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, January 29, 2013

A few photos and "Scoop" the sick duck

Northern Shovelers

This California thrasher is a long time resident at Lake Murray, but he's very shy of me.  It even upsets him if I walk by sometimes.  But, today, he, at least let me take a nice photo of him before flying off.

The sick duck is still alive and is slightly better.  I named him "Scoop" for his scoop-like bill.  However, he lets me get way too close before moving away, so I think he really feels miserable.  I think he's been sick for a month now, but I don't remember his crop being this big until about ten days ago.  I am still waiting and seeing if he will get better since he's had it so long.  I have a general rule that if the animal is eating, drinking, and moving around OK, I wait and see.  The exception is open wounds with heavy bleeding or infection, or broken bones that have broken through the skin.

He is trying to push his crop down and groom his chest in this photo.  It also looks like he might have a little ascites in this picture, which would mean he has an overall digestive issue or could have a fluid problem.

Also, it looks like, indeed, the little call duck has fallen victim to the coyotes.  I took this photo a few weeks ago when he was looking better after being sick for a while.  But, before he died, I did noticed he was hunching over again a little.  So, he may not have been strong or alert enough to fly away.

Helping at the Fiesta Island Least Tern Site

Today, I went to Fiesta Island to help the San Diego Audubon Society work on their little patch of land on Fiesta Island where the least tern nest.  I had worked that area last year, but this year they set aside areas of land to hand manage.

We were mostly taking out tumbleweeds and cockleburrs.  Here are some cockleburr seeds:

And, here is a cockleburr plant.  Fortunately, it had been raining the last few days, so the ground was soft.  They were easy to pull with their fairly shallow roots.

Like last year, there were killdeer here.  I think it was a family of three.  The one on the left is a young male.  The one on the right might be a female, possibly the mom.

This might be dad.

Lots and lots of horned larks, too!

And, a Say's phoebe:

On the other side of the island, away from the site there was a skimmer skimming:

Some godwits and willets.  There was a dunlin hanging around with them, too, but the picture I got of him was blurry:

A godwit and dowitchers. 

And, there were brant on the shore.

This brant let me get really close.  I could have gotten closer, but I am not familiar with the warning or nervous behavior signs of brant and I know geese can get mean, so I didn't get any closer than I needed to.  He seemed to be very calm, perhaps he didn't feel well:

I haven't been to Lake Murray in a few days (except to find Oreo, which I did and he's doing well), but I remember seeing a pile of feathers near the bench where everyone feeds the ducks.  I couldn't figure out who they belonged to because the feathers were fairly light in color,  but had a little mallard pattern to them except smaller.   There were other feathers around, too, including a lot of gray down, gray feathers, and a light-brown primary flight feather.  I recently realized that I haven't seen the little brown and gray male call duck since I found the feathers.  I didn't think he had any mallard-like pattern to his feathers, but I saw the photo I posted a couple weeks ago and he does have a mallard pattern to his feathers around his shoulder area.  He was sick recently, but got better.  But, he may not have fully recovered and I think a coyote might have gotten him.  He had been there for a very long time and may have also been a bit on the older side.  He could fly extremely well, though.  But, I don't think he's been flying much lately.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fun gulls and other birds at Lake Murray

I found a couple of fun and pretty gulls at Lake Murray today.  I think they might be Thayer's gulls, but I'm not sure and will see if anyone can identify them.  UPDATE:  They are small herring gulls, not Thayer's gulls. The key is the pale eyes and the dark wing tips.  I usually see herring gulls larger than this.

The photo above and the next two are of the adult.

It was swimming about with this beautiful juvenile.

Both adult and juvenile are smaller than a western gull, but at possibly as big or a little bigger than a California gull.

I saw a northern flicker, too.  Not terribly unusual, but the first time I've seen one at Lake Murray:

The killdeer are still around the ballfields, but I didn't see Smudge and her new mate.  In this next photo, it appears to be an adult male and two juvenile males and a juvenile female.  The male looks like Pollux, but could also be Shy's Mate (now named Yeller).  I thought I also saw Miracle and Killer Jr. hanging around, too.  Miracle looks a lot like her grandfather at that age.

This little mallard in the next picture is in big trouble.  He's got an impacted crop and I think he's been like that for several days. I think this is the duck that hasn't been feeling well lately, possibly for the last few weeks.  I saw him eat a lot of grit and rocks, which might be good and help his food pass through.  He was running around normally and even ate a few pieces of bread (which might make things worse!) before drinking some water.  Then, he tried to push the food down with his head.  It really looks bad.  I've seen this happen to another duck and it got better, so I am waiting a little while to see what happens with him.

I don't think this is Indy, even though he was very friendly like Indy is.  I think this might be one of the 8 mallard ducklings someone dropped off last summer.  I thought I saw Indy hanging out with Neo and eating healthy plants and insects in another area.

"Oreo" is missing!  The black Swedish duck known as "Oreo" was not seen at all today.   I couldn't find him anywhere, though I thought I heard his deep voice calling from where the body of his friend was found a couple of weeks ago.  He's not following Cinnamon anymore, so I can't predict where he will be.  The coyotes are very active right now, so I fear he's the next to "go missing."

Mystery Warbler:  The "mystery warbler", the possible Virginia's warbler, was heard very briefly today, but not seen.  He was heard close to the area where I last heard him around the 1.25 mile marker, but closer to the water this time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Killdeer are back and other birds

The killdeers have begun to make their appearance again.  However, I don't know who, exactly, these guys are.  I'm thinking they're the Beautiful Dad or Shy's offspring as they look real young.  These next two look a little like Pollux and his son:

There were three other killdeer there, too, but I can't identify them:

Another youngster:

In George's territory, an adult male patrols a certain spot.  I don't recognize him.  He appears to be mature and almost looks like a fat version of George:

I think this might be Smudge and her young companion, but I'm not sure.


They headed over where the single male is and Smudge's boyfriend chased off the single male:

But, Smudge disappeared, so he looked all over for her.  I have no idea where she went.

I'm not sure, but this might be Ducky or Ducky's girlfriend's brother.  He's been fighting, I see:

Bigboi and the other domestics were found in a weird spot near these reeds away from shore.  I've never seen them there, ever.  It could be because the predators are more active and it's been cold.

Hiding in the reeds.  The buff was there, too, but was out of the frame:

The nine dumped ducks are doing OK for now.

Oreo is just not himself and is just wandering around aimlessly even though Cinnamon and her males have accepted him into their group.  All he wants to do is honk-whistle and do courtship behaviors and contests with the other males. Cinnamon's boyfriends have no reason to do courtship behaviors with him as they all already know their ranking with her and know who her #1 male is.

There is a male mallard that likes to play with him, but doesn't follow him around like Aflac did. So, Oreo just swims around by himself looking for males who will play his game.  I don't recall him being like that with Aflac or doing courtship behaviors with him like this.

Here are a couple of yellow-rumped warbler pictures:

And a common yellowthroat.  This little guy just kept following me around.  He wouldn't give up and went everywhere I did.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A couple killdeer photos

I finally saw a couple of killdeer.  The female (below) was freakishly friendly towards me, so I knew it's one of the chicks I observed some time over the last few years.  At first, I thought it was Dee, then Firecracker, then Little Miracle.  Now, I think it might be Smudge.  She walked right up to me.

Here is a young male, younger than the killdeer above.  He is a spitting image of Killer (AKA Kip), so I think it might be one of his sons.  If the killdeer above is Dee, this would probably be her son.  If it's Smudge, then this might be her new mate:

Look at all these gulls and coots.  Lots of ring-billed gulls here like last year and the year before..  Hopefully, they will move on before the ducklings begin to hatch.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Counting Day!

Today is the day I counted the birds at Lake Murray as I have done every month for the last two or three years.  I don't know how much longer I am going to do my monthly counts, but I plan to do at least the next one for the Great Backyard Bird Count in February.

My day started out with the usual birds, but a big lack of mallards.  One of my first neat birds to see was the eared grebe in the photo above.

I also heard the "Mystery Warbler" (Possibly a Virginia's warbler) call for a few seconds lately.

I checked on all the domestic ducks and all were fine, but Bumblefoot's foot infection is really bad.  It must hurt as he doesn't even want to put her foot under her body.  The rough ground probably doesn't help, either.

Here's a close-up of it.  It really is nasty and she doesn't have a lot longer to live if she doesn't get treatment for it soon.  Otherwise, she is in good spirits and has normal energy and appetite.

The call duck mix seems to be all better now and is no longer tucking his tail in.  I don't think he needs a rescue anymore.

Gaddy and his girlfriend.  You can always tell which gadwall is Gaddy because he's always with this female mallard no matter what.  Sure, he likes to stray off an look at other girls and pick fights with the males, but he always stays close to her.

Oreo has managed to get into Cinnamon's inner circle and seems to almost be her new fifth boyfriend.

But, as she and her other boyfriends leave the area, he stays behind near where his friend died, circling around.  Eventually, he followed Cinnamon, but seemed really hesitant to do so.

Later, I saw him across the lake looking at the 10 Pekins over there. I wonder if he was looking for his friend or for a new friend.

Here are the results of today's count:

Canada Goose
Mallard (Domestic type)
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Lesser Scaup
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Western/Clark's Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Western Gull
California Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Black Phoebe
Cassin's Kingbird
American Crow
Common Raven
Marsh Wren
Bewick's Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
California Gnatcatcher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Virginia's Warbler
Vocal only. Same bird heard/seen in previous months mentioned in previous eBird reports. Only gave a short, 15 second call one time before disturbed by nearby human activity. Though it is staying around the same general area as before, it has become almost non-vocal over the last few weeks.
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Conservative count. Every bird counted was individually sighted and/or heard.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
Similar to Audubon's warbler, except with a white throat.
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch