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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 22 June, 2014

June 26, 2014

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June seems to be when many people decide that birding looks like fun. When they show up at the lagoon I always feel both sad and hopeful – sad they selected SoCal’s slowest month for birds; hopeful they won’t be discouraged and quit.

Two Whimbrels (Laurel Jones 6/22/14)

Two Whimbrels (Laurel Jones 6/22/14)

I always let them know that after June the birding can only get better. We had 465 total birds in 43 species – typical for June; compare that to Oct’13 (1671 & 75 species, or Feb’14 (1564 & 59 species). SoCal hosts a lot of migrant and wintering birds; breeding bird populations seem sparse in comparison. Of course, if we ever see the long-awaited publishing of L.A. County’s breeding bird atlas, we’ll know what’s what.

Checking results on the bocce ball green (R. Ehler 6/22/14)

Civilizations rise and fall, yet bocce ball remains. (R. Ehler 6/22/14)

After wandering around the perimeter of the channel, out to the beach and on to Adamson House, we found two old men (I’m old, so I’m able to call others old) playing bocce ball on the lawn. The slope of the lawn towards the beach caused their bowls to significantly curve, a fact to which they had not yet adjusted, so we – or maybe it was just I – gave them a hard time about it, as a form of encouragement of course, of course. It looked like fun, and it struck me that it could easily be one of the most primitive forms of game known to humankind, the ancestor of countless other games and sports. What could be simpler than tossing or rolling objects, trying to hit a target? Acorns or pebbles serve as well as perfect spheres; you don’t even need an opposable thumb, as one player pointed out. I’ve seen monkeys in trees pelt humans below with – ahem – stuff, a practice at which they are acknowledged to be very unpleasantly skilled. [Note: Wikipedia says you can toss or bowl the bocce ball; the game goes back at least to Ancient Rome and Greece, and probably Egypt before that.]

Juvenile & adult Crows (R. Ehler 6/22/14)

Juvenile (left) & adult (right) American Crows.
Note juvenile bill size. (R. Ehler 6/22/14)

With the exception of a Phainopepla – a new lagoon record for me – perched in a tree near Adamson House, we had no new birds for the season. Instead we had various breeding birds busily gathering food or shepherding their young: Gadwalls, Mallards, Killdeer, Black Phoebes, American Crows, Barn Swallows, Mockingbirds, Song Sparrows and House Finches, among others.

Young Barn Swallows prefer a perch that sways (R. Ehler 6/22/14)

Young Barn Swallows prefer a perch that sways (R. Ehler 6/22/14)

After the birdwalk we held our annual picnic at our favorite site in Tapia Park, a few miles up Malibu Canyon. It was very quiet, except for Mockingbirds, California Thrashers and California Towhees tootling away, and very pleasant in the live oak shade. After eating some great food we played “Bird Bingo,” which works much like regular bingo except, as one might guess, with bird pictures instead of letters. The birds were from all around the world, so you might find a Shoebill next to a Song Sparrow, an unlikely event in the real world. Winners won bars from Ellen’s cornucopia of world chocolate.

Mallard duckling (R. Ehler 6/22/14)

Mallard duckling – looking for mom, perhaps?
(R. Ehler 6/22/14)

Our next three scheduled field trips:   Malibu Lagoon, 27 July, 8:30 & 10am; Lower Los Angeles River, Aug, or early Sept 7:30am; Malibu Lagoon, 24 August, 8:30 & 10am;.
Our next program: Tuesday, 7 Oct., 7:30 pm. To Be Announced.

NOTE: Our 10 a.m. Parent’s & Kids Birdwalk meets at the shaded viewing area. Watch for Willie the Weasel.
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:
   June 2014 total birds of 465 is 15% below the 6-year June average of 549.
Summary of total birds from the 6-year average:  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%, Nov’13 -58%, Dec’13 -49%, Jan’14 -62%, Feb’14 -28%, Mar’14 +51%, May’14 -14%, June’14 -15%.
Species Diversity:  June 2014 with 43 species was fractionally higher that the 6-year May average of 42.5.
Summary of species diversity from the 6-year average:  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%, Nov’13 -3%, Dec’13 -6%, Jan’14 -2% Feb’14 +9%, Mar’14 +6%, May’14 +20%, June’14 +1%.
10-year comparison summaries are available on our Lagoon Project Bird Census Page.    [Chuck Almdale]

Note: Beginning July, we will return to our pre-project form of bird list, which will report most recent 6-month periods. Two years of tracking census data in this format has amply demonstrated that the project, even during its messiest days, had no ill effects on bird life, despite the claims of the few, but very vocal, complainers.

