Ballona Creek, Grebes and Orioles

July 28

Ballona Creek
Ballona Creek (Black Oystercatchers in foreground)

I took a stroll up Ballona Cr. yesterday afternoon to look for any migrating Red Knots… Didn’t find any but saw a couple Semipalmated Plovers which I see very irregularly along the Creek. As I was coming to the second locked gate on the south end of the Creek I noticed a Western Grebe that was propped against a rock… I expected it to flush back into the water as I approached it but it didn’t move at all.

Western Grebe
Western Grebe

It just watched me cautiously as I drew closer and closer. I realized it must be injured or sick so I decided to take a few photos and call Roy Van de Hoek with the Ballona Institute to see if he could come take the bird to a rehab facility. He recommended I phone the IBRRC bird rescue in San Pedro. I did so and only received a recording so I left a message. I decided to continue down the creek so I didn’t waste all the time in my 2 hour parking meter.

About 30 minutes later the IBRRC called me back and said that they were not able to come take the bird so they recommended I try to get it into a box myself and deliver it to the West LA animal shelter in the morning so that they could deliver it to them in San Pedro. Since I did not have a box or blanket to throw over the bird with me I phoned a friend who was able to bring me the items necessary to capture the Grebe.

While I waited for her, a curious Heermann’s Gull came close to see what was going on…

Heermann's Gull
Heermann’s Gull

When my friend arrived with the blanket, I was able to easily toss it over the bird to pick it up gently and place it in the box. It certainly wasn’t happy about the situation but it seemed to have lots of energy, despite it looking under nourished, which was promising. Now the difficult part was figuring out how to keep it safe/warm at my house overnight!

Western Grebe
Western Grebe

Roy recommended I try to get it over to Peter Wallerstein with the Marine Animal Rescue group in Playa del Rey. I was finally able to get ahold of him that evening and delivered the bird safely to him. He said the keel bone was sticking out so it hadn’t eaten in sometime but otherwise the bird felt and acted in good health. He told me the shorebird rehab clinic would pick up the bird in the morning so hopefully the little guy pulls through!

Oh and before I forget, the male Hooded Oriole has been visiting the feeder in my backyard regularly for the past week now. When I got home from Ballona I heard him calling across the street as soon as I opened my door. It appeared the male and female were either building a nest or already had one in the fan palms in my neighbor’s yard. Note, this was the same yard a pair (same pair?) nested in last year but their nest was cut down by the gardener… Hopefully the same outcome does not result again this year. Here’s the video I took of the male Hooded Oriole visiting my feeder this afternoon.

And I leave you all with a photo of my new Owling flashlight for Arizona this weekend!

My new flashlight
My new flashlight

(Just kidding – I didn’t actually buy it, although I was tempted!)


Posted by on July 28, 2009 in Photography Adventures


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2 responses to “Ballona Creek, Grebes and Orioles

  1. Dawn Fine

    July 28, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Would love to hear about the progress of the Grebe..great that you were able to help out.
    Nice video of the Hooded!

  2. QuantumTiger

    July 31, 2009 at 7:15 am

    Love the grebe shots (beautiful eyes). You have some fabulous photos on you website too. Cheers!


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