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Bottlenose Dolphins in Santa Monica Bay

I was treated to a display of 15-20 Bottlenose Dolphins that were feeding very close to the shore off Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey this past weekend. I don’t often see Dolphins that close to shore and certainly not that many at one time. At times they were huddled up in groups of 5 just waiting for a nice set and riding it toward the shore!

Bottlenose Dolphin

According to an article published by Maddalena Bearzi and Charles A. Saylan of the Ocean Conservation Soceity, 81.4% of Dolphin sightings during their study of Santa Monica Bay were within 0.5km of the shoreline.

Bottlenose Dolphin

Cetacean occurrence, distribution and behavior were investigated in Santa Monica Bay and nearby areas, California (1997–2007). A total of 425 boat-based surveys documented three species inhabiting the study area year-round – the common bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, the long-beaked common dolphin, Delphinus capensis, and the short-beaked common dolphin, D. delphis, and ten species occurring occasionally. Coastal bottlenose dolphins were mostly found traveling, diving and feeding in waters within 0.5km of shore in 81.4% of the sightings (n  =  221), but were also observed occasionally in offshore waters. All other species were seen > 0.5 km of shore, often feeding near escarpments and submarine canyons. Endangered species, such as blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), were also recorded in the study area. This paper provides new information as well as an update on data of the composition for the local cetacean community, and offers information that should be considered in the decision-making process associated with the newly established MPAs, and their use. The presence of a diverse cetacean fauna moving in and out the boundaries of these MPAs, also suggests the need for long-term and regular cetacean monitoring in the area.

Bottlenose Dolphin

Bottlenose Dolphin

Bottlenose Dolphin

Bottlenose Dolphin

 

Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Photography Adventures

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Crested Caracara in Ballona Wetlands

A bit behind on blog updates but a Crested Caracara made a brief appearance in the Ballona Wetlands on January 13th. It only stuck around for a day…actually more like half a day. I was able to get some photos of it before a Red-tailed dive bombed it. It circled around the area few times going higher and higher, riding the afternoon thermal updrafts only to never be seen again!



Crested Caracara
Crested Caracara

 

Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Photography Adventures

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American Golden-Plover @ Ballona Creek

It has now been confirmed that there is a first ever record for American Golden-Plover at Ballona Creek. Dan Cooper reported on October 20th that he thought he heard an American Golden-Plover call in a Black-bellied Plover flock but was never able to locate the bird. On October 21st, Darren Dowell reported a Pacific Golden-Plover in the same area.

American Golden-Plover
American Golden-Plover

I was not able to get out there to locate and document the bird until Saturday morning, but it is indeed an American Golden-Plover. To give you a little background on the species:

The American Golden-Plover has one of the longest known migratory routes of over 25,000 miles from the Patagonia of Southern Argentina all the way to the Arctic North Slope of Alaska. Of this, 2,400 miles is over open ocean where it cannot stop to feed or drink.

A comparison of dates and migratory patterns leads to the conclusion that Eskimo Curlews and American Golden Plovers were the most likely shore birds to have attracted the attention of Christopher Columbus to nearby America in early October 1492, after 65 days at sea out of sight of land.

Large numbers were shot in the late 19th century and the population has never fully recovered and is listed as threatened to endangered.

American Golden-Plover
American Golden-Plover

American Golden-Plover
American Golden-Plover

American Golden-Plover
American Golden-Plover

American Golden-Plover
American Golden-Plover

 

Posted by on October 23, 2011 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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Happy New Year

Already off to a good start in ’09 with 3 new photo birds: Red-necked Grebe, Williamson’s Sapsucker and Great Horned Owl. I ticked the first two up in Ventura on Saturday and the Great Horned Owl right here in the Ballona Wetlands. He was located within a grove of Eucalyptus trees next to the Gas Co. parcel adjacent to the Ballona Freshwater Marsh. Apparently there has been a couple resident there for a while and even nested one year and fledged at least one chick.

Some other good fortune – I checked Ballona Creek a couple times for the Black Scoters that Martin Meyers found but it wasn’t until saturday afternoon that I was able to photograph them and in decent lighting conditions. There was also a nice adult Thayer’s Gull nearby. Photos follow.

Red-necked Grebe
Red-necked Grebe

Williamson's Sapsucker
Williamson’s Sapsucker

Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl

Black Scoter
Black Scoter

Black Scoter
Black Scoter

Thayer's Gull
Thayer’s Gull

 

Posted by on January 5, 2009 in Photography Adventures

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