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

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Snowie's baby is returned and other baby bird news

Snowie's stolen duckling was still with his ducklingnapper this morning, snuggled against her while they swam.  But, later, she went back to Snowie's family, which still contained 7 babies, and he mixed in with his brothers and sisters:

When the family moved on, he went with him, but mostly stayed by himself.  However, when he felt uncomfortable, he went back to Snowie.  The other female took a nap and later went looking for the family and, when she found them, she stayed nearby.

Snowie was having a hard time with her mate and her son.  She has her mad mama face on while she chased her son away:

Still 5 goslings in the same area.  They're starting to get big:

One of the goslings has zooming around under water:

Dad seems confused as to where his gosling went (he's under the water) .  But, the gosling was fine:

There's still three babies in the front heron's nest.  The other two in the other nest seem to have completely fledged:

It appears that the two baby osprey that were left in the nest have fledged.  I think one even returned.

Baby Blue and his mate whom I found out was named Ducky Ducky by the man who dumped her:

Mrs. Pekin looks absolutely awful.  She is now the last surviving domestic female dumped before last September.  I hope she gets better.  Little Sissy, the buff, is dead.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Snowie's New Babies

It was cold and drizzly early this morning (typical Memorial Day Weekend weather) when I saw Snowie with a new set of ducklings. This is almost exactly 6 weeks after her last brood died.

I think she had 11, 6 are in the next photo:

Here's a close up of a few:

However, this leucastic female mallard was hanging around.   She NEVER hangs out in this area and I'm sure she hasn't been nesting.  All kinds of ducklings surrounded her and when she began to move, this one began to follow and peep after her.  At first, she acted like she wanted to get away, but she was answering his peeping with "mama duck" talk:

She swam close to Snowie and her babies, then went far out to the middle of the lake, the duckling tight on her side.  Then, she went closer to her usual area with the duckling and let him feed onshore.  I was worried that she didn't want a duckling and would abandon him.  But, she was being attentive and talking to him, so I told her to take good care of him.  She may have been passing by Snowie to either return him to her or to possibly steal more.

It's unusual for mallards to raise any ducklings not their own.  Most females will peck and chase a baby that gets too close, or even kill them.  But, every year I find at least one or two females who will steal a baby (or babies) from another female who is inattentive.  Usually, I've found, the adoptive mothers are females who are bad at setting, don't want to set, or have lost their nest close to hatching time.  Ducklings are easily impressionable during the first three days and may attach themselves to other mothers or ducklings during that time.

Sad news about the Canada goslings.  One is gone.  I don't know what happened.  I suspect the herons, but humans, pet dogs/cats, and raccoons could be the reason for its disappearance.  They're too big for gulls, crows, etc.  Or, it could have been sick.

Monday, May 19, 2014


The first ever Canada goslings have been hatched at Lake Murray recently.  You may remember me posting about the mother goose on a nest earlier.

Dad goose kept photobombing me.  He frequently put himself between me and the goslings:

Skinny-neck mom and dad:

Copying dad:

This juvenile heron was actually hanging out by a trash can with the gulls.  He actually was nibbling at food in the trash and on the ground.  Someone needs to tell him he's not a gull, but a heron and they only eat fresh food.  He did show interest in catching the grackles flying around:

This gull has an overgrown bill.  I've been watching him a while and he seems to be able to eat OK:

Earlier last week, someone found a duckling wandering around the lake road where it could get run over. There was also another duckling all alone, but he couldn't be caught.   After a few hours, I found Butterscotch and her day-old ducklings.  I released him to her and he seemed very happy to be back with his siblings and mother:

They stayed alive for several days, but after about five days, only two were left.  Today, I saw none.  At least that one duckling got to spend time with his family even if he didn't make it.

We had some terrible fires and hot and dry weather.  People lost homes and many birds nests were destroyed.  I think the dry weather was a factor in a hummingbird nest I was monitoring because it fell apart and the baby fell out of the nest and died.  The other egg was already internally pipped, but abandoned.  Here is a photo of the little baby.  He has some nesting material attached to him:

Friday, May 9, 2014

May 2014 Counting Day

Nutmeg Manikins.  I always see them there at Lake Murray

Today was the (unofficial) May 2014 counting day at Lake Murray in San Diego.  I was able to really get out and count the birds carefully because there were so few birds seen.  I only counted about 20 coots, which is the lowest number I've ever counted.  Mallard levels were low, too.  Unlike previous years, there were few ducklings and coot babies, too.  Western gulls, song sparrows, house finches and Anna's hummingbirds were the most numerous birds there.

I saw two gadwalls:

Surprisingly, we still have a few ruddy ducks around.  The scaup were there until a few days ago.

Baby Blue has a new girlfriend and they stick together all the time.  The male she was dumped with has left her because she prefers to be with Baby Blue.  She follows him everywhere.

The mom who had four ducklings still has three of them.  One of the smallest ones is gone.  They're about two weeks old now.  They were the only ducklings there.  Usually, there are at least 40-60 at this time.

This mean old coot didn't like the mama duck eating some grain that was nearby and chased her away:

The ducklings went and hid deep in the reeds and mama went with them.  I didn't see them again:

The two jerk geese were there where the ducklings are.  Well, the Canada goose is really sweet, but the white one is a jerk.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Heron news and stalking squirrels

I found out that there were a total of at least 5 baby herons in the two nests.  2 in one nest and 3 in the other.  The 2 in the one nest were already fledging.

One of the older baby herons decided he wanted to go eat squirrels.  There are people who regularly leave grain for the squirrels and this heron was taking advantage of that.  The crow was suspicious and, after having a few bites, left the scene.

I got a shot of the heron trying to attack the squirrel, but it was cut off at the bottom.  He missed.  When the squirrels ran into the reeds, he went after them.  But, it looked like he was going to miss out of having squirrel for breakfast.  Unfortunately, there used to be three ducklings around there, too, but they were not seen.

In other news, here's a photo of a Cassin's kingbird on top of a speed limit sign:

Bigboi and Runner Duck:

And, Little Sissy is doing OK after the death of her sister, Big Sissy.  While it looks like she's going to eat that fishing line on that log, she actually didn't and went on to find other types of food.