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Migration season is in full swing at Lake Murray

Lesser goldfinch at Lake Murray
Lesser goldfinch at Lake Murray
Darlene Luckins

March can be an interesting time to watch birds at Lake Murray in San Diego. This is often the month where one can see both winter and summer birds at the same time. The beginning of March was very different than the end of the month in terms of bird species. Here are some observations of some of the birds seen at Lake Murray during the month of March, 2014.

In the beginning of the month, many species of ducks could be observed all around the lake. There were a large number of gadwalls in Alavarado Bay, which is near the front entrance to the lake. Northern shovelers were also common in the area. Only a few wigeons were seen throughout the month. Mallards were the same number as usual. At the end of the end of the month, only a handful of lesser scaup, redheads, and the normal number of mallards could be seen. There was one report of a ring-necked/lesser scaup hybrid near the end of the month.

Gulls have been more interesting with a report of a mew gull near the dam and near the picnic table area at the parking lot. Also seen were a glaucous-winged gull and a Bonaparte’s gull in winter plumage. Western gulls were still dominant as were a handful of ring-billed and California gulls.

White-crowned sparrows gradually diminished throughout the month, though a few golden-crowned sparrows passed through the area now and then. At least one hooded oriole was seen at the end of the month. Orange-crowned warblers are ever present as were the usual lesser goldfinch. Yellow-rumped warblers, though diminishing in numbers, are still quite common.

In April, the first mallard ducklings should be seen, usually in the areas away from the main parking lot. Expect to see more hooded and Bullock’s orioles as well. Many birds are already nesting, including the famous Lake Murray osprey and herons. Other birds are also nesting or beginning to nest, including the local geese. Also expect to see more summer birds, such as yellow warblers, arriving. Most wintering birds should be gone by the end of April.