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

Friday, May 22, 2015

RIP Peaches and 2 Pekin Ducks

Peaches

Last week, just after Mother's Day on a Tuesday night, Peaches was run over and killed in the main parking lot at Lake Murray. Apparently, she had been harassed all day by the male ducks and may have been run over trying to get away. That, combined with people feeding her from their cars, probably contributed to her death. It  happened near the end of closing on the 12th. Peaches was about five years old and often nested near the boat dock.

Here's a photo of her in the parking lot last March with her two body guards.


I also have a Youtube video of her coming up to my car on that day:


In addition, 2 healthy Pekin drakes were killed. One was killed by coyotes. He was one of the three that used to hang out on the east end of the parking lot. For several days, ducks that also hung out in that area hung around where his body was seen. I don't even think that these ducks really knew the dead duck. The two that were with him moved away from the area:


The second Pekin used to hang out across the lake. He's one of the ones who was at war with Mr. Squeaky and was beating him up very badly. Mr. Squeaky looked near death when I first saw him after I noticed the other duck had disappeared, but has improved over the last few days. He enjoys hanging out with the girl with the banana bill and the angel wing. I saw him today and he looked so much better and seems to be very happy.

Mr. Squeaky and friends

Mr. Squeaky
The other duck's friend is extremely depressed, though Arthritis duck, who is also one of Mr. Squeaky's friend, comes over and sits near him now and then.

Sissy is having a problem. Even though Runner Duck and her other friend do a really good job protecting her, she is being harassed by the same two males that harassed Peaches all the time. Today, she seems to want to hide from them.


Here are the males attacking her. She doesn't seem to be protesting too much, though. I think she likes those male ducks, but is too overwhelmed by them.


Gosling news!

Almost forgot to add the obligatory photo!  I only have this one right now. You can hardly see her. She and the other five nearly grown ones are doing great and getting more grass. The big ones are practicing flying now.


However, Squeaker's husband is being a pain. He's biting people in the buttocks and laying down and sleeping in the road.  He might not be around long.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Duckling and Gosling Days

Just as I thought would happen, the ducklings are all starting to appear en masse at Lake Murray. I think the next few weeks will be the peak of duckling season. Hopefully, more will survive this year than last year.

So, I found a mama mallard with eight babies:


Sadly, though, this one appears to be badly injured in the head. I think he might be bleeding out of both ears. However, he is acting mostly normal. He even runs the fastest of all the ducklings in this group. I'm thinking he either got snagged by a gull or another duck.


Here he is with his other siblings, doing what ducklings normally do.


More ducklings:





Another mama nearby had two babies.


She was surrounded by 5 drakes, 3 of whom I chased off. However, she did not appreciate me for doing that and it appears that I added to her stress.



So, I backed off to give her some room and she moved her babies to the water:



Sadly, there is only one tiny gosling left and I think this one might be a female. She has actually grown a lot in the last few days. It looks like she's all legs.



Mama goose was throwing her head up because she was both nervous about me and about the other family of five swimming nearby. I backed away because she's a nervous one.


The other goslings are shedding their baby down:


They all came onshore to go across the road to feed on the soft grasses. Here is the mom of the tiny one following behind the other family. She wasn't being too nervous here, but instead, communicating to the other family about where they were going and how much space they need between them and the other family.


 I think four of their last year's babies flew off with the large group of visiting geese a couple of weeks ago.

In other news, I found this coot family with three chicks. The parents were very busy.





Monday, May 4, 2015

Ducklings Today

After a long while of seeing no ducklings, a mom showed up with what looked like 13 ducklings (or maybe 12, hard to say as they move around so fast). 11-12 were with her, and one was near another female. That one will be talking about later.


She had a little yellow-ish one:



Competing for flies:



I think the mom might be Trouble's mother from last year.


Here, they were passing by a gauntlet of about 30 gulls. Though the gulls seemed interested and, for a moment, I thought they were going to grab one, they didn't bother the family.


Two tired ducklings:


A duckling-napping in progress:

One duckling seemed to be hanging back with another female. I don't think he was her duckling. Later, when the ducklings went back toward this female, she attempted to steal three more of them. She approached this duckling who was screaming for the real mama. She began doing "mama talk" to the baby, but I think the baby was scared of her.


She ended up going back to her real mother:



She attempted to "mama talk" this one to her as well:


Then, this one, who was spending time with her before, went back to the shore and she followed:


She began "mama talking" and showing this one what to eat and was never aggressive towards him.



Though I saw the original mother with the 11-12 ducklings, later, this mother and this duckling disappeared. I've seen this happen before. Female ducks, this time of year, often get raging hormones, but either can't or don't want to sit on eggs. So, when they see a large brood of ducklings under three days old, they will act like they're the mother. Sometimes, a few ducklings will begin to follow her instead of the real mother. Sometimes, these duckling-nappers end up being better mothers than the real mother. One duckling-napper raised four babies out of the 9-10 the real mother had. The real mother lost all of hers.

This seems to only happen during the bonding period, up to about three days old. After that, the original mother will attack any babies she doesn't think are hers, including ducklings that have been "away" for that long. Also, mothers who don't have the hormonal change will attack babies as well.

The two babies are still doing OK, but are very brave. The other five are getting very large and are starting to feather out.


We had a large number of Canada geese show up at the lake. The four unmarried teenage geese were checking them out. But, their original father brutally attacked one of the young males over and over, but the youngster was OK. Some of the other geese flew off without taking any of the teens with them. I'm hoping that the teens will follow the migratory geese out of the area.


There were also lesser scaup there, a bit late for them:



And, a white-faced ibis came to visit.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Baby season continues

While there aren't any new ducklings to speak of, other birds, such as the geese, continue with their babies:


A mother pied-billed grebe brings up a crayfish breakfast for her five babies:


Hey, where did mom go?


There are still two young goslings:


The older goslings were also near the younger ones. Mom was not too happy about it:


Dad with three goslings:


In this photo, one gosling had just returned to the group after chasing off a squirrel. They are mouthing each other. I guess it's a greeting:



The young ones are starting to look like they're growing:



Daaaaaad!

Meanwhile, Blue and his friend are laying next to a pair of cute gadwalls:


Mr. Squeaky seems to have won the favor of this new blonde duck with angel wing: