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The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton

Most Interesting Birds This Month:  It's Black Vulture Season  Pelican Fly In and By  Adult Breeding Male Anhingas at the Rookery  Red-winged Blackbird contortions   

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posted April 13 2014

Black Vulture on Roof - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Black Vulture on Roof

Sorry, I have been awfully busy, but I've been thinking a lot about Black Vultures, and I've been seeing and photographing them much more than usual lately. Then Anna told me that Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation had baby Black Vultures. We couldn't even see those, let alone photograph them. It's against the law, but Rogers showed us some Black Vulture and other incubating eggs, and we could hear the chick still in the egg making

Spread Eagle Black Vulture - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Spread eagle Black Vulture Over White Rock Lake

I don't usually get this close, but I like being even closer, and Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation is the only place I can get right up to the bird, although there's usually wire fencing between us. Sometimes I can shoot through it, and sometimes I just cannot.

Turkey Vulture - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Turkey Vulture Overhead

Turkey Vultures are okay, too. Just they don't seem as intelligent, or human-friendly. The Big difference is that the area of white under their wings extends almost to their bodies, and Black Vulture's only show on the 'fingers' of their wings. A little difference is the fact that Turkey Vultures have red heads, and Black Vulture heads are wrinkly gray. They eat pretty much the same things.

BV in Cage - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Black Vulture in Cage

But this one gets lost in all that rectangular wire. Rogers used to have cages that were more easily photographed through, but now they have these nearly inpenetrable ones, that are probably more humane for their inhabitants.

Black Vulture Feet - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Black Vulture Showing His Foot

I seem to have an affinity with Black Vultures. I like that. Nice of it to show me its claw.

Black Vulture Eggs Among Others - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

The Dark Spotted Eggs Are Black Vulture Eggs

Others are Canada Geese and we forget exactly what. We were mostly interested in the Black Vulture ones, and the one was getting ready to break out, making noise that Anna described as "coarse, heavy breathing." Kathy Rogers described it as "the same call an adult Vulture makes." Wikipedia says, "Lacking a syrinx—the vocal organ of birds—its only vocalizations are grunts or low hisses.

Penny Holds a Black Vulture Egg - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Rogers Volunteer Peggy Holds a Black Vulture Egg

There's a tiny pecked hold we can see here between her thumb and little finger. A crackish disruption in the color and texture, which, if the tiny vulture could be seen, we'd have to quit photographing it, although apparently Channel 4 came by sometime today and got video — of something. Turns out that was about an injured eagle someone found in their back yard and took to Rogers, and had nothing to do with our precious Black Vulture babies.

There's a darling photo of Mandy, who pecked her way out of this egg yesterday.

Pretty Black Vultures - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Pretty Black Vulture atop a Rogers Cage

Among the cages behind the office at Rogers we saw several Black Vultures, with a couple more on top of some cages, like this elegant creature who is beautifully back-lighted.

Black Vulture with Wings Out - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Cage-top Black Vulture with Wings Extended

This is not a quick capture of a bird flapping its wings. This bird held its wings out until I got my camera setup correctly, then it waited for me to focus. Very accommodating species.

Black Vulture with Wings Out and Primaries Separated - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Black Vulture with Wings Out and Primary Feathers Separated Like Fingers

The name vulture comes from Latin meaning one who tears.

Black Vulture Walking - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Black Vulture Walking

Wiki also says, "Like all New World Vultures, the Black Vulture often defecates on its own legs, using the evaporation of the water in the feces and/or urine to cool itself, a process known as urohidrosis.[3] It cools the blood vessels in the unfeathered tarsi and feet, and causes white uric acid to streak the legs."

Black Vulture Standing Outside the Cage - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Wild Black Vulture Standing Outside the Cage

And sometimes they get a little carried away and do more than just their legs and feet. We've seen Black Vultures that looked like they had large white spots. And did.

 

April 8

Flying In

Made these shots about a week ago, already aware these guys won't be around much longer this year. Then I forgot about them. And when I checked them again, I wasn't sure they were all that good. Now I just love them, especially since the pelicans will be gone too soon. Etc...

AWP straight at us - cpry

Turning Toward Us

turning toward landing - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Turning toward Landing

Much Closer Now - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Much Closer Now

Then I was worried because I hadn't framed them just right, I kept not getting the whole bird in the shot. Now that matters not a whit.

AWP Flying Bay - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flashing By

Goofy, yet elegant form.

