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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The killdeer return!

Surprise sounds the alarm!

I didn't see any killdeer when I first arrived, but after I finished visiting the ducks, I heard two killdeer calling. However, there were two people and a utility truck driving too close and they flew off before I got a definite ID or photo of them. They flew due east where I think Killer is setting up a breeding territory, so I think it was Killer and Digger. I think there's an apartment complex with a large, green lawn and a drainage ditch nearby. Hopefully, not cats or hawks will bother them. They look extremely healthy and robust.

The killdeer were seen in the Lake Murray ballfields! Most of them were in field 7 and I think I saw the M6 mom and dad, Shy and her mate. I also saw "puffy band" and a few more there, too. Most did not let me get a good look, so I couldn't identify individuals.

I took these photos through the fence:

M6 mom and dad

M6 mom

Surprise was all alone in one of the ballfields, taking his turn watching out for the hawks:


All the ducks were doing great, but still waiting for Bill in the Lake Murray parking lot early in the morning even though I haven't seen Bill in a while. Tom even ate some peas I gave him. The one injured mallard is doing well, but not walking quite right. He seems to be healing, though. I think, however, his growth is stunted right now and he gets tired easily. I didn't take a photo of him today, but he hasn't changed. I tried to feed him peas, but he only got one or two because the coots were faster and ate the rest. He stopped getting his adult feathers, too.

All the geese and other ducks are doing well, including Snowball, Chocolate 1 and 2, and the black and white cayuga-runner duck (whom I need to name because I see her so much).

The pintail has gotten friendly, too. But, today, I got photos of the gadwalls, who like peas, too. I took these photos with them in the shade:

Ducky is doing well, but still hasn't turned totally green. However, he is getting aggressive with the girls and fighting more. He's going to be a lady killer.

Ducky with his adopted brother and sister. Notice how he's barging in between the female and the other male.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Duckies and Ospreys

There was no sign of any killdeer today and even Bob 1 and Bob 2, the sandpipers, were not seen. I think it's the cold weather and high lake levels that are keeping them away and inactive. They're probably puffed up into little balls somewhere safe. Hope to see them soon!

Today was a ducky day. I didn't see Bill feeding them and all of them were in the parking lot waiting for them. I had to make them move so they wouldn't get run over by cars. I don't like doing that because then they'll think that I am going to chase them and run away before I can get any photos of them. But, I rather have them safe.

The white mallard, whom I'm going to call Snowball, is moving up in rank with the other ducks and was doing challenges with the other adult males. Curly, though, had a thing to say about this duck and here's a photo of him asserting himself a little bit. Curly, I think, is fairly high ranking in the permanent part of the flock.

Also, Ducky is doing well, still trying to find his place in the pecking order, but gaining respect, unlike Chocolate 2 who has been getting picked on a lot. But, she's a bully.

Here's a couple of photos of a male bufflehead I saw, kinda far away:

And, the pintail was really friendly and came up to me really close:

As well, the female gadwall:


I swear I saw four ospreys at Lake Murray, very unusual. I think they were two males and two females, or three males and one female.

One of the males got a fish (a trout, I think) and was trying to impress the female with it, but she rebuffed him.

He then went up to this tree and defended his fish from the other males.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

All ducks, no killdeer (and one sandpiper)

No killdeer were spotted at all today at Lake Murray, but at least two or three were heard beyond the fence when a night heron flew past them. I think I also heard some at another location when someone walked their dog too close to the shoreline. The water levels were higher today.

However, I did see my spotted sandpiper friend, though only for a few minutes:

Ducky gets interested in girls:

I think this is Ducky who is starting to fight with his friend over females, specifically his friend's sister. Ducky's friend really gave it to him hard, but both are juvenile and learning how the process goes, so no one was hurt. Other young females were also interesting to him, too. He checked out everyone.

Ooo, la la! Hello Ladies!

Gotta look good for the girls! Here's Ducky preening his new flight feathers:

Other duck news:

This is Curly with a deformed bill. Curly does everything a normal duck does, even preen and fight. He has a disadvantage when it comes to feeding on his natural food, but he does OK. Bill said there were two Curlies at the lake, but I've only ever seen one. It's possible the other one may have died from old age or moved on somewhere else.

I also saw a northern Pintail, very pretty:

And, here's the white mallard! If you can catch him and keep him confined, you can take him home. He's still pretty tame, but starting to get dirty.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Where are the killdeers?

There were only 3 killdeers in George's feeding area at Lake Murray in San Diego and they were not being co-operative in terms of showing me who they were. I suspect that they're Killer, Digger and Digger's dad. I think the mom was gone. Killer and the dad were doing very well together with no trilling at all. However, the dad was very nervous and often stuck his head out really high, often revealing his bright-white neck ring. I wonder if that was a signal for the others to follow him. I don't blame him for being nervous, there were hawks and vultures around.

M6 dad and, I think, his daughter, Digger

The three killdeer together

I was making "kill-dee" sounds at Killer (I think) who looked at me funny

Also seen:

I saw lots of gadwalls and lesser scaups, including, I think, a couple of juveniles.

Three lesser scaups, one male, one female and I think juvenile male

Two gadwalls and three coots

A gadwall and a coot (everything was OK between them)

Two male lesser scaups

Ballfield killdeer:

The ballfield killdeer at Lake Murray haven't been seen in a while, but I can hear them. I think they may have found worm heaven on the nearby golf course and are over there feeding. I have no access to that area, so I can't keep tabs on them. That area is susceptible to hawk and falcon patrols, but I think everything will be OK with them and they will be back to their usual areas later on when the construction is finished.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Update on Tom the Muscovy and some killdeers

M6 mom and dad with ducks

I decided to make an extra trip to the lake today because of the cat I saw and wanted to make sure that it didn't put a damper into the birds' routines. Well, all the birds, including the little sandpiper, were doing fine.

It was cold, dark, windy and rainy when I went and I couldn't get a whole lot of non-blurry photos.

First, the killdeer:

The in-laws were still there, but everyone is getting along remarkably well. Killer does trill and display whenever he gets close to Digger's dad or Digger's dad gets too close to Digger. Then, Killer did a kind of a head-bob towards the M6 dad that seemed to indicate a truce.

M6 dad and Killer displaying.

The mom goes off on her own a lot at does her own thing before she realizes that no one else is following her:

M6 mom

"Look, I caught a worm!" (Sorry for the blurr)

He grabbed the worm and ran

Digger (right), Killer (middle) and Digger's dad (left)

Later, the dad, Killer and Digger all went fishing. Digger decided to poke and chase Killer around, probably for fun.

I also found a killdeer feather, a brown one that is probably from the top part of the tail or body. I didn't see anymore, so I think it might be a molt feather or one from fighting and not from a predator attack. As far as I know, there are no missing killdeer.


Ducky is doing fine, sorry for the blurr, he was moving around a lot.

I saw two other ducks, a male and a female, that are Ducky's age wandering around. I wonder if his siblings survived afterall. I definitely only saw one duckling in that area, but someone reported that there were three in the beginning. Perhaps the other two belonged to another mom and she took them somewhere else. I remember a "dispute" between Ducky's mom and another female over Ducky when he was really young. The other female seemed to be claiming Ducky as her own, but later left the area and not seen again.

They could have, also, flown in from somewhere else. All in all, we have three ducks that are late-hatchers here.

Tom the muscovy duck, the last of the muscovies at Lake Murray, is still plugging along, though his eyesight is getting worse. He looks like he's lost weight, but his feathers are looking really, really good! I've never seen him with so much green. He actually looks very fit and healthy otherwise. However, he is sleeping a lot and not moving around so much. It could be because of the weather.

The wind blew his feathers up

Here he is getting fed by hand.

Reminder about dogs at Lake Murray:

I just wanted to remind people that dogs are not allowed off-leash at Lake Murray at all. And, no dog is allowed near the lake shore under any circumstance (50 feet from water). A lot of ground nesting birds nest near the water and their babies often can't get away from a dog. A dog could eat a duckling, quail, or a killdeer chick before their parents have a chance to respond and defend them. Many birds here in San Diego nest all year round, not just in the summer. So, please be conscious of this before you take your dog, off-leash, to run around at the water's edge.

Also, rattlesnakes are very common around the lake and not all the other dogs being walked around the lake like other dogs.

Friday, November 19, 2010

In-laws, stray cats and birds needing help!

Killer, feeling left out

Today was cloudy and dark and I did not have my tripod, sorry if some of the photos appeared blurry.

In killdeerland, namely George's feeding area at Lake Murray, Killer, Digger and Digger's parents are still all together. Killer not only has a problem with Digger's dad, but also his mom. That's unusual as male killdeer seem to be very tolerant of any females, but not in this case. I think he's afraid that they're going to take his girlfriend away. Digger, I think, is enjoying her parent's company.

Conference between Digger and her parents.

Digger and a duck

When I left, I heard them beyond the fence area chirping and playing. There were some backhoes and trucks moving the dirt around near the treatment facility behind another fence.

No killdeer at all were seen at the ballfields, which is good because someone was spraying weed poison on the grass. It's best if they wait a few hours before going there to feed.

Feral cat alert:

A feral, or stray cat was seen in George's feeding area near the chain-link fence near the entrance to the lake and the office outbuildings. It appeared to be hunting for mice, but when it saw me, it hid pretty fast. I think it's been in the area for a while as it knew just where to hide. It also explains the behavior or the killdeer in that area a few months ago when Martha and George were acting strange and seemed to be mobbing something. Also, it explains why there seems to be few squirrels there. I doubt that the cat is currently a threat to most of the ducks, except the small white duck and maybe a gadwall, neither have ever been seen in this area. It is a threat to the killdeer, phoebes, wrens, sparrows and sandpipers in that area, though. However, since it's probably been there for at least a few months, I'm sure the birds and wildlife are aware and alert to it.

It makes it even more a miracle that those little killdeer chicks and ducklings in that area survived. I just hope it's moved on or gone by next spring and I hope the killdeer choose to nest in another area if they nest early. I don't think it has easy access to George's current hiding area, but I can't be sure. The cat may have been disturbed by the construction.

I've never seen any evidence of cats in that area and am surprised I haven't seen any earlier with all the apartments and houses around. I couldn't get a photo as he hid himself very quickly.

Also seen:

A black-crowned night heron in the reeds:

Lots of scaups and two female buffleheads:

Scaups and a couple of female buffleads

The juvenile female Cooper's hawk. She was trying to spend time with her mom who was out hunting, but her mom chased her off. She seemed very upset and did begging calls from a nearby tree while her mom disappeared. She's almost grown, her eyes are oranger now and she's almost as big as her mom.

I saw two ospreys today, a large female was flirting with the male. They took off before I could photograph them.

I saw this sandpiper, preening:

And this wood duck pair was preening:

Several gadwalls were seen, too, but I didn't get a good picture of them.


Ducky is doing great. He's gotta be the happiest almost grown duckling in the world:

Also seen was Tom the muscovy and Bill's "baby duck", but I didn't take a photo of them.

Birds needing help!

I saw at least three birds in serious trouble.

One was a young male mallard who was a long fishing line wrapped around him with two weights on the line. He couldn't fly off and looked like he was so bound up that he was going to drown. I think he managed to get the line off of him, but one should be on the look-out just in case:

This coot has fishing line and a hook stuck to his beak. It is unknown if he swallowed something or the line and hook is wrapped around his beak, instead:

I think this is Ducky's friend's brother whom Bill has been trying to catch for a while. He has fishing line around his left foot and I think he's slowly loosing the use of his foot or is starting to become bound by the line:

If you can help, that would be great! They were last seen near the main parking lot off of Kiowa road and will probably come close to you if you feed them. You might need two people to do the job or helping them. Please be gentle and kind to the animals.