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, February 26, 2013

Birding in Borrego

I decided to go birding out in Borrego Springs and the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park today.  I first stopped at Lake Henshaw where I saw my first mountain bluebird and I think I saw three snow geese there along with white pelicans.

I haven't been to Borrego Springs in a while because of high gas prices, but I wanted to see the new Borrego Springs sign.

I was also surprised to see that Borrego Valley Foods is gone, but I think it had closed down when I was there last.  There's a new art institute there now and they were having an art show:

I really came to see birds and add to my life list and went to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor's Center to see some of them.  They have a nice garden and variety of desert plants.  But, I didn't find a whole lot of birds to photograph.  Mostly, I got a couple photos of this verdin:

They were very active like warblers, jumping around and chasing each other and other birds. I think they're related to chickadees and bushtits:

There was also a greater roadrunner who quickly hid as soon as he saw me.  I didn't see him again.  I saw a mama Costa's hummingbird and her nest and cute babies.  And, I swear I saw and heard a black-tailed gnatcatcher in the Visitor's Center parking lot.  Their vocalizations are nothing at all like the blue-gray or California gnatcatcher.  I think I saw a verdin chase one away.

I also saw a blooming agave:

Here is the view of the valley from the Visitor's Center.

I went to the Ramona pond,  just outside Ramona, on the way home and saw some killdeer, yellowlegs, shovelers, coots, and dowitchers, but no tundra swans or snow geese. The photos I took didn't come out very well.  The property is up for sale, too.  I would love to buy it just so that I could watch the killdeer every day.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Killdeer and Swallows

Killer Jr. about to do his funny jumping thing

Today, there wasn't much to photograph.  I saw Killer Jr. and his mate, Miracle.

Here is Killer Jr. after doing his weird, twisty, jerking, jumping thing he likes to do when he wants to play.

Miracle was very mellow and watched the swallows flying around.

I saw mostly tree swallows, but a few northern rough-winged swallow and I swear I saw one violet-green swallow, but can't be too sure.  Here are some photos of some tree swallows:

All the ducks at the lake are doing fine.  The hawk is getting ready to nest and the osprey are already nesting.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tiny dumped duckling

Yesterday, I got a call about a "gosling" that had hatched at the lake that had spent the night in the freezing cold rain and hail the night before next to his dead friend's body.  I knew that none of the geese were tending a nest or even breeding, so I went over to take a look and found this guy:

When I first saw him, I thought he was a Pekin, but he had a weird shape, thick legs, and a weird shaped head that was triangular like a goose.  He was also found hanging out with the geese and the worker who found him was pretty certain he was a gosling.  I took him over in a crate to the geese and though several were curious about him, none seemed to claim him, so I know he wasn't one of their babies.  He was also the wrong color, all yellow.  There are only three all white geese there and two are male and one is a female bonded to a gray male in which both breeds breed gray and yellow goslings.  So, I knew he had been dumped there.

Before I left to go look at him, I sent an email to several people with my cell phone number attached so that they could call me while I still had them.  There's pretty much a no tolerance policy with animals at the apartment where I live, so I couldn't take him home.  I went to a couple of feeds stores and they couldn't provide a heat lamp.  Consider that he was already hypothermic, I didn't want to leave him anywhere that wasn't warm, so I decided to take him to the local wildlife center to see if they can take him.

Well, on the way there, I got a call for someone who would take him in case the wildlife center couldn't (and they couldn't.  The next step was to bring him to the animal shelter).  So, I brought him to her house. She already has several chickens, ducks and a couple of geese and wanted to get some more.   So, she took in the little guy and kept him warm.

It turned out he wasn't a gosling at all, but a jumbo Pekin duckling, probably about one to two weeks old.  He's just old enough where he would begin to be weaned off a heat lamp, but still way too young to be out in under 40 degree wet weather.  So, now he has a home and is going to be one spoiled ducky from what I could see of his new owner's other animals.

Too bad about his friend, though.  If I had seen them before the storm, I could have saved both.

In other news, Oreo was seen trying to hang out with the 4 "babies", which are actually a group of four Pekin drakes that were dropped off last September.  They are actually not babies, but I call them that.  Oreo still misses his friend and even though he follows Cinnamon around, I think he still identifies himself with Pekins (even though he's a Swedish duck).

Monday, February 18, 2013

Last Day of the Great Backyard Bird Count

I did all four days of the Great Backyard Bird count and counted 83 different species.  On Saturday and Sunday, I had to work, so my counting time was short.  I took the photo above of Famosa Slough on Sunday.  The falcon was stirring up all the birds and I got to see dozens of killdeer circling around as well as a willet, avocet and whimbrel who all left the area due to the constant fly over of the falcon.

