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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 22 September, 2013

September 27, 2013

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Good numbers, both of birds (1208) and birders (30+), but species diversity (53), not counting humans, was down a bit, as September was only the 3rd month below-10-year-average for the past year. (See our Lagoon Census Summary Page for clarification of the 10-year data).  Weather was breezy and a nice 64-73° and tide was almost at the high: waves crashed over the offshore rocks and one wave washed over our feet as we checked out the terns and Snowy Plovers.

Warbling Vireo (J. Waterman 9/22/13)

Warbling Vireo (J. Waterman 9/22/13)

A Warbling Vireo popping through the fence-clinging vines alongside the colony was the surprise bird of the day; my only other record for it on a Sunday walk is a singleton on 5/26/02. It was annoyingly elusive and not everyone managed to see it, despite much pishing and moaning, but photographer Joyce Waterman was quick on the draw and snagged a shot.

Closeup of two Least Sandpipers, adult in basic plumage behind juvenile (J. Waterman 9/22/13)

Closeup (a bit fuzzy) of two Least Sandpipers, adult in basic plumage behind juvenile (J. Waterman 9/22/13)

A few of the Least Sandpipers, adults in basic plumage, looked almost like Pectoral Sandpipers – well…sort of almost – but it was Not To Be. The above photo led to an email discussion of plumages, sizes, bill length and photographic optical illusions.  One of the beach terns had red legs, giving us brief hope for an oddity, but everything else about it said “I’m an Elegant Tern, don’t mess with me.”

Elegant Tern - an unusual red legged version (J. Waterman 9/22/13)

Elegant Tern – an unusual red legged version (J. Waterman 9/22/13)

The count of 37 Snowy Egrets was second only to the all-time-high of 40 seen 7/26/09. Everywhere you looked, especially on the east end of one channel sand island, Snowy Egrets stalked the shallows.  Incidentally, the Brants (geese) have now been at the lagoon for the past 3 months, and one Brant or another has been there eight out of the last eleven months, including 15 of them last February. If this is indicative of something, I don’t know what it is. Perhaps they like floating algae.

The Snowy Plover count was up to 47 birds, most of them actually within the Snowy Plover enclosure, for a shocking change, including newbie RB:YG. First seen at the lagoon on 9/9/13, this individual was born and banded at Fort Ord this past summer. Welcome to the sunny southern climes of Malibu!

Snowy Plover RB:YG (A. Albaisa 9/22/13)

Snowy Plover RB:YG (A. Albaisa 9/22/13)

New birds for the season were: American Widgeon, Northern Shoveler, Pelagic Cormorant, American Kestrel, Marbled Godwit, Long-billed Dowitcher, Ring-billed Gull, Say’s Phoebe, and Warbling Vireo.

Our next three scheduled field trips:   Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, 12 Oct, 8:30am; Butterbredt Spring Fall Campout & Pumpkin Carving Contest 26-27 Oct, 8:30am;  Malibu Lagoon, 27 Oct, 8:30 & 10am.
Our next program:  Tuesday, 1 Oct., 7:30 pm. Peru, presented by Mary Deutsche.

NOTE: Our 10 a.m. Parent’s & Kids Birdwalks meet at the shaded viewing area.

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:
   September total birds of 1208 are 23% above the 6-year average, a continued improvement from the Jan-Jun’13 period; pelican numbers continue high; Mallard, Double-crested Cormorant, Snowy Egret, Black-bellied Plovers, Heermann’s Gull, Elegant Terns and Rock Pigeon were all above average.
Summary of total birds from the 6-year average so far:  Jun’12 +36%, Jul’12 -9%, Aug’12 -9%, Sep’12 +12%, Oct’12 +3%, Nov’12 -5%, Dec’12 +30%, Jan’13 -20%, Feb’13 -29%, Mar’13 -30%, Apr’13 -34%, May’13 -37%, Jun’13 -24%, Jul’13 +83%, Aug’13 +37%, Sep’13 +23%.
Species Diversity:  September 2013 with 53 species was moderately below (-14%) the 6-year average of 62.
Summary of species diversity from the 6-year average so far:  Jun’12 -10%, Jul’12 +10%, Aug’12. -6%, Sep’12 -20%, Oct’12 +5%, Nov’12 +2%, Dec’12 -4%, Jan’13 +2%, Feb’13 -8%, Mar’13 +9%, Apr’13 -2%, May’13 +3%, Jun’13 +13%, Jul’13 0%, Aug’13 +11%, Sep’13 -14%.
10-year comparison summaries are available on our Lagoon Project Bird Census Page.    [Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Census 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

 

September 2008-2013 9/28 9/27 9/26 9/25 9/23 9/22

 

Temperature   72-80 70-79 61-69 73-80 64-73  
Tide Lo/Hi Height H+5.7 H+3.9 H+5.54 H+5.33 L+2.88 H+5.69

Ave.

Tide Time 0917 0731 1055 0830 1021 1123

Birds

Brant 5 3 1.3
Gadwall 4 11 20 10 4 8.2
American Wigeon 8 1 3 4 2.7
Mallard 16 22 48 48 34 43 35.2
Northern Shoveler 6 8 4 10 11 16 9.2
Northern Pintail 1 0.2
Greater Scaup 1 0.2
Red-brstd Merganser 1 0.2
Ruddy Duck 15 8 5 4.7
Pied-billed Grebe 6 4 18 13 7 11 9.8
Eared Grebe 1 2 5 3  4 2.5
Western Grebe 2 4 12 3.0
Brandt’s Cormorant 1 1 4 5 1.8
Dble-crstd Cormorant 17 14 38 47 45 56 36.2
Pelagic Cormorant 3 2 1 1.0
Brown Pelican 43 12 46 60 22 142 54.2
Great Blue Heron 10 5 5 2 5 4 5.2
Great Egret 1 3 6 2 1 2 2.5
Snowy Egret 16 14 14 23 8 37 18.7
Green Heron 1 1 1 0.5
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 4 10 12 4.3
Osprey 1 0.2
Cooper’s Hawk 1 1 0.3
Red-shouldered Hawk 1 0.2
Red-tailed Hawk 1 0.2
American Kestrel 1 0.2
Merlin 1 0.2
Peregrine Falcon 1 1 0.3
Virginia Rail 1 1 0.3
Sora 1 2 1 3 1.2
American Coot 95 147 230 410 270 195 224.5
Blk-bellied Plover 102 78 40 160 162 90.3
Snowy Plover 45 33 62 62 46 47 49.2
Semipalmated Plover 2 2 11 1 2.7
Killdeer 4 4 1 6 6 7 4.7
Black-necked Stilt 1 0.2
Spotted Sandpiper 3 1 2 2 3 4 2.5
Willet 18 33 56 7 3 25 23.7
Whimbrel 2 6 17 26 38 18 17.8
Long-billed Curlew 1 0.2
Marbled Godwit 4 4 22 2 3 1 6.0
Ruddy Turnstone 15 4 10 7 14 10 10.0
Sanderling 20 41 20 3 14.0
Western Sandpiper 1 28 4 5.5
Least Sandpiper 3 14 3 14 5.7
Pectoral Sandpiper 2 1 1 0.7
Dunlin 2 2 0.7
Short-billd Dowitcher 6 1 1.2
Long-billed Dowitcher 2 3 1 1.0
Wilson’s Phalarope 1 0.2
Red-necked Phalarope 1 0.2
Heermann’s Gull 9 14 68 15 8 74 31.3
Ring-billed Gull 2 2 30 7 1 2 7.3
Western Gull 80 84 73 66 93 85 80.2
California Gull 20 15 22 16 7 6 14.3
Herring Gull 1 0.2
Black Tern 1 0.2
Common Tern 8 1.3
Forster’s Tern 1 6 1.2
Royal Tern 1 1 15 11 4 5.3
Elegant Tern 8 5 40 4 87 67 35.2
Parasitic Jaeger 1 0.2
Rock Pigeon 6 4 12 5 4 25 9.3
Mourning Dove 1 2 2 2 3 1.7
Vaux’s Swift 100 16.7
Anna’s Hummingbird 1 3 2 3 1 1.7
Allen’s Hummingbird 6 2 1 1 3 7 3.3
Belted Kingfisher 1 1 1 1 1 0.8
Western Wood-Pewee 1 0.2
Gray Flycatcher 1 0.2
Black Phoebe 6 7 5 6 9 12 7.5
Say’s Phoebe 1 1 2 0.7
Cassin’s Kingbird 2 1 0.5
Western Kingbird 4 0.7
Warbling Vireo 1 0.2
Western Scrub-Jay 1 0.2
American Crow 6 6 3 2 1 5 3.8
Rough-wingd Swallow 4 1 0.8
Barn Swallow 2 1 30 5.5
Oak Titmouse 2 0.3
Bushtit 25 7 11 6 4 12 10.8
Bewick’s Wren 1 1 1 0.5
House Wren 1 3 2 1 1 1 1.5
Marsh Wren 1 4 0.8
Northern Mockingbird 2 3 3 2 3 2 2.5
European Starling 16 8 62 23 45 42 32.7
Orange-crwnd Warbler 1 1 1 1 0.7
Yellow Warbler 2 0.3
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0.2
Common Yellowthroat 3 3 4 5 2 1 3.0
Wilson’s Warbler 1 2 6 1.5
Spotted Towhee 1 0.2
California Towhee 2 2 1 3 3 1.8
Savannah Sparrow 2 1 1 0.7
Song Sparrow 2 4 4 3 1 7 3.5
White-crwnd Sparrow 4 0.7
Blue Grosbeak 1 0.2
Lazuli Bunting 6 1.0
Bobolink 1 0.2
Red-winged Blackbird 7 14 18 8 7.8
Western Meadowlark 1 4 3 1.3
Brewer’s Blackbird 1 15 2.7
Great-tailed Grackle 2 12 6 8 4.7
Brwn-headed Cowbird 1 3 0.7
Bullock’s Oriole 1 0.2
House Finch 4 4 10 12 1 6 6.2
Lesser Goldfinch 1 2 2 4 4 2.2
Lawrence’s Goldfinch 2 0.3
Totals by Type 9/28 9/27 9/26 9/25 9/23 9/22 Ave.
Waterfowl 26 51 93 79 51 70 62
Water Birds-Other 164 185 339 542 363 414 335
Herons, Egrets 27 27 36 40 14 43 31
Raptors 3 1 1 1 2 1 2
Shorebirds 116 243 325 161 279 293 236
Gulls & Terns 122 120 249 124 207 238 177
Doves 7 6 14 7 4 28 11
Other Non-Pass. 8 6 4 105 3 9 23
Passerines 83 61 176 133 90 112 109
Totals Birds 556 700 1237 1192 1013 1208 984
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Total Species 9/28 9/27 9/26 9/25 9/23 9/22 Ave.
Waterfowl 3 6 6 5 4 5 4.8
Water Birds-Other 7 8 7 9 7 7 7.5
Herons, Egrets 3 5 5 5 3 3 4.0
Raptors 3 1 1 1 2 1 1.5
Shorebirds 11 14 16 12 12 11 12.7
Gulls & Terns 8 5 9 7 6 6 6.8
Doves 2 2 2 2 1 2 1.8
Other Non-Pass. 3 3 3 4 1 3 2.8
Passerines 19 18 29 23 15 15 19.8
Totals Species – 108
59 62 78 68 51 53 61.8


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