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, July 31, 2012

2 Ducklings Still Hanging On

Yellow-cheek's two ducklings are still hanging on.  I was a bit worried because I saw a gull eating one, possibly two ducklings and thought these were the ones they were eating.  But, I think what they were eating was the body of the missing yellow duckling who was weak and possibly drowned 10 days ago.  The water department has lowered the lake's water level by several feet within the last few days and that may have exposed the duckling's body.

But, these two are OK and very hard to get a photo of.  First of all, the mom is extremely bothered and wary of human beings, so she doesn't let me get too close.  As soon as too many people appear in the morning, she is quick to move her ducklings out of the area.

Secondly, as seen in the photo below, the two ducklings blend in extremely well, especially on an early cloudy morning.  They are starting to get their feathers and are at least 16 days old now, very small for their age.  They are still vulnerable to gulls, especially inexperienced ones, but are pretty much out of their swallowing range.

This little youngster may have been the Memorial Day single duckling.  She was last seen swimming into the sunset with her mom in early June.  She's still extremely small, but very bossy and I think she can take care of herself.  The new Pekins made sure to poke at her.

Sister duck was back in the canal sans her sister:

This young, very healthy, duck reminded me of Neo and Indy, but I think he's an adult.  He may be one of the two ducklings that were hatched about a week after Sister Duck or might even be Sister Duck's lost brother.

This Bewick's wren didn't seem to mind me at all and even sang a song for me.  Usually, they just jump around and scold me when I walk by.

The bald juvenile gull may actually be a herring gull and not a western gull.  I saw that because of the white borders of his back and wing feathers.  While juvenile western gulls also have a white border around their same feathers, it's less distinct and faded looking.

*Update*: Found out that this is either a juvenile California gull (because of the feather patterns) or it may, indeed be a western gull.  But, it is NOT an herring gull, which would be rare for this area this time of year.

He has grown the feathers back on his forehead, but not his face:

He was swimming around close to where I think the ducklings were hiding, but I don't think he found them.

Two very young juvenile killdeer were seen in Junior's territory near where his nest was.  They look to be about the age Junior's chicks would be, about 8 weeks old.  The one that looked like Tiny did when he was about 7 weeks old, that I saw a few days ago, may also be one of  Junior's chicks.

Young male

Young female

Good news about the fallen electrical wires.  They were fixed and Pollux, the Giant killdeer and Pollux's son were all play-fighting in the field.  I think Smudge and Peanut were over by the lakeshore feasting on bugs.  I also think I might have found where Miracle, Killer Jr. and their baby chick are hanging out, but can't access that area.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A few duck pictures

I just went to the lake and I just stayed long enough to look for the ducklings and take a few pictures of the ducks.  

At first, I thought this female was Yellowcheeks, but it wasn't.  

Yellowcheeks and her two ducklings were seen yesterday, doing well.  I think that the weekend crowds have caused her to move away from the area.  Her ducklings are still extremely small, though, which makes me wonder about them.  They are two weeks old now and should be much larger and starting to get their first feathers, but they still look like one week olds.

This is a picture of another duck that looks and acts like Neo.  He even has the special pale eyelids and the paleness around the mouth and throat like Neo has.  I'm still not 100% sure this is him as his bill is way too yellow.

Pepper is acting much more confident and is even bossing and dominating some of the other ducks.  He made this other duck in front of him very nervous and he moved out of Pepper's way.  Pepper deliberately walked towards this duck to make him move even when he didn't have to.  The other duck is fine and even walked beside Pepper for a short distance. I thought it was Pepper's brother, at first, but he was making squeaking baby noises and Pepper's brother doesn't do that.

Pepper does a good job of keeping his broken wing's feathers in as good shape as possible.  He even flaps and moves both his wings around, but I can tell that the broken wing still hurts a little because he doesn't extend it all the way out when he flaps it.

The new rouen duck that looks like Cinnamon's Twin is very flirty and is calling all the other males to meet her.  Her boyfriend is trying his best to protect her.

Last Friday, at the ballfield where Miracle, Killer Jr. and their little chick used to stay, I noticed one of the power lines to the field's scoreboard had fallen and was draped over the fence.  I hope it's not live as it fell in the area where the little chick squeezes through the fence into the field.  I also hope none of the other killdeer were affected.  I suspect this event happened sometime earlier in the week and I know that Smudge and Peanut are OK as I've seen them since then, but am not sure about Pollux.  Right now, there are a lot of bugs around the lakeshore and canals and many of the killdeer are spending time there instead of the fields.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ducklings still here

"Yellow-cheeks" was seen today, but only for a brief moment before she went back into hiding.  She still had two ducklings.  At first, I thought they were both the dark ducklings and the last yellowish duckling had disappeared.  But, when I look at the picture below, I can see that one duckling is noticeably lighter than the other.  He must have gotten darker over the 5 days I didn't see them.  They are now 10 days old.

