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Annotated Map of White Rock Lake

with Bird Species Listings

from J R Compton's Amateur Birders's Journal
updated at least three times a week, full of beautiful local bird photos.
All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in any form without written permission.

Index of Journal Pages     Click on map to learn about that place and what birds have been seen.

Last updated November 29 2013

New White Rock Lake Map (Google) Mockingbird Bridge Singing Bridge dog park Thistledown Meadows Bent Bridge Cormorant Bay Green Heron Park Tilley's Point Parrot Bay Boat House new Boat House Yacht Clubs Big Thicket Dreyfuss Point Arboretum Drive DeGoyler Drive (Arboretum) Mockingbird Hill

map from Google Maps

Places are arranged geographically, not alphabetically. You can click somewhere on the map above and be transported to the right place in the list of names and descriptions below. We made up some names; took others from common usage over the years; and some are official.

The bird lists are a work in progress. Most of the birds are in photos on The Monthly Bird Journal pages. To find specific mentions or images of a species, use the Google Search of My Sites to find the words, and the photos will follow. Beware, since it's a search of all my sites, some findings may be about art or poetry instead of birds. I keep adding species to the lists as I remember old ones or encounter new ones.

Place Names & Birds Seen

White Rock Trail is a continuation of the Walking/Biking Path around White Rock Lake. It starts north, across Mockingbird Lane, on the corner of Mockingbird and Lawther, the street that goes almost all the way around the lake. Well, it used to. After the fire department couldn't find the Dreyfus building until it burned to the ground, The City changed the name of Lawther in several places around the lake. The Trail continues through mostly green spaces north of LBJ Freeway.

White Rock Creek - from at or just north of Mockingbird Bridge to just north of LBJ. See Up the Creek with a Paddle, continuing south of the Spillway and Spillway Steps through the dark green area on the map that is the golf course, under I-30 and beyond. I should probably note that the phrase "White Rock Creek" also applies to many other short and long creeks in and around Dallas, Texas. It's become such a popular name, it hardly means anything anymore.

Mockingbird Bridge - There used to be a wide bicycling path marked in yellow with road humps across the south side of the bridge. I suspect there were many accidents. Bicyclers are not known for following prescribed rules, stopping at stop signs or lights, going the right way, yielding or those other traffic niceties. Now walkers and some bikers take the Singing Bridge. Others risk suicide against the sometimes bizarre auto traffic in the name of independence. Back to map.

See Singing Bridge (below) for a list of birds in that area.

Pelican Island - small island under and protruding south from Mockingbird Bridge. It's been called that since at least the 1980s. Probably, at one time, Pelicans hung out there. Now they spend most of their social, preening, daylight and dark-night rest time in Sunset Bay, scouting out in all directions. The island disappears in high water, but I've never seen a pelican there, although they sometimes fish that area in large, Esther Williams-style synchronized-swimming groups. map

Black- and Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Double-crested Cormorants, Muscovy Ducks, Ruddy Ducks can sometimes be seen from the bridge diving, Mallards

Singing Bridgesinging-copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Singing Bridge

Singing Bridge - The biking and walking bridge immediately south of Mockingbird Bridge. I call it "singing," because in any wind, the whole thing hummed loudly — you could feel the wood boards and metal braces vibrating. But they fixed it, so it doesn't sing anymore, although I still call it that.  

Not to be confused with the rhythmic but mostly silent, queasy-uneasy shaking most of the suspension-type walking bridges experience during and just after joggers or walkers cross the bridge. The motion sometimes makes stomachs queasy and careful photography impossible except at bridge joints where two spans come together. The only White Rock Walking bridge that does not waver is Garland bridge, although the Bent Bridge is not as shaky. map

Usually, there are not many birds there. I have seen a few American White Pelican flyovers, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Muscovy Ducks, Black- and Yellow-crowned Night Herons. Sometimes Great Blue Herons (big gray) stand under the trees on the far (west) side left in the photo above, and very often there's a Great Egret (big white) fishing under the car bridge, especially on the west side — unless somebody's let their dogs loose to swim there, in which case no birds will be in sight. Dogs are supposed to be on leashes, but usually are not, and nobody seems to care. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are common in the tall weeds up the hill (visible at the bottom of the photograph above) in late spring and summer.

