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Are you interested? – Malibu Lagoon Children and Parents Walk 10:00 a.m., 4th Sunday every month

September 13, 2022

Showy Snowy Egret (R. Juncosa 11-25-18)

February 2020 was the last time we ran our parents & kids walk.
Because of Covid-19, of course. We’re ready to run them again, just as before, but we want to know if there’s any interest. This is a solicitation for responses from our members and other potential attendees. Open to all, no charge. The trips aren’t just for the kids. They’re a chance for parents of young children to get out into the sunshine and fresh air, have some fun looking at the birds and know that their kids won’t be knocking over any lamps.

Here’s the traditional announcement for these walks. Please let us know if you’re interested. You can reply to this blog, and your comments will post, or you can email me.

Children and Parents Walk 10:00 a.m., 4th Sunday of every month. 
One hour session, meeting at the metal-shaded viewing area between parking lot and channel.  We start at 10:00 for a shorter walk and to allow time for families to get it together on a sleepy Sunday morning.  Our leaders are experienced with kids so please bring them to the beach!  We have an ample supply of binoculars that children can use without striking terror into their parents.  We want to see families enjoying nature. (If you have a Scout Troop or other group of more than seven people, you must call Jean (310-472-7209) to make sure we have enough binoculars and docents.)

Sanderling flock on end of beach spit (R. Juncosa 11-25-18)

Map to Meeting Place
Directions: Malibu Lagoon is at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Cross Creek Road, west of Malibu Pier and the bridge.  Look around for people wearing binoculars.
Parking: Parking machine recently installed in the lagoon lot: 1 hr $3; 2 hrs $6; 3 hrs $9, all day $12 ($11 seniors); credit cards accepted. Annual passes accepted. You may also park (read the signs carefully) either along PCH west of Cross Creek Road, on Cross Creek Road, or on Civic Center Way north (inland) of the shopping center.  Lagoon parking in shopping center lots is not permitted.

[Written & posted by Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Lagoon Monthly Field Trip: Sunday, 25 September 2022 (not October!)

September 13, 2022

Sorry about the typo. Definitely Sunday 25 September, not October. All else remains the same.
Announcement for October will magically appear in your inbox around Oct. 10. And not before.
Delete yesterday’s announcement.

Covid-19 Rules for Malibu Lagoon trip are
unchanged from last month.

  • Registration required, max. 30 people. No drop-ins, please.
  • Register to Chuck: misclists@verizon.net, not to this email or to the blog, please.
  • Masks are not required but will be appreciated.
  • Bring your Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card and a photo ID card. They will be checked. If you do not have two shots and a booster recorded on your card, you must wear a mask while you are with the group.
  • If we checked your Covid card In March-Aug, we won’t check it this month.
  • Bring your own binoculars; telescope too if you have one.
  • All Field Trips are designed to maximize your safety, while also enjoying birds. CDC Guidelines are followed. Participants are encouraged to observe safe distancing, and face coverings are required for those who are not fully vaccinated (2 shots + booster) for Covid-19.
  • Participation in social activities, such as field trips, comes with an inherent risk of exposure to infectious disease. Prospective participants should self-evaluate or discuss with their doctor if their participation merits this risk. If you’re sick or experiencing any symptoms that indicate you might be sick, STAY HOME.
  • The 10am Children & Parents Walk is NOT yet reinstated.
  • For general questions or help registering, contact Chuck: misclists@verizon.net
  • Additional information on our permanent Covid-19 blog page:
Song Sparrow (C. Tosdevin 9-21-26)

Welcome back to the official First Field Trip of our Field Trip Year. Migration will be in full swing so we should see many species. Birds often gather offshore in large feeding flocks.

Some of the great birds we’ve had in September are: Brant, Gadwall, Am. Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed & Eared Grebe, Green Heron, White-faced Ibis, Cooper’s Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Sora, Semipalmated Plover, American Avocet, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Long-billed Dowitcher, Red-necked Phalarope, Heermann’s, Western, Ring-billed & California Gulls, Common Tern, Vaux’s Swift, Belted Kingfisher, American Kestrel, Black & Say’s Phoebe, Cassin’s Kingbird, Warbling Vireo, Bushtit, House & Bewick’s Wrens, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Pipit, Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Gray, Townsend’s & Wilson’s Warbler, Savannah, Song & White-crowned Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark.

If you arrive early and chance to hear a murmuracyon, it will be of starys.

Whimbrel, braced by two warm-brown Marbled Godwits (R. Juncosa 10/24/21)

Adult Walk 8:30 a.m., 4th Sunday of every month.  Beginner and experienced, 2-3 hours.  Species range from 35 in June to 60-75 during migrations and winter.  We move slowly and check everything as we move along.  When lagoon outlet is closed we may continue east around the lagoon to Adamson House.  We put out special effort to make our monthly Malibu Lagoon walks attractive to first-time and beginning birdwatchers.  So please, if you are at all worried about coming on a trip and embarrassing yourself because of all the experts, we remember our first trips too.  Someone showed us the birds; now it’s our turn. Bring your birding questions.

Children and Parents Walk: Still canceled due to Covid-19 pandemic, immunization and masking problems, especially with young children. Maybe in October.

Great-tailed Grackle who hath no tail to tell (Ray Juncosa 9-26-21)

Map to Meeting Place
Directions: Malibu Lagoon is at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Cross Creek Road, west of Malibu Pier and the bridge.  Look around for people wearing binoculars.
Parking: Parking machine installed in the lagoon lot: 1 hr $3; 2 hrs $6; 3 hrs $9, all day $12 ($11 seniors); credit cards accepted. Annual passes accepted. You may also park (read signs carefully) on either of PCH west of Cross Creek Road, on Cross Creek Road, or on Civic Center Way north (inland) of the shopping center.  Lagoon parking in shopping center lots is not permitted (i.e. they tow cars).

Prior checklists:
2021: Jan-July
July-Dec 2022: Jan-June 
2020: Jan-JulyJuly-Dec  2019: Jan-June, July-Dec  
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

[Written & posted by Chuck Almdale]

Black Skimmers & Night-Herons: Malibu Lagoon, 28 August 2022

September 2, 2022

[Chuck Almdale]

Double-crested Cormorant, getting a grip (Chris Tosdevin 8/28/22)

It’s easy to tell when surf is high: the Pacific Coast Highway free parking areas are jampacked with cars and surfers are waxing boards in the paid-parking lot. Waves packed with surfers is the secondary sign.

Lagoon, low beach, birds & clouds. What looks like rain in the distance is likely an illusion. It never rains in August. (Lillian Johnson 8/28/22)

It began with overcast and a comfortable 72°. By 10:30 it was 79°. But that’s the beach. It went above 100° in the valley over the hill. Definitely warm.

Allen’s Hummingbird (Blair Lord 8/28/22)

Migrating shorebirds are still arriving. Six new-for-the-season species (see list below) in addition to last month’s five newbies. Best of the lot was the single Red-necked Phalarope who was not too late whatever some might say, and two Black Turnstones. The latter species generally prefer rocky shorelines, but Malibu Lagoon lacks those, so they make do with the sand, alongside the Ruddy Turnstones (or “The Turnstone” for you Europeans). When the tide is low, the Black Turnstones may go to the outer rocks, but as the tide was approaching its 11:02am high, waves were washing over their tops.

Lagoonside Black Turnstone (Chris Tosdevin 8/28/22)

Here’s a little story** for those who’ve birded in England.

Thomas Hewitt-Frothingfield Edwardson was one of the greatest ornithologists/birders England was ever to witness and in the 17th century — birding without benefit of binoculars or telescope — he found first specimens of many of the sceptered isle’s limited avifauna. For this diligent work, the British birding community repeatedly honored him by utilizing his name in a great many of their English (non-scientific) bird names. But the name was long and cumbersome and the locals quickly shortened it to his initials. Thus in England we find T.H.E.’s Oystercatcher, T.H.E.’s Turnstone, T.H.E.’s Night-Heron, T.H.E.’s Kestrel, T.H.E.’s Night-Heron, T.H.E.’s Puffin, T.H.E.’s Cuckoo, T.H.E.’s Nightjar, T.H.E.’s Swift, T.H.E.’s Kingfisher, T.H.E.’s Nuthatch, T.H.E.’s Wren, and a few others. Over the decades and through the morphological changes languages typically undergo, British birdos compacted the initials and dropped the “‘s,” arriving at today’s “The.” That’s why they say “The Night-Heron,” “The Oystercatcher,” The Wren” and so on all the time. But the remarkable frequency of this honorific is due to Thomas Hewitt-Frothingfield Edwardson, birder extraordinaire, now almost entirely forgotten.

Dark Ruddy Turnstone (“The” Turnstone), above two photos (Joyce Waterman 11/22/15)

Some juvenile Ruddy Turnstones (above) can look like a Black Turnstone. Very dark juvenile Ruddy Turnstones have turned up at the lagoon for years. Uncertain as to what they were, we contacted an authority who advised us they were indeed Ruddys, and they were relatively common along the Arctic coast of Alaska.

Cloudy morning start (Lillian Johnson 8/28/22)

Back to real life.

Another Pelagic Cormorant is ready for her close-up (Blair Lord 8/28/22)
For many months last year a Pelagic Cormorant sat at this exact spot, seemingly staring at the camera. Most likely this is the same one, still waiting for a call from her agent.

Baby American Coots are surprisingly colorful. (Larry Loeher 8/26/22). Here’s a thesis waiting to be written. Why are they colorful, when most precocial young are cryptic?

American Coot numbers are still in their summer lows and will probably pop up over 100 next month. But just to prove that they do breed at the lagoon — along with Gadwall, Mallard, Killdeer and assorted passerines — here’s one family, out and about with the kids.

The coot family. (Larry Loeher 8/26/22) While feeding, each adult had one chick. Notice the stubby little wings on the chicks.

Pied-billed Grebes don’t breed here, but might if there were more reeds. They build floating nests of reeds, but the various reed beds in the channels are too small and insufficiently dense for them.

Pied-billed Grebes (Chris Tosdevin 8/28/22)

Not so for the Common Yellowthroat, who have nested among the reeds and bushes for decades. I hereby nominate the name “Tosdevin’s Crombec-Warbler” for our local, tail-less version.

Common Yellowthroat (Chris Tosdevin 8/28/22)

Here’s a Red-faced Crombec from Africa for comparison. Again, no tail.

We get Black Skimmers more often that one might expect (12% of the most recent 147 visits), and a few more dropped in today. They feed by skimming just above the water, with their elongated lower mandible cutting through the surface. When they sense something worth eating, the quickly (very quickly!) snap it up. I keep waiting for one of them to hit something solid and flip end-over-end, but I’ve never seen it happen.

Black Skimmer (Ray Juncosa 8/28/22)

Our chapter’s first record of skimmers at the lagoon was a single bird on 12/22/02. Since then we’ve seen them 25 times with a total of 224 birds. 138 of those were in July & August 2010. Most sightings are in Feb-Mar and Jul-Aug, just before and just after their breeding season. Some of them — perhaps most of our local birds — nest down at Bolsa Chica in Orange County. If you go there during the spring to see them breeding, along with many thousands of terns, be aware that there’s been a rash of car break-ins there.

Black Skimmer (Ray Juncosa 8/28/22)

Today we had a total of three. Most sightings at the lagoon are of 1-3 birds. One of them was a juvenile born this year. Because of their feeding style, they need calm water. You may see them flying over the ocean, but I doubt they’ll be trying to catch something there. Too many waves.

Three Black Skimmers (Ray Juncosa 8/28/22)

Skimmer photos from prior trips: 8-22-10, 9-1-10 (egg update), 3-2-14 (Knobby), 8-23-15, 3-26-17

A lovely puffed-up Mourning Dove (Chris Tosdevin 8/28/22)

Semipalmated Plover (Grace Murayama 8/26/22). 89% of our Semipalmated Plover sightings are in April and July-September. They breed in the Arctic and winter in Mexico. Here, they’re just passing through.

Our Western Snowy Plovers — one cooling his/her feet above on wet wood (Larry Loeher 8/26/22) — are almost the opposite. They’re reliably here late June to late April, and breed elsewhere. We had 20 today.

Look carefully at the photo below. There are two birds in it. Are the the same species? What are they?

Here’s a close-up of the upper bird. What is it?

If you said Night-Heron, you’re right. But they are two species of Night-Heron.
Yes…after many months of people reporting sightings NOT during our field trips, we finally had a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron show up for us. It’s in the bottom photo, and the top bird in the top photo. The other bird is of course a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron. I’ll let you work out the differences with the help of your field guide.

Well…it showed up for a few of us, anyway. Most of us, including me, did not go all the way around the lagoon to the Adamson House fence where the YCNH has previously been sighted, where it was today, and where I searched diligently for it last month but to no avail. (Cue: great gnashing of teeth) Last month, from across the lagoon, I could swear I had the bird, but when I reached the fence, alas, only a Black-crowned was to be seen. Now we find the two species in the same blasted bush! that I was looking at last month. Pretty sneaky, I say. Anyway…kudos to Chris Tosdevin and Blair Lord (on loan to us from Pasadena Audubon) for making the extra effort and getting these photos.
(Photos: Top – Blair Lord 8/28/22; bottom – Chris Tosdevin 8/28/22)

Willet (Grace Murayama 8/26/22)

Great Blue Heron & fish (Larry Loeher 8/26/22)

South Channel (Lillian Johnson 8/28/22)

**NOTE: The above story about Thomas Hewitt-Frothingfield Edwardson is completely fictitious. But you knew that.

Birds new for the season: Long-billed Curlew, Black Turnstone, Sanderling, Short-billed Dowitcher, Spotted Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Black Skimmer, Violet-green Swallow, Bewick’s Wren, Orange-crowned Warbler.  

Malibu Lagoon on eBird as of 8-31-22: 6206 lists, 314 species

Many thanks to photographers: Lillian Johnson, Ray Juncosa, Larry Loeher, Blair Lord, Grace Murayama, Chris Tosdevin

Whimbrels in repose (Ray Juncosa 8/28/22)

Upcoming SMBAS scheduled field trips: Our next trip will be Malibu Lagoon on September 25. This, and any other trip we announce for the foreseeable future will be dependent upon the expected status of the Covid pandemic at trip time. Any trip announced may be canceled shortly before trip date if it seems necessary. By now any other comments should be superfluous.

The next SMBAS program: Zoom Evening Meeting, Tuesday, 4 October 2022, 7:30 p.m. We will continue to Zoom our programs for a while.

California Scrub Jay with acorn (Blair Lord 8/28/22)

The SMBAS 10 a.m. Parent’s & Kids Birdwalk is currently under discussion concerning resumption.

Links: Unusual birds at Malibu Lagoon
9/23/02 Aerial photo of Malibu Lagoon
More recent aerial photo

Prior checklists:
2021: Jan-July
July-Dec 2022: Jan-June
2020: Jan-JulyJuly-Dec  2019: Jan-June, July-Dec  
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, remain available—despite numerous complaints—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 Lillian Johnson, Chris Lord, Chris Tosdevin and others for their contributions to this month’s checklist.

The list below now includes a column on the left side with numbers 1-9, keyed to the nine categories of birds at the bottom. The species are re-sequenced to agree with the California Bird Records Committee Official California Checklist, updated 15 Jan 2022. I generally do this sequence update at the start of each year.
[Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Census 20223/274/245/226/267/248/28
Temperature57-6572-7561-6665-7070-7372-79
Tide Lo/Hi HeightH+5.00H+4.50L-0.32H+3.33H+3.35H+4.49
 Tide Time061504421029094309091102
1(Black) Brant  6   
1Canada Goose63    
1Gadwall472625152522
1American Wigeon612   
1Mallard301415358065
1Green-winged Teal152    
1Surf Scoter153    
1Common Goldeneye2     
1Red-breasted Merganser5     
1Ruddy Duck1     
2Pied-billed Grebe31 124
2Eared Grebe 1    
2Western Grebe16     
7Feral Pigeon84681710
7Band-tailed Pigeon   1  
7Mourning Dove24 225
8Anna’s Hummingbird1 1   
8Allen’s Hummingbird331233
2American Coot65144812
5Black-bellied Plover2821 1779
5Killdeer423365
5Semipalmated Plover 15  115
5Snowy Plover10   1320
5Whimbrel82 38837
5Long-billed Curlew     1
5Marbled Godwit 2  16
5Ruddy Turnstone    34
5Black Turnstone     2
5Sanderling452   25
5Dunlin 1    
5Least Sandpiper1050  810
5Western Sandpiper3530  125
5Short-billed Dowitcher     2
5Long-billed Dowitcher    1 
5Spotted Sandpiper 61  1
5Willet62  748
5Red-necked Phalarope  1  1
6Heermann’s Gull81542752
6Ring-billed Gull1665    
6Western Gull9557955514553
6California Gull18535333321
6Herring Gull2     
6Glaucous-winged Gull86  1 
6Caspian Tern812152218 
6Forster’s Tern    1 
6Royal Tern351833256
6Elegant Tern622024 475255
6Black Skimmer     3
2Brandt’s Cormorant5150   
2Pelagic Cormorant112 21
2Double-crested Cormorant332622466268
2Brown Pelican23686512685112
3Great Blue Heron112352
3Great Egret532433
3Snowy Egret41121214
3Reddish Egret    1 
3Black-crowned Night-Heron   482
4Yellow-crowned Night-Heron     1
4Turkey Vulture5344 1
4Osprey1  11 
8Belted Kingfisher11    
9Black Phoebe3 2545
9California Scrub-Jay21 132
9American Crow6445117
9Common Raven  2   
9Oak Titmouse    2 
9Violet-green Swallow     1
9No. Rough-winged Swallow248 14
9Barn Swallow4815203028
9Cliff Swallow 84 31
9Bushtit410 81015
9Wrentit2 2 1 
9House Wren 2 111
9Bewick’s Wren     1
9Northern Mockingbird11 13 
9European Starling321   
9House Finch1561210128
9Lesser Goldfinch 2 1 3
9White-crowned Sparrow202    
9Song Sparrow10710426
9California Towhee2221 1
9Red-winged Blackbird 1  625
9Brown-headed Cowbird 21   
9Great-tailed Grackle521664
9Orange-crowned Warbler     1
9Common Yellowthroat1   24
9Yellow-rumped Warbler1     
Totals by TypeMarAprMayJunJulAug
1Waterfowl12749485010587
2Water Birds – Other14699143177159197
3Herons, Egrets & Ibis1055132922
4Quail & Raptors634511
5Shorebirds14611466146281
6Gulls & Terns363428174110673340
7Doves1086111915
8Other Non-Passerines542233
9Passerines8164646387127
 Totals Birds89477445243712221073
        
