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Lake Murray bird watching report and review January 2014

Redheads were more numerous than usual.
Redheads were more numerous than usual.
Darlene Luckins

The month of January, 2014 at Lake Murray in San Diego, California didn’t offer much for birding. There were a couple of reports of a green-tailed towhee near the baseball fields during this month. But, other than that, there wasn’t much in the way of anything unusual there. The water bird migration seems to have peaked and there weren’t many shorebirds to view. Here are the highlights of birding for this month.

The number of coots and gadwalls declined steadily throughout the month while lesser scaup numbers remained nearly the same. Ruddy ducks numbers declined slightly. Redhead numbers increased and were very prevalent towards the end of the month. Ring-necked ducks were seen at the beginning of the month, but disappeared later. Mallard numbers stayed steady throughout the month, but droped sharply by the end of January, possibly due to early nesting of some of the females. Eared grebes are still seen, but no signs of any other type of grebe during this month.

Killdeer numbers remained low and there were no signs of any spotted sandpipers in January. One greater-yellowlegs was seen very early in the month and some possible long-billed dowitchers may have been briefly seen at the lake during the middle of the month. No signs of the Wilson’s snipe this year. Gull numbers were also low for this time of year with only a few ring-billed gulls and only one or two herring and California gulls. All other gulls were resident western gulls.

Raptor numbers seem to be low with only a couple of Cooper’s hawk sightings and at least one red-tailed hawk working the area. The osprey pair was seen building their nest in preparation for the breeding season. The great blue herons were also preparing their nests as they usually do this time of year. Snowy egret numbers are good and the single great egret can easily be seen from any part of the lake.

Yellow-rumped warblers and white-crowned sparrows continue in most areas around the walking path. Nutmeg manikins are very noticeable in at least three or four areas around the lake. The hermit thrush was briefly seen at his usual spot near the 1 ¾ mark and the California thrasher is still singing around the baseball fields. Swallow numbers are low possibly due to the dry weather and lack of flying insects.

In February, expect a few birds to pass through, briefly, for migration. If the area gets rain, expect to see more swallows and other insect-eating birds in the area. Birds to look out for include migratory hummingbirds, warblers and sparrows. It’s possible to see some birds arrive early for spring, but unlikely.

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