120 photos so far in September Cameras Used Ethics Feedback My Special Bird Pages — many of which include eggs, just-hatched, fledgling and juveniles: Herons Egrets Heron vs Egrets Links & Bird Books Pelican Beak Weirdness Pelicans Playing Catch Bird Rouses Courtship Behaviors Banding Birding Galveston 2015 & 2013 The 2nd Lower Rio Grande Valley Birds page & the 1st Bald Eagles at White Rock Coyotes JR's resumé Contact Dallas Bird Resources:Dallas Audubon's Bird Chat Bird Rescue Info You want to use my photos? How to Photograph Birds Bird Places: Bird-annotated Map of White Rock Lake & The SWMC Rookery & Village Creek Drying Beds Please do not share these fully copyrighted images on Pinterest, Tumblr or other image-sharing sites!
Some Pelicans, a Hawk, Some Ibises & a GBH — shot & posted September 21
I count things. Always have. Somehow it's important that I know there are 17 American White Pelicans out on the outer snags these days. Kept missing when they flew a few yards briefly, but they seem vastly more active since fairly recently arriving on this far shore.
And another — or the same Red-shouldered Hawk I keep seeing. Only this time, I saw it in the Greater Sunset Bay Land Mass Area. while I was driving toward Buckner, I happened to see it fly into the tree. I stopped The Slider, careful not to back up into the creek, and kept shooting till it flew away not long later. Today, focus was an issue. Yeah, focus is always an issue, but the last few times with my elder cam and the same lens, i was not afflicted with sandpaper-itis. Today, I was.
I didn't see these till they were well across the sky over Greater Sunset Bay. Then I paused, wondering, do I really need to take this shot, not then having a clue who they were — till I got it on the monitor. That's when I noticed the downward-curving beaks. Oh, wow! Ibises. Probably White Ibises, but how nice of them to fly over the vicinity. Wish I'd seen them up close, but they didn't fly over up close.
They hang together often and usually, but sometimes they fight over perches. And other times they stand around flapping their wings and look for food or just preen, preen, preen.
Just a hair under sharp focus. All today's shots were iso 800, which doesn't usually fuzz up like this. Getting back to using my old camera while I try to convince myself to buy an expensive new whiz-bang gigabump mirrorless cam that does, after all, I discovered last night, during an extensive search & learn episode, let me use my Nikon lens, and maybe even a short telextender, but further study is recommended.
Dig them crazy orange pants. Didn't know then, and I don't know now what kind of fish it's got in its beak. Truly elegant landing form. Bravo! or Brava! whatever the case may be.
It carried the fish around in its beak all the time I saw the fish and/or the bird. I assumed it would eat it, but it did not while I watched and waited. Some of the times I looked at the fish, I thought it was a little catfish.
The Rescue of The Little Anhinga that Didn't Happen
I got there late, and this is the only photo I got of the rescue crew. Left to right: Kathy Rogers of Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation in Hutchens, Texas. Ray, who brought his kayak, and Anna. In this photo, I don't think Kathy looks much like herself. Almost hidden Behind Ray is Alice, Anna's Granddaughter.
I was glad he didn't go around the back of the log, left and slightly behind his kayak in this picture. (Anna says he did.) That's where some said they saw the Anhinga while Ray was paddling around. I photographed several tall, skinny objects (all of which turned out to be sticks or branches) on or near that log, but I never saw or photographed The Little Anhinga on her final big rescue day, but I'd not seen her before, too — when she was there. But lately, I've been seeing her regularly — until this rescue.
I was too busy yelling at Ray when he twice paddled so close to our 16 (so far; there will be many more.) American White Pelicans, that they got off their log [earlier image below] and swam some distance away en masse, but as I do when boats get too close to our precious pelicans, I yelled, trying to keep him from frightening them any more. The Anhinga has not been seen anywhere near the pelicans' log — although there was that one big mama pelican whom she befriended [below] on her log.
After Anna showed Kathy Rogers my two photographs that show that The Little Anhinga is surviving in her currently chosen environment: The Little Anhinga's wing feathers growing back and the shots of it catching and eating a fish [both below on this page], Kathy decided it would not be necessary to rescue The Little Anhinga, but she asked us to keep an eye on it. As if we wouldn't anyway.
