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, December 30, 2012

Oceanside Christmas Bird Count

Today, I went to the Buena Vista Lagoon in Oceanside/Carlsbad for their Christmas Bird Count.  Unfortunately, most of the birds were too far to get good photos of.

This western grebe did come up close, though:

There wasn't anything inherently unusual during this count, but I did see a black and white warbler.  Someone else saw a Wilson's warbler, too.  I also saw a couple of Heermann's gulls.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lesser goldfinches and sick ducks

Early Christmas morning brought lesser goldfinches.  This male wasn't afraid of me at all:

These females weren't afraid of me either, until the sunshade on my camera fell off and they flew away, but the male stayed and called for them.

This duck has a very cute bill.  I've never seen a bill marked like that.  I think she's a young duck.  I was sitting down and she walked right behind me and chattered away.

For the last few days, I've been getting help for this crested pekin female.  I was told she might have ascites, or water on the belly.  The first day I saw her in trouble, she was very sleepy and looked sick.

When I saw her yesterday, she looked a bit better, but was still struggling.  I did see her run out of the water when someone brought some food.  However, someone said she suddenly started limping and then collapsed on her belly and scooted herself back into the water.  When I saw her, she was acting like something was wrong with her legs, but got better as she continued swimming.  She also put her wings and tail back into normal position for a moment.

If it's ascites, she will NOT get better and will die within days.  If it is not, then I don't know.

Update:  It took me a while to get some help for her, but she was rescued on 12/29!  She is said to be extremely thin, but other than something being wrong with her leg, she seems to be OK.

Across the lake from that duck, I thought that this female on the left had a bad bumble on her foot.  If she does, she may also die from that and, perhaps, infect the other ducks.  That's her mate on the right:

Someone said that might not be a bumble, but a callous.  It's making her limp, but she seems to be a very happy girl and in love with her mate.

I'm sad to report that this small duck who has been at the lake for several years is either sick or injured.  He was fine a week or two ago.  He is acting normally, but is all hunched over.  He might have been attacked by a larger duck or even a predator.  I don't know how old he is, but he might recover.  He's probably a call duck mix and is just about the smallest mallard-derived duck at the lake.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Blue-gray gnatcatchers

This morning was bright and sunny and a lot of the birds were out singing and chasing each other around.  This blue-gray gnatcatcher was out in the open and didn't mind me chasing him around with the camera at all.  Most birds will immediately hide or leave the area if they even suspect you are following them around, but not this one.

One thing that definitely IDs these guys as blue-gray and not California gnatcatchers is that blue-gray gnatcatchers have nearly all white under-tail feathers.  This next photo is not the greatest example of that.  California gnatcatchers have mostly black tail with white outlines on the under-tail feathers.

I usually find them by listening to their call.  They make a more raspy version of the call that California gnatcatchers make.  There's more vibration in their calls.  California gnatcatchers have a thinner, higher pitched call.  Right now, there are a lot more blue-gray gnatcatchers doing calls at the lake than California gnatcatchers.

I took a couple photos of some gulls as we had a gull tragedy today.  One apparently healthy and beautiful gull was found floating in the water with his head under water.  At first, I thought maybe he got a dose of bad bacteria from his food as is common with gulls around this time of year.  But, after thinking about it, I think it was just another case of a young gull dying in his sleep during a cold night.   It sometimes happens with very young gulls, I've noticed.  He was so perfect, I almost wanted to see if a museum wanted him as a specimen 

In the meantime, here are a couple photos of living gulls, the first one being a California gull:

I think this next photo is either a western gull with a pretty head, or a herring gull.  Most likely a western gull (or a hybrid):

And, a white crowned sparrow.

The common yellowthroat was out in the open again, but by the time I tried to take a photo of him, he decided to go back into the reeds and do his calls.

All the ducks are accounted for and seem to be doing fine.  The geese are fine, too, but are fighting a lot.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gaddy the gadwall

Gaddy is so beautiful!  He is one of two (possibly three) gadwall ducks that live at Lake Murray all year around.  More visit in the winter, but this winter there have been very few.  He has a sister, but doesn't spend time with her at all.  And, sometimes I see his mother, but I don't think I've seen her lately.

I used to think that Gaddy's mother was half mallard (which would make him 1/4 mallard), but now I'm not so sure because he looks to be a perfect gadwall.  I know his father was a full-blooded gadwall who died right around the time Gaddy and his sister hatched.  Gaddy is even more beautiful than his dad.

Neither Gaddy nor his sister had offspring last year.  I don't even think their mom had any ducklings, either, perhaps because there weren't any male gadwalls around when she was ready to breed.  I know that Gaddy likes to follow around a certain mallard female and his sister is bonded to a mallard male, but I've never seen either of them breeding.

The female mallard he tends to follow around looks like this female who doesn't like this male mallard at all. She never fights with Gaddy.  

I wanted to add that today I saw a common yellowthroat hopping around right at my feet, which is very unusual.  Unfortunately, it was very dark out and my shutter was pretty slow, so the photo is blurred.  My quest for a perfect common yellowthroat photo continues.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Killdeer at the salt works

I forgot to add the photos of the killdeer at the salt works from last Sunday.  There are usually about thirty of them there all year around.

I didn't see any that looked like they were related to the Lake Murray killdeer.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mystery gull (ID'd) and the salt works

Today, at Lake Murray, I saw a very pale juvenile gull:

I'm not sure what kind it is, but it looks like a pale juvenile Western gull.  But, it also looks like a juvenile Thayer's gull and a couple of other juvenile gulls that visit the coastal areas during the winter.

Western, Herring, and California juvenile gulls are usually a little darker and this one has a weird head, too.

UPDATE:  The consensus on the gull is that it is a juvenile Glaucous-winged gull, which is unusual to see inland.  Thayer's gulls are the same color, but have a smaller bill.

I thought I should add this photo of a young duck running away with a piece of tomato someone threw at her.  The coots were trying to steal it from her.  I thought she was Skippy, but I think it was one of the six babies I saw in early August:

I heard the killdeer, but did not see them.  Also, one of the Pekin ducks is missing.

Salt Works:

Sunday, I went on the short tour at the South Bay Salt Works in Chula Vista.  I thought this was cool, it's bits of salt floating on the water.  Sorta looks like ice:

There weren't that many birds around.  A fair number of grebes were there, plus a few buffleheads:


Marbled godwit:

More birds:

Dowitchers and sandpipers:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Big Daddy and a few other birds at Lake Murray

Big Daddy this year

Big Daddy is at his peak of redness and seems to get redder every year.  Here is a photo from last December:

A couple days ago, I did a bird count and found a bunch of shovelers:

For those who think I don't know what a yellow-rumped warbler looks like, here is a first year female.  Most of the ones we get here are Audubon's warblers.  I haven't seen any Myrtle warblers here:

And, I threw in a few white pelicans:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Shorebird counting with PRBO


I did the shorebird count with PRBO again this year, second year in a row on the east side of Coronado Island.  Didn't see many shorebirds, though.

Like last year, there was a small flock of shorebirds just outside our study area that we couldn't count.  I think there were 44 marbled godwits, here, by the ferry landing.  Later, they flew over and mixed with a flock of willets just outside another study area, still not able to be counted.

Close up of some of the godwits.

We (another participant and I) did get to count a flock of willets, roosting.  That is before someone came up and scared them a little.

But, they went back to sleep after they moved away.  Later, they mixed with the godwits.

We also saw a couple of spotted sandpipers, including the same one I saw last year.  But, I couldn't get a clear photo of her because she wouldn't let me get too close.  And, there were several ospreys there, too.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Curlews and a very light godwit

I was at the Tijuana Natural Estuarine Research Reserve and there were a lot of long-billed curlews.

There were also some whimbrels and willets there, too, and some northern harriers.

But, I saw this very light marbled godwit there, too.

It's definitely a marbled godwit because I can see the pattern on its back.  I think it might be a girl.