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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Allen's and Costa Hummingbirds (and ducks)

Allen's hummingbird

It's very unusual to see any kind of hummingbird other than Anna's in San Diego.  We are said to have the most Anna's hummingbirds in the entire United States.  But, today, several Allen's hummingbirds, males and females, were seen.  I had a hard time getting good photos of them.  I think I also saw one Rufous hummingbird as well.

The next photo is blurry, but you can definitely tell that it is a male Allen's hummingbird:

Here is a female Costa's hummingbird which is more common in this area, but still fairly rare.

Also seen today was about 20 or more California quail, mostly females and juveniles:

They quickly ran/flew and hid from me:

I saw Pepper today, but he was acting strange.  I think he had a feather stuck to his bill and it was annoying him:

And, Zippy, Skippy, and Yellowcheeks were all seen.  The ducklings are now 6 weeks old.  Zippy seems a little tired.

Fish Food Mama and Peaches were hanging out together this morning and I found Bigboi in the same area.

And, the three "boys", Pollux, his son and his baby brother had moved to another ballfield.  Here is a couple of photos of what I think might be Pollux's son, but he also looks a lot like Peanut, except the head shape is different.

I think I heard Killer Jr. and his family moving closer to the ballfield where Pollux used to be.  It's possible that is why they moved to this area, to keep their distance from the other family.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bossy Reappears

Bossy duck was seen this morning.  I am sure it was him because I saw what looked like a ring around the back of his head.  However, the ring looks very faded and has lost most of its orange color.

Here he is with a friend:

Also with Bossy was a redhead duck.  Redheads live here all year, but rarely breed.  I saw this girl a couple of weeks ago, but then she disappeared.

This young duck might be one of Fish Food Mama's first brood this year:

And, this is the duckling whom I think might be one of the original 8 from the "Snowies", a very faithful pair of ducks.  I think the parents might be Appleyard or Snowy Mallard mixes.  I am positive that this is one of their offspring, but they may have had two others survive as well.  He is 9 weeks old and, already, very large.

And, here is Yellowcheeks with Zippy and Skippy, now about 6 weeks old.  Skippy is sound asleep in this photo.  That's a baby coot on the right side.

Their possible sibling, the "Hot Duckling" is said to also be doing very well, though I did see her today.  I think I figured out how she got over there.  Ducklingnapper has been seen in that area several times since the duckling went missing.   Ducklingnapper probably stole her, but there was another mother with her own ducklings there around the same time.  So, the stolen duckling was, again, stolen by the other mother who, eventually, lost her own ducklings.  

And, I saw this young killdeer all by him/herself.  I thought it was a girl a while back, but now I'm thinking it might be a boy.  Still a very quiet little guy.

Today, I did not see Pepper, the broken winged duck that used to be the black duckling from last year.  This is the first time he's gone missing since last December or January.  I worry about him because of his broken wing.  His grandma, Fish Food Mama (and, now that I think about it, she might actually be his mother) is also gone and so is Bigboi.  I hope they're all together somewhere safe.  Last year, Pepper disappeared at this time of year, but back then he was still a duckling, sorta.  Bigboi is one of Fish Food Mama's favorite males.

Friday, August 24, 2012

RIP ducklings (Illness suspected)

When I first arrived, I was absolutely shocked to see that Fish Food Mama had only one duckling left.  At first glance, he appeared to be fairly healthy.  Except, I did notice that he had no interest in eating.  Mama took him to some slimy rocks with yummy algae and bugs and made exaggerated feeding motions, but all the duckling wanted to do was hide.  Mama was acting strange, too, constantly quacking and making faces at me to tell me to back off even when I wasn't any closer than I usually am.

When I got home and looked at the photos, I could see that the duckling wasn't looking healthy at all.

Something was wrong with his face and eyes, it was almost as if he had a hard time keeping his eyes open.

