After ten years of near daily bird-journaling, I'm taking
most of the summer off, but I'll post +/- weekly.
NO ADs & NOTHING FOR SALE!
Just photos — mostly birds, but some of White Rock Lake in Dallas and
other pretty places in America. If you see ads here
, you probably let
them happen. Do not share these fully copyrighted images on Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, or other image-stealing sites! And if you just gotta share one of my pictures, send your friendsthe link, not the pic. Please.
Stories This Month:
Various Birds & Other White Rock Images
Selected Raptors from Blackland Prairie Raptor Center
Random - including Mockingbird Flashing, and Red-shouldered Hawk Feeding Young
Audubon Tour of The Lowlands
Sunset Bay after Sunset
Early Birds at The Southwestern Medical School Rookery
The Last Pelican & some Wedding Pix
More Birds & Other White Rock Lake Stuff
photographed the past several months; posted June 27
Gulls Foolin' Around on a Boat
Telephoto shot from shore of a bunch of gulls on one of the boats anchored off shore in the Big Thicket. Some are preening, some scatting, several are engaged in the various forms of flight. I like this image here, because it's birds at the lake, and it doesn't seem to make any sense, which is a condition with which I am intimately familiar. Good place to start today's entry.
Mandarin Drake with Wood Duck Drake Out of Focus Behind
The Mandarin was here for awhile, and I really don't know whether he's here still, so there's nothing newsy or new about it, but when it was here, I took this picture. And this is the first chance I've had to show it.
Sometimes I like a lot of abstraction. Sometimes that's internal as well as external. Not sure you need to know it, but this is up the hill from what I call DeGoyler Drive, which is actually Lawther Drive, which itself goes almost all the way around White Rock Lake, so that is already a good enough reason not to use that confusing name, but the DeGoyler Estate occupies a considerable portion of the area from the first Garland Road entrance going east.
That plot of land that was the DeGoyler Estate that the DeGoylers used to own but now is most commonly called The Arboretum, to which I have deep disgust with since they tried to attach perfectly wonderful large areas of adjacent rolling or sliding hills of White Rock Lake Park for yet another of their blankety-blank parking lots. But the public got upset and stopped whom I often call The Arborectum, so they had to buy space across Garland Road and around there.
I don't know whether I've used this picture before, but I like it so much, who cares? Skittering Coot with great wing-ography and not a too-bright white beak — the only white beaked bird in Texas, I'm told.
Stand of Trees
Although this picture sorta sucks, his is my favorite stand of trees at the lake. After it's rained for a few days it becomes a pond, where a variety of waterbirds gather. Beyond it is Buckner Boulevard (Loop 12) and a residential area, then (farther to the right) Casa Linda Shopping Center. On this side of it is some grass, then a crease, where water birds also gather in water, then more grass, and finally a yellow post in the middle of a walking path.
I'd never noticed it before, but it looks dangerous. I'm sure bicyclers eventually notice it, but so do pedestrians. Generally, I love those posts, especially when they are endowed with multiple light-reflecting strips, stripes or blobs, so they show up in headlights at night.
Sure would hate to run into thi minimally reflective post in the dark, despite the minimally divergent, thin yelllow lines that warn way too late.
I also appreciate the rectilinear pond growing across the sidewalk, below left.
There's no signs to Sunset Bay, but I believe this is a great beyondpart of Greater Sunset Bay — The (mostly) Dry Part, just around the long walking curve along the long driving curve from and to Stone Tables and Dreyfuss.
Northern Shoveler Shoveling Around The Spit
Photographers manipulate color and color intensities in a variety of ways. I tried to underexpose this bird, so there's be texture and/or detail in its white portions and a serious vividity of those colors, and I got pretty close to that goal, but his head and face is thereby rendered in full shadow, black black black. There's no detail in there to suck out with one photo manipulation or another.
And I don't mind.