Malibu Census 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
June 2009-2014 6/28 6/27 6/26 6/24 6/23 6/22
Temperature 68-75 65-75 68-76 70-76 62-75 68-74
Tide Lo/Hi Height L+0.4 H+3.81 H+3.0 L+0.07 H+4.22 H+3.48 Ave.
Tide Time 0838 1139 0754 0714 1037 0712 Birds
Brant 1 11 2.0
Gadwall 15 4 5 2 2 21 8.2
Mallard 25 40 41 24 59 32 36.8
Red-brstd Merganser 2 0.3
Ruddy Duck 7 1.2
Pied-billed Grebe 2 2 3 4 8 1 3.3
Brandt’s Cormorant 2 1 0.5
Dble-crstd Cormorant 22 5 54 17 17 37 25.3
Pelagic Cormorant 3 0.5
Brown Pelican 71 205 28 340 52 63 126.5
Great Blue Heron 8 6 4 1 2 2 3.8
Great Egret 3 2 5 2 2 2.3
Snowy Egret 14 14 8 4 8 10 9.7
Green Heron 1 0.2
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 3 6 1 2 1 2.2
Osprey 1 1 0.3
White-tailed Kite 1 1 0.3
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0.2
Red-shouldered Hawk 1 0.2
Red-tailed Hawk 1 2 2 1 1.0
Peregrine Falcon 1 0.2
American Coot 22 5 12 4 6 4 8.8
Blk-bellied Plover 15 2.5
Killdeer 2 5 1 4 10 3.7
Black Oystercatcher 1 0.2
Willet 3 1 1 0.8
Whimbrel 5 8 5 3.0
Long-billed Curlew 2 0.3
Western Sandpiper 1 2 0.5
Short-billd Dowitcher 2 0.3
Heermann’s Gull 48 17 15 44 18 4 24.3
Ring-billed Gull 7 1.2
Western Gull 72 61 68 84 62 57 67.3
California Gull 1 1 1 1 0.7
Caspian Tern 3 9 10 1 6 3 5.3
Royal Tern 2 1 4 3 18 4.7
Elegant Tern 15 4 240 14 23 49.3
Black Skimmer 5 1 1.0
Rock Pigeon 6 4 4 3 9 6 5.3
Band-tailed Pigeon 5 0.8
Mourning Dove 4 4 5 1 2 2 3.0
White-throated Swift 1 0.2
Anna’s Hummingbird 2 2 1 3 2 2 2.0
Allen’s Hummingbird 4 1 8 10 4 4.5
Belted Kingfisher 1 0.2
Downy Woodpecker 1 0.2
Black Phoebe 15 2 10 5 12 3 7.8
Cassin’s Kingbird 1 1 0.3
Western Scrub-Jay 1 1 0.3
American Crow 12 4 4 4 8 9 6.8
Rough-wingd Swallow 6 6 1 8 3.5
Barn Swallow 8 40 25 4 23 40 23.3
Cliff Swallow 7 30 15 4 2 10 11.3
Oak Titmouse 1 1 0.3
Bushtit 4 8 1 2 2.5
Marsh Wren 1 0.2
American Robin 1 0.2
Wrentit 1 0.2
Northern Mockingbird 2 2 3 6 6 3 3.7
European Starling 20 65 21 5 65 12 31.3
Phainopepla 1 0.2
Common Yellowthroat 1 1 1 2 0.8
California Towhee 1 4 1 6 3 2.5
Song Sparrow 6 3 3 6 15 10 7.2
Red-winged Blackbird 1 55 2 30 14.7
Great-tailed Grackle 3 2 4 4 2.2
Brwn-headed Cowbird 1 2 1 3 2 1.5
Hooded Oriole 4 1 1 2 1.3
Bullock’s Oriole 1 2 0.5
House Finch 6 4 14 8 14 11 9.5
Lesser Goldfinch 2 4 2 2 1.7
House Sparrow 2 0.3
Totals by Type 6/28 6/27 6/26 6/24 6/23 6/22
Waterfowl 41 62 46 26 61 55 49
Water Birds-Other 117 217 97 368 85 106 165
Herons, Egrets 28 28 19 5 14 15 18
Raptors 3 1 4 1 3 1 2
Shorebirds 9 2 7 25 9 16 11
Gulls & Terns 139 105 96 373 104 106 154
Doves 10 8 9 4 16 8 9
Other Non-Pass. 6 3 2 12 13 6 7
Passerines 93 220 122 49 169 152 134
Totals Birds 446 646 402 863 474 465 549
  2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014  
Total Species 6/28 6/27 6/26 6/24 6/23 6/22
Waterfowl 3 4 2 2 2 3 2.7
Water Birds-Other 4 4 4 5 5 5 4.5
Herons, Egrets 4 4 5 2 4 4 3.8
Raptors 3 1 3 1 2 1 1.8
Shorebirds 3 1 2 4 4 3 2.8
Gulls & Terns 5 7 6 5 6 6 5.8
Doves 2 2 2 2 3 2 2.2
Other Non-Pass. 2 2 2 3 3 2 2.3
Passerines 16 15 19 13 19 17 16.5
Totals Species 42 40 45 37 48 43 43

 

 

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One Comment
  1. Sandra Lindberg permalink
    July 4, 2014 4:12 pm

    Thank you so much for the count. I look forward to July 27th. Sandy Lindberg

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