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birdbrain22

Los Angeles area

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Posted (edited)

Last minute business trip to LA(possibly HI, but hopefully not) with a little free time... so not a whole lot of time to plan things. Also never really birded anywhere in CA(but have birded Portland, OR area), so there are many lifer possibilities. I'm at the point where i get what I get and don't want to go all over chasing... however, would like to get as much bang for the buck(lifer wise). So with that said... anyone have first hand recommendations of places in LA county and I guess nearby areas? Are any seabirds/auklets regularly visible from shore?( I won't have time for a pelagic) I will be staying relatively close to LAX I think, but plans are certainly fluid and I will probably go further south or inland on last day or 2 if it pans out.

Mostly any CA special birds are the target(about 40 or so) so any suggestions are appreciated. I will have a car so i can drive within reason. Hit me with some good local spots. TIA

@Creeker, @guy_incognito and any other CA locals.

 

 

Edited by birdbrain22

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Happened to be skulking about the forums and noticed this thread and figured I'd rise from the dead to answer.

If you're wanting right near the airport, I'd recommend either Ballona Freshwater Marsh or Madrona Marsh. Both are pretty urban, but they have a lot of the common California specialties/western species such as Anna's and Allen's Hummingbirds, Bushtit, California Towhee, Hooded Oriole, etc. If you're willing to drive a bit, I'd check out some stuff in Orange county. Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and Huntington Central Park are near each other and can easily be done in a quick morning. Bolsa Chica is excellent for waterbirds/shorebirds (though the latter will be really limited this time of year). There's a large Elegant Tern colony, as well as Least, Forster's, Royal, and Caspian Terns, Black Skimmer, etc. Ridgway's Rail is possible but I've had bad luck with this species here in recent years. You will get a handful of common landbird species, but Huntington Central Park is better for that. Huntington Central was better in previous years, but you can still pick up easy, common species here. Shipley Nature Center is in the western half of the park, though it has really weird hours (off the top of my head I can't recall them). I typically bird the eastern half of the park in a clockwise manner, starting near the Park Bench Cafe. Common species here include Anna's and Allen's Hummingbird, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Black Phoebe, Western Bluebird, Lesser Goldfinch, California Towhee, Hooded Oriole, Great-tailed Grackle, Scaly-breasted Munia. 

If you're willing to drive even a bit further, there's a lot of places you could check out. San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is always good--basically the same species as Huntington Central, but better chances for all of them, more species, and it's a nicer area to bird. 

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Holy crap,  all it took was an LA request for a long lost forum member to return!(and I didn't even put his name in my post since I haven't seen on in quite a while) 

Hey Jimbob... thanks for that info. Like I said, plans are certainly fluid and have already changed 3 times. As of now I will have  some time in the Ventura area and then probably sometime  down by Anaheim, so Bolsa and San Joaquin may be doable(or even somewhere else). Any chance of Williamson's Sapsucker, RB Sapsucker, Lewis's WP, Wrentit... in these areas? Also any spots for a good chance to see Auklets, or seabirds along that coastal stretch?(will certainly be checking this in the Ventura area.

However, there has already been a mention of possibly time in Burbank, so maybe Griffith park is worth a stop?(can one bird there, or is it just the observatory and zoo?) And then there is always the chance I may have to re-route things to Oahu... just a bit crazy!

Thanks again Jimbob... 

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Haha, I'm currently in Costa Rica for the summer and have a lot of downtime so I got to wondering how the forum was. And yes, I probably should be out birding 24/7, but that's literally my job so I take afternoons off. 😉

For the sapsuckers, you're going to need to get to high elevations. I have actually never birded the mountains of LA, so I'm not exactly sure where you would do that. I have quite a bit of experience birding the mountains outside of Ventura, but I've never seen either of those species outside the winter. If you have a full day in Ventura and want to get up into the mountains, Pine Mountain is a pretty good spot. There's lots of little spots to stop along the way up (Rose Valley Lake can be interesting). You can get things like Mountain Quail, Lawrence's Goldfinch, White-headed Woodpecker, Cassin's Finch, and Green-tailed Towhee on Pine Mountain. Lots of other common stuff as well. It's a bit of a drive, so it might not be an option. In Ventura proper, the Ventura Settling Ponds are good. It's mostly riparian woodland, but you'll still got common western species. I really have no idea where to bird in the LA mountains, I'd check eBird for your target species and see what's reported where. Lewis's Woodpeckers won't be around in the summer. Wrentit is easy in a lot of places, basically anywhere with chaparral. Learn their song and you'll find them--San Joaquin has them.

