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Things were quiet this August at Lake Murray, San Diego

Ibis at Lake Murray
Ibis at Lake Murray
Darlene Luckins

With August coming to a close, the migration season is supposedly underway. While other areas of San Diego are seeing some migrants, things are fairly quiet at Lake Murray, still. But, the area is not devoid of migrating birds. Here are a few observations for the lake in August 2014.

Waterfowl: During most of the summer months, coots were non-existent. But, in the last few weeks, their numbers have slowly been increasing. Generally, during September, resident coots are still tending to chicks. But, no new coot chicks were seen during August. Ducklings, however, were seen both at the beginning and near the end of the month, but did not survive. Pied-billed grebe chicks are still common. Only a few gadwalls and a couple a wood ducks have been seen. The Canada geese numbers remained the same.

Shorebirds: Shorebirds are severely lacking with no killdeer seen for the entire month. There was an unusual white-faced ibis in the middle of the month. Gull numbers are down with a few western and California gulls in the area. Forster’s and a couple of Caspian terns were present at the beginning of August, but in low numbers. By mid-month, they had disappeared. A few snowy egrets and a couple of herons seen throughout the month.

Perching birds: Yellow warblers are still present in many areas, but most migrants have either not arrived or have left the area already. No signs of orioles or western kingbirds for the entire month. One surprise was that a couple of golden-crowned sparrows may have been heard near the ½ mile marker for about a week. A Costa’s hummingbird was also heard in that area. A possible rufous hummingbird (unconfirmed) might have been seen near the main entrance. Pigeons, doves, and grackles were in their usual numbers, though the grackles seemed to have fewer surviving chicks this year.

Raptors: Nothing notable with raptors, except for two juvenile Cooper’s hawks near the boat docks. Only one or two turkey vultures were seen during the month as well as an occasional red-tailed hawk.

Domestic birds: There was a report of someone releasing pet parakeets in the area, but only one was re-caught (only to escape later). No signs of any others in the area. No new domestic ducks dumped this month. One large Pekin duck, in poor health, was rescued earlier in the month. There are currently 12 Pekin ducks and a variety of other domestic ducks still currently at the lake.

Next month, look for more migrants and, hopefully, more shorebirds. Even though the resident killdeer left during breeding season, they should still return to the area for the fall and winter. Expect to see lesser scaup arriving by the end of September and possibly some northern shovelers. Willets, greater yellowlegs, and other shorebirds may arrive and stay for a day or two before leaving. Domestic duck dumping also increases during the fall even though shelters will take in these birds and put them up for adoption.

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