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San Joaquin Marsh, Ballona Creek

Did some birding in Orange County and Ballona Creek with visiting birders, Paul Dodd and Ruth Woodrow from Melbourne, Australia. Uber cute Clark’s Grebe with chick on back at San Joaquin Marsh. We later ticked 3 California Gnatchers at Newport Back Bay. Reddish Egret and many other specialties at Bolsa Chica.

Clark's Grebe
Clark’s Grebe

We concluded the day at Ballona Creek to finish off some missed species – Black Oystercatcher, Brandt’s Comorant and Pelagic Cormorant. A super nice treat were TEN (10) Wilson’s Phalaropes on the Ballona Salt Panne! A couple females were still showing a lot of alternate plumage color.

Wilson's Phalarope
Wilson’s Phalarope

Recently fledged Barn Swallows were perched nearby begging for food from their parents.

Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow

 

Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Photography Adventures

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Rescued a Brandt’s Cormorant!

Did my good deed for the week! I encountered a Brandt’s Cormorant all tangled up in fishing line whilst photographing at Ballona Creek this past weekend. I text’d Peter Wallerstein with LA Marine Animal Rescue and he responded immediately at the scene 15 minutes later! I took a short little video of Peter netting the Cormorant:

Peter capturing the Brandt’s Cormorant


The happy Brandt’s Cormorant after Peter freed it from the fishing line wrapped all around its body and wings:

Brandt's Cormorant
Brandt’s Cormorant

I was rewarded later in the afternoon by getting up close and personal with a beautiful Brant. Probably one of the cleanest Brants I’ve encountered in Southern California.

Brant
Brant

 

Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Photography Adventures

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Pacific Golden-Plover @ Ballona Cr.

It’s been a while since a decent species has shown up at Ballona Creek. Yesterday, Martin Meyers found a Pacific Golden-Plover along Ballona Creek. While not a significant bird to the state or county, for that matter, it was a bird that once wintered in the Ballona Wetlands in decent numbers. But due to urbanization and habitat loss there has only been 1 or 2 records in the past 20 years.

Pacific Golden-Plover
Pacific Golden-Plover

I’ve photographed Pacific Golden-Plovers in Hawaii before but this gave me a good opportunity to photograph one in relatively good lighting and really close to home! There were also many Dunlin in the area but I didn’t have much time to photograph anything but the Pacific Golden-Plover before the parking meter was going to expire. I’ll have to get back out there this weekend.

 

Posted by on November 18, 2010 in Photography Adventures

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Visiting Birders from Australia

I took visiting birders, Mark and Kay Clayton, to some of the local hot spots near their hotel at LAX. This was their first time visiting the Americas so they were excited to go just about anywhere. We started off at Del Rey Lagoon and Ballona Creek where they tallied over 25 new birds including Green Heron, Black Turnstone, California Gull, Western Gull, Heermann’s Gull, Western Sandpiper, Willet, Whimbrel, Ruddy Duck, Savannah Sparrow, Great Egret, Snowy Egret and much more. Unfortunately we never saw the Little Blue Heron that has been hanging around Del Rey Lagoon this summer.

Green Heron
Green Heron

Since we were still missing a few key target shorebird specialties we hit Bolsa Chica in Huntington Beach first thing Saturday morning. We immediately ticked off Least Tern, Black Skimmer, Forster’s Tern, Long-billed Curlew, Light-footed Clapper Rail and Osprey.

Light-footed Clapper Rail
Light-footed Clapper Rail

Least Terns were in great quantity with adults still feeding the almost fully grown fledglings. I was actually surprised to see adults feeding young birds that had almost lost all juvenal plumage.

Least Tern
Least Tern

Least Tern
Least Tern

After Bolsa Chica we hit the LA River in Long Beach to look for migrating sandpipers. Bumped into Steve and Becky Turley upon our arrival who informed us of a Solitary Sandpiper and Semipalmated Sandpiper along with Chimney Swifts they had seen. It didn’t take long to spot two Chimney Swifts flying over us among all the Cliff Swallows and White-throated Swifts. Also scored a nice immature Cooper’s Hawk chasing a Green Heron around. A few minutes later I found the Solitary Sandpiper just below us on the east side of the river. Other new birds for the Aussie’s included Black-necked Stilt, Canada Goose, American Avocet, Hooded Oriole, Short-billed Dowitcher and Killdeer.

Long-billed Curlew
Long-billed Curlew

After a great morning we ended our day at Ken Malloy Harbor Park. Things were a little slow but Ken ticked his 2,000th bird – unfortunately it was a Brewer’s Blackbird! We also picked up Lesser Goldfinch and Black Phoebe. We dipped on any Vireos and Orange-crowned Warbler. However, we did find a pretty neat exotic Saffron Finch:

Saffron Finch
Saffron Finch

 

Posted by on August 9, 2009 in Photography Adventures

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Ballona Creek, Grebes and Orioles

Ballona Creek
Ballona Creek (Black Oystercatchers in foreground)

I took a stroll up Ballona Cr. yesterday afternoon to look for any migrating Red Knots… Didn’t find any but saw a couple Semipalmated Plovers which I see very irregularly along the Creek. As I was coming to the second locked gate on the south end of the Creek I noticed a Western Grebe that was propped against a rock… I expected it to flush back into the water as I approached it but it didn’t move at all.

Western Grebe
Western Grebe

It just watched me cautiously as I drew closer and closer. I realized it must be injured or sick so I decided to take a few photos and call Roy Van de Hoek with the Ballona Institute to see if he could come take the bird to a rehab facility. He recommended I phone the IBRRC bird rescue in San Pedro. I did so and only received a recording so I left a message. I decided to continue down the creek so I didn’t waste all the time in my 2 hour parking meter.

About 30 minutes later the IBRRC called me back and said that they were not able to come take the bird so they recommended I try to get it into a box myself and deliver it to the West LA animal shelter in the morning so that they could deliver it to them in San Pedro. Since I did not have a box or blanket to throw over the bird with me I phoned a friend who was able to bring me the items necessary to capture the Grebe.

While I waited for her, a curious Heermann’s Gull came close to see what was going on…

Heermann's Gull
Heermann’s Gull

When my friend arrived with the blanket, I was able to easily toss it over the bird to pick it up gently and place it in the box. It certainly wasn’t happy about the situation but it seemed to have lots of energy, despite it looking under nourished, which was promising. Now the difficult part was figuring out how to keep it safe/warm at my house overnight!

Western Grebe
Western Grebe

Roy recommended I try to get it over to Peter Wallerstein with the Marine Animal Rescue group in Playa del Rey. I was finally able to get ahold of him that evening and delivered the bird safely to him. He said the keel bone was sticking out so it hadn’t eaten in sometime but otherwise the bird felt and acted in good health. He told me the shorebird rehab clinic would pick up the bird in the morning so hopefully the little guy pulls through!

Oh and before I forget, the male Hooded Oriole has been visiting the feeder in my backyard regularly for the past week now. When I got home from Ballona I heard him calling across the street as soon as I opened my door. It appeared the male and female were either building a nest or already had one in the fan palms in my neighbor’s yard. Note, this was the same yard a pair (same pair?) nested in last year but their nest was cut down by the gardener… Hopefully the same outcome does not result again this year. Here’s the video I took of the male Hooded Oriole visiting my feeder this afternoon.

And I leave you all with a photo of my new Owling flashlight for Arizona this weekend!

My new flashlight
My new flashlight

(Just kidding – I didn’t actually buy it, although I was tempted!)

 

Posted by on July 28, 2009 in Photography Adventures

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