June, 2014 bird watching in the Lake Murray area in San Diego didn’t yield many surprises. The Swainson’s thrush was heard during the first half of the month, but was absent or silent towards the end. Summer residents definitely have arrived and the sounds of yellow warblers and Forster’s terns can be heard all around the lake area. Here are a few of the highlights for this month as well as a look ahead for July.
Many visitors to the lake area were delighted with the sight of the first known Canada goslings ever hatched there. Five of the youngsters and their parents were frequently seen grazing off the watered lawns near the parking lot. By the end of the month, the goslings had obtained flight and were quickly losing their baby fluff.
Ducklings were few and far between for the month of June with only a handful seen at the beginning and end of the month. So far, it would seem that only 10 ducklings have survived past the one month mark. Other than mallards, one or two gadwalls and red heads were the only other waterfowl in the area. Coots, a member of the rail family, were in very low numbers with only a few chicks so far.
Terns have also been lacking at the lake this month with only a few Forster’s terns and only one or two Caspian terns seen fishing at the lake. Western gulls were the dominant gull species, but a good number of non-breeding immature California gulls were mingling among them. Western grebes were seen, briefly, at the beginning of the month and may still be present, but hidden, in the northwest area of the lake. Pied-billed grebes were fairly common.
The osprey chicks still return to the nest now and then, but less frequently. Earlier in the month, the third osprey chick, which had been injured in a fall last month, was returned to the lake. It is unknown if he has reconnected with his family. Other raptors such as red-shouldered hawks, kestrels and Cooper’s hawks are still common as are a couple of great-horned owls and red-tailed hawks.
Smaller birds, like grackles, are in full breeding mode and several youngsters have been seen in various areas. Hooded orioles, lesser goldfinches, Bullock’s orioles, Bewick’s wrens, and nutmeg manikins are still common. Song sparrows have become much quieter and many bushtits are still living in large flocks rather than single breeding pairs.
Hopefully, in July, there will be more ducklings and coot chicks, but, for the most part, breeding season is winding down. Many birds begin migrating in late July and early August and all chicks must be fledged by then. Look for more of the same type of birds in July as was in June.