Dog Park - stinky protrusion where we're most likely to find dogs off leashes, although it's normal, albeit illegal, all around the lake. Few doggers pick up their poop, and through City design or individual human neglect, loose dogs are occasionally seen chasing — and catching — birds in the water. map

Same birds as the Singing Bridge area above.

Thistledown Road in 2005

Thistledown Road in 2001 — unleashed dogs are still common there,
but the tall weeds, amazing bio-diversity and thistles are long gone.

Thistledown Meadows - The walking path around the Dog Park area was once publicized for its "natural" meadows. Not anymore. The City destroyed all the Thistle and other exotic plants the place was ripe with. It smelled better before and was colorful and wildly beautiful with a remarkable variety of plant life, and a serene sense of separation.

I once saw Passion Flowers (the rare squat ones that puff out from the ground) growing there. But since its northern portion became a dog park with normal and continuous implementation of the City's Habitat Destruction Machines, the plant life along that shoreline have been normalized down to deadly boring with a concrete path. map

It's been so long since I've enjoyed being there that I don't remember any birds but Great Blue Herons along the east edge, and egrets near the point of the south shore, although those rarely show up there since the urbanization of Thistledown Meadows. Lots of cormorants, of course, in autumn and winter, since that once-wild and trail-free area borders Cormorant Bay, just below.

Bent Bridge - on Lawther south of the so-called Biker's Parking Lot (one of only two on the lake that you have to drive over gravel to get to). Unlike all other lake walking bridges, it's gray and incorporates a bend in the middle. It was intended to keep heavy walking traffic from further destroying the shore, which gets seriously thinner over the years. A park bench still sits on the west, land side of the bridge, though it is much less used now, since mostly what you can see from there is the bridge. map

Cormorants a plenty, gulls of many species, Great Blue Herons, egrets, coots, Mallards, grebes

Cormorant Bay - All winter, hundreds (perhaps thousands) of black Double-crested Cormorants perch in the trees around the upper edges of the bay. They basically do two things up there, dry their wings from swimming and diving into the lake, and scat.

When it's cold, that area has the pungent stench of cormorant scat, which turns the sidewalks, grass and trees so white it looks like snow. Especially noticeable at night, there's a loud hiss as the stuff falls through the air and trees and splats on the ground. Wear a hat or walk fast, and hold your nose. It's probably the best place in the park to photograph cormorants flying. map

Same as Bent Bridge above, which is in Cormorant Bay.

Green Heron Park - updated earlier this century to include a stone bridge over the creek I've watched families out in the creek slamming away at some poor snake. I didn't want to call it Dead Snake Park, but I've often seen Green Herons there, so I called it that. I named it after a Green Heron who hunted among the reeds there. It had been there for several years, and I have seen it on the periphery since. I doubt it approved of all the new concrete. I sure don't, but I have seen one Green Herons along the edge of the lake north of the parking lot and pier.


Tilley's Point - is called something else by the City, according to a plaque there. But I have settled on the name, Free Advice Point, because more people identify with the occasional presence of guys on a blanket or small tent there offering free advice. If I could find my original of the map, I might change it there, eventually. There used to be more benches there than anywhere at the lake, but the City pulled most of them out and replaced them with picnic tables instead. The Point is almost directly across the lake from the Bath House Cultural Center.

Grackles, cormorants, Great Egrets; I've seen up to three pelicans on a log well out from there, and others swim by sometimes.

Parrot Bay - Mistakenly named for the green Monk Parakeets that fly across the bay several times a day, this area has been called that since at least the 1980s, and many people argue that they are too parrots. Even KERA-FM's Everything You Ever Wanted to Know repeatedly claims they are parrots. But they are Parakeets. map

There's three separate environments on the various sides of this diverse bay: North has tall trees and a big parking lot with a boat launch, small fishing pier and lots of gulls, coots and egrets. South has more tall trees, hilly grass and two creeks running through with coots, egrets and a resident Kingfisher who races around screaming its staccato cry and dives for food. And the west end has zillions of reeds right down to the water where Great Blue Herons and egrets hide, and Red-winged Blackbirds flock while American White Pelicans sometimes swim through looking for fish. On hot summer nights, the area is alive with a symphony of frogs and insects aplenty. We often stop along the bay side of the access road, a little toward the road from the porta-potties just to listen to Nature's symphony.

