Skip to content

Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 24 August, 2014

August 29, 2014

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At the corner of the topographical water feature, a Black Widow Spider (R. Ehler 8/24/14)

At the corner of the topographical water feature, a Black Widow Spider (R. Ehler 8/24/14)

 The big news today, and for the week that followed, was surf. Hurricane Maria off the south end of Baja sent up some record-breaking surf, and surfers blanketed the waves. Later in the week, as the surf grew, we saw surfers shooting between pier pilings, surfers flung into the air and under waves, 30-ft. waves at the Newport wedge, exhausted and frightened surfers and swimmers, hundreds of rescues, and at least one drowning. This human frenzy didn’t seem to bother the birds.

The returning shorebirds were numerous and busy; it was the passerines that were tough to find. Perhaps the heat of the past few weeks had sent them off to hidden shady glens. Fewer species and fewer of each species was the result.

The Snowy Plovers grew in numbers, now up to 39 birds with one ringed bird. GG:AR (left leg green over green; right leg aqua over red), our spy up at Point Blue (formerly Point Reyes Bird Observatory or PRBO) informs us, was one of three identically birds banded at Oceano Dunes in the summer of 2011. Lu Plauzoles pointed out that a lot of our banded birds of recent years are from Oceano Dunes, so they must be doing something right. I checked my records and discovered that GG:AR has wintered previously at Malibu, and we’ve seen him on the following dates: 2011 – 9/25, 12/25; 2012 – 1/22, 11/25; 2013 – 1/27, 7/28, 10/27. He (or she) may well have appeared on other dates, but if no one told me (hint, hint) I won’t have that record. The plover family was well represented. Black-bellied (Gray for our British readers), some of them still quite black; Killdeer, a local nester; and Semipalmated. Listening to birders argue about “just how much webbing do these bird actually have” is always a treat.

Snowy Plovers feed in the beach wrack (R. Ehler 8/24/14)

Snowy Plovers feed in the beach wrack (R. Ehler 8/24/14)

[Late Breaking News] Bill Crowe of Simi Valley reported seeing “at least 100 Snowy Plovers” at Malibu Lagoon, the following Sunday, Aug. 31, including GG:AR. The highest Snowy Plover count we’ve ever recorded on our monthly birdwalks was 81 birds on 1/22/12.

Birds new for the season were: Western Grebe, Marbled Godwit, Black Turnstone, Sanderling, and Wrentit. Lu thought the Wrentit (at Adamson house), a hillside chaparral-loving bird uncommon at the lagoon, may have fled the dry slopes in search of water.

Black Turnstones generally prefer rocky shores (R. Ehler 8/24/14)

Black Turnstones generally prefer rocky shores (R. Ehler 8/24/14)

Our next three scheduled field trips:   Lower Los Angeles River, 6 Sep, 7:30am; Coastal Cleanup, 20 Sep, 9am–noon; Malibu Lagoon, 28 Sep, 8:30 & 10am.
Our next program: Tuesday, 7 Oct., 7:30 pm. Black-backed Woodpeckers and the Ecology of Forest Fires, presented by Dale Hanson.

Lesser Goldfinches - breeding season is definitely over (R. Ehler 8/24/14)

Lesser Goldfinches – breeding season is definitely over (R. Ehler 8/24/14)

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:
2014:   Jan-July

2013:   Jan-June,   July-Dec.
2012:   Jan-June,   July-Dec.
2011:   Jan-June,   July-Dec,
2010:  Jan-June,   July-Dec.
2009:
  Jan-June,   July-Dec.