This is kinda the polar opposite of the underexposed bird above. It's an another accident I decided I could live with, and again, there's no saving the non-object space. But, I like it. I think there might be a fish in there at the bottom of the bucket, but I'm not sure. If there's no fish, we have to wonder why this pelican is leaving its gular pouch wide-enough open to show those veins. Sometimes, they just need to stretch it out — so it will be plenty pliable when it needs it fill it with fish, and I'm happy this pelican (whom I long thought was the last pelican at White Rock Lake this year, though there have been other visitors since and before).
Three Egrets Just This Side of the Woods Along the Shore
The shore, not of the lake, but of the creek, I think I remember. Two out of three birds in strong focus — that's always a surprise, but the closer two are much closer to each other than they seem. I really wanted all three to be sharp, but ya can't have everything. I believe the shore in question is along the creek near the bottom of the spillway, closer to the parking lot.
Two Sailboats Aslant
There's something wrong with this image, and it took me a long while to figure out how to fix it. And when I darkened all the background l I've darkened the house, the sailboats suddenly surged bright.
American White Pelican with Three of Many Ruddy Ducks
I was surprised to see the Ruddies — two males with their heads up and one female, here. With lots more Ruddies left, right and front. All fairly well rendered, with both species almost in focus enough to show who they are. Both rendered with plenty of tonality. It always surprises me when I manage that.
The Dog Poopery from Across the Lake
I'm a cat person and have never had much reason to walk through this cage full of people and loud, boisterous dogs, except to make my way from that parking lot to the walking bridge over to Big Thicket. They're not supposed to, but leashless dogs run wild throughout the area that was once a sidewalk-less, overgrown thicket with amazing wild flowers, fishermanly nooks right on the lake down slipperly mud trails and hugely tall weeds all around, all around.
And gobs of wild birds visible at nearly every step..
I liked it better then, but I didn't get to vote.
Selected Raptors from the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center
photographed May 17; posted June 22
Orion, the Red-tailed Hawk flapping, but in hand, not sky or tree
This and all other text about these birds quoted in today's journal entry were taken from Black Prairie Raptor Center's Our Raptors web page on their website:
"Orion was found by the side of the road unable to fly. He was taken to a raptor rehabilitation who discovered he had two broken wings. Unfortunately, they could not be repaired well enough for him to be released. He wa transferred to BPRC in late 2009 and has settled in well, meeting the public."
This monthly meeting of the Dallas Audubon with these birds and handlers was held May 17, in the meeting room at the back left of Half Price Books' Main Store on Northwest Highway near Central Expressway.
Many of the walls were covered with non-bird art that confused and confounded the photographer, so I deleted as many of them as I needed to. I used to do an art site (May again), but this isn't that.
Front Row Audience Fascination
I brought my best camera and least telephoto telephoto lens (an 85mm f1.8), and I sat in the middle of this front row, which was the best place I could possibly have chosen.
Blackland Prairie Raptor Center's Erich Neupert with a Barred Owl named Beaker
"Beaker was found in 2009 with numerous primary (flight) feathers missing from his left wing. There did not seem to be any other injuries, and that puzzled veterinarians and rehabbers alike. Beaker was kept in rehabilitation to see if new feathers would grow, and they never did. He was transferred to BPRC in 2010 and is quite the crowd-pleaser."
Beaker the Barred Owl, Flapping
I love to photograph birds' wings flapping.
Western Screech Owl Screeching
I liked the sound I thought of as "chittering," which may be a tad onomatopoeic for pro birders. In his The Sibley Guide to Birds Second Edition, David Allen Sibley calls this species' Primary song "a strongly descending whinny with husky falsetto quality reminiscent of a whinnying horse," but I think that must have been their other song. "Tremolo song a long, whistled trill in one pitch, up to three seconds long" sounds more like what this one was doing repetitively.
Red Adult Eastern Screech Owl
I wonder whether I'll ever get this close to a Red adult Eastern Screech Owl out in nature again, so I was very careful to get its eye in sharp focus. And while we're up close, please notice the seemingly serrated leading edge of its wing feathers, beginning just above its feet, down to just past where its tail begins above the gloved hand. It's that long, lead feather, turned edge out, that lets it fly silent.
Back View of Red Adult Eastern Screech Owl
I can easily imagine how this bird could blend into so many places I've looked for but not found them in.
I believe this is MIKI, a Mississippi Kite
MIKI "is an imprint and has malformed wings as well, so it has a hard time flying. We do not know whether it is male or female. MIKI is a very calm bird, about the size of a pigeon, and it has molted into its adult plumage, which is light and dark gray. At some time in the future its eyes will change to a pretty raspberry-red color."
MIKI, a Mississippi Kite, has to Twist around Upside-down to Look Up
Some birds just turn their heads around, but Mississippi Kites have to do this to see what's above it.
Adult Male American Kestrel
I'm not going to continue photographing and posting bird pix every day like I was running myself ragged doing when I stopped suddenly in May — when my software suddenly failed me, and I'll soon buy into Ah-doe-B's renta software scheme, but this one, after promising me a free 30 days, is now warning my free period will only last a few more hours.
But then, it started doing that yesterday.
The Last Pelican Again & a Coupla Wedding Pix
photographed May 12; posted May 13
Upper Wings Lower Body and Some American Coots
It usually looks like all one unit, but sometimes American White Pelicans raise their wings to begin to fly or dry their wings after a bath. When they're really wet, like after a splash bath, they keep their wings up for long minutes and swim around like parade floats.
Pelican Neck and Beak Stretch
And everybody's gotta stretch now and then.
American White Pelican Preening
I haven't timed them, but I suspect that pelicans spend more time preening than anything else but sleep.
I'd been standing on The Pier at Sunset Bay all this time answering questions like, what's that big white duck over there? That was this American White Pelican. I explained to the questioner that this was the last pelican left, then I explained that they usually all fly north for the summer. To mate and nest and raise young, then a lot of them come back here the middle of next October.
Wings Wide & Forehead Brighter
She wanted to know why they did that, and I told her, and then she wanted to know where, and I told her, but all that information only seemed to confuse her, so I returned to Photographer Mode at the far, right end of the pier.
Then a guy who had been hovering off to my left, closed in on me and told me that the light coming from the side "wasn't going to do [me] any good." I replied that any light would do good for me, and I wondered where he'd got his information, but I didn't ask. I didn't tell him I'd been doing this for 53 years, and that I pretty much knew what I was doing. Nor did I thank him for his information. And soon thereafter, I split.
I knew that, by then, I had enough pix.
Pelican and Two American Coots
I like it so much better when the pier is occupied mostly with other photographers — then the conversation is much more intelligent, and informative, but then I had come out there on a Saturday afternoon, and I know better.
And a Bow to the Crowd — Bravo! or Brava!
And a Smile for the Other Photographer
A wedding in White …
Another Wedding Couple in Somber Mode
Wedding photographers usually pose them somber and joyous, together and apart. I just happened to get this one.
Around the SW Medical School Rookery
photographed May 9; posted May 11
About as ordinary a bird as a bird can get in Texas. Our — and about half the other Southern states' — State Bird, the Northern Mockingbird, whose Latin name, "Mimus polyglotto," that means "many-tongued mimic."
"They have also been known to mimic other sounds such as dogs barking, pigs squealing, wheels squeaking and car alarms. When singing another bird's song, the northern mockingbird usually repeats each phrase at least three times. The mockingbird's own mating song is sweet and gurgling. The northern mockingbird is the state bird of Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas and is found from the maritime provinces of Canada west to British Columbia and south into Mexico."
Great Egret Just Visible Over Edge of Tree
It was hot, and I'd forgot to load my tripod in Anna's car, so it was a quick trip all the way around the central-campus woods called "The Rookery." Seems like nonstop, but I stopped for each of these. If I'd brought my tripod, I would have stayed in each spot long enough to work- and figure-out what was wrong with all the other shots I made — and won't show you — and make some of them right.
I can hand-hold the behemouth sometimes when I forget that I cannot. But I rarely show you the pix where I could not hold the fool thing still enough.
Great Egret in a Tree Tree
One of the few — of just a few — shots in the open canopy of a tree that didn't turn too yellow (green with light).
