Ballona Photography | Fall Returns to the Del Rey Lagoon

Fall Returns to the Del Rey Lagoon

October 03, 2017  •  2 Comments

Our migrating neighbors have started returning to the Del Rey Lagoon and Ballona Wetlands area at large.  Each year the ducks, seabirds, sandpipers, and others start arriving in August, with most coming September though late November.  A full house resides here December through March. The Del Rey Lagoon is an anchor destination for several species who arrive for the winter.  Turns out, the muddy bottom of the salt water lagoon is a rich, multi-layered ecosystem, constantly circulating the food chain, starting at the low end with the plankton and other microscopic creatures living in the mud.

The Del Rey Lagoon is one of the few coastal, saltwater lagoons left in Southern California.  It empties and fills with the tide.  Depending on whether it’s high tide or low tide, you’ll find distinct species grazing in the lagoon.  The photos included are but a handful of the many varieties you can spot in the Del Rey Lagoon now through next March. An “*” by the name indicates this is a climate-endangered species.

High-tide Birds

At high tide, you’ll find diving ducks who dabble to eat the sea lettuce and grasses that grow in the lagoon.  You’ll also find seabirds who dine on small fish, which come into the lagoon as it fills with high tides.

Bufflehead* (male)

Widgeon* (male)

Scaup* (male)


Red-breasted Merganser* (female)

Belted Kingfisher (female)

Low-tide Birds

At low tide, you’ll find a variety of long-legged waders and birds in the sandpiper family dining on a feast of fiddler crabs, clams, mussels, polychaetae worms, small crustaceans, and more.

Willet* catching polychaetae worm; on Audubon Watch List (Yellow)

Whimbrel; on Audubon Watch List (Yellow)

Marbled Godwit*on Audubon Watch List (Yellow)

Long-billed Dowitchers

Black Oystercatcher*on Audubon Watch List (Yellow)

Semipalmated Plovers* and Sanderlings; on Audubon Watch List (Yellow)


Bonnie M(non-registered)
Beautiful birds! Thanks for posting to take our minds off the rest of the world.
Lori S.(non-registered)
Just stunning!! Thank you so much for posting these.... we are so blessed beyond measure to live in this Wild Sanctuary.
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