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No Turkeys at Malibu Lagoon, 24 November, 2019

December 8, 2019

Malibu Lagoon, a very narrow Surfrider Beach, and Santa Monica Bay with Palos Verdes Peninsula in the distance (L. Johnson 11-24-19)

Today’s crowd included the BioBlitz people, so we had at least double the number. Lu Plauzoles kindly took the BioBlitzers under his wing until 10am, when they split off to gather a plethora of soil samples. They reportedly enjoyed the walk and learned something about birds along the way.

BioBlitzers & Birders (L. Johnson 11-24-19)

Redhead (C. Tosdevin 11-24-19)

We had fewer birds but more species than last month, primarily because the number of coots dropped from 870 to a far more typical winter count of 210. Some unusual ducks showed up to replace last month’s unusual geese: a Redhead, Ring-necked Duck (probably a holdover from last month), Greater Scaup and Red-breasted Mergansers.

This last species is regular here in small numbers during the winter, but had not yet arrived as of October. We frequently see them plowing along through the water, faces submerged, looking for fish. The can easily see underwater as their nictating membrane – a third, transparent eyelid – functions as a natural swim goggle.

Red-breasted Mergansers in winter plumage (C. Bragg 11-24-19)

A Pacific Loon was on the ocean beyond the offshore rocks, along with a Pelagic Cormorant and some Western Grebes, a few of which were also in the lagoon. No Clarke’s Grebes. Lu Plauzoles spotted a Sora in the northern channel section, flying quickly from one bed of reeds to another, but most people missed this sneaky little devil.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in Atriplex (C. Bragg 11-24-19)

The reeds also hosted eight Common Yellowthroats and three Marsh Wrens, while the bushes were home to House and Bewick’s Wrens, as well as Blue-gray Gnatcatchers (eleven!), at least forty Bushtits, one Ruby-crowned Kinglet and two Wrentits.

Osprey (C. Bragg 11-24-19)

The Osprey is back, after being present in September but missing in October. To our great surprise it plonked into the lagoon and proceeded to take a bath, after which it retired to the nearby telephone pole by the path where the Mockingbird likes to sing. The Osprey – with his partially-white head, dark back and white belly, plus his fish-eating ways – appears superficially similar to the Bald Eagle. While Bald Eagles are not impossible in our coastal SoCal area, they’re far from common, whereas Ospreys are regular.

Osprey bathing in Malibu Lagoon (C. Tosdevin 11-24-19)

The Snowy Plover population seems to be holding steady: September 42, October 40, November 43. Today they were scattered all over the beach between the ocean and the southeast corner of the lagoon.

Black-bellied Plovers and a pair of Mallards (C. Bragg 11-24-19)

Ruddy Turnstones still outnumber Black Turnstones at the lagoon by 4-to-1. Last month it was 8-to-2, this month it’s 12-to-3. Evidently they are reading this blog and adjusting their numbers in order to keep my prediction accurate. Thanks, guys, but it’s really not necessary.

These Double-crested Cormorants have logged in for the day (C. Bragg 11-24-19)

Birds new for the season: Redhead, Greater Scaup, Red-breasted Merganser, Western Grebe, Sora, Glaucous-winged Gull, Pacific Loon, Pelagic Cormorant, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, American Kestrel, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Lesser Goldfinch.

Many thanks to our photographers: Chuck Bragg, Lillian Johnson, Larry Loeher & Chris Tosdevin.

Adult male Great-tailed Grackle checks the wrack for nibblies (C. Bragg 11-24-19)

Heermann’s Gulls regularly winter at Malibu Lagoon (C. Bragg 11-24-19)

Our next four scheduled field trips: Back Bay Newport 8am, Sat 14 December; Butterbredt Christmas Count 8:30am, Sat 21 December; Malibu Lagoon 8:30 & 10am, Sun 22 December; LA Xmas Count Santa Monica area, 8am, Sat 4 January.

Our next program: Cuban Birds & Island Biogeography, with Tom Hinnebusch. Tuesday, 4 February, 7:30 p.m., 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 viewpoint just south (towards the water) of the parking area. Watch for Willie the Weasel. He’ll be watching for you and your big floppy feet.

Links: Unusual birds at Malibu Lagoon recently updated with new photos
9/23/02 Aerial photo of Malibu Lagoon

Blue-eyed Brown Pelican (L. Loeher 11-15-19)

Prior checklists:
2019: Jan-June
2018: Jan-June, July-Dec
2017: Jan-June, July-Dec
2016:Jan-June,July-Dec
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 Lagoon Reconfiguration 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 restoration period June’12-June’14.

