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

Adding New Images at about Three Times Most Week
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The Current Bird Journal is always here. Best Pix This Month:  Bald Eagle Flying in Sunset Bay   All Contents Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. blue dot Cameras Used blue dot Ethics green square Feedback red diamond Bird Rescue Advice green square Herons green square Egrets green square Herons vs Egrets green square Books & Links green square Pelican Beak Weirdness green square Pelicans Playing Catch green square Rouses green square Courtship Displays green square Duck Love green square Birding Galveston green square 2nd Lower Rio Grande Valley Birds  & the 1st green square Bald Eagle green square Coyotes blue dot 800e Journal blue dot G5 Journal JRCompton.com  Links  resume  Contact Me  DallasArtsRevue

Eagle Flying in Sunset Bay. 

A story of American White Pelicans and a video of a Newly-hatched Pelican Chick
Listen to or download KERA-FM's podcast of Welcome to Subirdia
Author John Marzluff on how to help our winged neighbors.
 

If You Got Flycatchers, they Gotta Catch Flies, And
If You Got Sunset Glare, Might as Well Use it

October 24 2014

Scissortail Males - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Scissortailed Flycatchers Watching for Flies

And catching them, too.

Sicssortail Male After a Bug - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Scissortail Male After A Bug

I waited and waited and waited, and twice during all that holding that lens out the driver's side of the The Slider, twice I got male Scissortailed Flycatchers close to catching flies.

Scissortailed Male Over the Line - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Over the Line

Flycatcher in liquid motion, off after a bug, probably.

Pelicans Lined Up - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

American White Pelicans Lined Up

I've been studying pelicans much more than usual lately. Juveniles have more brown parts. Males are bigger.

Snailboat Photo Sneak - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snailboat Photo Sneak

I've seen sailboats get too close to the logs way out in Sunset Bay. Close enough to make the boat lie over on its side and need dragging back out to deeper water, but this guy driving this woman photographer kept out in the deep, although when they scared the pelicans out on the logs into the water and swimming away, I began to think evil thoughts for the boaters.

It's illegal to interfere with shorebirds, but since there's nobody to enforce such rules, a lot of it goes on. More, it seems, every day. There've been several sightings of people purposely paddling kayaks and canoes right through bunches of pelicans while laughing uproariously. One a few days ago, actually used their paddles to splash the pelicans. That seems downright rude. I've often thought it would be good to keep boat traffic out of Sunset Bay.

White Birds Out On The Logs - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

White Birds Out on the Logs

The sun was setting, throwing inordinate amounts of reflected yellow onto us all, and especially into our eyes.

Great Egret Landing into the STripey Sea - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret into the Stripey Sea

Great Egrets are white, which will not always be obvious in the forthcoming photographs.

The Other White Bird Landing - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Other White Bird Landing

White here.

GE in Sunset Reflection - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Landing into the Sunset Reflections

Yellow-brown here.

Great White Egret in Sunset Glare - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great (White) Egret Taking Off from A Sun's Reflection

Dark brown with yellow tinges all around.

Fooling With the Light - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Foolin' with the Light

And color. I especially wanted to bring out that white, never mind what happens with the rest.

Pelican Into the Setting Sunlight - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

American White Pelican into the Setting Sunlight

It took off from the inner bay, and I watched it hop across the water and hop into flight long before I started taking photographs, but eventually I caught up with it. It didn't fly far. It circled around out there, then landed on one of the farther logs.

 

While Others were Watching the Eclipse,
I was Watching Birds

October 23 2014

Killdeer on the Beach - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Killdeer on the Beach

Arrives first the Killdeer, then a female Mallard.

Arrives the Femal Mallard - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Arrives the Female Mallard

The pace quickens and the race begins.

The Pace Quickens and the Race Begins - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Exits the Killdeer

And quickly ends with both birds intact. I'd never noticed enmity between these two species before, but maybe I haven't been paying enough attention.

Female Mallard Swims Closer - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Wood Duck Arrives

I'd hoped to work up some more pix, but the Dreaded iMac screws up, dies, screws up, dies again, and after awhile I give up on it and all things Apple. Its utter demise is nigh.

GBH past sunset -c Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Blue Heron Flying After Sunset Out of Sunset Bay

Shooting herons in the dark.

 

For awhile there, every time I went to
photo Pelicans, I got the same shots

October 22

Serious Pelican Pretzel Preening - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Serious Pelican Pretzel Preening and Another One Wrapped Up in Sleep

Not this time, though. Neck bent down, under, around and up on the one on the left and the other one wrapped around and under down for a warn beak, even though it was warm in Sunset Bay.

Four Outta Six Pelicans Preening - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Four Outta Six Pelicans Preening

And the others resting.

