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GRAB YOUR LATTE AND LOOK UP: The next time you pull into the parking lot of Starbuck’s across PCH from Malibu State Beach between April and September, cast your eyes to the adjacent trees. You are looking at a Heron and Cormorant Rookery that has been in this exact spot for at least 50 years. Herons here include Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Black Crowned Night Herons and Great Blue Herons.
Beginning around April, males arrive at the rookery to claim or build huge nests in the tree tops and flaunt the magnificent breeding plumage that once saw them to the brink of extinction for use in hats, (and incidentally led to the creation of the Audubon Society to protect them.)
The females arrive soon after, and courtship begins (and she does most of the work finishing the nest). Once mates are chosen, pair bonding follows.
Mating occurs in the nest.
And approximately three to four weeks later…
Across PCH at Malibu Lagoon, Heron parents forage food for their chicks, as Killdeer and other fledglings begin to appear.
Black Crown Night Heron chicks nest in trees next to the Egrets. The chicks are seriously noisy as they try out their wings.
In the Photo Recap Part II the chicks learn to fly, forage and fly off into the world.
Laurel Hoctor Jones
This is the 30th annual International Coastal Cleanup Day. You and your family can make your contribution to the Bay by joining us in the biggest cleanup of the year.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.: we encourage you to get waivers on-line at: http://www.healthebay.org/get-involved/volunteer/cleanups (click “Waiver & Liability Form” in the right sidebar) and fill them out before you come. Waivers will also be available at the site. From 9:00 a.m. until noon, volunteers are given supplies and instructions on how to carry out a beach cleanup. Please bring your own buckets and gloves – gardening, kitchen or ? There will be a few gloves and bags, but we are trying to keep disposables to a minimum.
Coastal Cleanup Day is perhaps the largest volunteer day on this planet. Last year almost 650,000 volunteers participated in every U.S. coastal state and in over 90 other countries. Here in Southern California, CCD reminds us that the beach begins at our front door. Trash travels from our streets through the storm drains system onto our beaches and into our bay. Our chapter concentrates its efforts at Malibu Lagoon, but you can call 1-800-HEALBAY for information and other places to volunteer. Parking will be free at the lagoon on this day.
Family Guide: Suitable for everyone but toddlers. You may get wet and dirty.
Directions: Malibu Lagoon is at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Cross Creek Road. SMBAS will have sign-up tables at the metal-shaded viewing area by the parking lot. Free parking for those cleaning up today. You may also park either along PCH north of Cross Creek Road or on Cross Creek Road itself but be careful (some parts of PCH are off-limits (read the signs carefully). Lagoon parking in the shopping center lot is not permitted. [Chuck Almdale]
7:30am was not too early to begin our fifth annual walk along the banks of the lower Los Angeles River. We began at Willow St, about 3 miles north of Long Beach Harbor, ending about 6 miles farther north at Alondra Blvd. We usually visit 4 sites, but this year we skipped DeForest Park as our leader, Dick Barth, had visited the park earlier and found no warblers or other passerines at all in the trees. It was slightly overcast and about 70° when we started, clearing up and topping out about 88° when we finished at 12:15.
The most vegetation in this section of river channel is at Willow St., with sand and mud islands, floating rafts of water plants, wading egrets, ducks, and large flocks of shorebirds, gulls, the occasional tern, plus a few raptors and plenty of Barn Swallows and Rock Pigeons. The Orange Bishop can usually be found in the tall riverbed island grass in this area.
Just as we had finished checking out some Greater Yellowlegs, a pair of less-common Lesser Yellowlegs flew in, providing an opportunity to compare the two. Most of the difference noted was the size and shape of the bill: shorter and straighter in the Lesser. What we momentarily thought might be a Virginia Rail turned out to be a juvenile Common Gallinule (recently split from its Eurasian congener and renamed from Common Moorhen).
Among the numerous Long-billed Dowitchers we found a few Short-billed. At 34th St., our second stop, we found a few juvenile Short-billed in very fresh plumage, allowing us to check out the orange “tiger stripes” in their tertials. We hunted through the numerous mixed flocks of Least and Western Sandpipers for rarities, finally finding a single Pectoral Sandpiper, skulking in the brush and grass on a small island. For at least 20 minutes we entertained ourselves with persistent comments such as: “it’s head is poking out between those two stilts”; “which stilts?”; “the two on that little island”; “now the grass is moving to the left of the left stilt, watch that spot”; “now it’s under the rear end of the right stilt” and so on. Finally the bird walked out into the open water and we all got great looks.
Gulls – mostly Western – continued to gather here, but we had to leave before the Laughing Gull, a local resident throughout the summer, arrived. We went north to 34th St. where we didn’t see anything new except a few juvenile Short-billed Dowitchers in very fresh plumage, allowing us to check out the orange “tiger stripes” in their tertials. We then went on to Alondra Blvd., next to the Home Depot. House Sparrows have found a fine foraging spot here, gleaning orts and pieces of bread from the ground around the groups of workers waiting for daily work.
