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Birding at Lake Murray in July meant ducklings and young corvids

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

July 2014 at Lake Murray in San Diego, California started out with pleasant weather, but ended by being very hot. Though summer is usually a time when there are fewer birds and bird species at the lake and surrounding areas, it can be a time to see interesting migrants. Here are a few highlights for this month.


The month started out with a pleasant surprise of mallard ducklings, especially around the main entrance and boat dock. By the end of the month, all of those ducklings had disappeared. A few gadwalls and a redhead were the only other ducks seen at the lake. Very few coot chicks were seen, though coot numbers were starting to get larger by the end of the month. The Canada goslings have fully feathered, but are still smaller than and dependent on mom and dad.

Gulls, herons, grebes and shorebirds:

Western gulls and a few juvenile California gulls still dominate the area. A lone greater yellowlegs was heard near the beginning of the month. Killdeer were virtually non-existent with only one or two being seen or heard in the area. Several Clark’s and western grebes remained in the area, though fewer than last year at this time. The heron chicks have fledged and a couple adults still remain in the area.


Not much change in the passerine category. Yellow warblers seem few and far between. Nutmeg manikin numbers appear to have greatly increased lately. At least one scrub jay was seen in the area. The raven pair has been seen with their recently fledged youngsters. The crows have also brought their young ones out as well.


The only ospreys seen in the area were adults. A peregrine falcon was reported to be seen near the boat docks, though Cooper’s hawks are frequently mistaken for them. Two juvenile Cooper’s hawks were seen harassing squirrels and crows in that area. Only adult red-tailed hawks were seen, but a juvenile may have been heard calling for its parents.

In August, expect to see more migrants arriving, including more shorebirds such as stilts, willets, and yellowlegs. It’s not unheard of to see a lesser scaup or more gadwalls at this time. Duckling season should be mostly over and only older juveniles should be seen in August.

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