemon NB
Indian Paintbrush X NB X
Bush Mallow X
Chinese Houses X X X X X
Milk Thistle* NB X X NB NB
Prickly Phlox X X
Purple Clarkia X
Purple Owl’s Clover X X X
Purple Sage X X X X X
Red-stem Filaree* X X X X X
Spring Vetch* X X X X
Tom Cat Clover X X
Wild Radish* X X X X
Wild Sweet Pea X X X
Wooly Aster X
Baby Blue Eyes X X
Bajada Lupine X
Black Sage NB X X X
Blue Dicks X X X X X
Blue Larkspur X X
Bush Lupine X X X X X
California Peony X
Caterpillar Phacelia X X X X X
Chia X X X X
Common Vervain X X
Danny’s Skullcap X X
Dove Lupine X X X
Fern-leaf Phacelia X X X
Fiesta Flower X X X X X
Green Bark Ceanothus X X N X X
Henbit* X
Italian Thistle* X
Parry’s Phacelia X X X X
Purple Nightshade X X X X X
Sticky Phacelia X
Winter Vetch* X X
Wooly Blue Curls NB
Curly Dock X X
English Plantain* NB X
Arroyo Willow X X X X X
California Bay Laurel X X X
California Bickelbush X
California Sagebrush X X X X
Chamise X X X
Coast Live Oak X X X X X
Coffee Berry X X
Hog Fennel X X
Laurel Sumac X X X X X
Mistletoe X X X X
Mugwort X X X X X
Poison Oak X X X
Scrub Oak X X
Squaw Bush X X
Stinging Nettle X
Sugarbush X X X X
Toyon X X X X X
Valley Oak X X X X
Western Sycamore X X X X X
Whitethorn X
Wild Rose X X X X
Total Plants – 108 66 73 60 70 56


Paramount – Malibu Creek S.P. 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
Bird Name 4/6 4/15 4/9 4/10 3/29
Canada Goose 2 4 2
Gadwall X
American Wigeon X
Mallard 6 8 7 10 X
Ring-necked Duck 6
Bufflehead X
Ruddy Duck X
California Quail 3H 20 6 4H
Pied-billed Grebe X
Great Blue Heron 3 1 2
Turkey Vulture 4 3 4 2 X
Northern Harrier 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 1 1
Cooper’s Hawk 2 1 1 X
Red-shouldered Hawk 3 1 6 2 X
Red-tailed Hawk 2 3 3 5 X
American Coot 9 4 4 X
Spotted Sandpiper 1
California Gull 20
Band-tailed Pigeon 3 3 9
Mourning Dove 1 4 8 12
Barn Owl 1
Vaux’s Swift 20
White-throated Swift 4 2 4 12 X
Black-chinned Hummingbird 1 1 1
Anna’s Hummingbird 5 1 2 4 X
Allen’s Hummingbird 2 1 1 X
Belted Kingfisher 1 X
Acorn Woodpecker 12 9 8 11 X
Nuttall’s Woodpecker 4 5 2 2H X
Downy Woodpecker X
Northern Flicker 2 3 2 X
American Kestrel X
Black-hooded Parakeet 5+4H 3 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 1 2 X
Black Phoebe 4 4 8 8 X
Say’s Phoebe 3 1 3 1
Ash-throated Flycatcher 3+2H
Cassin’s Kingbird 9 3 4 2 X
Western Kingbird 1 4 3 X
Hutton’s Vireo 1
Warbling Vireo 2 X
Western Scrub-Jay 6+4H 10+20H 12 14 X
American Crow 12 15 20 6 X
Common Raven 9 2 4 5 X
Tree Swallow 10 6 4
Violet-green Swallow 20 20 12
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 15 25 35 24 X
Cliff Swallow 1 3 1 20 X
Barn Swallow 2 X
Oak Titmouse 4+15H 2+20H 9 4 X
Bushtit 5 8 8 4 X
White-breasted Nuthatch 3 2 2 2 X
Canyon Wren 1 1H H
House Wren 4+30H 4+40H 25 32 X
Bewick’s Wren 2H 4 12 2 X
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3H 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1 2 2 X
Wrentit 14H 20H 7H H X
Western Bluebird 10 10 13 10 X
Hermit Thrush 1 X
American Robin 1
Northern Mockingbird 6+3H 2 X
California Thrasher 1+3H 4H H
European Starling 10 1 6 12 X
Phainopepla 1H
Orange-crowned Warbler 1+2H 1H 5 6 X
Common Yellowthroat 2 1H 6 2 X
Yellow Warbler 1+6H H
Yellow-rumped Warbler 4+2H 6 6 10 X
Black-throated Gray Warbler X
Townsend’s Warbler X
Spotted Towhee 4+6H 5+5H 8 5 X
California Towhee 4+4H 10 20 6 X
Savannah Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 5+4H 7+6H 13 7 X
Lincoln’s Sparrow X
White-crowned Sparrow 10 1 X
Golden-crowned Sparrow 2
Dark-eyed Junco 7 10 X
Black-headed Grosbeak 4H 8 3 4
Red-winged Blackbird 5 12 20 X
Western Meadowlark 5 X
Brown-headed Cowbird 2 1
Hooded Oriole 4 4 6
Bullock’s Oriole 5+3H 6 3 6
Purple Finch H
House Finch 20+30H 90 60 20 X
Lesser Goldfinch 6+6H 8 12 16 X
American Goldfinch 30
House Sparrow X
Total – 92 species 59 62 52 60 58


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