Saturday, December 26, 2015

Pelicans, Herons, And More, Ballona Creek

After dropping off family at the airport, we stopped to walk along Ballona Creek on a sunny, cool, windy Christmas day.  Here are some birds we saw.

From the National Park Service:
"Brown pelicans weigh about 8 pounds and measure a little over 4 feet in length, with a wingspan of over 6.5 feet. The 6 subspecies of brown pelican are similar in appearance with slight differences particularly in breeding plumage. Sexes look similar, though males are slightly larger. Brown pelicans have short, dark legs, long, broad wings, a large, heavy all-brown body, and a huge bill. Webbing between all four toes makes the brown pelican an awkward walker, but a strong swimmer. In basic plumage, adults have a white neck and belly, pale yellow head with occipital crest, a brown body, brown eyes, a throat pouch that is reddish orange, and a billface that is paler at the base and tipped with yellow. As the breeding season approaches, the distal end of the bill turns reddish, the proximal end of the throat pouch brightens to a poppy-red, the iris turns a yellowish white to light blue, and a white stripe runs down the pouch side of neck, while the rest of the neck stays dark brown. Colors start to fade during the onset of incubation, and the yellow feathers on the head are replaced with white feathers."

From All About Birds:
The Sanderling’s black legs blur as it runs back and forth on the beach, picking or probing for tiny prey in the wet sand left by receding waves. Sanderlings are medium-sized “peep” sandpipers recognizable by their pale nonbreeding plumage, black legs and bill, and obsessive wave-chasing habits. Learn this species, and you’ll have an aid in sorting out less common shorebirds. These extreme long-distance migrants breed only on High Arctic tundra, but during the winter they live on most of the sandy beaches of the world.
It says 'black legs' and this one appears to have a gray leg.  I'm checking this out with my bird expert.

This is a surf scoter.

White crowned sparrow.

Western grebe

And a great blue heron

From Audubon:
"Widespread and familiar (though often called "crane"), the largest heron in North America. Often seen standing silently along inland rivers or lakeshores, or flying high overhead, with slow wingbeats, its head hunched back onto its shoulders. Highly adaptable, it thrives around all kinds of waters from subtropical mangrove swamps to desert rivers to the coastline of southern Alaska. With its variable diet it is able to spend the winter farther north than most herons, even in areas where most waters freeze. A form in southern Florida (called "Great White Heron") is slightly larger and entirely white."

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