Flashing By - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  \

Right Past the Pier At Sunset Bay

Well, it is a 600mm lens, so it wasn't like right there, it was out a bit, but for that lens, a little too close to have the whole bird in every shot.

Gulls and Pelks - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ring-billed Gulls and One American White Pelican

x

I was thinkin pelican - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

I was thinkin' pelican, but I'm pretty sure this is a duck

Kinda sad I still can't always tell them apart.

Coots 'n Snorkers - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coots and Snorkers

American Coots and Northern Shovelers a lot closer than they usually. Usually, the snorkers are all the way across the lagoon in Sunset Bay.

Great Blue Heron on a far-off Yacht Club Boat Docker thinger - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron on a Far-off Yacht Club Dock

I stopped for this bird, because I always stop for Great Blue Herons, but this particular one had the city of Dallas behind it, but so far behind and above, that I couldn't show you all this detail and still get this much detail in this gorgeous bird. And the skyline looks kinda ragged from here, anyway. Here being down Yacht Club Row, where I seldom go, because I so seldom find any birds worth photographing down there. But sometimes when I get lucky, there's a Great Blue Heron close enough to show how beautiful they are.

GE Tall - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One Tall Great Egret

 

April 6

Adult Nonbreeding Male Anhinga Looking at Me - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Adult Nonbreeding Male Anhinga Looking My Way

These birds are a long way off, and they showed as barely a black speck on the frame when we were photographing the Medical Center Rookery from the top floor of the parking garage across the street — because that gives us such a nice look down onto the top of the trees in the rookery. Here, they are enlarged as much as I could without shattering pixels.

Adult Nonbreeding Male Anhinga in Profile - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Adult Nonbreeding Male Anhinga Turned and Showing Profile

Since the trees around it don't change, this must be that same bird facing sideways. I had the camera resting on something solid, the lens focusing on the tiniest spot, and I kept shooting for a while, hoping to catch something I could use. This.

Adult Male Breeding Anhinga - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Adult Male Breeding Adult Anhinga with Wings Out

The trees changed, so this must be a different anhinga, but also a male breeding one, which we can tell by his graying crown, and it's a little closer — Anna found him in the top of a tree. We looked and looked for more, but I think we only saw maybe three anhinga this cool Saturday morning, and the other one was much farther away. Soon, there'll be more and some flying.

Adult Malee Breeding Anhinga almost flying - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Sitting a Nest and Adult Male Breeding Adult Anhinga Extending His Wings

I thought he was about to fly, but he didn't.

We got lots of other pix of Great Egrets, Black-crowned Night Herons and even one Great Blue Heron, whom I have been told by more expert birders than I am don't go to rookeries, but there it was, as you might see next time, although they're plentiful locally.

that last shot in full frame - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

That Last Shot in Full Frame

And here's the full-frame version of that last shot, just to show how good a lens and camera this is. Our cormorant is almost dead center of the frame, just under the dark spot of tree and directly above the J R in my copyright notice toward the bottom of the image.
 

April 4

Red-winged Blackbird - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Male Red-winged Blackbird on the Shore of Sunset Ba

The first bird I noticed when I got on the pier this day was a red-wing going though a rapid-fire continuum of all kinds of physical contortions to do with it drying off after a bath (I think. I guess it's possible it'd got infested with ants or something.) This pose is the most neutral of them so I thought I would start with it, even if he did not.

Pointywings - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Pointywings

The Nikon I use only shoots five frames per second, so that's about as fast as I left it running some of the time. Not all the clicks were of any value, but enough were to keep shooting. Trouble with waiting for him to get in a position that needed shooting before I shot was that by then he'd be in yet another pose, and I'd have missed that last really great one. Sometimes he paused as we all must. When he paused, I paused.

RWBB Scrunched - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

RWBB (Red-winged Blackbird) Scrunched

RWBB Sideout - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

RWBB Side Out

Almost like inside out.

Epaulets Flat - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Epaulets Flat and Upside Down

I didn't even know they could do that.

Twisted - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Twisted

Square-wing - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Bent Wing

Over Shoulder Wing - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Over-shoulder Wing

Where's the Head - Photograph Copyright 2014 JRCompton.com. All Rights Reserved.

Where's his Head?

 

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All text and photographs Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission from and payment to the writer or photographer.

I am an amateur. I've only been birding for about eight years — nearly all of which is documented on this Bird Journal, the first several years of which is indexed on the Index page. Lately I've been indexing on the same page.

I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally and almost always amateurishly since at least 1964.

Thanks to Anna for a lot of stuff.

 

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