Today, I went to the South Bay where there wasn't much going on.  The tide was mostly out and most of what I saw were sandpipers like below.  I think three of these are western sandpipers.  The one on the left might be a least sandpiper.  I saw only a few least sandpipers today.

The power plant is now gone, but some of it remains in a pile:

Eventually, the tide started coming in and I could see, in the distance, a long-billed curlew, avocet, and I think a couple black-bellied plovers.  There were killdeer, marbled godwits, and willets, too.  I also saw several savannah sparrows.

I went over to the Bayside Park in Chula Vista and saw a red knot.  At first, I didn't recognize it until I saw the chevrons, but asked for help to ID it because of the black legs:

There was also a juvenile reddish egret, too:

I was disappointed that several species that I know where around a few days ago weren't there during the count.  This includes scrub jays, spotted towhee, Forster's terns (though I thought I heard one, I wasn't sure, so I didn't record it), Caspian and Royal terns, Eurasian wigeon, glaucous-winged gull and yellowlegs.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Great Backyard Bird Count Day One

Today was the first day of the four day "Great Back Yard Bird Count".  This year, people are counting birds all over the world, not just here.  Because I work on weekends, I did two counts.  The first one was at Lake Murray where I counted 55 species (but only 54 are being "counted" because one of my sightings was a barn swallow that is out of season in this area).

To my surprise, I found the little call duck alive this morning!  He was near his usual area and hanging out with another male mallard.  I thought he had been caught by a coyote, so I was really surprised.

I think this *might* be Zippy, one of the last ducklings to hatch and survive last year.  She looks a lot like her mother in the face, but her body shape is a little smaller and rounder.

And, look who I saw.  It's Bossy!  His ring is back around his neck again.  You can see where he had it around his head before.  He's so healthy otherwise.  Hopefully he will continue not to have any problems with that ring.

I think Bossy likes Zippy.  She seemed a little bit indifferent to him.  She's still young.

Then, I went over to Fiesta Island and counted birds there for almost an hour.  There were some marbled godwits and willets there.  That willet is excited about that seaweed and wouldn't share.

Another willet somewhere else.  He was hanging around a flock of gulls and walking up to a couple in a car who was stopped near a trash can.  That was strange.  I think he was just curious about the people in the car.

Another marbled godwit:

I am not sure, but I think this might be a herring gull getting ready to molt into his third year.  I thought it was a juvenile western gull, but the colors are not right.

Brant, coots and buffleheads:

This brant came up when I called.  I think he/she was curious about me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cold morning

This morning was cold and there was frost everywhere.  It's actually been cold with frost for several days now, but it might be warming up starting tomorrow.  The photo above is, I think, one of the two babies the "Snowies" had.  The "Snowies" are either a snowy mallard pair or a Welsh harlequin pair with at least half mallard.  You can see a little frost color on these two boys, the only survivors out of six ducklings.

 Below is a photo of Pepper, the duck with the broken wing on the other side.  I don't like his shape, it looks similar to Scoop in regards tot he belly area.  Pepper has a Cayuga shape, but the puffyness around the legs bothers me.  I'm hoping it's just fat and not water on his belly.  He's behaving normally.

"Baby" goose is being a jerk and chasing all the ducks around.  I think this confirms he's a gander afterall.  He no longer hangs out with the rest of the flock, but off to the side and on his own.

Something's wrong with Big Mama Cooper; she's acting weird.  She flew up right in front of me and landed on a tree trunk and didn't move even though she was looking right at me.  I started to take my camera out and she flew up in this other tree and didn't move.  I noticed in the photo that one of her eyes seems swollen and possibly draining. But, I think she might have been bathing a few minutes earlier.  Either that or she was sleepy.  She hardly ever lets me look at her for too long.  She seemed very tired and stayed in this tree for a half an hour.

Smudge was about twenty feet away from Big Mama, being quiet and blending into the ground.  But, she seemed unconcerned about the hawk.  I know she knows what a Cooper's hawk is as she lived where one regularly hunted.  She seemed fairly unconcerned about her.  She was pretty much the only bird in that area at that moment that a Cooper's hawk would traditionally hunt, so I was worried.  But, after I left I came back to check later and both of them were gone.

RIP "Scoop"

Scoop died last Saturday.  That day, he was caught and put in a crate in order to get him some help from a rescue center, but he died soon after being caught.  It was only a matter of time before he died from this problem as it didn't get better.   The Wednesday before,  I checked on him and he was barely functioning, but still alive enough to run away from me.  I almost grabbed him then, but I think it was already too late for him.