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, April 24, 2013

Unusual visitors

At Lake Murray in San Diego, we rarely get Canada geese, save for the three that live there all year around. But, today, there were at least a half dozen visitors.

I don't mind if they stay as long as they don't harm the ducklings that are soon to hatch at the lake.

Speaking of ducklings, the mom that had ten, then six was seen with only one this morning.  And, when I saw her, she was only a couple feet away from a blue heron which had landed nearby with a great egret.  I saw the egret strike at something soon after it landed and assumed it was snatching a duckling.  But, I think it might have been snatching at a dead fish on the shore before realizing it was dead.   It is possible, though, that there is still more than one duckling and that the others have fled into hiding when the heron first arrived. Soon after I spotted her moving away from the heron with her one duckling, she stashed it and flew off.  A little while later, I saw neither the mother or the duckling, except when the mother came flying out from deep in a reed bed.  Hopefully, she moved her duckling(s) to a safer place.

Also, I spotted Neo's mom, who almost always has ducklings by this time.  She looked like she was getting off a nest in her usual living area.  But, she doesn't have any ducklings with her right now.  She might be running late or might have lost all her ducklings since I last passed by that area about five days ago (yes, she's such a bad mother she can lose an entire brood in a few days).  There were some people running a loose dog in the area, so hopefully there wasn't a nest around there or that the nest was destroyed.

Neo's mom

Also, all three of the black Swedish ducks that were dumped at the lake last year are completely missing now.  And, Big Bumblefoot, last seen on Monday evening, is also missing.  He hung out in the same area that Bitey did.  I did find a couple of Pekins hiding in the reeds facing away from the shore far from their usual area, so I'm hoping the Swedish ducks are, also, just hiding somewhere.  Cow and a few of the other Pekins were doing their usual thing in their usual spots.  The main beach seems really empty without all the ducks there.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Update on baby ducks

Mama duck is down to six ducklings.

Unfortunately, there was a dead fish in the area attracting the gulls to this spot.  I shooed one gull away and threw the fish into deeper water.  But, mother duck also got shooed away when I shooed the gulls.  As she left, I saw at least one gull seriously check her and her ducklings out, but I think was more interested in finding the fish.  In their minds, fish first, ducklings second.

I left because I didn't want to see anything happen to the ducklings.  I heard a gull screaming, but I think he was screaming at another gull or a passing tern.  Mama duck had some problems finding another place to hide because there were people fishing all around.

I went around to the other side of this spot and, by then, mama duck had already re-stashed her ducklings in the reeds.  So, I think all of them were OK when I left.  The gulls found the fish, but since it was in deeper water, I think they lost interest in it.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mama duck and a pacific slope flycatcher

Not many pictures today.  But, I did get a picture of a pacific slope flycatcher, listed above.

Below, is a picture of the mother duck that I saw earlier with the ten ducklings.  She has been "stashing" her ducklings in various places and, then, taking off.  I saw her fly over to the reeds where her ducklings were and gave a special call as she landed.  All 10 of them (I think there's still 10) immediately swam out to her.  Then, she herded them right past the heron hunting nearby and they disappeared. The heron watched them the entire time, but didn't do anything.  One duckling looked like it was trying to go off on its own, but I think it was OK.  After a couple of minutes, the heron acted like it was either chasing something or being chased off and went the opposite direction.  Then, I saw a cormorant get near and the mother duck seemed to be fighting something, but I think she scared it away.

I went to where I saw the mother and found her without any ducklings and very nervous.  She did warning quacks while I was there, but went back into the reeds, presumably to check on her ducklings.  Then, came back out and quacked some more.  The males were starting to surround her when I left, but she flew off.  The heron was still standing by the reeds, but not too close to the ducklings.  If she still has 10 (or even 8 or 9) after this long, then she might be doing something right.  I still think the mother might be Butterscotch, but she could also be the one who had the first 10 ducklings last year and nearly lost all of them.  Perhaps she's learned her lesson and that's why she's so far away from where the gulls and people are.

And, sadly, I think the tortuous life of this little female duck might be over.  She was desperate to get away from the males and did everything to keep them away from her (except one whom she liked).  She was pretty beat up all the time.  I took this photo of her a couple of weeks ago.  She would hide under thorny brush and everything trying to get away from the males.  Now, she's gone.  That makes three females from that big flock that are gone now.  But, this one was actually acting broody.  I would hope she's on a nest except she was not very healthy when I last saw her.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Goodbye Bitey, hello baby ducks!

Bitey, the Pekin duck pictured above, is gone.  I think someone might have taken him.  I am trying to think good thoughts and hope he's in a happy home and being treated well.  He was getting a little thin last time I saw him.  It's good that he's gone now because Neo's mom is probably ready to come out with her ducklings, which should be hatching any time now.  Good lucky Bitey!  I love ya!

There was also a white bunny dropped off near where Bitey was at the lake last weekend, but I didn't see him, either.

I saw the first ducklings of the season at Lake Murray today.  I think that's Butterscotch (one of the "Fish Food Ducklings" from a few years ago) with them and I think they're 5-7 days old.  Last year, she lost all her ducklings at about this age.   She has 10 of them right now, but I can see that two of them don't look so great right now.  She's being very cautious and careful of them. Hopefully, she will be able to raise a few this year.

I also saw the first three baby coots in the same area, too:

And, a beautiful gadwall and his gadwall mate.  He's nowhere near as beautiful as Gaddy, though.

Gaddy, I heard, is still fighting over his mallard girlfriend not far from where I last saw him.  I'm hoping for ducklings from them, too.  I suspect that all his girlfriend's ducklings will be all mallard because she sneaks off and mates with the mallard males, often.  I guess that green head is irresistible.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Domestic duck update and a gull with a fish

Yet another female domestic duck has gone missing.  This time, it was a healthy female Pekin.  When she first started mating, she was very scared and always kept her head way up over the water.  But, she relaxed a little bit as time went on, but still kept her head up above the water.  I guess it wasn't good enough.  Both she and one of the Swedish ducks are missing from that big flock.  I hope they're together on some nest or something.   Another female duck has been burying herself in thickets and doing other things to get the males to stop mating with her.  She's really beat up, but still alive. A single male tries to protect her, but often can't.

Across the lake, Bumblefoot is still going strong, but is very lonely if she doesn't have any Pekin ducks near her.  The new Pekin ducks have moved nearby and seem curious about her, but prefer people and are extremely hungry.  I was hoping that Bumblefoot would show them around, but they haven't made friends with her, yet.  Bitey is also doing well and I think his hormones are calming down a little.  All other domestic ducks are doing well except I haven't seen Cinnamon's Twin's Twin, her mate and "Spot", the Welsh Harlequin, since that incident last Sunday when the drakes were ganging up on her.  They all hang out together, so they might just be away from the area.

There are now three baby herons in the nest and I think the two bigger ones are trying to push the smallest one out, but he's very strong for a little guy, and a fighter.  Here's the biggest one, the other two sank down in the nest.

And, I watched this western gull with a prized fish.  Gulls love fish more than anything else in the world, it seems.  Here he is trying to position the fish:

"I got a fish!"

Down the hatch!

Nope, I guess not.

Needs more washing:

And, finally, a photo of Smudge who lets me get really close to her as does her mate.  I didn't even see her mate even though I passed within about ten feet of him.

Still no ducklings, yet.  Neo's mom is traditionally the first one to have ducklings at this lake, usually around the 20th, but I don't think I've seen her this year (I may have seen her a month ago, but I'm not sure).  The other mother who had the ducklings on April 10th last year has not been seen in the last week and will probably not be having them as early as she did last year.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Some ducks reappear, other disappear again.

I tell you, sometimes ducks drive me crazy.  Cow, whom I thought was drowned by her mates last week, was seen alive an well this morning!  Bitey was standing next to me biting my leg while I was taking her picture:

But, now, another duck from her flock is missing!  I named the Swedish ducks Inga, Olga and Annika and Inga is the one that's missing now.  I wonder if there's a communal nest somewhere.

And, surprise, I think the photo below is of a duck called "Sir Francis Drake" who had fishing line tied around his leg a few years back (the line was removed a year later, but the damage was done).  He's a pretty old duck now.  He's lived longer than many other perfectly healthy duck.

Bumblefoot has a new friend to hang around with.  It's the pale-billed male that I think used to hang out with the "four babies" dumped last year.

Two new ducks were dropped off right where the coyotes hunt.  I wonder if these people are purposely trying to feed the coyotes or something.  Don't people wonder why there's hardly any domestic ducks in that area?

I also saw an American wigeon.  All the scaup seem to have left the lake.  A couple of days ago, I saw several scaup, but didn't see a single one today.

This poor juvenile gull has what I think is a fishing jig with multiple hooks in his bill.  He can't eat with it like that.  I told the lake staff and they tried to catch him, but he kept flying off.  He looks so miserable.  I suspect he thought he was plucking a fish out of the water or something, but it wasn't and now he's going to die a slow death unless someone catches him.

And, finally, in Killdeer news, I think Junior is back and I thought he was fighting with his son.  His mate got really mad at him and chased him away.  When I looked at the photos, I found that the one Junior was getting excited about was another female (possibly "Little Miracle").  That explains why his mate was so annoyed as females usually don't pick fights with males, but they get extremely jealous of other females.

No ducklings yet.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Least Terns and more missing ducks

All last week, I went out and helped San Diego Audubon get ready for least tern nesting season.  The terns will be arriving soon!  I helped set up decoys, helped with grid-ding, and helped with pulling more weeds. We mostly worked on Fiesta Island with a little bit of work at Mariner's Point.

The picture below is of decoys being counted and getting ready to be placed.  It sorta looks like a tern massacre, lol.

