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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 27 October, 2013

October 28, 2013

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Lucy’s Warbler – a drab warbler occasionally seen in the eastern SoCal deserts, but far more common in Arizona – had been seen the previous day along the colony fence line. We searched all the bushes all around the park, turning up plenty of other warblers in the process but, alas, Lucy-less we remained.

Black-crowned Night-Heron, longer than he usually looks (Randy Ehler 10/27/13)

Black-crowned Night-Heron, longer than he usually looks
(Randy Ehler 10/27/13)

And other birds there were, in force:  total birds of 1671 is the 3rd-highest October count (top is 1901 on 10/23/05); 75 species tied for 3rd place (behind 78 on 9/26/10 and 76 on 9/26/04, with 75 on 4/21/91). That’s out of 289 visits for which we have records.

Migration always helps, doesn’t it? – thus the high previous numbers for September and April. But perhaps the foggy sky and cool temperature were also a factor. Most of the ducks were back and, as previously mentioned, warblers were relatively numerous. Waves seemed flat and surfers were scant on the dropping tide, but birders were happy.

Black-throated Gray Warbler - note yellow lores (Randy Ehler 10/27/13)

Black-throated Gray Warbler – note yellow lores
(Randy Ehler 10/27/13)

No one saw all these birds, so if you were there and missed something, so did we all. Those who lead the Parents & Kids walk tend to move quickly to the beach in order to be back at the parking lot by 10am, so they often see birds we slower-moving people miss, just as we’ll see something they missed.

View across lagoon channel island to Malibu - Where did all the algae go? (L. Johnson 10/27/13)

View across lagoon channel island to Malibu – Where did all the algae go? (L. Johnson 10/27/13)

There are some new information signs (see slide show). At the start of the beach path is a 3-D topographical feature showing the entire Malibu Creek watershed. Turn the obscurely located handle to make it rain and watch the water flow out to sea (in miniature).

Western Meadowlark - Six of these Autumn migrant visitors prowled the lagoon channel islands (Monica Minden 10/17/13)

Western Meadowlark – Six of these Autumn migrant visitors prowled the lagoon channel islands
(Monica Minden 10/17/13)

Birds new for the season were: Green-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Duck, White-faced Ibis, Red-shouldered Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Sanderling, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin, Caspian Tern, Northern Flicker, Bewick’s Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Pipit, Black-throated Gray & Townsend’s Warblers, White-crowned Sparrow, and Western Meadowlark.

The offshore rocks had been taken over by Brant’s and Pelagic Cormorants. Three falcon species at the lagoon in one day is really unusual: we’ve had many sightings of a single species, Kestrel & Peregrine 3 times, Kestrel & Merlin once, and Merlin & Peregrine once, but all three have occurred only once before, on 1/23/00. The Brant (geese) continue – it’s possible that these birds have been at the lagoon since last April, although not always seen.

Noticeably poorly represented are the small sandpipers (aka ‘peeps’): one each of Least, Pectoral and Dunlin doesn’t amount to much. A small group of Sanderlings were in the low-tide-exposed rocks and running through the kelp wrack with the Snowy Plovers. Stalwart Snowy Plover counter Lu Plauzoles toted 58 birds, a tricky task when they’re scurrying across the sand. Snowy GG:AR was back in the flock: present in July’13 but missing in Aug. and Sept. This bird was banded in Summer 2011 at Oceano Dunes near Pismo Beach, and first showed up at the lagoon on 9/25/11.

Say's Phoebe, regular winterer (Randy Ehler 10/27/13)

Say’s Phoebe, regular winterer (Randy Ehler 10/27/13)

Our next three scheduled field trips:  Sepulveda Basin, 9 Nov, 8:30am; Malibu Lagoon, 24 Nov, 8:30 & 10am; Carrizo Plain, 7 Dec, 9am.
Our next program:  Tuesday, 5 Nov., 7:30 pm. Carrizo Plain History, Geology & Ecology, presented by Craig Deutsche.

NOTE: Our 10 a.m. Parent’s & Kids Birdwalk meets 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:
   October total birds of 1671 are 41% above the 6-year Oct. average, continuing the improvement begun in June’13; most categories saw significant increases except for shorebirds (sandpipers).
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%, Oct’13 +41%. Up & down, yakatty-yak.
Species Diversity:  October 2013 with 75 species was moderately (+19%) above the 6-year average of 63.
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%, Oct’13 +19%. Up, down, up, down, etc.
10-year comparison summaries are available on our Lagoon Project Bird Census Page.    [Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Census 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013  
October 2008-2013 10/26 10/25 10/24 10/23 10/28 10/27  
Temperature   60-74 60-65 59-64 72-78 55-65
Tide Lo/Hi Height H+5.9 L+3.5 H+6.02 H+5.40 H+5.93 L+2.91 Ave.
Tide Time 0813 0941 0952 0718 0845 1127 Birds
Brant 3 0.5
Wood Duck 1 0.2
Gadwall 4 4 2 6 8 14 6.3
Eurasian Wigeon 1 0.2
American Wigeon 3 10 1 16 10 6.7
Mallard 8 24 10 25 10 35 18.7
Blue-winged Teal 4 2 1.0
Cinnamon Teal 2 0.3
Northern Shoveler 15 25 8 12 18 30 18.0
Green-winged Teal 4 2 4 1.7
Lesser Scaup 1 0.2
Bufflehead 2 0.3
Red-brestd Merganser 1 0.2
Ruddy Duck 8 18 7 4 25 10.3
Pacific Loon 1 0.2
Common Loon 1 1 0.3
Pied-billed Grebe 1 10 3 4 2 8 4.7
Horned Grebe 2 0.3
Eared Grebe 1 6 5 3 4 10 4.8
Western Grebe 1 20 6 10 5 35 12.8
Clark’s Grebe 1 0.2
Blk-vented Shearwater 12 2.0
Brandt’s Cormorant 1 3 12 2.7
Dble-crestd Cormorant 20 25 15 32 45 40 29.5
Pelagic Cormorant 1 4 0.8
Brown Pelican 55 8 40 12 6 43 27.3
Great Blue Heron 6 4 3 3 2 4 3.7
Great Egret 1 2 2 6 3 2.3
Snowy Egret 16 15 2 26 6 15 13.3
Blck-crowned N-Heron 4 6 1 1 2.0
White-faced Ibis 1 0.2
Osprey 1 1 0.3
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0.2
Red-shouldered Hawk 1 0.2
Red-tailed Hawk 1 2 1 0.7
American Kestrel 1 1 0.3
Merlin 1 1 0.3
Peregrine Falcon 1 1 1 0.5
Virginia Rail 2 0.3
Sora 1 4 1 1 1.2
American Coot 140 266 100 370 250 395 253.5
Black-bellied Plover 114 100 700 75 85 179.0
Snowy Plover 58 61 5 62 58 40.7
Killdeer 2 5 15 12 6 6.7
Black Oystercatcher 2 0.3
Spotted Sandpiper 3 4 3 3 3 4 3.3
Willet 16 40 26 10 7 28 21.2
Whimbrel 6 28 2 11 7.8
Marbled Godwit 12 25 9 7.7
Ruddy Turnstone 12 5 10 15 17 9.8
Black Turnstone 2 3 2 1.2
Sanderling 1 145 200 15 60.2
Western Sandpiper 5 1 6 2.0
Least Sandpiper 12 16 14 1 7.2
Pectoral Sandpiper 1 0.2
Dunlin 4 2 2 1 1.5
Short-billed Dowitcher 20 3.3
Long-billed Dowitcher 30 2 1 5.5
Wilson’s Snipe 1 0.2
Heermann’s Gull 45 12 41 14 8 40 26.7
Ring-billed Gull 27 14 97 18 39 12 34.5
Western Gull 65 82 52 80 6 85 61.7
California Gull 6 123 8 120 60 290 101.2
Herring Gull 1 1 1 0.5
Glaucous-wingd Gull 1 1 0.3
Caspian Tern 1 1 0.3
Forster’s Tern 1 22 10 5.5
Royal Tern 1 1 11 3 2.7
Elegant Tern 2 11 4 2 20 6.5
Rock Pigeon 3 6 45 4 20 14 15.3
Mourning Dove 1 10 1 2 3 2.8
Anna’s Hummingbird 3 1 10 2 1 2 3.2
Allen’s Hummingbird 5 2 6 2 7 4 4.3
Belted Kingfisher 1 1 2 1 0.8
Northern Flicker 1 0.2
Black Phoebe 3 6 8 10 8 17 8.7
Say’s Phoebe 1 1 2 1 4 1.5
Western Scrub-Jay 1 2 2 1 1.0
American Crow 8 5 18 4 9 5 8.2
Tree Swallow 1 0.2
Oak Titmouse 1 1 0.3
Bushtit 15 20 10 7.5
Bewick’s Wren 5 2 1 1 1.5
House Wren 1 1 2 1 1 1 1.2
Marsh Wren 2 0.3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2 1 5 1.3
Northern Mockingbird 1 3 2 2 2 1.7
European Starling 35 12 60 10 35 25.3
American Pipit 1 25 4.3
Orange-crwnd Warbler 1 3 0.7
Yellow-rumped Warbler 20 3 15 8 25 35 17.7
Blk-throated G. Warbler 1 1 0.3
Townsend’s Warbler 2 0.3
Common Yellowthroat 3 3 10 9 5 11 6.8
Wilson’s Warbler 7 1.2
Spotted Towhee 1 1 1 0.5
California Towhee 2 2 5 1.5
Savannah Sparrow 1 8 1 1.7
Song Sparrow 3 6 1 4 3 13 5.0
White-crownd Sparrow 6 4 10 18 4 28 11.7
Red-winged Blackbird 5 40 7.5
Western Meadowlark 1 1 1 6 1.5
Brewer’s Blackbird 2 1 2 0.8
Great-tailed Grackle 4 8 8 7 4.5
House Finch 4 4 5 4 6 3.8
Lesser Goldfinch 5 1 4 22 5.3
Totals by Type 10/26 10/25 10/24 10/23 10/28 10/27 Ave.
Waterfowl 46 86 28 48 57 122 65
Water Birds-Other 231 341 170 440 315 547 341
Herons, Egrets 26 20 13 31 15 24 22
Raptors 0 2 3 5 1 4 3
Shorebirds 93 455 164 797 400 237 358
Gulls & Terns 149 244 203 233 149 461 240
Doves 4 16 46 6 20 17 18
Other Non-Pass. 9 3 17 6 9 7 9
Passerines 119 66 76 157 133 252 134
Totals Birds 677 1233 720 1723 1099 1671 1187
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Total Species 10/26 10/25 10/24 10/23 10/28 10/27 Ave.
Waterfowl 8 7 5 6 6 8 6.7
Water Birds-Other 8 9 7 12 8 8 8.7
Herons, Egrets 3 3 4 3 4 5 3.7
Raptors 0 2 3 4 1 4 2.3
Shorebirds 7 14 5 13 12 13 10.7
Gulls & Terns 9 7 6 5 8 8 7.2
Doves 2 2 2 2 1 2 1.8
Other Non-Pass. 3 2 3 3 3 3 2.8
Passerines 21 17 14 17 21 24 19.0
Totals Species – 106 61 63 49 65 64 75 62.8
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