72 photos so far in November This month's best pix Cameras Used Ethics Feedback My Special Bird Pages — many include eggs, just-hatched, fledgling and/or 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.
Ring-billed Gulls, Cormorants, Lesser Scaups
& Women in Blue's Backs @ The Other End of the Pier
— photographed + posted November 20 2017
I made dozens of photographs of our usual variety of gulls today. This is the only one I liked. It took me awhile to get back into the swing of photographing birds today. I'd wanted to get there earlier, but I just couldn't rouse myself. That took till about 3 PM.
Note the long-shaped head of the so-called Double-crested Cormorant, our usual variety of cormorant, we can usually see dozens to hundreds of on the logs and snags across the wet portions of Sunset Bay proper.
For this blog, I mostly photograph birds, but if there are visually intriguing humans, I'll happily photograph them, also. Today, I saw and briefly photographed two, quite different women in blue on the other end of the Pier at Sunset Bay. These are they.
The woman seriously cropped off on the far right edge — both these images are full frame 24 x 36mm images, so she's not really cropped off, she just didn't fit in. In fact, I hardly noticed her more than that she was a photographer packing two cameras hanging upside-down on leather rigs crossing her tiny plaid black and white blouse. I'd show you that shot, except it really doesn't stand up against these two, both of which I found lusciously textured and colored.
Both sexes of Scaups have been around for several days or longer, but this was the first time our presences coincided.
"Angel-wing" is when one or mor feathers sticks out of their usually careful placement.
There are usually only very subtle differences between the individual male scaups vying for the female's attentions.
My biggest challenge in photographing Female Lesser Scaups is that bright patch of white feathers over her beak. In too many photos of her, that patch turns pure, untextured white. On my finely-tuned monitor, there is yet a small amount of brown and gray spotting in that area. On others, it may still show as too-bright white.
One of the time-honored methods of male birds showing off to potential female mates is how good they are at finding food. I am assuming that's what this odd bit of display is. She doesn't seem to be paying particular attention to them, but there they are with their tails splashing and the rest of them already under water. The Male Scaup on the right got under first, so he's probably already got more points in the competition. But the middle Scaup has more splash.
In my experience of watching mostly male Scaup visits to Sunset Bay over the last about a dozen years, four male scaups show up early in Scaup Season (here), then one female arrives late in that season, and she goes off toward The Hidden Creeks area with one of them at a time. This is only the second time I've seen her arrive this early. It may be a trend, or it could just be coincident.
In bright light, scaups of either sex are devilishly difficult to photograph.
In this case, "Lesser" means smaller. "Greater" Scaups, which we usually don't get here, are bigger.
Then I Spent a Night in the Emergency Room @ The VA,
& the Next Day I had to Visit Sunset Bay
Some years I skip photographing Coot chases after the bread some humans seem intent on feeding them despite that it's usually not good for them, although this stuff at least looks brown. Most of that white stuff is not good for anybody. I have even found thick, sugar-crusted cakes scattered up Sunset Beach that no bird had touched, rotting in the dirt.
Wadn't much else happening, so I engaged with the coots, who are one of my favorite speciess. My first shots of them this day were of one helping another with an injury I couldn't quite figure out, looking gentle and tender with each other. But those shots were way too dark.
These were just about right — and action shots, to boot.
But this will probably do me for a couple more years.
This Coot was getting along adequately, though decidedly slow — its injury looks dreadful. He made it up the hill, found some food, then limped back down to Sunset Beach, so I let it. Only much later did I think about Rogers Wildlife Recovery, as often as I've been there.
Speaking of Health
I called the Health Questions Nurse at the VA to decide what to do, and she asked leading questions, which I answered, then she said she'd sign me into the ER, so I drove down there around midnight, found gobs of parking places (!), and it wasn't half bad once I got past three loud TVs on three different channels in the waiting rooms with none of us watching any of them. I only hurt when I coughed, and I only coughed when I talked. So I was mostly quiet.
