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Ballona Bird Walk Nov. 19, 2016: Field Trip Report

November 24, 2016

There has been a growing pressure on all active birders to post results as reports on eBird, the Cornell University citizen-science project. You will see that I am following that lead.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this practice, however, as my little tale will tell. We start our Ballona walk traditionally at the del Rey Lagoon, a City park with a remnant wetland that is linked to Ballona Creek with a mechanical tidal gate. Since this is a hotspot on the eBird map, I made a separate listing of the species observed.

Belding's Savannah Sparrow, Ballona Lagoon 11/19/16 Nancy Conner

Belding’s Savannah Sparrow, Ballona Lagoon 11/19/16 Nancy Conner

Del Rey Lagoon Park
Comments: SMBAS field trip, continued to Ballona Creek/Marina Channel spit. Return to lagoon for 10 minutes additional observation at 11:15. 25 species

American Wigeon (Anas americana) 31
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 6
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) 4
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) 1
American Coot (Fulica americana) 11
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) 1
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) 1
Willet (Tringa semipalmata) 1
Bonaparte’s Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia) 17
Heermann’s Gull (Larus heermanni) 1
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) 6
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) 14
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon)) 40
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 3
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) 1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 12
Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) 30
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) 18
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) 1
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) 1
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) 14
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 2

However, in walking just 200 yards north, we entered another location, according to eBird. Therefore, a new list is required by eBird! The Ballona Creek spit and adjacent areas. This is where we find the pro and the con of electronic reporting. First, the con: many species are duplicated and after 3 hours of birding, I can only hope that my memory of the numbers seen of any of those species is accurate.

Least Sandpiper Ballona Lagoon 11/19/16 Nancy Conner

Least Sandpiper Ballona Lagoon 11/19/16 Nancy Conner

Another problem. Most serious birders who frequent that area are focused entirely on the relative rarities or firsts-of-season sightings, in the creek, and often neglect to report relatively “ordinary” passerines. Therefore the database for this hotspot is rather slim. I was forced by the program to justify such “rare” or exceptional species and quantities as Black and Says Phoebe, Least Sandpiper, Great Egret, etc. You will see the notes below, adjacent to each of these species.

Marbled Godwits, Willets, Ballona Lagoon 11/19/16 Nancy Conner

Marbled Godwits, Willets, Ballona Lagoon 11/19/16 Nancy Conner

The advantage of eBird however: the record will show that a number of expected species were not present, such as Surfbird, Ruddy Turnstone, Pelagic Cormorant…
As far as this birder was concerned, the close up view of the Pacific Loon’s rarely-seen collar was thrill enough for the trip. And the semi-resident Peregrine Falcon stayed on his perch for at least an hour, enabling photographers to get close.

Peregrine Falcon Ballona Lagoon 11/19/16 Nancy Conner

Peregrine Falcon Ballona Lagoon 11/19/16 Nancy Conner

Ballona Creek–Creek mouth, jetties & breakwater Nov 19, 2016 9:15 AM – 11:00 AM
Comments: Continuation of SMBAS field trip. See Del Rey Lagoon same day.
28 species
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) 6 4 M, 2 F below and app. 100 yds upstream from bridge.
Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica) 1
Common Loon (Gavia immer) 1
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) 1 In Ballona Crk, just upstream from bridge.
Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus) 1
Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) 2
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) 6
Brandt’s Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) 10
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) 13 2 in flight up creek, balance on breakwater (scoped).
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) 20
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 1
Great Egret (Ardea alba) 3
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) 3
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) 6
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) 20
Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala) 2
Sanderling (Calidris alba) 12
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) 30 approx. 300 yds upstream from bridge on exposed rock and pickle weed bank, north side, with Black-bellied Plovers.
Willet (Tringa semipalmata) 18
Heermann’s Gull (Larus heermanni) 4
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) 2
California Gull (Larus californicus) 1
Western Gull (hybrid) (Larus occidentalis) 15
Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans) 1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon)) 150 Numerous groups/flocks up to 40, flying over marina, creek and channel, as well as roosting on breakwater.
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) 1 Perched 10 feet down from top of foghorn tower on end of spit. Perched for over one hour.
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) 4 On low tide exposed banks and rocks of creek.
Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya) 2 One on Dockweiler/creek spit, one 1/4 mile upstream on wetland fence.
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 11 In Washingtonia Robusta, adjacent to apartments.

Weather partly cloudy to sunny. 64-75° F.
[Lucien Plauzoles]

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