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, November 10, 2014

A few little birds I found when counting them this morning

Today, I went to Lake Murray and counted the birds.  One of the first things I saw, unfortunately, were the pigeons and grackles fleeing in fear.  I knew the hawk was nearby.  She had caught one of the older pigeons at the lake.  This is a very large female Cooper's hawk that was about as big as a red-shouldered hawk.  A small male adult has also been seen in the area.  

Poor piji.



The kingfisher was being a brat.  He was sitting in a nice, photogenic spot on a tree for a long time, but when I took the camera out, he flew further away.  Here he is over at the new spot:


I saw a female black-throated gray warbler.  My camera wasn't co-operating.  Yes, she is in this pic:


I was surprised to see two American pipits at the lake today:



And, we have a new dumped duck over in Coyoteland.  I hope he learns about coyotes:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Just a little update


Though migration is going strong and there are tons of birds at Lake Murray right now, pretty much blanketing the water and trees, I haven't been taking too many photos in the last week or two.  I should take more.  Tomorrow, I am thinking of doing a bird count, so if I see anything rare, I will try to photograph it.

It looks like Smudge and her mate have three young killdeer with them.  There is either a male Cooper's hawk or a female sharp-shin hanging out in the area. I think it's a Cooper's hawk, but can't really see it because he won't stay still.

These three youngsters are in a fear-crouch.  They were screaming earlier.


Big Sissy has been renamed Pumpkin and she's been out in the open more often instead of hiding in the reeds all day.


Little Sissy is still known as Sissy (she is in the back of the photo).  Yesterday, I was really worried as she was having trouble breathing and was gaping and coughing. She seemed to get better after a few minutes, but I'm still worried.  Life in the wild is rough and one can't stay sick for long out there.



Trouble has found some mallard friends, mostly young mallards and maybe his brothers.


He's still very small, though, compared to the others his age.


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.