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Summer starts at Malibu Lagoon: June 26, 2016

June 27, 2016
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By the time we got home in the San Fernando Valley at noon, it was 102°F; at the lagoon it had been a lovely 72°F. That’s SoCal summertime; drive over the hill and the temperature jumps 30°. Boo! Hiss!

Western Sandpiper pals, back from the north (G. Murayama 6-15-16)

Western Sandpiper pals, back from the north (G. Murayama 6-15-16)

June is typically our slowest month at the lagoon. Today’s 42 species is about average, but total birds of 704 is higher than usual. And that doesn’t count the approximately 500 gulls and 200 Elegant Terns who lifted off the beach and flew west shortly after we arrived, but before we could count them.

Male Great-tailed Grackle, protesting loudly (R. Ehlers 6-26-16)

Male Great-tailed Grackle, protesting loudly (R. Ehlers 6-26-16)

Low tide of +0.32 ft. was at 8:31am. Many rocks were exposed, but only a handful (that’s seven, for you non-polydactylists) of Willets were taking advantage. The lagoon outlet was closed, but the water level was high from runoff coming down the creek, one must suppose, with maybe another foot of rise before it would begin to

Harlequin Cabbage Bug (A. Douglas 6-26-16)

Harlequin Cabbage Bug on grass stalk (A. Douglas 6-26-16)

leak out. Surf was quite high, with waves cresting over than the heads of the men on boards, and PCH was packed on both sides by the parked cars of early-arriving surfers. One surfer, running barefoot down the path to the beach with board tucked underarm, replied to my query that he’d just driven down from Salt Lake City and couldn’t stop to talk. That’s surf! (Cue Chantays’ Pipeline.)

Forster's Tern (R. Ehlers 6-26-16)

Forster’s Tern (R. Ehlers 6-26-16)

One unfortunate Double-crested Cormorant who landed on the snag in the water near our gathering spot, had a hook in its mouth with about 8 feet of fishing line and a small weight attached to it. It was reported to the local park ranger who said he’d pass it on to those who are equipped to come and aid such birds. I don’t know how they do it – throw a big net over it, perhaps.

One-year old Black-crowned Night-Heron<br/>(R. Ehlers 6-26-16)

One-year old Black-crowned Night-Heron (R. Ehlers 6-26-16)

In the nearby reeds we found a year-old Black-crowned Night Heron, in not-quite-adult plumage. Most of the adult Mallards were trailing ducklings of various sizes – sometimes one, sometimes a half-dozen.

We watched a tall Washingtonia Palm Tree for a while, as several people had spotted a Bullock’s Oriole flying in and out from what appeared, at a distance, to be a nest. It didn’t return. Usually it’s Hooded Orioles who nest in palms, which they’ve done in previous years. I’d like to have been able to confirm that the nest, if it was a nest, belonged to a Bullock’s.

Ring-billed Gull, 1 year old, with peculiar white wing patches (R. Ehlers 6-26-16)

Ring-billed Gull, 1 year old, with peculiar white wing patches (R. Ehlers 6-26-16)

An odd-looking gull showed up near trip’s end. Those observing it decided that it was a 1st-summer (one year old) Ring-billed Gull, but it had huge white patches in the wings, something I’ve never previously seen.

A quick anecdote: it’s often very difficult identifying a bird from someone’s verbal description. Two park rangers  told us of a penguin-like black-and-white bird eating a Mallard duckling down by the lagoon. Penguin, eh? – sounds like an Alcid, unlikely but not impossible. But the field guide picture didn’t look quite right to them. One then said that another ranger had seen the same bird in Santa Barbara, and it was hanging out it’s wings to dry. Well…only cormorants do that. Again, the picture wasn’t quite right. Wait! One of them had a short video of it on their phone. Very dimly we could see an adult Black-crowned Night Heron gobbling down a baby duck. So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut frequently said.

Red-breasted Merganser in ratty plumage (G. Murayama 6-24-16)

Red-breasted Merganser in ratty plumage
(G. Murayama 6-24-16)

Snowy Plovers: Although one recently arrived on Santa Monica Beach, we didn’t see any.

Birds new for the season were: Black-crowned Night-Heron, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Glaucous-winged Gull, Forster’s Tern, Anna’s Hummingbird, Oak Titmouse, Bullock’s Oriole.

As always, many thanks to our photographers: Chuck Bragg, Adrian Douglas, Randy Ehler & Grace Murayama.

Our next four scheduled field trips: Malibu Lagoon 8:30 & 10am, 24 July; Lower Los Angeles River TBA; Malibu Lagoon 8:30 & 10am, 28 Aug.

Common Yellowthroat singing (Chuck Bragg 2-28-16)

Common Yellowthroat singing (Chuck Bragg 2-28-16)

Our next program: TBA,  Tuesday, 4 Oct, 7:30 pm, at Chris Reed Park, 1133 7th St., NE corner of 7th and Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica.

NOTE: Our 10 a.m. Parent’s & Kids Birdwalk meets at the shaded viewing area. Watch for Willie the Weasel. He’ll be watching for you and your big floppy feet.

