January – February 2018
Western Tanager Field Trip Listings

By Nick Freeman

Field trips often require more driving and time in the field than do our bird walks. If you do not have convenient e-mail and cell phone to reserve a trip, you may always substitute an SASE and home phone number. We do not sell, trade, or re-use contact information; cell and e-mail simply improve our chances of contacting you at home and in the field. No pets or unapproved small children (under 12), please. Bird walks are better-suited for most children. Contact information will be released to others inquiring about carpooling unless requested otherwise. Envelopes for donations to support Los Angeles Audubon and its field trips will be distributed on some non-fee trips. Please support your LAAS field trips. Mail reservation fees to: L.A. Audubon—Field Trips, Attn: Susan Castor, PO Box 411301, Los Angeles CA 90041. Address e-mail reservation requests for “NO-FEE, SIGN-UP REQUIRED” activities to: Susan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information about LAAS field trips call: (323) 876-0202, and leave a voice message if there is no answer. When carpooling, remember to offer compensation for gas to your driver.

Tuesday, January 2
Los Angeles Christmas Bird Count
Contact compiler Daniel Cooper at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be matched up with a team or a survey area.

Saturday, January 6
East Antelope Valley, including Piute Ponds
NO FEE, 20 MAX SIGN UP, PERSONAL EAFB PASS REQUIRED! (12/21/2017, Closed to new sign-ups

Leaders: Mary and Nick Freeman. Chance of LeConte’s Thrasher, and Tundra Swan. Some of the finest desert birding in LA County! Some amazing birds have been seen here over the years! Continue to 110th St. E, Apollo Park and possibly elsewhere afterwards. Meet at the Avenue C gate at 8:00 a.m. To get here, take Hwy 14 N to Avenue D, head E to Sierra Hwy, head N to Avenue C, and go a block E to the gate at the end. Bring lunch, sunblock and lots of water. Possible afternoon wind. High clearance vehicles may be a plus. Call LAAS to sign up. ***Talk with Misty Hailstone on the base by phone at (661) 275-2435 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. before Dec 20 to arrange a required annual pass ***. Tell her your personal information (legal name, driver's license number and state issued, social security number, date of birth, email address, and phone number). Please do not e-mail or leave a message. Access for foreign nationals is trickier but still possible. Cameras O.K. Must show up with TWO Federally recognized forms of identification.

Saturday, January 13
Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area
Leader: Kris Ohlenkamp. “Freeway close” morning of birding. Kris has led this walk on-and-off for over 30 years, noting 240 species, and averaging 60-65 per walk. Osprey likely, Peregrine Falcon and American Bittern sometimes seen. Take the 405 Fwy N into the San Fernando Valley, turn W on Burbank Blvd. and N (Rt.) on Woodley Ave. to the second Rt., which is marked “Wildlife Reserve”. Turn here and park in the lot at the end. Meet at 8:00 a.m., and bird until about 11:30 a.m.

Friday, January 19
Gull Study Workshop Lecture
Speaker Larry Allen will discuss most gulls that have appeared in North America – the majority of which have made it to California. So, you’ve been avoiding gulls for the last decade (if that’s possible), hoping that they would migrate out of the Southern California region. Well, that’s not going to happen. But Larry has a kind touch when it comes to Gull I.D., and will rapidly get you up to speed with how to evaluate and identify our gulls. Larry will specifically address general aspects of gull topography, the confusing (but orderly) logic of molt sequences, and the finer aspects of identifying to age and species. Slides, study skins and handouts will be used. This is a Ralph Schreiber Grant fund-raiser. Please register with Susan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., providing name(s), cell phone number, and e-mail address; and mail a check for $20 each, which gets you the lecture & field trip, and an e-mailer with directions and details. Not offered separately. Private residence in Altadena, from 7:30 - 10:00 p.m., with one refreshment break. 20 maximum.

Sunday, January 21
Gull Study Workshop Field Trip
Leader: Larry Allen. Put your new knowledge to use in the field, perhaps even identifying immature California & Ring-billed gulls as they fly overhead! Meet in the field at 8:00 a.m. and ogle the gulls until we’re all gull identification experts! Location will be confirmed during the lecture. We often go to Doheny State Beach in Orange County (34422 Park Lantern, Dana Point; then turn right into the main lot before the bridge, and meet in the SE corner by San Juan Creek). It is a fair drive to Doheny, but we have had large numbers of gulls on our workshops here, including Glaucous Gull twice, and a Lesser Black-backed Gull once! Maximum of 20 participants. See above to reserve lecture & field trip. Doheny Beach parking fee. If goodly numbers of gulls are present around the Los Angeles Basin, we will assemble there instead. Bring a lunch.

