Hello! Most of my posts take place around San Diego County, (Mostly Lake Murray) unless otherwise noted.
For more posts and photos, I also post on Hubpages, a site that is a bit different than others. Thanks!: Shorebirdie on Hubpages

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Disappearing and Re-appearing Ducklings

Duck breeding season is both a happy and a sad time for me. Happy because I love seeing all the adorable babies. Sad because many females are killed by male ducks and many ducklings are eaten. Already, I have witnessed gulls grabbing ducklings and eating at least one. They may also be responsible for the disappearance of this one, the last of about ten that hatched about 9 days ago.

The mom didn't seem to care.

Last year's "uneaten duckling," Miss Una, was seen with ten of her own ducklings. She's such a wonderful mama, very conscientious and loving.

Now, here's the weird part. Last Friday, Miss Una had six ducklings, including a lame one that got bit hard by a male and had trouble with his leg. On Saturday, Miss Una had only five ducklings, and I suspected that the lame one probably died from his injuries. However, when I walked around the curve, I found another female, possibly Miss Una's mother, with three ducklings the same age, including one with a hurt foot. She went one way and Miss Una happy went another way.

Today, that other mother was seen with at least 12 ducklings, including the one with the hurt foot. Some looked younger than others.

 One duckling didn't want to go with this other female. When I approached, he ran after the group, but went off on his own and stayed by himself for quite a long time, peeping now and then.

 Later, I saw Miss Una with the one duckling who seemed very happy just to stay with her.

The other female, with at least 11 or 12 ducklings, disappeared at first, but was later seen in the area. She seemed to want to keep her distance from Miss Una and her one duckling. The problem is that this mother takes a lot more risks with her babies than Miss Una and I fear that they may not make it.

For some weird reason, the gulls do not want to fly over this area. There's a kingbird actively attacking many birds, but I don't think they attack gulls. It could just be a fluke and they may decide they want to go over and grab some ducklings eventually.

The gosling season has started and, already, there are two broods. Two more broods will be arriving soon. 

RIP Mr. Pekin and Arthritis Duck:

After looking for them for over a week, I finally found out what happened to Mr. Pekin and the duck with arthritis. They both disappeared at the same time and I was sure that at least one of them was still around because it's rare that two would die suddenly. I found both of their remains today and it looks like they coyotes got both of them the same time. They had been following Miss Angel to this area which is a little further away than they usually go. Miss Angel is OK, however.  Those two were best friends until the last minute. They both join Mr. Squeaky who was killed by coyotes a few months ago.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Borrego Springs Swainson's Hawks

So, I went down to see the Swainson's hawks in Borrego Springs yesterday because I couldn't do it last year. I guess at some point before, someone counted over a thousand hawks! I only saw a couple hundred. I was there early in the morning, but did not stick around after they started kettling.

They were all on the ground off of Borrego Springs Road near Henderson Canyon Road looking for caterpillars when I got there.

Some where out flying around, so I was able to get a couple of shots:

They started kettling around 10 a.m. near Henderson and Peg Leg. I guess they migrate all the way from South America to near the arctic and like to pass through here.

They were looking for these guys. I think this is a photo of a sphinx moth caterpillar. I think the sphinx moth is the one that's also known as the hummingbird moth. 

The caterpillars like to eat these things:

Creosote in bloom:

Sand verbena with what I think is dune evening primrose. I don't know what those little white flowers are called.

Here are some more of the little white flower. I think they might be snowball sand verbena.

 I think this might be the regular kind of evening primrose:

A shot of the entire valley.

I haven't been taking many pictures of the animal around Lake Murray lately. No. 6 and Miss Skeeter decided to go way over to where Mr. Squeaky got killed by the coyotes. They were there for about a week when No. 6 was seen alone in another area of the lake. I could not find Miss Skeeter for well over a week and thought that she might have been killed by the coyotes, too. However, I finally found her not far from where No. 6 and two other white pekins were hanging out..

