Walk Recap–Los Cerritos Wetlands Oct. & Nov.

Fall is in full swing and our species counts at both our 2nd Saturday Hellman Lowlands walk and 4th Sunday Zedler Marsh walk are showing it!  To see our Facebook page photo gallery of these walks, click here.

Clark's Grebe, © Cindy Crawford

Clark’s Grebe, © Cindy Crawford

At the Zedler walk on October 28th we observed 25 species at this little pocket marsh with restored coastal sage scrub uplands, and along the trail to the marsh passing by the channel and Calloway Marsh.  Our group included all ages.  Our young birders (ages 4 and 9) were great at spotting and counting birds, and really enjoyed “Larry the Snowy Egret” (named by the locals), a rather tame Snowy who came in for a landing twice very close to the group.  Highlights included a Clark’s Grebe, a Pied-billed Grebe, Spotted Sandpiper running along a muddy bank feeding and doing the classic “tail bob”, and up close looks at Savannah Sparrow, Say’s Phoebe and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.  

 

Peregrine Falcon © Jerry Millett

Peregrine Falcon © Jerry Millett

November 10th at Hellman Lowlands our birding class attendees along with instructors Charlie Collins and Anne Maben also joined the walk to do some field work, with local Biologist Robb Hamilton also attending.  Over 45 species observed!  Sightings included hundreds of Canada Geese flying in to the retention basin, two Snow Geese, a Greater White-fronted Goose, a Peregrine Falcon, Cassin’s Kingbirds, Greater Yellowlegs, Belted Kingfisher numerous Killdeer.  We witnessed a Red-tailed Hawk catch and eat a Botta Pocket Gopher. 

 

 

Belted Kingfisher (female), © Jerry Millett

Belted Kingfisher (female), © Jerry Millett

November 4th we hosted a field trip for Audubon Assembly participants at Los Cerritos Marsh (better known as “Steam Shovel Slough”).  We observed large number of Willets, Black-bellied Plovers, Marbled Godwits and Greater Yellowlegs along with the usual Canada Geese, Cassin’s Kingbirds, various sparrow species, Red-Tailed Hawks, Kestrels and others. 

Our Hellman Lowlands and Zedler Marsh walks continue in November & December and we always expect great bird sightings this time of year.  These two monthly walks are per an agreement with the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA), which El Dorado Audubon is a partner in the LCWA Stewardship Program.   Our monthly LCWA 2nd Saturday and 4th Sunday walks will continue in 2019, which we will post on our website once the official 2019 Stewardship Program Schedule is released. 

Remaining 2018 Los Cerritos Wetlands Walks are listed below with some adjustments for holidays.  If you would like to participate in Christmas Bird Count at Los Cerritos Wetlands leave a voicemail for our President Mary Parsell at 562-252-5825.  (To participate in the Christmas Bird Count for other locations, click here to see our CBC article.)

Nov. 25th 3pm to 5pm, Zedler Marsh

Dec 8th, 8am to 10am, Hellman Lowlands

Dec 15th, all day, Christmas Bird Count (various areas including all of Los Cerritos Wetlands)

Dec 16th, 3pm to 5pm, Zedler Marsh (moved to 3rd Sunday in Dec. due to Holidays)

119th Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), by Carolyn Vance

Join El Dorado Audubon on Saturday, December 15th for the 119th Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC)!

Started in 1900 by ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer of the National Audubon Society, he got 27 of his birding friends to go out and count birds, instead of shooting them as was the custom back then.  That first CBC netted 90 species and 25 Count Circles.  The 117th Count had 2,536 Count Circles and 73,153 participants in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean.  This is the longest running citizen science survey in the world!

If you have participated in CBC with El Dorado Audubon in the past, you should have received our reminder card.  If you haven’t, you can pick one up at our General Meeting.  Donna Bray will be making assignments for us this year.  Please let her know if you want a specific area.  Her contact information is 562-743-6399 (cell) or 562-863-7617. I will be doing the tallying again this year.

If Donna Bray hasn’t preassigned you an area, meet me (Carolyn Vance) at the south end of the El Dorado Branch Public Library on Studebaker no later than 7:30 a.m. to get Count Sheets and Assignments.  Don’t forget your binoculars, spotting scopes (if you have one), field guide, pen/pencil, hat, water, Thomas Bros. map or GPS.  We count rain or shine.   We also need people to count at their feeders. 

Afterwards, we meet at Glory Days Beachside, 620 Pacific Coast Hwy, Seal Beach, starting at 4:30 p.m. for dinner and recap.  You may turn your Count Sheets to me then.  If you submit you records through eBird, please share your list with me at drabduck@yahoo.com and mark it as El Dorado’s CBC.  All data, whether physical Count Sheets or shared eBird records, need to be to me no later than Friday, December 21st.  If you need my address to snail mail sheets to me, email me or call 562-594-7589.

