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

Monday, December 23, 2013

RIP Louie the gander

Louie the gander was missing last Friday, but I saw a "white blob" swimming across the lake and thought that it might be him (or a pelican), so I decided not to be concerned.  I looked everywhere very carefully and saw no sign of him or that anything happened to him.  On Wednesday, he was perfectly fine and looked like he was beginning to fit back into the group after being ostracized after Jill's death.

Louie and Jill last March

Louie was very healthy, but wasn't eating a whole lot.  Nonetheless, he had good energy and muscle tone and I did see him eating some, so I didn't worry about him.  But, he was forced to stay away from the main group of geese, so he most likely slept alone.  This morning, I found a lot of white feathers near the reeds close to where they sleep.  The feathers went all around the reeds from back to front.  It looked more than just regular molting feathers that blow around sometimes.  I'm thinking Louie might have died last Wednesday or Thursday and maybe the raccoon found him while scavenging between Friday and today.  

I'm still holding out some hope that he's just hiding somewhere, but this is really unusual for there to be no sign of him for this long.  Even when he looked for Jill, I would always find him somewhere.  Louie was a very old gander who might have been more than 20 years old.

In other duck news, someone told me they found the headless body of a black and white duck in the trash, but I saw no sign of it.  This duck was the only duck missing at that time, but he was found today.  All the other domestic ducks are also fine.  There are two domestics that I rarely see that I can't verify that they're OK, but they live far across the lake. 

All the ducks are in breeding mode and doing honk-whistles.  Here's several male gadwalls chasing a female:

One in the mid-ground of the photo is doing a honk-whistle:

Baby Blue was also doing honk-whistles.  I also heard a lot of "rejection quacks" from females.

And, Rubberband and her brothers keep plugging along.  I don't know what happened to their mom, Eileen.  Last time I saw her, she seemed to be breaking away from them and going off with a male duck.

I also got a few killdeer photos:

I think this is George's skinny 2013 daughter:

And, I think this might be Little Miracle, though her head markings look a lot like Firecracker.  She was very friendly:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Shorebird Counting Day

Today is the day where, once a year, Point Blue Bird Observatory counts all the shorebirds around San Diego Bay at the same time. I was assigned the Coronado Island area.

My day started out with a curlew, though with her head tucked in, she looked just like a marbled godwit:

There were a couple of short-billed dowitchers with her:

The other two in the group were marbled godwits for sure because at least one of them pulled their head out and I could see the long, pointed bill:

This kingfisher was spotted with a fish and she dropped it when she saw me coming.  Then, she sat on this light pole hoping I would leave so she could go back and get her fish:

There were a whole lot of shorebirds in that spot:

Close-up of a willet and two godwits:

Look at that middle godwit and how he puts his toes up when he walks across the rocks:

I went to another area and people were chasing the birds!  Oh no!  I asked them to stop and they did, but it was definitely an awkward and uncomfortable moment there for a few minutes.  All the birds came back, I think.  I'm glad because there were a whole lot of them:

And, a sanderling was with them, too:

Some of the godwits were having a disagreement, plus the tide was going up:

And, here is the sanderling again:

There were two spotted sandpipers there today.  I saw this one who might be a juvenile:

Oops, water going over his feet:

Oh no!  My feet are getting wet!

In other bird news, there were plenty of surf scoters around:

This one was showing off and following me around:

And buffleheads.  Lots of buffleheads and coots:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Snow Goose at Chollas Lake

Yesterday, I happened to take a walk at Chollas Lake after work and found this little snow goose among the domestic geese there.

I didn't have my camera at that time, so I went today and he was still there.  He is about the size of a large Pekin duck, but smaller than the domestic geese.  Here is a side view:

Front view:

Three-quarters angle:

A close up shows the black "lips" that are characteristic of snow geese:

Snow geese aren't necessarily rare or endangered, but they are rare at Chollas Lake or any area west of the foothills and mountains.  

If you go to see the snow goose, be ware of this large African gander.  His name is Arrowhead and usually he's not a problem.  For some reason, he gets excited when he sees me.  Today, he seemed upset at me, probably because I haven't been coming to Chollas Lake that much in the last few years.  He ignored me yesterday and today, he demanded my attention and acted like he was going to bite me, but didn't.  Then, he ignored me when I tried to call him towards me later.  

If you encounter him, make sure you say his name and pay lots of attention to him.

Here is a domestic goose about the size of the snow goose.  It is mostly blind in that one eye and the other eye is completely missing.  But, he knows how to work it when he wants you to feed him.  Totally adorable.  He looks like a small embden goose.

I threw in a picture of these two ring-billed gulls because they looked so cool:

Friday, November 29, 2013

Duck update for November 2013

I haven't done an update for a very long time, so here's a few photos I've taken at Lake Murray over the last week.

First of all, Baby Blue has me worried.  His crop just keeps getting bigger.  However, he doesn't act overly hungry or thirsty, so I'm hoping he's just being a pig and eating too much early in the morning.  However, I did not see him yesterday and that has me worried as well.

Yesterday, I saw the "blonde duck" who now looks like he's half Saxony and half Buff, for sure, just like the females on the other side of the lake.  He's also got a a little crest.

I also found these two.  They were the two skinny ducks dumped off a few months ago.  They have filled out now and are a big bigger and fatter.  The female Cayuga has a problem with her nictitating membrane and may be having vision problems.

It's been cold in the early morning and many the ducks have their heads tucked it to warm the air going into their body:

Pepper also had his foot up in his feathers.   By doing that, he can save 50% of his heat loss.

This poor duck can't do that because he is missing his foot, but he still thinks it's there and tries to put it in his feathers.  He's the same duck that had fishing line totally killing his foot a couple months ago.  I think he was rescued and had surgery.  He seems to be dealing with his missing foot well and even stands on his leg stump:

Here is another mallard-gadwall pair, but it's not Gaddy:

Here is the beautiful male:

This is Gaddy and his mallard girlfriend.  Gaddy is going to be three years old next year.

There were also buffleheads.  This male had two females hanging around him, but the females disappeared:

A male canvasback was seen with his two girlfriends whom I didn't get a good photo of because of the distance:

The horned grebe was still there and giving everyone a good look close to the lakeshore.  No sign of the hooded merganser:

The vultures were keeping the lake clean by eating a dead coot.  They were mostly polite to each other and the one on the right seemed a little more dominant even though he looked younger:

This red-shouldered hawk was near the golf course and was definitely looking and waiting for something near the canals.  I'm betting there's good mice and rabbit hunting up there:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Before the rain

While today we have rain, yesterday was mostly cloudy.  But, some sun did come through and made Lake Murray look really still and pretty.

There are three white pelicans there now.  Here are two of them:

This young ring-bill looks very pretty with her chevrons:

Look at me!  I'm a pretty gull!

I found the horned grebe when the light was low.  I didn't see the hooded merganser, but someone came along later and said he saw her:

Lots more gadwalls around now:

I didn't see Baby Blue when I first arrived.  But, later, I saw him with Pepper.  I had to disturb both of them because I wanted Blue to stand so I can check his crop.  I'm still thinking that he's pigging out on bread across the lake early in the morning.  He seems to be accepted, now, by most of the other ducks.  I just hope he's nice to Pepper: