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

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Martha and George may be "starting over"

George and Martha appear to be mating again

It appears that Martha and George are in breeding mode again. This may indicate that Tiny, Firecracker and Killer are no longer around. Martha will probably lay her new clutch of eggs on Sunday and those three chicks will only be three weeks old. They still need their parents as they can't fly and must rely on their cues to hide. I am particularly sad because I saved Tiny from being eaten from ants or getting sick from ant bites only to have him die later that night, probably. But, there's still hope. 18-19 day old killdeer chicks are very independent and don't always need their parents around all the time.

On the plus side, the lake level is only a few feet from normal. That means that the chicks will have less open area to travel on to get to food and water. They can hide much easier and it's possible that I may never see the new chicks or be able to follow or find them as I used to. And, it will be much harder for them to travel all the way over to where I saw the last brood, especially for very young chicks. They will more likely stay on Padre Point until they can fly or until they're at least a few weeks old. The open pipe to the area where I last saw them, possibly making it easy for a predator to prowl that area, is also now filled with water. But, I am hoping that the parents won't make the mistake of bringing their chicks through there again. If I see the new brood heading over there, I will catch and take them to wildlife rescue, or return them back to Padre Point.

Here's to hoping that those chicks are OK and will be seen in a couple of weeks. If not, those three will always be in my heart.

Across the lake, the M6 dad did not react when I walked over on other side of Del Cerro Bay. This may be due to the refilling of the lake and an expanded distance. I did see a killdeer fly from over there to my side of the lake and land nearby. I think it might be the mom and she might have a new nest where I was standing in the brush. However, when one of the workers near the M6 nesting area went back to his truck, parked nearby, I thought I heard a call coming from an area where the dad couldn't see me. So, he may be there protecting his little girl(s). It was hard to tell because of all the ducks quacking around me, ha ha.

So far, I don't see anything that the workers over there are doing that would harm the family. Also, the area is closed to fishermen and dog-walkers and the "coyote gate" is closed making it a little harder for coyotes to hunt by the lake shore (of course coyotes are good diggers and fence jumpers, but this will make hunting the chicks a little harder and possibly less "worth it").

I hope they open that area in the next week or two as I want to get a photo of Digger's breast band so that I can identify her later on when she leaves the area. At 18-19 days old, she is likely molting and beginning to show some adult feathers. In about another week, she should be fully feathered with her adult feathers and may even be starting to fly. She should definitely be flying in about 10 days and will be about the size of a sanderling, or about 1/2 to 2/3 the size of her dad. If everything is safe where the killdeer family is at, she and her sister (if still around) may hang around that area for another month as she won't be full-size until at least that time.

Also seen today at the lake were three wood ducks. Here's a photo of two of them.

Some wood ducks I saw today

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