When you get to Glory Days Beachside, go in the door (on the side of the building) and turn left.  Go into the room at the end.  They have servers who will come in and take our orders, deliver it to us and a full bar.  The menu has a large selection of items.  I should (hopefully!) be there already.  CBC is great fun and you’ll be hooked on it once you do it.  Thank you for your help this year!

Post photo credit:  Cindy Crawford (photo taken at a past CBC)

Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge Update, by Carolyn Vance

As promised, this year’s Least Tern fledgling count:  42!  This is up from last year, thank goodness.  Many thanks to all who helped out with Eyes on the Colony and monitoring.  We will need help again staring in May of 2019.  Mark your calendars.

We celebrated National Public Lands Day (NPLD) on September 29th.  Rick Nye, the Refuge Manager went out to the Restoration area north of Case Pond and prepared an acre of land, clearing weeds, roto-tilling the soil and drilling 800 holes for plants.  Thanks to Bob Schallmann and the Navy, we received 784 plants from Tree of Life Nursery from a grant.  We had 135 volunteers come out and filled the holes with California native plants and spread mulch in between the rows and plants, to help keep down the weeds.  Then the next week, L.A. Conservation Corps came in and filled in the remaining holes with plants from our nursery and spread wildflower seeds throughout the site.  Here’s hoping we get enough rain for springtime flowers.  Many, many thanks to all involved.

On November 2nd four additional captive-bred Light-footed Ridgway’s Rails were released into the Seal Beach Refuge.  While the turnout of spectators was lower than last time, the rails were just as feisty, with one in particular screeching at us while waiting to be banded, until his eyes were covered.  We almost had one escape as he was being put back into the box, his beak pushing through the top of the carrier.  All these rails also received red metal bands for their release year of 2018.

On the way back to the Nature Center, we heard a red-tailed hawk screaming.  We looked over into a field and saw him on the ground, fighting with a Ferruginous hawk, over lunch we presumed.  Feathers flew, birds came up of the ground, wings, talons and tails all spread.  After a very short battle, the Red-tail flew off, leaving the larger Ferrugie on the ground to enjoy whatever had been caught.   Just another day at the Refuge.

The Refuge will be participating in the Annual Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey again this year.  Think of it as an abbreviated CBC, where only shorebirds and raptors are counted.  If you need help with shorebird identification in the winter, go to:  www.migratoryshorebirdproject.org and just click on Resources – Survey.  Then under Survey Training Resources, check out Shorebird ID tips.  Great tutorial, as are the other links.

December, this year, will be quiet on the Refuge with last Saturday of the Month Tour cancelled and no Special Birding Tours scheduled.  Just like our migratory birds resting here for the winter, the Friends and Refuge Manager are taking a break.  I’ll still be out and about, so check out the Chapter’s Twitter page at https://twitter.com/edaudubon for my latest photos.  See you next year!

Post photo credit:  Carolyn Vance

Audubon Assembly Coming to Long Beach in November

Audubon Assembly in November, Long Beach, CA, by Mary Parsell

Chapter leaders, members, and friends are invited to join Audubon California Nov. 2nd through 4th in Long Beach for the 2018 Audubon Assembly. The theme of the 2018 Assembly is Look Up! The weekend will be an opportunity to look outside our local programs and learn from each other.

This will be an exciting opportunity for you to meet with chapter leaders, members, and partners from all over the state to enjoy birding coastal wetlands and other unique areas, explore conservation opportunities/practices, share stories with leaders from various regions, and establish peer-to-peer collaborations and partnerships. This program will offer multiple interactive presentations and breakout sessions that focus on topics from advocacy, fundraising and communications to SoCal conservation and coalition building.

The last Audubon Assembly, held in Yosemite in 2016, offered a chance to connect with other California conservationists. One chapter leader said, “Feeling part of something larger was my first ‘ah ha’ moment. I was also humbled by the education, experience, accomplishments and skills of other chapter leaders.” Please visit the Audubon CA website at http://ca.audubon.org/about/chapters/audubon-california-assembly to register, reserve lodging, and see the agenda. If you have any questions, please email the Chapter Network Team at chapternetworkca@audubon.org

Refuge Update & Public Lands Day

Many thanks to Carolyn Vance and all the volunteers for their hard work at the Refuge!  To sign up for Public Land’s Day at Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge, before 9/24/18, please call 562-598-1024 for a reservation and specify “Lands Day Planting”.  Also thanks to Carolyn for all her work on our Twitter Page, she posts a lot about the Refuge, check it out at https://twitter.com/edaudubon (post photo credit: Carolyn Vance)

Refuge Update, by Carolyn Vance:

A lot has happened at the Refuge over the summer! Our California Least Terns did quite well this year, with 117 nests, one with three eggs. We banded 117 chicks and picked up fewer than a dozen non-viable eggs. I will have the updated count next month. We were very lucky this year and only had one instance of predation of an adult Least Tern – just a pile of feathers on the ground, which is typical of a Peregrine take. Many thanks to new Eyes on the Colony Volunteers Betty-Jo Miller, Mort Dukehart, Bill Cullen, Maureen Sullivan for helping monitor our terns this year. Hope you will help again next year.

On July 20th, 11 Light-footed Ridgway’s Rails, captive bred at the San Diego Refuge, were released into our marsh. Our first rail release of six was in 2002. This group of birds was very feisty and one of them pecked Friends Volunteer Christa Shackleford and drew blood. Christa joined a very elite group who have bird-inflicted “war wounds”. There has now been 83 rails released in our Refuge in the last 16 years.

We’ve started a new survey at the Refuge which is really cool. We get to watch for and count the Green Sea Turtles who come into our Refuge to eat our eel grass, which is also favored by Brant. The turtles hang out in the riverbed by the warm water ejection points at the steam plant on Westminster/Studebaker. They wend their way round multiple culverts to get into (so far) three of our Ponds: 7th St., Perimeter, and Case. We watch their heads come out of the water for a quick breath. Some only nostrils; some a whole head; some watch us while swimming; some are just a quick splash while others show the top of their entire shell. This survey, at the request of the Navy/Bob Schallmann, is to help with the Navy’s Wharf Realignment Project Environmental Assessment.

Our regular Tour for September has been replaced with a National Public Lands Day event. We will plant California native plants in our Restoration area, adjacent to Case Pond, held on Sat., Sept. 29th, from 8:00 a.m. to noon. To participate, sign up before Tues., Sept. 24th. Bring water bottles, sun screen and closed-toe shoes. We will supply gloves, gardening tools and plants. Our regular Tours will resume in October.

During July, high school senior girls worked at the Refuge as part of a LEAF summer internship (Leaders in Environmental Action), paid for by the Nature Conservancy. These young ladies helped tremendously: LOTS of weeding, saw how a tide survey is done, helped with a Least Tern round up, the Green Sea Turtle survey and the Rail release. We hope they enjoyed their summer, and thank them for their help!

Birds of Note: If you follow the Chapter on Twitter, you’ve seen my tern chick photos, especially the newly hatched one with part of the shell still on top of its head, like a hat. Our NASA Island resident Killdeer raised two clutches of four eggs each inside the tern colony. I’ve seen two immature Peregrine Falcons, an immature White-tailed Kite, a Black-bellied Plover still in breeding plumage. By our October Tour, fall migration will have started in earnest, and we will have more birds on the Refuge.

Celebrating Summer, Field Trips & Events

Sneak peek of the President’s column in our June newsletter — it’s been an amazing year and a lot of upcoming activities are planned…stay tuned! 

Celebrating Summer, Field Trips and Events
Thoughts from the President – Mary Parsell

“Never Give Up Listening to the Sounds of the Birds,” -Audubon.

This summer we are looking forward to a variety of field trips and events not only in June but throughout the summer.  In June, we look forward to our Members’ and Friends’ night, field trip to Yorba Regional Park on the Santa Ana River, and El Dorado Park Cleanup.  Our Los Cerritos Wetlands field trips continue June, July, and August.

We are planning a beginning birding class to be held on a weekend in July or August (date to be determined).  Since this is the last edition of our newsletter until September, please check our website for classes, events, and walks in July and August. 

Thanks to all of you, our volunteers, who contribute your time, energy, and passion to conservation of birds and other wildlife.  We have a great group of officers, committee chairs, committee members and YOU, our members and contributors!  As we wrap up this year, we are going for another year of birding!

Thanks, and see you on the birding trail!

(Photo credit C. Crawford, Snowy Egret, location Los Cerritos Wetlands)

Cleanup at El Dorado East Regional Park Area II

Saturday June 23rd, 2018, from 8am to 12 noon join El Dorado Audubon & El Dorado Nature Center for a morning of trash cleanup in the park.  Bags and supplies will be provided by the Nature Center.   Along the way we’ll watch and ID the numerous birds common in this area.  We’ll meet at the corner of Snake Road by Horseshoe Lake, look for our signs and check-in table.  Park along the road.  Return to our table at 11:30 am with your filled trash bags to automatically be entered in the prize drawing.  Must be present to win.  Click the graphic to download the flyer.

