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Birdy Morning at Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve Area: 11 Feb., 2017

February 13, 2017

Green Heron (Grace Murayama 2-11-17)

As often happens these days, what rain there would be had already fallen, and the morning was cool and pleasant. Yellow-chevroned Parakeets perched in their favorite tree by the archery range fence, and seemed satisfied to stay there. The first surprise was 500+ Canada Geese on the northern cricket field. We searched through them but could find no Cackling Geese. The resident pair of Egyptian Geese attracted a lot of attention from those who had never before seen these golf course-loving waterfowl.

Canada Geese on the cricket pitch (Grace Murayama 2-11-17)

The nesting Great Horned Owls weren’t nesting, or had changed locations, so we wandered over to the ponds. Most of the ducks were American Wigeon, with a scattering of Mallards and Pied-billed Grebes. One Belted Kingfisher flew across the pond, rattle-cackling. All the herons and egrets were present: Great Blue and Green Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets; five Black-crowned Night-Herons hiding in the reeds fringing the pond. Black Phoebes caught insects over the water, then returned to their perches in the brush and reeds. Red-winged Blackbirds also hid among the reeds. The island trees were full of Double-crested Cormorants, Turkey Vultures and one Osprey. White Pelicans, who do not like the ocean or Malibu Lagoon, floated across the pond. One caught a fish.

Immature Black-crowned Night-Heron (Grace Murayama 2-11-17)

A bit of an argument arose when a particularly large duck was see among the Mallards. What was it? A goose? It, of course, looked nothing like any bird in the field book. Another exotic like the Egyptian Geese? Had anyone reported it on the L.A. County Bird Hotline?

Mallards (Grace Murayama 2-11-17)

Our white domestic ducks are all mallards, modified by human selective breeding for size and white plumage. They and the regular wild Mallards do not recognize these differences as significant, and they freely interbreed. You can get many variations as the genes for white plumage mix with the genes for typical Mallard plumage. In the bird above, bill and leg color and the partial white neck ring is about all that’s left of the ancestral plumage displayed by the wild male Mallard behind it. Even the little tail curl which all male Mallards have is almost absent.

Birders scoping a hummingbird nest (Grace Murayama 2-11-17)

Brush birds were easily found along the main path: Mourning Doves, Anna’s and Allen’s Hummingbirds, Nuttall’s and Downy Woodpeckers, Scrub-Jays, Bushtits, Bewick’s Wrens, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Mockingbirds, Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Spotted and California Towhees, Song and White-crowned Sparrows, House Finches and Lesser Goldfinches. A pair of Red-tailed Hawks rested in nearby trees. Sepulveda Basin can be quite birdy.

Last year’s oriole nest made of plastic strips (Grace Murayama 2-11-17)

We made it to the Los Angeles River which was quite scoured by recent rains. In fact, we saw signs that the water level had recently been at least six feet higher. At the river were more Wigeons and Mallards, plus Coots, Black-necked Stilts in the shade of the Balboa Blvd. bridge and a single Greater Yellowlegs. The day was warming: Red-tailed and Cooper’s Hawks soared as Turkey Vultures floated away on thermals into the misty sky.

Osprey over the pond (Grace Murayama 2-11-17)

Previous Sepulveda Area trips: Feb. 2016   Dec. 2015   Nov. 2013
Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve website.  The first page has a nice slideshow of changes over time, taken from the same vantage point on the Burbank Blvd. overpass.

Note: For 2016 & 2017, R = L.A. River; this count is included in the total count for each species.
Thus: Mallard 40  10R = total 40 Mallards includes 10 seen at the L.A. River

Sepulveda Basin Trip List 11/9/13 12/12/15 2/13/16 2/11/17
Canada Goose 7 45 13 500+
Egyptian Goose 2 2
Wood Duck 2
Gadwall 2 8 6R
American Wigeon 8 60 100R 150R
Mallard 50 50 40 10R 20 30R
Ring-neck Duck 1
Bufflehead 4
Hooded Merganser 2
Pied-billed Grebe 20 18 20 10
Eared Grebe 6
Western Grebe 1
Double-crested Cormorant 30 35 40 20
American White Pelican 12 28 5
Great Blue Heron 4 3 3 5
Great Egret 4 3 3 34 1R
Snowy Egret 2 2 1 8 2R
Green Heron 3 5 4
Black-crowned Night-Heron 5 5 7 5
White-faced Ibis 2
Turkey Vulture 8 12 20 20
Osprey 2 1 1 1
Cooper’s Hawk 1 1 3
Red-tailed Hawk 2 4 5 1R 4 1R
American Coot 10 35 30 10R 36 4R
Black-necked Stilt 9R
Killdeer 3 2
Spotted Sandpiper 2 2 1R
Greater Yellowlegs 2 1R
Least Sandpiper 15 40
Western Gull 4 3
California Gull 10 4
Rock Pigeon 15 10 10
Mourning Dove 8 30 20 30 10R
Great Horned Owl 2
White-throated Swift 2
Anna’s Hummingbird 3 2 5 5
Allen’s Hummingbird 10 3 6 8
Belted Kingfisher 1 2 1 1
Red-breasted Sapsucker 1
Nuttall’s Woodpecker 2 1 4
Downy Woodpecker 1 1
Northern Flicker 4 1 1 1
Merlin 1 1
Yellow-chevroned Parakeet 8 6 20
Black Phoebe 20 18 6 1R 7 1R
Say’s Phoebe 4 2
Ash-throated Kingbird 1
Cassin’s Kingbird 3 3
California Scrub-Jay 2 1 2
American Crow 10 2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 24 2
Barn Swallow 6
Bushtit 8 16
Bewick’s Wren 1 4 2R 3 1r
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2 10 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6 15 3 10 2r
Western Bluebird 3 8
Hermit Thrush 1
American Robin 1
California Thrasher 1 1 5
Northern Mockingbird 5 2 2
European Starling 30 10
American Pipit 12 4 1R
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 6 4 5 2R 2H
Yellow-rumped Warbler 40 35 20 30
Spotted Towhee 2 2 1 2
California Towhee 8 15 10 6
Chipping Sparrow 10 8 5
Lark Sparrow 5 6 15
Savannah Sparrow 10 2 15 10
Song Sparrow 10 5 4 20
White-crowned Sparrow 30 50 60 20 5r
Dark-eyed Junco 8 2
Red-winged Blackbird 4 8 8
Western Meadowlark 15 40
Great-tailed Grackle 2
House Finch 30 15 25 17 3r
Lesser Goldfinch 4 30 4
American Goldfinch 30 25 5
House Sparrow 6
Total Species – 82 62 50 55 54

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