Bird Watching (UK) - - Bird The World -

Dow­itch­ers, Western and Least Sand­pipers, Black Turn­stones, Surf­bird and Wan­der­ing Tat­tler. Raptors are not un­der-rep­re­sented here, ei­ther, with Amer­i­can Kestrel, White-tailed Kite, Red­tailed and Red-shoul­dered Hawks all pos­si­ble. In­deed, it is hard to de­scribe this site with­out reel­ing off a mouth-wa­ter­ing bird list. Near to Bal­lona is Sand Dune Park. It’s an un­likely site as it is a tiny wooded coastal slope with a chil­dren’s play area on the in­land side. De­spite be­ing heav­ily used by the lo­cals it at­tracts truck­loads of mi­grants es­pe­cially the Amer­i­can war­blers, plus Sum­mer Tan­ager and sev­eral of the vireo species are reg­u­lar. Another amaz­ing mi­grant trap is Ken Mal­loy Har­bor Re­gional Park, sim­ply known as Har­bor Park by the lo­cals. It is the third largest park in the LA area and is very pop­u­lar for recre­ational pur­poses. Yet birds abound. Cin­na­mon and Blue-winged Teals are com­mon­place and passer­ines such as Marsh Wren, Com­mon Yel­lowthroat and Red-winged Black­bird can be found. Los An­ge­les has many parks and open spa­ces, rang­ing from a myr­iad of pocket parks and sports fields to Grif­fith Park, the largest park in the city at 4,310 acres. Al­most all are po­ten­tially good bird­ing patches. Among my favourites is Madrona Marsh Pre­serve in Tor­rence. It is one of the last re­main­ing ur­ban wet­lands in the city. WESTERN GULL The Western Gull is ar­guably the de­fault larid in LA. They can be fre­quently seen lazily flap­ping over­head al­most any­where in the city. The species is listed as a marine gull and is there­fore more preva­lent along the coasts where they of­ten form loung­ing flocks. To the Euro­pean eye, they strongly re­sem­ble Lesser Black-backed Gulls with sim­i­larly hued dark grey wings with black wing tips. How­ever, be­ware the paler, grey- man­tled north­ern oc­ci­den­talis race that can of­ten be mis­taken for a slightly dark Amer­i­can Her­ring Gull. They are around the size of a Her­ring Gull but seem to have shorter wings with a stout, bar­rel chested body. Yes, iden­ti­fy­ing gulls is cer­tainly a vex­ing sub­ject, but at least you can rest as­sured know­ing that the Western Gull is the only dark-backed gull to be reg­u­larly found in the city. The species has a re­stricted range that hugs the western coast of North Amer­ica stretch­ing from British Columbia to Baja Cal­i­for­nia in Mex­ico. Although it is not rare, it is vul­ner­a­ble, given its small world­wide range. It has got one ma­jor claim to in­famy as be­ing fea­tured as one of the main an­tag­o­nists in Al­fred Hitch­cock’s clas­sic film The Birds. Is there a gull species any­where that has a pos­i­tive rep­u­ta­tion? Nat­u­rally, wa­ter­birds fea­ture ma­jorly here with Snowy Egret and Pied-billed Grebe be­ing reg­u­lars. It is also a good place to look for the scarce Tri­coloured Black­bird. Fi­nally, if you are based in West Hol­ly­wood, then Franklin Canyon is al­ways worth a visit. This val­ley is great for Acorn Wood­pecker, Oak Tit­mouse, Spot­ted Towhee and the oc­ca­sional Cal­i­for­nia Quail. CAL­I­FOR­NIA NE­VADA

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