Big Year Update - 250 Species

Snowy Egret preening along Ballona Creek. Photo by Marcus C. England. My Los Angeles County Big Year is rolling along, if ever so slowly. I've picked up four new species in the last week.

  • Species 247 - Summer Tanager: I detected Summer Tanagers on a survey in the Santa Clara River on two dates. The first bird was not seen, but was calling excitedly. The second bird was seen as it flew low and close to me down the river course. Neither observation is unexpected, as while this species is a somewhat difficult one to get, the habitat here (riparian woodland) is perfect for them.
  • Species 248 - Swainson's Thrush: At the start of my survey on the Santa Clara River yesterday numerous Swainson's Thrushes were singing. This is a relatively common species that I usually get in my yard, so again, not unexpected. Their song, like all Catharus thrushes, is absolutely beautiful. You can listen to it here at xeno-canto.
  • Species 249 - Least Tern: I was supposed to conduct another survey along the Santa Clara River this morning, however, I saw a mass of rain just west of the survey on radar when I was preparing to leave, and the survey can't be conducted in the rain, so I went birding this morning instead. My first stop was the Ballona Creek Mouth in Marina del Rey. A number of species that I need for the year had been observed there the past few days. The list includes Black Skimmer, Common Tern, and Least Tern. Like most seabirds, all of these species would be expected to move frequently along the coast (in fact, I believe all of the observations reported were birds flying by), so I could do is head there and hope for the best. While on the end of the breakwater, two Least Terns flew overhead calling. Also of note there were several Surfbirds, Black Turnstones, Wandering Tattlers, Black Oystercatchers, and Sanderlings, as well as about a hundred California Sea Lions.
  • Species 250 - Willow Flycatcher: After I left Ballona Creek, I headed to nearby Ballona Freshwater Marsh, where I once again sought such recent sightings as Virginia Rail, Least Bittern, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and Hooded Warbler (though the ID on that is questionable). I left there with none of these species, but did observe a close range and cooperative Willow Flycatcher, a species that is migrating through right now. Unfortunately, this bird was not cooperative enough to be photographed.

Male Red-winged Blackbird at Ballona Freshwater Marsh. Photo by Marcus C. England.