Mom is definitely a descendant of Fish Food Mama.  I think this might be one of Caramel's babies from last year.  Perhaps the one that I saved from the fish hook.

Still no sign of the lone yellowish duckling that someone else saw last week.

I finally got to see Fish Food Mama's ducklings again, by themselves.  But I think I only saw four of them.  Here's three coming towards me.  I think the four I saw were two males and two females.  Indy might have been around somewhere.  I think he's got a crush on one of the ducklings that were dropped off last week that are the same age as him.

I think this might be Sweetie:

A male duckling:

Across the lake, an injured young ducklett has made friends with the pretty female who might be Big Daddy's daughter from last year.  I know that this particular duck did not have any ducklings of her own and the other one that looks like her still has very young ducklings.

But, they seem very attached to each other.  I heard of a duck that had a fish hook in her leg and almost got strangled by fishing line.  I wonder if this is her.

I think this might be Neo, but I am not sure.  His bill mark and other characteristics are very similar to Neo, but he seems more mature.  Neo turned 3 months old last week and is at the age where head markings change just before he gets his green head.

He also was sitting near a young girl duck, which also makes me think it might not be Neo:

The four dumped Pekins are still alive.  One has tape around his leg, but it's beginning to come off.

I saw a few coots around the age of these two next ones.  This is the age they're supposed to reach before they are chased away by their parents.  These two chicks are almost the same size as their mom, but mom doesn't care for them and gets annoyed if they squeal too much.  However, I saw no violence between adult and chick, just a lot of "shut up!" vocalizations by the parents.

I saw this young killdeer this morning.  I think it just started to learn how to fly as it looks like Tiny did when he was about 7 weeks old.

This might be the same bird, but from the other way around.  You can see some down on the chest.  There was another killdeer protecting him, but I couldn't get a good photo:

I think this might be the one protecting him, but I am not sure.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Brown pelican and Smudge and Peanut

Not much to report on today.  The juvenile brown pelican came down in the middle of a flock of coots and ate something.  I suspect it was a fish because it went down really fast.  The baby coot in that area was seen afterward, doing fine.  He's one of the few baby coots that have actually made it to almost 3 months old.

Brown pelicans are almost unheard of at Lake Murray, but, this year, many juvenile brown pelicans have been seen inland in their search for food.  No sign of the adult that accompanied him and his sibling there.  (His sibling died soon after arriving).

I also saw what I think was Smudge and her sister Peanut, together.  A male, either their dad or that big male in the area, was kill-deeting to them from across the little cove.




Sunday, July 22, 2012

RIP baby coot

I saw the young coot in the above picture this morning and he was just fine.  The photo above was taken almost two weeks ago because I see this little guy all the time and never thought that he would be gone so soon.  Not even the gulls and herons bothered him.  He thought he was a duck and liked to hang out with them.  Two adult coots, presumably his parents, were always nearby.  I estimated him to be about 6-7 weeks old.  He was the one who tried to comfort Peaches after all her ducklings died.

I found him dead less than an hour later, missing his head.  I saw the gull below eating the head and I assumed they were the ones who killed him.  He looked like he was drowned and was found quite a distance from the ducks and where I last saw him.

Note this gull's baldness, not uncommon for young birds to lose all their head down before getting their new feathers.

However, now that I think about it, this juvenile gull is so young I don't even think he knew how to drown a coot.  And, the older gulls were preoccupied with a dead fish someone left.  So, I now think that the coot's presumed parents killed him.  Several other young coots around the same age have died or disappeared lately at this lake.  Usually, from what I've observed, coots will tend to their young for the first 6-8 weeks.  Then, they will tolerate them in their territory for at least another 4-5 weeks.  After about 12-13 weeks (or 85-90 days), the parents will chase their chick away or kill them if they stay.  The young coot that died today was already capable of feeding himself, but was still too young and small to leave his parents.  However, since he thought he was one of the ducks, he may not have thought he had to leave the area.

Another case where a coot about the same age went missing.   A baby coot, about 6 weeks old, went missing about a week ago.  Now, his parents have a new baby:

In another area, one baby coot went missing at about 6 weeks old, but its sibling lived on and went missing at almost 8 weeks old.   A third baby coot from another couple continued to live in the area until he was about 12 weeks old with no problem.  No sign of any of these missing baby coots have been seen since their disappearance.  It is possible that some of those baby coots moved out of their parents territory.

I am having an extremely hard time following Fish Food Mama's ducklings because they seem to have blended in with the 8 drop offs from a few weeks ago who are the same age.  Here are some photos of some young ducks hanging out.

In this next photo, I think these are the 8 ducklings and two or three of Fish Food Mama's ducklings.

 I have not seen Neo or his mother in a very long time.  I would love to get a new picture of him.  Plus, I didn't see the three ducklings or any other young ducklings in the area.  Nor have I see Bossy duck or his mom, lately.

I was surprised to see this least sandpiper this morning:

And, this little killdeer is a cutie!  I don't know who it is, but it might be one of Killer's chicks from this year.  Or, it could be one of George's chicks from last year (perhaps Squeak's sister) or from this year.  She looks a LOT like George.  So much, that I almost thought it was him.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ducklings at sunrise, killdeers at sunset

Early in the morning, yesterday, I found the mom with the ducklings, but there were only three, sadly.  My little favorite was gone.  She was very sleepy and weak and almost got left behind the day before, she she may have died or gotten eaten.

However, a female with a lone yellow-ish duckling was seen across the lake with another female.  Could it be that the missing duckling was duckling-napped by Ducklingnapper, the duckling-napping female?  She spent a lot of time around this family, lately.  Or, since Big Daddy spends a lot of time over there, it could be another female with a different yellow-ish duckling.

I saw this newly fledged western gull near the ducklings.  He seemed very confused, but was no threat to anything and walked away.

About a half hour later, as the mom was taking the ducklings into cover, I heard her scream and flop around as if a hawk was after her.  Her ducklings quickly ran out of sight.  I didn't see anything that could be threatening them and I looked and looked and could not find the mom and the ducklings. I thought I saw a flash of brown in some vegetation by the water, though.  There were other ducks there, but they swam away.

I came back in the evening and looked and looked and did not see the ducklings, but I did find a fresh dove feather near where I last saw them.  So, what I'm thinking is that a Cooper's hawk caught something nearby. It's entirely possible that the mother duck moved her ducklings completely out of the area because the incident scared her so much.

In another area, I think I saw Peanut:

Her dad Pollux was keeping an eye on the "giant" killdeer.  The other male seemed more interested in fighting and following Pollux than in Peanut.  Every time the other male started a nest scrape, Pollux would nip and kill-dee at him.  Peanut stayed out of the way, but seemed to really want to be with her dad.

No sign of Smudge, her sister.

I saw a female redhead.  Never seen on there in the summer before:

And, those four dumped ducks are still there.  Louie is constantly shadowing them.  So far, so good; he hasn't hurt them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

4 new dumped ducks, plus 4 baby mallards

Today, I found four new, young, Pekin ducks.  I think they're all male mostly because they seem to have a raspy peep and are really quiet.  One duck made a louder peep like a female, but it was raspy and he didn't vocalize as much as a female would.

Louie came over and greeted the four ducks who, smartly, moved away from him.  Once Louie saw that they were ducks and male, he went back to his geese friends.  I think he tried to call them over to the flock, but they ignored him.  I hope he leaves them alone as he attacked and injured a female Pekin duck a month or so ago.

The four ducklings I saw on Sunday are still alive!

The mom was keeping them well hidden:

This little yellowish duckling is the boss of all the others.  But, after a couple of hours, he was tired and lagging behind.  It is a warm, humid day.  

I still can't figure out who the mom is, but I think she might be a female that was hatched last year:

Later, the mom moved them out into an open area where gulls usually hang out, but there were only three gulls seen on the entire lake today (and three Caspian terns) and they were pretty far away, so they were relatively safe.  I think they were extra hungry today and that's why there were over there where people feed them.

This one is my favorite, so far.  I am betting it's a girl.  Still too young for me to get attached to her because anything can happen at this age:

I saw Pollux. his son and what I thought, at first, Squeak.  But, this may be Peanut, Squeak and Pollux's daughter.  Later, I just saw Pollux and his son alone.  I have a strong suspicion that Smudge, their other daughter,  has found a mate and has separated herself from the family.

I'm finding it harder and harder to distinguish Fish Food Mama's ducklings from the ones dropped off last week and others that are maturing.  I think this might be one of the males.  

I still can't find Neo, but a lot of juvenile and juvenile-looking ducks have been all hanging out in the same spot.  Twice, I thought this was Neo, but it's an older duck.

Do a biiiiiiig stretch!

Have a nice day!