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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 28 September, 2014

September 30, 2014

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Surfers were few on the low and windblown waves, the beach noticeably narrowed from recent storm surges, sand swept away leaving bolders behind. But birds were relatively plentiful and over twenty-five birders showed up to see them. The area was still quite clean from our Coastal Cleanup efforts of a week earlier. We found her hidey-hole, but didn’t see the Black Widow spider at the topographical map. No volunteers came forward to entice her out.

Young & joyous Double-crested Cormorants(L. Jones 9/28/14)

Even Double-crested Cormorants rejoiced (L. Jones 9/28/14)

Ducks are still few and far between, but shorebird numbers are growing and a variety of migrant passerines were busy in the brush, flowers and grass, including: Willow & Pacific-slope Flycatchers, Say’s Phoebe, Cassin’s Kingbird, Warbling Vireo, House Wren, Cedar Waxwing, Orange-crowned and Yellow Warblers, White-crowned Sparrow, Bobolink, and Western Meadowlark.

Willow Flycatcher, white throat & no eyering(J. Waterman 9/28/14)

Willow Flycatcher, white throat & no eyering
(J. Waterman 9/28/14)

 

Willow Flycatcher, check the bill length(J. Waterman 9/28/14)

Willow Flycatcher, check the bill length
(J. Waterman 9/28/14)

The Willow Flycatcher was hotly debated. Most of those who saw it (I completely missed it) recognized it as a member of that tricky Empidonax genus of small, similar flycatchers, and some thought it was a Willow. Late September is at the end of their southward migration season, but the clearly outlined white throat above the gray breast, pale lower mandible and lack of visible eyering make that the most likely ID. I wound up measuring the bill and head in the photo to make sure it fell into the range for Willow, then sent it to Kimball Garrett, Birdskinmeister at the Natural History Museum, for a good, solid 85% probability (more-or-less) rating. This is the first Willow Flycatcher we’ve recorded on our walks.

We don’t have a picture of the Bobolink, an eastern member of the Blackbird family, which was heavily streaked with black on orange-yellow background, with pinkish bill and two wide black streaks on the head separated by an orange-yellow median crown stripe. Enough people saw it from different angles, as it skulked through brush and grass, that we were able to piece together an ID. We have one prior Bobolink record from 9/25/11.

Newbie Snowy Plover Old timer VV:AW fledged summer 2011 at Oceano Beach(J. Waterman 9/28/14)

Snowy Plover old-timer GG:AR fledged Summer 2011 at Oceano Dunes
(J. Waterman 9/28/14)

Forty Snowy Plovers rested on the beach, east of the lagoon, inland of the berm. Mary got them to stand at attention and we found two birds with leg-rings: GG:AR and VV:AW (see photos above & below). GG:AR is one of three identically ringed birds fledged at Oceano Dunes, up north near Pismo Beach, in the summer of 2011; this is the 9th time we’ve recorded it at the lagoon. VV:AW is a newbie, banded at Oceano Dunes this past summer. Both birds were seen on 8/31/14 by Bill Crowe of Simi Valley, along with WW:BW (not seen today), banded at Summerville Beach in Humboldt County, summer of 2012. Bill reported seeing an extraordinary 100 Snowy Plovers at that time. He also reported bird GA:OY on 10/3/14.

Newbie Snowy Plover VV:AW fledged summer 2014 at Oceano Beach(J. Waterman 9/28/14)

Newbie Snowy Plover VV:AW fledged Summer 2014 at Oceano Dunes
(J. Waterman 9/28/14)

Other birds (non-passerines) new for the season were: Eared Grebe, Turkey Vulture, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Kestrel, Ring-billed Gull, Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, Vaux’s Swift and Nuttall’s Woodpecker. Red-shouldered Hawks nest up Malibu Creek in the trees, but we do not often see them near the lagoon. Nanday (Black-Hooded) Parakeets nest in the canyons along the western half of the Santa Monica Mtns. and we’ve recorded them by the lagoon on five occasions, but Yellow-chevroned Parakeets usually stick to the surburban flatlands of the L.A. basin. Perhaps they’re moving westward? Both species are feral local breeders, descendants of escaped pets.

Winter visitor Say's Phoebe with his ocraceous belly (R. Ehler 9/28/14)

Winter visitor Say’s Phoebe with his ocraceous belly (R. Ehler 9/28/14)

We had a brief discussion on the Say’s Phoebe when I said that the belly color is described as “ocraceous”. This means ochre-colored; one may be lurking in your box of crayons.

DWP hires professionals to maintain their poles(J. Waterman 9/28/14)

DWP now hires professionals – their credentials are impeccable – to maintain their poles (Nuttall’s Woodpecker)
J. Waterman 9/28/14

Our next three scheduled field trips:   Bolsa Chica Nature Reserve, 11 Oct, 8:30-noon; Santa Monica Mountains Bird Festival, 18 Oct, 8:30-4pm; Malibu Lagoon, 26 Oct, 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.

