Children’s Birdathon

Posted on May 13th, 2014 by ann

Photo by Pat Bates Twelve students from the 4th and 5th grades at Mar Vista Elementary School, plus parents and siblings, joined in the Children’s Birdathon on Saturday, May 10. Led by several SFVAS volunteers, small groups scoured the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve for avian species to record on their taxonomically ordered checklists. The colorful plumage of Western Bluebirds, Bullock’s Orioles, and Red Wing Blackbirds were highlights. Also, the American White Pelicans, both flying and feeding, were a source of amazement. But the WOW factor goes to the family of Great Horned Owls perched high in Pine and Eucalyptus trees near the Cricket Field. Students used the honor system while reporting their sightings and many tallied well over 30 species. Next step for the young birders is to collect pledges from their sponsors. Kudos to the parents and to teacher Marne Treves for fostering the next generation of birders!

Photo by Pat Bates

Linda Jones’ BIG SIT – Bird a Thon

Posted on May 7th, 2014 by ann
Photo by Terry Sohl

Photo by Terry Sohl

On May 3, eight members and friends joined Linda at the observation site at Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Preserve.

A Snowy Egret amazed with an eye-level fly-by from the creek to the lake, and two adult Canada Geese paraded from the boat ramp to the bushes on the north with several goslings, still in the down, in tow.

Despite the unseasonable heat, we were able to count 34 species, including American White Pelican, two species of hawks, two species of hummingbirds, two species of swallows, our two local towhees, and Bullock’s Oriole.


Posted on May 6th, 2014 by ann

In the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area on May 4, the 25 participants (mostly first time visitors) found 63 species of birds.  The highlights included a pair of breeding plumage American Avocets, in with the dozens of Blacknecked Stilts, and four other species of shorebirds along the Los Angeles River.  By the Wildlife Lake there were five kinds of warblers including, a Black-headed Grosbeak, a Warbling Vireo, and at least four Bell’s Vireos.


American Avocet by Rick & Nora Bowers

Lori Willis Memorial Birdathon 2014

Posted on May 1st, 2014 by ann

The 11th annual Lori Willis Memorial Birdathon was held on Sunday, 28
April 2014. Our team this year (Andrew and John Willis with support from
Grandpa Jack and George Willis), birded the Malibu coast up to the
Ventura County line. We got an early start at Solstice Canyon Park and
were rewarded with 33 species. Highlights included three Nashville
warblers, a yellow warbler, a pair of black-headed grosbeaks, and a flock
of white-throated swifts. We then moved on to Zuma Canyon and found
a lazuli bunting. Next stop was Zuma Beach where Andrew saw a whale
while I was scoping out hundreds of red-throated and Pacific loons
between the sizable passing swells. By the time we got to Charmlee Park,
the sun was bright, but the birds were starting to head for cover. Three
coyotes were hunting in the meadows near where we came across a
California thrasher silently sifting the dirt by a trail. Our next stop was at
Leo Carrillo State Beach. Three species of cormorants were sitting on one
rock, making for easy identification. Our final stop was at Malibu Lagoon.
We picked up a couple of burritos for lunch and went to Grandpa Jack’s
house where we saw our last two new species of the day, a hooded oriole
and a rufous hummingbird. The total species count for the day was 75.
The Lori Willis Birdathon is held annually in memory of Lori Willis, who
passed away in 2003, by a rotating cast of friends and family. Lori was
an orginal member of our family CBC team and a dedicated naturalist
who enthusiastically devoted her time and energy to teaching children
about the wonders of nature. She worked for the Santa Monica
Mountains Resource Conservation District (SMMRCD, formerly the
Topanga Las Virgenes Resource Conservation District] and never passed
on the opportunity to lead school tours at Malibu Lagoon, Topanga State
Park, and Sepulveda Basin.


Posted on May 1st, 2014 by ann

We birded the Morongo Valley area on April 26, also visiting Black Rock Campground in nearby Joshua Tree National Park. Windy conditions sometimes challenged our efforts but the trip tally was a respectable 65 species, including a few sightings from elsewhere in the high desert reported by our participants over the weekend Among the highlights, a Pinyon Jay posed for us atop a Joshua tree at Black Rock Campground and a cooperative White-winged Dove sunned itself on the ground at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. Our list featured other notable birds: Vermilion Flycatcher, Scott’s Oriole, Black-throated Sparrow, Costa’s Hummingbird, Blackchinned Hummingbird, Lawrence’s Goldfinch, Cactus Wren, Summer Tanager, Ladderbacked Woodpecker, Lazuli Bunting, Gambel’s Quail, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Verdin and Greater Roadrunner. The warblers were Nashville, Yellow, Yellow-rumped,  Orange-crowned, Yellow-breasted Chat (heard), Black-throated Gray, Wilson’s and Townsend’s. Other species of interest found: Western Wood-Pewee, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Phainopepla, Western Kingbird, Hooded Oriole,
Western Bluebird, Black-headed Grosbeak, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Oak Titmouse, Western Tanager and Warbling Vireo.