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Sepulveda Basin Trip Report: 9 November, 2013

November 11, 2013
Los Angeles River looking SW towards Sepulveda retention dam (L. Johnson 11/9/13)

Los Angeles River looking southeast towards Sepulveda flood control dam (L. Johnson 11/9/13)

We haven’t visited this area as a club for a couple of years. A deficit in chapter members was, to my great surprise, offset by a large number of San Fernando Valley and Pasadena birders.

Sycamore in Fall (L. Johnson 11/9/13)

Sycamore in Fall
(L. Johnson 11/9/13)

While waiting for potential late arrivals, we checked the lawn & trees near the parking lot and turned up a variety of SparrowsChipping, Lark, Savannah, Song, White-crowned and Dark-eyed Junco. Western Meadowlarks – the 1st of two small flocks – meandered through grass, as Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Lesser & American Goldfinches, House Finches and some of the ever-present wintering Yellow-rumped Warblers worked the leafy trees. A small flock of Yellow-chevroned Parakeets alerted us with their calls as they vanished beyond the trees. By the time we set off for the pond, it was already warm enough to shed jackets, due to late fall Santa Ana conditions.

Merlin (T. Hinnebusch 11/9/13)

Merlin (T. Hinnebusch 11/9/13)

The pond held the usual suspects: five species of herons, three of grebe, three of duck, coots, White Pelican and Double-crested Cormorant and Osprey, while the surrounding bushes had more Song Sparrows, California Towhees, Common Yellowthroats, Bushtits and the first of 2 Blue-grey Gnatcatchers. The best bird though – and really the best bird of the day –  was a Merlin which flew in and perched nearby in the leafless top of a small tree, staying for several minutes, affording everyone fine views and sufficient time to determine that it indeed was a Merlin and why it wasn’t something else.

We frequently heard, yet could not see, Soras calling from the dense lake-edge reeds. Overhead, on thermals from the warming day, rode adult and juvenile Turkey Vultures, and a very dark Red-tailed Hawk.

Dark Red-tail Hawk (T. Hinnebusch 11/9/13)

Dark Red-tail Hawk (T. Hinnebusch 11/9/13)

About half the group continued past Burbank Blvd. to the Los Angeles River. The Army Corp of Engineers did indeed whack down many bushes and trees, including the magnificent Eucalyptus, locally famous as host to warblers and vireos, including migrating eastern birds who’ve wandered off-track. Strangely, most trees bordering Haskell Creek remained, giving cover to birds and homeless denizens alike.

Where the large Eucalyptus used to be (L. Johnson 11/9/13)

Where the large bird-friendly Eucalyptus used to be
(L. Johnson 11/9/13)

From time to time odd birds like Bobolinks appear at the river. We searched for the Red-throated Pipit – a bird whose breeding range extends from Asia into the edge of far western Alaska, who very occasionally migrates south through the Americas instead of Siberia and China, and who had been seen earlier in the week – but saw only the plain-backed American Pipits patrolling the ploughed field on the river’s south side. Oh well, so it goes.

Birds in the Los Angeles River (L. Johnson 11/9/13)

Birds in the Los Angeles River at Balboa Blvd.(L. Johnson 11/9/13)

In the river were Spotted & Least Sandpipers and several White-faced Ibis keeping the ducks company. An Osprey made several plunges into the river, but arose fishless. We had earlier seen several sizable carp in Haskell Creek; perhaps they were in the river as well. Absent (perhaps oddly) were Orange Bishops which one frequently sees in the mid-river reeds and shrubbery.

By the time we staggered back to the cars, the day was hot, we were thirsty, and no one felt like visiting Lake Balboa.    [Chuck Almdale]

Sepulveda Wildlife Area Trip List 11/9/13
Canada Goose 7 Yellow-chevroned Parakeet 8
Gadwall 2 Merlin 1
American Wigeon 8 Black Phoebe 20
Mallard 50 Say’s Phoebe 4
Pied-billed Grebe 20 Cassin’s Kingbird 3
Eared Grebe 6 Western Scrub-Jay 2
Western Grebe 1 American Crow 10
Double-crested Cormorant 30 Barn Swallow 6
American White Pelican 12 Bushtit 8
Great Blue Heron 4 Bewick’s Wren 1
Great Egret 4 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Snowy Egret 2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6
Green Heron 3 Northern Mockingbird 5
Black-crowned Night-Heron 5 California Thrasher 1
White-faced Ibis 2 American Pipit 12
Turkey Vulture 8 Common Yellowthroat 6
Osprey 2 Yellow-rumped Warbler 40
Cooper’s Hawk 1 Spotted Towhee 2
Red-tailed Hawk 2 California Towhee 8
Sora 4 H Chipping Sparrow 10
American Coot 10 Lark Sparrow 5
Killdeer 3 Savannah Sparrow 10
Spotted Sandpiper 2 Song Sparrow 10
Least Sandpiper 15 White-crowned Sparrow 30
California Gull 10 Dark-eyed Junco 8
Rock Pigeon 15 Red-winged Blackbird 4
Mourning Dove 8 Western Meadowlark 15
Anna’s Hummingbird 3 House Finch 30
Allen’s Hummingbird 10 Lesser Goldfinch 4
Belted Kingfisher 1 American Goldfinch 30
Nuttall’s Woodpecker 2 House Sparrow 6
Northern Flicker 4 Total Species 63


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