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

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Final Duckling Report

I'm sorry that I haven't been updating lately as I've been so busy that personal projects have been put aside. I have a ton of photos which haven't been processed yet, including several bird pictures from my trip to a bird festival in Tucson.  In the meantime, I have a few duckling photos from the last of this year's ducklings.

I would have to say that, in terms of survivors, this year has been a great duckling season, except for July. I didn't see a single duckling hatched in late June or July survive, though a few might have in areas that I couldn't reach.

I think in my last post on July 7th, I mentioned this orphaned duckling and the mom who lost all of her ducklings. Well, the duckling finally bonded to this mama. I saw both of them for a few more days before they disappeared. I think the mama took him to a safer place. I am not sure if he made it adulthood, but if he did, he may be the only one to do so.

This mother duck had 13 ducklings to begin with. She hung around the boat docks and was doing really well with her ducklings and managed to keep most of them alive for at least two weeks.

Then, unfortunately, a coyote or dog attacked her and her ducklings, ripped off part of her face and damaged her eye. The eye is still there, but severely damaged. She then began to lose ducklings until, after almost three weeks, none were left.

I saw the mama duck for a couple of weeks after this and she was healing up very well and showed no signs of affliction except she had to compensate for not being able to see on that side. She was even flirting with the males. Unfortunately, I haven't seen her for almost a month now and don't know if she just moved off to a new area of passed away.

The adopted duckling with the older sibling grew up and are really tight best friends. The adopted one is a female and the other one is a male and go everywhere together.

Here is the female one, still friendly.

The other duckling that was raised separate by another female became independent really early and left her mom on her own.

A new mother duck with four ducklings showed up. She looked like one of Miss Una's relatives.

A fifth duckling from her brood was hatched later at someone's house, so the person at that house released him at the lake. However, she released him to wrong mother who attacked him. That mama had an independent duckling and the new duckling bonded to him and was glued to him for a long time. 

Then, he began to follow any adult duck he could find, even the males. I had a feeling that he was part of the mom with four above, so I used his following the other ducks to an advantage. I pretended I was throwing food out to get all the ducks to follow me towards the other mother duck (who was actually coming up from the other end of the beach area). 

The mother duck went up tot he duckling, who wasn't sure about her at first, and he seemed to brace for an attack. However, she began clucking at him and he blended in with the other ducklings. He seemed just fine when I left as seen in this photo. Unfortunately, the next day, I only saw four ducklings in that brood, again, but I think he was still with her.

 Unfortunately, none of those ducklings survived. Here is the mom with her last one, whom, I am almost certain, is the one that was released. At least he lived his short life with a loving wild duck family.

There was one other duckling hatched in early July. He, too, was one of four who were doing very well until they started disappearing. This is his last photo taken in late July when he was almost a month old. Someone told me they saw a mama duck with a young duckling in an area that is difficult to get to, but I never saw him again and I thought I saw his mama alone. I am hoping that she just took him elsewhere.

As of the end of July, there were no young ducklings left, however there were a few older ones around that may have been either ones that were raised in other parts of the lake, or Project Wildlife releases.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Duckling News and Bad News

Well, I have some very bad news about some of the Lake Murray favorites. The bad news is that the coyotes have been extremely active in the area around the fishing pier and have killed several domestic birds and perhaps a wild one or hybrid. But, before I give you more details about that, I would like to say that this has been a very good duckling season. So I will give you the duckling news first, then the bad news about who is gone.

First, I put together a slideshow. Below the slideshow, I will give you an update on some of the individuals in the video.  Here is the slideshow:

This photo was taken today. Two moms had a single duckling in the area. However, I think the mama to this little one has disappeared. This female is the mother of the other duckling who has also disappeared. She is trying to adopt the one without a mom, but he is making it difficult to her. His future does not look good unless he lets her get close to him.

These are the two ducklings which used to go across the lake in deep water at least two or three times a day. They are nearly independent and their mama can't keep up with them. They've wandered off on their own many times.

This is "Little Guy." His mama was raising him near the parking lot. However, this particular mama duck loves to take her ducklings to an inaccessible area around the time they are a month old. Little Guy is about two weeks old here. Last I saw him, he was about 4-5 weeks old and getting very big and feathering fast. I wouldn't be surprised if he was one of the many young ducks whom I've seen hanging out together lately. I don't think I could recognize him now.

This is Leuci, a Leucistic mallard. She's at least seven or eight years old. This is her with her last duckling out of a brood of about six ducklings. This little guy lived a few days longer than this photo, but didn't make it.

These two ducklings and the one in the photo below this one have a strange story. The two mamas look almost exactly alike. At one time, all three of the ducklings were together. There were two older ducklings and an adopted younger duckling. Then, when the bigger ducklings turned about two weeks old, the family split in two. One older one and a much younger one went with one mom and another older one went with the other mom. When the two moms get together, the three ducklings mix and match and are fine. However, the mom with two does not accept the other one, so when the families depart, the one duckling goes with one mom and the others go with the other mom.

Here is a new duck someone dumped at the lake. She has a hybrid mallard boyfriend already and is very shy. She goes way off to the far end of the lake and back to the docks everyday. I'm really surprised she's still alive because she is bright as day and I'm sure the coyotes see her at night.

OK, now for the bad news.

Remember the two new ducks I mentioned in my last post? Well, I don't even think it was a week after they arrived that the Pekin disappeared. The brown khaki duck went off with Blue for a while, then started hanging around Runner Duck and his buff friend. She was fine for about a month, then she, too, disappeared. I'm really hoping that their owners had a change of heart and came back to get them. I haven't seen any evidence of them being eaten, but I don't always see that when it happens.

Miss Grey reappeared and I was really happy. She was fine for at least a week or two, then disappeared again. Today, I found a large pile of feathers that looked exactly like hers. Since she has disappeared for long periods before, I'm hoping that the feathers were not from her and she will show up again.

Eight-year-old Snowie may have also been a victim of the coyotes, too. I saw some speculum feathers and some body and wing feathers that look a lot like her special feather patterns. Plus, her mate, Snowy has been acting very strange and her son seems traumatized. I did not find her on her nest.

Warning, grizzly details in this paragraph: However, someone said they found a head of a "regular mallard" near where I found the feathers, so it might not be hers. They said it was sliced clean off, which makes me wonder if humans are involved, though I have heard that can also happen naturally.

As you can see from this photo, her head doesn't look like a "regular mallard."

Another duck that's missing is the one that nesting near Peaches a few years ago. She was a Project Wildlife duck from a few years ago and hung out in that area. Today I found four duck eggs with holes in them. I suspect that they belonged to the owner of the feathers. Snowie had two eggs in her nest which were abandoned and disappeared a long time ago and these new eggs were still fresh.

Also, I am worried about this white goose. He hangs out with the grey goose and they have been at the lake a very long time. I only saw the grey goose today. This is extremely unusual as they are always together. They're both males, so no one is nesting with this pair. Here's a picture of them in 2012.

Miss Angel has also not been seen for over two weeks, but was not healthy the last time I saw her. Her mates, Little Guy and Big Guy, have also not been seen which makes me think she is hiding somewhere with them.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Baby Season 2017

Duckling season seems to be peaking now. What's been nice is that a lot of the ducklings are surviving a lot longer than they used to. The blue herons have all fledged from their nests and I haven't seen the black-crowned herons all season. The gulls are behaving themselves so far, but I think they may be afraid of being injured by the mama ducks. One of the gulls was so injured, possibly by a mama duck, that it could no longer fly.

I compiled a lot of the photos and videos of the ducklings for this month since the time I last posted.

We have a new set of four goslings at Lake Murray. I think we are not really going to get anymore goslings as it's becoming late in the season.

Miss Butterscotch's ducklings are all grown up and almost ready to fly. Butterscotch is getting her groove back with her male duck friends. Her ducklings are the older ones in the video.

Here are a couple more duckling photos I just took today:

The Two

The single duckling below is being watched closely by the duckling-eating gull. But the mama duck is very experienced and successful, so I don't think she would let him get eaten without a fight.

The Single Duckling

Dumped Ducks:

It's that time of year again where people dump their Easter ducklings to get eaten by coyotes at the lake.  These three nearly died of dehydration until someone threw them into the lake. They're still having a hard time getting adjusted to living at the lake, but at least they're not thirsty anymore. I have a feeling they were kept in a cage or in a home and have no clue what to do.

These two were dropped off yesterday and seem to have a handle on things. Runner Duck wants to rape the female, though, but he hasn't figured out how to get past the big male Pekin.


The coyotes have been very active and we've lost several ducks in the last few weeks:

The droopy-winged brown and white female had been missing for a week and a half before I found her body, so she may have been already dead when the coyotes found her. The gray one was doing well and getting grayer, but I didn't see her as well today. But, she may be OK.

The female Chinese swan goose, dropped off almost two years ago, was killed shortly after the droopy-winged duck. Her mate is now spending time trying to stay close to some of the older geese.  I think he's pretty scared. Her egg was still in her nest when I saw the feather pile.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Ah, Spring is for Ducklings

Though I haven't been at Lake Murray the last few days, when I last saw them, these three ducklings were still plugging along. Each day their mama was taking them on longer and longer distances, even going beyond the fence line. They were constantly moving. On the last day I saw them, I believe she had taken them out of the area. This was her same pattern the last two years. If you haven't seen them, it's possible they are no longer visiting the parking lot area regularly. You may go a while without seeing them and depending on the time of day you visit, you may not see them again until they're fully feathered.

Meanwhile, Miss Una has done what was expected and moved her ducklings down to the other end of the lake. She managed to keep two of them so far. Last time I saw her, she was being hassled by the drakes. I only could truly see one duckling, but I think I saw the other one duck in the reeds.

Miss Una's mother was last seen with three ducklings. The next day, I saw two all by themselves without their mother. However, as I was watching them, they completely disappeared. There were no predators in the area. I saw a woman bending down at the water's edge, but I think the ducklings were not nearby, and even if they were, they would not be easy to catch.

Sadly, after my last post with the gosling photos, Squeaker's little baby disappeared.

Other birds are still hanging around and should be migrating soon. This is an eared grebe in breeding plumage.

Least sandpipers visiting:

There is a female spotted sandpiper being rather co-operative. A male is hanging out nearby and they may be bonded mates or a new mate for her to travel back to the breeding areas with.

Duck Rescue:

Last Sunday, I came across these two Cayuga ducks hiding in the brush near the front entrance. They were dehydrated and very hungry. The female was in distress as well. I was going to introduce them to the water, but decided that, since there was a female and they tend to die real fast here, I would catch both and take them with me to see if I could find a home for them. 

The male is extremely gorgeous with a LOT of green. This photo does no justice to his gorgeous colors. He was quite the gentleman to his girlfriend and his personality was mellow as is common for the breed. The female duck was a diva and made lots of demands with me. She would scream unless you made her happy. Then, she would be very quiet. Because I live in an apartment with a strict no pets policy, and I have allergies, I couldn't keep them. So, I took them to the animal shelter. After a five-day hold (for health and to give the owner a chance to come get them), they were put up for adoption. They were adopted within hours of being listed.

They left me an egg as a present.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

More and More Ducklings at Lake Murray

Right now, there are so many ducklings being hatched that they are pretty much everywhere.

The seven from last week were down to three yesterday. These had made it to ten days old, which is rare in this spot. I doubt I will see them again after these photos because of too many predators. However, it's nice to get some photos of them at this age as it's been a long time since I've been able to do so. They were eating bread from the ground in some of the photos. I didn't feed them that, though, so don't tell me how bad bread is for them as I already know.

Lovely Miss Una was seen with ducklings about the same time. I saw her twice and she had four ducklings when I last saw her. Then, she disappeared. This was her pattern last year when she kept the ducklings in one place until their numbers started going down and then took them somewhere else where they can stay hidden, so they may still be around.

I saw this gull near the ducklings. It looks like he had the stuffing beat out of him. His wing might be broken. I don't know if Miss Una or one of the geese beat him up. I watched him for a few days and he's not doing good. I don't think he's going to make it. I can't catch him because he swims away. I hate seeing gulls get this old only to die shortly afterwards. It's very hard for a gull to reach breeding age.

I think Miss Una's Mother had these ducklings, yesterday. There were tons of gulls around, so I don't know how they fared. Miss Una's Mother is a very competent mother, so I hope all is good.

Lots of babies in the canals. I'm not sure who this mama duck is:

This female, also in the canal, looks a lot like "Mama's Little Weakling" from a few years ago. She was raised in the canal, so it makes sense that her ducklings are being raised there as well.

And, of course, Mr. and Mrs. Squeaker and their one adorable baby:

Still no signs of any other goslings, yet. I suspect there's at least three other nests going on.

Grumpy (or Larry) update:

I can't remember if I've mentioned it in my other posts, but the parking lot goose which I called Grumpy (also known as "Larry" by one other person) was taken to Project Wildlife to be rehabilitated and, perhaps, released somewhere where she won't get into trouble. She was the one who liked to stare at her reflection in the cars in the parking lot. She was causing a lot of problem as she had started to go out to street and local businesses, so she could have caused an accident or got hurt.