I’ve gotten out a few times in the past week but I haven’t had any time to post blog updates… I monitored the Least Tern population on Venice Beach last Friday – however, I didn’t see a single Least Tern! Strange… I know there’s a large population down in Huntington Beach still actively feeding young… There wasn’t much else. I counted 15 American Crows in the general area. Lots of Heermann’s Gulls – mostly 2nd/3rd year birds, a few adults and a few 1st year.
On the way home I encountered a Cooper’s Hawk that flew right in front of me as I was about to pull into my driveway. It swooped into a Yucca type tree about 20′ off the ground. I grabbed my camera and immediately noticed what appeared to be a medium sized nest of sticks and twigs hastily thrown together. At first I thought it might be the Cooper’s nest until I realized what it was doing…in a split second it grabbed all the chicks from the nest and flew off. It all happened too quick for me to focus so I only got one shot of him looking at me moments before he grabbed lunch.
For the past two weeks a baby Mockingbird has been waking us up every morning with it’s annoying little squeaking sound that it does… As if the adult singing all night long isn’t enough! It almost drives you mad until you see how cute the young birds are. Here’s a juvenile I photographed that finally made it out of the nest onto an open bush.
On Saturday I met up with some birders from Mira Loma to help scout the area out for friends that will be visiting from Australia in a couple of weeks. Needless to say, they have quite a few target birds in mind…Black Oystercatcher, Pelagic and Brandt’s Cormorant, Allen’s Hummingbird, Belding’s Savannah Sparrow and the extremely cooperative Little Blue Heron that has been occupying the Del Rey Lagoon and the Ballona Wetlands area for the past two months. We were able to get within 20′ of him!
Little Blue Heron
I went back out yesterday and hiked about 2 miles from Playa del Rey up Ballona Creek in search of Red Knots or any other interesting early fall migrants that might be passing through. Although I only encountered HUNDREDS of Willets, Whimbrels and dozens of Marbled Godwits and Short-billed Dowitchers, 3 Ruddy Turnstones and a large group of Elegant Terns with mixed Caspians. I also came upon two Black Oystercatchers one of which that appeared injured and could not fly. It had worked itself back against the concrete tidal dam so I was able to get quite close to him. After taking a few photos I slowly retreated so as not to agitate him anymore than I already had.
I continued walking but didn’t really encounter anything else noteworthy… I did find a BCNH hunting in a small green patch of vegetation. The sun was probably 1-2 hrs from setting so it created beautiful lighting and I couldn’t resist trying to capture the Night Heron’s last hunt of the day. I waited around 30 minutes hoping he’d catch something that I could photograph but he must not have been that hungry!
And I end this posting with a note of disgust… As I walked back to the car I noticed 3 Mexican fisherman. One in a boat using a large net to scoop up fish from Ballona Cr. and the two others just walking along the shore (scaring all the shorebirds up). I noticed they were approaching the Black Oystercatcher that I had photographed earlier. I stopped and waited to see what they would do… The one bird that could fly waited as long as possible as if trying to protect the other bird but finally gave in and flew up and behind them and me. As they got closer they realized the Oystercatcher would not fly..so what did they do? They picked up rocks and started throwing it at the bird. I shouted at them but they clearly understood no English. So I started to walk toward them…they eventually got the hint and continued walking down the creek. Fortunately it didn’t appear the Oystercatcher was injured in any way. The other bird quickly joined him as the fishermen moved on. It’s really sad there’s people like that in this world!