As for seabirds, there's not really any well-known locations for them in Orange or LA counties. I suppose anywhere along the highway through Malibu (to Ventura, from LA) is a good place to scan for Black-vented Shearwater but that's a lot tougher in summer. You will have to be incredibly lucky for any seabirds other than that (auklets included). I've seawatched from Pt. Mugu before: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L347403

I've never been to Griffith Park, but I've driven by. I'm sure you can find somewhere to bird. It'd have chaparral species, so think things like Wrentit, California Scrub-Jay, Bewick's Wren, Bushtit, Spotted Towhee, etc. Not terribly species diverse, but a good habitat for a lot of west coast species. 

Bonelli Regional Park is a good spot to consider if you're driving. Whittier Narrows is another good option near LA. None of these locations will have spectacular birding this time of year, but for someone who hasn't been to Southern California you should get quite a few new species. 

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Too bad you're not coming to San Diego. I avoid L.A. like the plague. I recognize all the spots JimBob mentioned, and they should be enough to keep you busy. When you're driving, check around the overpasses for White-throated Swifts.  Brush up on the differences between female Costa's,  Anna's,  Black-chinned, and Allen's Hummingbirds.  You might find a feeder with all those species. Like mine. Brush up on the Terns as well, with five species likely, six or seven possible. This time of year gulls will be limited to Ring-billed,  Western, and Heerman's, so no issues there. When is your trip? Next time come to San Diego and we'll knock off any you don't get this trip. Good luck, and let us know how you do.

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Posted (edited)

Thank for the additional info Jimbob and Creeker... unfortunately, this time I did not have much say in what part of CA I wanted to go to.  My trip is next week. Not worried about the terns and gulls as I have them all(even Elegant as one showed here up years ago). Well except Yellow-footed, but I'm def won't be going to Salton.Surely I will only see male hummingbirds... so it will be relatively easy! :classic_laugh:. But I am studying the females though, in case my usual luck pans out. 

As a bonus, I found that Lake Piru area has chance of Condor which I wasn't even considering as I thought they were further east and north. And hopefully next time I get out there it will be for strictly leisure and will be able to pick the better birding areas. Thanks again to you both.

Edited by birdbrain22

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Yeah, Lake Piru is one of the better spots outside the wildlife refuges to see condors. I was going to go there in April, but I missed the exit on I-5 due to a ton of confusing construction (I was still driving on the wrong side of the freeway when I passed the exit, lol) and ended up having to drive halfway through the grapevine before the next exit (15+ minutes). Fun times.

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On 6/22/2019 at 12:29 PM, JimBob said:

Yeah, Lake Piru is one of the better spots outside the wildlife refuges to see condors. I was going to go there in April, but I missed the exit on I-5 due to a ton of confusing construction (I was still driving on the wrong side of the freeway when I passed the exit, lol) and ended up having to drive halfway through the grapevine before the next exit (15+ minutes). Fun times.

Good to see you back JimBob. 

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Well... dam I hate changes. Heading to HI on Wed. At least I picked up Wrentit, Phainopepla, Cassin's Kingbird and CA Towhee today. Also Sea Lion, Bull Snake, and a type of squirrel I have yet to even look up. Probably a few more tommorrow, oh well.

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The squirrels were undoubtably California Ground-Squirrels, if they were on the ground. If you're talking tree squirrels, Fox Squirrels but I'm sure you know what those look like.

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Well this turned out to actually be a mostly working trip! :classic_laugh: Not a whole lot a time for birding...

So Mon-Tues in CA, I got the four lifers mentioned above(Cassin's Kingbird, Wrentit, Phainopepla, and CA Towhee). Yes Jimbob... after checking, they were CA Ground Squirrels.

Flew to Oahu on Wed... for service call. No birding(no biggie I'd been here before and saw most of the invasive species anyway). Thursday-free day, but I did not feel like making the drive/hike to the North shore or Ka'ena Pt.(again been there, done that)... but did drive around island seeing some other places, but nothing new. Friday- was spent, planning for and island hopping to Molokai for work. Arrived on Molokai at 3:15pm, went to hospital service call and then back to Oahu by 6:30pm.... passed many Gray Francolins(non-lifers) while driving between airport and hospital. While it would've been nice to have a few hours to explore the island,(though nothing special , bird-wise)... I had to be back on Oahu as not many lodging  options on Molokai. Sat- want to Makapu'u Beach and trail to try to pull off a few lifers before heading to airport... was successful in getting Red-footed Booby, Sooty Tern, Red-tailed Tropicbird, and Wedge-tailed Shearwater. 

So while this didn't pan out as I was hoping(work takes priority over birds unfortunately)... I am still happy I managed to get what I got. Maybe next time...

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