Birthday Birding at Malibu Lagoon - February 2013

I got a new camera for my birthday (Thanks T!) with a much better zoom - 20x where I used to have 3x! - so I headed out to one of my favorite local birding spots to see what photos I could get. The low tide was happening around 1:30 pm so after lunching at the Inn of the Seventh Ray (highly recommended!) A and I headed to Malibu Lagoon State Beach. Here's where we were:

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It had been almost a year since I'd visited and the entrance looked much different with all of the construction. They've had some issues for years with bad water flow causing bacteria growth and some areas suffer from low oxygen levels - more info and project updates at the Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project site.

Although access to the water appears to be closed, look for a hand painted sign that leads you to a narrow walkway around the construction site to the water.

We arrived a little late for the lowest tide, but were still able to see many birds feasting and some tide pool life like ochre sea stars, anemone, purple sea urchins, California sea hare, and even a huge Black sea hare and a Giant Keyhole Limpet. 

Funny to find a toy seal in the tide pool!
Giant Keyhole Limpet (Megathura crenulata)
Ochre Sea Star on the rocks
Here are some of the birds we saw at the shoreline. It was my first good look at Black Oystercatchers and I'd never seen a Royal Tern before . . .

Black-bellied Plovers (Pluvialis squatarola)
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
Mew Gull (Larus canus)
Mew Gull (Larus canus)
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Willet (Tringa semipalmata)
Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani)
Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

And these we saw in the Lagoon area . . .

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) and gull
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)
Female and male Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

We even stumbled upon the remains of a couple of Brown Pelicans. Strange to see this one with its neck stretched out. The life span of this species ranges from 15-25 years. I wonder if these individuals died of old age or some other cause.

Although I mainly used the automatic settings this day (no manual focusing or adjustment of aperture, etc.) I was thrilled with the zoom and the colors. What a great birthday!

For more photos of mine from this location see my Flickr set.