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, April 28, 2011

The last little duckling and some stolen ducklings

There is only one duckling left of the original 11 that is still with the mama. My favorite, yellowish one and the one that was sick the last time I saw it, have passed on. Both of them seemed tired and sluggish when I last saw them. I think the mom wasn't getting them out of the water enough and they either drowned or weren't strong enough to get away from predators. This one was resting all morning. I hope he makes it.

Keeping warm under mom

But, on the positive side, I found five of the six stolen ducklings all kidnapped by Ducky's mom. They seem a little on the small side, but I'm sure these are them as they have some of the same markings of the ones that disappeared. I didn't get any real good pictures today to confirm it 100%, but I'm pretty positive that these are the tired duckling's siblings:

And, here's four of the ten that the Canada gander tried to kill last Saturday. They're doing well, though a seagull tried to get them and they were hanging out right under the herons' nest. There is also one extremely disobedient duckling in this group that might not make it if it doesn't straighten up:


All four of the Beautiful Dad's male chicks are doing great and are very adventurous. I was able to walk up on them because they wandered out of mom and dad's sight. At first, I didn't even think their parents were around, which isn't unusual for chicks this age. But, the parents finally saw me and got upset. Then, the chicks went and hid. Unlike the last time, the parents weren't as calm as they were that day and I couldn't take my time taking photos.

Mom gives me a dirty look:

Some of the little chickies:

The Cooper's hawk was hunting right above them and grackles were chasing each other around only a few feet from the chicks. It's amazing that they're still around.


Oreo is still missing. Her posse is waiting for her in this one area where she was hanging out for the last couple of weeks. At one time, it appeared that her friends were "chatting" with someone through the reeds. Even Bigboi is hanging out more in this area. Hopefully, she is in there somewhere on a nest. I remember seeing some black and white feathers around, but I can't tell if it's hers.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy killdeer chicks and ducklings

Mom and baby killdeer

I found two more duckling families near the entrance. One of them had 10 ducklings when I saw them on Saturday. That one Canada gander got into some kind of tirade and tried to kill him, but me and some other people stopped him. There was also a family of three tiny ducklings, too. The mom of the 10 ducklings is Flycatcher's mom and the other is Drama Mama, the mother of the drama ducklings.

Today, I saw that the family of 10 was down to 9, but doing well.

The rouen mama who originally had 11 ducklings was down to 3 on Saturday. I haven't seen the other female around, but I assume she's hiding somewhere with a few more. One of the three didn't look well. I don't know if it's because it ate some of the Easter candy that people threw all over the place yesterday, or it was just tired and cold:

These two are my favorites:

The Killdeer Family:

The M6 (Beautiful dad) family is doing great. I finally got to see all four chicks, all boys, it seems. One of them was really small, about half the size of the other ones. The parents were amazingly calm and let me walk right up to the chicks. But, the chicks didn't like it and didn't let me get really close. They ran really fast!

My battery ran out in my camera, so I missed photographing a bonding mating by the two parents. Also, big sister Shy snuck in and tried to brood the tiniest chick, but mom chased her away.

I just hope that people keep their dogs away from that area, or in the very least, on a leash.

Killer and D. are doing well. I think D. has a nest already. Junior is also setting up shop with his mate, too. Shy and her mate are having problems. It appears that several other males are after Shy for a mate. But, Shy seems to be only interested in babies.

Oreo is missing:

The mottled black and white runner duck, Oreo is missing. Her posse was around as were all the other ducks except Oreo and Daisy. Daisy goes missing once in a while, so I'm not too worried about her. But, I've never had a day where I couldn't find Oreo. I also saw some black and white feathers laying around, but I think that was from the geese fighting. Hopefully, Oreo is just sitting on a nest of eggs somewhere and she will be seen again, soon.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ducklings and killdeer chicks doing OK

The beautiful dad

I only saw four ducklings with the mom. However, another female, one that looks like Ducky's mom or Butterscotch has been hanging around the family a lot lately. A couple of days ago, she duckling-napped a few ducklings while the rest of the family went off with mom.

Today, the other female was nowhere to be seen, but I have a feeling that the rest of the ducklings (or most of them) are with her and the mom looked like she was slowly bringing this small group over to them. She's being real careful not to cross the lake with them where they may be eaten by the bass. I just hope she found a safe place for all of them. She kept flying back and forth in the area, probably looking for a safe place or for the rest of her group.

Beautiful dad and his mate have been moving their chicks all over the place. A couple of days ago, they moved them right into another pair's breeding area. Today, the were closer to where I first saw them after they hatched.

Dad was worried because I stood between him and his chicks' hiding place

When I moved away, Mom kept an eye on me while dad checked on the babies

I couldn't be certain, but I think I heard all four of them, peeping. One was extremely loud. One seemed to be imitating their dad's mobbing/worry call. Or, he could have been in trouble as I saw raccoon or possum tracks in the area.

Checking on the babies

Cinnamon and her friends were hanging out in the same area. Hope they don't eat the chicks:

Sorry this next picture is blurry, I wanted to show everyone Bob2's pretty spots. She is now in her summer plumage or almost there. Normally, spotted sandpipers migrate out of the area to breed. I usually see them leave around mid to late May:

Digger's new name:

Digger and Killer are doing well. Killer has his hands full with Junior who is picking fights with him. Digger is going to get a new name: Dee or D. The reason why is that two of her baby brothers are also diggers and Digger doesn't dig anymore. So, her new name is Dee.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ducklings and Killdeer Chicks

Today was a dark, drizzly day, so many of the photos appear kinda dark. No signs at all of Tom the muscovy duck, now over 2 weeks missing.

First, I came across a couple of Caspian terns on the shore. The water was lowered to do more construction work on the pipe that they put in over the last year:

Killer and Digger were also there. Here's a photo of Digger:

Junior seemed to have found another mate. Couldn't get a good picture of her, but here's Junior:

I found 9 little ducklings all alone! They were in the heron's hunting area and the one whom I thought was the mother was paying no attention to them:

They just went about their lives without a care in the world or of all the things that want to eat them:

Later, I found out the mother was being harassed by five drakes. When things calmed down, she collected her ducklings plus two more:

They all look like rouen-mallard hybrids. Their mom looks like Cinammon, but can fly and is at least a year older:

A little ways down the road, I found this lesser goldfinch in plain sight:

Across the lake, I went to check on the M6 mom and dad's nest at the ballfield. It was completely gone! I couldn't tell what happened to it. Both the M6 parents, Shy and her mate were gone, too. So, I went to look for them at the water's edge. When I went down to one of the areas where the geese were, I found the Shy's mom and dad and four little chicks! Their eggs had hatched successfully!

Here's a photo of three of them with mom:

Do you see them? Perhaps this will help:

I was only able to photograph 3 of them as the fourth went right into the brush. All three are boys, I think the 4th might be a girl, but am not sure. I have decided that I am not going to chase killdeer chicks around to photograph them this year. If I can get an extender for my lens, I will try to photograph them, then. So, these may be the only photos I get of them until they learn how to fly.

Also seen today was an eared grebe (transitioning into summer breading colors) hanging around the ducklings:

And, Oreo was around with her posse:

Friday, April 15, 2011

The M6 dad builds a nest!

Just an update on the killdeer nests as I didn't have my camera, so I didn't take any photos. Digger and Shy's parents started their own nest not 30 feet from their daughter's. It's actually in a better spot and has a better chance of surviving. This is especially true since they know how to defend it against threats. Already the dad is giving the squirrels the evil eye.

The last egg from Shy's nest is gone leaving only one smashed egg. The crows were all over the place this morning along with the blackbirds. But, none were in the area where the nest was or near their parents' nests. Shy and her mate are already making new nest scrapes, but in another really bad spot. I guess it's trial and error when it comes to raising a brood successfully with killdeers.

This is also day 12 of Tom the muscovy's absence. I don't think I will see him again.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sad day for Shy and Tom the Muscovy

Today is a sad day for Shy because two of her eggs were found smashed open, probably by a crow or blackbird. One egg was missing and another was pushed under the fence and could no longer be brooded. It looked like it happened yesterday evening as the ants had not gotten to them, yet, but it was starting to dry up. One egg still had an embryo that looked like it was about a week, more or less, developed. The dad was still around as was Shy's parents. Everyone seemed really somber. Shy probably went somewhere to reset her hormones so that she can try again. Hopefully, she and her mate will choose a better spot. There's no hope for her last egg, it was stone cold this morning. I pulled it out so it's more accessible to the father in case he decides to keep trying to brood it.

Tom hasn't been seen for almost two weeks now. No one who knows him has seen him, either. I thought I saw him in the brush in his napping area this morning, but it didn't look like he was alive. I think he might have died of old age in his sleep. I don't think a predator got him, just a peaceful death.

In the south bay

Today, I went to the Tijuana Estuary and the South Bay and took some photos of the birds.

He's a photo of a long-billed Curlew:

And, a couple of willets:

Here's a couple of cliff swallows gathering mud before a Cooper's hawk decided to try to get them for dinner:

At the Visitor's center of the Tijuana Estuary, I saw a Say's phoebe nest:

And, in the south bay, I saw a bunch of little shorebirds. Most of these are semi-palmated plovers, western sandpipers and sanderlings:

And, finally, a photo of what looks like to be a western sandpiper alone:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Return of the "Little Male" and Shy becomes a mother

Little Male is back!

George's older son, Junior (also known as "Little Male" way back when I started this blog) has returned and seems to still remember me. He is constantly yelling! Even though he seems to be alone, he does a "family call" and I think his mate may have laid eggs on the northern side of the lake. Unfortunately, a family of raccoons frequent that area and it's unlikely that any eggs laid would hatch there.

Never stops talking

Today, he followed me around the lake for ten or fifteen minutes.

Across the lake, Digger and Shy's parents are still hanging around the ballfields instead of heading back to their breeding area. I think I may know why. Two other killdeers were watching me when the M6 parents began making "leave me alone" calls. I went over to where the other killdeer were at and found a nest in a very bad spot.

After looking at photos of the parents, I think one of them might be Shy. As soon as Shy started getting upset, mom and dad were right at her side, helping to defend the nest. They flew all around, trying to distract me. As soon as I left the area, the "grandparents" went back to their area. It's extremely unusual that anyone other than the parents show interest in another killdeer's nest even if it's a family member. Then again, Shy never completely detached from her dad and he may consider those eggs to be his.


Shy's mate

I'm not going to give the exact location of her nest, but it's in a very, very, very bad spot and it's unlikely that the eggs would be around long enough to hatch. There's a lot of predators and human activity that would make it a miracle if those eggs survive.

In other lake news, Killer wanted to show me his pretty tail again:

But, really, he just wanted to distract me from his love, Digger:

Ducky was back with his best friend from ducklinghood. I think his mate is brooding a nest:

And, this black duck is always fun to watch. Here she is with her new boyfriend:

Bob2 is started to get spotted again. She will leave the area soon:

And, it's bath time for pigeons!