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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Scandal at the lake! Little Male's mate--Stolen?

I decided to go to Lake Murray this morning to check up on all the birds I have been keeping tabs of. I found my little lost duckling and sibling had found their mom and were being as adorable as ever. I also found several brand new hatchlings swimming around the lake. M2 (Second Male) was back on the other side of the bay getting really upset over something, probably all the people around.

But, when I went to check on "Little Male's" (M1) territory to see how he and his new mate was doing, I found it empty save some ducks and ducklings. The water level was a lot lower and I was able to walk around, but no sign of him. I thought I heard him on the other side of the lake, so I went over there and could not find him. I also heard 4th male (M4) yelling back at them.

Then, I could hear the sound of three killdeers screaming back over near the dam and the water treatment plant. One of them was M2 reacting to two male killdeers "yelling it out" over near 3rd Male (M3)'s territory. Now, I haven't talked much about M3 and his female, F1 because I haven't gotten any good pictures of them, yet. (You can see some in the "spot the killdeer" game a few posts back). They have their territory over by the dam, but were originally "arguing" with M1 about his territory when M1 was still a new adult before moving to that other area where they are now. There is one, possibly two more males with territories on the lake: 5th Male (M5) that has his territory where the treatment plant is and I can't really observe him and a possible 6th male (M6) on the opposite side of the lake past the fence near the dam. There may be another male or two near the ballfields on the north side of the lake. Most of the fight was over M3's territory, ocassionally flying back toward M1's territory.

I couldn't confirm that it was M1 and M3, but I could tell it was two males and they were fighting (making "swipes" at each other). At first, I thought it might be a "marriage flight" between M3 and F1, but the more I watched, the more it looked like it was two fighting males. It could also be a "duel" to impress the female in the area and show off their fitness.

It's entirely possible that F2 is, in fact F1 and she may have had her head turned by the young M1 and was seriously checking out his nest site. However, she might not have liked the close proximaty of his territory to people and dogs and went back to where there were fewer people around. Being the love-struck teenager that M1 is, he will not let her go that easy. I watched the arguing for about an hour and it looked like the older M3 was getting tired, but not giving up, either. I could not get a visual lock on where F2 was.

Another theory could be that the other bird screaming a territorial call that I wrote about a couple of posts back was, indeed M3 calling back his mate to his territory. I thought it was a bold move for M2 to claim part of M1's territory so soon, but it makes more sense that it was M3 challenging "Little Male" to a fight and demanding his "wife" back.

I will check up on them in a few days. I am concerned if M1 wins the fight that he may take over that territory and I may never see him again (or have a lot of difficulty doing so). I seriously doubt that the older, more experienced M3 will let him do that. In a way, M3's territory will be much safer for any nests and chicks than M1's and it will be better if he's sucessful.


4th of July is coming and I don't want any trampled nests.

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