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, June 30, 2013

Snowie's Babies

With the hot weather lately, it meant less gulls flying around trying to snag ducklings and less brooding issues for mama ducks.  So, after 5 days, Snowie still has five ducklings.

Here is one of her ducklings happily diving for food.  you just barely see his feet.

Later, there was a family with a well-behaved little girl feeding the babies.  The little girl wanted to pet the ducks, but her parents taught her otherwise and everything ended up being a great experience for everyone.

The ducklings got so close to me, they were practically running and pecking at my feet.  They were also too close to get a photo.

So, I sat down and took some photos of them:

There was one extra tired one who kept laying down and not eating that much.

Dad Snowy was there, too!  Here's a couple of ducklings hanging out with Dad.

"Look at my gigantic feet!  I'm going to be big!"

A crow came by and Snowie thought it was best to move her babies away.

There was also another family of 7 day-old ducklings.  They almost got mixed with Snowie's babies and Snowie attacked one of them.  But, it was OK and went back to his mama.

For some strange reason, the baby coots were all by themselves.  I have no clue where their parents were.

The two ducklings that the kids were throwing rocks at last week were found in another area alive and well.  The smaller one has almost caught up in size to the larger duckling.

We still have one ruddy duck at the lake and it's getting more active.  I thought it was an old male because it seemed to be getting into its breeding colors, but was not able to do so.  But, now, I think it might be a female.  She was flapping her wings a lot and flying around near the coot family (who have one chick).  I think she was lonely and, maybe, a little warm.

I also wanted to mention that I found this southern Pacific rattlesnake right at the bench where the crowd of kids were throwing rocks at the ducks last week.  Most people didn't see the baby snake and he was really sluggish.  I prodded him with a stick to see if he would be annoyed enough to move more into the brush, out of sight. (That is why he's in a defensive posture) But, I think he was just too sluggish and I didn't want to push my luck and get bit, so I let him be.  He did move a few inches over near where there was more grass.

Several minutes after I left him, a lady who frequently walks her small dog at the lake on one of those retractable leashes (and finds it fun for her dog to chase ducks and harass the geese as well as letting him run all over the place almost uncontrolled), sat down at the bench.  Fortunately, she held the dog in her arms while she sat on the bench instead of letting him run around like she usually does.  I don't even think she ever saw the snake.

There were only a couple of ducks in the area and when one flew and landed in the water near the bench, another female came up and fought with her, pushing her out of the area.  Then, they both moved away and were fine with each other.

By the way, baby rattlesnakes are a lot more dangerous than the adults due to the fact that they haven't learned to control their venom output.  I also heard another rattler around the 1 mile mark about 5 feet off the path.  The rattlers are having babies just like everyone else.

In other news, I thought I heard "family calls" from the killdeer in the ballfield area.  I think that Squeak and Pollux might have had babies and I'll check it out next time I'm there.  Also, Fish Food Mama's babies are breaking up and some of them are out exploring.  And, Bigboi and Bumblefoot are doing better than expected in the hot weather.  Both ducks have health issues that make me worry about them.

And, a reminder, there is NOT going to be any fireworks at the lake this year just like last year.  I don't know about next year.  No musicfest, either.  I'm not sure about any fun-runs.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Snowie returns with more babies!

I was surprised to see Snowie show up with seven new babies.  I was worried she was the one that someone stole a few weeks ago (or that I heard a report that someone stole).  I was hoping she was on the nest.  A few months ago, she lost her first brood and this is her second brood who all look extremely tired.  I don't think she ever rested them.

I found this mama with two ducklings that I think used to live near the front entrance.  One duckling is a lot bigger than the other.  At this age, I have noticed that boy ducklings have a growth spurt, but the girls eventually catch up.  The smaller duckling also seems weaker.

Later, when I came back, I saw several kids from a school near where the mama was throwing rocks at them.  Mama screamed and moved the ducklings away and I think a rock hit one of them.  Then, they disappeared.  I did see them reach another shore and one duckling was running around, but I looked everywhere and couldn't find them.  I know the kids didn't follow after them as I heard them ask each other where they went.