I hope that already too-often rescued little Anhinga grows more and stronger wing feathers, so even if she is not yet capable of flying, she will be before winter's cold.
The Anhinga Some People Really Want to Rescue, Even though
It Really Does Not Want to be — posted September 17
When I first saw The Little Anhinga on Friday it had a big buddy, and they were close! I wondered if the little Anhinga had hired the burly pelican to be its bodyguard. It may need one.
Many minutes later, the Burly Pelican went back to join the fifteen other American White Pelicans who've gathered on the long log somewhat south of the log the Anhinga was on. I'd missed the attempt to "rescue" the Anhinga once, although I had been present earlier, but I had an appointment, so I missed the thrashing about when they didn't catch the Anhinga for the first time.
But, since I didn't want the Anhinga "rescued," that was fine with me.
Thursday was the second attempt, and now they say Saturday's attempt may be their last, and I'm with The Little Anhinga who does not wish to be rescued, again.
I'm not utterly convinced this little Anhinga needs to be rescued, but I'm no expert. It is catching fish (See below.). I think it can fly, though I can't prove it (It was at the top of one of the longer, slanted snags [photo below] out in Sunset Bay, and I just can't imagine it sidling up there), and I seriously believe it's already been rescued enough. I'm pretty sure it does not want to be rescued — again or ever. In the first of the most rescue attempts it entirely eluded its rescuer.
The people who rescued this or a very similar Anhinga when it fell — or was kicked — out of its nest at the SW Medical School Rookery, identify this little bird as the same one they rescued and took to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation, which later released it at White Rock Lake.
I've only ever seen one other Anhinga (a female) at White Rock Lake (It was an adult female that was determined to be the first Anhinga ever seen to visit White Rock Lake.), although Kala King has since seen as many as three at once in Sunset Bay [Kala's text below].
It is feeding itself. I watched it catch this fish, then take it around to the other side of the log, and in this photo, she's got it lined up and is about to swallow it. If she can fly and feed herself, I don't see any reason for her to be rescued. I am not in charge, but I do want the best for it.
It had a fishing lure-like object attached to her beak, but eventually she got free of it. And I was the first to photograph her both with and without that annoyance. See the full story in the July 2014 Bird Journal.
Kala King wrote me: "On August 21, I saw 3 anhingas at Sunset Bay at the same time, all females. #1 was the little one with the tattered wings but its wings were fine at that time. It was perched on the snag by the green grass. … Then I saw two larger older female anhingas circling in the air. One of them … landed on a different snag and stayed. The other one … stayed in the air, then disappeared. I was thinking maybe the two adult anhingas had spotted the little one. This was the only day I have ever seen more than one anhinga at the same time, at Sunset Bay."
And here's some of the other birds I photographed Friday morning:
First time I noticed this duck, I wondered it it were alive, because it wasn't moving. When it raised its head, I noticed it's tail was up off the water. Eventually, I realized it not levitating but was propped up on a small snag.
The Injured Anhinga in Sunset Bay
photographed & posted September 14
Kala King first saw, photographed and identified this Anhinga and noticed it was injured. She told several people. Anna, I believe, told Kathy Rogers of Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation, and showed her Kala's photograph, which convinced Kathy that the bird needed rescue. But the first rescue attempt failed.
I knew that there would be a rescue attempt, so I was out there earlier Wednesday, but I didn't see the Anhinga, and had to leave early, so I missed the first attempt.
Note that its wing feathers appear shorter and perhaps more ragged than they were in Kala's original photo. But I wouldn't worry about color differences between our photographs.
The first attempt to rescue it was September 13. Anna said that the Anhinga left between when the rescue boat was put into the water and it got out to where the Anhinga had been. The Anhinga had been behind the big log in Kala's photo. By the time they got out there, it was gone.
There's also a story that this same Anhinga was released from a previous rescue, but the details I got were sketchy.
As usual for anything that far away, I took lots of pictures. My far vision basically sucks, so these photos are much better than what I saw, but at least I managed to identify it as an Anhinga, so I kept photographing it.
A Quiet Morning at Sunset Bay
Photographed Early September 10, 2017
Posted Even Earlier September 13
I just didn't go to bed that night, because I wanted to be in Sunset Bay before sunrise. There were already plenty of birds, as you shall see.
In front are various egrets — Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets. And one Great Blue Heron — Just about in the middle, just left of the reflection of that light across the lake. Behind are American White Pelicans.
Nothing at all happened at first, then everybody began waking up and flying off in differing directions.
I got there early, because there are many more birds and more of a diversity of birds in Sunset Bay early. Many of them fly off in one direction or another by the time most people — including most photographers — arrive on the scene.
I usually worry about blurring images. This morning, I just let them be.
And that is, I believe, a duck swimming toward the left edge under all those mostly domestic geese.
Snowies heading north.
I heard the ruckus and splashing, turned to catch the fight, the splashing and the early morning mist.
Then it was over almost as quickly as it started. The one in back seems to have a white head, almost like a Muscovy. They're such gentle souls, I wonder what the Mallard did to piss it off.
Not sure which birds these are. Even the white ones looked dark at this altitude without direct sunshine.
I still cannot allow a Great Blue Heron to fly anywhere nearby without me following it with my camera.
The first snag out into Sunset Bay proper from the Pier at Sunset Bay.
These guys were much farther out in the bay than they appear.
I promised to deliver photos that show pelicans in various forms of very-pelican-specific actions. Attempting to acquire and rule any desirable perch is one of those behaviors that are very often fabulously interesting and challenging. This one was pretty easy.
In general, pelicans are either preening, looking for food or resting. I watched the one second from the left catch something, tilt back and swallow; then continue seeking. I kept wanting to rewind, so I could catch it in the act of catching something. But they don't do this in the water unless they think there's something worth catching.
Much of pelican's lives are absorbed into who gets to stand where, and they sometimes block a newcomer just because it's a newcomer — even if, I believe — they've known that pelican all their lives. They are very possessive about who gets to sit, stand or perch where.
A huge part of American White Pelicans' lives are taken up complaining about one of their fellow pelicans doing something they'd do if they'd had a chance. Kinda like us humans, I guess.
It's called beaking, and most of the time, they don't see to do much harm, but I have seen big, gaping holes in their lower mandible that were caused by what I would consider overzealous beaking. Some of those wounds heal over.
Nice thing about Sunset Bay is that it has the widest and sometimes wildest variety of bird species at White Rock Lake. I have seen both Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons raise their young both in the bay itself, and up the more visible creeks from there.
And there's almost always lots of cormorants in the bay. Sometimes the cormorants outnumber the pelicans. Sometimes the pelicans outnumber the cormorants.
The red ones are illuminated by the rising morning sun.
Especially when they're flying rather slow, I love to photograph ducks, and they're usually not quite this colorful.
Not sure where those cyan splashes came from, but I did not put them there on purpose. Although turns out I really do like them.
If its beak were gray instead of bright orange, I'd easily mistake this bird for a juvenile Little Blue Heron. It looks like it's thinking about as hard as it can.
Nearly the same pose as the bird above. Hungry and waiting for food to swim its way.
The only alteration I made on this gorgeous bird is that I slightly lightened the wings, so we could see the feathers. Those orange sun streaks were already there. Something about the morning sun…
On Tuesday morning I counted eleven American White Pelicans gathering far out in Sunset Bay. This day, there were only seven.
I didn't do this on purpose. It just happened. The camera's on a pretty steady tripod, because I can no longer hand-hold a camera that steady. And I love the spooky quality of this photograph. Most of my slow-shutter shots don't turn out as well. Wish I could claim some logic in choosing these numbers: ƒ16 @ 3 seconds EV-1 iso 500
Off in another direction where much more light was, we get a more distinct look.
I kept hoping one of the birds would show more interest in the boat sliding by, but they just stood there and watched, or not watched. Some boaters — or kayakers — take joy in scattering birds out there. This person just rowed on by. Of couse, my telephoto — at 600mm here — makes the distance seem shorter than it actually is.
A total of 42 fair to outstanding photographs today — counting all today's journal entry as well as the Kingfisher pix below.
The Kingfisher ‘Who Just Appeared’ Sunday Morning in Sunset Bay
— photographed September 10 & Posted Late that Night
I got up before the sun this lovely cool morning, drove to Sunset Bay and set up my tripod and my old camera (since I'd managed to let my new — faster, quieter, smarter, etc. — camera to fall several feet with my best-ever telephoto lens to the cushion mat I stand on to avoid feet and leg pain on my office's wood floor).
No problem with the lens. But it spun end to end on the way down, and for the second time in too short awhile, it shredded the Telextender mount right off the extender, and the lens-mount off the camera. Both can be fixed, but it will take time, and I've been planning a new camera. But which one?
Rick, Kelly and I were standing on The Pier at Sunset Bay photographing all those birds, and I remember Rick asking, "How long has that Kingfisher been there?" And I wondered where there was. Rick pointed, and we began photographing. The exposure was perfect when I started, but later, when she flew around the inner bay, it got way over, way under, but never way perfect. But these are the best shots of a perched Kingfisher I've ever made.
dSLR (digital single lens reflex camera) lifetimes are measured by how many times the shutter mechanism activates. That cam's expected lifetime was 200,000 shots, which I worried I had long since passed. Eventually, I'll get another dSLR or a full-frame Mirrorless camera.
dSLRs have all the whiz-bang features, but Mirrorless cams actually let us see the exact exposure, shutter-speed effect — blur or action-stopping-ness, color balance — and other conditions while we're following the subject. dSLRs just show us the view out there as framed by the camera — not in any way altered by the camera, except by focus and composition.
The two cameras I'm lusting for are the Nikon D850 and the Sony A9. If you know photo terminology, you'll understand this remarkably complete but non-animated video comparison. A probably better comparison by Mathieu has more data and explanatory pix. Then there's the one from CameraDecison. Since there are a lot of us out there facing this dilemma now, there's probably more.
I have several elderly Nikon lenses that might still be useful — and exactly zero Sony lenses. The one Sony lens I want doesn't do well at the long end, so I'm waiting for a longer telephoto. My after-the-fall lens situation gives me 500mm. And my Nikon 1.7X extender went down with my camera. Worse, Sony costs way more than the Nikon.
Every time I photograph anything I think how much easier it'd be knowing what all the variables should be. I've had four MicroFourThirds Mirrorless cameras — small cameras with small sensors, I'm convinced mirrorless are the future. And Nikon is not. Luckily, I have that elder Nikon that will probably work till I decide. Today's shots were taken with it and a 2X extender that I always thought took away too much resolution, but these images are more than acceptable, even if that camera's shutter is noisy.
Today's shoot involved me guessing wrong often as I followed birds around the bay. In some places my exposures were nearly perfect. In most, they were overexposed (toward white) or underexposed (dark). If I'd been shooting a Mirrorless today, I'd probably have had better exposure, because they let us change variables as we shoot. Using a dSLR, I couldn't see the exposure unless I stopped shooting and looked down at the LCD. But I was following the Kingfisher pretty well, and stopping to chimp the LCD, would have stolen too much time.
Here, her image is getting softer with almost every flap.
While she was perched on the first snag out, I narrowed my focus target to the second smallest circle, which made following focus as it flew farther, nearly impossible, though I pegged it every once in awhile.
Great effect with the jungle background, but …
Later this week, I'll show more of today's shots — including seven of the eight or nine American White Pelicans we've seen so far, engaging in pelican behaviors — not just sitting like lumps, and other birds.
Delivering an Injured Dove & this Happy Parakeet
to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation —
Photographed September 6 & posted September 8
Anna called to invite me to go with, taking what she called a "Quaker Parrot," another name for a Monk Parakeet, and a dove to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation, and did I want to go. Yes! I'd missed taking another parakeet previously, so I was emphatic: "Yes!"
This perky little parakeet had arrived at CityVet in a small box, so when Anna stopped for me, she put it in a plastic aquarium she had from a previous injured bird delivery. Thinking back now, it didn't seem all that injured. Note the lines of thin, rectangular air holes in the top of the aquarium at the top of this photo. It was sure easier to photo the bird in the clear box than all those opaque ones.
The 'keet seemed to enjoy 'flying' in place through the landscape. It was obviously accustomed to being close up with people, and it often uttered gentle, entirely un-panicked, almost guttural noises kinda like purring. It really seemed happy — and having fun. Some of its white under-feathers were on the outside, where I'd mistakenly believed its injuries must be. But the 'keet was perky and particularly active all the way south to Hutchins, Texas, where Rogers is.
