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Malibu Lagoon Field Trip Report: 28 April, 2013

April 30, 2013

A foggy morning at the lagoon, outlet closed, the water high, colored flags marking the small plants, an occasional unflagged weed and, frankly, not many birds. See the charts below and on our Lagoon Project Page for the statistics.

Channel area view from Las Virgenes Rd. (L. Plauzoles 04/13/13)

Channel area view from Las Virgenes Rd. (L. Plauzoles 04/13/13)

 The ducks are dwindling as springtime calls them north. It was an off day for the shorebirds, with only five “peeps” present: two Western Sandpipers, a single Ruddy Turnstone, two Spotted Sandpipers now sporting breeding breast-spots. The gulls continue to be fewer than average: we didn’t find any Ring-bills among the few California and Western Gulls, but Heermann’s, absent since January, begin to return from their breeding grounds on islands near the tip of Baja California. A single Clark’s Grebe was out past the kelp with a small group of Western Grebes.

"Elegant, my primaries! He tries that with me, Marge, and he's going to be the least tern you ever saw." (C.Bragg 2011)

“Elegant, my foot! He tries that with me, Marge, and he’s going to be the least tern you ever saw.” (C.Bragg 2011)

The Elegant Terns returned, resting en route to breeding grounds farther north. They looked great and they knew it, breasts rosy from a crustacean diet, with fine black crests. Many attempted mating. A Black-crowned Night Heron hid in the trees by the Adamson House beach fence, a White-tailed Kite searched the perimeter, eight Semipalmated Plovers combed the beach wrack, two Black Oystercatchers worked the low-tide rocks, six Caspian and three Royal Terns kept the cacophonous Elegant Terns company, and a young male Hooded Oriole – yellow, not orange – was a nice treat near the picnic table corner.

The tidal clock was working – 8 ft. 4 in. was the time, I think. A good high tide with some wave action may well open an outlet near Adamson House.

Tidal Clock at work, ticking away (J. Kenney 4/16/13)

Tidal Clock at work, ticking away (J. Kenney 4/16/13)

Our next three field trips:  Morongo Valley Preserve, 4-5 May; Malibu Lagoon, 26 May, 8:30am; Malibu Lagoon, 23 June, 8:30am.
Our next program:  Tuesday, 7 May., 7:30 pm. Eight-legged Science: The Spider Lab at Loyola Marymount University, with Dr. Martin Ramirez. The usual reminders will be emailed from the blog.

NOTE: Our 10 a.m. Parent’s & Kids Birdwalks have resumed.

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:   March total birds of 666 are 34% below average; low numbers are mainly in the Brown Pelicans (-158) and Gulls & Terns (-197).
Species Diversity:  April 2013 with 56 species was 2% below the 57.2 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%, March +9%, April -2%. Still, the only constant is change.
10-year comparison summaries are available on our Lagoon Project Bird Census Page.    [Chuck Almdale]

