July at Lake Murray in San Diego was uneventful for birdwatching. Early in the month, there were still several young ducklings and many other babies were fledging or venturing out on their own for the first time. Migration sometimes begins in this area towards the end of July and early August. Here is a report on what birds have come and gone this month and what to look forward to in August.
The beginning of the month meant fledging babies and also meant strange birdsong as many young songbirds practice their songs. Bewick’s wrens and song sparrows both go through a trial period where they learn their songs and are often heard doing half a song or a strange variant of their species’ songs. In other baby news, the second osprey has, apparently, fledged and was spotted flying around the lake. There were unsubstantiated rumors that he had fallen out of the nest into the cactus below, but no evidence of it. The female osprey still fishes the area and visits the nest. No sign, so far, or any first-year western gulls. Many ducklings have reached their “teenage” stage and are often curious about fishing equipment and sometimes get hooked or tangled in lines. People fishing are asked to be careful and pick up their fishing equipment when done fishing.
There has been little sign of killdeer or other shorebirds, though some killdeer have been heard around the golf course and past the fence near the Kiowa drive entrance. A surprise flock of willets passed through the area in late July, only staying a few minutes before moving on. One of the great blue herons and a great egret have been making appearances in various areas of the lake, but are mostly hanging out in areas with less human traffic. Least bitterns and green herons continue in the reeds. A single common gallinule was spotted near the benches around the two-mile mark. The hooded orioles did very well in July and several males and females were spotted in various locations.
In August, look for the summer visitors, such as warblers and orioles, to leave the area and fall migrants to arrive. Greater yellowlegs and yellow-headed blackbirds are not unusual during August, especially towards the end of the month. Some ducks such as northern pintails, green-winged teal and northern shovelers may arrive during the latter part of the month. A stray willet or stilt may also make an appearance. Killdeer and coot numbers should begin to increase as well. Duckling season is mostly over, though at least one young duckling was spotted at the end of July. It’s possible to have another small “pulse” of ducklings in August.
UPDATE: I have recently been informed that the second baby osprey has, indeed, been euthanized due to a severe fishing line injury. The first baby is doing well.