A team of SFVAS members visited Malibu Creek State Park, newly-reopened following the Woolsey fire, on December 30, 2018. Their mission: to evaluate the park’s condition and determine whether, and how soon, SFVAS’s monthly bird walks could be re-commenced. SFVAS bird walks at the park were suspended in November after the park was closed as a result of damage due to the Woolsey fire.
The visit provided SFVAS members Kathy and David Barton and Muriel and Allan Kotin with an opportunity to observe first-hand the extensive damage to the park wrought by the recent catastrophic fire. But despite the loss of certain park structures (including the employee residences, the historic Sepulveda Adobe, Red House, Hope Ranch and Reagan Ranch), the parking area restrooms continue to be operational, the Visitor’s Center, as well as most of picnic tables, remain undamaged, and most of the footpaths customarily used in the bird walks have been cleared of debris and appear safe to use.
Prospects for the avifauna of the park appear hopeful. While tall grasses, willows, and chaparral were wiped out in many areas, such vegetation is likely to grow back quickly. Furthermore, many of the park’s larger oaks, sycamores and other mature trees remain standing and appear likely to survive. Due to the recent rains, a carpet of fresh green grass has already sprouted over much of the ground, and seedlings of unidentified herbaceous plants raised hopes for wildflowers next spring. In their three-and-a-half hour visit, covering three miles of the park’s trails, the SFVAS team counted over 21 species of birds, including Red-breasted Sapsucker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Hermit Thrush and Lark Sparrow. Also seen were three healthy-looking foraging mule deer.
SFVAS’s regular monthly bird walks at Malibu Creek State Park are expected to re-commence at 8 a.m. on the third Sunday of each calendar month, beginning January 20, 2019. The January 20 bird walk will be led by Muriel and Allan Kotin and should last approximately two hours. It should be a shorter version of the former regular route and will provide a good opportunity to acquaint visitors with the “new” Malibu Creek State Park. Subsequent walks will be led by Kathy and David Barton and should last until approximately 11 or 11:30 a.m. Contact Kathy Barton at 818 929-2516 or David Barton at 310 990-6896 for further details.