Another large gull flock was here, as well as many Least and Western Sandpipers flocks, through which spun a single Red-necked Phalarope. It didn’t so much spin – as they typically do in deeper water to create a vortex which lifts food to where they can snag it – as twisted in ankle-deep water. This looked a bit odd.
A very special thanks to Richard Barth who frequently birds this area. His knowledge and enthusiastic explanations of difficult plumages are invaluable, especially during migration season! I’m sure his upcoming program at Los Angeles Audubon this Wednesday, September 10, will be great. [Chuck Almdale]
|Lower L.A. River 9/6/14||Willow||34th||Alondra||Total|
|Great Blue Heron||2||2|
|Total Species & Birds – 51||48||9||10||3276|
Here’s another update from SMBAS Blog on that large, disc-like, shining object which has frequently and mysteriously appeared in our nighttime sky this year (known to many as the moon).
Sept. 8, 6:38 p.m. PDT — Full Harvest Moon. Traditionally, this designation goes to the full moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal (Fall) Equinox. This year’s version comes unusually early. At the peak of the harvest, farmers can work into the night by the light of this moon. Usually the moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans and wild rice — the chief Indian staples — are now ready for gathering.
Interesting & useful factoids on moon averages:
Apparent width of the moon (full or otherwise): 1 /2 degree.
Time one full moon to next full moon: 29.5 days
Angle moon moves in 24 hours: 12.2 degrees
Time for moon to move it’s own width (1/2 degree): 59 minutes
Thus, on average, the moon takes just under an hour to move it’s own width. When trying to estimate the size of something, compare it to the moon, a known quantity.
MoonPhases.info – A handy site for a googolplex of moon facts.
The next significant full moon will occur on October 8, 3:51 a.m. PDT. Keep an eye on this spot for additional late-breaking news on this unprecedented event.
This information comes to you courtesy of: http://www.space.com/24262-weird-full-moon-names-2014-explained.html
written by Joe Rao. Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmer’s Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, N.Y.
But that’s waaay too long to type in, and besides, you don’t need to go there because SMBAS has done the work for you!
Here’s a message from one of our farther-flung SMBAS Blog readers, Gyorgy Szimuly, from his home in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.
Registration of the location and more details about the Global Shorebird Counting Program can be found here: http://goo.gl/jNW1VG
The map with more than 340 already registered locations can be viewed here: http://goo.gl/ICpB7X
Thanks for your time and please help us to reach our goal of having a thousand locations registered by 6th of September 2014.
Best wishes, Szimi
Coordinator of the Global Events of the World Shorebirds Day
Milton Keynes, UK
As of Thursday noon, Sep. 3, the map showed NO registered sites in Los Angeles County. NOT ONE! The closest registered site was Bolsa Chica in Orange County, Lake Isabella in Kern County, and a cluster in Santa Cruz – San Francisco Bay area. I registered our Lower Los Angeles River trip, using the coordinates for our meeting place at DeForest & Willow (33.846467,-118.195724), although we will visit several additional sites, which I will register when I figure out what the coordinates are. Join us, or sign up for your own site. [Chuck Almdale]
The big news today, and for the week that followed, was surf. Hurricane Maria off the south end of Baja sent up some record-breaking surf, and surfers blanketed the waves. Later in the week, as the surf grew, we saw surfers shooting between pier pilings, surfers flung into the air and under waves, 30-ft. waves at the Newport wedge, exhausted and frightened surfers and swimmers, hundreds of rescues, and at least one drowning. This human frenzy didn’t seem to bother the birds.
The returning shorebirds were numerous and busy; it was the passerines that were tough to find. Perhaps the heat of the past few weeks had sent them off to hidden shady glens. Fewer species and fewer of each species was the result.
The Snowy Plovers grew in numbers, now up to 39 birds with one ringed bird. GG:AR (left leg green over green; right leg aqua over red), our spy up at Point Blue (formerly Point Reyes Bird Observatory or PRBO) informs us, was one of three identically birds banded at Oceano Dunes in the summer of 2011. Lu Plauzoles pointed out that a lot of our banded birds of recent years are from Oceano Dunes, so they must be doing something right. I checked my records and discovered that GG:AR has wintered previously at Malibu, and we’ve seen him on the following dates: 2011 – 9/25, 12/25; 2012 – 1/22, 11/25; 2013 – 1/27, 7/28, 10/27. He (or she) may well have appeared on other dates, but if no one told me (hint, hint) I won’t have that record. The plover family was well represented. Black-bellied (Gray for our British readers), some of them still quite black; Killdeer, a local nester; and Semipalmated. Listening to birders argue about “just how much webbing do these bird actually have” is always a treat.
[Late Breaking News] Bill Crowe of Simi Valley reported seeing “at least 100 Snowy Plovers” at Malibu Lagoon, the following Sunday, Aug. 31, including GG:AR. The highest Snowy Plover count we’ve ever recorded on our monthly birdwalks was 81 birds on 1/22/12.
Birds new for the season were: Western Grebe, Marbled Godwit, Black Turnstone, Sanderling, and Wrentit. Lu thought the Wrentit (at Adamson house), a hillside chaparral-loving bird uncommon at the lagoon, may have fled the dry slopes in search of water.
Our next three scheduled field trips: Lower Los Angeles River, 6 Sep, 7:30am; Coastal Cleanup, 20 Sep, 9am–noon; Malibu Lagoon, 28 Sep, 8:30 & 10am.
Our next program: Tuesday, 7 Oct., 7:30 pm. Black-backed Woodpeckers and the Ecology of Forest Fires, presented by Dale Hanson.
NOTE: Our 10 a.m. Parent’s & Kids Birdwalk meets at the shaded viewing area. Watch for Willie the Weasel.
Links: Unusual birds at Malibu Lagoon
Aerial photo of Malibu Lagoon from 9/23/02.
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 project period 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 period Jun’12-June’14. [Chuck Almdale]
|Malibu Census 2014||5/25||6/22||7/27||8/24|
|Tide Lo/Hi Height||H+3.94||H+3.48||H+4.21||H+4.52|
|Great Blue Heron||4||2||4||4|
|Little Blue Egret||1|
|Totals by Type||May||Jun||July||Aug|
|Gulls & Terns||132||106||221||111|
|Gulls & Terns||8||6||6||5|
|Totals Species – 73||55||43||52||50|
If you can’t wait, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/31/opinion/sunday/saving-our-birds.html
If that doesn’t work, try HERE.
The developers who promote, polish and prepare the Audubon Apps for those who have smart phones, iPads, and other such devices, are having a Labor Day weekend sale at 99cents per app. these are not “the definitive” bird app nor The Illustrator’s best. They are very good, recent, photo-illustrated apps. Much better than the last edition extant of the Audubon (photo-illustrated) book versions. I like them better than iBird Pro. In addition, I’ve found they have a good library of sound recordings, especially since they welcome additions from the public. So, you’ve already paid $15-$30 for the Sibley and/or the NationalGeo apps, but this is definitely worth the price for the very specific California Birds, the Trees, the Butterflies…how about the Flowers? Spoil yourself to all four! We’ll compare notes in the field!
Use this link: (copy and paste in your browser)
FIND THE BIRD!
When other animals think of you as food, it’s good to be hard to see.
When you’re a ground-nesting bird, it’s essential. The above photo contains one bird.
Often you don’t see the bird until you’re about to step on it and it flushes. The Killdeer nesting by Malibu Lagoon run away, pretending they have a broken wing. Mallards will leap up out of the brush, only to land close by, waiting for you to leave. I unexpectedly flushed a Sooty Grouse in Yosemite National Park; exploding from the ground, it nearly gave me a heart attack, then much to my delight landed in a nearby tree.
To learn something about camouflage, why animals use it and how it works, go here.
It’s a 13 1/2 minute film from Aaran Frood of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and provides a visual context for their animal camouflage research. The BBSRC is experimenting by sending cameras to some of their BBSRC-funded researchers so they can record their experiences while pursuing research in the field — gnarly roads, bush fires, biting insects, boomslangs and all! The purpose for this project is “to bring the viewer closer to the action, and so the public paying for the research can see some of the nuances of how it’s really done and what they’re up to”, writes Mr Frood in email.
GRRLSCIENTIST, hosted by The Guardian but frequently found elsewhere, writes on many topics, including birds. Her 8/27/14 article, Eggcellent citizen science: evolution of camouflage in bird eggs reports on “how an online video game relies on citizen scientists to test the evolution of avian egg camouflage colours and patterns.”
Links to the games are found within her article via the name “hidden nightjars.” Read the article.
If you want to go directly to the games, they’re at the Project Nightjar website.
If you couldn’t find the bird, here’s an even closer view.
We have a new blog page, called BIRDING INFO. PAGES.
It’s not actually new, just unannounced until we stocked it with some items.
This is a collection of PDF files which you can click, print, and take into the field to help you with pesky identifications problems. Many thanks to several birders – Wanda Dameron, primarily – who put this information together. We hope birders will find them useful and are willing to send us items of similarly useful nature. Many documents are a half page – easily tucked into your field guide.
It’s with our other blog pages, located just below the masthead Snowy Plover picture. Take a look. Print them out. Comments, corrections and additional submissions welcome.
BIRD IDENTIFICATION DOCUMENTS
Dowitchers – non-breeding
Flycatchers – Empidonax of Southern California
Gulls of Southern California 2 sheets
Hummingbird Females of Arizona
Hummingbird Females of California & Arizona
Loons in Winter
Warblers – Western
California Bird List @ July’14
Los Angeles County Bird List Scientific Sequence
Los Angeles County Bird List by Habitat
Bird Songs – Phonetic Mnemonics
CA Rare Bird Synopsis (Feb’12) of Date & Locations
How to Use Binoculars
L.A. County Birds – Potential New Species K.Garrett Nov’13
Shorebird arrival dates for June in SoCal
Snowy Plover- Protection Rules & Guidelines
QUICK INDEXES TO FIELD GUIDES
Sibley Quick Index Alphabetical for 2014 2nd Edition
Sibley Quick Index by Habitat for 2014 2nd Edition
Shorebirds Quick Index for ABA – Birds Hayman, Marchant & Prater 1986