 Total SpeciesMarAprMayJunJulAug
1Waterfowl964222
2Water Birds – Other775455
3Herons, Egrets & Ibis333455
4Quail & Raptors211211
5Shorebirds811421116
6Gulls & Terns986586
7Doves221322
8Other Non-Passerines322111
9Passerines161713121618
Totals Species595739355156

Volunteers needed at Audubon Ballona Wetlands Education Program

August 31, 2022

[Posted by Chuck Almdale, submitted by Cindy Hardin]

Nature Nexus Institute has taken over the operation of some of Los Angeles Audubon’s school outreach programs, including the school field trips to the Ballona Wetlands and the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook (Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area). The following announcement is from them.

One of the Ballona Salt Marsh channels (Leslie Davidson ’07)

We are looking for Volunteers!

Nature Nexus Institute is all about sharing and teaching local school children about the special habitats found right here in Los Angeles. We will soon be starting our Fall Training to get ready for school field trips to the Ballona Wetlands and the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.

Our tours take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Ballona, and on Fridays at the Overlook. All you need to be a volunteer is a love of the outdoors and the enthusiasm to work with some school age aspiring nature lovers. Training will begin in mid-September. Please contact Cindy Hardin at chardin@naturenexusinstitute.org or give a call at 310-301-0050 if you are interested.

Thanks so much.
Cindy Hardin

Malibu Lagoon trip is a go: Sunday, 28 August 2022

August 24, 2022

Link to prior announcement here.

We still have a few spaces open. Send your reservation to Chuck: misclists@verizon.net.

Suggestions:

  • Bring your mask. You may want to wear it at least during the first 30-45 minutes when the group is a bit compact and crowded. Covid-19 BA.5 variant – the most infectious variant to date (cue Jaws music) – is still out there.
  • If you feel sick, stay home and isolate.
  • If you have been around anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19, or who is experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, please be considerate of others, and stay home.

High temperature predictions: 67°F, 71, 73, 73, 76. Take your pick.
(Middlin’) high tide of 4.49 ft. is at 11:02 am!

To reiterate a few rules:

  • If I checked your Covid card last month, I won’t check it again.
  • For all others, bring your covid vax card. Yes, I have a list.
  • Trip has a few openings. Send me an email if you want to be on it.
  • Email to Chuck: misclists@verizon.net.
  • Masks are not required but are appreciated.
  • Temperature likely to be in mid-to-high 70’s.
  • It will be, as one birder succinctly commented last July: “A trewloue of turtuldowẏs!” 

The prior rules, still in force

  • Registration required, max. 30 people. No drop-ins, please.
  • Bring your Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card and a photo ID card. They will be checked. If you do not have two shots and a booster (preferably three boosters) recorded on your card, you must wear a mask while you are with the group.
  • If we checked your Covid card last month, we won’t check it this month.
  • Bring your own binoculars.
  • All Field Trips are designed to maximize your safety, while also enjoying birds. CDC Guidelines are followed. Participants are encouraged to observe safe distancing, and face coverings are required for those who are not fully vaccinated (2 shots + booster) for Covid-19.
  • Participation in social activities, such as field trips, comes with an inherent risk of exposure to infectious disease. Prospective participants should self-evaluate or discuss with their doctor if their participation merits this risk. If you’re sick or experiencing any symptoms that indicate you might be sick, STAY HOME.
  • The 10am Children & Parents Walk is NOT reinstated. Not yet, anyway.
  • For general questions or help registering, contact Chuck: misclists@verizon.net
  • Additional information on our permanent Covid-19 blog page:

Canada Goose keeps a steely eye on that Killdeer, a notorious sneak. (R. Juncosa 5-26-19)

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