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, September 5, 2010

Chasing hawks in the fog

Today was a really foggy day, so some photos seem faded and look blurry because of the fog. It's also a little more difficult to determine the males and the females, too.

Ballfield killdeer:

Today, I think I saw 11 killdeer in the ballfields at Lake Murray, including two in the large field that is hardly ever used. While I was checking out one field, a flock of birds flew over and I heard the anxious and angry calls of a lone killdeer in there. At one time, she (I think) almost did a broken wing act when I came in as if she's protecting a chick. But, I saw no young chicks.

A very upset killdeer

In the other fields, the juvenile males were playing around, sparring. I think I saw Shy or Digger in another field all alone. Her dad was watching from outside the fence. I didn't see him there, at first, and he flew off, when I almost stepped on him, into the field that had the angry killdeer, leaving his daughter with the 7 other killdeer in her area.

Juvenile killdeer playing at fighting

"Fight, fight, fight!"

I think this is Shy or Digger

I think this is the M6 (Beautiful) dad in the field closest to the hawk

The doves and the starlings were all sitting on wires and very few of them were on the ground.

I started checking around some of the other fields when I nearly bumped into a male Cooper's hawk sitting on a low fence. I couldn't get a photo of him right then, but I saw him fly to a higher fence, scaring all the one or two doves away. It was totally weird that one dove was sitting only feet away from him and nothing happened. A second dove even joined the first.

"What? I'm just sitting here 'tis all" (feathers are wet)

The hawk sat on that fence, drying his wings from the fog before jumping down on the ground to get a squirrel. But, strangely, the squirrel only moved away a few feet and didn't even try to hide. He kept scavenging on the ground with the hawk only a few feet away. It was only when I approached that the squirrel ran and hid.

"Hey, I thought I had a squirrel in my talons"

I was able to take more photos as I slowly approached him as he flew around. I really wanted to nudge him out of the area by making him uncomfortable. I was a bit worried about the juvenile killdeer and their parents that I didn't want to see him hanging around there. I didn't want to harass him (which is illegal), so I mostly just slowly approached where he was and stood there, looking at him and taking pictures. I could hear his mate calling in the distance, but he didn't answer. Finally, he decided to fly over to where the big ballfield was and into the tree. I checked on the two juveniles in that field twice and they seemed fine.

His mate was calling while he was sitting here

He was almost right over the dad's head at this point

I'm sure the hawk came back there after I was gone, but I didn't want to see him catch a killdeer while I was there watching. The hawks around there, so far, don't seem to be interested in the killdeer. They seem to want rodents and rabbits the most. Even the doves don't seem to get bothered though I do know that these hawks will eat one. Grackles, starlings and blackbirds are also common targets. I know they would eat a killdeer if they caught one, but they seem uninterested in them--so far.

George and Martha's family:

I didn't see them, again, but I did hear at least two of the family calling. One appeared to be calling either from the hatching area or the area where I last saw them as chicks. I think they were in the latter as someone was setting up a fishing spot when I arrived. I walked all around that area and did not see any killdeer.

Another was probably George himself calling when a fishing boat go too close to his hidden area.

I kinda suspect that George and Martha may have new chicks now. Hopefully, the older chicks won't hurt the babies. If I'm right, then we should see them flying around in about 28-35 days.

The lake was really busy and I don't think there were any spots around where George's family would be comfortable as they are a little shy with humans.

A word about Tom the Muscovy:

Tom is a black Muscovy duck who has been a resident of Lake Murray for a long time. He's the last of several Muscovy ducks that have slowly been dying out or disappearing over the last few years. Poor Tom seems to have mites or lice really bad and is constantly itching and pulling at his feathers. He has bare spots under his wings from constant grooming. He never seems to swim anymore and I haven't seen him fly recently. He still seems pretty happy, though, and will wag his tail if you approach him and call his name. I feel sorry for Tom and wish I could help him, but I don't think I can or even if I am allowed as Tom is feral. But, hopefully the itching will stop, soon, or someone can figure out a way to help him.

Tom, in an earlier photo

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