Monday, 18 October 2010

LA River, Long Beach, California, USA, LAX

Regular readers will recognise a post from the LA River and a few might even ask about Callie the naked lady ( http://redgannet.blogspot.com/2009/08/come-on-in-waters-great.html ). She is still there, where Del Amo Blvd crosses the drain and she is still naked.

Perhaps she had been skipping through the shallows this morning as there were no birds in this part of the drain, but plenty either side.

As usual, Black-necked Stilts made up the bulk of the biomass as I walked downstream. Small flocks of Least Sandpiper held a few Western Sandpiper.

After long consideration I have decided upon Long-billed Dowitcher among the “peeps”. Most of the short-bills would have passed through by the end of September, with the long-bills over-wintering in greater numbers. A few juvenile birds showed relatively un-patterned tertials with narrow edges. Some of the winter plumaged adults showed broad edges and appeared to have a shorter bill, but there is too much overlap to distinguish between non-breeding adults. So despite having seen 200-plus dowitchers, I was only able to be sure about very few of them.

It is quite possible that the Short-billed Dowitchers inhabit the upper reaches of the drain in the open areas while the Long-billed Dowitchers prefer the extra cover provided by the little islands in the lower stretches. If I had known that I was coming to LA, I could have brought an appropriate field guide to help, but I was called at very short notice from standby, so I couldn’t predict which book to pack. Since carrying my full collection of guides would produce a few tonnes of emissions through fuel burn, I prefer to leave them behind and put myself to the test.

Dragonflies were already up and flying when I arrived this morning. The weather is still very warm and was forecast to top the 90’s today. Not bad for the second week of October. I followed Dominguez Gap for a while and noted five types of heron, Pied-billed Grebe and a Belted Kingfisher.

Double-crested Cormorants were sunning themselves on low snags. I was hoping that there might be a snake warming itself on the sunny bank, but there was no sign of any this morning.

Back on the drain, the highlight of the day was an Osprey that made a couple of low passes before landing in the shallow water.
It was great to be on an elevated bank and able to look down on an Osprey as it flew by.

Beyond Wardlow Rd, is a spot that the gulls seem to like as a roost. You can often see a few different species here and today there were 3 types. Conveniently, they all got together for a group picture with the Ring-billed Gull at the left, a California Gull, with the dark spot on its bill, in the middle and the larger, darker-backed Western Gull on the right.

Just up from Willow St., sediment has settled enough to form little islands. The greater concentration of birds here seems to indicate that they like this feature.

Ducks here included Cinnamon Teal, Blue-winged Teal and Mallard. A few American Avocets were joined by one or other of the dowitchers.

Downstream from Willow, the drain becomes a proper river with deeper water and probably a tidal influence this close to the ocean. Beyond this point one might find a few Kildeer, but most of the waders will remain upstream in the shallow water of the overspill from the main channel.

On reflection, I think that I would be best to start from this point in the future. Walking upstream from here in the morning would keep the sun over my right shoulder and behind me as the day progresses and I work my way upstream. Google coordinates for the section are are;

From Del Amo Blvd, 33*50’ 47”N, 118*12’16”W to Willow St., 33*47’18”N, 118*12’16”W

The Metro tram station at Del Amo is 750m to the west of the river on Del Amo Blvd.

Bus 181 runs north and south on Magnolia which is 600m east of the river on Willow.

Both tram and bus can be caught from the  Transit Mall at 1st St., Long Beach.

Today, I returned to Del Amo to take the Metro tram back to Long Beach. On the way back, I passed through Dominguez Gap, hoping to find a few dragonflies to photograph, but my lens had suffered a prolapse. The focussing element came loose from its guides and was clunking around inside. It was possible to achieve a limited range of focus by pointing the camera downwards and shaking the element to the end, but I would have to adjust my own position rather than rely on zooming or refocusing on a moving subject.

I only stopped once for a picture of a Bushtit as it had become fearfully hot and even Carrie had headed for the shade.

For other posts about Redgannet in California, follow these links;
Los Angeles, Ca.
LA River
http://redgannet.blogspot.com/2010/06/la-river-los-angeles.html
http://redgannet.blogspot.com/2009/08/come-on-in-waters-great.html
El Dorado Nature Center
http://redgannet.blogspot.com/2010/06/la-river-los-angeles.html
Orange County and Santa Anna Mountains
http://redgannet.blogspot.com/2010/03/los-angeles-california.html
Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve,
http://redgannet.blogspot.com/2010/01/bolsa-chica-ecological-reserve-los.html
http://redgannet.blogspot.com/2010/05/bolsa-chica-los-angeles-california.html
Long Beach
http://redgannet.blogspot.com/2010/03/los-angeles-california.html

San Francisco, Ca.
Palo Alto Baylands
http://redgannet.blogspot.com/2010/02/palo-alto-baylands-san-fancisco.html

For more posts from other sites in America try the USA and Canada page tab at the top of each post.

http://redgannet.blogspot.com/p/posts-from-usa-and-canada.html

Birds Seen; 42
Pied-billed Grebe 3, Double-crested Cormorant 20, Great Blue Heron 6, American Great Egret 18, Snowy Egret 1, Green Heron 4, Black-crowned Night Heron 5, Mallard 30, Blue-winged Teal 8, Cinnamon Teal 15, Turkey Vulture 2, Osprey 3, American Coot 80, Black-necked Stilt 400, American Avocet 12, Grey Plover 1, Killdeer 30, Long-billed Dowitcher 6, Greater Yellowlegs 4, Western Sandpiper 60, Least Sandpiper 300, Dunlin 2, Ring-billed Gull 4, California Gull 25, Western Gull 12, Mourning Dove 8, Belted Kingfisher 1,Black Phoebe 7, Say’s Phoebe 1, American Barn Swallow 8, Northern Mockingbird 6, Bushtit 25, Western Scrub-jay 4, American Crow 60, Lesser Goldfinch 1, Common Yellowthroat 2, Song Sparrow 4, White-crowned Sparrow 4, Red-winged Blackbird 1, Brewer’s Blackbird 35, Great-tailed Grackle 1, Scaly Munia 1.