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
27-Apr 26-Apr 25-Apr 24-Apr 22-Apr 28-Apr
Temperature 75-90 60-70 62-70 59-68 60-65 57-68
Tide Lo/Hi Height L +0.5 H +3.7 H +4.57 L +0.19 H +3.67 L -1.10 Ave.
Tide Time 1000 1128 0744 1014 1106 0609 Birds
Brant 1 3 3 1.2
Gadwall 15 6 12 24 14 12 13.8
American Wigeon 4 9 2.2
Mallard 25 16 20 22 16 30 21.5
Northern Shoveler 12 2.0
Surf Scoter 30 5.0
Red-brstd Merganser 4 3 5 3 2.5
Ruddy Duck 10 3 9 20 7.0
Pacific Loon 2 2 4 20 3 1 5.3
Common Loon 1 3 1 0.8
Pied-billed Grebe 4 4 1 2 6 2.8
Eared Grebe 6 2 1.3
Western Grebe 50 35 2 1 28 19.3
Brandt’s Cormorant 8 1 3 1 7 3.3
Dble-crstd Cormorant 25 14 22 19 65 22 27.8
Pelagic Cormorant 2 1 1 2 1 1.2
Brown Pelican 35 78 182 740 80 34 191.5
Great Blue Heron 2 1 4 1 2 1.7
Great Egret 2 2 2 2 1.3
Snowy Egret 8 7 13 11 9 9 9.5
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 1 1 1 1 0.7
Red-tailed Hawk 1 2 0.5
Sora 1 1 1 0.5
American Coot 65 38 35 32 95 58 53.8
Blk-bellied Plover 30 7 11 8.0
Snowy Plover 1 3 6 1.7
Semipalmated Plover 15 15 13 25 3 8 13.2
Killdeer 4 2 4 8 4 2 4.0
Black-necked Stilt 4 0.7
Spotted Sandpiper 1 3 3 1 2 1.7
Willet 4 4 1 1 1.7
Whimbrel 1 6 5 3 5 8 4.7
Marbled Godwit 10 4 8 3.7
Ruddy Turnstone 5 25 2 1 1 5.7
Black Turnstone 1 2 0.5
Surfbird 3 0.5
Western Sandpiper 15 10 12 16 2 9.2
Least Sandpiper 4 2 30 25 5 11.0
Boneparte’s Gull 5 2 1.2
Heermann’s Gull 3 1 45 3 1 14 11.2
Ring-billed Gull 8 4 4 52 20 14.7
Western Gull 35 85 105 160 85 112 97.0
California Gull 65 6 108 450 75 25 121.5
Glaucous-wingd Gull 3 1 2 1 3 1.7
Caspian Tern 13 41 30 61 25 6 29.3
Forster’s Tern 2 1 0.5
Royal Tern 4 2 1 3 1.7
Elegant Tern 245 700 40 12 65 134 199.3
Rock Pigeon 6 4 4 4 3 12 5.5
Mourning Dove 2 2 6 4 2 2 3.0
Anna’s Hummingbird 2 1 2 2 2 1 1.7
Allen’s Hummingbird 3 4 3 2 2 4 3.0
Black Phoebe 6 10 10 8 4 7 7.5
American Crow 4 5 4 5 5 4 4.5
Rough-wingd Swallow 4 3 10 16 6 10 8.2
Barn Swallow 8 4 2 10 1 6 5.2
Cliff Swallow 20 4 2 4.3
Bushtit 6 2 6 2 4 3.3
Bewick’s Wren 2 1 1 0.7
Northern Mockingbird 4 1 2 2 2 5 2.7
European Starling 6 6 4 4 4 4.0
Cedar Waxwing 20 3.3
Yellow-rumpd Warbler 2 4 1.0
Common Yellowthroat 1 2 6 3 2.0
Spotted Towhee 1 1 4 1.0
California Towhee 3 2 0.8
Song Sparrow 8 6 12 10 8 15 9.8
Red-winged Blackbird 2 1 1 6 1.7
Great-tailed Grackle 1 2 8 5 2.7
Brwn-headed Cowbird 1 2 1 2 1.0
House Finch 6 4 6 10 6 8 6.7
Lesser Goldfinch 2 1 2 0.8
Totals by Type 27-Apr 26-Apr 25-Apr 24-Apr 22-Apr 28-Apr Ave.
Waterfowl 74 37 38 51 65 68 56
Water Birds-Other 200 138 284 820 250 160 309
Herons, Egrets 13 8 15 16 13 14 13
Raptors 0 2 0 3 1 1 1
Shorebirds 52 109 73 74 63 32 67
Gulls & Terns 373 844 339 743 272 297 478
Doves 9 6 10 9 5 14 9
Other Non-Pass. 6 5 5 4 4 5 5
Passerines 80 53 92 83 60 75 74
Totals Birds 807 1202 856 1803 733 666 1011
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Total Species 27-Apr 26-Apr 25-Apr 24-Apr 22-Apr 28-Apr Ave.
Waterfowl 4 5 4 4 6 5 4.7
Water Birds-Other 12 7 9 9 9 10 9.3
Herons, Egrets 4 2 2 3 4 4 3.2
Raptors 0 2 0 2 1 1 1.0
Shorebirds 11 12 11 6 12 9 10.2
Gulls & Terns 7 9 9 9 7 7 8.0
Doves 3 2 2 3 2 2 2.3
Other Non-Pass. 3 2 2 2 2 2 2.2
Passerines 17 15 18 17 15 16 16.3
Totals Species 61 56 57 55 58 56 57.2

 

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