Some good news for a change

We found a lot of birds affected by fishing and/or boating activities at Lake Hodges in 2019. We have only found two since March of 2020 and those both appeared to have been the victims of deliberate attacks (possibly a pellet gun in one case) rather than incidental hooking, entanglement, or boat strikes.

This means that we are finally catching up and making a measurable difference in the bird fatality rates at Lake Hodges. That is very good news and gives us encouragement after 2.5 years of hard work.

When we started we would poke the boat into the shore, pull all of the fishing line that we could find, back out, move over 2 to 5 feet, poke the bow back into the shore, pull all of the line that we could see, etc. It took months to make our first complete circuit of the lake at this rate.

Now we have a good group of volunteers, some of them quite regular, and we are pretty well caught up with old fishing line. So we are able to cover almost the entire shoreline each week. That is a really big deal because the sooner you find the line after it was lost, the less chance it has to catch and kill a bird.

I’d like to thank all of the people who have helped us get to this point. Some are out there every week, some have only been able to come once or a few times. All are appreciated – we never know which piece of line that we retrieve might have been the one that killed a bird.

Now the end of the season is approaching. The lake will be closing on October 28th and will reopen in February for the 2021 season. We will not be accepting applications for volunteers until mid-January. We will be scouring the lakeshore through the winter, trying to get every last bit of line and litter that we can find. That will put us in really good shape for opening day of fishing season.

We usually lose some volunteers over the winter. And a lot of line is lost during the first weeks of fishing season. So I will likely post a call for new volunteers in January. If you’ve been thinking of joining us, please contact me at that time and I’ll get you started.

Winter birds at Lake Hodges

San Diego county is an important bird hotspot in the US. Lake Hodges and the surrounding land is a very large natural area in the county and so is very important for birds and is very popular with wintering birds.

The winter residents have begun showing up and in just the last couple of weeks we’ve seen these newly arrived winter birds and others that we failed to ID:

Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Winter egrets (most go away during mating season)
Eared grebes
Ruddy Ducks
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitary sandpipers
Belted Kingfishers
Yellow-rumped Warblers
Common Yellowthroat