And once I got back into the ER proper, it was pleasant, gentle, with no TVs blaring, only a few sounds of genuine pain, but nice people who seemed busy and efficient.
I've been spending a lot of time in bed, coughing and not talking. But now I've got a new set of pills, and things seem to be looking up, I think. I had worried, because I've had Pneumonia five times so far, and those were all a booger, but my new pills — and hushing up are working well, so far.
And it will no longer keep me from photographing birds, although the cold weather might. Still, three times a week may yet be possible, with some nice sleep-lates thrown in for good measure.
I've been ill lately; haven't been close enough to birds to photograph more…
Here's some I'd already photographed last week…
On the other side.
I love muscovies.
The Snowgies Are Back @ Hagerman!
Dark & Way Wet? J R's Just Gotta Go to the Lake …
photographed & posted November 8 2017
He had turned around and had started walking back when he saw me, turned back around, stood and stared off into space. Again.
Today's shots are in strict chronological order — because nothing else made any sense.
Note the one at the top left has something in its pouch. The others are hoping. To make geographical sense, see my bird-annotated map of White Rock Lake.
I didn't catch this action at its peak. They're just floating there waiting for something to fill their craws.
The weather — and thus the colors — were variable, but so was my processing. It didn't help that I was in a hurry.
Eventually, a bunch of them got together and … did some more fishing. My father used to spend a lot of time fishing in the rain …
I started to drive home down Garland Road, but then, as the rain turned dark and dense, I turned again onto DeGoyler Drive. Which, after I called it Arborectum Drive for awhile, I reverted that portion of East Lawther to DeGoyler Drive, because what is now the Arborectum that attempted to make parking lots of several lakeside hills north of them along the edge of the lake, [But Lake People Would Not Let Them] was originally The Degoyler Estate.
This is from my second trip over Winfrey (Hill, Point, Parking Lot, etc.) today. It's by far my favorite stretch of road around the lake. Barely one-lane most of the way from Garland Road to the baseball fields. With a brick space on the land side that a cop long ago told me was a sidewalk, a couple dozen parking places and a lot of views of whatever the weather has to offer. The Slider often get 60 or 70 mpg down its mostly flat trajectory.
It has views like this,, and it's where I often go to think or dream. That road used to go all the way around Winfrey, then they put up a tall fence with canvas or something opaque over it, then they (Parks Dept./City of Dallas) closed the road and made it a beautiful paved path around Winfrey Point.
Red, Reddish & Red and Something Ducks; Pelicans & a Kestrel,
@ WRL — Photographed and Posted November 6, 2017
I thought I was photographing a bunch of ducks fishing — and yes, I have seen ducks catch and fly away with fish, so that's not out of the question. But though I didn't pay this bunch of ducks the attentions they deserved, I wish I had.
So I enlarged a portion of this fairly vast horizontal of red and reddish birds not particularly far from the corms and pelks, so somebody could identify them:
I see Red-headed ducks, ducks with red heads, red and gray and white ducks, red & black ducks, red and brown ducks, red and red ducks, black and white ducks and various other ducks with some shade of red or reddish brown. I now know I should have stopped on DeGoyler Drive, parked, set up my tripod on the edge of the water, and clicked away until I had sharp-focused close-ups of all these birds. I went back the next day, but they were long gone.
But they were a big buncha ducks involving red. And I shoulda, might coulda but didn't.
Kala King emailed me that evening: "Looked at your enlarged portion. I have never seen such a mix. I see both male and female lesser scaups, male and female redhead ducks, male and female American wigeons, and a male pintail. Probably more in there but all that could be positively identified in this photo. That is awesome."
Ben Sandifer posted on Bird Chat: "Quite a few Redhead and Ring-necked Ducks moving through right now in early November. On the Chris Runk bird walk 10/29 (WRL Dam and fish hatchery) we picked some of those species out rafting in the middle of White Rock Lake. I saw some 10/22 at Southside Wastewater Treatment Plant and 10/20 at a private club off Dowdy Ferry. Similar sized group spotted this past weekend 11/5 in a gravel pit off Loop 12. Generally speaking they are seen in fall and spring during migration but they don't seem to linger in Dallas for the duration of the winter."
