Malibu Lagoon Trip Report: 23 February, 2014
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|