Malibu Trekker @ thecityedition.com ----- Post #2 - Nov. 20, 2009

This rare visitor to the lagoon is about 5 feet tall.

The View from Malibu Lagoon State Beach

Continued from Post #1.

On the west side of the intersection of Cross Creek Road and nearby PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), there lies a beach and estuary with over hundred species of winged creatures. That's in addition to many bipeds like me traipsing by them in wide-eyed wonder. It costs $8 to park at Malibu Lagoon State Beach, but nothing to cruise in on your bicycle, as I have repeatedly done since I first discovered this place. (There's a rack on the front of Bus #534 from L.A.) The beach is popular with local surfers, though not because the waves tower all that high. Unlike Venice (the heart of southern California surfing), in Malibu surfers breeze along the waves for a hundred meters or more before the ride ends. Even more astounding, when the tide is out, an inquisitive soul can spend hours sifting through all the colorful rocks, shells and sea vegetables that reveal themselves at the mouth of the lagoon.

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I was surprised, however, not to see any professionals birdwatchers here. The waterways really are populated by countless numbers of sandpipers, ducks and mallards, pelicans, egrets, seagulls and other birds I can't begin to name. In fact, I have never gotten so close to a pelican or egret before in my life. I don't own a telephoto lens, either, so getting a good picture required tromping through the marsh and exercising a fair amount of stealth. Below are photos of two snowy egrets, one of my favorite birds.

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How on earth do these marsh inhabitants stay so clean? As for that picture of the five-foot bird at the top of the page, I'm not sure if that's a heron, but that would be my guess. I remember getting close to one in Golden Gate Park once, as he patiently waited for a gopher to venture out of its hole.

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The smell of the dune scrub and other coastal plants is oddly fragrant.

The pelicans are another story. Not so delicate and dainty as the egrets, those beaks act like harpoons when they dive in the water to snag a fish. I felt sympathy for them, however, having to cart around so cumbersome an appendage around 24/7. Try picturing what a pelican nest must look like in order to accommodate that geometry. On the up side, the beak apparently doubles as a good pair of grooming shears.

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From the beach you get unobstructed views of fog-capped mountains, palm trees and sprawling hillside villas, which makes the whole panorama of Malibu a visual feast. If you're like me, trips to L.A. always turn out to be something of a slog, with all the darn traffic and endless miles of concrete boulevards to negotiate. So whenever I get a chance, I like to come out here and pretend I've already achieved my fortune and fame. Of course, that starter cup of coffee in town always helps things along. At any rate, there was still more to see on this adventure, so I put my shoes back on and ventured across the highway overpass that straddles. Malibu Creek.

Continue to Post #3


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