Many thanks to Chuck Bragg, Femi Faminu, Lillian Johnson, Chris Lord, Lu Plauzoles & Chris Tosdevin for their contributions to this month’s checklist.  [Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Census 2019 6/23 7/28 8/28 9/22 10/27 11/24
Temperature 63-68 62-66 72-78 70-77 61-71 62-72
Tide Lo/Hi Height L+0.55 H+3.46 H+3.39 L+3.21 H+6.41 H+6.43
Tide Time 0835 0817 0725 0930 0907 0705
Snow Goose 1
Gr. White-fronted Goose 2
Canada Goose 6 6
Gadwall 20 18 20 8
American Wigeon 6
Mallard 18 18 18 40 35 15
Green-winged Teal 2 4
Redhead 1
Ring-necked Duck 4 1
Greater Scaup 1
Red-breasted Merganser 5
Ruddy Duck 3 10
Pied-billed Grebe 1 2 8 6 7
Horned Grebe 1 1
Eared Grebe 4 8
Western Grebe 14
Rock Pigeon 15 18 5 6 8 8
Eurasian Collared-Dove 4 2
Mourning Dove 4 8 2 1 2 2
Anna’s Hummingbird 1 1 2 1
Allen’s Hummingbird 6 9 1 5 4 3
Sora 1
American Coot 5 4 4 84 870 210
Black-bellied Plover 36 72 78 74 85
Snowy Plover 11 14 42 40 43
Semipalmated Plover 2 2 3
Killdeer 5 8 4 5 10 17
Whimbrel 85 15 20 3 3
Long-billed Curlew 1 2 1 1
Marbled Godwit 1 17 24 24 10
Ruddy Turnstone 2 4 8 12
Black Turnstone 2 3
Sanderling 57 35 24
Least Sandpiper 3 5 3 1
Pectoral Sandpiper 1
Western Sandpiper 1 17 1
Short-billed Dowitcher 3 1
Spotted Sandpiper 1 1 3 1 1
Willet 15 16 52 13 6
Red-necked Phalarope 5 8
Common Murre 2
Heermann’s Gull 2 15 2 14 16 22
Ring-billed Gull 8 45 25
Western Gull 70 80 18 29 85 110
California Gull 7 2 93 115 420
Herring Gull 2
Glaucous-winged Gull 1 1
Least Tern 2 5
Caspian Tern 5 3 12
Royal Tern 1 2 4 1 5 9
Elegant Tern 64
Pacific Loon 1
Brandt’s Cormorant 1 1
Double-crested Cormorant 24 22 20 39 35 35
Pelagic Cormorant 1
Brown Pelican 74 34 6 30 52 12
Great Blue Heron 1 4 3 3 7 6
Great Egret 6 2 4 4
Snowy Egret 6 19 11 18 8 3
Green Heron 1 1 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron 1 2 3 3 1
Turkey Vulture 2 2
Osprey 1 1
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1 1
Belted Kingfisher 1 2 1
Nuttall’s Woodpecker 1 1 1
American Kestrel 1
Nanday Parakeet 4
Black Phoebe 3 3 2 8 5 8
Say’s Phoebe 1 2 2
Cassin’s Kingbird 1
Western Kingbird 3
California Scrub-Jay 1 1
American Crow 5 5 4 6 8 5
Common Raven 1
Rough-winged Swallow 4 1
Cliff Swallow 8 11
Barn Swallow 30 21 7 2
Bushtit 5 30 20 5 8 40
House Wren 4 1 1
Marsh Wren 1 5 3
Bewick’s Wren 1 2 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4 3 11
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Wrentit 1 1 1 3 2
Western Bluebird 7
Northern Mockingbird 6 4 2 2 2 2
European Starling 8 25 8 23 50 18
Cedar Waxwing 18
House Finch 22 25 3 5 5 6
Lesser Goldfinch 2
California Towhee 3 2 1 3
Song Sparrow 5 4 3 8 8 6
White-crowned Sparrow 2 10 4
Western Meadowlark 1 2
Hooded Oriole 2 4 2
Brown-headed Cowbird 2 15 1
Brewer’s Blackbird 34
Great-tailed Grackle 3 4 2 1 7 4
Orange-crowned Warbler 1 3
Common Yellowthroat 2 1 7 3 8
Yellow Warbler 5
Yellow-rumped(Aud) Warbler 15 5
Totals by Type Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov
Waterfowl 44 42 18 40 73 45
Water Birds – Other 103 61 32 162 969 290
Herons, Egrets & Ibis 14 27 21 29 16 11
Quail & Raptors 3 0 1 2 2 2
Shorebirds 6 162 172 305 213 205
Gulls & Terns 87 111 107 137 268 587
Doves 23 26 7 9 10 10
Other Non-Passerines 11 11 2 6 8 6
Passerines 107 130 84 143 152 132
Totals Birds 398 570 444 833 1711 1288
             
Total Species Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov
Waterfowl 3 3 1 1 8 8
Water Birds – Other 3 4 4 5 7 10
Herons, Egrets & Ibis 4 4 4 5 3 4
Quail & Raptors 2 0 1 2 1 2
Shorebirds 2 10 14 16 11 11
Gulls & Terns 6 7 7 4 6 6
Doves 3 2 2 3 2 2
Other Non-Passerines 3 3 2 2 3 4
Passerines 15 13 17 27 18 21
Totals Species – 104 41 46 52 65 59 68
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