More than 400 people kicked off Earth Week Saturday, April 16th, at the Ballona Freshwater Marsh Second Annual Migration Celebration as native birds made their journey north from Mexico and South America.

The Migration Celebration featured interactive stations on bird watching, wetlands, water preservation and native plants.

Since last year, the diversity and number of birds visiting the marsh have grown significantly.

More than 180 species of birds have been observed at the marsh since construction was completed in February of 2003.

Some of these species have not been seen in the Ballona region for several decades.

Groups participating in the event included Audubon of California, Ballona Wetlands Conservancy, Ballona Wetlands Foundation, City of Los Angeles, Water- shed Protection Division, CowaNatureCenter at Cowan Avenue Elementary, Friends of Ballona Wetlands, Friends of the Playa Vista Library, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Playa Vista Community Services.

Bird species seen most frequently at the marsh include red-tailed hawk, cinnamon teal duck, white-faced ibis, American coot, great blue heron and the snowy egret, which can often be spotted from the adjacent roadway.

Children and other birdwatchers excitedly spotted and identified a long list of birds arriving at the marsh.

Preserve manager Edith Read said developing and maintaining the 23-acre freshwater marsh is hard work.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect, she said, is controlling the growth of non-native exotic plants that easily and quickly choke out marsh native plants by taking away their water supply from the soil.

Read said specially trained workers weed out the non-native plants on a regular basis to keep the marsh’s native plants flourishing.

Though the marsh has continued to attract more and more birds and wildlife each year, expansion of the wetlands is not complete, Read said.

She said that by 2010, the marsh will more than double in size to 51 acres.

LMU FIREWORKS — A loud fireworks display during Loyola Marymount University’s evening concert Saturday, April 16th, rattled windows and more than a few nerves throughout Westchester at about 10:30 p.m.

The university had notified many neighbors adjacent to the campus by both e-mail and letters, but other residents further from the campus — some as far away as Playa del Rey and east Westchester — were startled when the fireworks display began.

“Those in the Osage area did not get a letter,” said Denny Schneider. “I guess they didn’t expect the noise to carry this far or sound like gunfire.”

Many residents poured out of their homes and into streets to investigate.

Some said the noise sounded like gunfire and many feared that the loud “explosions” were coming from the airport, but because planes continued to take off and land, residents began to focus on the area by LMU.

“It scared the hell out of us,” said Glenn Scott, who lives near the university. “It was deafening over the neighborhood.”

Because the fireworks were shot off at a rather low level, many people simply heard the explosions without seeing the display.

Sharon Sandow, deputy to Los Angeles Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, said the university followed all the requirements in pulling a permit and putting on the show, but added that the display led to a number of concerned phone calls to her office and the Los Angeles Police Department from residents “who were fearful and disturbed by the noise.”

Once people realized that the noise was coming from a fireworks display, residents stayed outside and enjoyed the show.

“My dog may need therapy but all in all it was beautiful,” said Yael Kozar, who lives on Regis Way. “I hope they do this at 8 p.m. next year so maybe kids can still be awake [rather] than be awakened.”

ANOTHER CONCERT —

Loyola Marymount University will host the last of its four live concerts at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 24th, to celebrate some of the music that has been influential in shaping the culture of Los Angeles.

This time without an accompanying fireworks display.

Groovin’ in the Gardens has featured jazz, blues, reggae, Caribbean, Latin and salsa music performed by bands that call L.A. home.

On April 24th, the series concludes with classic surf and beach music from The Breakaways and The Planktones.

Local community members are invited to dance under the sun and unite in experiencing cultural music, art, food and fun.

Bring your family, blankets, chairs and picnic baskets to enjoy a relaxing afternoon at Loyola Marymount University.

All concerts begin at 3 p.m. in the Sunken Garden on the Loyola Marymount University campus and are free to the public. Information, www.lmu.edu/housing/ or the LMU Student Housing Office, (310) 338-2963.

CHAMBERFEST — The Westchester/LAXñMarina del Rey Chamber of Commerce invites the public to attend ChamberFest, an exciting event full of music, fun, food and networking from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 28th, at the Marina del Rey Hotel, 13534 Bali Way, Marina del Rey. Admission and parking are free.

More than 75 businesses will be showcasing their products and services. In addition to exhibits by retail merchants and business-to-business vendors, ChamberFest will feature entertainment and free giveaways.

There will be an art show and “A Mini-Taste of the Chamber,” in which area restaurants and hotels will provide samples of their food.

Live music will be provided by Nate Middleton and Island Jam, and numerous “street performers” such as face painters, jugglers and sleight-of-hand specialists will be wandering through ChamberFest, providing entertainment for both exhibitors and guests.

ChamberFest will feature cross-promotion efforts with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, which will be the beneficiary of a portion of the proceeds. Information, the chamber, (310) 645-5151.

LMU CHORUSES — The Loyola Marymount University Choruses will celebrate the 40th Annual Spring Chorale at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 30th, in the LMU Sacred Heart Chapel.

Under the direction of Dr. Mary C. Breden, the choruses will present Rutter’s The Falcon.

Guest conductor Paul Salamunovich will conduct the St. Charles Borromeo Choir in Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna and the combined forces in Vaughan Williams’ Toward the Unknown Region.

Tickets are $15 and $12 and are now on sale through the LMU Central Ticket Agency.

Information, the LMU Choral Office, (310) 338-5154.

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