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Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 23 February, 2014

February 26, 2014

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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.

Peregrine Falcon on PCH light pole (L. Johnson 2/23/14)

Peregrine Falcon on PCH light pole (L. Johnson 2/23/14)

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.

Peregrine Falcon (R. Ehler 2/23/14)

Peregrine Falcon (R. Ehler 2/23/14)

Then back and around to perch in a tree over the path to the beach.

Peregrine Falcon (R. Ehler 2/23/14)

Peregrine Falcon (R. Ehler 2/23/14)

DNA analysis recently revealed that the Falcons are far more closely related to Passerines (crows, sparrows, etc.)

Peregrine Falcon & harassing crow (R. Ehler 2/23/14)

Peregrine Falcon with harassing crow (R. Ehler 2/23/14)

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.

One of the two Ospreys (R. Ehler 2/23/14)

One of the two Ospreys (R. Ehler 2/23/14)

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.

Marbled Godwit at lagoon outlet (R. Ehler 2/23/14)

Marbled Godwit at lagoon outlet (R. Ehler 2/23/14)

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.

Black Oystercatchers - Malibu Pier in background (R. Ehler 2/23/14)

Black Oystercatchers with Malibu Pier in background (R. Ehler 2/23/14)


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.

Links: Unusual birds at Malibu Lagoon
Aerial photo of Malibu Lagoon from 9/23/02.
Prior checklists: July-Dec’11, Jan-June’11, July-Dec ’10Jan-June ’10, Jul-Dec ‘09, and Jan-June ‘09.

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]