I noticed, in several photos, that he swam with his eyes constantly closed like the other one that was sick before.  Here, he swam up to Mama, bumped into her, and grabbed onto some of her feathers.  This may have been a sign of co-ordination problems like the other one had on Wednesday.

At one time, Mama flew away, abandoning her duckling and began flirting with the boys on the other side of the parking lot.  But, her duckling began to scream for her and she returned.  However, later in the day, Mama was duckling-less and hanging out with the boys.  She seemed to be acting normal, though I could hear a warning quack come out of her when gulls flew close by.  Before I saw the photos of the last duckling, I was mad at Mama for abandoning her baby and possibly not doing enough to protect the others, but now I know what happened was beyond her control.

If it was illness, I hope it's not something contagious and makes Mama or any of the other ducks sick, too.  I am hoping that Mama will have another brood or two next year.

In better news, the young duck on the right of these four is, most likely, the son of Snowy and his mate.  Snowy's mate had eight ducklings this year, was last seen with four and of that four at least one was known to have been caught by a predator.  I am not sure if any of the other ducks in this group are related to him.

Here he is in the afternoon.  That duck in the background is, I think, one of Brown Mama's ducklings.  I think he may have two sisters, or Fish Food Mama's two young daughters like hanging out with him.

And, a shot of the dad of the three black ducklings.  I am worried that he won't be around next spring to make more of them because he's getting old.  They were my favorite, I just loved seeing them and want to see more of that color.

And, the crested and buff duck:

And, Donald, the oldest Pekin at the lake.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Down to 5 ducklings, 1 sick

Sadly, Mama lost two of her ducklings some time on Monday or Tuesday.  The more lanky black duckling and a regular yellow duckling, whom I've noticed is a little weaker and not as zippy than the others, was gone.  At first, everything seemed to be good with the remaining five.  But, then, I saw something strange.

At first, this one duckling seemed to get stuck in the rocks when the ducklings were there feeding.  Then, he started lagging behind the group, way behind, and swimming in circles, alone.  He was way far from the others, easy picking for a gull.

I've seen this behavior before in ducklings and other waterfowl, it's not good and a sign of illness or a neurological problem.  He did make it to shore and I tried to catch him, but when I did, he was suddenly "cured" and ran up to Mama.  I told him that if he could keep up with the group, he can stay and I won't try to catch him anymore.

While his siblings eagerly ran around looking for food, he just stood there with his tail tucked in, not eating as seen in the next photo (that's him on the left).  I thought I saw him drink some water.  He really wanted to be under his mama, though.  He also seemed to have trouble with his balance.

The other ducklings were extremely busy trying to find food.  These two seem to be best friends right now and have been hanging out together since they were a few days old.

Mama couldn't stay still or brood the sick duckling because this juvenile hawk was hanging out in the area, making her nervous.  The gulls were harassing him while he sat on the pole and eventually chased him off.  Mama kept quacking as if to say "Hawk! Hawk!" to her little ducklings:

Mama took her ducklings away and I did see the sick duckling try to stay under Mama as much as he could, but she kept moving.  Each time she did, he would go right back under her, but she didn't fully brood him.  However, that seemed to help as, afterward, he seemed better and was keeping up with everyone just fine.

Later, when the sun was out and warmer, I saw the family far away from that spot, the sick duckling was acting normally and swimming with the group.  I think he's in the middle of the group in this photo, possibly the one with his eyes closed:

Here are the two best friends again:

The sick duckling, again, swam away from the group and closer to me.  It was almost as if he was telling me that he's OK and I don't need to try to catch him anymore.

As they swam off, I couldn't really tell which one was the sick one.  I hope it was hypothermia and not something the other ducklings could catch or some kind of food poisoning.  I have a feeling, though, I won't see him again and Mama will, soon,  be down to 4 ducklings.  She will have lost half her brood, something which I've never seen happen to her before. If it was any other mother duck, I would just say, "oh well, that's nature and the life of ducklings."  But, this is Mama and she never loses more than one or two.

