L.A. River Trip Report: 8 Sep., 2012
Our third annual field trip along the banks of the lower reaches of the L.A. River turned out to be relatively quiet. Our leader Dick Barth had urged us to set an early start time of 7:30 to avoid the seasonal heat. We were glad we did–it was quite warm by mid-morning. Some of us were stuck behind an accident clearing traffic break on the I-405 and we didn’t make it for the official start time near the Willow Street bridge.
This first stop features a look at the most vegetated area of the River, where the willows and other plants have succeeded in blocking most of the view of the Harbor’s huge derricks only a couple miles downstream. The brushy habitat provides cover and food for bush birds, and sediment makes many pools and sandbanks for ducks and waders. Even though there were fewer ducks than last year, almost all expected species were there. Hundreds of Black-necked Stilts browsed in the shallows of the river. The treat was a number of Wilson’s Phalaropes, in and out of the water. As we moved back toward the cars, we got to compare the features of a Red-necked Phalarope – juvenile moulting into basic plumage (see slideshow photo) – and compare it to the Wilson’s.
The most uncommon bird for this location was – oddly enough – a Brandt’s Cormorant. We see this normally pelagic species in small numbers on most Malibu Lagoon trips, swimming or sitting on the offshore rocks. Dick said he is unaware of any prior records of Brandt’s this far (3 miles) up the river.
Hoping to see some of the rarer
sandpiper species that have been spotted in the past few weeks, at 9AM we skipped all the way upstream to the Allondra bridge in Paramount. Our 40 minutes there gained us a few new species and we were able to spend time studying the proportions of the Lesser Yellowlegs which – at 3-4 birds – were almost abundant.
We then traveled back down river by car to De Forest Park. The park trees held only a few Yellow-rumped Warblers and our observations of the river were a repeat of the earlier species of our walk. At 11AM, just as we were preparing to leave, we saw a two-minute hunt from a juvenile Peregrine Falcon, followed by a Red-shouldered Hawk overflight.
We didn’t try to estimate numbers this trip. The most abundant birds, by far, were Black-necked Stilts and Long-billed Dowitchers.
Many thanks to Richard Barth who knows this area better than anyone. His knowledge and enthusiastic explanations of difficult plumage are invaluable, especially during migration season!
|Los Angeles River Trip||8 Sept., 2012 – 56 species|
|Cinnamon Teal||Wilson’s Phalarope|
|Northern Shoveler||Red-necked Phalarope|
|Northern Pintail||Ring-billed Gull|
|Green-winged Teal||Western Gull|
|Ruddy Duck||California Gull|
|Pied-billed Grebe||Rock Pigeon|
|Brandt’s Cormorant||Eurasian Collared-Dove|
|Double-crested Cormorant||Mourning Dove|
|Brown Pelican||Anna’s Hummingbird|
|Great Blue Heron||Peregrine Falcon|
|Great Egret||Black Phoebe|
|Snowy Egret||Western Scrub-Jay|
|Green Heron||American Crow|
|Black-crwned Night-Heron||No. Rough-winged Swallow|
|Turkey Vulture||Cliff Swallow|
|Red-Shouldered Hawk||Barn Swallow|
|Semipalmated Plover||Northern Mockingbird|
|Black-necked Stilt||Common Yellowthroat|
|American Avocet||Yellow-rumped Warbler|
|Spotted Sandpiper||California Towhee|
|Greater Yellowlegs||Song Sparrow|
|Lesser Yellowlegs||Red-winged Blackbird|
|Western Sandpiper||House Finch|
|Least Sandpiper||House Sparrow|
|Short-billed Dowitcher||Orange Bishop|