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

Monday, November 14, 2016

Great Egrets Fighting

I was counting birds at Lake Murray when I spotted these two great egrets fighting. I think one was a juvenile and the other had a mate setting up a nest in a tree about a 1/4 mile away. They had been fighting for a couple of minutes before I started taking pictures. A couple of times, one had the other completely under water.

The coot is a referee:

The ducks initially swam away, but came back to watch. I think that might be little Troublemaker, the mallard.

The looser looked like he had swallowed some water and didn't look good the next few times I saw him.

In other news, Pumpkin is still missing, though Sissy has been doing very well. Pumpkin always had some kind of health issue and it's still possible that she passed away, though I thought I heard her quacking a month ago. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sissy Returns and Other Birdy Happenings

Sissy, the buff duck, seems to have returned from her three-month absence in the reeds at Lake Murray. She had no ducklings this year. Her sister, Pumpkin, has not been seen or heard, yet, but she may still be in there as she often comes out after Sissy leaves.

This poor duck's eyes are swollen shut. I saw him a week later and they were less swollen, but he still had problems seeing. I haven't seen him recently. I thought maybe he was having severe mite problems, but now I think he got stung by a bee or spider.

At my home, we had a baby dove fledge and leave for good. Here's a photo of him still in the nest with his dad.

In sad news, I think something happened to that one young goose that was always lagging behind and who couldn't fly out with the others. This looks like a Canada goose wing, but it's all folded up and missing the "fingers". If I were to unfold this, it would be pretty big, so it rules out any of the ducks or other birds. I'm thinking he died in the water or the reeds. I found it near where he was last seen. I thought I he finally got away because the next time I went to that area, all the other geese were hanging out there.

In other sad news, I think I found out what happened to Miss Skeeter. I found a lot of light-brown feathers in the same area where Mr. Squeaky was found. This area is in a direct line from where I last saw her. I think the feathers were out there for at least a month or six weeks which would put them back to when I got the last report of her in late July.

Monday, August 22, 2016


I don't know if anyone remembers Zippy and Skippy and their mom "Yellowcheeks" from 2012? Here's a photo of them at about 2-3 weeks old:

I lost track of them when Zippy found a mate and I thought she left the lake for good. However, I recently came across an old photo of Zippy that made me realize something. This isn't the old photo, but it's a photo that I'm completely sure is her, so I am posting it. Sorry for the contrast.

Here is the photo I came across this morning that was taken about eight months after the one above.

I just realized that Zippy may be the mother of the two ducklings from near the parking lot earlier this year. They're the ones that the grebe family liked to follow around.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Spotted Sandpiper and Avocets

I haven't been taking a lot of pictures at Lake Murray, lately, but I did see this very friendly spotted sandpiper about two weeks ago. I think it's a male because he's small and slim. He was eating up flies like crazy.

I also saw some visiting American avocets on another morning. They're not rare, but don't visit the lake all that often.

Friday, July 15, 2016

July Ducklings

So far, duckling season at Lake Murray this year has been pretty poor. Not only are they disappearing when I do see them, there's been fewer of them. However, some have managed to make it to adulthood. Here are three late season broods.

The first two must be from sisters because the moms look very similar. I believe that these are both second broods for those mothers.

This third family is at the two-week-old mark. The duckling at the front is a hybrid and if he survives, he will be a chunky-looking mallard.

Another duckling made it until he was three weeks old and disappeared. He was very independent and just old enough that he could have lived on his own, so I'm hoping he just went off somewhere and is hiding.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Photo Contest Winners

I enter the Mission Trails photo contest almost every year and almost always with a duckling or gosling photo. I just like to show off the babies because I really enjoy photographing them. This year, I entered three photos and two of them won prizes. It was a total surprise for me and I thank the judges for choosing my photos out of all the great photos that were there.  Here were the winning photos:

Third Place and People's Choice:

Good Morning Baby Squeaker

First Place and Best of Show:

March of the Goslings

Thanks for viewing!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Northern Rough-Winged Swallows Feeding Their Babies

This morning, I was privileged to see two very young northern rough-winged swallows getting fed at Lake Murray. Sorry for the blurriness, they were far away and it was cloudy and there were branches in my way.

