The airspace around LAX is a frenzy of flights. Woodpeckers, warblers, pelicans, plovers—they’re all taking up wing space thanks to a nearby oasis that’s one of the last of its kind in Los Angeles. Over 300 species of birds flock to Playa Del Rey’s Ballona Wetlands
, a complex waterway of fresh and saltwater marshes and lagoons. Get up close to this dynamic ecosystem with a quick stroll around the palm-tree-flanked Del Rey Lagoon, host to greylag geese, mallard ducks, brown pelicans, belted kingfishers, and the American coot—identified by its red eyes and green and black feet. Next, head over to the freshwater marsh and follow the 1.5-mile, out-and-back trail around the perimeter. This pristine watery habitat underwent a restoration effort less than 10 years ago and now attracts more than 200 species of birds. Hawks spy from trees, herons wade in the water, and hummingirds buzz among flowering bushes. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a bird!
TIP: It’s cool to be a bird nerd. Friends of Ballona Wetlands offers freshwater marsh tours on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, and Saltwater marsh tours (normally closed to the public) on the second Sunday of the month.
Del Rey Lagoon is at 6660 Esplanade Place, Playa Del Rey. Free parking is available next to the lagoon; here are directions to the lagoon. To reach the freshwater marsh, head back northeast along Culver Blvd., stay right at Jefferson Blvd., and look for street parking next to the wooden fence just west of Lincoln Blvd. Both areas open seven days a week from dawn to dusk. Dog-friendly!