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For those who were not able to get into Cindy Schotté’s beginning birding class this winter, we recently noted that UCLA Extension will be offering a class for the first time in over 10 years.
Here are the details from the UCLA site:
BIRDS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA Biology X 401.20
An introductory course in ornithology, focused primarily on the naturally occurring avifauna of Southern California. This interactive course explores the native species and ecological communities of Southern California both in the classroom and out in the field. Students learn to identify at least 50 native species of bird, understand distribution and behavior patterns, compare ecological communities and study the changes of species due to environmental and land use impacts. A field notebook is required. An alternate series of Saturday morning lectures and field trips are planned to observe and discuss birds of the outer coast, riparian-freshwater marsh, oak woodland, desert and mountain communities.Internet access required to retrieve course materials.
Lectures: UCLA: 4216 Young Hall Saturday, 9am-12pm, April 5 & 19; May 3 & 31
Field Trip: Locations to be announced
Saturday, 9am-12pm, April 12 & 26; May 10 & 17
The class is taught by Professor Callyn Yorke of Antelope Valley College, Biology. Even though I have not met him personally, I am respectful at a distance because of his demonstrated excellence in photography and advanced identification skills at places such as our Malibu Lagoon as well as his travel and teaching resumé.
SMBAS member and prolific photographer Jim Kenney documented the presence of the Black Skimmer known as “Knobby” at Surfrider Beach on March 2, 2014.
Knobby was first sighted last winter by Peter Knapp of the California Dept. of Fish & Game, and has been seen in San Diego and Long Beach. No one knows what the knob is. It’s appearance never changes, and the bird seems otherwise healthy.
Knobby was the only skimmer there that day. If anyone has any information on Knobby, let us know. [Chuck Almdale]
This isn’t for everyone. Mature audiences only! Children need not apply.
But….did you know that if you are privileged to have passed your 62nd birthday that the City of Santa Monica and the County of Los Angeles will pay for your beach parking– that otherwise can cost up to $12 in summer? There are some conditions, such as no parking next to the pier in SM, and no weekend parking in County lots. However, the conditions do allow for a lot (excuse the pun) of free parking. I use it often when counting plovers at Zuma Beach (County), parking in the Marina del Rey area or monitoring at Dockweiler’s plover beach. This is the best time to sign up for the Santa Monica pass, since the renewal date is March 31st and there are a relatively limited number of passes available annually. Below are the keywords to Google the pages with detailed information, office hours, administrative fees etc.
If you can’t find the pages, send me an email to email@example.com and I’ll send you all the instructions via email. Enjoy the birds and respect the beach!
los angeles county beaches senior parking permits
city of santa monica senior beach permit
P.S. These don’t cover Malibu Lagoon and other State Parks sites nor a few leased and private lots up and down the coast in commercial districts. The L.A. County pass comes with a detailed list of eligible lots.
Hiker Lu’s Santa Monica Mtns. Adventure at Trippet Ranch, Topanga Cyn Reminder: Saturday, 8 March, 8:30 AM
Hikers All! Welcome rain is falling as I write this and we could not hope for better news for the Santa Monica Mountains, L.A.’s backyard wilderness. We will explore there next Saturday March 8th.
The current plan is to meet at the Trippet Ranch parking lot in Topanga State Park at 8:30 AM. (rain cancels)
Even in the driest weather last week, I was able to spot quite a number of warblers. California Thrashers and Hermit Thrushes were easily visible, even though not yet singing. Let’s see what a few days’ rain does for this environment. We can’t expect to see blooming spring flowers yet, but we should have a good chance to spot at least 3 woodpecker species.
Our walk will be about 2 miles with plenty of opportunities to cut back for a shorter hike. Wear solid walking shoes and long pants to protect against ticks. Bring water, a birder floppy-style hat, and bathe in sunscreen. Since some of the trails are going to be moist, walking sticks are recommended–I will bring at least 5 extras.
