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Great Blue Heron

Robert Roy J. van de Hoek - Naturalist
Comments:

Jill Stewart has given us educational insights into the way that a Wetland and Upland are swallowed up by developers, moviemakers, and big business. For example, the Great Blue Herons is in trouble at Ballona not only as a nesting species but as a year-round resident common species. The Great Blue Herons at Ballona nest in Eucalyptus, Pines, and Cypress, but in addition, one pair has reluctantly chosen to nest in a palm tree (May 1999). Instead of raising 3 young, only one young heron was fledged, alhough 3 eggs were laid.

Unlike Santa Barbara County with ten nesting locations and Orange County with many nesting locations, there are just three nesting locations in Los Angeles County, you guessed it, one is at Ballona. Unfortunately, the rampant bulldozing by the private developers and authorized by the Friends of Ballona Wetlands board members is impacting the number of Great Blue Herons at the Wetlands. For example, just in the last year since bulldozing at the Ballona Wetlands, I have seen the number of Great Blue Herons plummet from 40 to just about 16 individuals. This decline is dramatic with a loss of about 24 Great Blue Herons. The bulldozing took place in areas where the "Great Blue" had foraged in both the coastal prairie and wetlands. In reading the literature, I have learned that the "Great Blue" can spend a considerable amount of time looking for rodents and reptiles in non-wetlands habitats. My field observations confirm this fact. On numerous occasions, in the last three years, I have seen several prairie animals preyed upon, including mice, gopher, lizard, snake, grasshoppers, and beetles being caught and eaten by a Great Blue. These prey items were caught in prairie habitats, not wetlands. The bulldozing on both sides of Lincoln Boulevard, both sides of Jefferson Boulevard and both sides of Culver Boulevard has taken place in prairie habitat, wetlands habitats, and willow-shrub habitats. It is unfortunate that the Friends of Ballona Wetlands, their biologists on their board of directors (Howard Towner and Ed Tarvyd) believe that it is OK to bulldoze in the prairie, willow scrub forest, and wetlands straddling Lincoln Boulevards. And worst of all, Melanie Ingalls, a National Audubon Society paid employee and Friends of Ballona board member is part of this destruction; some Friends. Melanie Ingalls has told several people that she is on the board of directors not as an Audubon representative, but rather as a private citizen, apparently to remove Audubon from directly being responsible for the loss of the Great Blue Heron. Perhaps it's time for Melanie Ingalls to resign from the board of this "unfriendly to birds" organization?

I know Melanie Ingalls personally and she is good kind person, but she is on the wrong side by being aligned with the "Un-" Friends of "Not Saving All Of" Ballona Wetlands. She should assist the various Audubon chapters in joining the "Coalition" of 80+ groups to save all of the Ballona Wetlands and the associated habitats of the pacific coastal prairie, riparian willow scrub, sand dunes, and coastal sage "bluffs" . If she really believes that the White-tailed Kite is her favorite raptor, she should want to see all the prairie and wetland habitat saved that straddles Lincoln, Jefferson, and Culver Boulevards. The Kite requires prairies in the upland, if it is to nest and roost and thereby live in the Ballona landscape, 365 days a year. It would be pathetic to have only 1-2 Kites visiting Ballona for 3-4 days a year in search of nesting habitat, then finding none, depart Ballona.