Ben also said he couldn't "see [my] photos [above] [I] attempted to post [on Dallas' Audubon's Bird Chat]" [They were there, then they weren't,] so I gave up. "But can see the photo [above] I posted [here]: A couple wigeon in the foreground, majority of Redhead ducks with some Ring-necked ducks. Possible scaup or two as well but hard to tell.
Since then, I've added these shots from yesterday's shoot.
These are about the best pix I got — too far to focus, etc. They were shot out my driver's window, without sterilization, my hands always shake. And the birds' presence temporary. They weren't there an hour later or a day. I suspect they were busy migrating — flying over, saw the lake, decided it would be a good place to rest awhile — maybe knew it from before. Then, when rested, they left, all together. They were probably a couple hundred birds. And I have no idea how long they stayed, where they came from, and where they we're going.
Next time I'll pay more attention to the visitors and let the residents be. But they stayed mostly out in the middle, far from my feeble telephoto's reach.
I just hoped something would come along slow enough I could catch up with and get decent exposure. At first I assumed the bird on the right was a Red-winged Blackbird, but now I am not at all sure who or what it was.
I shot a great many more shots of pelicans roving around the inner bay, but this was my favorite, and all the rest of them were pretty much like this one.
After leaving Sunset Bay, I noticed corms and pelks engaged in a large fishing group, so I went up DeGoyler Drive pausing often in the middle of that street to photograph birds close and far in the lake on my left.
Somehow when I saw this, I knew it was an airfoil, but I didn't know exactly what an airfoil was. I know a lot of words and I know a lot of meanings, but I can't necessarily always match them up. So I axed the Internet, and Wikipedia said "An airfoil (American English) or aerofoil (British English) is the shape of a wing, blade (of a propeller, rotor, or turbine), or sail (as seen in cross-section). An airfoil-shaped body moved through a fluid produces an aerodynamic force." Which sounded good to me.
I love the sideways look as this American White Pelican flew over me as I was standing on the Pier at Sunset Bay aiming my camera back up at him for a 12X view.
And this was my fave of these sorts of shots.
As I was leaving the lake, I drove over, around, down, then back up Emerald Isle Drive past the baseball fields on my right where was this critter. I assume that's some sort of bug in its beak. I guess it does look better than when it's on a wire.
Then while I was watching, it fled west, but I captured its full wingspan. This may be the best butt shot I've ever got on a Kestrel.
Northern Pintail, Great-tailed Grackle, Some Gooses & Mallards
— Photographed and Posted November 3, 2017
Not sure if it's the same Northern Pintail Duck who visits us every year about this time and stays awhile — sometimes invites his mate, too — but there is one that does those things, and we're always happy to see him/them again. I also saw this one Friday night, by which time I was pretty sure he was the same one.
But I'm really very pleased to have seen and photographed it in the sunshine already. I recognized it in the dark, which may be indicative that my bird-I.D-ing is getting better, but I didn't feel need to photograph it in the dark when I had such nice pix of most of his views in sunshine.
There's probably dozens of poses and manners of preening that only Northern Pintails engage in, and I hoped to capture something distinctive, but I would have had to see it, and I did not.
Standing in the water and looking down into it. Maybe. Or it was just comfortable this way. I liked the pose, because its colors showed more distinctively than any other I got.
And, of course, I had to get the best view of those vertical white stripes.
A Great-tailed Grackle who parked too close to the pier for me to get all his tail in the pic. And I just love his striped feet.
The slanted blue thing between me and them is one of those guard rails. These gooses are Charles' geese taking their sweet time to walk across the road above Sunset Beach. I think they prefer to have a line up of cars behind them, but they're happy enough to walk across the road making loud goose noises.
This did not get posted yesterday when I photographed it, but it's here now. And it may even fit better now with the pix above and below. I remember seeing a male Mallard almost and all the way upside-down and rolling, head over heels over the rippled and splashed surface of the water. Kinda like this, but I'm sorry I didn't catch it more up-side-downy. It was very peculiar, and you've only seen about half of it.
Took me awhile to realize that its right foot has cast upon it its own shadow, so now it finally looks about right. Oh, well.
I liked the visual confusion of this shot, but I did not manage the best of focus, and it's a rather large enlargement of the part of the shot that's least focused.
Larking @ the Pelicans, Cormorants, Anhinga, Coots, Green-winged Teal, Ring-bills
& Everybody Else @ Sunset Bay @ White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas, USA
Photographed November 1 & Extensively Corrected & re-posted November 2, 2017.
The log is longer front to back than across the hump holding up the pelican from this point of view. It's just more comfortable on it this way.
It went through the whole routine. Someday I'll adequately document it all, but it's not a specifically and-then-you-do-this sort of thing. Note the unextended left wing and the barely-begun-to-be-extended right wing tip. I'm fascinated by those tips and when they are extended, most often, in my limited experience, when they are coming in for a landing, as shown just below.
I didn't know it would splash wing-tips in the water, but if I had, I'd be even happier that I caught it on silicone. I've never been exactly certain where the extendible wing-tips start on their wings, but this pelican's wings are, I think, fully extended, because it wants and/or needs, the most control at this juncture of the landing process.
I just wasn't sure who these birds were, and I wish they'd swum by considerably closer, so we could see more detail, so I'd have had half a chance identifying them. But I remember Kala King, who often helps me identify the unidentified birds here, talking about how red some birds' heads were in last month's bird journal. Found that, and she was referring to Cinnamon Teal, but these aren't those, either.
Most of today's incoming pelicans with presumably full pelican bellies (from being involved in large fishing fleets on the other sides of the lake, and catching lots of fish to fill their bellies) landed among the other pelicans. Sometimes they fly right by the pier at Sunset Bay, but usually they do not, because the wind is not blowing in the exact right direction for that to happen. Most of today's landings were into or behind a bunch of other pelicans.
Here, it had already decided where it was going to perch. I saw that body language, then started shooting. Watch them enough, and you know what they're thinking — sometimes.
Wings really help birds jump higher.
Lotta water splash around, but those other pelicans don't seem to mind a bit.
I guess it's all part of the game for them.
I like that its broken-up reflection under it, has about the same rippled white texture as it does.
This could be that same bird, but I photographed a lot of pelicans flying this day. I didn't notice it, but Kala King noticed that the pelican is flying over a Screaming Anhinga.
I'll be disappointed if I learn these gulls are Ring Bills, our usual over-population of gulls. All of today's other gulls are here below, out of chronological order, so I could compare and contrast them. Color me disappointed — again. Kala says these are all first-year Ring-billed Gulls. Which means they will grow into the same obnoxious, coot-attacking gulls as always. Alas!
But I'll photograph them and their activities and usual attacks and fights, as if they were real birds.
Because I'm not a big fan of gulls in general, and ours in particular, I notice when they start showing up, and I am in a kind of dampened ecstacy when they finally leave, which luckily is fairly soon. There were more than four, but I only managed to photograph these few in sharp focus.
It looks sweet, but it's just a wing-stretch with not nearly enough room to stretch otherwise.
I figured it'd hover there for awhile.
But it landed. Something about gravity, I suppose.
Birds employ a lot of very subtle technology as they come in for and eventually actually land.
That white-over-dark-green (here, at least) portion of the behind-the-tree background is the wall partially around the real point of Dreyfuss Point.
I think the other pelican was interested in joining this one on that short log, but the beaking attack deterred it.
After awhile, we'll get tired of photographing millions of individual pelicans flying in and landing, but for right now it's really fun and exciting.
I've several times wondered what would happen if two pelicans attempted a landing in the same space during the same circumstances. Well, they both landed safely with no harm or hard feelings.
The best thing about the Year Ago link is clicking it early in the month to see what birds last September's change of season brought us and where to look for them this year.
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 numbers of hits, and I'm happier for it.