Adult Nonbreeding Pied-billed Grebe - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Nonbreeding Pied-billed Grebe

Not diving.

Bigfoot Coot Standing - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Bigfoot Coot Standing

In its pond.

Pelican Flap - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Probably Just to Keep Its Wings Ready to Do That

But also maybe because its feathers look a little wet.

Serious Pelican Splash Bath -Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Serious Pelican Splash Bath

Making a lotta water dance for it.

Splashalasha - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Splasha Lasha Pelican

I see the essence of a pelican beak and one leg, everything else is either white, wet white or black, and it's all wet, wet, wet.

Ka-Spaloosha! - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ka- Spa- Loosha!

Sometimes it doesn't seem like there's enough water to go around, sometimes there's just so much in the air.

Splasha and No Splahsa - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Splasha and No Splasha

Wet on the left and Dry on the right.

Not Quite Dry - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Not Quite Dry

Yet.

Flap to Dry - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Flap to Dry

Then flap some more.

 

Even Pelicans Sometimes Need a Friend to Lean on

October 18

 A Friend to Lean 0n - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

A Friend to Lean On

As gregarious a bunch as pelicans often are, tending to gather great numbers of them in one place, they get pretty testy when one pelican gets too close to another. A bump like this one could net the bumper with a beak-sworded hole through its lower mandible or at least a good beak-thrust or shove, but none of that was forthcoming in this close-proximity touching.

Prone to Lean - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Prone to Lean

The reasons become quickly obvious. The pelican on the right has a bum foot that does not support it on the ground or on a perching log. Notice how firm the footing is on the leaned-on pelican friend, and how insubstantial the foundation is under the pelican on the right.

Hobbling Up the Log - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Hobbling Up the Log

With wings flapping, pelicans become "lighter" and this one can almost manage to walk up the log.

Barely Walking - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Barely Walking

What I needed was a little distance or to zoom back to include all of the bird at once, but that's only possible with a zoom lens, and contrary to remarkably popular local beliefs, all birders don't use zooms, which, though perhaps sometimes more versatile, are inherently less sharp than prime (non-zooms) like my Blunderbuss (300mm with a 1.7X telextender).

Barely able to turn back - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Barely Able to Turn Back

This pelican apparently wanted to, but it didn't get far up the log before it realized it couldn't go farther. So it turned around, with help from wide-wingspan flapping.

Almost Crawling - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Almost Crawling

While still flapping, it slowly manoeuvered back down the log floating a little too-close-in in Sunset Bay today.

Bad Foot Dragging - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Bad Foot Dragging,

It slowly made it back to its lean-on friend, who doesn't seem to mind, even though it was otherwise busy preening, as all pelicans must.

Good Wings Pull It Up - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Good Wings Pull It Up

To a position very near standing up on its own two feet.

Flailing Foot Dragging - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Failing Foot Dragging

And with its wing over its friend, who hardly even moves, when if anyone else did that much leaning — and didn't need to — it'd get a poke, a bump or a fight.

Flailing and Leaning - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Leaning / Flailing / Falling

It's not always easy for handicapped birds to get around, but if your bad foot can still pivot and hold your body in place, that's a plus.

Ungraceful Entrance - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Inelegant Water Entrance

This water entrance has style but forces a head-dunking, but even then it is not at all unsuccessful. It got into the water. Pelicans are used to having their heads under when searching or grabbing for fish, so they must know how to hold their breath. And…

Ship Shape - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

It Bobs to the Surface All Ship Shape

It quickly bobs to the surface and begins to swim back to the main party of pelicans well out in the bay, where it's much safer to stay for a pelican who needs a little time to get going, but can still manage.

Off on Its Way - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Off On Its Way

With a little wing muscle to help it build some fluid motion momentum.

Wings Up to Dry - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Wings Up to Dry

And paddling safely away. Leaving me to wonder if a hospital stay at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation might help. Probably would. But catching it, when it very likely doesn't want to be captured or know why, would in most likelihoods damage it farther, and we don't want that.

We all need a friend to lean on sometimes.

 

Spent a few Minutes at Sunset Bay Today

October 15

 Pelican Playing, Practicing or Something - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Playing or Practicing or Something

These aren't in any particular order except this is the most interesting of the bunch, so it's on top. I don't think the order matters on any of the others... This pelican seemed to be catching something, but I could never see what, so it was probably not fish. But these same actions are used

Pelican Beak Wide Under - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Beak, Wide Under

I noticed that there were many American White Pelicans in closer than I'd seen them this year. Apparently that fact-finding committee [below] did finally present their findings, and that section of the flock joined them at that log.

Pelican Beak Tipped Uppish - cpyr

Pelican Beak Tipped Uppish

Meanwhile, I saw two pelican actions worth photographing to try to figure out what the two individuals I saw doing those behaviors were doing and why.

Pelican Lower Mandible Under - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Swimming with Lower Mandible Under

I surmise that this one was stretching its lower mandible in a way I hadn't noticed before — by using self-produced hydraulic pressure.

Splashing Beak Under  - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Splashing Beak Under

When American White Pelicans (the pelicans usually seen well into the interior from the coastlines, where the Brown Pelicans settle) fish cooperatively, they do many of these same actions. It could be this pelican was just practicing. Or maybe even just foolin' around.

Pelican Bending Lower Mandible with Water - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Bending Lower Mandible with Water

I don't think it was catching any fish. It tipped its beak back only that once that I saw, and I watched carefully but didn't see anything in there, though there was plenty of light to see something if it were in there.

Pelican Playing Practicing or Something - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Playing, Practising or Something

Eventually, this one just swam away looking like any other pelican swimming from here to there and not any longer looking like it was catching fish.

American White Pelican Having Taken Off - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Having Taken Off

I didn't catch it hop, hop, hopping across the water, but I caught it doing exactly this. Then it flew farther and farther, then it disappeared.

A Few Minutes Later - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

A Few Minutes Later Either the One That Just Took Off or Another Bird Entirely

And then it either came back or somebody else pelicannish did.

Pelican In For A Landing - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican In For A Landing

We can see all the cormorants and pelicans under its landing path, but ...

And Gets Swallowed - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

An' Gets Swallowed

Gulp! It's gone. Well, not really, of course, that it, about even with the line of pelican heads on the next log back.  I kept hoping it would land to one side or the other of the lower-mandible-stretching-in-the-setting-sun pelican, but nope.

 Pelican Just a Beak - cpyr

Then Another Pelican Felt the Need to Stretch

 

Watching A Spectacular Wide Sunset and
where do pelicans fly to at Night?

October 14

 Wide-angle Sunset - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Wide-angle Sunset Spectacular

After Lovers Pizza we watched the sunset from several places along the lake, ending down at The Little Thicket for this.

Night-flying Pelicans Over the Yacht Clubs - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Night-flying Pelicans Over the Yacht Clubs

Then from somewhere in view of the bottom of the yacht clubs, I noticed familiar bird shapes in the dark.

And Pelicans flying in the dark - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

And Pelicans Flying in the Dark

It really was dark, but I tried these shots anyway, with my little Panasonic G2 with a short, sharp, zoom, and this, like the sunset that proceeded it, was truly a wide-angle shot.

And On North - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Then On Northward

So where do "our" pelicans go at night. North, I guess. At least some of them.

 

Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation in Hutchins, Texas

October 14

Cattle Egret in Office - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cattle Egret in Office

I dropped some donation items off at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Monday, apparently while everybody was having lunch, well into the afternoon. The office was locked with a big sign with a number to call, but I don't have a cellphone, so I didn't, and I shot this with The Blunderbuss leaning on the window to hold it still. Luckily the probably recuperated but human-acclimated Cattle Egret wasn't moving around much. And I kinda doubt it was this pale, too. I didn't adjust for the fluorescent lights inside.

I asked the one guy I saw a couple times while I was there, if I could go on back to take pictures — there was a sign over the access door to the effect that nobody should enter — and he said, sure. So I, wearing my big Nikon D800e and my Little Panasonic G5 walked the rounds of the big cages in what I think of as "the front," being careful not to transgress the one yellow (I think) ribbon warning me away from several cages., clicking and snapping the amazing collection of birds being rehabilitated.

Getting Pelican Bit - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Getting Pelican Bit

I was greeted by this gentle pelican, and bit by her (female, according to what the few volunteers/work persons I saw called it) repeatedly. She was a a very friendly and inquisitive American White Pelican. I don't remember its name, and although she probably recognizes it, but probably doesn't call herself that. I could tell it was enclosing my hand in its beak with an ever-so-small snap, but there was so little pressure, I barely noticed it, except that it was a pleasant experience, although it soon bored with the idea, and wandered off, although I caught up with her again later.

Owl on the Far Side of the Cage - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Barred Owl on the far side of the Cage

It's a big cage, with several species who apparently get along well, although this is about as far away from me as it could get in that large cage. I was careful to walk my Rogers walk, slowly and carefully, with an emphasis on the slow. I tried to make no sudden motions, and if I spoke — it's kinda hard to stop me — I spoke gently and reassuringly. I'm sorry they're in rehabilitation, but I love being around them and being able t photograph them in some detail.

Little Dark Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

little dark hawk

One of the reasons I'm only posting maybe a dozen or so pix today, is that I have not identified most of these birds, and I want to, so after I post this first dozen, I'll hit the I.D books again, and try to name everybody, which is always a challenge.

That Same Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

that same hawk

Sometimes I learn why these birds are in rehabilitation, and sometimes not. Not, today. Although I got several pix of this one, who was calm enough to follow with my big camera.

Hawk Talking - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

hawk talking

Almost got this one in focus.

The B&W Hawk Again - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

That black & white hawk again

I'll figure out who this is after seven more trips through my extensive collection of bird I.D books — two dozen and counting, and sometimes it seems I'm still lost in the bird I.D biz.

Green Peacock - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

green peacock

There were a couple varieties of peacocks today, just this was the only who'd pose for me. Captions in all lower case, as usual on the bird journal, indicate I don't know its proper name.

Black Vulture - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Black Vulture

It was too close to the cage grid to separate them, so I photographed what I could. I appreciate the wire grid, just not for photography.

Great Blue Heron - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Blue Heron Wandering the Grounds

I only saw a couple GBHs wandering around campus today. Usually there's been dozens.

Caged Turkey Vulture - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Caged Turkey Vulture

This pix has more head and neck and shoulder detail than any photo I've ever taken of one of these handsome birds who do the world a marvelous service.

Adult Red-shouldered Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Red-shouldered Hawk

Handsome critter, and this, like all but the birds-wandering-around-the-Rogers-campus birds, was photographed through the grid of the cages. Just sometimes I figured it out and got all the relative distances — cage wire to bird — well, and often not so. Lots more pix soon — soon as I can identify more birds.

 

A Small Park well inside Irving

October 12

Adult Nonbreeding - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Adult Nonbreeding Male American Wigeon

So I went to the Center for Art in JC Park distinctly interior to Irving, Texas to pick up my large photo of three Black Vultures out for adventure that I shot at Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area and got in the Irving Arts Association Wildlife Show there, and I brought along the Blunderbuss, just in case I saw some birds, which seemed unlikely, but I was ever hopeful. And my hope fullness was rewarded with two birds I hadn't seen much of at White Rock.

Female American Wigeon - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Female American Wigeon (top) and Adult Male Breeding American Wigeon (bottom)

The Black Vulture piece is the second of a series of four pics, of which I prefer the first, called “Who's Up for a Little Action?” which didn't even get in this show or the other show I entered somewhere west of here. I'd hoped the three (max three entries) would at least get in this largely amateur competition, even if they didn't win any prizes, because they belong together and don't really make much sense alone. But I wasn't the judge, who selected a slick image of a pet dog for the winner and didn't seem to know much about photography, at all — from the other photographs she chose, not just mine.

Adult Male Breeding American Wigeon - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Male Breeding American Wigeon

I have not seen any wigeons at White Rock Lake this year, so it was a delight to see these at that little neighborhood park just off 183 past MacArthur.

Profile of Adult Male Breeding American Wigeon - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Profile Detail of Adult Male Breeding American Wigeon

(October - June)

Three Candada Gooses - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Three Canada Gooses

Also present were a number — I didn't count them — of Canada Gooses.

Canada Goose Talking - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Detail of the Middle One Above

Not sure why, but I usually avoid pix showing that nictating membrane. But there it is, and it's part of this and many others — all? — birds.

Detail of Another Candada Goose - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Detail of a Swimming Canada Goose Showing Its Eye Open

 

A Little Bit of A Lot

Photographed October 10

 Big Hairy Yellow Spider - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Big Hairy Yellow-ish Spider Hanging Over Entry to the Pier at Sunset Bay

First, I made sure it was busy up there. Then I turned on my on-camera flash, focused and shot. As usual, everything here is in the order I shot them. Kelley said the Pelicans were being "fun." Minutes later, so did Shirley, but by the time I got there, their fun had worn out, and they were just there.

First Flock Over - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

First Flock=over of the Day

But not hardly the last. I have no idea who they are, but there were a lot of them.

Second Flock Flyover - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Second Flock Flyover

These were, I think, bigger birds. They look like herons maybe — sorta, a little, maybe.

Second Flock Flyover Detail - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Second Flock Flyover

Or maybe something entirely else.

Unspotted Spotted Sandpiper Lands - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Unspotted Spotted Sandpiper Landing

With wings spread, so positive ID is much easier than usual.

Size Comparison of Spotted Sandpiper and American Coot - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Size Comparison with Spotted Sandpiper and American Coot

Now you see why getting any identifiable photo of a Spotted Sandpiper can be difficult.

Wood Ducks with Pelican Back - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Wood Ducks with Pelicans Back

I've been seeing Wood Ducks in Sunset Bay again recently.

Great Egret Flyover - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Flyover

Slowly, gradually, the sky got bluer and the sun almost began to shine.

Male Mallard Molt? - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Mallard Molt?

Except for the patterns, it sure looks like a male mallard. I don't remember seeing this sort of a molt before.

Mallard Pair About to Land - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Mallard Pair About to Land

Splashing and dripping water all the way. No sign of that molt on these Mallards. Birds flying rapidly into Sunset Bay is one of my favorite practice targets.

Female Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on the Wire - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on the Wire over the Parking Lot at Winfrey Point

In beautiful sunlight.

Pelicans On the Outer Logs from Winfrey Parking Lot - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Pelicans on the Outer Logs from Winfrey Point Parking Lot

A lot more interesting with some shadows and trees to frame them.

Pelicans on Near Logs - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans on Near Logs

Despite the careful calculations of the Fact Finding Committee, many of the newer pelican arrivals are settling on a log somewhere near the middle of the logs strewn by nature in Sunset Bay. They apparently voted against settling close in.

Pelicans on Near Log with Flapper - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans Standing on Near Log with One Flapper

Not doing much, really, standing, squatting and preening, although I didn't notice any mandible, wing or leg stretching.

Pelican Preening Underwing - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Preening Underwing

Notice the odd bits of black and white checked feathers under there.

 

Fishing Pelicans are Not always Cooperative

October 8

A Little More Frenetic - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Sometimes Pelicans Fishing are a little more Frenetic and Downright Competitive

Most of the time, American White Pelicans are not in a rush or easily upset by other pelicans. They are known for their gregarious nature and cooperative fishing methods, but there are times when it's every pelicans for itself. They usually proceed slowly and get it done. Sometimes, however, a very competitive streak shows, and everybody's in a big hurry. They are probably hungry.

Return of the Fisher Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Return of the Fisher Pelicans

It looked like they'd calmed down after they'd had their fill as the headed in an orderly fashion back home to the logs.

A Little Mayhem - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

A Little Mayhem

Although there were exceptions.

Hey, whagya Know? More Fish!

Hey, Whattya Know? Mo' Fish!

Then when they found more fish right under those logs, they really got excited.

And the Eat Goes On - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

And the Eat Goes On

Though there was a unison about it.

When They Finally Had Enough - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

And Then, When They Finally Had About Enough

But after awhile, everybody just wanted to go back to the perch.

They Return to their Logs in their Usual, Gentle Manner - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

They Return to Their Logs in Their Usual, Gentler Manner

Although there was a little competition for the best spot. There always is among American White Pelicans, gregarious as they often seem.

 

At Last, Pelicans Flying and Cooperatively Fishing

Photographed October 7

 FOS PIF - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

FOS — PIF

First of Season — Pelican in Flight. So glad to see one in the air. One of those joys I wait from about April 15th every year till sometime in October the next year.. Hooray!

Pelican Slowing to Land - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Slowing to Land

Then it landed behind a bunch of other pelicans on one of those logs out there, and my pelican season had officially begun at last.

Not, perhaps, as exciting as getting to photograph a Bald Eagle the other day, since there's lots of pelicans now — more than thirty at my last count — and as far as I or anybody I know knows, there's only one local eagle, and seeing it in flight was so exciting I could hardly hold my camera/lens still to focus in on it.

 

Going Fishing - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

American White Pelicans Going Fishing

I knew where they were going, and I'd been hoping for an opportunity to photograph them cooperatively fishing ever since the first American Pelican arrived in Sunset Bay on September 13.

Pelicans Against the Sun - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans Against the Sun

It's almost always a treat, because once they get used to fishing with each other this autumn / winter / spring, it's like watching synchronized swimming at the Olympics or that sport's perhaps most famous synchro-swimming athlete in history, Esther Williams. I remember her swimming; you younger pups may never have heard of her.

Sporadically Dipping Beaks - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Sporadically Dipping Beaks

These birds are obviously a little out of practice. Perhaps they are from several differing northern flocks, and they hadn't had the pleasure, but as I watched they got more and more synchronized.

Pelicans Dipping - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans Dipping Heads — and Beaks — into the Water where the Fish Are

As their heads go down into the water, their wings semi-automatically come up in counterbalance.

And Grope Around Down There - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

And Grope Around Down There

Till everybody's heads are well under water, groping around down there, and catching some fish. Pelicans each need four pounds of fish a day.

Beak Stretching After Dredging Up Some Fish - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Beak Stretching After Having Caught Fish in Them

After groping, if they're used to fishing together, they come up for air and get back together to chase a school of fish into the shallows to scoop more of them up.