This first photo shows a hummingbird who was very interested in what was going on. Yes, there are two babies in the first two photos, one is closer to the right and less active. The first two pictures also have an adult. The first photo shows an adult leaving after feeding the youngster and the second photo shows the adult approaching the youngster who begins to show a begging posture. Note that in both photos the other baby doesn't react.

Another immature (teenager) rough-winged swallow was also waiting to get fed. The swallows were doing a good job keeping the bugs down today.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

New Project Wildlife Ducks at Lake Murray

A bunch of new Project Wildlife ducks were released yesterday at Lake Murray after being raised and rehabilitated. One of them was so cute. He still had a peeping voice and when his friends got too far away, you can hear his little duckling call. They are usually released when they begin to grow their primaries, usually at about seven weeks old. I know they're releases because there are no surviving ducklings that old at the lake right now. In fact, there's been very few ducklings seen so far this season. This is the second group released this year.

That's not fishing line in that one duckling's mouth, it's algae.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New Baby Ducks at Lake Murray, Today's Picture 5/25/2016

Today's picture is of a new set of ducklings in the same area where Miss Una and her mother kept their ducklings until they went somewhere else. This may be Miss Una's aunt. In case you're wondering, Miss Una's mom and aunt are probably direct descendants of Fish Food Mama who is also mother to Peaches, Butterscotch, Caramel, Pepper, Indy and about 30 other adult ducks at Lake Murray.

Miss Una's mom and aunt are likely two of the 10 ducklings Fish Food Mama successfully raised in 2013. All the females in that brood look very similar to each other and a lot like their mom.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Least Tern, Picture of the Day 05/24/16

Today's picture of the day is of a least tern that was flying around at the Tijuana River Natural Estuarine Research Reserve down by the border near Imperial Beach. I took this on International Migratory Bird Day on May 14th. The least terns nest in this area and this adult was looking for small fish in the river area. It was a cloudy day.

Update on the ducklings in the last post: Unfortunately, they were all gone within a couple of days. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mom with Ducklings Today's Picture of the Day 5/16/2016

Today's picture is of this mom with four of her five ducklings. It was kinda a dreary morning, so there's not a lot of contrast. I think a couple of the ducklings got attacked by the gulls as they seem a little wounded. The mom also keeps pecking and knocking over the fifth duckling.

Last Friday, she had 13 babies.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The First Picture of the Day, May 15th 2016 Dumped Duckies

Hi everyone! I've been so busy that I haven't been able to keep up with any of my blogs. However, I don't want anyone to think I dropped off the face of the Earth or anything. Right now, I don't have time to process a lot of my photos or write the blog on top of all my other writings. So, what I plan to do is post a single picture, or two, at least once a week. I will try to do it as many days as I can, but I didn't want to say that I will be doing this everyday only to let you readers down.

The "picture of the day" posts will say just that "picture of the day," the date and maybe a title. It's going to be hard because I love telling all the stories about all the birds I see, so it'll be hard for me to pick just one.

Today's picture of the day is of two dumped ducks I just discovered at Lake Murray. They appear to be Easter refugees and look about 8 weeks old. The crested Pekin is a female, the mallard is a male.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Disappearing and Re-appearing Ducklings

Duck breeding season is both a happy and a sad time for me. Happy because I love seeing all the adorable babies. Sad because many females are killed by male ducks and many ducklings are eaten. Already, I have witnessed gulls grabbing ducklings and eating at least one. They may also be responsible for the disappearance of this one, the last of about ten that hatched about 9 days ago.

The mom didn't seem to care.

Last year's "uneaten duckling," Miss Una, was seen with ten of her own ducklings. She's such a wonderful mama, very conscientious and loving.

