MOUTH OF ZUMA CREEK
Aerial of the site looking eastward: Road on left is Hwy 1. Close entrance to the estuary indicates a summer/fall photo.
Aerial of site looking northward. Road at top is Hwy 1; road to right is Westward Beach Road. Net lanes are located east of the estuary.
Creek and Canyon is one of many north-south drainages coming out of the Santa
Monica Mountains. (The Santa Monica
Mountains and the adjacent coastline essentially runs east-west,
somewhat counter-intuitive to the north-south California coast.)
The creek drains just east of Point Dume. From just north of
Pacific Coast Highway (PCH or Hwy 1) for several hundred meters is a
riparian corridor dominated by Arroyo Willow (Salix lasiolepis) and
Western Sycamore (Platanus racemosa). Besides this riparian
community, there are possible pockets of vernal pool(s)(?).
The mouth opens up into a small estuary. The estuary acts in a classical manner, closed to the open during the summer and fall months, but open during the winter and spring months. The above pictures were thus taken in the summer/early fall. The length of opening/closing is a function of rainfall and winter storm patterns. The water of the estuary is predominantly freshwater (a large pond turtle is often observed sunning). The eastern side of the estuary is lined with a large enough stand of cattails (Typha latifolia) for Red-winged Blackbirds nest in.
However, the greater majority of the vegetation consists of of exotics castor bean, iceplant, sea rocket, sweet clover, black mustard, etc. I will not demean myself by noting their Latin names.
I began banding at this site with the thought of being able to encounter more warblers and other migrants as compared to my mostly chaparral Zuma Canyon banding site, located about 1.5 km inland or north.
Site Ownership: My understanding is that the coastline is owned by the State of California, Department of Parks and Recreation, but managed by the County of Los Angeles. The riparian area had become degraded by neglect and periodic winter storms; thus, the National Park Service was contracted to restore the area. Planting of riparian and coastal sage scrub species have been conducted over the last few years, as well as weed abatement and removal of exotics.
Degradation: The habitat is degraded due to a number of reasons. Fertilizers and pesticides as well as exotic plants undoubtedly drain down from residences up the canyon. Foot-traffic is unrestricted in the area, and at least several homeless encampments exist. And trash typical abound. Cats and dogs have been seen in the area. Occasional wet winters and large winter storms blow out much of the vegetation in this area.
|Banding Protocol: The
general banding protocol is to operate 5-6 standard 12 meter nets.
Nets have had to be moved around to accommodate the changes/growth of
vegetation and the amount of water in the creek. Two to three nets
lanes exist in the creek channel. Some experimentation has been done trying a two panel
net (created by "saving" the two best panels of an old torn
net). Nets are open from sunrise for five hours. There is no
banding schedule. This was not intended as a long term study, so
banding occurs as I have time. I, however, have tried to band here
at least once a month.
In addition, at mid-morning I conduct a walking area search walking around the riparian habitat and the lagoon including the beach. Although I include birds on the beach down to the water, I do not include birds seen in the surf. Flyovers are recorded.
Results: Because the area search includes a variety of habitats, over 100 species of birds have been sighted. (to be posted soon....)
Interesting Results: One of the reasons I started banding here was to see (capture and band) the Puget Sound White-crowned Sparrow. The default white-crowned sparrow at my Zuma Canyon station and inland across most of southern California is the Gambel's White-crowned Sparrow. The Puget Sound subspecies is found west of the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) (an exaggeration but essentially true). The four lane road on the left side of the left aerial and on the top on the right aerial is PCH. I have captured PSWS's, and it is interesting most individuals thus far have been caught at a single net about 25 m from the brick roofed restroom in the aerial on the right. The other nets are north of the brown dirt path that bisect the habitat. The PSWS breeds further north but winters in southern California. Another interesting bird I have banded at this site is a Northern Waterthrush, which was subsequently recaptured for two successive years after.
Today: I actually stopped banding here. Although the site is excellent with lots of migrants, I felt uncomfortable banding there with the number of homeless encamped in the vegetation. Now, let me say that none of the vagrants have caused any problems and are probably harmless. It is just that my banders and I had gotten to a point where the hairs on the back of our necks would begin to stand up going there. I also had several young female banders, and I worried for their safety. So we quit.
|Last update 16 December 2009|