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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 28 July, 2013

July 31, 2013
P1000667 Adamson House panoramic_A Albaisa_72813_CR

Adamson House panorama (A. Albaisa 7/28/13)

Another nippy, foggy summer day:  63° when we arrived, still only 68° by noon. Only a few beach-strollers and  die-hard surfers were around.

Speaking of surfers, someone started a trench at the west end to breach the beach and empty the lagoon, a location which – accidentally, no doubt – happens to be right where the surfers prefer it. They didn’t get far (see photo in slideshow) perhaps figuring that it would be a lot of sand to move.

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The young Mallards begin to resemble real birds rather than fuzzballs, and were floating around the lagoon and channel. Brown Pelican numbers rebounded: 195 birds, mostly young ones, well above the 30-bird monthly average for the past year.  Elegant Tern numbers were astronomical: from the west side of the channel we watched a flock of several thousand rise skittishly and repeatedly from the sand, but by the time we reached the beach, only 600 birds remained on the low-tide exposed rocks. Our all-time high count of Elegants was 700 birds on 4/26/09; if the bulk of today’s flock had remained, we’d have seen far more than that.

Flower at post (L. Johnson 7/28/13)

Beach Primrose – Camissonia cheiranthifolia
(L. Johnson 7/28/13)

The channel’s mat of algae which we’d wondered about in last month’s blog was reduced. Photos and film taken during June and July and posted on website The Real Malibu 411 here and again here show that, as predicted and hoped, the afternoon winds blow the algae around. Now you see it, now you don’t!

Snowy Plovers are back: 30 birds on the beach, including one banded bird GG:AR (left leg green over green: right leg aqua over red).  This bird was one of three fledglings banded with this combination in 2011 at Oceano Dunes, just south of the cities of Pismo Beach & Oceano on the central California coast, and has been a member of the Malibu Lagoon wintering flock since then.

Well offshore was a huge flock of seabirds: pelicans, terns (probably all the missing Elegants), gulls, cormorants and at least two species of shearwater. Dolphins cut back and forth through the cloud of birds, and no doubt all were making significant inroads into the bay’s population of baitfish. We didn’t include any of these birds in our census. The Shearwaters were in the thousands, with more of a smaller species, Black-vented probably, and fewer of a larger, likely Pink-footed.

Brant (Joyce Waterman)

Brant (Joyce Waterman)

Other notable finds were 2 Brant and 4 Semipalmated Plovers on one of the channel sand islands, the latter mistaken by some for Killdeer which also seem to like these islands; 7 Black-bellied Plovers returning from Arctic breeding grounds; 34 Whimbrel also returning for the winter; at least 10 Allen’s Hummingbirds, mostly at Adamson House; at least a dozen Barn Swallows flycatching over the beach; an American Robin for the 2nd month in a row; 2 Hooded Orioles – an adult near the picnic area and a juvenile at Adamson House; on a snag near Adamson House, a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk who’d probably recently fledged upstream; in the seeding grass and flowers at the beach end of the path was a mixed flock of Savannah Sparrows, House Finches, Lesser and American Goldfinches.

Challenge! - Find the 3rd Ruddy Turnstone (A. Albaisa 7/22/13)

Challenge! – Find the 3rd Ruddy Turnstone (A. Albaisa 7/22/13)

Our next three scheduled field trips:   Lower L.A. River, 24 Aug, 7:30am; Malibu Lagoon, 25 Aug, 8:30am. Malibu Lagoon, 22 Sept, 8:30am.
Our next program:  Tuesday, 1 Oct., 7:30 pm. To be announced, as usual, from the blog.

NOTE: Our 10 a.m. Parent’s & Kids Birdwalks have resumed, meeting at the shaded viewing area near the parking lot .