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.

Snag-lovers  (L. Jones 9/28/14)

Snag-lovers (L. Jones 9/28/14)

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 8/25 9/28
Temperature 64-69 68-74 66-72 72-80 68-75
Tide Lo/Hi Height H+3.94 H+3.48 H+4.21 H+4.52 H+5.35
Tide Time 0810 0712 1100 0954 1149
Gadwall 12 21 2 3
American Wigeon 2
Mallard 26 32 55 12 23
Red-breasted Merganser 3 2 3 2
Ruddy Duck 6
Pacific Loon 1
Common Loon 1
Pied-billed Grebe 2 1 6 6 11
Eared Grebe 6
Western Grebe 1
Brandt’s Cormorant 2 1 4 2 1
Double-crested Cormorant 31 37 35 58 45
Pelagic Cormorant 1 1 1 3
Brown Pelican 37 63 78 29 42
Great Blue Heron 4 2 4 4 1
Great Egret 2 2 4 3 3
Snowy Egret 12 10 22 12 15
Little Blue Egret 1
Black-crowned N-Heron 2 1 1 4 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Osprey 1 1 1 1
White-tailed Kite 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1 1 3
American Kestrel 1
American Coot 2 4 14 9 85
Black-bellied Plover 25 93 95
Snowy Plover 16 39 40
Semipalmated Plover 1 3
Killdeer 4 10 8 5 18
Spotted Sandpiper 3 1 5 5
Willet 1 5 14 45
Whimbrel 4 5 28 17 9
Marbled Godwit 1 4
Ruddy Turnstone 2 9 12
Black Turnstone 3
Sanderling 2 10
Western Sandpiper 1 1
Least Sandpiper 3 6 2
Boneparte’s Gull 1
Heermann’s Gull 2 4 8 10 4
Ring-billed Gull 3
Western Gull 64 57 71 89 95
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 8
Elegant Tern 37 23 127 4 18
Rock Pigeon 6 6 16 5 15
Mourning Dove 2 2 2 1
Yellow-chevroned Parakeet 2
Vaux’s Swift 3
Anna’s Hummingbird 1 2 2 1 1
Allen’s Hummingbird 5 4 3 4 6
Nuttall’s Woodpecker 1
Western Wood-Pewee 1
Willow Flycatcher 1
Pac.Slope Flycatcher 1 1
Black Phoebe 6 3 11 9 12
Say’s Phoebe 3
Cassin’s Kingbird 1
Warbling Vireo 2
Western Scrub-Jay 1
American Crow 6 9 4 4 6
Rough-winged Swallow 2 8 7 15 3
Barn Swallow 19 40 35 45 1
Cliff Swallow 6 10 7 3
Bushtit 8 2 7
House Wren 1
American Robin 1 2
Wrentit 1
Northern Mockingbird 3 3 6 9 3
European Starling 8 12 22 55 115
Cedar Waxwing 2
Phainopepla 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 1 3
Yellow Warbler 3
Common Yellowthroat 3 1 3 9
Spotted Towhee 2 1
California Towhee 3 3 3 3 4
Song Sparrow 11 10 11 8 7
White-crowned Sparrow 15
Bobolink 1
Red-winged Blackbird 6 30 8
Western Meadowlark 6
Great-tailed Grackle 2 4 16 6 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 2 2
Hooded Oriole 2 1
House Finch 13 11 14 8 22
Lesser Goldfinch 2 2 4 6 15
Totals by Type May Jun July Aug Sep
Waterfowl 49 55 58 16 26
Water Birds-Other 77 106 138 106 193
Herons, Egrets 20 15 32 23 20
Raptors 3 1 1 1 7
Shorebirds 11 16 90 198 240
Gulls & Terns 132 106 221 111 128
Doves 8 8 18 6 15
Other Non-Pass. 6 6 5 5 13
Passerines 104 152 161 172 242
Totals Birds 410 465 724 638 884
           
Total Species May Jun July Aug Sep
Waterfowl 5 3 2 3 2
Water Birds-Other 8 5 6 7 7
Herons, Egrets 4 4 5 4 4
Raptors 3 1 1 1 5
Shorebirds 3 3 10 13 10
Gulls & Terns 8 6 6 5 5
Doves 2 2 2 2 1
Other Non-Pass. 2 2 2 2 5
Passerines 20 17 18 13 27
Totals Species – 92 55 43 52 50 66
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2 Comments
  1. Mary Prismon permalink
    October 3, 2014 10:29 am

    Chuck, I thought this an EXCELLENT report in all respects, data, pictures, history, etc. Was unable to sigh in on the Word Press comment section. Mary

    Like

    • Chukar permalink*
      October 3, 2014 2:36 pm

      Mary: Thank you for your comment. However, your comment IS on the blog in the comment section, so although you think you didn’t succeed, you did. Chuck

      Like

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