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

Friday, November 29, 2013

Duck update for November 2013

I haven't done an update for a very long time, so here's a few photos I've taken at Lake Murray over the last week.

First of all, Baby Blue has me worried.  His crop just keeps getting bigger.  However, he doesn't act overly hungry or thirsty, so I'm hoping he's just being a pig and eating too much early in the morning.  However, I did not see him yesterday and that has me worried as well.

Yesterday, I saw the "blonde duck" who now looks like he's half Saxony and half Buff, for sure, just like the females on the other side of the lake.  He's also got a a little crest.

I also found these two.  They were the two skinny ducks dumped off a few months ago.  They have filled out now and are a big bigger and fatter.  The female Cayuga has a problem with her nictitating membrane and may be having vision problems.

It's been cold in the early morning and many the ducks have their heads tucked it to warm the air going into their body:

Pepper also had his foot up in his feathers.   By doing that, he can save 50% of his heat loss.

This poor duck can't do that because he is missing his foot, but he still thinks it's there and tries to put it in his feathers.  He's the same duck that had fishing line totally killing his foot a couple months ago.  I think he was rescued and had surgery.  He seems to be dealing with his missing foot well and even stands on his leg stump:

Here is another mallard-gadwall pair, but it's not Gaddy:

Here is the beautiful male:

This is Gaddy and his mallard girlfriend.  Gaddy is going to be three years old next year.

There were also buffleheads.  This male had two females hanging around him, but the females disappeared:

A male canvasback was seen with his two girlfriends whom I didn't get a good photo of because of the distance:

The horned grebe was still there and giving everyone a good look close to the lakeshore.  No sign of the hooded merganser:

The vultures were keeping the lake clean by eating a dead coot.  They were mostly polite to each other and the one on the right seemed a little more dominant even though he looked younger:

This red-shouldered hawk was near the golf course and was definitely looking and waiting for something near the canals.  I'm betting there's good mice and rabbit hunting up there:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Before the rain

While today we have rain, yesterday was mostly cloudy.  But, some sun did come through and made Lake Murray look really still and pretty.

There are three white pelicans there now.  Here are two of them:

This young ring-bill looks very pretty with her chevrons:

Look at me!  I'm a pretty gull!

I found the horned grebe when the light was low.  I didn't see the hooded merganser, but someone came along later and said he saw her:

Lots more gadwalls around now:

I didn't see Baby Blue when I first arrived.  But, later, I saw him with Pepper.  I had to disturb both of them because I wanted Blue to stand so I can check his crop.  I'm still thinking that he's pigging out on bread across the lake early in the morning.  He seems to be accepted, now, by most of the other ducks.  I just hope he's nice to Pepper:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hooded merganser at Lake Murray and other birds

I arrived at Lake Murray before sunrise, but there was a full moon, so it wasn't too dark:

I saw this weird gull.  It wasn't that big, but I think it might be a western gull.  Those are the most common gulls around the lake right now.  But, someone's been spotting a glaucous-winged gull which I can't find.

I've noticed that the scaups and ruddy ducks are hanging out closer to shore lately.  I think it was because there were so many on the lake.  The numbers seem to have gone down a little:

Beautiful male American wigeon:

Here are two of them:

Wait, what was that thing with the crested red head behind them?

It's a female hooded merganser!

It's the first time I've seen one there, though they have been spotted at other lakes in the area:

I'd like to mention that Baby Blue has been walking around with an enlarged crop.  I hope it's not the beginning of an impacted crop.  It seems soft and flexible, so it might not be impacted.  I think he's going over across the lake and pigging out on someone's bread before he comes back to where I usually see him.  It seemed better this morning, but still worrisome:

Monday, November 11, 2013

San Diego South Bay birding with a curlew

I took a short trip to the south bay this morning, visiting the Bird and Butterfly Garden, the sod farm, and the 7th street area.   It was my first trip to the Bird and Butterfly Garden and the sod farm where I hear of a lot of unusual birds, but I didn't see a whole lot.  Here are a few pictures:

At the bird and butterfly garden, I saw a ruby crowned kinglet, but couldn't get a photo.  I also saw several dark-eyed juncos.  Here's a photo of one of the males.

At the sod farm, I didn't see a whole lot, either.  I saw about five hawks and several turkey vultures sitting in one area, which I thought was kinda strange.  Two of the hawks flew off when I went to take a photo.  I think they were a family of three or four juvenile red-tails and an adult.  Here are three juveniles and a turkey vulture:

One flying off:

Here's one that looks like a dark morph, which is unusual for this area:

I saw at least two kestrels, one at the Bird and Butterfly Garden and one at the sod farm:

At 7th street, I didn't seem more than a few birds and a few ducks.  It was low tide.  I saw mostly killdeer and this long-billed curlew stayed close by.  Here he is eating what I think might be a mussel:

Whenever the killdeer flew over, he stood very still and did not move for several minutes before feeding again:

Very still, watching:

I saw him also eat several fiddler and sand crabs.  He was very thorough and I would bet he ate just about every crab and mussel he came across.  None of those stood a chance with him.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Crazy killdeer baths and a few duck pictures

It looks like Miracle and her little family were in store for a bath today.  I think I saw two young killdeer, Miracle, and maybe Killer Junior whose leg might have gotten better.  They're missing one of the babies.

Here's how you take a bath if you are a killdeer:

Start with at least one killdeer:


Step into the water and get wet all over, using your bill to get water to the skin in places where you want it to be:

Make sure you bounce so that you make big circles:

Once you get out of the water, make sure you thoroughly spread oil all over your feathers, even if you have to turn your head upside down:

Be sure to get those hard to reach areas near the base of the tail:

Make sure you fluff up and shake all the water off.  And, voila!  You're have just finished a bath!

Nearby, a shoveler was feeding (with a coot):

I also saw Pepper today.  I wonder if his wing hurts and it twitches a lot:

He was with his brother and "cousin duck".  Just like old times:

A female black phoebe was catching flies:

There she goes!

Near Pepper was the vulture brigade.  There was a dead coot there and they have almost finished with it when I saw them.  They even eat the feathers: