Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lake Machado & Ken Malloy Regional Park in the Winter

To all those back east suffering through another polar blast. . . gosh, I'm sorry.

 I could say I thought of you this afternoon when I took these pictures on a beautiful, sunny, California day, but I'd be lying.

From top to bottom, these lovely creatures around Lake Machado at Ken Malloy Regional Park (formerly known as Harbor Regional Park) in Harbor City are:

  • Great Blue Heron

  • Snowy Egret

  • Great White Heron

  • A view of the lake, although there IS a Snowy Egret hiding in there

  • American Coots

I had to do a bit of research on the Coots, because I thought they were ducks: small grey ducks with black heads and startlingly white beaks. However, once I googled "ducks with white beaks" I found a page called that set me straight.

Coots are, I learned,  "common sights in nearly any open water across the continent, and they often mix with ducks. But they’re closer relatives of the gangly Sandhill Crane and the nearly invisible rails than of Mallards or teal."

And there were Mallards there too.

And Canadian Geese, Chinese Geese, Muscovy Ducks, the biggest pigeons I've seen, gulls, squirrels, and more. From the calls I heard among the reeds--calls I don't hear anywhere else--lots more. One book I consulted says over 350 bird species have been spotted at this park.

Lake Machado is not man-made, and is fed by runoff from the Wilmington Drain. Since it has not disappeared over the years, I wonder if perhaps it is fed by an underground spring as well. It has definitely been there for centuries. One of the largest Native American villages in the area was near the lake, though it's never been exactly located or excavated. We know about it from records left by the first few Spanish soldiers and missionaries. Also, another European named Hugo Reid, who married a Tongva woman, collected lots of information and recorded it in the 19th century, as I posted a few years ago.

The name of the village is something like Suangna.

Lake Machado is named for Francisco Machado, who was a Los Angeles County Supervisor in the 1870s. Other Machados are prominent players in our local history--Francisco was one of 14 children of Augustin Machado and Ramona Sepulveda and had uncles and cousins, many of whom were landowners, but I did find a Board of Supervisors statement, on letterhead, that identifies Francsico as the lake's honoree.

As for Ken Malloy, he was a retired longshoreman who fought hard and led a grass roots effort to preserve this land as a park, back in the 1950s. It's the largest chunk of native riparian forest and freshwater marsh in the county, as I learned from Barbara Dye's book, Exploring the Palos Verdes Peninsula: A Driving Tour and Walks. Bits of history from the early 1800s include:

  • The Los Angeles River once diverted itself from the Ballona Wetlands to drain out in San Pedro for a few years,

  • There was once a stagecoach stop near the lake with an inn called Casa de Sangre (house of blood),

  • The Dominguez Adobe once sat on a bluff overlooking this area.

And of course, it was home to Reggie the Alligator from 2005 to 2007.

What about the water quality of the lake? As far as I can see the native fauna have no complaints, but this is an industrial area, with big oil tanks visible to the south. According to Barbara Dye's book, over a million dollars of bond money was assigned to clean up Lake Machado in 2004, with work to begin in 2010.

I found a February 2013 article about how polluted the lake is and how deceptive its appearance can be, and at that point a 2-1/2 year clean up project was slated to begin. Here's an outline of the work to be done.

The Daily Breeze reported in June 2013 that trees and debris were being removed from the Wilmington Drain, and I can say that I saw some kind of pumping set up at the north (PCH) end of the park, in a very ugly, trash-strewn sump or lagoon.

Hopefully, progress is being made.

Added Jan 24: Found a great website, a sort of fansite of the park that has lots of information--especially about the birds, and many aerial shots of the park in the 1950s through the 1970s.

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