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Snowy Plovers Again Nest on Surfrider Beach

June 2, 2018

Adult Snowy Plover, Malibu Lagoon (Randy Ehler 5-27-18)

Major Malibu Surfrider Beach news again this year are the nesting Snowy Plovers. Nesting behavior was first noted on April 8, 2018. As of our May 27 field trip, there were two large and well-plumaged young, attended by one adult, presumably the father (the mother leaves a few days after the last egg hatches).

Our diligent Snowy Plover (SNPL) mavens Grace Murayama and Larry Loeher supplied this Snowy Plover Activity timeline.

April 8, 2018: Volunteer Sandy Summer observes and reports possible nesting behavior.

April 9: Ornithologist Dan Cooper checks and agrees; observes adult picking at shells and settling on probable nest.

Snowy Plover mom fluffing up to sit on eggs, Malibu Lagoon
(Grace Murayama 04-10-18)

April 10: Larry & Grace confirm nesting behavior: adult repeatedly returning to same spot on sand; eggs not clearly seen at the time, but later examination of the photo below shows 3 eggs. Total of 6 adult SNPLs present, none with leg bands.

Three Snowy Plover eggs between the sticks, Malibu Lagoon
(Grace Murayama 04-10-18)

April 11: Metal mini-enclosure (ME) (see 5/21 photo below) is placed over nest by Tom Ryan.

April 17: 1 adult on nest, another foraging on sand east of nest site.

April 26: Stacey Vigallon confirms 3 Snowy Plover chicks at Malibu.

April 27: Grace & Larry observe 3 chicks, 5 adults. They also observe 1 of the adults repeated returning to a different spot, photos confirm eggs in a 2nd nest site at that spot.

April 28: Tom Ryan confirms two additional eggs on the 2nd nest; Tom moves ME from 1st nest site to 2nd nest site.

May 4: Larry & Grace again observe 3 chicks, 5 adults, and 1 adult sitting on nest inside ME.

Female Snowy Plover sitting, Malibu Lagoon (Grace Murayama 05-21-18)

May 10th: Enlarged virtual fence installed/moved. Larry observes 1 adult & 3 chicks foraging; 1 other adult on 2nd nest.

Snowy Plover dad & chick, Malibu Lagoon (Grace Murayama 05-21-18)

May 21: Grace & Larry observe 2 chicks, 2 adults. Lagoon water level, continually rising behind the closed barrier sandbar, has now inundated the ME and the 2nd nest.

Snowy Plover metal enclosure under water! (Grace Murayama 5-21-18)

May 27: SMBAS field trip group observe 1 adult and 2 large well-plumaged juveniles, both of which fly about 30 feet after being alarmed.

Snowy Plover juvenile pair (R. Juncosa 5-27-18)

May 31: Stacey Vigallon confirms another (3rd) nest with 1 egg.

June 1: Larry & Grace observe 2 chicks, 2 adults, 2 eggs in the new (3rd) nest. No Least Terns present on the beach.

Snowy Plover on 2 eggs, Malibu Lagoon nest #3 (Grace Murayama 6-1-18)

Malibu is not the only L.A. County location for nesting Snowy Plovers. On Sunday, May 27, three Snowy Plover puffball chicks were confirmed at Dockweiler where they nested last year.

Snowy Plover juvenile (L) & adult (R) at Malibu Lagoon (Randy Ehler 5-27-18)

As yet there are no Least Terns nesting on Surfrider Beach, but fish-bringing courting behavior has been seen. The beach seems slightly higher than last year by a couple of inches, so perhaps any tern nests that appear won’t be inundated by high tide surf as they were last year.

Least Tern, Malibu Lagoon (Larry Loeher 5-27-18)

[Chuck Almdale]

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