Boat House Laggoon from Across the Lake - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Boat House and Lagoon from Garland Road near Bent Bridge Across the Lake

Boat House Lagoon - The Boat House used to be a boat house, where fishermen and others parked their boats. Then for decades it was a favorite (but dangerous — lots of concrete right angles and murky water) fishing area. Now it looks like an all-White enclave for rich people with fancy rowing boats and one conspicuous motorboat, whose motor is probably larger than the legal limit of horsepower allowed on White Rock Lake. map.

In the grass along this side of the boathouse in the photograph above, I once watched and photographed a Great Blue Heron deftly strip more than a dozen fish off an absent fisher-person's line. It's a regular haunt for the parakeets who live in the Big Hum (electric substation) up the hill from the dam. There used to be dozens of Yellow-crowned Night Herons, but now it's mostly Black-crowns. Several Wood Duck pairs raise young in the lagoon on the far side  almost every spring. American White Pelicans visit there and even spend the night sometimes. Great Egrets spend early mornings there, a ghostly scene in early morning fog. I once photographed a Summer Tanager flying quickly up the lagoon.

The New Boat House - is bigger than the old one, and I wonder what use it is. It does reflect a lot of light and even from the east side of the lake, it can be blinding when the sun is low. Its parking lot seems to be the official parking area for exclusive parties in the Filter Building, red and center in the photo below.

Pumphouse from Garland Road - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Left to right: The Pump House at the North End of the
Dam, The Filter Building and New Boat House from Garland Road

The Pump House - used to be where Dallas water was pumped out of the lake. Most of our potable water now comes from much further away, and the Old Pump House building has become exclusive offices for civil servants. Closed to the public and lately policed by rent-a-cops who prohibit overt photography of the dam for idiot Homeland Security reasons, supposedly to protect us all from terrorists who have not yet learned how to use Google Maps.

The Dam - holds back a lot of water, letting a controlled amount sluice through the wide Spillway Area, where it turns a sharp left angle south into White Rock Creek. There was once a walking bridge directly over the the dam, connecting the actual dam with the all-concrete flood-watching area along Garland Road that got washed away a few years ago in our latest "100-year flood" that happens about every decade. map.

Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, grackles, starlings, cormorants, sandpipers, Little Blue Herons, Killdeer and Sandpipers and other peeps of many varieties, ducks galore, even eagles have been seen in and over the area.

Fitchery (The Old Fish Hatchery Area) - used to be a fish hatchery of large rectangular "pans" of water for raising fish (the light rectangles on the map above). It's probably the best area around the lake to find wildlife — both animals — including beaver, foxes, rabbits, some middle-sized cats, and a wide variety of birds. It's where many Audubon Bird Tours start. It is beautiful and dense with tall trees. Only trouble is the paths don't necessarily go where you want, and some don't go anywhere at all. Poison Ivy grows wild all over. And there's all those branches and leaves blocking our avian photographic views. map.

The Fitchery (Anna named it that) is beautiful, though stifling in summer, a little dangerous with those pans of water and not much to keep the clumsy from falling in, is home to countless birds. I've heard that Black-bellied Whistling Ducks raise their cute little black & white striped, downy young there. I've often seen egrets and herons, woodpeckers, starlings, robins, red-wings, grackles, titmice, Mallards and many other species there. Various woodpeckers can be heard, seen and sometimes photographed.

It's where I photographed Bart the Barred Owl and screaming Red-tailed Hawks, one of whose nests can be seen in spring from the top and about the middle of the dam overlooking the Fitchery.

The Spillway - spills water along a long concrete apron between land areas. After it sluices southwest down the spillway, water is splashed suddenly in a left angle southeast down the Spillway Steps, emptying into White Rock Creek (the south end) that escapes over a couple of picturesque water falls through the golf course and out under I-30. map.

Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons (adult and juveniles), Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night Herons, cormorants, pigeons (of course, they live under the bridge), sandpipers, acres of Ring-billed Gulls during the winter, flittering Barn Swallows and many more species fly over the area. My Bald Eagle was flying there, also, although I photographed it across the lake at Winfrey Point.

water vapor rising below the Spillway Steps

Water Subliming from the Spillway Steps

Spillway Steps - directly west of the Spillway, where water courses down, surges left over a series of concrete steps to exit into White Rock Creek. In spring and now that the City's finally finished fixing the Spillways "retaining walls" that fell in spring of 2006's 100-Year-Flood (after they let the area between dirt and concrete repeatedly fill with water), The City blamed the flood. I blame the City which lamely filled the obvious sink holes with dirt, while the water sluiced down between the walls and the earth, practically guarantying the walls would fall, and they did.), it's the best and most accessible area for photographing birds — except maybe around the pier in Sunset Bay. map.

Now that the walking bridge is open again, it's a fabulous perch to look down from and photograph over the guard rail. I've spent hours watching Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Black- and Yellow-crowned Night Herons, pelicans, cormorants and other species fish there; there's often one cormorant diving on the deep side along the steps. It should be interesting to see how long the new "retaining walls" last.

Yacht Club Bay - Boat Clubs along this area of shoreline. Usually not many birds, although egrets and Great Blue Herons, wild gooses, Green Herons, hawks and Muscovy and many other ducks, even hummingbirds are seen in the tall reeds by water's edge, although we've seen far fewer Muscovies around the lake in the last couple years (2013); I suspect poachers have been busy, and it's a shame, because those large-girth ducks are unusually friendly with human beings. I have even seen them fly, but it looks like tremendous effort, and their flapping sounds like a freight train huffing and puffing. map.

Mockingbird Hill - is called that, because Mockingbird Lane tops its borders. There are lots more Mockingbirds elsewhere. There's always some at Winfrey Point. Probably more people call this area Boy Scout Hill, so perhaps there was a jamboree there once.

Cardinals, Blue Jays; I've heard lots of reports that pelicans kettle there. I know orioles nest in this area in spring.

The Big Thicket - thick with trees along and extending from the Yacht Clubs north toward Mockingbird Lane.

Same as the Yacht Club  above, which is in The Big Thicket.

The Bath House Culture Center - an official art and theatre building sponsored by the City of Dallas, with extensive parking areas for their and other purposes. map

Mockingbirds (but they're everywhere at the lake), lots of cormorants and various terns are seen on the poles of the sculpture in the water behind the building spring, winter and autumn. Those poles were made for birds to perch on, but they almost never do in summer. The rest of the year, almost every pole has a cormorant or gull or tern. Early one May I remember seeing dozens of Great Egrets flying against great winds along the coast between the Bath House and Dreyfuss Point.

Dreyfuss Point - Once one of two social buildings along the edge of the lake. Many weddings and other parties were held there till it burned down in the autumn of 2006 when the Fire Department couldn't find it.

Before the old Dreyfuss Social Club burned down, the roof was usually rife with crows. My great shot of a crow knocking a juvenile hawk out of the air, was taken there. The only time I've seen a Great Blue Heron tall in a tall tree was there, and the power lines often have various birds, including an American Kestrel who still hunts there. I've often  photographed Red-tailed and Red-shouldered hawks there. It seems to be a natural hawk hunting ground, and they often In winter, pairs of American Kestrel, either singly or together, hunt from the elevated wires or tall trees there and up the coast toward The Bath House Cultural Center.

Hidden Creek - Several creeks feed into the lake through this densely wooded area where many herons and egrets, Turkey- and Black-Vultures may be found.

The domestic goose noise fills the area sometimes, but also at least one Great Blue Heron, a Great Egret, several Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures have been seen there. That's where I shot a Red-winged Blackbird chasing a Black (I think) Vulture, several little herons — Yellow- and Black-crowned, and both Red-tailed and Red-shouldered hawks. The latter may even nest there. And I'm pretty sure that's where the coyotes den, they've been seen sunning on the concrete, especially in the deep of winter, when their mating season is.

