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 Squidoo, a site that is a bit different than others. Thanks!: Desertdarlene on Squidoo

Monday, October 27, 2014

Birding in the desert

I managed to get out to the desert very recently and shoot a few photos of some birds, mostly around the Anza-Borrego Desert's Visitor Center.  The weather happened to be mild, but still very dry.

The first bird I heard at this place, as soon as I stepped out of the car, was a Costa's hummingbird.  Though they have a high-pitched call, they are extremely loud.  Even if you have hearing loss on the high end, they should be loud enough to hear for most people.  They sorta sound very insect-like.


I tried to find a black-tailed gnatcatcher, but couldn't.  Instead, I got this photo of a blue-gray gnatcatcher.  This print is for sale on Fine Art America:



The black-throated sparrows weren't being very co-operative , this is the best shot I got:



A loggerhead shrike is looking for lizards to impale.  He seemed completely undisturbed by my presence:


Mockingbird peering at me:



Ravens were everywhere, but no crows.


There was also a flycatcher there that sounded unfamiliar.  I think it was a Hammond's flycatcher.  Both it and the Pacific Slope flycatcher migrate through the area and it didn't sound like a Pacific Slope flycatcher to me.  I didn't get a good photo except I did get one with a definite notch in its tail.  It was also fairly yellow-ish.

I didn't see any quail or even verdin, which is kinda strange.  Someone else saw an Inca dove in another spot in Borrego Springs.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

A few random bird pics from Lake Murray

Just a few random bird pictures today.  I saw no shorebirds at all, nor have I see the scaup, yet.  I know there are a few down here in the San Diego area, just not at this lake.  However, there are more coots there now that I've ever seen before.

I haven't been taking many pictures because it's been really dark and cloudy in the morning, so the light is bad.

Here is a gull doing a courtship call to another gull a few feet away.



This ring-billed gull has some sort of tumor or weird feather growth.  It doesn't seem to be bothering him and when he shakes his head, it wiggles lightly.  He is full of energy, but it looks like he swallowed a golf ball.



Fancy-foot pigeon.  There were actually a few of them there.  I didn't see the racing pigeon, though I heard there was a strange looking pigeon who died there.  However, the racing pigeon really didn't look all that strange, kinda like this one.



Song sparrow with some kind of insect in its mouth:



Little Trouble:



And, the male ruddy ducks are following around the female teal again:


Sunday, October 12, 2014

San Diego Salt Works October 2014

Today was the first San Diego Salt Works tour of the 2014-2015 season.  There weren't a whole lot of birds seen today.  I put some photos of the highlights, except for the horned and eared grebes, of which they were plenty.  Also, I was too far for the black-bellied plovers and other small shorebirds.  And, I only heard 2 killdeer rather than the 50 or so that we usually see.

Migratory Savannah Sparrow

Assorted shorebirds, willets, stilts, red knots, etc

The tern congregation

Short-billed dowitchers

Dunlin and sandpiper

Least sandpiper

We sound a few sanderlings, including this one who was being very aggressive.  It was fun to watch them.


He is on a mission to chase all the other birds away or fight them if he can.


There were a few birdy tragedies.  A very sick grebe on the beginning of the walk, slowly dying and no one can help him because we were not allowed anywhere near the salt ponds.  There was also a deceased barn owl with an unknown cause of death.  

The peregrine was there as well as a few osprey and pelicans, too.  And, of course, hundreds of gulls, including one that looked like he was pulled under water by something!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

New young goose dropped off


About a week ago, a new young goose was dropped off at the lake that was the same age as the other youngsters.  She even follows people around making baby noises, so she's probably under a year old.  Someone overheard them say that they were releasing a goose that was injured back to the wild.  But, many speculate it might be the 6th baby goose who went missing at about a week or so old.  We don't know where it would have been all this time, though.

I think it might be a girl and she was following around people at the lake, including fishing boats.  I witnessed a pair of men possibly hitting her with one of their oars when she wouldn't leave them alone.  She seems fine and uninjured and I'm not sure if they hit her or hit the water near her.

The family doesn't want her around.


She was following me around far from the family when the outcast gander, Picked On, came over and led her back to the others.  She seemed to like him, but he showed no interest in her.


Here she is near the rest of the other geese, trying to get herself into the group.  I didn't want to get any closer so as not to ruin her chance to get accepted.  Later, though, I saw that she left on her own again.


Little trouble is still around and is changing his body feathers.  Here he is about five days ago:


Here he is, yesterday.  I can tell it was him by his bill color, body shape, and his fuzzy butt.  He's starting to get a green head.


I had a hard time finding him.  There are a lot of males in various stages of molt.  Here is another male:


Here is one with no gray on him at all, but a black bill.



Here is a video I put together on Trouble:


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Yay for killdeer and scruffy ducks!


I found two killdeer in George's feeding area, one skinny and one fat.  The skinny one flew away, but I got this picture of the fat one.  At first, I thought it was Killer or possibly Tiny, both of whom have plump mates.  When I took a closer look at the photo, I saw a lot of similarities to Martha.  I'm betting George was the skinny killdeer who flew away.  If this is Martha, then she and George have been together for almost 5 years, which is unusual for a killdeer pair.


A couple of days ago, I found the first white-crowned sparrows of the season.


This little male Cooper's hawk was harassing some much larger crows:


Trouble is still around and being seen all over the lake.  He's going to be very pretty if he quits messing with his feathers.  These photos were taken two days ago:




Today, I caught Trouble pulling out feathers from his belly, making a feather hole.


He's been pulling out the fluffy feathers around his chest and belly.  I'm hoping this means new, better feathers are going to grow in.



For some reason, Trouble has been shadowing Gaddy the gadwall.  I think it's because Gaddy was a regular companion of his mother and Trouble just recognizes him from when he was growing up.


This little girl is following Blue around.  I think she likes him.  Unfortunately, Blue is a little aloof, especially during the last week.  I think he misses his Ducky Ducky girl.  This female is having some eye issues.



By the way, the baby geese say "hi".  I couldn't get them all in the photo.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Here come the migrants!

I've seen many come through from killdeer to ruddy ducks to eared grebes at Lake Murray and other places!

Eared grebes

I got a kick out of this pair with a ruddy duck, still in partial breeding colors, and a little female green-winged teal.  They seemed to really enjoy each other's company and were following each other around.  Then, the teal decided she wanted to be with the mallards and swam towards shore.  The ruddy duck seemed confused for a while and waited in deeper water.  I didn't see if they got back together, later.


Troublemaker is still around and has his wing fathers now, but most of his feathers are fluff.  He seems to like to hang around gadwalls and another group of mallards, but is mostly alone.  Sometimes, his wing feathers look extremely green, but sometimes they're blue like in these photos.



I didn't see him today, but he's been seen all over the lake, so he could be anywhere.

Blue was competing for a new girlfriend and has been seen doing courtship with the other males.  But, not very much lately.  I think he's missing Ducky Ducky:


And, I finally found these guys.  I've been looking for them for months!  Looks like the female survived breeding season.


I think Junior, the killdeer came to visit, but I never was able to get a photo of him.  I've also been seeing spotted sandpipers more and lots more coots.  There was one baby coot, but he has disappeared for n ow.

Friday, September 19, 2014

RIP Ducky Ducky and Fred comes to visit



You may remember that we tried to rescue Ducky Ducky about 6 weeks ago because she was so beat up, but she wouldn't be caught.  She did end up getting better and I thought she would be around for another year.  But, while foraging this morning, she got her head stuck in some rocks and drowned.  I'm guessing it happened while it was still dark.

Fred the yellowlegs came to visit today.  He was being really friendly, too.  But, when he saw no killdeer, he moved on.


Speaking of birds, the grackles are really looking uuuuuglllly!


A couple of days ago, I thought Oreo had died from the heat.  But, he showed up today with two other ducks whom I haven't seen in a long time.  Oreo has been at the lake since April of 2011.



Troublemaker is still around and has his wings.  But, his condition is pretty icky looking.  I don't think he's every going to look normal.



Here's some beautiful gadwalls, whose numbers have increased.  I think the first one is Gaddy, but the other ones of another male that Gaddy was keeping an eye on




I threw in this photo of the Canada geese family flying around.


In other news, one of the mallard drakes is hobbled by fishing line.  I saw Neo nearby and I think the hobbled duck might be Indy or his brother.  I don't really think it's Indy, though.  Nothing life threatening, but it does restrict his movements.  We might be able to catch him eventually.

All other ducks have made it past the heat wave with no issues.