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BIRD TALK: MIGRATORY BIRDS

 

By Greg Dunne

December 17, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Our County has many migratory birds.  This week, I’m highlighting two of them: the Northern Shoveler Duck (although a few will stay year round) and a small song bird, the Townsend’s Warbler, a winter visitor.

The Northern Shoveler is primarily a winter visitor to the County, abundant this time of year at Santee Lakes, Lindo Lake and I’ve even spotted a few this year at Lake Murray. The Northern Shoveler is a medium sized duck with a very long bill that is wider at the tip than the base. It has a glossy dark green head similar to the Mallard Duck but the bill of the shoveler stands out from any other duck.  Shovelers use this bill to filter out food from the water.

PEARL JAM ROCKS AT SDSU

 

November 27, 2013 (San Diego) – Greg Dunne, best known to our readers as our “Bird Talk” columnist, sent us these photos and review comments on the Pearl Jam concert at San Diego State University.

“The show had everything. All the great songs to name a few: Even Flow, Black, Just Breathe, a Who song Baba O'Riley (We all know as Teenage Waste Land). A great rendition of Star-Spangled Banner by lead guitarist Mike McCready. Was it as good as the classic by Jimi Hendrix? Dare I say yes?” he wrote, adding that while “not as iconic as the great Jimi's rendition,” the concert was “a love fest between Pearl Jam and the fans. The audience knew just when to jump in and sing along with Eddie.”

BIRD TALK: NESTS - HOMES FOR BIRDS

 

By Greg Dunne

July 24, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Bird nests can be hard to observe. We usually just stumble across them out in nature. One place you can always see a large variety of Egret and Heron nests is in the Eucalyptus trees at Lindo Lake.

“Large” fledgling Egrets and Herons are leaving the nest at this time of the year. I say large because the Snowy and Great Egret babies getting ready to leave the nest are as big as their parents. It always looks a little odd to see Mother Egret feeding a bird nearly her own size in a very crowded nest.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: COOPER'S HAWKS

 

July 22, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Bird Talk columnist Greg Dunne shared these images. He writes, “Out at my six-mile walk around Lake Murray Thursday towards the dam, I was treated to five fledgling Cooper's Hawks. I was able to observe them for quite a while.” The darker-backed Cooper's Hawks are the adults, he noted. “I could also tell the fledglings by their behavior, hopping around from branch to branch, making noise with their screeching, and just seeming unsure what to do next, while there was one that seemed a bit annoyed at all this commotion, and was a bit darker on the back side, and was a bit more poised than the young ones. A bit far away for good photos, but I really had a good time watching them.”

BIRD TALK: THE WESTERN BLUEBIRD

 

 

By Greg Dunne

June 22, 2013 (Alpine)--“I'm a bluebird, I'm a bluebird I'm a bluebird, yeah, yeah, yeah,” to quote Paul McCartney. Just last week our “children” left the nest here in Alpine, our Western Bluebird children, that is. We enjoyed their company for about three weeks.

We have a birdhouse sitting on the railing going down steps leading to the front door of our house. It was put there some time ago just for yard décor; we thought it was too close to everyday foot traffic to be a choice place to set up raising baby birds.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: FIVE PEAKS IN MISSION TRAILS

By Greg Dunne

April 28, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) --  My friend, David Hart, and myself went on a long and strenuous six-hour but fun hike of all five peaks at Mission Trails Regional Park on Wednesday. We enjoyed seeing many of nature’s wild life. Mule Deer, Red Diamondback Rattlesnake (always be aware of rattlesnakes this time of year), a Gopher Snake, (the gopher snake I befriended and then let him back on his way), and even a Jerusalem Cricket.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: HIKING AT MISSION TRAILS REGIONAL PARK

By Greg Dunne

March 6, 2013 -  Last week I did back to back hikes in Missions Trails Regional Park. I was treated with three Mule Deer on the trail—a great sight!  I have only seen deer at Mission Trails once before and that was after the Cedar fires of 2003.

It was on my way back from North Mt. Fortuna that I spotted the trio of deer. They were not as skittish as I thought they might be and I was able to watch them and take photos for at least three or four minutes.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: UNCLE SAM AT LAKE MURRAY

December 4, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – “Uncle Sam made sure everyone knew (well - everyone at Lake Murray on my 6 mile walk) it was their civic duty to vote today,” Greg Dunne wrote in an e-mail to ECM on election day, adding that he received enthusiastic comments from walkers, dog walkers, bicyclists, joggers and others.  “Thanks to some great photography work from my walking buddy David,” he added. “Now it's off to vote,” said Dunne, who struck a “muscle pose” while modeling the costume made by his wife.

BIRD TALK: RARE BIRDS IN EAST COUNTY

By Greg Dunne

November 15, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--We have our share of rare bird sightings now and then in our East County. The three I am going to talk about are the Greater White-Fronted Goose, the Nutmeg Mannikin, and the Vermilion Flycatcher. The Vermilion Flycatcher and the Nutmeg Mannikin are going to be the hardest to spot by the novice birder, but with any experience watching birds you should be able to see these uncommon visitors.  The Greater White-Footed Goose on the other hand can easily be seen any time of day at Lindo Lake.

BIRD TALK: THE CALIFORNIA VALLEY QUAIL

By Greg Dunne

September 24, 2012 (Alpine)--The California State Bird is the California Valley Quail. Over the past two seasons, I have had the pleasure of having a covey of California Quail living in my back yard!

My last count, as of yesterday, is nine quail living in my back yard. I remember seeing the new little chicks around the end of April. The chicks are now as big as the adults are, however, you can still tell the juveniles from the adults by the size of the plumes on the top of their heads as well as the markings and feathers that are not as deep and striking as the adults’ markings.

BIRD TALK: MANDARIN DUCKS SIGHTED AT SANTEE LAKES

 

By Greg Dunne

January 16, 2012 (Lindo Lake) --  The latest poser for my Canon was this beautiful Mandarin Duck on January 14.  On a cold, cloudy Saturday  morning at the water’s edge at Lindo Lake it was my first new bird of the year 2012!  This is the first time I’ve seen a Mandarin Duck in the wild.

NEW COLUMN! BIRD TALK: THE GREAT EGRET

By Greg Dunne

 

October 21, 2011 (Santee) -- This resident of the East County can be found at many lakes in our area. Egrets have been found as far east as Cuyamaca Lake, but are commonly seen at Lindo Lake, Lake Jennings and Santee Lakes, where this Great Egret was photographed.

HIKING THE PERIMETER OF MISSION TRAILS REGIONAL PARK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor’s note: East County resident Greg Dunne (photo, top left) has achieved the remarkable feat of becoming the first known person to hike completely around the perimeter of Mission Trails Regional Park—all 28.3 miles! Here is his account of the journey.

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