But, I have some good news!  The two ducklings hatched about 5 weeks ago, are still alive and doing well.  I can no longer tell which was the yellow one, but I think it is the one in back.  Both are still very small and appear to be females.

Big stretch!

Yellowcheeks seems to have lost her yellow cheeks and has gotten more round.  She seems to be a very proud mama.

Stretching again!  You can see how small they are compared to adult ducks.  But, they seem healthy.

We also have another baby coot:

And, it appears that the mama duck (mate to Snowy, the snowy mallard), who had eight ducklings about two months ago, had at least one survive, perhaps two or three, I'm not sure.  I keep forgetting to take photos.  They were hanging out with mom and dad this morning.  One has become a very large male duckling, about the size of his dad.  The other two seem more normal.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Gender confused duck

We have one of our returning migrants visiting the lake right now.  He/she was here last year at about the exact same time.  Definitely a hybrid.  I say "he/she" because I can't tell what gender this one is!  It has an orange bill and a female quack, but also has some drake coloring and drake curls on the tail.  He/she also does the laughing quack that only females can do.  When males approach him/her, he/she does the female rejection/acceptance vocalizations.  

Here she is before sunrise:

And, just after daylight.  Notice the curls on the tail feathers.

I saw Pepper today, he likes to move and stretch his hurt wing constantly.  I was hoping I could get a photo of him flapping his wings, as he likes to do all the time, but he wouldn't do it for me.  His primaries on the hurt wing have been stripped, probably due to his constant grooming and scratching.  But, other than that, he seems very happy and energetic.

Here's a photo of the "boy band".  They are the four oldest domestic ducks at the lake:  Bigboi, Donald, Buffy2 (Latte) and the crested runner.  Buffy and the crested duck are two years old, Donald and Bigboi are at least  four years old.

I didn't see Mama and her ducklings, or any other ducklings today during the hour I was there.  It was probably just as well because there were so many predators out this morning.  I saw four hawks, a great blue heron, a great egret, black-crowned night herons, and about twenty gulls, all seeming to be out looking for Mama and her brood.  I thought I heard the babies deep in a reed bed near the boat docks and fishing pier.  Her ducklings don't sound like other ducklings, so they're hard to confuse with anything else.  But, at the same time, there was a baby pied billed grebe peeping away, so, I wasn't sure if that was them or the grebe I heard.  It was reported to me that she still had 7 ducklings as of yesterday afternoon.

Here's a photo of one of the Cooper's hawks in the area.  This one was trying to catch squirrels.  It's Big Mama Cooper's daughter from this year:

I also saw the mom that had 8 ducklings earlier in the year.  I think three of her ducklings survived, including a large male that looks like his daddy.  It turns out that the mom of that brood was the mate of Snowy, the snowy mallard.  There is another female that looks like her who had six ducklings a couple weeks ago, last seen with four a few days later.

I also saw this one young female killdeer, all alone.  I haven't seen her brother in at least a week or week and a half.  I hope nothing happened to him.  I'm not 100% sure if this is Junior's chick.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Today's Duckling Lesson: Hawks and Rocks

When I first found the family, they were way out away from the shore, but in shallow enough water that the mom could feel if anything was coming up from underneath her and her family.  She still had 7 of them as of this morning.

I soon found out why she was way away from shore.  Not long after I walked away, I heard her screaming and saw a Cooper's hawk flying up and down along the shore.  Apparently, when Mama decided to land on the shore, the hawk tried to attack and Mama did a broken wing act and tried to chase the hawk off.  She was lucky I came along or the hawk could have hurt her.  The babies were fine and gathered several feet offshore while Mama dealt with the hawk.

When I came up, she got out of the water and they came up to me.  But, she was still watching for that hawk who flew off in another direction.

Later, she took them around to the boat docks where the ducklings fed around the slimy rocks:

And, along the walkway where algae grows along the concrete:

Oh no!  They're trying to escape, Mama!

 There they go, across the dock!:

Bye, bye babies!