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:
   July total birds of 1427 are 83% above the 6-year average, an improvement from the previous 6 months; pelican numbers rebounded and Elegant Terns were abundant.
Summary of total birds from the 6-year average so far:  June +36%, July -9%, Aug. -9%, Sep. +12%, Oct. +3%, Nov -5%, Dec +30%, Jan -20%, Feb -29%, March -30%, April -34%, May -37%, June -24%, July +83%.
Species Diversity:  July 2013 with 48 species was fractionally below the 6-year average of 48.3.
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%, May +3%, June +13%, July 0%.
10-year comparison summaries are available on our Lagoon Project Bird Census Page.    [Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Census 2007 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013  
July 2007-13 7/22 7/26 7/25 7/24 7/22 7/28  
Temperature   68-75 60-67 65-72 64-70 63-68  
Tide Lo/Hi Height L+2.2 L+0.4 H+4.05 L+2.61 H+2.34 L+1.27 Ave.
Tide Time 0848 0704 1036 0947 1121 0628 Birds
Brant 6 2 1.3
Gadwall 12 4 2.7
Mallard 50 25 49 54 42 45 44.2
White-winged Scoter 1 0.2
Red-brstd Merganser 2 0.3
Ruddy Duck 1 3 2 1.0
Pied-billed Grebe 12 6 5 4 4 3 5.7
Eared Grebe 1 0.2
Dble-crstd Cormorant 9 15 20 31 24 28 21.2
Pelagic Cormorant 1 0.2
Brown Pelican 78 40 187 407 17 195 154.0
Great Blue Heron 9 3 6 6 1 4 4.8
Great Egret 5 5 4 4 1 2 3.5
Snowy Egret 10 40 14 11 11 17 17.2
Green Heron 1 0.2
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 3 2 4 11 2 3.7
Osprey 1 0.2
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0.2
Red-shouldered Hawk 1 0.2
Red-tailed Hawk 1 1 1 0.5
Sora 1 0.2
American Coot 28 20 15 20 12 47 23.7
Blk-bellied Plover 4 45 7 9.3
Snowy Plover 4 1 26 13 22 30 16.0
Semipalmated Plover 6 2 4 2.0
Killdeer 2 3 2 3 3 2.2
Black Oystercatcher 1 0.2
Spotted Sandpiper 1 2 0.5
Greater Yellowlegs 1 0.2
Willet 3 1 7 1.8
Whimbrel 3 1 48 42 34 21.3
Ruddy Turnstone 3 7 5 7 3.7
Black Turnstone 8 1 2 1.8
Red Knot 2 0.3
Sanderling 4 0.7
Western Sandpiper 8 1 20 2 2 5.5
Least Sandpiper 2 1 3 1 1.2
Short-billd Dowitcher 2 0.3
Boneparte’s Gull 2 0.3
Heermann’s Gull 12 12 125 41 12 26 38.0
Ring-billed Gull 4 4 1 1.5
Western Gull 109 30 80 107 95 190 101.8
California Gull 2 1 2 1 1.0
Least Tern 8 36 13 3 10.0
Caspian Tern 5 13 3  2 3.8
Common Tern 1 0.2
Royal Tern 2 3 3 1.3
Elegant Tern 10 8 45 600 110.5
Black Skimmer 35 1 1 1 6.3
Rock Pigeon 6 1 6 6 2 8 4.8
Eur. Collared-Dove 1 0.2
Mourning Dove 2 1 4 3 2 3 2.5
Anna’s Hummingbird 3 1 1 3 1 2 1.8
Allen’s Hummingbird 4 3 6 3 9 10 5.8
Belted Kingfisher 1 0.2
Black Phoebe 4 6 2 8 5 6 5.2
Western Kingbird 5 1 1.0
Western Scrub-Jay 1 1 0.3
American Crow 6 1 6 4 6 6 4.8
Rough-wingd Swallow 6 2 5 20 5 6.3
Barn Swallow 30 12 20 18 20 12 18.7
Cliff Swallow 25 24 10 25 15 16.5
Oak Titmouse 1 2 0.5
Bushtit 8 6 6 8 8 2 6.3
Bewick’s Wren 1 0.2
American Robin 1 0.2
Wrentit 1 1 0.3
Northern Mockingbird 2 3 2 2 5 4 3.0
European Starling 8 6 80 38 17 42 31.8
Common Yellowthroat 3 2 4 1 1 1 2.0
California Towhee 1 2 2 3 1 1 1.7
Savannah Sparrow 5 0.8
Song Sparrow 4 1 3 1 4 12 4.2
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1 0.2
Western Tanager 1 0.2
Red-winged Blackbird 6 2 1 17 4.3
Great-tailed Grackle 1 3 5 1.5
Brwn-headed Cowbird 1 1 3 6 1.8
Hooded Oriole 2 4 6 2 2 2.7
Bullock’s Oriole 1 0.2
House Finch 6 24 2 4 35 8 13.2
Lesser Goldfinch 2 35 6.2
American Goldfinch 6 1.0
House Sparrow 4 0.7
Totals by Type 7/22 7/26 7/25 7/24 7/22 7/28 Ave.
Waterfowl 62 26 58 56 49 47 50
Water Birds-Other 128 81 227 463 57 274 205
Herons, Egrets 28 50 28 32 13 25 29
Raptors 2 1 1 0 1 1 1
Shorebirds 23 4 127 32 128 88 67
Gulls & Terns 140 44 306 175 161 823 275
Doves 8 3 10 9 4 11 8
Other Non-Pass. 7 5 7 6 10 12 8
Passerines 121 95 152 167 133 146 136
Totals Birds 519 309 916 940 556 1427 778
 
Total Species 7/22 7/26 7/25 7/24 7/22 7/28 Ave.
Waterfowl 2 2 3 2 4 2 2.5
Water Birds-Other 5 4 4 5 4 5 4.5
Herons, Egrets 5 4 4 4 3 4 4.0
Raptors 2 1 1 0 1 1 1.0
Shorebirds 7 4 10 8 11 8 8.0
Gulls & Terns 6 3 9 8 7 7 6.7
Doves 2 3 2 2 2 2 2.2
Other Non-Pass. 2 3 2 2 2 2 2.2
Passerines 18 16 16 19 18 17 17.3
Totals Species 49 40 51 50 52 48 48.3
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