I was holding the aquarium up and making sure the parakeet had a view of outside. When we got to Rogers, we handed both birds in their containers over to Kathy Rogers and her volunteers.
I missed hearing that the parakeet was not injured, because soon as the dove was though with its quick medical procedure, I wandered out back to see what I could see.
I got some pretty good pix of the dove getting its wound carefully cleaned and dealt with. I had not previously seen the dove, because it was in a small box in the back seat on our way to Rogers. Another small box was how the parakeet was delivered to CityVet, not so much because it was injured, but because it was just found. But we didn't know that yet.
When I got back to the office, I just assumed I'd missed the parakeet's repair, but now I am informed emphatically that it never happened. Only the dove needed any medical help.
Nobody told me the " 'keet was alright," so in the previous version of this story I'd just assumed it'd got fixed while I was visiting the big cages out back, but apparently it was just fine all along. I think it just wanted a ride.
The Monk Parakeet seems startled here, but it was in good hands as Kathy quickly checked it out to see exactly what its issues were. And there were none. Apparently, it had just got separated from its 'owner.' I often joke with my stay-in cat about who owns whom.
I didn't take time to visit them all, but I photographed what I could of the birds in the front end of the big back cages. We always seem in a big hurry to get home before traffic takes over. So I was, as usual, pretty quick about it. And I once again reminded myself to, next time, bring my telephoto lens. But two lenses is generally one too many.
I see Cedar Waxwings and swallows and maybe a Cedar Waxwing here.
And a Muscovy Hen twisting her head while keeping track of all Baker's Dozen of chicks.
I think this may be the same Harris Hawk I've seen in a big cage at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation for many years now. It may have got imprinted on humans or is unable to fly. I just don't know, but I like seeing the regulars as well as the latest rescues. I don't remember seeing any black vultures, always a highlight of my trips to the big cages at Rogers.
I do remember not seeing any Great Blue Herons.
I don't remember seeing these guys before, but birds come and go at Rogers, so I'm never sure.
It's bigger that the parakeet we brought, so I'm guessing it's a parrot.
I found the feather on the ground between the cages out back. I have no real knowledge of whose it was, but it did look a very similar color to some of the many Peacocks and Pea Hens wandering around back there. I love that many birds just wander around.
Mixed Bag of Birds: More Pelicans Early, Canada Gooses,
Ducks & Egrets — posted very very late September 6
Today's bird photos are arranged chronologically. I thought I was going to arrange them by some other criteria, but I couldn't figure one out, so they're just here in the order I shot them.
Anna remembered, but I did not, that I'd photographed these Canada Gooses on a green in the golf course before, but I didn't use those pix, so they must not have turned out as well as this one. Or else I lost it. I don't lose many, but a few get loose.
This was taken early in the morning and thus illuminated by the rising sun, which is fairly reddish, behind me. This was back when there was only the one pelican here, so still just a few days ago. Usually, it takes weeks for more to join our first pelican of the season.
This year, they're not only early, they are coming in numbers higher than in the last ten years I've been doing this bird journal. They seem in a hurry to establish themselves in Sunset Bay. Must be expecting something or trying to avoid intra-continental weather patterns caused by some major disturbance. Or some other reason, I haven't a clue about.
Just another pretty egret out in the inner bay.
Wish you could see each duck in its detailed splendor. I suppose I could pull each out in its own close-upped photo, but I haven't got all day…
I wrote about this particular snag just a few days ago [below]. There could be birds in there, but I didn't see any, and I stared for a long time. It may once have been part of the floating island from last year or the year before that floated serenely out in the southern side of Greater Sunset Bay. It, too, had grass and a tree also growing up out of it, along with lots of birds. This one does not have any birds at the moment, as it is moored just off Sunset Beach, where, later in the day, adults take their children to throw rocks at the birds…
I read somewhere recently that Snowy Egrets are known for sticking their beaks in the water and waiting for something to happen. I didn't wait long enough to find out what happened, so I don't know. Sometimes I have oodles of patience. Sometimes not.
This photograph is mostly because of the pelican stretching its right wing and leg. Wish we could see the leg, but it's a common pose, and when I see it, I try to capture it in its elegant motion at the moment(s) when it is stable and stopped.