Directions: To reach the Trippet Ranch parking lot (State Parks pass or $10 fee) turn off Topanga Canyon Road on to Entrada Road, 4.7 mi. from PCH. This is about a hundred meters pas the Old School Road signal light. As you climb up Entrada, bear left twice and make a hard left to enter the park (a little over 1 mile total). Keep an eye out for signage. Desperate to not pay the parks for parking? Do a careful U-turn before the last left and park on the downward side of the road, then walk in to the park (approx. 20 minutes).
Weather: Since the weather forecast is uncertain, keep checking for blog updates or call Lu at 310.395.6235.
Link to Trippet Ranch web site.
At the start of these bird walks, I always tell everyone to ask whatever questions they like. So, of course, I was immediately hit with what – in my book – is unanswerable: “What unusual birds might we see today?” “Well,” I think to myself, “if it’s unusual, how can I know in advance what it’ll be? Kiwi, Andean Cock-of-the Rock, Wandering Albatross – those would certainly be unusual, although not likely.” I may have replied, “Wait and see,” or perhaps the ever-truthful, “I don’t know.” Life is mysterious: wonders and surprises abound.
Unusual, certainly, were the six species of raptors which appeared, especially the great show put on by the Peregrine Falcon who flew around and perched in several locations so close to us it seemed to be demanding that attention must be paid. The gulls, ducks and shorebirds, while less admiring than were we, certainly paid attention.
The Peregrine was first spotted perched far off in a tree in Malibu Colony. It then flew by us, under the PCH bridge, and up onto a light pole.
Then back and around to perch in a tree over the path to the beach.
DNA analysis recently revealed that the Falcons are far more closely related to Passerines (crows, sparrows, etc.)
than to the Hawks & Eagles, and the order of Falcons (along with the Parrots who were found to be the Falcons’ closest kin), were relocated between the Woodpeckers and the Passerines. For now. Who knows what the next round of DNA analysis might reveal – perhaps hummingbirds and swifts really are insects as some fool claimed last April Fool’s Day. But I still consider falcons to be ‘raptors’: today we had 2 Osprey and one each of Red-shouldered & Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon.
When we first arrived, and as in previous months, we saw many gulls on the east end of the beach, but by the time we’d gotten there, most had flown off to feed far out on the ocean. Although fog was thin, it was heavy enough to obscure the horizon, rendering the far-off flock difficult to see. It might have contained pelicans and terns; we couldn’t be sure.
It’s surprising (and unusual) how some birds have hung on at the lagoon this winter: an Orange-crowned Warbler has (intermittently) been seen since last August, an even-more-uncommon Townsend’s Warbler since October, and 3 (or more) Western Meadowlarks, also since October. The warblers prefer the foliage and the swale along the back of the Malibu Colony houses. The meadowlarks prefer sandy areas with sparse vegetation; when they get onto the sand islands, they’re nearly impossible to see. This month’s Hermit Thrush was in the brush fringing the parking lot, rather than by the colony wall as were last month’s duo.
Birds new for the season were: Surf Scoter, American Kestrel (usually found at Legacy Park), Black Oystercatcher (unusual and irregular lagoon visitors), Eurasian Collared Dove, and Tree Swallow.
Our next three scheduled field trips: Hiker Lu’s Santa Monica Mountains adventure, 8 Mar, 8:30am; Malibu Lagoon, 23 Mar, 8:30 & 10am; Wilson Canyon or Walker Ranch, 5 Apr, 8:30am.
Our next program: Tuesday, 4 Mar., 7:30 pm. Antarctica:, presented by Chuck & Alice Bragg.
NOTE: Our 10 a.m. Parent’s & Kids Birdwalk meets at the shaded viewing area.
Comments on Bird Lists Below
Total Birds: February total birds of 1139 is 28% below the 6-year Feb. average of 1585, due primarily to the departure of gulls before they were counted.
Summary of total birds from the 6-year average so far: Jun’12 +36%, Jul’12 -9%, Aug’12 -9%, Sep’12 +12%, Oct’12 +3%, Nov’12 -5%, Dec’12 +30%, Jan’13 -20%, Feb’13 -29%, Mar’13 -30%, Apr’13 -34%, May’13 -37%, Jun’13 -24%, Jul’13 +83%, Aug’13 +37%, Sep’13 +23%, Oct’13 +41%, Nov’13 -58%, Dec’13 -49%, Jan’14 -62%, Feb’14 -28%.
Species Diversity: February 2014 with 66 species was 10% above the 6-year Feb. average of 60.
Summary of species diversity from the 6-year average so far: Jun’12 -10%, Jul’12 +10%, Aug’12. -6%, Sep’12 -20%, Oct’12 +5%, Nov’12 +2%, Dec’12 -4%, Jan’13 +2%, Feb’13 -8%, Mar’13 +9%, Apr’13 -2%, May’13 +3%, Jun’13 +13%, Jul’13 0%, Aug’13 +11%, Sep’13 -14%, Oct’13 +19%, Nov’13 -3%, Dec’13 -6%, Jan’14 -2%, Feb’14 +10%.
10-year comparison summaries are available on our Lagoon Project Bird Census Page. [Chuck Almdale]
|Tide Lo/Hi Height||H+5.5||H+6.19||L-0.41||H+3.37||H+5.50||L+0.31||Ave.|
|Great Blue Heron||1||1||2||0.7|
|Totals by Type||2/22||2/28||2/27||2/26||2/24||2/23||Ave.|
|Gulls & Terns||1545||209||1440||455||445||224||720|
|Gulls & Terns||7||8||7||7||5||5||6.7|
|Totals Species – 104||63||53||59||67||52||65||60|
It’s been at least five years since we last visited San Jacinto Wildlife Area. It hasn’t changed much, except that previously the dirt roads were often very muddy and difficult to drive. You remember – that was waaay back in the old, old days when winters were wet.
We saw loads of birds: flocks of ducks or gulls rising into the sky, White Pelicans, Long-billed Curlews or White-faced Ibis cruising by; power lines festooned with swallows, hawks and falcons sitting on seemingly every tree snag or stony outcropping. An avian abundance.
We started well by quickly locating the female Black-throated Blue Warbler reported to be in the trees across the road from the gate. It looked much like a dingy Orange-crowned Warbler, but with a white vent, noticeable white facial markings and prominent square white mark in the folded wing. After that we went looking for an unlocked bathroom which we were not able to find.
We did a lot of “sorting out” of ducks, and raptors, and swallows, while keeping our eyes peeled for the occasional oddity, such as the Prairie Falcon perched high on a rocky hillside, or the Redhead, Cinnamon Teal or Lesser Scaup lurking among the hordes of Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails, Ruddy Ducks and American Coots. At one point an Osprey flew by carrying a fish in its talons – one foot ahead of the other – fish head first, in the traditional Osprey style.
A Burrowing Owl hiding in a hole in the side of a crevice and behind a bush gave us a bit of trouble as for a long time only one person could see it and the rest of us were beginning to wonder…
At the end, just before leaving, a single Vesper Sparrow – never a particularly common bird – flew from where it was lurking in a leafy tree down to the ground, close to where we were clambering into our cars – it was difficult to see both eyering and chestnut shoulder patch, but they were there.
