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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 28 Dec. 2014 & July-Dec 2014 trip lists

December 30, 2014

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Chilly, but nice. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it! Actually, it was better than nice. Loads of birds, low tide, little wind, beautiful clouds in the sky, and two banded Snowy Plovers. Over thirty birders showed up: I suspect some had found new binoculars under their Christmas tree.

Lesser Goldfinch (Ray Juncosa 12/28/14)

Lesser Goldfinch (Ray Juncosa 12/28/14)

Duck species doubled from November’s four, including four beautiful Hooded Mergansers, a species recorded 17 times previously (of 301 lagoon field trips), but last seen 12/24/95. They spent two winters, 1981 and 1990, paddling around with the Ruddy Ducks under the PCH bridge from January through March.

We had a near record number of 6 Spotted Sandpipers, a species that does not congregate with other sandpipers in the winter, preferring to wander the lagoon edges alone. We’ve seen eight ‘spotties’ twice before, both times in August.

Greater Yellowlegs (Ray Juncosa 12/28/14)

Greater Yellowlegs (Ray Juncosa 12/28/14)

Willet (Ray Juncosa 12/28/14)

Willet (Ray Juncosa 12/28/14)

I must have walked right past the Greater Yellowlegs, as I glimpsed him behind me out of the corner of my eye. They show up on only 16% of visits, most often in December and never in May. A nearby Willet provided a good comparison: The Yellowlegs is 1” smaller, slimmer with a longer, slightly upcurved bill, more white & black & speckled than plain gray-brown, and a more active feeder.

A record number of cormorants were present: well over 200 adorned the offshore rocks with dozens more floating in the sea, for lack of rock-perching room. Oddly, there was not a single Pelagic Cormorant among them; even more oddly, the 130 Brandt’s outnumbered the Double-crested, which we’ve never seen before. Brandt’s are present only 50% of the time, whereas the Double-crested are very rarely absent. Factoid: Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorant’s really dislike being far from the sea; even the lagoon is too far inland for them, and we rarely see them there, whereas we regularly find them paddling around in the nearshore waters or resting on the rocks.

Lots of loons in the surf zone, most disguising themselves as Red-breasted Mergansers, trolling for fish with their heads submerged, and lots of grebes in the lagoon. But the gulls had really massed (see list below). Not a great variety – six gull species plus Royal Terns – but large numbers. Even five raptors species appeared, albeit only one of each: Osprey, White-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered & Red-tailed Hawks, and a Peregrine Falcon resting on the east end of the beach. Back home, I was surprised to learn that Kites appeared only ten times previously, including three months in a row in April-June 2013.

Snowy Plover (Ray Juncosa 12/28/14)

Snowy Plover relaxing in a footprint (Ray Juncosa 12/28/14)

I counted only 25 Snowy Plovers on the beach – there may have been more across the breach channel – but they included two ringed birds: GA:OY and GG:AR. GA:OY was ringed this summer at Oceano Dunes; GG:AR is an old friend with many lagoon appearances, ringed in Summer’11, also at Oceano Dunes.

Birds new for the season were: Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Red-throated, Pacific & Common Loons, White-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Greater Yellowlegs, California Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Royal Tern, Savannah Sparrow.

Our next three scheduled field trips:   Antelope Valley Raptors, 10 Jan, 8am-2pm; Malibu Lagoon, 25 Jan, 8:30 & 10am; Salton Sea weekend, Feb 7-8, 9am.

Our next program: Tuesday, 3 Feb., 7:30 pm. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, presented by Melina Watts. PLEASE NOTE THAT OUR MONTHLY MEETING PLACE HAS CHANGED; INFORMATION TO COME.

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 7/27 8/25 9/28 10/26 11/23 12/28
Temperature 66-72 72-80 68-75 62-72 60-70 39-61
Tide Lo/Hi Height H+4.21 H+4.52 H+5.35 H+5.93 H+6.41 L+1.70
Tide Time 1100 0954 1149 1044 0849 0903
Gadwall 2 3 26
American Wigeon 10
Mallard 55 12 23 3 2 10
Northern Shoveler 4
Green-winged Teal 1 12
Bufflehead 8
Hooded Merganser 4
Red-breasted Merganser 3 2 25 25
Ruddy Duck 2 36 42
Red-throated Loon 3
Pacific Loon 6
Common Loon 1
Pied-billed Grebe 6 6 11 3 1 8
Horned Grebe 2 2 4
Eared Grebe 6 18 8 12
Western Grebe 1 6 12 2
Brandt’s Cormorant 4 2 1 2 130
Double-crested Cormorant 35 58 45 26 9 120
Pelagic Cormorant 1 1 3 1
Brown Pelican 78 29 42 26 32 95
Great Blue Heron 4 4 1 2 4 3
Great Egret 4 3 3 4 4 4
Snowy Egret 22 12 15 20 20 18
Little Blue Egret 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron 1 4 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Osprey 1 1 1 1 1
White-tailed Kite 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1 1
Red-tailed Hawk 3 1 1
American Kestrel 1 1 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
American Coot 14 9 85 20 100 135
Blk-bellied Plover 25 93 95 40 45 38
Snowy Plover 16 39 40 34 40 25
Semipalmated Plover 1 3
Killdeer 8 5 18 1 1 17
Spotted Sandpiper 1 5 5 4 2 6
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Willet 5 14 45 6 4 10
Whimbrel 28 17 9 1 1 1
Marbled Godwit 1 4 5 3 12
Ruddy Turnstone 2 9 12 4 6 6
Black Turnstone 3
Sanderling 2 10 32 32 28
Western Sandpiper 1 1
Least Sandpiper 3 6 2 1
Boneparte’s Gull 2 2 1
Heermann’s Gull 8 10 4 5 1 18
Ring-billed Gull 3 60 65
Western Gull 71 89 95 40 81 230
California Gull 1 1500
Glaucous-winged Gull 3
Least Tern 3 2
Forster’s Tern 2 3
Royal Tern 11 6 8 22
Elegant Tern 127 4 18 17 4
Rock Pigeon 16 5 15 6 6
Mourning Dove 2 1
Yel-chevroned Parakeet 2
Vaux’s Swift 3
Anna’s Hummingbird 2 1 1
Allen’s Hummingbird 3 4 6 3 4
Belted Kingfisher 1
Nuttall’s Woodpecker 1
Willow Flycatcher 1
Pac.Slope Flycatcher 1
Black Phoebe 11 9 12 2 1 2
Say’s Phoebe 3 2 2
Cassin’s Kingbird 1
Warbling Vireo 2
Western Scrub-Jay 1
American Crow 4 4 6 7 8
Rough-winged Swallow 7 15 3
Barn Swallow 35 45 1
Cliff Swallow 7 3
Bushtit 7
House Wren 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1 2
American Robin 2
Wrentit 1
Northern Mockingbird 6 9 3 2 2
European Starling 22 55 115 60 60 25
Cedar Waxwing 2
Orange-crowned Warbler 3
Nashville Warbler 2
Yellow Warbler 3 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 40 2 15
Common Yellowthroat 1 3 9 4 2 4
Spotted Towhee 2 1
California Towhee 3 3 4 1
Savannah Sparrow 3
Song Sparrow 11 8 7 2 3
White-crowned Sparrow 15 15 35
Bobolink 1
Red-winged Blackbird 8
Western Meadowlark 6 6 7 14
Great-tailed Grackle 16 6 3 1
Hooded Oriole 1
House Finch 14 8 22
Lesser Goldfinch 4 6 15 3 1
Totals by Type July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Waterfowl 58 16 26 5 64 141
Water Birds-Other 138 106 193 102 166 516
Herons, Egrets 32 23 20 26 28 25
Raptors 1 1 7 4 2 5
Shorebirds 90 198 240 127 135 144
Gulls & Terns 221 111 128 66 151 1839
Doves 18 6 15 6 0 6
Other Non-Passerine 5 5 13 3 1 4
Passerines 161 172 241 150 76 114
Totals Birds 724 638 883 489 623 2794
             
Total Species July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Waterfowl 2 3 2 2 4 9
Water Birds-Other 6 7 7 8 8 11
Herons, Egrets 5 4 4 3 3 3
Raptors 1 1 5 4 2 5
Shorebirds 10 13 10 9 10 10
Gulls & Terns 6 5 5 5 6 7
Doves 2 2 1 1 0 1
Other Non-Pass. 2 2 5 1 1 1
Passerines 18 13 26 15 8 12
Totals Species – 103 52 50 65 48 42 59

 

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