The other, square side of this sign says one-way do not enter, but many vehicles go right ahead and enter, just as many vehicles drive the wrong way around Dreyfuss Point or/and when they backup from the slant slots fronting The Pier At Sunset Bay, they back up and turn right against the usually meager traffic — out the way that they came in going against traffic (if any) on that one-way street the other way.
I asked a cop there once, why there aren't clearer signs. He said there were too many signs already. I think he's wrong, but it'll take a good crack-up to prove it, and that's pretty unlikely at 5 mph, although nearly nobody goes that slow. And bicyclers who almost never obey speeding — or any other rules — kill a lot of birds. Yes bicyclists going way too fast kill birds. I've seen it happen twice.
The rumor was there were six pelicans by Tuesday, though Kala saw seven. We only managed to find four, and we drove all the way around the lake looking. Usually, they dawdle in ones and twos for the first few weeks of their annual 7+ month visit. We photographers love them because it's so much fun to photograph them flying — and many aspects of their daily lives are utterly fascinating. A lot of other people love them because they're beautiful, although that is not always obvious.
I'd gone back up to The Slider to get my steady gear and was walking up the pier with my camera and tripod when the Canada Gooses flew in low and massive and dark just out and over the end of the pier. Wish I could have got that on silicone, but my usual birding lens is not a zoom. So I settled for them in the water. Yes, most of Sunset Bay is very shallow.
I still think it's a mallard in serious molt, but somebody on the pier kept calling them Blue-winged Teal, which are hugely popular on Bird Chat, though we get visited by them often. Whole flocks of them fly by, over and around Sunset Bay.
I'm trying to avoid the obvious in my captions. Yeah, they're flying, but that's pretty apparent, huh? I'm not sure where they're flying to or at or from. I think they are probably off toward Dreyfuss Point, around which they'll likely fly, heading north. I doubt they're going to Cormorant Bay, but as we get closer to winter, more and more and more cormorants will settle high in the trees all around that body of water.
The point of Dreyfuss Point is just left of the stone-clad wall that runs horizontally across the center of this photo. Past the trees on the top of that hill used to be the Dreyfuss Club that burned down when the fire department couldn't find it, but kept ending up at the Winfrey Building, which was not burning down.
We call the up-sloping grassed ground that the rock wall contains "Rabbit Hill" for the many rabbits that gather around on and back down the hill that slopes right from the big more-or-less paved parking lot we can't see from here. But they're only up there in the late part of summer we call autumn.
The fewer humans who are about, the more rabbits are likely to be seen off the top and right of the parking lot across the street that rises up from Lawther Drive, over the hill seen above, then down the other side to the street behind the Snowy Egrets above. The rabbits wait till the dark of evening to be seen..
We sight them by sweeping the car's headlights across the down-sloping hills around the big parking lot, toward Stone Tables, although a few vehicles are usually parked on this side of this hill. Often the people in those cars and trucks can not be seen.
This tree up and out of the water, is probably where the Snowies were heading. I don't know how long they stayed, but they were still there when I left Sunset Bay from which I shot these photos.
We're fond of the path that rises from White Rock Trail (that was once a one-lane road around Dreyfuss that they closed to vehicular traffic to be a walking and bicycling-only paved path when nearby parts of the lake were dredged some years ago). I remember driving around Winfrey wondering what that building up there was, behind the cloth fence all around it.
This Season's First American White Pelican in Sunset Bay!
photographed September 3 & posted early September 4
My next shot and the several following ones, once the pelican got into the air, were out of focus, because it was quite far away, and I was using a very small spot to focus way out there. This is it about to jump into the air and fly away. Most of the rest of my this afternoon's shots of it are out of focus. We learned of this pelican from Charles F, who feeds the gooses, called Anna and posted his first shot of it and most of the wet part of Sunset Bay.
The Cattle Egrets [below] have been camping out there in the evenings and through the night till early morning for several weeks. This first pelican is probably tired, since it might have flown quite a way south to get here. Erin Smith tracked pelican adult's and juvenile's wing and leg tags from as far west and north as British Columbia and across the western United States from southeastern Idaho, Utah and east and north to Minnesota.
Three years ago and before, our visiting pelicans arrived at White Rock Lake mid October and departed by Tax Day. The last two years, our contingent of American White Pelicans have arrived in mid-September. This year, one's already here a day, and it's only September 4. You may not believe in Global Warming, but America's White Pelicans live by its ever-accelerating calendar.
