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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 6: Arrival in LA, Sunset Shorebirds

Last week we headed down for a short trip to Los Angeles. A big city is not a normal vacation destination for me, but we won some hockey tickets that instigated the trip, and the timing turned out to be perfect. A few days after "falling back" with our time change to the early evenings of winter, we headed south to soak up some Vitamin D where it was 75F and sunny every day. Nice!

LA is the second largest city in the United States, and flying into LAX, you could believe it!

Flying into Los Angeles

After checking into our vacation rental, we walked over to Venice Beach, where the walkway near the beach consists of a very interesting mix of street vendors, stores, and strangely dressed people.

Venice Beach: Your one-stop shopping for Marilyn Monroe prints, medical marijuana, $5 T-Shirts, nose rings, and greasy slices of pizza

A lot of what you hear about LA is true: LOTS of people, terrible traffic, a constant layer of smog over the city. I was a bit surprised to see all the trash everywhere. I was even more surprised by the number and variety of birds right amidst all this. Just a couple hundred yards from where empty Cheetos bags were stuffed into Birds of Paradise plants, all different kinds of shorebirds were making their living on the beach.

Sanderling on Venice Beach
After a long pause in adding anything to the year list, it didn't take long to add a few species after arriving in California: marbled godwit (170), willet (171), and brown pelican (172).

Marbled godwit (year bird #170)

Willet (year bird #171)

The lighting was just perfect!




I even happened to catch a sanderling pulling something out of the sand!

In addition to all the shorebirds, there were hundreds of gulls. Unlike in the San Juan Islands, the most common species here was the western gull. Also around were Heermann's gulls, mew gulls, ring-billed gulls, and California gulls.

Western gulls

The people and the birds seemed to mostly co-exist on the beach with little regard for one another. The sanderlings were running around the feet of beach walkers, and the godwit paid little attention to the surfer just offshore. One exception was this man, going from trash can to trash can looking for recyclables. (Unlike on the city streets, on the beach there were tons of trash cans - about one every 50 yards or so! This helped some with the trash issue on the beach.) He had quite an entourage of gulls walking along behind him, because when he found some food he would toss it out to them.

Trash man feeds the birds
I love our San Juan sunsets, but there's something about palm trees and sunsets that make them my favorite for photography. I feel warm just looking at the pictures!

Next up: a half-day of birding before the hockey game. A real rarity and some life birds would be on the way!


Vera said...

So happy to see pictures and stories from your trip.
I'm glad you had a good time!

Anonymous said...

Always enjoy your photos! If you had a like button I would like every post! LOL As a native of the Puget Sound, your photos always make me feel a little closer to home. I'm always appreciating them from afar, even if I don't comment every time. Cheers. :-)