I went over to admonish the kids (and whomever was there that was in charge of them), but they all disappeared extremely fast (It only took three minutes to walk over and, suddenly, that area was empty though they were over there for at least half an hour before).  I saw two people wearing similar shirts as the school standing nearby, but they lied and claimed that there were never kids there and had no idea what I was talking about.

I thought I saw a duckling running in some brush, but when I looked, I couldn't find anything.  I hope those ducklings are OK and weren't seriously hurt.  I think mom may have stashed them in the brush and went away to distract the kids.

I saw this mama duck and her three new ducklings:

Something happened to one of the baby coots as there's only three.  There were four of them on Sunday.

This gull was watching the coots and ducklings, but didn't seem very interested in eating them.

This is Butterscotch and her three surviving ducklings now almost three months old.  One of them is a boy and two are girls:

Oreo went over to the "duck bench" near the 2 mile mark.  I hope he leaves Bumblefoot alone.  Bumblefoot is actually looking a bit better now that breeding season is winding down.  Oreo looks extremely thin:

The little call/duclair duck is still going strong:

I think this western grebe is sick as he's hanging around on the shore.  It's extremely unusual as these grebes can't walk very well on land, if at all.  But, he's alert and was swimming around, so he may be OK and probably has a stomach ache or something.

Tragedy at the raven's nest:

(Graphic Pic)

I went to check on the raven's nest I'm monitoring.  I've been monitoring this nest for two years now and have seen babies fledge from there.  But, this morning, I found a dead raven hanging from the nest.  At first, I thought it was the mom, but now that I look at the picture, I know it was one of the two babies in the nest.  It looks like fishing line might be involved, but I'm not sure.  He still has down on his wings, so I'm thinking this happened in the last week and he may not have died from the hanging.  It's too bad that no one could help him.

At first, I thought it was the mom hanging and all babies were dead, but when I went back a few hours later, I found dad and one of the babies sitting on a nearby roof.  Looks like Dad brought breakfast:

Here is mom and dad raven.  They were both kinda upset that I was there and were flying around from tree to tree.  I think they were protecting their dead baby.  I thought I heard a noise from the nest, but I didn't see any living babies up there at all and the one hanging is definitely dead.  They didn't attempt to go into the nest.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista

Yesterday, I was at the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista for a San Diego Audubon function and went to look at their birds.   They used to be known as the Chula Vista Nature Center.  They are well known for their light-footed clapper rail program.  Here are a couple of photos of some of them.  I was told that these birds (I think the younger ones) are getting ready to move to the larger pre-release pen:

They had another open pen with many native birds in it that are either injured or otherwise non-releasable. There were several white-faced ibises there.  Unfortunately, there was an injured one that was getting the stuffing beat out of him by a very territorial snowy egret in the pen.  I guess he was OK even though he was knocked into the water by the egret.

Here is a photo of another ibis:

There were two adorable ruddy ducks there that have been there for a while.  We got to feed some of them. There was also a red-breasted merganser and some gadwalls, too.  It was kinda strange watching ruddy ducks and a merganser running around on the ground.  There was also a great egret in the aviary and a little blue heron on top of the netting, watching everyone get fed.

This black oystercatcher was also a character.  I loved the way he walked.  They said he needs a beak-trim.

This is Roxy the mallard who is sitting on a nest of infertile eggs.  Roxy has been at the center for a long time and frequently hangs out on the walls around the walkways. There's also a hybrid mallard named Hershey that's her best friend.  Roxy came out to meet everyone, but didn't want me to feed her.

I also went to Lake Murray to check out how the ducks are doing.  Everyone is doing fine.  Here's Cow and the rest of the "big flock".  Bumblefoot, on the other side of the lake, is in very bad shape, though.  I don't think she's going to be around a lot longer.

Here is a photo of one of Fish Food Mama's daughters.  They have been fighting with another group of ducks not much older than them (but bigger than them) that keep following them around.  There are 9 daughters and when one daughter gets into a fight, another will take over when the first one gets tired.  It's kinda funny to watch.

Canal Mama's ducklings also pick fights with adults and win.

The mom that had four ducklings now only has one who has reached a week old:

I looked for the mom that had the two older ducklings and found this mama with six new ones.  She took off fast and wouldn't let me get a good photo:

I also found another mother with one or two ducklings, possibly from the other mother who had four of them.  And, I think I found the older ducklings.  Unfortunately, when I spotted the older ducklings, I think I also found Donald's body on the other side of the fence near where he sleeps in the morning.  It looked like he was sleeping, except his head wasn't tucked in, but curled over with his bill in the dirt.  So, I think he might have died in his sleep and not by a predator.  I am betting that he died surrounded by his friends, Bigboi and Puff as well as other ducks.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Greater scaup at Lake Murray? Update: Lesser scaup!

I came across this duck at Lake Murray sitting amongst the mallards this morning.  At first, I thought he was a new lesser scaup, but his behavior was a bit unusual.  I never see lesser scaups laying on the shore unless something was wrong with them.  This one seemed pretty comfortable on the shore.  So, I thought, maybe it was a ring-necked duck because the tip of its bill looked a little lighter than the rest of the bill and its head is a little flatter.  Ring-necked ducks often sit on the shore, too.  But, after looking at it again, the duck doesn't quite look like a ring-necked duck and it seems a bit larger than a lesser scaup, too.

So, I think it might be a greater scaup, but will try to get an expert opinion.  This next photo is unaltered other than resizing and my signature:

Here he is, walking.  I did some lighting adjustments on this one:

If it is a greater scaup, it would be the first one that I've ever seen at this lake or inland at all.  If it's a lesser scaup, it would still be unusual for this time of year.

***Update:  I looked at some other photos of lesser scaup (including the one that was there until last month) and he is a dead ringer for one.  So, I'm thinking this is just a larger than average lesser scaup.  Still pretty unusual.

In duckling news, one of the moms that had four ducklings a few days ago now only has two.  They're starting to get their tail feathers:

This was the mom who had three ducklings a week ago.  I love it when they get to this age, about 10-14 days old:

This duck was across the lake where Bumblefoot was.  His mama is a Flycatcher mama, possibly Flycatcher herself.  He's about two weeks old:

I think the next two photos are of the "Canal Ducklings" who would be about 7 weeks old.  However, they appear to be younger than 7 weeks and still have some down.

It looks like there is one male and two females with this family.   Mama's mate was being really mean to them, but they were kinda jumping around nipping at the adults, too.  Mama is the one in the back:

Also, I thought this was strange.  This baby coot is well over two months old, is almost as big as mama coot, and is still getting fed!  Coots tend to stop feeding their chicks after two months and chase them away at three months.  He had several siblings which died early:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Baby update

Though I did take a lot of photos a few days ago, I didn't think everyone would want to hear about all the ducklings I saw.  But, here's today's post that also has a lot of ducklings.  The one in the photo above was, more or less, alone and was near where there were two ducklings a week ago.  I don't think he was one of those ducklings, but a new one.  I do think his mother was there as there seemed to be one female he stayed close to and sorta kept an eye on him.

The mama below has four ducklings that I also saw on Sunday:

Here's a photo of her on Sunday:

there was a second mother there with four ducklings, too:

This one was by himself for the longest time.  I don't think he's that healthy:

So far, I only have one definite male in Fish Food Mama's group. Here are some of her daughters:

In the middle, there is one definite male out of the ten:

The duckling on the left of the next photo always separates herself from everyone and seems lethargic.  I don't think she's feeling well:

I also saw four baby coots.  Since coots regularly commit infanticide for various reasons, I'm surprosed to see this many babies this far along.  It's been a long time since I've seen a family of more than two babies at this lake:

Here's two of them begging for food:

And, one getting fed (or having food shoved at him):

I got my first least bittern photo:

This snowy egret was cool:

The magpie duck dropped off last month is doing OK.  I still don't know what happened to his gray crested friend who disappeared soon after he was dumped.

Oreo is still alive:

And, I saw this strange rumpless duck.  He can hardly walk, but otherwise seems normal.  I *may* have seen him before.  He's more deformed than injured or ill.

And, finally, we have to say "good bye" to Donald, the oldest duck at the lake.  Something got him as he's now gone and there were feathers everywhere on Sunday.  It's especially sad because he seemed very depressed at losing his friend Buffy2 last month and was, finally, starting to act like himself again.   He had been there at least four years.  Bigboi, the Cayuga duck, is now the oldest duck there.

Still no sign of Snowy, but her mate was also missing today.