This is the famous Stony Point hummingbird who likes to sit near the gate at the Stony Point nesting area:

Here is one of the views from Stony Point:

Lots and lots of horned larks on Fiesta Island:

And, the resident killdeer where there.  Here's one from Mariner's Point:

Here's one from North Fiesta Island where they had a nest by the end of the week.  This is dad being very watchful.

This is mom on her nest.  I didn't want to set a bad example and get too close to the nest to see exactly how many eggs she had (I saw at least two from a distance).  I really don't need to know if I'm not monitoring their nest, anyway.

I think they had at least one chick survive to adulthood, last year, and I think he was still hanging around.

I have a lens on Squidoo about helping the California least terns.  Click on the link to see it.

At Lake Murray, I noticed Big Daddy acting sick and lethargic.  It could just be because he's molting.  He and Cinnamon's old boyfriend were ganging up on Cinnamon's Twin's Twin. (Mostly it was the other ducks, not him that was doing it because he was acting sick).  When I tried to stop them from seriously hurting her, a lady fishing with her kids berated me for interfering.  Last year, I saw a domestic duck literally get "bred to death" while on land, so I didn't want it to happen to Cinnamon's Twin's Twin.

Also, I think I will have to say goodbye to Cow, the magpie duck dropped off last year with the big flock of black and white ducks.  She was a favorite of the males and also one of the smallest.  I suspect she drowned just like Cinnamon did.  She was the only one I named from that group.  Like Cinnamon, I really hope she's just sitting on a nest somewhere and will be seen, soon.

Shame on these people who dump these ducks.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A day at the beach: At the Tijuana River Mouth

Before anyone asks, no, I didn't go swimming or wading in the water.  I came to this area to look at birds and practice digiscoping (which didn't go well).  But, I got to see snowy plovers and other birds.

This least sandpiper was checking me out to make sure I wasn't going to be trouble for anyone.

Many of the black-bellied plovers are turning into breeding plumage:

Many, many western sandpipers, a lot of which were half-buried in the sand:

And, of course, I got lots of photos of the snowy plovers themselves:

It looks like there's one little plover in a nest or something.  Or, just resting.  I think it was a female checking out a male's nest scrape (in the middle of the photo under the one standing upright; May be hard to see).  Not a good area to nest as vehicles drive through this area.  There's a big area set aside just for them about 100 feet away.  But, they don't seem interested:

There was also a massive amount of terns there, mostly royal terns, hanging out with the gulls.  And, lots of curlews and a few whimbrels.

Monday, April 1, 2013

RIP Duckies

RIP Bumblefoot's mate

This is the time of year that can be tough because that's when you lose your favorite friends.  Always happens, every year about this time.  Usually, I start to feel good about this time of year because I feel that the worse is over with the ducks surviving the long, dark coyote nights of winter.  And, breeding season is winding down, so I feel good about the females that survive this time.  I thought we were beginning to head into the good time of year of ducklings and healthy ducks.  But, nope, that's when the favorites start to die or disappear.

I found out that it was Bumblefoot's mate that was the source of all the feathers under the osprey nest at Lake Murray.  Apparently, he died at about the same time that Cinnamon disappeared.  His body was found near where he and Bumblefoot like to lay and wait for people to feed them.  Bumblefoot, who can barely walk sometimes, is OK and seems to be very lonely.  She is looking for male companionship with the mallards who don't find her attractive.  The other male Pekin that used to hang out with them has deserted the area.

Bumblefoot alone.
Bumblefoot does not want to come near me anymore and does not respond to her name.  Her mate was so friendly and often brought her over to me when I called.  But, she is cold to me now.

I also found out that when Cinnamon was last seen, she had a profound limp for an unknown reason.  It could have been a fishing line injury, but I'm not sure.  It looks like she was last seen the day she disappeared last week.  When I last saw her, she was healthy and vibrant.  Now, I suspect she may have been drowned by her mates.  But, I hope she's maybe on a nest or perhaps taken to a rescue, though I haven't heard any reports of anyone rescuing her.

Cinnamon about 10 days before she disappeared.

Gaddy and his mate are also missing, but I suspect they just moved to a different area and she could be on a nest.  Good news about Neo:  His wing seems to be much better and I think he will be flying, soon.  He is still hanging out with Indy and Indy's brother who are always play-fighting.  Nothing serious, just a little wrestling between boys.

In killdeer news, I still haven't seen Junior.  He generally arrives around mid-April, though last year he arrived in early March with his mate arriving in mid-April.  I'm hoping he's OK.

I think this might be his ultra-friendly son.

Big Stretch!

Smudge is so cute and friendly:

Smudge's young mate:

Squeak, Smudge's mother, was seen in the ballfields with Pollux, her mate.  They were harassing another male in the fields.  I think that other male might be Smudge's brother who should be off on his own getting his own mate.  It wasn't serious, but I think Pollux is annoyed by his presence.