Tip Back and Swallow - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Tip Back and Swallow

Since where they put those fishes is in their remarkably flexible lower mandibles, those amazing purposes need to be stretched a bit, so they'll be thoroughly flexible next time they're needed, too.

Beaks In & Wings Up - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Beaks In & Wings Up

Here's another shot from the same bunch a little while later, when they're a little more synchronized, though not yet perfect.

Some Down; Some Up - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Some Down; Some Up

They need practice.

Wings Up - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Wings Up

And finally, everybody's heads in and wings up.

 

Fact-Finding Pelicans, Coots scooting & Poofy Top Ducks

October 6

Pelicans Closer - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

One of Two American White Pelicans Much Closer

I think they were on a fact-finding mission, and I didn't care why, but very pleased they were coming into the inner-bay to do it, which meant instead of vague pelicano shapes far out in Sunset Bay, I'd have a chance to photograph them in great detail and full color. I'd hoped they'd go communal fishing, but I think what they were up to was investigating one log, that's not much closer than other gathering logs the flock has used in past years, to stay just a little out in the water away from the idiot humans, their sometimes crazed dogs, the little big cats who sometimes wander around Sunset and, of course, the coyotes, whose mating season will soon be upon us all.

Fact-finders Posing - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Fact-finders Posing

I thought it was an opportunity. As long as the pelicans had been here, they had not — in my sight — come this close into Sunset Bay before. Other photographers had told me about seeing them coming in, to look around, to fish together, etc. But so far, I'd misse that close-in action.

One Fact-finder Flaps - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

One Fact Finder Flaps

Of course, I didn't know what they were up to till they arrived at one of the inner-more logs, not far distant from the pier. Then, we slowy figured it out.

Major Pelk Beak Stretch - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Major Pelican Beak Stretch

And though I managed to overexpose every shot, because I wasn't paying nearly enough attention to the birds' images on my LCD, so they required some work, but still look pretty good.

Fact-finding Pelicans Make Long, Slow Circle Around the Log in Question - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Fact-finding Pelicans Make Long Slow Circle Around the Particular Log in Question

The Snowy Egret was already there, and it was probably as intrigued by the fact-finding visitors as I was.

Checking Out the Log - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Checking Out the Log

They stopped swimming for what seemed like a long time, just to stare at that one log.

Three White Birds - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Three White Birds

Of course, by far the best way to test out a new log is to flap up on top of it, carefully excluding the co-fact-checker. Log-mounting, as always among American White Pelicans, is a competitive sport, and as there is always a winner, there is inevitably a looser.

Fact Finder A Finds that It Likes The Log - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Fact-finder A Finds that It Likes the Log

I kept hoping the latter would flap itself up onto the log, also.

Pelk with Log - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican with Approved-of Log

But no. A part of the Sunset Bay Pelican Flock has since moved significantly closer to the pier, but not as close to the inspected log, which the day aftre the inspection "sank" several inches due to a heavy rain that filled water under the pier and out along the east and western coasts from the pier. The log they moved to is much longer than this one they inspected.

Coots Scooting - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Coots Scooting

Actually, American Coots' proclivity to get up speed fast enough to run across the water is called skittering. Once they get their speed up, they go remarkably fast, and sometimes use the technique to gain enough air speed to take off, although usually it's just a quick way to go where going needs.

Coots Scooting - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Five Coots Scooting

In various stages of getting up and skittering across the water's surface.

Poofy Top - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Poofy Top

That feather growth makes them look distinctive, but it's actually a brain growth that will eventually kill birds who have it.

Poofy Top Dark - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Poofy Top Dark

These two ducks seem to be hanging out together. They probably don't know about their curse, but have found true friends.

Grasshopper on the Slider - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Grasshopper on The Slider

And, of course, I only had the one camera with that one lens, so I had to back off somewhat, use the on-camera flash to fill in this side's darkness and hope.

Eagle in Flight at White Rock Lake Saturday Morning

October 4

Bald Eagle Bringing In a Big Fish - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Bald Eagle Bringing in a Big … Oh … Probably a Catfish

A friend and I were talking not long ago about how difficult it is to select one's own best work. I had no idea, even when I was working on this, after I'd already done what I thought were the day's best catches and run my usual mindless chatter between and among them, that no, those weren't, but yes, this — or maybe this [three clicks down] — was. It wasn't exactly an afterthought, but I kept finding more pix of it flying.

I expected to fold this one in a little later, because it was probably too far away to render well with my lens, which is known for its high resolution but also for its inability to render after about 300 yards out, but I don't know how far this is, although it gets better as the bird flies closer. So please excuse text that may appear to be going in several directions today. I have been, also.

In my first, very blurry photo of it, the eagle was flying much higher, but as it neared the far edge, it flew closer to the water.

eagle kayak long queue of coots and somethings - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Eagle who appears not to be carrying anything yet with Kayaks, Long Line of Coots and Ducks (?)

I keep hearing that Eagles' favorite White Rock Lake menu item is the American Coot, whose population has, in the last week, increased more than 15-fold, counting only their constant presence in Sunset Bay proper. You suppose after I shot this image, it did a quick circle around and picked up a tender young coot or a luscious large catfish, flayed it on the spot or in the air, then carried it across to its new favorite dining area to devour?

I usually rely on chronological order of images to tell their own stories. Here I am backing up, to show the moment when the Bald Eagle entered our consciousness. I say our because I was with an eagle-eyed bird photographer whose name, I believe, is Amole.

Bringing in a Big Fish - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

This is the full frame of Bald Eagle Flying detailed in the image just below.

Amole saw the eagle just before he announced it was entering our space (White Rock Lake) just as he had the Cooper's Hawk and the Red-tailed Hawks who proceeded it, and whose photographs follow below. I thanked him aloud for the first one, and he continued. We enjoyed great conversation. He said he lived an hour's drive from here, but visited often, and he spoke knowledgeably about this lake and its wildlife, where he, his wife and child often visit together.

Note that between the last two photographs, the eagle appears to have picked up some baggage. I'm still not utterly convinced it was a fish, to me, and I'm wondering if I managed to miss it snagging a coot, which even at this distance, could have been amazing, and I'll keep one eye on that far shore every time I visit Sunset Bay.

* In Bird Chat, the Dallas Audubon website's birders forum, Ben Sandifer has pointed out, "The most important thing [I] have documented is that the bird is actively feeding at the lake. In the past, everyone thought the eagles were just passing through. Documenting the feeding is a huge leap in why the bird is there hanging out." Although I should point out that several other photographers have photographed the (assuming there's just one) Bald Eagle eating something it had caught [somewhere] on its favorite, far perch inSunset Bay.

Bald Eagle Coming in with a Fish - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Bald Eagle Coming in with a Big Fish — detail

The top picture was at least twice the size of this eagle in this photo when I photographed it, and it enlarged much better than this, because, I assume, it was close enough for the lens to do its dada duty.

Eagle Flying Over Coot Guardian - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Eagle Flying Over Outer Sunset Bay Past the Bay's Lone Coot Guardian

Then only on the Monday following did I go back among my eagle blurs once again to find this pic.

the next one down - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Then comes this remarkable shot from somewhat closer but still way far away.

Do you suppose that after doing this for eight and a quarter years, I'm actually getting better at this bird photography thing? Or maybe I'm just getting better models….

Banking Eagle with Cormorants - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Banking Eagle with Cormorants

The Wylie eagle did not just fly straight into where it planned to enjoy its meal, it circled in and around clutching its bounty behind it.

Eagle About to Land - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Amid a Disarray of Cormorants, a Retreat of Coots and an Audience of Pelicans, the Eagle is about to Touch Down

Pelicans, I'm told, are too big for an eagle in normal circumstances to bother eating. Coots and cormorants, may be.

Landing Fish First - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Approaching Landing Log Fish First

Well after it landed and had been eating awhile, Amole and I conjectured whether it would be closer — and less pelican cluttered — if we moved west along the Sunset coast to where there's a break in the trees, but neither of us moved. We just kept shooting. I later photographed the far-out logs from across the bay at Dreyfuss, and it's a lot farther than it appears in these photos, so once it's landed, I may well trek out into that boggy place and try it.

Eagle Landing Beyond Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Eagle Landing Beyond Fuzzy Pelicans

Fuzzy because they're rendered out of focus, all of which was centered on the Bald Eagle Landing with a "Big Fish," though it might well not be a fish at all.

Bald Eagle with a Fuzzy Pelican Head - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Bald Eagle with Fuzzy Pelican Head Showing

Facing away from prying human eyes and cameras, the eagle would eat awhile, then quickly bring its head up to look around in case there was somebody big enough to grab it and make off with it. Old habits die hard. I had my camera on a tripod for a change, which made stationary shots like this one easier, and birds flying shots like many others up and down this page, more difficult. After looking silver, gray and/or black, its prey now appears to be white with maybe some black feathers — although most of the catfish I have eaten over the years was also white. It doesn't look like a fish, although it's had several large, eagle-sized bites taken out of it, but it's had its life squeezed out of it by those big, strong talons.

My first shot of the eagle across the lake was taken at 11:42:05 and the last at 11:54:22, when it was still eating lunch. If I'd been thinking straight, I would have waited for it to fly away, but I thought I was in a hurry.

Consensus seems to be that we get a Bald Eagle visitation at least once a week, and probably more, because although many more photographers are showing up in Sunset Bay these days, and big as eagles are, they often go unnoticed. One of the recent photo captures of our favorite Big Birds was over the fountain where Lawther Drive (around the lake) crosses Garland Road.

Cooper's Hawk Over - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cooper's Hawk Flyover

According to Wikipedia, this bird was named after the naturalist William Cooper, one of the founders of the New York Lyceum of Natural History … Other common names: big blue darter, chicken hawk, hen hawk, Mexican hawk, quail hawk, striker and swift hawk," although it doesn't eat many chickens. My last encounter with a Cooper's Hawk graces the very top [link fixed] of last month's Bird Journal.

Cooper's Hawk Looking Down - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cooper's Hawk

From the first image of this Cooper's Hawk on down the page we are again following that strict chronological order I do so like to engage. The problem was readers and photographers get more excited about eagles than about hawks, so even though I shot them all when they got there, I ran eagles first, thus discontinuing the chron.

Female Duck - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Duck

I wanted this duck to be one of the Blue-winged Teal that kept flying through the space before the pier at Sunset Bay, but it's got a Mallard butt with those cute Mallard spots, so I suspect that's who it is. I usually think of female Wood Ducks as beautiful and the rest of most duck species as just, there. But this is a comely female Mallard.

Red-tailed Hawk Over - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Red-tailed Hawk Over

Many of the parts of our (fellow United States-ians') most common hawk are translucent, because they're very thin. Their heads, however, are somewhat opaque, so light doesn't shine through, and so we can't see much detail in this one's face. I want us to be able to see those details, but it's so close to ideal otherwise, I don't care. Perhaps you can see why it's called a Red-tailed Hawk.

Red-tailed Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Red-tailed Hawk with Sunlight Halo

Kinda the same thing here, but we got a little glint off its beak and right eyebrow, so we know just where that is.

More or Less Domestic Duck Taking a Bath - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

More or Less Domestic Duck Taking a Splash Bath on a Cool autumn Morning

I don't know our left-off-at-the-side-of-the-road ducks as well as some in the regular Bird Squad (I'm strictly an irregular), so I don't know if this one just showed up here one day, or if someone left him off. We get a lot of both at Sunset Bay. It's cold enough now. I suspect we'll be seeing — and hearing — pelicans taking baths similar to this splashing, except for the amounts of water agitated and the volume of sound it makes. The water splashes, but most of the sound from pelicans bathing comes from their big wings slapping the surface.

Great Blue Heron Showing Tongue - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Blue Heron Showing Tongue

Probably my favorite of all birds, but a lot of birds are in close running. Lucky of me to have as a favorite bird a species of which many live close. There are now two Great Blue Herons living — or at least hunting — in Sunset Bay these days, but I don't know if they are a pair or just pals.

Pied-billed Grebe - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pied-billed Grebe

That last Wikipedia story was so interesting, to me at least, I thought I'd try another: "Other names of this grebe include American dabchick, dabchick, Carolina grebe, devil-diver, dive-dapper, dipper, hell-diver, pied-billed dabchick, thick-billed grebe, and water witch." This photo is better than my earlier one from last month, and the next one will be better still, or I won't show it here unless it's doing something much more interesting than swimming along then diving and staying down long enough that I forget it's there.

I linked on to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds page for the Pied-billed Grebe, but I still didn't find what a pied-bill was.

Spotted Sandpiper - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

First it was a Spotted Sandpiper, then it wasn't, Now, thanks to Kala King, it is a Non-breeding Spotted Sandpiper.

And I know it hasn't acquired its spots yet, but a bird that looks a lot like this one, and was very close to where I photographed this one sometime last week or the week before, landed with its wings spread, showing me its outstretched undersides, and that seemed a perfect match for a Spotted Sandpiper, of which we see a few every year at about this time.

Well… I checked back, and I confirmed that my Spotted Sandpiper from last month has a white line over each eye, not a white circle around them, and for awhile I thought then it couldn't possibly be a Spotted, so I asked Kala King, who identified my last unsub, what- and when- ever it was. She said, "this is a spotted sandpiper in non-breeding plumage," then I looked in my Lone Pine Birds of Texas, which shows this exact same bird as a non-breeding Spotted Sandpiper, so two out of two is the truth. Three out of three if you count my original "definitive" identification.

They only need their spots to attract a mate.

 

 

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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 since 2006 — most of my birding anywhere is documented in this Bird Journal, and indexed on the Index page. Lately I've been indexing the better or more interesting images for that month on the top of each new page.

I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally yet always amateurishly since 1964.

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