Of course, there are pelicans around Texas that are here all year round — we've seen them off-season at San Antonio's Mitchell Lake and Seagoville's John Bunker Sands Wetland Center — and there are probably many more, so our latest big white visitor may have come from far or near. The 70 to a hundred adults and juveniles who make White Rock Lake's Sunset Bay their home each late summer till early or mid-April could be from almost anywhere.
There's even an ongoing nesting colony on Padre Island, and other colonies have existed there — or near there — during the last century. A very informative account of American White Pelicans visiting and/or breeding is in The Texas Breeding Bird Atlas by Keith A. Arnold, coauthor of my treasured Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas.
I'm guessing these people were practicing for a performance of some sort. We didn't ask, only hung back on the road or a nearby parking lot telephoto far from them, taking their pictures. I hope Anna got better shots than this. (Turns out hers was much the same only less condensed left to right.)
I photographed this beautiful bird from way too far away within about forty yards of where I photographed last week's Red-shouldered Hawk. It could be the same bird. It seems considerably less shy than previous Red-shouldered Hawks in that area. Maybe it's learning that me clicking at it from afar does not bother it much. Handsome bird.
Once again, I depended upon my tiny spot focus for these and a whole bunch of other, mostly out of focus shots from yesterday. The trick is to put the focus spot on the bird, which is often just a blur in my viewfinder.
This was from September 4th's late evening feeding of the ducks and gooses off Sunset Beach.
Walking Around The Lake, for the However Many-eth Time
photographed August 29 and posted September 1
Anna and I have been "walking around White Rock Lake" for at least a year now, and we're still attempting additional mostly consecutive parts of the trek. This time, we started and ended at The Mockingbird Walking Bridge (along White Rock Lake Trail) parallel to and just south from the Mockingbird Lane vehicle bridge, even though we owe ourselves another couple hundred feet or so from the last place we stopped along The Big Thicket.
It was nearly dark and still cool when we started just past 6:30 AM.
I kept thinking the lower clump might be birds. But I never saw it move. And birds almost always move. Not surprisingly, my camera could see much sharper than I could in that light when I held it steady against the railing.
There always seems to be a Great Blue Heron on the sculpted rim around the dog swimming area — although they are often seen outside the rim chasing ducks and ducklings — The City's way of teaching them and their owners that despite signs and laws, it's okay if dogs get in the lake and chase, maim or kill shorebirds. Even though that is also against Federal law. There's just no enforcement at White Rock Lake, where the "Muscovy" Ducks have all but disappeared.
After photographed this, I began to wonder what it was. I like it, even if I can't fully explain. For awhile, I thought the irregularly-shaped orange thingy was the early rising sun with its vague reflection below, and it probably is the sun as rendered by a dSLR lens, hence the obvious 9-leaf lens aperture making it look more a geometric object.
I desperately wanted to keep that light blue notch of sky upper left in, and everything square and parallel — even though I shot it leaning left as usual, so this rhomboid presentation is what I came up with. And I often enjoy sparkling lights and their reflections.
But I get so-o-o-o tired of Adobe and my Elderly Mac ganging up on me insisting that all my JPGs "cannot be opened [because] Photoshop cannot open files in the 'Adobe Photoshop JPEG file" format." Ha!
And then, of course — every single time — Photoshop opens the file.
I remember photographing this, but I have no idea what that sparkling twink in the upper left corner is. But the same little co-join of red, blue and yellow bouncing balls is in the previous, much less well exposed shot, but in not in a single other of the more than 117 shots I took this morning. I could easily Photoshop it out, but it's growing on me. Some sort of reflection of the boat's running lights?
I love the way the street at left looks like it goes straight up that steep hill, San Francisco-style. It is steep. I've driven up and down it many times — always slowly. I'm already promising myself to take more pix of that street, driveway and bridge, if I can figure out from whence I shot this one. Usually I go overboard straightening everything out in photos, but I like the anxious feeling of this tilt. And it minds me of Wayne Thiebaud's cityscapes.
