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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

First walk of Fall 2013 at the San Diego Salt Works

Western sandpipers

Today, I went on the very first walk of the fall 2013 at the San Diego Salt Works.  Once a month, from October to March, San Diego Audubon holds a walk in this restricted area. It's a great chance to see some birds that are difficult to see from the areas regularly open to the public. Most of the walks take place on Saturday, but today they did this one on Sunday.  They are also canceled if there's bad weather.  Though today was foggy, it cleared up enough to see some birds.

So, let's get our sandpipers in a row:

So, like I said, it started out dark and cloudy.  Here is a shot of one of the drying ponds.  That is all salt in there, not snow or ice.

I think one of the most common birds inside the salt works area were western sandpipers.  I got lots of photos of them.

There were a log of cormorants hanging out on this thing until just before I took this photo.  You can see a couple of them flying away.

Also on this building were two turnstones, one ruddy and one black.  They seemed like they were best friends.

After a while, we finally saw the willets and godwits:

Willets flying away:

And, where you see willets, you also see marbled godwits:

I saw a few least sandpipers, too:

And, a few red knots:

Western grebe:

Eared grebe, very common there:

And, a surprise horned grebe.  Note the different shaped head and bill and brighter side and neck/head area:

A few greater yellowlegs were around, too:

There were a good number of long-billed curlews there, too.  Here's one with a couple of dunlin:

Here's a couple of western sandpipers with a couple of dunlins.  Lots of dunlins, too.

The ever-present Belding's savanna sparrow:

Royal tern:

Black-necked stilts:

Stilts with a few avocets:

There was also a surprise stilt family there with chicks that are still fuzzy and have gray necks.  Here is dad with the two chicks:

Here are the two babies:

And, a couple more surprises.  This is a photo of the first cattle egret ever seen at the salt works.  Cattle egrets, though common in many areas in the south, are not common in the San Diego area.

And, there was a short-eared owl, though I couldn't get a photo of him flying around.

And, then the sun came out and made the salt ponds look like glass:

Monday, October 21, 2013

More scaup, gadwalls and other water birds

Lake Murray is getting even more scaup.  I understand that they're a bit early this year.  

It looks like most of the ones that have arrived are young males.

Gadwalls are increasing.  Here is a trio along with a wood duck:

The male will answer to the name "Gaddy", but I know it's not Gaddy because he's already in his beautiful smooth gray colors and hanging out with his mallard girlfriend.

So many coots have arrived at the lake.  They are spread out over every inch:

The sora, a winter favoirte, is also already here:

I thought I would throw in this photo of Pink Legs, the young western gull, practicing his fishing.  Most gulls don't make it to full maturity at three to four years old.  Pink Legs looks to be between one and two years old, so he's got a chance.  Most gulls that die do so their first year then mortality drops off.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's Ducky Time! (and a killdeer)

The ducks are doing well.  The photo above is of mostly domestic ducks such as the Snowies and the crested runner as well as the Snowie's sons.

This photo is of the two buff sisters dumped off recently.

Here's a photo of Bigboi, the Cayuga and Pepper's dad.  He's lived longer than any other dumped duck that I've ever known.  He's been there at least 3.5 to 4 years, perhaps longer.  I estimate his age to be around 4.5 to 5 years old, which is pretty good for a domestic duck living out in the wild, especially one that can't fly and is missing half of a foot.

Bigboi loves the new Cayuga girl dumped off with the buff at the top of the photo.  Unfortunately, non-flying domestic females don't live that long with so many males and I am trying not to get attached to this lovely, sweet girl.

I saw my first lesser scaup this year:

Ruddy ducks are doing well.  Several of the males still have a lot of their breeding plumage with white cheeks.  I think this is a male that has lost most of his breeding colors, but still has semi-bright cheeks.

And, finally, a noisy killdeer who was kill-deeting and flying around claiming territory.  He was a bit afraid of me, so I think he was new.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Long-billed dowitcher and RIP Jill the goose

Long-billed dowitcher hiding behind some tall grass

A long-billed dowitcher had decided to stop and get something to eat at Lake Murray this morning.  Here he is with a mallard:

This teal was following me around and making a big racket.

Baby Blue might not be a blue Swedish duck afterall.  I think he's part runner and part Swedish:

Here's a video of the little duck:

There haven't been too many gulls other than the usual western gulls which breed here in San Diego.  And, there's only been a few juveniles, all of them are first years:

Mama osprey came back to her nest:

And, sad news.  When I went to feed Jill, I found her laying on the ground, dead.  I don't think she lived much longer than when I last saw her yesterday when she refused to eat.  Here's a photo from her last week when she seemed a little better.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I haven't been taking many photos at Lake Murray because there really hasn't been too much special going on there or I can't seem to capture anything.  I saw these female or juvenile common yellowthroats bouncing around on the scrub.  There is a beautiful male who holds this territory and I could hear him chipping nearby.

It was cloudy this morning, so the ISO is ramped up on the photos causing a lot of noise.

There was a Bewick's wren who also decided to be a bit friendly and let me take his picture.  Sometimes, they are very friendly and out in the open, sometimes they're not.

And, the eared grebes are back in town!

I didn't see Baby Blue this morning.  Jill, the goose, is still alive and didn't seem to feel like eating.  I will have to try in the afternoon.  Poor girl.