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, July 31, 2013

Red-winged blackbirds and other birds

I took some photos of the juvenile red-winged blackbirds at Lake Murray this morning when it was cloudy.  There were several, both males and females as well as adults.

This little bird was with them, but I don't think it's a blackbird.  I think it's a finch, either house or lesser goldfinch.  Not sure, though.

These two song sparrows were fighting until I turned the camera on them.  Suddenly, they turned shy.

The common gallinule came out in the open and strutted around:

This is Stretch the duckling that was raised in this area near the 2 mile mark.

Big stretch!

This is the "rumpy" duck with no tail:

See?  He does pretty well for himself, though:

Unfortunately, I think Snowie's duckling has passed on.  I saw Snowie and Snowy (her mate) without him.  However, Snowie disappeared soon after I saw them together and her mate went on his own way.  I'm hoping he's in hiding.  But, that duckling was the boss of the two and they were very bonded, so I don't think he would stay in any place without her.

Monday, July 29, 2013

South Bay Birding

I went to the South Bay to look at birds, but, unfortunately, I couldn't get any decent photos because they were a bit far away.  Above is a photo of a massive pile of willets and godwits molting.  Some of them are still in breeding colors.

The stilts liked to hang out in their own section.

The resident peregrine falcon flew by and harassed everyone before catching something from one of the berms.

It looks like a cliff swallow who had been out getting bugs for his babies and I think he was still alive and stunned:

The falcon went behind a berm, but then I saw him jump up a few minutes later and give a couple of hard hits to a small raptor that I couldn't identify.  I think it was a kestrel or a Cooper's hawk who begged for mercy from the falcon and left the area.  Next time I saw the falcon, its talons were empty, so the swallow may have gotten away during the dispute between the two raptors.

A lot of the willets and godwits went into the middle of the water.

Then, they began to go back to their roosting area:

I have been practicing digiscoping for quite a while and haven't gotten the hang of it at all.  I think I'm going to have to use a different scope for that.  Here's a digiscoped photo of the willets.  Even though I had both the camera and the scope well focused, the photos came out blurry.  I think the eye relief on my inexpensive scope is not good enough for this.  All the photos have this kind of fuzz on it.  I will keep practicing as I can't get a new scope right now.  I might try a smaller camera, too.

Willets climbing up on a berm:

Why did the willets cross the road?

To look at the stilts in the grass:

There was also a pretty good fire going inland near Sweetwater reservoir about fifteen miles away, but it was mostly out within an hour or so.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tragedy of the abandoned duckling and more duck updates

Snowie and her nearly 5 week old baby

I haven't been to the lake for a while and I thought I'd give a short duck update.  Unfortunately, I wasn't there very long before there was a duckling tragedy.  I heard a duckling peeping very loudly and I thought I heard a female duck in the same area, but when I arrived where the duckling was, I saw no females around the entire area.  There was a small duckling, hours old,  running around to all the other ducks, who were all male, peeping his head off.  I am thinking he came from across the lake where there might be a nest or other ducklings as I've seen ducklings cross the lake by themselves, then swim back on their own.  So, he turned as if he was going back across the lake when I saw the gulls flying around.  I got my camera to take a photo of him while I figured out how to rescue him or find his mama.

One of the older gulls, probably at least 8 years old, flew around to the far side of me and grabbed the duckling right in front of me.  The duckling didn't even know what was coming until the gull was a foot away and tried to run, but was grabbed by the gull.  I tried to get a photo of the gull with the duckling, but the camera wouldn't work because of the speed and low light.  So, this next photo is all I got.  here, he had just dropped the duckling and was landing.

I had a photo where I could see the duckling in the water, but it was too late for him.  He was probably already dead as he was hanging in the water head-first.  In fairness to the gull, though it really did upset me, he did give fair warning as he took his time grabbing the duckling.  Had his mother been there, he might have survived.

Later, I tried to find the mama duck and the rest of her ducklings.  I found this female, who looked like "Ducklingnapper" with a green bill, quacking and calling for someone.  Ducklingnapper frequently knaps ducklings from inattentive mothers.  Perhaps she lured the duckling away from its mama to this area.  Usually, she's really good at taking care of them.

This was the female I heard in the area when the duckling started peeping.  She wasn't there when I got to the duckling, but I saw her fly from across the lake to this area, a half hour later, and begin quacking.  I thought maybe she was the mother looking for her baby.  But, I think she was just looking for her mate because when she found him, she stopped vocalizing.  I do think she has a nest across the lake, somewhere.  Perhaps this duckling hatched early and may have heard his mother quacking for her mate and went to look for her.  She may not have even known he was following her or that he was even one of hers.

I just hope that little duckling wasn't dumped as people often dump ducks at the spot where I found him.

I also saw this young female whom I thought was Fish Food Mama, but it might be one of her daughters. She's not ready to have ducklings, yet.

Snowie's baby is still alive and hasn't grown much since last week.  And, he still swims with his eyes closed.

I think this is Neo, but I'm not sure this duck is his girlfriend, Zippy.  But, Neo is very attractive to the females, so this new duck probably likes him, too.


Unfortunately, Bumblefoot is not doing well at all and seems very sick.  She still gets up, swims and eat, but acts very tired and it's obvious her leg and foot hurt.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Snowie's baby continues

Snowie's baby is 4 weeks old today, but still looks like a 10 day old, just a little larger and a bit fatter.  He copies everything his mother does almost exactly. I've noticed that Snowie also does weird things with her eyes, so that might be where he got it from.  But, he's the boss of the two and when he wants to go somewhere else, he will peep for his mother to follow and she does.

There is only one baby coot left, probably the youngest of the three.  I'm betting the other two probably went off on their own.

There was a blue heron watching the baby coot and duckling who didn't even seem to notice him.  He doesn't like me, so he left the area, probably to hunt squirrels somewhere.

Pepper is in his eclipse plumage and looks so beautiful.  For those who don't know, Pepper is Bigboi the Cayuga's son.  His other half was a wild mallard.  He used to be able to fly until he broke his wing when he was about 7 or 8 months old.

I managed to photograph a Bewick's wren:

And, there was a pair of snowy egrets foraging together, but I didn't get a good photo of the two together.

I heard the killdeer near the golf course and I think it might be Squeak and Pollux with youngsters.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mongolian Lesser Sand Plover (and other birds) in the South Bay

I went to the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge in the South Bay to check out reports of a lesser sand plover (also known as a Mongolian plover).  I found him, but didn't get great pictures of him because of the distance:

Lesser sand plover, bathing

Walking away with western sandpipers

Still walking away with sandpipers

There were an awful lot of western sandpipers there along with dowitchers, stilts, godwits, willets, avocets, phalaropes, and semipalmated plovers.  I didn't expect to see this many shorebirds:

Look at these western sandpipers huddled up on the sand:

Some of these little guys let me get a close-up photo:

I didn't see the two rare sandpipers, but I heard they would be hard to spot even if I could access the area where they usually are.  I was more interested in the plover.

There were two adorable baby black-necked stilts, one was close to me, another was near where the plover liked to hang out:

Lots of semipalmated plovers.  This one seemed to be keeping an eye on everyone:

And, lots of savannah sparrows, but I think I only saw one Belding's savannah sparrow (not this one):

They like to glean from the vegetation:

There were killdeer, too.