Wonderful weather, fine companions, great birds, timely lunch – it was, all in all, a very enjoyable day. [Chuck Almdale]
Key to Trip List
A = 1-10 B = 11-50 C = 51-100 D = 101-500
E = 500+ 1 = actual no. h = heard only
|San Jacinto Wildlife Area||Trip List 2/15/14|
|Canada Goose||C||California Gull||E|
|American Wigeon||B||Burrowing Owl||1|
|Cinnamon Teal||B||Nuttall’s Woodpecker||1|
|Northern Shoveler||E||Northern Flicker||Ah|
|Northern Pintail||E||American Kestrel||B|
|Green-winged Teal||C||Prairie Falcon||1|
|Ring-necked Duck||A||Say’s Phoebe||B|
|Lesser Scaup||A||Cassin’s Kingbird||1|
|Ruddy Duck||D||Common Raven||B|
|Eared Grebe||A||Tree Swallow||D|
|Double-crested Cormorant||B||No. Rough-winged Swallow||C|
|American White Pelican||B||Barn Swallow||D|
|Great Blue Heron||A||Marsh Wren||Bh|
|Great Egret||B||Ruby-crowned Kinglet||A|
|Snowy Egret||B||Mountain Bluebird||B|
|White-faced Ibis||C||Northern Mockingbird||A|
|Northern Harrier||B||Common Yellowthroat||A|
|Red-shouldered Hawk||B||Black-throated Blue Warbler||1|
|Red-tailed Hawk||C||Yellow-rumped Warbler||B|
|Rough-legged Hawk||1||California Towhee||A|
|American Coot||E||Vesper Sparrow||1|
|Black-necked Stilt||B||Song Sparrow||B|
|American Avocet||B||White-crowned Sparrow||B|
|Spotted Sandpiper||1||Red-winged Blackbird||B|
|Greater Yellowlegs||B||Western Meadowlark||A|
|Lesser Yellowlegs||1||Yellow-headed Blackbird||B|
|Long-billed Curlew||A||Brewer’s Blackbird||B|
|Long-billed Dowitcher||B||Great-tailed Grackle||A|
|Bonaparte’s Gull||D||House Finch||B|
|Ring-billed Gull||E||Lesser Goldfinch||A|
Here’s another update from SMBAS Blog on that large, disc-shaped, shining object which has frequently and mysteriously appeared in our nighttime sky this year (known to many as the moon).
Feb. 14, 3:53 p.m. PST — Full Snow Moon. Usually the heaviest snowfalls occur during this month. Hunting becomes very difficult, and so to some tribes, this was the Full Hunger Moon. Storm Moon, Hunger Moon, Little Famine Moon, and Full Bony Moon are other traditional names for February’s full moon. [Infographic: Moon Phases & Lunar Cycles]
Note: Pacific Daylight Time starts on March 9, 2014 at 2 AM (becoming 3 AM) and ends November 2, 2014 at 2 AM (becoming 1 AM).
The next significant full moon will occur on 16 March 10:09 a.m. 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! [Chuck Almdale]
Deep in the heart of winter, January is a time when many casual birders around the country shelve their binoculars and head indoors for the season. In Santa Monica, however, there is no need. Mild weather means flocks of birds. And flocks of birds mean flocks of snowbirds—of both the resident Californian and migratory breeds—will take to the mountains and coastlines to get a jump start on their annual species lists.
It’s no secret that the Santa Monica Mountains and surrounding region are a haven for our feathered friends. The Mediterranean climate supports more than 380 species year-round. This represents nearly 50 percent of the North American total. And during the colder months, birders can expect to see plenty of stopovers that have settled in Santa Monica where the food supply is ample.
Among the gulls and terns that frequent the shore, expect to see Snowy Plovers darting across the sand. The Pacific Coast’s population of these miniature plovers are designated a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act. Other notables to watch for are Peregrine Falcons and the increasingly rare Black-vented Shearwater. Elegant Snowy Egrets have been spotted at Malibu Lagoon as recently as late December. While the showy Surf Scoter was absent during the last lagoon survey, it is worth keeping an eye out for them bobbing on the water’s surface. Newcomers to the coast include the Northern Pintail, Western Sandpiper, and Savannah Sparrow.
Birders who stick to drier ground, visiting the inland grasslands and mountain ranges, stand a good chance of spotting Ferruginous Hawks, Anna’s Hummingbirds, and Western Bluebirds like fallen pieces of sky. This time of year, the Salton Sea merits a day trip. It boasts every manner of waterfowl and crowds of Sandhill Cranes heralding the day as though with trumpets.
This year, beat the wintertime blues and start your year off right. Get out and explore Santa Monica’s diverse ecosystems and the truly inspiring array of avian species that make their homes there. [Ernie Allison]
The author is a bird watcher with a love of life and nature, passionate about both writing and wildlife conservation. He writes both for pleasure and profit, currently for Bird Feeders.
Note: We’ll probably first check the spot where the Black-throated Blue Warbler was reported – on Davis Rd., west side by some trees, a bit south of the wildlife area entrance. If you see us there, stop.
We haven’t been here in a few years, so this is your opportunity to join us at this wonderful winter location, filled with wild ducks, shorebirds, brush & field birds and all sorts of raptors. Maybe we’ll get lucky and the Gyrfalcon who stayed here a few winters ago will return. Family guide: Dirt roads, trails and dikes; perhaps grassy fields.
[Directions] From Santa Monica, Fwy #10 E. 15.6 miles to #60 Pomona Fwy, 53 miles E. to #215 S. towards Lake Perris & Temecula, 7.3 miles S. to Ramona Expy, 8.2 miles E. to Davis Rd., left on Davis 2.4 miles to HQ parking lot & sign-in station. Davis Rd. S. from the #60 is blocked off. Allow 2 hours travel time (Google time 1:47).
No visitors fee!
Link to Google Map
Link to SJWA website
Meet at 8:30 a.m. in the parking lot Leader: Chuck Almdale (818-894-2541) misclists [AT] verizon.net
Bobcat & Lynx facts:
The Middle English name “Lynx” – meaning “light” or “brightness,” in reference to its eyeshine – came from Latin, previously from Greek and originally from Indo-European. There are four species in the Lynx genus:
Eurasian Lynx: Lynx lynx, the most numerous and widespread, found throughout Western Europe and Northern Asia. Weight 40-66 lbs, 32-51″ long & 28″ high.
Iberian Lynx: Lynx pardinus, the rarest, found only in Spain and Portugal. They weigh 21-28 lbs, are 33-43″ long & 24-28″ high.
Canadian Lynx: Lynx canadensis, found in Canada and a few northern U.S. states including Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming and Washington. They weigh 17.6-24.3 lbs, are 31-41″ long & 19-22″ high.
Bobcat: Lynx rufus, which dominates the North American continent. It tolerates a varied habitat — from marshes and swampy areas in the southern part of the continent, to desert and scrub in the western regions to mountainous, forested areas in the north. The Canadian Lynx prefers forested areas since that’s where its main source of food, the Snowshoe Hare, lives. The only area where the Canadian lynx and bobcat coexist is along the U.S.-Canada border. Bobcats weigh 16-31 lbs, are 28-39″ long & 20-24″ high.
Telling them apart in North America: They are roughly the same size with short (“bobbed”) tails, but the Bobcat seems to have more of an attitude. Canadian Lynx has extra-long tufts on its ear-tips, a shaggy mane of cheek fur, and bigger feet and longer legs adapted to deep snowy habitats. Bobcats look much like an overgrown feral housecat. Both sound much like a crying baby.
When you “whip your weight in wildcats,” it’s Bobcats you’re talking about. Good luck with that, and be sure to notify your next of kin beforehand.
Now that you know there’s a difference, and what it is, here’s a film of two Lynx conversing at night. It takes a while before you can see the dark eartufts on both of them. The above information was cribbed from Wikipedia and HowStuffWorks.
Links to articles about bobcat trapping near Joshua Tree National Park:
Here Kitty Kitty…Bobcat Trapping Endangers Desert Wildlife – SunRunner Dec’12
Bad Science, Dead Bobcats – SunRunner Feb’13
Bobcat Protection Act Passes California State Assembly – SunRunner May’14
[This article was originally part of a program announcement about urban bobcats, but is now re-purposed into a stand-alone piece.]