No idea where I shot this or why. There really should be a bird in it …
Yellow-crowned Night-Herons have mostly dark, thick bills, and Black-crowned Night-Herons don't. I post these, and then Kala tells me if I got it right. Which is why I often link her name here to her photo site of flora and fauna. Almost as soon as I posted this new page, Kala emailed:
That is a juvenile yellow-crowned night heron. For me, it is the round shape of the head and the long neck that I pick up on first when telling it apart from the black-crowned. Both your shots are yellow-crowned. Later on, your third juvenile does look like a black-crowned, much shorter neck and longer rather than rounder head. Plus that two toned bill as you said.
Black-crowned Night-Herons have "heavy, but sharply pointed, extensively yellowish bills," says David Allen Sibley in tiny gray print by his tiny painting of a juvenile BCNH in The Sibley Guide to Birds, Second Edition. I think this bird's beak qualifies as extensively yellowish, but it doesn't look all that pointed from this angle — but it must be, if it's going to catch anything. I always struggle with identifying juvenile Black- or Yellow- crowned Night-Herons — until they become adults, when the difference is easy and obvious.
This bird was photographed on the large log near the upper western corner of "Cormorant Bay." See my remarkably popular Bird-Annotated Map of White Rock Lake to see just where that — and everything else is at White Rock Lake.
The two-toned beak gives this away as a Black-crowned. When we first saw this, because it was entirely dark and silhouetted, we thought it might be a Green Heron. Some cameras, adequately dialed-back, work faster than some eyes to pull out the details. Gradually, I sucked the blue water tones back from overexposed white and allowed body details to seep back from the black.
I had no intention of gathering a collection of snags for today's journal. It just happened. It could, I suppose, be a dog on the big fish's head, instead. Or a frog looking back over its shoulder.
Sometimes Green Herons and other species "hide" in busy snags like this. Their stripey camoflauge lets them just blend it. Sometimes other birds, do, too. There has been a snag a lot like this but without the dog-head, just off Sunset Beach where Wood Ducks and Green Herons like to gather and/or hide their visually disguised selves.
Ya' gotta admit this looks like a fish. I long wrestled whether to keep the dark lump on the upper right..
And I have had that thing for years. Something about interstices from back when that term was altogether too popular in describing linear artworks. I've also almost always had a thing for art objects that whoever made them probably never gave a thought to them being or becoming art. Or/and that no one else anywhere would.
When I first attended this corner of what is now the Dog Park land mass, this gray path was a sometimes there and sometimes only almost-there passage for enterprising humans and dogs not on leashes. The leashless dogs are still there. The path continued straight out to the corner of a slight peninsula, down to lake-level and out onto a large log that I and various fisher-persons liked sitting on.
Neither grass nor trees were carefully trimmed then. The weeds were often ten or twelve feet high. And the path was formed by some City vehicle driving down it, leaving parallel ruts. That was all before the path turned into pavement with a dotted stripe down it.
I thought it would be easy to photograph people on the bridge, but soon as they saw my long telephoto aimed in their direction, they assumed murky poses. Better to shoot from the back. Intriguing how the bell-like lamp covers and trees beyond seem sharp while the slats on the right don't even approximate clarity. They are, of course, at differing distances.
Late in the season for finding mother-and-child Mallards. But only that one duckling left, when she likely started with a dozen or more. The kit is almost what we call a "teenager," even if it so obviously is not.
Off the north side of the bridge, I saw this. It or a GE very much like it is almost always there. Often there is another or two under the vehicle bridge.
Not so great a tail yet, but classic Grackle handsome and amazing feet.
The best thing about the Year Ago link above is clicking it early in the month to see what birds last September's change of season brought us.
Except as noted, all text and photographs Copyright 2017 & before by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission from and payment to Writer and Photographer J R Compton. I am an amateur. I've only been birding since June 2006, and the best of that is documented in this Journal, all the pages of which continue online — see the links at top and bottom of every Bird Journal page. I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally yet always amateurishly since 1964. 53 years.
389 by end March; 1242 end April; 2327 end May; 3431 early July; 4217 end July; 4965 end August; 5720 end Sept; 6464 end Oct-16; 7200 end Nov.; 8012 end Dec; 8566 end Jan 17; 9145 end Feb; 9755 end March 17; 10390 End of April 17; 11077 end May 17. Then I lost the hit counter or it didn't count hits anymore. So I gave up on knowing the numbers.