Larus spp.

At least eight different gull species hang out at Malibu Lagoon, and telling them apart isn’t always easy. For starters, they change their colouration every year for the first three or four years, and their summer outfits might differ from their winter ones. But setting aside the juvenile years, I’m going to try to learn how to identify the adults, even if they look very similar to a casual glance. These two, the Western and California gulls, look pretty much the same year round, so I’m starting with them. I’m honing in on the subtle differences between the two, which admittedly can only be seen close up. More pairs to come as I get around to it.


I did a bird walk at Malibu Lagoon with the Audubon Society yesterday morning, and learned so much! With friendly help, I spotted 37 different species.

My camera and binoculars are not of birding quality, but several people generously shared time on their scopes. I plan to nature journal my learnings over the coming weeks so as to help the new knowledge stick.

And I for sure want to attend their future monthly Lagoon visits. Some people travel long distances for these events; I’m so lucky to live close by this birding hotspot.

malibu lagoon

Different angle on a favourite view. Lots of people walked by as I was sketching, and many commented kindly. My favourite was a woman who said to her young son, “Look! An artist!” then to me, “He wants to be an artist when he grows up.”

“Well,” he corrected, “a kind of artist. I want to be a photographer. I have a real camera, not a phone. I can take pictures underwater!”

“Sounds like you’re already an artist,” I smiled.

pandion haliaetus

I often see this raptor at the lagoon, always solo.

The osprey (Pandion haliaetus), also called sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It’s large, reaching more than 60 cm (24 in) in length and 180 cm (71 in) across the wings.

The osprey is unusual in that it is a single living species that occurs nearly worldwide. Another oddity: osprey and owls are the only raptors whose outer toe is reversible, allowing them to grasp their prey with two toes in front and two behind. This is particularly helpful when they grab slippery fish.


Behind me, a flock of Elegant Terns kept rising, wheeling and calling before settling down again. A Great Blue Heron swallowed an enormous fish after slapping it about for a while. We each did our thing, and I came home sated and peaceful. I never regret visiting this place.