The 10-year comparison summaries created during the project period remain available on our Lagoon Project Bird Census Page. Very briefly summarized, the results unexpectedly indicate that avian species diversification and numbers improved slightly during the period Jun’12-June’14.   [Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Census 2014 5/25 6/22 7/27 8/24
Temperature 64-69 68-74 66-72 72-80
Tide Lo/Hi Height H+3.94 H+3.48 H+4.21 H+4.52
Tide Time 0810 0712 1100 0954
Gadwall 12 21 2
American Wigeon 2
Mallard 26 32 55 12
Red-brstd Merganser 3 2 3 2
Ruddy Duck 6
Pacific Loon 1
Common Loon 1
Pied-billed Grebe 2 1 6 6
Western Grebe 1
Brandt’s Cormorant 2 1 4 2
Dble-crstd Cormorant 31 37 35 58
Pelagic Cormorant 1 1 1
Brown Pelican 37 63 78 29
Great Blue Heron 4 2 4 4
Great Egret 2 2 4 3
Snowy Egret 12 10 22 12
Little Blue Egret 1
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 2 1 1 4
Osprey 1 1 1
White-tailed Kite 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1 1
American Coot 2 4 14 9
Blk-bellied Plover 25 93
Snowy Plover 16 39
Semipalmated Plover 1 3
Killdeer 4 10 8 5
Spotted Sandpiper 3 1 5
Willet 1 5 14
Whimbrel 4 5 28 17
Marbled Godwit 1
Ruddy Turnstone 2 9
Black Turnstone 3
Sanderling 2
Western Sandpiper 1 1
Least Sandpiper 3 6
Boneparte’s Gull 1
Heermann’s Gull 2 4 8 10
Western Gull 64 57 71 89
California Gull 1 1
Least Tern 3 2
Caspian Tern 17 3
Common Tern 1
Forster’s Tern 2
Royal Tern 8 18 11 6
Elegant Tern 37 23 127 4
Rock Pigeon 6 6 16 5
Mourning Dove 2 2 2 1
Anna’s Hummingbird 1 2 2 1
Allen’s Hummingbird 5 4 3 4
Western Wood-Pewee 1
Pac.Slope Flycatcher 1
Black Phoebe 6 3 11 9
American Crow 6 9 4 4
Rough-wingd Swallow 2 8 7 15
Barn Swallow 19 40 35 45
Cliff Swallow 6 10 7
Bushtit 8 2 7
American Robin 1 2
Wrentit 1
Northern Mockingbird 3 3 6 9
European Starling 8 12 22 55
Phainopepla 1
Ornge-crwnd Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 3 1 3
Spotted Towhee 2
California Towhee 3 3 3 3
Song Sparrow 11 10 11 8
Red-winged Blackbird 6 30 8
Great-tailed Grackle 2 4 16 6
Brwn-headed Cowbird 2 2
Hooded Oriole 2 1
House Finch 13 11 14 8
Lesser Goldfinch 2 2 4 6
Totals by Type May Jun July Aug
Waterfowl 49 55 58 16
Water Birds-Other 77 106 138 106
Herons, Egrets 20 15 32 23
Raptors 3 1 1 1
Shorebirds 11 16 90 198
Gulls & Terns 132 106 221 111
Doves 8 8 18 6
Other Non-Pass. 6 6 5 5
Passerines 104 152 161 172
Totals Birds 410 465 724 638
         
Total Species May Jun July Aug
Waterfowl 5 3 2 3
Water Birds-Other 8 5 6 7
Herons, Egrets 4 4 5 4
Raptors 3 1 1 1
Shorebirds 3 3 10 13
Gulls & Terns 8 6 6 5
Doves 2 2 2 2
Other Non-Pass. 2 2 2 2
Passerines 20 17 18 13
Totals Species – 73 55 43 52 50
Advertisements
5 Comments
  1. September 1, 2014 6:11 pm

    And a great big WOW! to Randy for all those great representative photos!

    Like

  2. September 1, 2014 6:08 pm

    Just a little more precision on the Plover notes. Oceano is one of the only sites in Central California that is actively banding at this time. I believe that these are brood-banded, so that we may have brothers and sisters with the same color combos sometimes. There are a lot of banded birds in the Monterey Bay area, which a few years ago had banded nearly every bird individually. Imagine the work during breeding season!
    LucienP

    Like

    • Chukar permalink*
      September 2, 2014 12:24 pm

      I didn’t know that about Oceano Dunes. Frannces Bidstrup at PRBO (now Point Blue) told me that plover GG:AR was one of 3 similarly banded birds in Summer, 2011. So there’s no way to know if this is the SAME GG:AR on the many sightings, or if it’s 2 or even three birds. However, for it to be more than one individual bird, they’d have to be making sure they don’t show up at the same time at Malibu. Sibling rivalry, perhaps?

      Like

  3. September 1, 2014 6:02 pm

    I was at Point Dume State Beach yesterday, and I found 7 dead Brandt Cormorants, with no fishing line,broken bones,bite marks, etc. I didn’t notice anything amiss with the bodies except that they were extremely emaciated. Any clue to why there’s such an alarming amount of dead birds?

    Like

    • Chukar permalink*
      September 2, 2014 12:43 pm

      It seems we get reports every year of dead and dying seabirds, a sign of the times, perhaps. In the past the leading causes have been red tide (domoic acid neurotoxin produced by diatom Pseudonitzschia australis) and starvation due to lack of proper food prey. According to the following link, a wave of high mortality among Brandt’s Cormorants in Spring-Summer 2009 was due to lack of anchovies. The result of this lack was that “…the birds did not produce any chicks this year [2009] on the Farallones or on Alcatraz Islands. This is compared to a total of 15,000 chicks in 2007.” If there has been discussion of a similar problem this year, I’ve completely missed it. http://blog.bird-rescue.org/index.php/tag/brandts-cormorants/

      There is this site for reporting dead birds in L.A. County, but it seems geared more to possible West Nile Virus cases than seabird starvation.
      http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/vet/DeadBirdReporting.htm

      Like

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: