Phil Jeffrey:: California Blue-footed Booby Invasion, October 2013 trip report


California Booby-hunting Birding Trip, October 9th - 13th 2013

Almost immediately after my return from my California Pelagics trip of September, a Blue-footed Booby invasion starting occurring in the south west. BFBO occurs very irregularly in the south-west, usually at the Salton Sea. The first one turned up at Patagonia Lake State Park near Nogales (!) and stayed for at least a week, and then there were more and more cases of them turning up on the California coast. Some started to make an appearance at the Salton Sea, and also further inland at Lake Havasu where both Brown Booby and Blue-footed Booby could be found. While not totally unprecedented, such large numbers are extremely rare events, so I made yet another last minute decision to travel again to CA to look for these birds. In the process I wanted to see if I could get close to the magic number of 700 for my USA life list.

I booked the flight on Monday evening, and flew Weds afternoon. Relatively little planning was going to happen in that time frame, but the usual combination of eBird and the local CA lists via allowed a little last-minute scrambling for locations.

Wednesday Oct 9th - EWR to LAX

Strictly a travel day where I burnt the last of my United frequent flier miles and flew into LAX in time for sunset. I rented a car from Enterprise, given that my usual choice of Dollar had truly awful rental car facility reviews. Enterprise provided perhaps the single fastest and most professional rental car experience I have ever had. Period. I don't know if this is a general phenomenon (edit: Enterprise at Denver were pretty good too) or if this is just the case for Enterprise at LAX but I can't say good enough things about this rental car facility.

As a result of being out of LAX and in the car before sundown, I sprinted the short distance to Playa Del Rey and walked out on the central breakwater to scope for Blue-footed Booby. Being the west coast the sun was setting in my face so the light was very poor. Pelagic, Double-crested and Brandt's Cormorants, Brown Pelicans, Heerman's and Western Gulls were to be found but I could not pull off an elusive Booby sighting before sunset. I had no expectation of doing this anyway.

I then drove to a relatively expensive ($100+) Best Western hotel near LAX in Inglewood, driving as I did so through a rain shower which would be unremarkable except for the fact that it was in LA. Decent room in a noisy location so not as much sleep as I would have preferred. There are some very dubious-looking cheap motels south of the Airport and you can find lower quality chain motels near LAX for $75+. They tend to have less than stellar reviews on Yelp, however.

Thursday Oct 10th - LA to Ventura/Calabassas

One of the benefits of being on physiological East Coast time on the West Coast is that I wake way before sunrise (~7am). The downside is that I'm a loser in the evenings and have face-planted on the hotel bed by 9pm.

I started on the beach at Playa Del Rey a little before sunrise where Heerman's, Western and California Gulls were in a small flock and (Western) Willet, Sanderling and one Marbled Godwit were on the beach. American Crows and Starlings milled around - notably LA contains a mix of Common Ravens and American Crows, with me seeing more of the latter except in the deserts and mountains. A flock of long-tailed psittacids had been roosting in Palms and few out at dawn - perhaps Nandays (Black-hooded) - probably more likely to be Rose-ringed Parakeets. I could see no markings on them but didn't seem to be Green Parakeets in flight, lightweight build, long pointed tails. On the ocean a few Royal and several Elegant Terns along with Eared Grebe and some distant Western/Clark's Grebes - I was to see a Western Grebe next to the breakwater later, and a single fly-by Forster's Tern. I decided to scope the breakwater from the beach and located a BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY (#698) almost immediately. Walking out along the breakwater: Willet, Black Oystercatcher, Ruddy Turnstone, Western Grebe and Eared Grebe, Surfbirds, Snowy Egret, Red-breasted Merganser. The KTLA-5 TV station was filming here doing a piece on the "storm" (i.e. the previous evening's rain shower), which seemed to have had zero effect. Perhaps it counted as a storm in the LA desert world view.

On the detached breakwater all three cormorants (few Pelagics), many Brown Pelicans, the immature Blue-footed Booby seen at closer range (blue feet). Tree Swallow, Barn Swallows and unexpected Vaux's Swifts were over breakwater and quite a few more swifts were along roadside "dunes" - a pretty interesting diurnal coast migration was going on. Considering that I'd seen about 5 Vaux's lifetime, watching all of these birds feeding at close to eye level for extended periods of time was almost as special as the Booby sighting. A single Burrowing Owl was along the breakwater (locally rare, I think) being quietly harassed by crows which weren't so much attacking it as pointedly curious (no vocalization or threat posture, just close approach leading to the owl retreating). On the walk back to the car an Selasphorus (probably Allen's) adult female was perched. In the park next to the lagoon: Brown-headed Cowbird, Black-bellied Plover, Mallard.

Burrowing Owl at Playa Del Rey, Los Angeles
Burrowing Owl at Playa Del Rey breakwater, Los Angeles

Original nominal plans were to bird Palos Verdes for California Gnatcatcher and a chance at Black-vented Shearwater but recent reports of large flocks of Black-vented feeding just offshore of the Pacific Palisades to the north made me head towards Will Rogers State Beach. I found a feeding frenzy with mainly Brown Pelicans and Cormorants with few gulls and fewer terns. The coast road runs mainly east-west here so in mid-morning it was mainly contra light. 15 shearwaters in the water offshore were consequently unidentifiable to species - a problem I've had before with Black-vented. I think at this point the main feeding frenzy had dissipated. Many Aechmophorus grebes were offshore, similarly with no chance of making the Clark's vs Western ID (but obviously mainly Western by range).

Headed ten or so miles further west to an old favorite spot - Malibu Lagoon State Beach - where there was quite a lot of landscaping going on and the topology of the lagoon had changed, apparently after a contentious battle over the plans. Gone was the wooden footbridge that I had a grebe swim right under me in 1999 on my first visit here. Plantings were still young so as there was not so much cover for the passerines, nevertheless birding was pretty good at this location. Orange-crowned Warbler, (Audubon's) Yellow-rumped Warbler, Say's Phoebe, Western Wood-Pewee, Lesser Goldfinch Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Brant, Pied-billed and Eared Grebes, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Snowy and Great Egrets. Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Whimbrel, Marbled Godwit, Snowy Plover (a much-desired find) were on the beach. Many more Vaux's Swifts were passing through, and a few White-throated Swifts were present. Looked like it was a pretty good migration day after the storm's passage. Two species of Towhees (California and Spotted) were also present, with the California being particularly tame..

Snowy Plover at Malibu Lagoon
Snowy Plover at Malibu Lagoon

I went further west along the Pacific Coast Highway to Ventura Harbor to pull off the Booby-double - a Brown Booby perched on marker #3 at the south end of the detached breakwater being on its persistent roost. I couldn't find the Blue-footed Booby that had previously been reported here (no subsequent reports?). The breakwater held the expected mix of Brandt's and Double-crested Cormorants, Brown Pelicans with the beach holding Marbled Godwits, Dunlin, Willet, Black Turnstone, Sanderling, while in the harbor itself Elegant and Royal Tern, Western-ish Grebes. Barn Swallows were milling around but it was the middle of the day and generally quiet. Brewer's Blackbird and Great-tailed Grackle were in the parking lots. I decided to go for 700 on this trip and booked a boat trip to Santa Cruz Island (Prisoner's Harbor) to look for Island Scrub-Jay - I'd hesitated about this and wondered about saving #700 for the Colima Warbler, but that's another 6 months of holding my breath. (Edit: I did the Colima hike and it was USA #705 in April 2014).

With the plans being made on an hour by hour basis I returned to Malibu Lagoon where I added Osprey, Green-winged Teal, Black Phoebe, Common Yellowthroat, House Wren, Song and Savannah Sparrows and an immature Black-crowned Night Heron. I stayed overnight at the Good Nite Inn in some corner of Calabassas to let me bird along the LA part of the Pacific Coast Highway before heading to Ventura the following morning. Plus, the road down Malibu Canyon is quite spectacular, even if your enjoyment of it is tempered by the desire not to drive off the road.

Friday Oct 11th - Santa Cruz Island/Ventura and Malibu

On the second birding day I got to the west end of Will Rogers State Beach at dawn to witness the sun rise over the Santa Monica pier and distant Palos Verdes, and saw quite the feeding frenzy at the location of the previous day. Flocks of Double-crested and Brandt's Cormorants, diving Brown Pelicans, Heermann's and Western Gulls, again few to no terns, and about one thousand (yes, thousand) Black-vented Shearwaters (USA #699) doing shallow plunge diving and generally milling around the feeding frenzies. Seen on the water and in the air in scope views. As the sun rose further I had the sense that the frenzy was dissipating a little, and by 8am I had moved on to Malibu Lagoon. This might have been the deal with the previous day, since activity was much less by mid morning on Thursday.

Rush hour traffic up Pacific Coast Highway wasn't fun, but Malibu Lagoon was still birdy: added Northern Mockingbird, a confusing western subspecies of Warbling Vireo, (heard) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Bewick's Wren, and the Vaux's Swift movement was ongoing once again. Least Sandpiper was on the beach with the rest of the shorebirds, but otherwise the same set of species as the previous day. The Snowy Plovers were giving excellent looks on the beach.

Warbling Vireo at Malibu Lagoon
Warbling Vireo at Malibu Lagoon

At 10am I left to head north for the Ventura harbor boat (11:15 check-in for noon departure). While waiting to depart there was a Peregrine perched on a mast in the harbor. On this trip the boat was spacious with nearly as many crew as passengers, the government shutdown likely being a factor here since you couldn't walk into the National Park. Relatively close in to shore a decent-sized flock of Black-vented Shearwaters with a few Sootys and a Fulmar or two. By mid-passage Pink-footed Shearwaters showed up, and at least two of the tree Jaeger species - Pomarine and Parasitic. One jaeger that paralleled the boat had field marks for Long-tailed Jaeger but seemed too heavily built for that species. There were no Storm-Petrels and only two fast moving alcids further out (Cassin's Auklets?). The fast-moving catamaran and so not perfect for sea watching while under way, although it did make the passage to the island pretty fast. There was at least one Common Dolphin group.

At landfall in the early afternoon the first birds were Black Phoebe and Northern Flicker, but two Island Scrub-Jays flew by to give me USA #700 at the expense of interrupting the orientation talk. With the NPS land closed due to the Republican government shutdown it was strictly a case of birding on Nature Conservancy land after filling in the appropriate permit. Additional species included the diminutive Santa Cruz Island Fox, White-crowned Sparrow, Green-tailed Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Acorn Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker (male), Hummingbird sp. (likely Allen's), Pacific-coast Flycatcher, Northern Harrier migrating off the beach and the inevitable Orange-crowned Warbler. Low-ish diversity not unexpected due to the time of day but the pelagic birds and #700 made up for that.

The 5pm return boat was late enough in the day that it was going to be pelagic birding and that's it for the rest of Friday. On the way back the wind has risen a little and the shearwaters were all over the place flying over the ocean. Pink-footed Shearwater and multiple Jaegers (light and dark morphs) further out, then many hundred Black-vented Shearwaters with some Pink-footed and a couple of Fulmars again as we got closer to land, complete with pods of Common Dolphin and two Humpback Whales hunting in the relatively shallow water (80 feet) not that far off Ventura Harbor. Impressive looks at Black-vented, which had been a life bird only that morning, and they were flying around us everywhere at that point even if the boat captain was rather more focused on the whales. On return to the harbor I looked in vain once again for Wandering Tattler (seen that morning) but the Brown Booby was still on marker #3 at the harbor entrance.

All that remained was a very tedious drive from Ventura to Palm Desert, where I'd elected to stay in a Motel 6 to stage for a Salton Sea visit the following day. Traffic through LA was very slow in places, so it ended up being closer to a 4 hour drive than a 3 hour one.

Saturday Oct 12th - Salton Sea and San Jacinto Mountains

I was at the north end of the Salton Sea at dawn (Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron and Belted Kingfisher along the irrigation channels) but the dike roads at the Whitewater River delta were gated with menacing No Trespassing or Loitering signs so I decided not to push my luck. My venerable 1998-vintage Birder's Guide to Southern California was a little vague about access restrictions anyway and notwithstanding recent reports I erred on the side of caution. Nothing puts a crimp in your birding plans like getting arrested.

Headed down the eastern shore along CA-111 I stopped at an (ungated) campsite pull-off to scan the lake and saw Eared Grebe, Brown and American White Pelicans, California Gull, Caspian Tern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Black-necked Stilt. American Crow and Common Raven were in the vicinity, the former perhaps lured in by the widespread agricultural use at both ends of the Salton Sea. Horned Larks and Brewer's Blackbirds were along CA-111, with Horned Lark perhaps the only thing I could think of as being at home in this rather barren landscape, and a Turkey Vulture was near Niland. Headed off CA-111 south-west of Niland into agricultural fields: many American Kestrels, big blackbird flock mainly Red-winged and some Yellow-headed. Gambel's Quail were at the entrance to Wister unit. One Loggerhead Shrike was seen on wires - I might have expected more.

Salton Sea panorama
Salton Sea just south of Obsidian Butte

At the Red Hill Marina area in local ponds: Ruddy Duck, Northern Shoveler, male Cinnamon Teal coming out of eclipse, Great Blue Heron, Black Phoebe (numerous in this area) and Northern Flicker. Heading south towards Obsidian Butte: two Burrowing Owls roadside, Killdeer, more Blackbirds, a couple of Great-tailed Grackles. Along the sea wall immediately south of Obsidian Butte many shorebirds, mainly Avocet and Black-necked Stilt, Willet, some Long-billed Dowitchers, Marbled Godwit, Killdeer. California, Ring-billed and two Yellow-footed Gulls (adult + immature), Caspian Terns, Willet, Brown and Am White Pelicans, many Double-crested Cormorants with westbound flocks of these seen throughout the morning. At Obsidian Butte itself I had scope views of 12 Blue-footed Boobys - up until this year being close to the record of the max number at any given time. Birding was not enhanced by some Lexus-driving moron birder flushing a lot of the lakeside birds in his quest for photos with his toy telephoto lens. Nevertheless the double digit Booby count was the reason to come down to the Salton Sea, along with the Yellow-legged Gull. Back at the breakwater the Yellow-footeds had moved on, being replaced by Franklin's Gull, a few Red-necked Phalaropes, Long-billed Curlew, and I spied the locally relatively rare Neotropic Cormorant roadside. Searching agricultural fields I found Savannah and White-crowned Sparrows but no Mountain Plovers.

Cormorant-studded tree, Salton Sea, California
Cormorant-studded tree, sea wall south of Obsidian Butte

I passed through the very small town of Calipatria and checked out the nearby Ramey and Finney Lakes whose novelty was a lot of elusive Towhee sp (Abert's likely here) and an immature Cooper's Hawk. A nearby flooded field held Snowy/Great/Cattle Egrets and White-faced Ibis. Greater Roadrunners were seen in two places nearby. At Brawley I got lunch and was eating it in the town square while watching Common Ground-Doves on the grass near the library. Eurasian Common Doves outnumbered the Mourning Doves in the surrounding area. My last location at the Salton Sea was at Poe Road - really a dirt spit onto the southern shore with a representative set of species: Brown and Am White Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorant, Long-billed Dowitcher, Western Sandpiper, Foster's and Caspian Terns, Northern Harrier, Marbled Godwit, Western-ish Grebe (I'd seen one Clark's earlier), Eared Grebe, Say's Phoebe. It was hot, and it was relatively pungent, so I headed north towards the mountains instead

Snagging a possibly superfluous National Forest Adventure Pass in Palm Desert, I headed up the Palms to Pines Highway (CA-74) out of Palm Desert into the San Jacinto Mountains. Due to the Republican government shutdown I expected the major user facilities to be closed but planned to bird from the roadside. I came up with only Scrub-Jays and no Pinyons as I headed to higher altitude until I broke into an open conifer forest after passing CA-371. Over the next 5 miles I saw less than anticipated but it was very scenic, with a mix of pine forest and open mountain meadow. At Hemet Lake Road I birded adjacent to the closed picnic area along the roadside and did well in terms of montane species: American Robin, Sooty Fox Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Selasphorus hummingbird sp. (Rufous?), House Finch, Nuttall's Woodpecker (male and female - female in particular was purely black and white, separating it from Ladder-backed), Mountain Chickadee, Bushtit, Black-throated Gray, Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Northern Flicker, Acorn Woodpecker, Spotted Towhee and Oak Titmouse. An Osprey was hunting the lake.

Over the other side of the main thoroughfare at Hurkey Creek Road: Western Bluebird, Williamson's Sapsucker male, flocks of both American Crows and Common Ravens going to roost, Chipping and White-crowned Sparrows, Western Scrub-Jay. This area was mostly closed due to fire danger and further up the canyon was clear evidence of previous fire. The county park/campground at Hurkey Creek was so busy nothing would have induced me to stop there. Still the side roads off CA-74 in this location were quite birdy even in the mid afternoon. Further up CA-74 the road appeared to climb out of the pine area so I reversed course and headed back to CA-371, adding Northern Harrier and Red-tailed Hawk in open area. CA-371 drops into a high altitude meadow and agricultural land around Anza, then further down off the mountain into the drier and sandier lower valleys around Temecula. Heading toward LA I finally called it a day at Corona where I randomly encountered a Motel 6 to stay at for the night.

Sunday October 13th - San Gabriel Mountains and LA

With only a morning's birding to play with I made the push into LA pre-dawn towards the San Gabriel Mountains. Based on previous eBird reports of multiple White-headed Woodpeckers I headed up CA-2 into the San Gabriels and pulled off toward the Chilao Visitor Center. As expected the shutdown had closed all the facilities here and I was birding roadside once again. The temperatures were almost downright cold at 5000+ feet in the San Gabriels but there was some bird activity: White-headed Woodpeckers (2), Acorn Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Oak Titmouse, Steller's and Western Scrub-Jay, Dark-eyed Junco. White-headed Woodpeckers were my target - the San Gabriel Mtns being where I first saw this species. If I had more time to bird here I'm sure I would have turned up more species. But because of time constraints by 8:15 I hopped into the car to head down into the LA basin, which was covered by a thick layer of low cloud blanketing the coastal plain. The parking lot at Switzer's was already full when I passed it on outbound, so lots of people were ignoring the closure signs.

Having reached 700 USA life birds I was ready to "tick" a recently-accepted exotic, the Nutmeg Mannikin, which had just been given the thumbs up by the ABA. Several locations reported them in LA, but Madrona Marsh in Torrance had a report of 40 and was close enough to LAX to be useful. Major glitch was that the place apparently only opened at 10am, so I spent the first 25 minutes birding the fence line. This was still productive, with American Goldfinch, California Towhee, White-crowned Sparrow, Bushtit, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler and a female Townsend's Warbler. Hummingbirds zipped about, likely Allen's because we were so close to Palos Verdes here. On the south-east corner of the grounds in an area of eucalyptus I found many more sparrows and Yellow-rumped Warblers. In this mix were mainly White-crowned, but I had one Lincoln's, a House Wren, Lesser Goldfinch and a quietly feeding family group of Nutmeg Mannikins (USA #701) with two adults and multiple juveniles. When they finally opened the gate it proved not to be a permanent marsh at all - apparently a vernal marsh it was quite currently dry but still birdy mainly with sparrows. I found more Mannikins on the south-west edge where I also found Western Tanager, Yellow Warbler, Black Phoebe. Mannikins are enjoying some success here with more juveniles than adults seen. Local hawks included Red-tailed, Cooper's and American Kestrel so there must be some prey about. I finally "called" a sighting of an Allen's Hummingbird having seen both an adult Selasphorus female followed by a adult green-backed male with a full gorget. While technically Rufous can't be totally eliminated without extended looks and tail-spread shots, I'd probably seen about 15 Allen's by this point in the trip anyway, starting with the adult female at Playa Del Rey.

After Madrona I did the usual prepping for the return flight including repacking the car and changing, which left me enough time to grab a little lunch and return the rental car. Like the initial rental process this was efficient with little wait for the bus (others may have waited longer). An OK albeit long flight and long baggage claim and car pickup process make me want to choose different airlines (i.e. not United) and car parking companies (i.e. not Parking Spot) in the future. Got back home at 1am.

Trip list

Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps Malibu Lagoon
Eared Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis
Clark's Grebe Aechmophorus clarkii Salton Sea
Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis Santa Cruz Island Crossing
Pink-footed Shearwater Ardenna creatopus Santa Cruz Island Crossing
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus Santa Cruz Island Crossing
Black-vented Shearwater Puffinus opisthomelas Pacific Palisades, Santa Cruz Island Crossing, USA #699
Blue-footed Booby Sula nebouxii Playa Del Rey USA #698
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster Ventura Harbor
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos Salton Sea
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis
Brandt's Cormorant Phalacrocorax penicillatus coastal
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus Salton Sea
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus
Pelagic Cormorant Phalacrocorax pelagicus coastal
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
Great Egret Ardea alba
Snowy Egret Egretta thula
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Salton Sea
Green Heron Butorides virescens
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax Malibu Lagoon
White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi Salton Sea
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Brant Branta bernicla
Gadwall Anas strepera Malibu Lagoon
American Wigeon Anas americana Malibu Lagoon
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera Salton Sea
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
Green-winged Teal Anas crecca Malibu Lagoon
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis Malibu Lagoon, Salton Sea
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus
Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
American Kestrel Falco sparverius
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus Ventura Harbor
Gambel's Quail Callipepla gambelii Salton Sea (Wister unit)
American Coot Fulica americana Malibu Lagoon etc
Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola Malibu Lagoon, coastal
Snowy Plover Charadrius nivosus Malibu Lagoon
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
Black Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani Playa Del Rey
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus Salton Sea, coastal
American Avocet Recurvirostra americana Salton Sea
Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus coastal
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia Malibu Lagoon
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Malibu Lagoon
Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus coastal, Salton Sea
Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa coastal, Salton Sea
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres Malibu Lagoon, coastal
Black Turnstone Arenaria melanocephala Ventura Harbor
Surfbird Calidris virgata Playa Del Rey, Ventura Harbor
Sanderling Calidris alba coastal
Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri Salton Sea
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla Malibu Lagoon
Dunlin Calidris alpina Ventura Harbor
Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus Salton Sea
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus Salton Sea
Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus Santa Cruz Island crossing
Parasitic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus Santa Cruz Island crossing
Long-tailed Jaeger Stercorarius longicaudus *probable* Santa Cruz Island crossing
Franklin's Gull Leucophaeus pipixcan Salton Sea
Heermann's Gull Larus heermanni
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis Salton Sea
California Gull Larus californicus
Western Gull Larus occidentalis
(Western x Glaucous-winged Gull)
Yellow-footed Gull Larus livens Salton Sea (Obsidian Butte)
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia Salton Sea
Royal Tern Sterna maxima coastal
Elegant Tern Sterna elegans coastal
Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica Salton Sea
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina Brawley (Salton Sea)
Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus Salton Sea
Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia Playa Del Rey, Salton Sea
Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxi Malibu Lagoon, Los Angeles
White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatalis
Anna's Hummingbird Calypte anna Malibu Lagoon
Allen's Hummingbird Selasphorus sasin Madrona Marsh (and likely other coastal places)
Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon
Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus
Williamson's Sapsucker Sphyrapicus thyroideus San Jacinto Mtns (Hemet Lake)
Red-breasted Sapsucker Sphyrapicus ruber Santa Cruz Island
Nuttall's Woodpecker Picoides nuttallii San Jacinto Mtns (Hemet Lake)
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus San Gabriel Mtns(Chilao)
White-headed Woodpecker Picoides albolarvatus San Gabriel Mtns (Chilao)
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
Western Wood-Pewee Contopus sordidulus Malibu Lagoon (flagged as rare by eBird in this location)
Pacific-slope Flycatcher Empidonax difficilis
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans widespread
Say's Phoebe Sayornis saya Malibu Lagoon, Salton Sea
Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus Salton Sea
Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus Malibu Lagoon
Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri
Island Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma insularis Santa Cruz Island USA life bird #700
Western Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma californica
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
Common Raven Corvus corax
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina Malibu Lagoon
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Mountain Chickadee Poecile gambeli
Oak Titmouse Baeolophus inornatus
Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus
Pygmy Nuthatch Sitta pygmaea
Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii Malibu Lagoon
House Wren Troglodytes aedon Malibu Lagoon, Madrona Marsh
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea Malibu Lagoon (heard)
Western Bluebird Sialia mexicana
American Robin Turdus migratorius
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
American Pipit Anthus rubescens *probable* fly-over Malibu Lagoon
Orange-crowned Warbler Oreothlypis celata
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas
Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia
Yellow-rumped Warbler Setophaga coronata
Black-throated Gray Warbler Setophaga nigrescens several locations
Townsend's Warbler Setophaga townsendi Madrona Marsh
Wilson's Warbler Cardellina pusilla Santa Cruz Island
Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana Madrona Marsh
Green-tailed Towhee Pipilo chlorurus
Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus
California Towhee Melozone crissalis widespread
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis
Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Lincoln's Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii Madrona Marsh
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta Malibu Lagoon, Salton Sea
Yellow-headed Blackbird Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus Salton Sea
Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus
Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater
House Finch Haemorhous mexicanus Playa Del Rey
Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis Madrona Marsh
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Nutmeg Mannikin Lonchura punctulata Madrona Marsh, USA #701

Trip list 146, four life birds, plus a hybrid and a couple of "maybes" - this seems a surprisingly high total given the shortness of the trip.