Drained lake: No deterrent to birds or birders

Muddy lake attracts shorebirds as lake regulars take flight

by Judy Raskin

With no water in the lake – or very little of it – regular migrants like Mallards, Canada geese and American wigeons, were seen sparingly at Echo Park Lake on Monday, January 2, the day of Echo Park Lake’s Christmas Bird Count. But the torn-up park currently includes a muddy lake bottom and up-ended lawns and walkways. This new environment attracted a whole new set of birds.

Fourteen birders worked their way around the fenced park, taking peeks through the cut-out windows in the see-through cloth or scanning the trees and lake bottom. The pay-off was big. Thirty one species were logged in about 90 minutes. While many old familiar birds were absent, the mud and rocky shore brought birds rarely seen at Echo Park Lake. They include killdeer, willets, sandpipers and long-billed dowitchers. During count week, an eared grebe and white throated swifts also made appearances.

Meanwhile, over at Vista Hermosa Park, the fourth CBC brought a new high count of 14 species. Doesn’t seen high? Remember, just a few years ago, Vista Hermosa’s plantings were new. As they have matured, more species are visiting. This count was heavy on hummingbirds and mockingbirds, with a sharp-shinned hawk also present.

This year’s bird team included Jim DeBiase, Jocelyn McFaul, Walt Klappert, Carol Siu, Marion Siu, Susan Borden, Terry Hair, Jane Bowers, Mary Brooks, Thea Wang, Alex Candelaria and family, and Judy Raskin.