Saturday, February 27, 2010

A tale of two cities - Wednesday

Wednesday I woke up feeling heavy with cold, bunged up and generally sorry for myself, which of course boded well for the flight home.

To make the most of our last day in and around LA we decided to work our way towards the airport, following coastal Route One, and to head for Ken Malloy/Harbor Regional Park which we'd located during a quick web search the previous evening.

The coastal route proved very productive for us, so much so that we got out and wandered along a few of the near deserted beaches. The first thing that caught our eye was a small group of Dolphins moving slowly down the coast:



Further along the coast we did get out for a wander and in an hour or so saw loads, so in no particular order, a Willet:



Yellow-rumped Warblers:



A Whimbrel:


A Western Gull that let us get quite close:



Say's Phoebe, a new species:





Sanderling:





Red-throated Diver:



A flock of Heerman's Gulls:



Our last new species of the holiday, Lesser Goldfinch:



Killdeer:



House Finch:



A Brandt's Cormorant (left hand side) and a Pelagic Cormorant:



Both my feet got soaked taking this picture; as I was concentrating hard on framing the birds a wave came in and washed over the tops of my boots. Doh! Good to see the species side-by-side for comparative purposes though.

Black-bellied Plover:





The coastal route was a very pleasant drive and walk combined. When we reached Malibu we were expecting something spectacular. Instead we found a line of large houses on the beach and on the hillside, then a line of small houses tightly packed on the beachfront and then the town itself, and all with a 5-lane highway running through the middle. We suspect the reason that Malibu is so revered as a location is that compared to the rest of LA, which is pretty grim, it's not that bad. We wouldn't live there though, you'd never get any peace and quiet...

With time moving on we headed on to the park in downtown LA to see if it does indeed provide a good source of city birding. It's fair to say Martin Byhower who suggests it is not wrong. We saw loads of birds in the park, no new species but had we started here of course that would have been a different matter. Again in no particular order, Marsh Wren:



A squirrel in a tree convinced that by staying still it couldn't be seen:



Anna's Hummingbird:



Bushtit:



Cinnamon Teal:



Red-tailed Hawk:



Common Yellowthroat:



Other species seen in the park included Northern Mockingbird, Northern Shoveller, Mallard, American Coot, Great White Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Black Phoebe, Song Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Eurasian Starling, House Finch, Western Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Yellow-rumped Warbler, California Towhee, Mourning Dove, Great-tailed Grackle, American Kestrel and spookily, the last bird of the holiday was the same as the first, Western Bluebird, first a female:



and alongside, a male:



We were very fortunate to have the opportunity to have this short break on the West Coast of the United States and thoroughly enjoyed it. We won't go back to LA, we'll go South, North and East around it but never in or through it again we genuinely don't like the place, all noise smog, cars, trash, etc.
San Francisco has a completely different vibe, much more relaxed and fun to visit and we'll definitely return, probably starting there and heading North on a road-trip, who knows. Every time we visit the USA we're reminded just how vast and in some places pristine it remains, and how varied the wildlife that remains is. There's so many more places we want to visit...
We added 62 species to our USA list (242 now) and 53 to our life list (875 now).

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