Malibu Census 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
February 2009-14 2/22 2/28 2/27 2/26 2/24 2/23
Temperature 60-70 55-61 45-60 48-64 55-65 60-65
Tide Lo/Hi Height H+5.5 H+6.19 L-0.41 H+3.37 H+5.50 L+0.31 Ave.
Tide Time 0728 0835 1243 1136 0802 1104 Birds
Snow Goose 1 0.2
Brant 15 2.5
Canada Goose 6 1.0
Gadwall 18 35 22 35 13 30 25.5
American Wigeon 16 4 8 20 8.0
Mallard 20 13 24 30 14 18 19.8
Cinnamon Teal 5 0.8
Northern Shoveler 28 2 35 22 25 18.7
Northern Pintail 8 2 1.7
Green-winged Teal 23 2 17 38 1 12 15.5
Surf Scoter 6 4 8 40 3 10.2
Bufflehead 8 2 4 14 8 6.0
Common Merganser 6 1.0
Red-brstd Merganser 5 5 8 8 3 6 5.8
Ruddy Duck 12 14 33 24 41 70 32.3
Red-throated Loon 1 2 0.5
Pacific Loon 2 1 1 3 2 1 1.7
Common Loon 1 1 0.3
Pied-billed Grebe 1 2 2 2 4 1.8
Horned Grebe 1 3 0.7
Eared Grebe 2 3 0.8
Western Grebe 9 6 12 40 2 11.5
Brandt’s Cormorant 3 2 15 4 4.0
Dble-crstd Cormorant 25 21 37 28 40 33 30.7
Pelagic Cormorant 2 1 3 2 1.3
Brown Pelican 107 81 23 12 10 5 39.7
Great Blue Heron 1 1 2 0.7
Great Egret 4 3 1 2 1 4 2.5
Snowy Egret 10 4 9 8 1 8 6.7
Blk-crwnd N-Heron 1 0.2
Turkey Vulture 1 1 0.3
Osprey 2 0.3
Red-shouldered Hawk 2 1 0.5
Red-tailed Hawk 1 3 2 1 1.2
American Kestrel 1 0.2
Merlin 1 0.2
Peregrine Falcon 1 0.2
Virginia Rail 1 0.2
Sora 2 1 3 3 1.5
American Coot 152 175 175 285 82 210 180
Blk-bellied Plover 42 59 65 93 50 93 67.0
Snowy Plover 49 49 59 54 36 24 45.2
Semipalmated Plover 1 0.2
Killdeer 1 4 10 1 6 3.7
Black Oystercatcher 1 2 2 0.8
American Avocet 2 2 1 0.8
Spotted Sandpiper 3 2 2 1 2 1.7
Willet 8 15 7 2 1 5 6.3
Whimbrel 2 5 2 3 2.0
Marbled Godwit 24 17 2 3 7.7
Ruddy Turnstone 9 11 5 13 6.3
Sanderling 130 172 135 100 170 140 141
Least Sandpiper 4 18 3.7
Boneparte’s Gull 13 1 2.3
Heermann’s Gull 19 7 3 4.8
Mew Gull 1 0.2
Ring-billed Gull 20 42 250 35 120 35 83.7
Western Gull 125 74 120 55 40 70 80.7
California Gull 1360 45 1050 360 280 110 534
Herring Gull 1 0.2
Glaucous-wingd Gull 12 3 3 2 2 3.7
Forster’s Tern 1 0.2
Royal Tern 8 32 1 3 6 8.3
Elegant Tern 1 0.2
Black Skimmer 5 3 1.3
Rock Pigeon 6 4 4 4 1 4 3.8
Eur. Collared-Dove 1 0.2
Mourning Dove 2 2 0.7
Anna’s Hummingbird 2 3 2 2 1 1.7
Allen’s Hummingbird 3 3 3 1 3 4 2.8
Belted Kingfisher 1 1 1 0.5
Downy Woodpecker 1 0.2
Black Phoebe 4 5 5 4 6 4.0
Say’s Phoebe 1 1 3 0.8
Cassin’s Kingbird 2 1 0.5
American Crow 6 4 4 8 7 4 5.5
Common Raven 1 0.2
Rough-wingd Swallow 20 1 2 3.8
Tree Swallow 180 10 1 31.8
Barn Swallow 3 0.5
Cliff Swallow 1 12 2.2
Bushtit 16 5 6 4 10 2 7.2
Bewick’s Wren 1 2 0.5
Marsh Wren 1 1 0.3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2 2 0.7
Hermit Thrush 1 1 0.3
Northern Mockingbird 1 3 2 2 2 2 2.0
European Starling 12 41 35 15 52 35 31.7
Ornge-crwnd Warbler 1 1 0.3
Yellow-rumpd Warbler 10 4 2 2 28 7.7
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0.2
Common Yellowthroat 2 1 2 2 5 2.0
Spotted Towhee 1 1 0.3
California Towhee 1 1 2 1 0.8
Savannah Sparrow 2 0.3
Song Sparrow 5 6 8 8 2 18 7.8
White-crwnd Sparrow 3 4 4 4 15 5.0
Red-winged Blackbird 4 15 3.2
Western Meadowlark 1 3 0.7
Brewer’s Blackbird 1 0.2
Great-tailed Grackle 2 8 5 3 3.0
Brwn-headed Cowbird 2 0.3
House Finch 6 3 3 10 3 8 5.5
Lesser Goldfinch 4 2 12 3.0
Totals by Type 2/22 2/28 2/27 2/26 2/24 2/23 Ave.
Waterfowl 141 73 126 231 131 192 149
Water Birds-Other 305 289 257 395 142 259 275
Herons, Egrets 14 7 12 10 3 14 10
Raptors 2 3 0 2 3 7 3
Shorebirds 274 328 301 278 260 278 287
Gulls & Terns 1545 209 1440 455 445 224 720
Doves 8 4 4 6 1 5 5
Other Non-Pass. 6 6 6 4 5 4 5
Passerines 269 81 81 93 114 156 132
Totals Birds 2564 1000 2227 1474 1104 1139 1585
  2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014  
Total Species 2/22 2/28 2/27 2/26 2/24 2/23 Ave.
Waterfowl 10 6 10 11 10 9 9.3
Water Birds-Other 11 9 9 12 7 7 9.2
Herons, Egrets 2 2 4 2 3 3 2.7
Raptors 2 1 0 1 2 6 2.0
Shorebirds 11 9 10 10 6 9 9.2
Gulls & Terns 7 8 7 7 5 5 6.7
Doves 2 1 1 2 1 2 1.5
Other Non-Pass. 3 2 3 3 3 1 2.5
Passerines 15 15 15 19 15 23 17.0
Totals Species – 104 63 53 59 67 52 65 60
2 Comments
  1. February 26, 2014 3:43 pm

    Chuck, I always enjoy your reports and the interesting comments. Thank you very much. Lynn Bossone

    ________________________________

    • Chukar permalink*
      March 1, 2014 6:45 pm

      You’re quite welcome.

Comments are closed.

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