Great Egret with Raised Claw
I have my doubts about this one.
Nice to see Cattle Egrets. Missed them the last trip to the Rookery. Seems like at our current, slow, schedule, we get obvious new birds every time. I was gonna stand on top of the free parking garage and try for more flying birds, but my disappointment drowned out my enthusiasm for that. I've brought the too-yellow coloration of this shot somewhat back.
Cattle Egret in Flight
I just need to go back oftener.
Adult Black-crowned Night-Heron
Sometimes they look magestically tall and svelt.
And Sometimes Not
Sometimes they're just short and squat.
Sunset Bay Past Sunset from the Pier at Sunset Bay
photographed May 7; posted May 8
Dark Other Side After Sundown
It was getting dark, but I had a good feeling about standing on the pier and photographing with my 500mm of telephoto on my tripod.
The odd bits of curly-que edges are about me lightening dark internal tones without darkening the gray-blues of fore- and back-grounds. Usedta could do that with slight solarization, but this isn't that. This is purely mechanical, and at first I wanted to hide it, then I grew to like it — took its own sweet time, then I really appreciated it, and decided I shouldn't tell, so you could discover it yourselves.
Took awhile before I even saw birds, I was so fascinated by the distant sky.
The Last Pelican - Past Snag
But bright white, nearly glowing pelican — the only one left now. I chose this shot, because it shows the folds and tonalities in that bright, glowing white. And the two orange bits, too.
Female Red-winged Blackbird
By this point, my friend Tom had, he told me when he got there, seen me from across the bay, and had come for a visit. We talked photography, of course, and birds, and we were standing close together — he, of course, way taller than I — when we shot these Red-winged Blackbirds off the west end of the pier.
Male Red-winged Blackbird on Snaglet
And this one just a little farther down and away.
Edges of Night
The sky kept changing — or I thought it was, and I kept needing to record it. Again.
Gradually, I calmed down even more and started catching up with the birds in the bay. Yup, more Mallards.
Can It Fly? Why's It Still Here?
Especially whom I've been calling "The Last Pelican." All the others have gone back north to breed and nest. I've asked other photographers, but so far, none have reported seeing it fly. Maybe it cannot. Once, several years ago, a couple pelicans who had been released by Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation stayed all summer long till the rest of the pelicans came back, then the next autumn, they flew off with the rest of the flock.
Canada Gooses Rolling Along
These were swimming and "rowing" by leaning their necks and heads back into one stroke, then forward in the next. I kept messing up the back-strokes by cropping off one goose or the other, but I'd hoped to show them both in both strokes. Everything but the fore goose's beak is sharp enough.
Canada Goose on Pink
I did with this one Canada goose, what I'd failed utterly to do with the Mallards near the top of this journal entry — lighten the bird while letting the background go medium dark red and gray.
The Last One Again
Yes, the only American White Pelican who did not flock off with all the other American White Pelicans around Tax Day Last.
So nice to be in Sunset Bay again for the sunset and the birds. I missed it.
Am White Pelican Catching Fish in Shallow Water
Audubon Hiking from Joppa Park
photographed May 5; posted May 7
Into The Sun from South Central Park
Soon as Ben told us into which direction we'd be walking from South Central Park in Joppa, Texas (Google calls it Joppa Park, and there's a sign in the park that calls itself Joppa Park), I walked up Fellows Lane, past Soul's Harvest Church on the right above, and looked out onto a majestic, open space with trees and water and flowers and … well, you'll see below.
This was on the way, pointing into the sun, where the paved road stopped, looking out — left to the Dallas Skyline [below], straight out into the sun, and right — where we were headed. It was cool and bright, and the far side of the lake we'd walk along was suffused with sunshiny clouds.
This is the link to the (one-time) event: http://public.ntmn.org/archives/event/birding-and-life-in-the-lower-chain-of-wetlands?instance_id=1415264 and the info participants got before they showed up here.
Checking The Bird List
Color pictures of each of the major birds we could expect to see on the trek. Color pictures on one side. Text on the other.