Links: Unusual birds at Malibu Lagoon
9/23/02 Aerial photo of Malibu Lagoon
Prior checklists:
2015:   Jan-May,    July-Dec    2014:   Jan-July,    July-Dec

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, despite numerous complaints, 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]

Lagoon Birds 2016 1/24 2/28 3/27 4/24 5/22 6/26
Temperature 48-64 57-70 55-65 60-67 61-66 68-72
Tide Lo/Hi Height H+5.90 L+1.38 H+3.43 H+3.63 H+3.69 L+0.32
Tide Time 0855 0654 1228 1143 1101 0831
Brant 3 2 1 2
Gadwall 3 20 14 4 8
American Wigeon 10 16 10
Mallard 15 22 16 18 4 30
Northern Shoveler 16 12 14
Northern Pintail 4
Green-winged Teal 8 8
Lesser Scaup 5
Surf Scoter 17 16
Bufflehead 2 2
Red-brstd Merganser 3 3 2 1 1
Ruddy Duck 10
Red-throated Loon 2
Pacific Loon 1 2
Common Loon 1 1
Pied-billed Grebe 3 8 3 1
Horned Grebe 1 1
Eared Grebe 2 5 2
Western Grebe 1 1
Blk-vented Shearwater 1
Brandt’s Cormorant 1 4 2
Dble-crstd Cormorant 24 19 6 23 7 35
Pelagic Cormorant 2
Brown Pelican 30 43 28 77 14 94
Great Blue Heron 3 4 3 2 3
Great Egret 2 1 5 2 1 7
Snowy Egret 21 7 7 4 2 6
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 2
Osprey 1 3 1 1
Cooper’s Hawk 1 1 2
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
American Coot 40 65 53 4
Black-necked Stilt 19
Blk-bellied Plover 12 32 8 20 6 6
Snowy Plover 12 4 3
Semipalmated Plover 8
Killdeer 2 4 3 2 6 8
Spotted Sandpiper 1 1 1
Willet 8 8 12 10 16 11
Whimbrel 3 4 21 2
Marbled Godwit 13 22 15 6
Ruddy Turnstone 5 1
Surfbird 1
Least Sandpiper 13 7
Western Sandpiper 4 35 1 1
Long-billed Dowitcher 2
Common Murre 3
Bonaparte’s Gull 1 3
Heermann’s Gull 4 1 2 8 130
Mew Gull 1
Ring-billed Gull 30 90 15 1 26 1
Western Gull 13 160 45 60 23 120
California Gull 400 650 130 15 3 3
Thayer’s Gull 1
Glaucous-wingd Gull 4 1 1
Caspian Tern 3 19 9 11
Forster’s Tern 1
Royal Tern 25 31 18 2 48 5
Elegant Tern 5 1800 10 110
Rock Pigeon 2 6 6 6 1 23
Mourning Dove 2 2 2 1 2
Anna’s Hummingbird 1 2 1 3
Allen’s Hummingbird 3 3 4 4 2 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Merlin 1
Nanday Parakeet 8 2
Black Phoebe 3 8 6 4 1 2
Say’s Phoebe 1 1
Cassin’s Kingbird 1
Western Scrub-Jay 1 2 1
American Crow 6 23 6 4 4 6
Common Raven 1 1
Violet-green Swallow 1
Rough-wingd Swallow 10 10 6 6
Cliff Swallow 1 6 4 7
Barn Swallow 6 4 4 20
Oak Titmouse 1 1
Bushtit 4 5 4 2
House Wren 1 1
Bewick’s Wren 1 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Western Bluebird 1
Hermit Thrush 3 1
American Robin 2 1
Northern Mockingbird 1 3 4 6 2 2
European Starling 110 90 1 2 2 10
Common Yellowthroat 1 5 5 1 1
Yellw-rumpd Warbler 9
Spotted Towhee 1
California Towhee 2 5 3
Song Sparrow 3 3 12 14 2 3
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1
White-crwnd Sparrow 20 5 5
Blck-heded Grosbeak 1
Red-winged Blackbird 5 4 15
Western Meadowlark 2
Brewer’s Blackbird 6 12
Great-tailed Grackle 2 1 9 3 3 4
Brwn-headed Cowbird 2
Hooded Oriole 1
Bullock’s Oriole 2
House Finch 1 6 21 16 7 6
Lesser Goldfinch 1
House Sparrow 3
Totals by Type Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Waterfowl 61 118 74 22 14 33
Water Birds – Other 104 146 100 106 22 129
Herons, Egrets & Ibis 26 12 15 6 5 18
Quail & Raptors 2 4 2 1 1 3
Shorebirds 50 86 113 76 28 26
Gulls & Terns 472 939 219 1903 127 382
Doves 4 8 8 7 3 23
Other Non-Passerines 4 13 7 5 2 4
Passerines 150 168 105 95 60 86
Totals Birds 873 1494 643 2221 262 704
Total Species Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Waterfowl 8 11 7 2 4 3
Water Birds – Other 9 10 9 4 3 2
Herons, Egrets & Ibis 3 3 3 2 3 4
Quail & Raptors 2 2 2 1 1 2
Shorebirds 6 10 11 10 3 4
Gulls & Terns 5 9 8 8 7 9
Doves 2 2 2 2 2 1
Other Non-Passerines 2 3 3 2 1 2
Passerines 12 19 22 20 17 15
Totals Species-105 49 69 67 51 41 42
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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2016 5:22 pm

    I’m stunned, stunned at the level of detail! J-

    Like

  2. Edwin Hession permalink
    June 27, 2016 8:37 pm

    Thank you for this terrific post!
    Ed Hession

    Like

Trackbacks

  1. ‘Twas brillig, yet freesbish: Malibu Lagoon, 25 December, 2016 | Santa Monica Bay Audubon Blog
  2. Ospreys, Least Terns & Snowy Plovers: Malibu Lagoon, July 24, 2016 | Santa Monica Bay Audubon Blog

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