In this photo, taken before she disappeared, you can clearly see the fishing line around her leg:

This next time I saw her, I couldn't see the line very much, though she was still limping. I think she likes to play with it and wrap and unwrap it around her leg. She's not hurt here, she's trying to dig under the leaf litter and decided to lie down.

Handsome No. 6:

There's a new dumped duck that was dropped off a week or so ago. He looks a lot like Dougie who was pekin and another breed.

I saw a pretty canvasback female back in February:

There hasn't been many killdeer lately. Mostly, I've been seeing one pair: a large female and a skinny male much like George and Martha. I also think I've seen Killer and Dee now and then.

The fat sandpiper continued to stick around and she lost quite a bit of weight:

I also came across this ring-billed gull with actual rings on its legs. Unfortunately, I could not read the USFWS band number:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Fat Sandpipers, Domestic Ducks and RIP Mr. Squeaky

I haven't been doing a whole lot of photos lately, but here are a few that I've done in the last month. 

I did my yearly bird watch around the Bayshore Bikeway on New Year's Day. I saw a lot of stilts, some of which were having a bath party right in front of me.

I think some birds are getting ready for migration. There must be a good insect population this year because I found this extremely chubby spotted sandpiper at Lake Murray. She looked like a little tennis ball:

A horned grebe showed up at Lake Murray and stayed a while:

Grumpy, the outcast Canada goose is actually starting to look like a girl. He still has a boy voice, though. He will be two years old this spring. His goose manners have improved and he's starting to socialize a little bit with the other Canada geese.

Ming-Ming says hello and asks "where are the girls?"

Here is a photo of Sissy, the buff duck:

Here is Sissy and Pumpkin with Buff:

The two new girls that were dumped last month. The brown and white duck that was with them disappeared after New Year's. A gray duck that was with Sissy and Pumpkin also disappeared. Uno, who also lived in that area has disappeared as well. No sign at all of them. All, except Uno, cannot fly.

Snowy ate a fishing worm the other day. I hope it doesn't kill him. I think that as long as it doesn't have any hooks in it, he will be OK:

There's a new Muscovy girl swimming around with the new geese. I'm betting she's from the same owner as the geese. I wish they'd stop dropping their pets there. The geese have already had problems getting caught with fishing line and hooks.

Finally, we say goodbye to Mr. Squeaky, the Pekin. He used to hang out with Mr. Pekin and the duck with the bad arthritis. For some weird reason, he decided to go off on his own last week. I saw him far from where the rest of the ducks. He looked very sad and was possibly not feeling well. He didn't seem to be looking for anyone or following a female, which is the usual reason for a male duck breaking away form the group. His adventure didn't last long as coyotes were quick to grab him when they got over to their usual hunting area. He had never been there before. 

I thought he had been at Lake Murray for a year and a half, but I actually don't think he's been there much more than a year. He was the youngest of the Pekins. His mate, Squeaky, was rescued last year.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Surprise December Ducklings

Nothing much has been going on at Lake Murray for the last few weeks except for a surprise batch of December ducklings. The mother was first spotted with four, but by the time I saw them, there were only three left. Within a few days, it appears that the gulls got all of them or they were stolen by people. A gull was spotted with one a couple of days after I took these photos. There were also reports of them running up to people. When the mother saw me one day, she acted like she thought I had one of them, so I think one or two may have been kidnapped.

At first, I thought the mother was an elderly duck with a hormone problem. However, when I look at this next picture, I notice she looks a lot like Miss Friendly, a five month old female. Miss Friendly was the super-friendly duckling that loved to follow people around. It appears to be a genetic trait as these ducklings had the same personality.

Also this month, four runner ducks were dumped, one of which has a broken wing. They are two males and two females, it appears.

They found their way over to Sissy and Pumpkin who have adopted them. They are now bonded to the two older buff ducks and hate to be too far away from them.

The killdeer have been super friendly. I've seen Firecracker hanging out in her old hangout where she was raised. Her brother, Killer and his mate, Dee have also been seen hanging out in the same spot. All of these killdeer, including Killer and Dee in the next photo, are now considered nearly elderly for killdeer who usually live about nine or ten years at the most. They are about 5.5 years old.