By Carol Babeli, Director of Communications and Development

Ballona 1st Saturdays

First Saturday’s Open Wetlands at Ballona

Los Angeles Audubon Society was recently awarded a grant from The State Coastal Conservancy which will help to support our “Ballona to the Beach” programs.

“Ballona to the Beach” will connect thousands of students and members of the public to five unique coastal experiences through educational beach walks, school field trips, coastal habitat restoration, and science illustration - with emphasis on the importance of coastal conservation.

Los Angeles Audubon invites to you join us for:

Monthly “First Saturdays” events (9 a.m.-noon) at Ballona Wetlands
Ballona Wetlands Programs- the Ballona Wetlands is one of the last remaining coastal wetlands in California. Our monthly “First Saturdays” program and weekly school field trips bring thousands of students, teachers and members of the public to the coast where they become biologists and explorers for the day engaged in hands-on activities using microscopes, binoculars and spotting scopes to view wildlife and marine life. The wetlands programs are led by LAAS’ Outdoor Education Director Cindy Hardin, and a volunteer staff of 40+ specially trained docents. Coastal visitors explore 4 on-site education stations: Microscope Station to view aquatic samples and create science illustrations of what they see; Restoration Station to learn about native coastal plants; Bird Station to view shorebirds along the tidal channel and learn how the wetlands are vital in providing food, shelter and serve as migratory resting areas; and, the Trestle Station which is an observation platform and place to discuss the history of the coastal area from the Tongva Indians to the dramatic shift of the LA River that once flowed through here.

Beach walks at Dockweiler Youth Center (9 a.m.-10:30 a.m.) scheduled for Nov. 18, Dec. 9, and Jan. 7th.
Dockweiler Beach Ecology - LAAS Biologist/Environment Education Director Stacey Vigallon leads beach ecology field trips focused on shorebirds for public school students. Lessons include beach habitat (from dunes to the wrack line), the food web, and animal adaptations to living on the beach. Students learn to use binoculars, spot birds camouflaged along the beach and make drawings and written observations in field notebooks to further explore beach ecology back in their classrooms.

Beach Walks – In collaboration with beach recreation facilities, the public is invited to 3 guided beach walks – scheduled on Nov. 18, Dec. 9, and Jan. 7th) – will focus on beach ecology, shorebirds, and the Federally Threatened Western Snowy Plover. LAAS staff and college interns provide binoculars for attendees and enjoy pointing out all of the amazing bird and marine life that share the shores. Twice a year, at the Annenberg Community Beach House at Santa Monica Beach, LAAS staff, interns, collaborators from Santa Monica Bay Audubon,and Annenberg staff invite beach house members and the general public to an up-close look at beach ecology and a lesson in science illustration sketching birds and their beach habitat.

Dockweiler Beach walk schedule Fall 2017 Winter 2018

Dockweiler Beach walk schedule Fall 2017 Winter 2018

Tern Colony at Venice Beach with Stacey Vigallon

Tern Colony at Venice Beach with Stacey Vigallon

Nest Colony Habitat Restoration — The Federally Endangered California Least Tern has a protected colony/nesting site located on Venice Beach. Twice annually during the non-breeding season, biologists and LAAS staff open the colony to lead local community members, public school and college students on an education session on beach-nesting birds and beach habitat, culminating in the hands-on opportunity for participants to help remove trash and invasive plants species. It’s a unique opportunity for an inside peak at the 7.7acres of coastal habitat that is generally off-limits to the public. Student-produced signage at the site provides beachgoers with information about the importance of the protected habitat area.

Tern sign

Snowy Plover Monitoring Program at Santa Monica Bay - LAAS staff and Project Coordinators provide specialized training for 30-40 community volunteers who devote more than 100 hours annually to monitoring Western Snowy Plovers. In partnership with Ryan Ecological Consulting, LAAS staff collates the citizen science data, to be shared with local, state, and federal agencies, other biologists, beach managers, and the public in the form on monthly and annual reports.

Los Angeles Audubon thanks The State Coastal Conservancy for supporting these programs and for encouraging people of all ages to explore the coast!