Sadly litter such as plastics, styrofoam, fishing line and ribbon not only detract from the park but pose deadly risks to birds and wildlife.  Every year numerous birds are injured at the park becoming tangled in fishing line and hooks.  Long ribbon in the park is often used by the birds in nest building, posing a hazard should the birds become tangled.  Plastics and styrofoam are often mistaken for food and ingested by birds, fish and other wildlife.

The good news, there is something we can do to help – every piece of trash picked up can save a life!

Note:  Parking fee on weekends is $7 cash or annual pass.  Pedestrian and bicycle entry is free.

7550 E. Spring Street, Long Beach, CA 90815
Enter at the main entrance on the north side of Spring Street, just past the entrance fee booth turn right and follow the signs.

 

Keep Our Park Beautiful * Help Birds and Wildlife

Photo credits:  Crow with an injured foot looking for food in litter by C. Crawford; Double-crested Cormorant hooked in fishing lure by George Hasley; El Dorado East Regional Park near Snake Rd. & Horseshoe Lake–the location of our cleanup event, by C. Crawford. 

Help Needed! Least Tern Monitoring at Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge

By Carolyn Vance, USFWS Volunteer, Seal Beach NWR

Eyes on the Colony (EOTC), the Least Tern predator monitoring program, needs your help! Last year was not as successful as it could have been with no more than 16 fledglings ever seen at one time out of 120+ chicks. This was primarily due to all the predation by Peregrine falcons and Red-tailed hawks.  After battling Great-horned owls and Kestrels the last couple of years, and having a great 2016 year, we are dismayed with last year’s results.

We need to document any predation to the terns. Permitting standards require that we thoroughly document and identify avian predators which are taking Least terns before requesting their removal. So, the Refuge needs more help observing avian predators at times when they are active.

If you can commit to a minimum of 4 hours a week to EOTC, or just want more information, please contact Refuge Manager Rick Nye via email at:  Richard_nye@fws.gov. Historically, we watched in four hour shifts from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.  You must obtain a badge from the Navy to access the Refuge by filling out some background paperwork and must be a U.S. Citizen.   Training and equipment is provided.

I adore doing EOTC! A car is the best birding blind, and besides watching our wonderful Least terns going back and forth, you get up close looks at Belding’s Savannah sparrows, swallows, and all the other birds and critters that call the Refuge home and/or breed here.

Photo Credit ©Jerry Millet

EDA in the News!

Check out this March article about El Dorado Audubon in The Grunion:

http://www.gazettes.com/news/environment/better-beach-better-world-long-beach-audubon-keeps-up-the/article_df40b570-2492-11e8-9dcf-bba0222e71d4.html

Public Workshop–Los Cerritos Wetlands EIR

By Mary Parsell

Please attend the next Public Workshop on the restoration of Los Cerritos Wetlands. Note, this is not the BOMP Oil Consolidation/Restoration Plan. The LCW Conceptual Restoration Plan (CRP) has been in the works since 2011, which included six public workshops held by the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA).  The CRP will be developed into the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The first EIR public workshop will take place on March 28th, 6pm to 8pm at the Mary Wilson Library in Seal Beach, 707 Electric Avenue; for additional details please see http://intoloscerritoswetlands.org/the-lcws-eir/

The CRP can be found at www.intoloscerritoswetlands.org/conceptual-restoration-plan

Direct link to download the CRP http://intoloscerritoswetlands.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/FinalLCWCRP-PUBLICRELEASE8-11-2015.compressed.pdf

Please visit our Conservation page on our website and also see the video “Lost Jewel of the Coast” at www.eldoradoaudubon.org/conservation

Background:

Two Los Cerritos Wetlands restoration plans and EIRs are currently in the works, one covering the entire Los Cerritos Wetlands complex (by LCWA) and the other covering approximately 150 acres of privately owned property by Synergy Oil. The private land holders proposed their own restoration plan, via BOMP (Beach Oil Mineral Partners), in alignment with the LCWA’s plan (which appears to be a modified moderate alternative of the LCWA plan).  The two plans together would restore a minimum of approximately 350 acres of vital coastal wetlands habitat.  Fully implemented the LCWA Restoration Plan would restore up to approximately 500 acres straddling the San Gabriel River in the cities of Long Beach and Seal Beach.

We encourage public participation and comment letters from both individual members of the public and organizations throughout this process for both restoration plan EIRs.

If you need further information, please don’t hesitate to contact our Conservation Committee, 562-252-5825 (voice and text).

Photo Credit:  Cindy Crawford, location Los Cerritos Wetlands “Hellman Property”