January 27 & 28 Weekend
Carrizo Plain
FEE: $20, LIMIT: 16
Leaders: Mary and Nick Freeman. Meet at 8 a.m. in Maricopa. Spectacular scenery. We will see Ferruginous Hawks, Prairie Falcons, Golden Eagles, LeConte’s Thrasher, Merlin and pronghorn; with possible Rough-legged Hawk, Mountain Plover, Pronghorn, Elk and Sage Thrasher. We will meet in Maricopa (vacant lot at 800 Stanislaus St., west of Shell station on south side of Hwy 166), drive around the Plain all weekend, then leave the Plain heading north via Bitterwater Road on Sunday before we away to LA. If possible, please carpool or avail your vehicle to others when you reserve. Your phone number will be released for carpooling unless you request otherwise. Please register with Susan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., providing name(s), cell phone number, and e-mail address for exact directions and further information; and mail a check for $20 each. Net profits go to the Schreiber Grant Fund. Reserve your own room in Buttonwillow for Saturday night. Motel 6 is one option here. FRS radios & ‘scopes helpful. Limit: 16.

Saturday, February 3
Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge
Nick and Mary Freeman and refuge volunteer Carolyn Vance will guide. We should have two short buses for our silly band of birders. Throngs of wintering shorebirds and numerous raptors will be seen. Nelson's (Sharp-tailed) Sparrow, Peregrine Falcon and a few Pacific Golden-Plover are usually sighted. The refuge is part of the Naval Weapons Station. Please send ZIP Code, first, middle-initial & last names, DOB, e-mail and home phone number, cell ph# optional but helpful; by January 24. Only LAAS-confirmed individuals of U.S. citizenship with photo ID allowed on base. No weapons, but camera OK. Meet at the main public lot at 800 Seal Beach Blvd. at 8:00 a.m., bird through the morning as the high tide of 6.0 feet around 11:15 a.m. catches us at Hog Island, and bird until about noon. Take Seal Beach Blvd. S from the 405 Fwy, pass Westminster Blvd., turn left onto the base at the Forrestal Lane light, and left again into the lot. Spotting scopes helpful.

February 10 & 11 Weekend
Salton Sea South
Leaders Nick and Mary Freeman. Large to huge flocks of Snow & Ross' geese, White-faced Ibis and Sandhill Cranes. Stilt Sandpiper, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Gila Woodpecker all possible to certain. This is the only place in the U.S. to see the impressive Yellow-footed Gull (likely)! No Limit, but sign up by phone, and send e-mail and cell ph# for more details. Meet at 7:00 a.m. Saturday at Cattle Call Park south of Brawley (just downhill from 550 Cattle Call Drive, Brawley). Brawley Inn 760/344-1199, Calipatria Inn 800/830-1113, and Americas Best Value Inn in Westmorland 760/351-7100 are recommended. Arrive fed with full tanks, and bring lunches and snacks. Those who wish to will eat together Saturday night. Please register with Susan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., providing name(s), cell phone number, and e-mail address for exact directions and further information; and mail a check for $10 each. FRS radios & 'scopes helpful.

Sunday, February 18
Ventura County Game Preserve
Leader: Irwin Woldman. The private duck hunting club in Ventura has a long history of producing the kinds of birds that most rich, well-birded and disappearing habitats can lay claim to, including Virginia rails, American Bittern, occasional Ruff, Solitary Sandpiper, and single Lesser Sand-Plover and Wood Sandpiper. Emphasis on this date will be late raptors and waterfowl, with shorebirds starting to move through. Get to the preserve by taking the 101 Fwy W to Rice Avenue S, following the Rice Ave. prompts to the T-intersection terminus, then take Hueneme Rd. west (Rt.), take the first left turn, Casper, to the end, proceed through the gate and park across the street from the barn (6500 Casper Road, Oxnard). Meet here at 8:00 a.m. We will walk the property, so good hiking/mud shoes with energetic legs inside a plus. We may have one car. Scopes & FRS radios helpful. There is a slight chance of cancellation, so please check the LAAS website for trip status the day before.

Saturday, February 24
Techniques for Better Bird Photography
Marina del Rey / Santa Monica
Your workshop host will be Christopher Taylor, an accomplished and published local photographer who has conducted similar workshops here and back East. While Christopher is most experienced with Canon equipment, he'll provide techniques that will enhance your ability to capture outstanding images of birds no matter what brand of digital SLR camera you're using, and should be able to help reproduce camera effects on other brands.
During the field lab, shorebirds and gulls should highlight. Christopher will be addressing a basic approach to one of the most difficult arenas of photography. Christopher does not typically use flash at all, and he'll explain why, and how to compensate in various light and wind conditions. He'll also offer guidance on when it's best to hand-hold a shorter lens and when it is best to use a tripod and more magnification. He will discuss how to make your photographs more captivating by incorporating habitat into your frame. Learn how to use bokeh effects to help emphasize your subject. He will cover different aperture, lighting and metering techniques to help make your photographs POP! Meet at the Del Rey Lagoon parking lot at 7:30 a.m. with a DSLR camera and 300mm-plus telephoto lens (required). Take the Marina Fwy (90) to Culver Blvd and turn left for a mile. Turn right on Pacific Ave. Turn into the lot on the right. After a lunch break, Christopher will review basic post-production Photoshop techniques, and tips to make good photos great and great photos truly eye-catching. A charged laptop with Photoshop loaded is useful but not required. Finish up 3 or 4 p.m. Please register with Susan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., providing name(s), cell phone number, and e-mail; and mail a check for $40 each.

Sunday, February 25
Chasing Parrots in Pasadena
Leader: Larry Allen. The famous “Temple City” parrots have moved to Pasadena! Join Larry as we follow the evening flock as it gathers members and moves to roosting sites in suburban Pasadena. Possible Red-crowned, Lilac-crowned, Red-lored, and Yellow-headed Parrots and perhaps other parrot and parakeet species as well. Bring scopes if you have them. We will meet at 5:00 p.m. and bird until fully dark (about 6:30 p.m.). Meet at La Pintoresca Park at 45 E Washington Blvd. in Pasadena, at the northeast corner of Fair Oaks Ave. and Washington Blvd. Exit the 210 Freeway at Fair Oaks and proceed north about 1¼ miles. Park on the surrounding streets and gather around the small parking lot on the east side, off Raymond Ave. If you don't find the group there, look on the west side of the park. Depending on the location of the roosts, we will either walk or drive from the park.

Sunday, March 11
Malibu Lagoon
Leader: Irwin Woldman. This transitional date should still see ducks, gulls, raptors, sparrows, and some early land migrants. Take PCH N over the bridge in Malibu to the stoplight, and either park on PCH, or turn left from PCH into the lagoon fee lot, or turn right on Cross Creek Road for free parking (and Starbucks) along the road, and cross PCH to meet at the kiosk in the lagoon parking lot at 7:30 a.m. Plan on a half day of birding here, and nearby Pepperdine Ponds, and Legacy Park.

March 24 & 25 Weekend
Anza-Borrego State Park

Leader: Kurt Leuschner. A good time to view both the wildflowers and Swainson’s Hawk migration! Caravan through the State Park from the Colorado Desert up to Julian, with short forays to take in the sights and the wildlife. Kurt is a professor of desert ecology, and knows all of our deserts very well. Reserve your accommodations at Hacienda del Sol, Stanlund Motel or others in Borrego Springs months early, as this is wildflower season too! Meet at the Anza-Borrego Desert Nature Center (652 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs). Please register with Susan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. providing name(s), cell phone number, and e-mail address; and mail a check for $20 LAAS member / $40 non-LAAS fee. Note: there will be a talk on Friday night, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. – The Hummingbird and the Ocotillo by James Cornett. Cost is $10 at the door. For the lecture, meet at the Anza-Borrego Desert Nature Center – same place we meet Saturday morning.

April 28 & 29 Weekend
Owens Valley Grouse and More
Mary and Nick Freeman lead. Friday (April 27) evening in Bishop, a grouse biologist will hopefully be available to present a slide show on the Sage Grouse, at the BLM headquarters building. She’s really knowledgeable! We will meet at the Crowley lek turnoff (“the Green Church” at 34 Benton Crossing Rd, Mammoth Lakes – GPS address) very early on Saturday for Sage Grouse photos and viewing, and later possible Black-backed Woodpecker and Evening Grosbeak! Sunday, plan to meet in Bishop at Jack’s Restaurant (437 N Main St) for Sooty Grouse, Grey-crowned Rosy-Finch, Bank Swallow, and perhaps Chukar. An e-mailer will be sent out to the participants who have signed-up for this trip, including some hotels. Arrange your own lodging in Bishop. Net profits go towards the Ralph Schreiber Grant Fund.