Gathering The Troops — Early
It took awhile for everybody to arrive and figure out what we were in for: a gentle walk down a paved path (with just one muddied place between pavements, past birds and nature, more or less along the edge of a long, stringy lake. We had been urged to bring binoculars and cameras. I brought the right camera and lenses for people, but not my heavy, high-powered camera for birds — or the tripod.
The tripod in the center of the crowd in the pic above is Ben's scope.
Gathering into the Sun
A great place from which to look down into the Valley, out into the sunny clouds, and connect to the rest of the concrete pathway via mudway. Our park where we initially gathered was just down the road and to the right from here. We all followed Ben down the far side of this hilltop toward the lake, just visible to our left of the pink jacket worn by the woman just left of Ben at the left edge of this photo.
Dallas Skyline from There
The skyline's well of to the left of the concrete platform above. We went right, through the only muddy patch, then down to the paved road to continue our trek.
Pink, Green, then the Lake
The lake is a long, thin one, looking, but not flowing, like a river. That's it below.
Down the Lake to the Loop 12 Bridge
I didn't walk all the way to the bridge. By then I was dis-spirited by how far away and small the many sighted birds were. I kept thinking, you guys could go to White Rock Lake and see most of the birds we were seeing, up close and much more personal. But I did keep thinking how beautiful this place was. How could you not. I want to go back with tripod and long lens on a drier day.
Dark Bird on Top of Tree
I had thought before — and after, about binoculars. My longer telephotos would have done the trick. But they would have been heavy and clunky, and they would have required me to carry a tripod, too.
Red Bird Tween Trees
So the resulting scale of most of the birds we discovered, for me, were tiny. But with a telephoto, scope or decent tripod, it would have been fine. But for this event, I decided I needed to travel light, and I'm glad I did.
If I were to go back after a rain, I'd bring higher-topped mudders.
Lots about that trek was utterly beautiful.
Led from Behind by The Tall Guy
Master Birder Ben Sandifer led the tour carrying a tripoded scope for bringing faraway birds (most of them) up closer — if they'd stay still long enough.
The Dark Blots
The ones in the trees are Great Blue Herons with one Great Blue Heron nest under each. I don't know who the smaller specks might be.
One Heron or Another
I think I remember that this was one of several Little Blue Herons briefly strung out across our sky.
Or Half Dozen of Another
These were smaller, but closer.
Black & Gray Bird in the Tree
Perfect distance for binoculars. This lens, however, was no match.
At first I thought this was a lovely flower, but upon closer perusal, I realized it was a mud scraping with great presence.
Great Egret Toward 'Zata Bridge?
At White Rock Lake, getting close to a Great Egret is nearly no sweat. But it's not this pretty everywhere there.
Lots to Look At
In every direction.
Pretty Flower Among Shadows
Growing close over the sidewalk, branched out where it could catch the most sun.
A Pretty Place to Pause
Ben providing a patter of travelogue along the way, pointing out so many birds, most of which I could neither see nor focus. But everybody else seemed to get an eyeful.
Pretty Pink Flowers
The farther we got from civilization, the more flowers and green there were.
Brown Bird on a Bramble
My legs, un-used to walking, got to hurting, and I lagged back and returned early, where I found opportunities right around the gathering place in Joppa Park, to see lots more, smaller birds, somewhat closer.
Eastern Bluebird in the Grass
Male Cardinal in Flight
Common birds but brilliant colors in the still rising sun. My focus, however, was not.
Little Brown Bird in a Tree
Here, I've rested my camera and lens on a concrete picnic table under the shade of a picnic roof.
Brown-headed Gray Bird
This one's shot between two large trees, down toward where we drove into the area, on a big trash bin.
Sideways Brown Bird
I've long liked photographing the Franz Klein-like abstractions of posts. I love the DayGlo ones at White Rock Lake, and too often photograph them there.
Birds Flying Left
Lots of birds around the picnic area on the top of the hell this side of the hiking lake. Too far for me to identify.
Binocking Off the Top, After the Tour
Random, Recent Pix at White Rock Lake
photographed & posted May 2
Juvenile Mockingbird Teaching Itself to Flash for Food
If their grandparents teach them dozens of dozens of birds songs, who begins their teaching about how to flap wings where grub, worms and bugs hide in the dirt and grass until they see the little Mockingbird above them making themselves appear bigger than they'd ever been before? One of the zillion or so things I don't know, either.
Juvenile Mockingbird Teaching itself to Flash for Food
Intriguing concept. I've seen the little or adult Mock do the wing-flashing, and seen grub and other strange things crawl up out of the mud and get eaten by the bird. But I don't understand why.
Bunny Wabbit on Rabbit Hill
Soon — I assume — There'll be cute, little Cottontails bouncing around the lake's edges. I love watching Cottontail juvies bounce. I'm thinking, however, that this one is more like an elder states Wabbit than any kinda Bunny.
I don't remember the purple, mid-front part of this Starling. I was thinking that portion was blue, like a Grackle's.
I Assumed This Were a Grackle, but it Sure doesn't
look like a Grackle, even if it is on Another Stick
It's definitely a stick, but I'm no longer convinced that's a Grackle on top. Uh-Oh! But if it's blue, it must be a grackle, right? May be, maybe not … Help!
Slightly Overexposed Grackle on a Stick
Today, for the first time in several weeks, I used a 1.7X telextender on my Nikon 300mm lens. = 500mm in Nikon logic.
Growing out of the ground at The Lake.
The Last Pelican
Much discussion around from whence I shot this image a couple nights later about this Last Pelican. Can it fly? We've 'kept' isolated pelicans previously, who could not fly, or who could only gradually learn to. Maybe it's waiting for a friend.
White Paper Blowing
A little angel, lost in the grass, pointing upward.
Fisher Person in Green Shirt
Then an opposite.
I had a photograph of the back wall of this very lower-middle Spillway that The City of Dallas had painted bold yellow bars over thicker blue smears, that the curator at what was the last-ever Art In the Metroplex show — and my Tenth —, which had been my all-time favorite local art show, before it moved from TCU, whose less-than-stellar juror accused me of painting on my own photograph. But I've never been any kind a painter but porches and postcards.
Under the blue and yellow, City-painted abstractions had been a mess of graffiti. I already didn't think highly of her selections, so I didn't say anything, but this photo reminds me of that, because those columns behind this guy illegally fishing on the concrete slant down very nearly at water level, looks like they could have been penciled in, and isn't that composition really too perfect with green plants, trees, T-shirt, cap and maybe even matching shoe tops?
And black and gray horizontal lines everywhere else but behind him, kinda ties it all together. His shirt even almost matches the brighter leaves. Not sure about his hat, that matches his shoetops. And there's even a duck back there, since this is a bird journal.
(I don't have a cell phone, so I didn't call the cops, whose schedules of existential threats put illegal fisherpersons so far down their lists, they might come next week.)
Fem Wood, Am Coot & Kit
I liked this classic composition of the female Wood Duck and the American Coot, but I didn't notice her sole remaining duckling down there in the bottom corner till much later. Or I might have attempted to stretch the focus — unlikely without Schleimpfluggin'. I'd hoped they'd have a better picture, but Wikipedia lets those things come and go.
A Little Local Color on Yacht Club Row
And trees up the hill to Loop 12 Buckner.
Attached to a sign post and all aglimmerin’. Probably had more air in it once upon a time.
Nearly Hidden Downy Young Chicks and Red-shouldered Hawk Parental Unit
On the far left, near the green-ish blurry part of the tree, is(/are) a (possibly two … Maybe even three…) downy young, mostly white (I suspect) very juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk(s) with dark eye peeking out between twigs.
Adult Red-shouldered Hawk Feeds Young
Same two birds their usual colors about this time in their youthly development.
Adult Red-shouldered Hawk feeding Progeny
I know I see two (maybe more) Downy Young Red-shouldered Hawks. These shots were made with my Nikon and 300mm — and no tripod, although my hands shake … But it didn't and did help that I'd left the iso @ 3200 from the night before.
The Tyke with Parental Unit