As the month of April 2013 comes to a close, the wildlife at Lake Murray, San Diego, seems to have disappeared compared to the numbers seen over the fall and winter. Most wintering waterfowl at the lake have migrated save for a few stragglers. New summer visitors are arriving or passing through. Here is a review of the bird life in April and a look forward through May at the lake.
A few ruddy ducks can still be seen near the heavily reeded area in San Carlos Bay in the north arm of the lake. A lone lesser scaup was seen in Padre Bay, the east arm, at the end of the month. Expect those ducks to leave sometime in the next two weeks if not sooner. Ruddy ducks have been known to summer at Lake Murray, but not in the last few years. A small flock of wild Canada geese passed through and stayed for several days before leaving.
It would seem that many of the mallard ducks have left, but females may be sitting on nests. One brood of ducklings was seen in early April, but after ten days, only one duckling was seen (though others may have been hiding). So far, no other duckling broods have appeared, though more are expected during the month of May. One brood of baby coots was also seen, but disappeared a few days later.
Few shorebirds have been seen at the lake during the winter. No sign of any greater yellowlegs or dowitchers since the fall. Killdeer are pairing up and at least one pair may already be on a nest. One spotted sandpiper was seen in April, briefly, near the main entrance on Kiowa drive. Dowitchers and yellowlegs may still pass through in the month of May. Many of the migratory gulls have left the area, though a few ring-billed gulls remained. Forster’s and Caspian terns have begun to make their presence known.
The black-headed grosbeak appears to be established on the golf course on the west side of the lake. But, his song can be heard from most locations in the area. There may possibly be two grosbeaks, both on the golf course. More orioles have been seen and hooded orioles should begin making their presence soon if they haven’t already. Pacific-slope and other flycatchers are in abundance.
Looking forward into May, expect to see more birds “passing through”, though migration activity will begin to wane near the end of the month. Look for coot chicks and ducklings, as well as other baby animals, to dominate the lake during the next month.