October at Lake Murray in San Diego began with a noticeable increase in American coots. In the beginning of the month, there were already about 500 coots counted on the lake. But, only about a week later, the number seemed to have increased by several hundred more. October is usually the time when migration becomes more noticeable, though the full force of birds passing through as they fly to destinations further south doesn’t usually happen until November. This month, some birds seem to have arrived early, but many are noticeably late.
Not only had the coots begun to arrive from the north, yellow-rumped warblers began to show up in the beginning of the month. They started out with a small flock of them on the north side of the lake, but within a couple of weeks, they were scattered all everywhere. White-crowned sparrows have become more common and a few golden-crowned sparrows have passed through the lake area, though none have stayed more than a day or two. A warbling vireo or two has been spotted during October as well. There was one report of a possible green-tailed towhee near the ball fields and park near the northern side of the lake.
Duck migration seems slow with only a few teal and gadwalls showing up by the last week of October. A few pintails visited the lake early in the month, but have not been seen since. As of today, no wigeons or shovelers have been seen at the lake, though they have been seen elsewhere in San Diego. Lesser scaups showed up about two weeks early, starting with a few and by the end of the month they were fairly common. No migratory gulls have been seen, though usually ring-billed and California gulls should have shown up at the lake at this time. A single yellowlegs, a regular visitor at the lake, was spotted early in the month. Dowitchers have made their presence known several times during October. And, at least one spotted sandpiper has arrived that appears to be staying put for the time being.
In November, expect to see a greater variety of ducks at the lake, especially northern shoveler and, perhaps, more northern pintails. Coots and scaups should level off by Thanksgiving. Ring-billed, herring, and California gulls should also arrive by early to mid-November. More greater yellowlegs could possibly arrive, though the main shorebirds at the lake will be killdeer and spotted sandpipers. Flycatchers and grosbeaks should also make an appearance. The best spots to view waterfowl are near the front entrance and main parking lot off of Kiowa Drive. The best places to see songbirds and small, perching birds is at the northern parts of the lake off of Golfcrest Drive.