Exploring the Los Angeles River in Encino

As I watched the snow falling in my yard this morning as the birds had a feeding frenzy at the feeder,

House Finches feeding in the snow in Albuquerque

House Finches feeding in the snow in Albuquerque

my thoughts drifted back to my walk along the Los Angeles River in Encino, CA a few days ago. It was the last day of my Thanksgiving visit with my son and his family and I hadn’t had a chance to explore the path along the river with all of the holiday activities. The weather was beautiful and the temperature in the mid 70’s. I knew I had to soak it up before returning to Albuquerque.

“I am going to go for a walk along the river,” I announced on my final afternoon.

“I’ll come with you,” my son responded.

We skirted the river at the edge of the Sepulveda soccer fields. A large flock of Bushtits started streaming single-file out of one of the trees – 26 of them.

“Since they have cleaned up the river, people can now explore in canoes and kayaks,” BJ told me. “In fact, during the summer, there was a concession over on Balboa Blvd. where people could rent kayaks.”

We crossed under Balboa Blvd on the bike trail and picked up the multi-use trail on the other side.

We encountered a Black Phoebe almost every 10 feet – most perched on the fence separating the trail from the municipal golf course and then flying down to retrieve an insect along the trail and back up again before we approached.

A small flock of Western Bluebirds flew in and landed on a tree on the golf course.

White-crowned Sparrows flew in and out from the shrubs along the trail. At one location we spotted a Ruby-crowned Kinglet twitching in the branches, and further along a Hutton’s Vireo. I had to look at the bills to make sure which species I was seeing.

“Look,” I pointed to one of the trees on the far side of the river. “A Great Egret.” I took off my binoculars so that BJ could look at it more closely.

Great Egret

Great Egret

As we were admiring the egret, I heard the unmistakable chatter of a Belted Kingfisher. We listed for a few minutes until it flew up into view. “It’s a female,” I stated, handing the bins to BJ. “See, the rufous stripe across its belly?”

As we returned home, I motioned to a tree with a Double-crested Cormorant drying its wings, and further along, another one perched on the edge of a branch.

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

It had been a delightful hour and a half visiting and soaking in the wildlife along the river.


5 thoughts on “Exploring the Los Angeles River in Encino

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your account of your recent walk in LA. I wonder if you remember meeting us a couple of years ago during your walk in the Sepulveda Basin? My wife and I were with her sister Kathleen, who is a real birder. We wish we had the knowledge you have to identify the birds we see. I appreciate your blog, especially when it is about Southern Califoria

      • I’m afraid that without Kathleen around we don’t bird much, so we didn’t even realize that Northern Cardinals were ever in California! We remember them from our years in Maryland; they are probably one of the few birds we could identify with confidence. We even have trouble with egrets, so I appreciate your photos.

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