Sunset Bay is probably the most wildlife diverse part of the lake (second-only to the Fitchery), because it is naturally protected from cold north winds and offers a variety of land and vegetation types. map.

In addition to the year-long presence of 50+ liberated domestic gooses and multitudes of ducks, it's where the Egrets sometimes sleep (hundreds of them, well away from shore), and it is winter home to our annual 7-month winter vacation for a large population of American White Pelicans (whose tags indicate they spend the rest of the year in southeastern Idaho, the Dakotas, and east to west-most Minnesota) from mid-September or mid-October through Tax Day. I've counted as many as 300 pelicans there, although they do not all stay.

Other birds that have been sighted there include: cormorants, all five of our local varieties of herons — Great Blues, Little Blues, Green, Yellow- and Black-crowned Night Herons, all our egrets, woodpeckers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Mallards, Muscovies, (not so much anymore) gooses, Avocets (a whole flock of them has visited more than once), various sandpipers, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Egyptian Gooses, Wood Ducks, Pintails, Gadwalls, Lesser Scaups (first a few males, occasionally a female for a day or two), Monk Parakeets, Killdeer, Red-tailed Hawks, both Turkey and Black Vultures and a Belted Kingfisher can often be heard (though they are usually too fast to be seen or photographed.  

I've seen dozens of Cedar Waxwings drunk on berries in what I call Sunset Forest, up the hill toward the apartment buildings near Garland Road, and lots of hawks and Kestrel and owls in the thick of the forest..

Winfrey Point - The other social building, where firemen repeatedly went when they couldn't find Dreyfuss as its social building burned down, also offers a high point for photographing and viewing the lake, especially during storms. Several festivals are held in the largish parking lot, and it's a great place to watch firework displays around the city on July 4.

Red-tailed Hawks, pairs of American Kestrels, an Osprey, Great Horned Owls, mockingbirds aplenty, grackles, Killdeer nest there where overflow-parking is allowed on the grass for rich-people-parties, one Bald Eagle, at least one pair of Yellow-headed Blackbirds visit both in spring and fall, Red-winged Blackbirds, jillions of Purple Martins, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Eastern and Western Kingbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds and starlings. There's often a hawk or an American Kestrel or pair of them hunting from the high wire across the lake-side of the parking lot.

Arboretum Drive - Forgetting that I called it "Arboretum Drive" on this map, I usually call it DeGoyler in the journal. Probably not that many people know what that is. What used to be the richer-than-God DeGoyler's estate, is now Dallas' Arboretum, which you pay to get into to see flowers and creeks and trees and misters misting them. Usually there's sculpture, fountains, pools and such. There's an incredibly cheap-looking "Western Town" area complete with a Indian-like teepee own by the lake, and lately a kid park with rides and a tram threaten to turn adjacent areas of the park into parking lots. SAVE White Rock Lake. PAVE the Arboretum.

I've never seen anything but Great-tailed Grackles on the grounds themselves, and I'm not excited about paying to look at flowers, when they're everywhere else for free, but they do have free concerts that noise up the lake on Thursday nights in the summer. I guess the folks on the grounds pay for the privilege, but dozens to hundreds of canoers, kayakers and people in small fishing boats gather on the coast at the western edge to hear it.

In the water along there, however, I've seen thousands of Ruddy Ducks, small flotillas of Bufflehead ducks, coots galore, Mallards, Gadwalls, Pintails, lots of Pied-billed grebes, a few Horned and sometimes a pair of Eared Grebes, Great Egrets, grackles, starlings, cardinals, Great Blue and Green Herons, and several species of hawks plying the area from the line of trees along the road, but almost never all at once.

Garland Bridge - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Garland Bridge

Garland Bridge - a small walking bridge of the high, rusted iron sides variety, the only one at the lake that does not heave queasily when joggers run over it. Back to map.

Great Egrets, grackles, starlings, Barn Swallows, Green Herons, American White Pelicans and cormorants


<< More bird stories are linked from the journal's index and whatever month this is Amateur
Birder's Journal, our walking journey along The White Rock Trail and my paddle up White Rock Creek.

All text and photographs
copyright 2006-2013 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved.

No reproduction without
specific written permission.

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