Now, here's the weird part. Last Friday, Miss Una had six ducklings, including a lame one that got bit hard by a male and had trouble with his leg. On Saturday, Miss Una had only five ducklings, and I suspected that the lame one probably died from his injuries. However, when I walked around the curve, I found another female, possibly Miss Una's mother, with three ducklings the same age, including one with a hurt foot. She went one way and Miss Una happy went another way.

Today, that other mother was seen with at least 12 ducklings, including the one with the hurt foot. Some looked younger than others.

 One duckling didn't want to go with this other female. When I approached, he ran after the group, but went off on his own and stayed by himself for quite a long time, peeping now and then.

 Later, I saw Miss Una with the one duckling who seemed very happy just to stay with her.

The other female, with at least 11 or 12 ducklings, disappeared at first, but was later seen in the area. She seemed to want to keep her distance from Miss Una and her one duckling. The problem is that this mother takes a lot more risks with her babies than Miss Una and I fear that they may not make it.

For some weird reason, the gulls do not want to fly over this area. There's a kingbird actively attacking many birds, but I don't think they attack gulls. It could just be a fluke and they may decide they want to go over and grab some ducklings eventually.

The gosling season has started and, already, there are two broods. Two more broods will be arriving soon. 

RIP Mr. Pekin and Arthritis Duck:

After looking for them for over a week, I finally found out what happened to Mr. Pekin and the duck with arthritis. They both disappeared at the same time and I was sure that at least one of them was still around because it's rare that two would die suddenly. I found both of their remains today and it looks like they coyotes got both of them the same time. They had been following Miss Angel to this area which is a little further away than they usually go. Miss Angel is OK, however.  Those two were best friends until the last minute. They both join Mr. Squeaky who was killed by coyotes a few months ago.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Borrego Springs Swainson's Hawks

So, I went down to see the Swainson's hawks in Borrego Springs yesterday because I couldn't do it last year. I guess at some point before, someone counted over a thousand hawks! I only saw a couple hundred. I was there early in the morning, but did not stick around after they started kettling.

They were all on the ground off of Borrego Springs Road near Henderson Canyon Road looking for caterpillars when I got there.

Some where out flying around, so I was able to get a couple of shots:

They started kettling around 10 a.m. near Henderson and Peg Leg. I guess they migrate all the way from South America to near the arctic and like to pass through here.

They were looking for these guys. I think this is a photo of a sphinx moth caterpillar. I think the sphinx moth is the one that's also known as the hummingbird moth. 

The caterpillars like to eat these things:

Creosote in bloom:

Sand verbena with what I think is dune evening primrose. I don't know what those little white flowers are called.

Here are some more of the little white flower. I think they might be snowball sand verbena.

 I think this might be the regular kind of evening primrose:

A shot of the entire valley.

I haven't been taking many pictures of the animal around Lake Murray lately. No. 6 and Miss Skeeter decided to go way over to where Mr. Squeaky got killed by the coyotes. They were there for about a week when No. 6 was seen alone in another area of the lake. I could not find Miss Skeeter for well over a week and thought that she might have been killed by the coyotes, too. However, I finally found her not far from where No. 6 and two other white pekins were hanging out..

In this photo, taken before she disappeared, you can clearly see the fishing line around her leg:

This next time I saw her, I couldn't see the line very much, though she was still limping. I think she likes to play with it and wrap and unwrap it around her leg. She's not hurt here, she's trying to dig under the leaf litter and decided to lie down.

Handsome No. 6:

There's a new dumped duck that was dropped off a week or so ago. He looks a lot like Dougie who was pekin and another breed.

I saw a pretty canvasback female back in February:

There hasn't been many killdeer lately. Mostly, I've been seeing one pair: a large female and a skinny male much like George and Martha. I also think I've seen Killer and Dee now and then.

The fat sandpiper continued to stick around and she lost quite a bit of weight:

I also came across this ring-billed gull with actual rings on its legs. Unfortunately, I could not read the USFWS band number: