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

The Current Bird Journal is always here. All Contents Copyright 2015 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. Cameras Used   Ethics   notoriously out-of-date Feedback page red diamond Bird Rescue Advice   Herons   Egrets   Herons vs Egrets   Books & Links   Pelican Beak Weirdness   Pelicans Playing Catch   Rouses   Courtship Displays   Duck Love   Birding Galveston   2nd Lower Rio Grande Valley Birds  & the 1st   Bald Eagle    Coyotes   800e Journal   G5 Journal   JRCompton.com    Links   resume   Contact Me   DallasArtsRevue   Bird Banding Info   So you want to use one of my photographs in your work?   How to Photograph Birds  

Even I use Site Search to find anything, but each month's best pix or info is here:

BEST JANUARY PIX: Adult Breeding Male Canvasback Head-back behavior   Breeding Male Pintail   Bathing Pelican   Pelican lower mandible stretch   routine   Hovering Female Belted Kingfisher   Beautiful Birds playing in Sunset Bay   High-spirited Cormorants   My first Egret Fishing Party in Years   Birding in the Dark   City of Dallas mowing Destroys Habitat for a Half Dozen Bird Species   Flying Action at Great Egret Fishing Party   Pelican flying in from that Dreyfuss Tree   Red-tailed Hawk Close Up

 
Back to My good Old Used-to-be — Pelicans
  Flying Into and Out of Sunset Bay

January 29 2015

 The Old Pump House with Hungry Birds - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Old Pumphouse with Hungry Birds — mostly gulls and coots

Back we are driving slowly up East Lawther past the Arborectum, up Winfrey Hill where the circle is blocked with three cars owned by very important people, obviously, so I can't drive around it, but I coast down the hill toward Sunset Bay, decide Oh, heck, why not drive all the way around to Sunset Bay, and photograph whatever I find. I'm so tired of exploring new territories.

The New Old House Hill - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The New Old House Hill

On the right, in front of the green and white thing that looks like a comparatively cheap — for the neighborhood — old two-story wood frame house — growing up or being rebuilt just behind the picnic shelter in front of which I shot those nearly-night pix of the lake and the rowers not so long ago. Just past left out of sight here, is the Old Boat House and the lagoon where dozens of Great Egrets lined up in the trees where nearly invisible Black-crowned Night-Herons are, too, but nearly nobody can see them.

Corms In Trees On Winfrey - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants on Trees Looking North to the Yacht Clubs and the Walking and Driving Mockingbird Bridges

That's Boy Scout Hill where folks drove off the nasty old developers recently, so they didn't — yet, anyway, I suspect they'll try it again when the Boy Scout Hill bunch goes off to tilt at yet another windmill — build a restaurant overlooking the lake. As an aside, I should mention that the reason we call Sunset Bay Sunset Bay, is because there used to be a restaurant there called the Sunset Restaurant, or something like that. And a few people still remember it as a wonderful place to dine in easy view of the setting sun or wonderful birds out on the lake.

These are six Double-crested Cormorants in trees near where Winfrey Point would be if Winfrey Point were pointed. Shot from the parking lot behind the Winfrey Building but attached to the aforementioned Scenic Circle.

Pelican Drying Melanin-black Primary Feathers - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Drying Its Melanin-black Primary Feathers

Primaries are the feathers farthest out on their long wingspans. They're made of melanin, which is dark black, and they're sturdier than their white feathers, helping pelicans fly like eagles — or better.  Kinda rare to see a pelican drying its primary feathers. This pelican appears to be smaller and have pinker upper mandibles and yellower feet than the other pelicans it's standing with on the near end of what is variously called "The Island," "the Spit," and the line of trees that gets underwatered every time we have a good rain.

Resting Lumps of Pelicans - cpyr

Resting Lumps of Pelicans

These birds are just to the right of the last pelicans who were standing up.

Adult Double-crested Cormorants on an SSB Log - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Double-crested Cormorants on a Sunset Beach Log

Looking at this I have to wonder why I needed to cart my tripod all up and down the trail around Dog Park Meadow the other day to try to get detailed shots of Cormorants in Cormorant Bay. Does seem a little silly.

Front Row View of AWP integrating and coming in - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Front-row View of American White Pelican Re-integrating Just Past the Reeds Across the Lagoon

Some people still believe that our white pelicans fly back and forth across the lake. But we Pelk Cognoscenti know they just de-intergrate when they look like they're leaving Sunset Bay, then later re-integrate when photographers on land or pier in Sunset Bay or along Sunset Beach need to shoot them some pelicans "coming in."

Great Egret's Wing Nearly in the Water - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Whose Wing is Nearly Touching the Water

We actually see Great Egrets flying into and out of, but mostly just around inside, Sunset Bay all day long. When I think I might have a clear shot, I attempt panning whichever way they're going, and this time I won the lottery. They do sometimes dip their wing or wings in the water to help slow down their air speed.

Eeg Continues toward Cormorants on the Outter Logs - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Same Great Egret Still Flying Towards the Outer Cormorant Logs

A nice study of brilliant white and dark dark brown birds. Out where that very out of focus gull is flying sideways on the right of this image is about where reintegrating American White Pelicans start looking like they're just coming in from a hard day's work eating fishes.

Pair of Pelicans Coming In Close - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pair of Pelicans Flying In Close

To each other. Other, less wonderful photographs in this series showed these two nearly holding hands, with their primary feathers nearly touching on up and down flaps.

AWP Flyover - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

American White Pelican Flyover

You have to remember that I'm shooting a loooooong telephoto lens here, so this AWP is not just flying a few feet over the taller trees, it's way, way up there, flying around and over Sunset Bay.

Turned Around and Headed Out - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Turned Around and Heading Out

Originally there were three AWPs (American White Pelicans) in the group I photographed the two birds nearly "holding hands." The third one landed as usual, sorta close to the logs just off Sunset Beach, and it quickly joined the community there. One I thought might have been the leader that time, turned almost as soon as it was almost all the way into Sunset Bay and flew off north. And this one nearly landed, then swooped up into the air again, and flew out along the edge of the Hidden Creeks area and off to the north, presumably to join the other pelican, wherever it was going.

And Off — Past the Cormorant Trees on Sunset Bay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

And Off — Past the Cormorant Trees Overlooking Sunset Bay

I had been trying to figure out how to show these guys in their Sunset Bay trees in an interesting way, then this AWP flew right by them, and I had my answer and my shot.

 

 

Exploring Cormorant Bay

January 28 2015

Bent Bridge from Dog Park Meadow - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Bent Bridge Over the Edge of Cormorant Bay with Big Houses Behind

For some stupid reason, AT&T got a crew of pole-climbers over to my house Tuesday to turn off my phone and my Internet. I was fully paid up, they're just idiots. They say they'll fix it tomorrow [and a really nice guy did], and I hope they will, although I'd love, love, love to get to go back to my good old used to be Internet Provider. We'll see. But if you don't see these for awhile, that's why. Mama Bell is getting senile.

The Cormorant Tree - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Cormorant Tree Overlooking Cormorant Bay

So far, there's two different trees I've called The Cormorant Tree at Cormorant Bay. There's a little one around the Northeast corner of Cormorant Bay that keeps getting in my pictures show from there and from north of there. This is a much bigger tree with many more cormorants. Usually, I like to count things, but I don't even want to start counting the cormorants in this Cormorant Tree.

The Little Bridge - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Little Bridge

The Little Bridge may be the smallest bridge at White Rock Lake. Only in the wettest of wet does this bridge even go over a body of water. The Bent Bridge is similar in that respect. The Bent Bridge's primary reason for living is to keep people walking around the lake from destroying the shoreline just west of it. I suspect this one's duty is to protect a lump of land beneath it. It jiggles every time something round, like a bike or baby carriage wheel, rolls over it. It does not, however, jiggle tummies like most of the big bridges do. Someday I need to write about photographing from White Rock Park's many bridges. But later.

Another one of White Rock's few parking lots that aren't directly attached to one of the Lawther Drives has its gravel-road access just north of Cormorant Bay proper, and it's to the right of this bridge, and behind me from whence I photographed this.

Three Cormorants, Screen of Trees and West Lawther Behind them - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Three Cormorants, the Screen of Trees, a Little Meadow and West Lawther Behind

Sometimes cormorants seem almost serene.

The North Shore of Cormorant Bay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The North Shore of Cormorant Bay

With the little information kiosk off tot he right, West Lawther all across the picture, and big, expensive houses Invisible, behind that stone wall on the other side of the street. There's a distinct disadvantage in exploring a place with only a 600mm telephoto lens, but I needed it for birds, and I didn't want to haul my much smaller, lighter Panasonic with me, too, because the two cameras get in each other's way when both are attached to my body. One camera is often too much.

Golden Cormorant in Flight over Cormorant Bay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Golden Cormorant Flying Over Cormorant Bay

I figured I'd have to fight off all the possibilities of photographing flying cormorants in Cormorant Bay, but this is easily my best shot. And one of darned few detailed BIF (Birds in Flight) I got today.

More Bent Bridge with Estates Background - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

More Bent Bridge Views

Its only bends are at each end, and I don't think I even shot those today, but it really does bend.

You Can Tell it's Cormorant Bay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

You Can Tell It's Cormorant Bay

Although on some days, even Sunset Bay has a lot of cormorants in the Hidden Creek trees.

Great Egret in Cormorant Bay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret in Cormorant Bay Accompanied by At Least Two Cormorants

Although everywhere around Cormorant Bay is not thick with cormorants.

Two Cormorants Flying Up into Cormorant Bay Trees - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Two Cormorants Flying Up into the Fora of Cormorant Bay

With a brick wall of a brick house and a big window in the background. What a lovely view of cormorant city those people must have.

The Gathering Corm - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Gathering Corm

With more revealed people homes behind.

One Juvenile and One Adult Cormorant in a Tree - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

One Juvenile and One Adult Double-crested Cormorants in a Tree

They're called "Double-crested" Cormorants, because during breeding season, a few of these green-eyed birds show big, bushy, eye-brow-like feather clumps over their eyes. It's sometimes common, but nearly always confusing for some bird species to be named after behaviors they only show during breeding season. I think I've only seen fewer than a half dozen cormorants showing their actual double crests. The other, most common variety of cormorants here, is the Neotropic Cormorant, and frankly, I'm never exactly sure which one I'm seeing, except Double-crested Cormorants far out-populate this area.

An Yacht Club from The Dog Park Path - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

An Yacht Club across The Pond from the Walkway from the Dog Park

Dog Park well off to the left from wherever this is. I know pretty close to where this is, but the landscape has changed radically since the Early Oughts when I hung around this area before I started being a birder. When they planted the walking path, they destroyed a wonderful, wild jungle of amazing plants. I called it Thistledown Meadow, and it was gorgeous. It only looked dangerous, because many of those weeds were twice as tall as I am. All the time I inhabited that area — day and evening use only — I knew that eventually the Idiot City would destroy that beautiful place and all its wild varieties of plants.

I once saw and photographed, of course, the Passion Flower variety that sits low on the ground (not the trellis-climber) growing there, although a couple days after I showed it in my then White Rock Journal, it disappeared) and animals. And sure enough they made utterly ordinary and plain and boring what once was wild and beautiful. But this view of the Yacht Clubs across the pond is pretty much the same, except for the intervening wildscape long gone.

The Amazing Insideout, Upsidedown Double-crested Cormorant - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Amazing Inside-out Upsidedown Double-crested Cormorant

When I first saw this odd vision in my viewfinder, I tried to turn it right side up, but then I couldn't see the view through the viewfinder, so I put it back. And in my hurry to get its pic, I lopped off one wing tip. Cormorants sometimes show their truly goofy charms.

Just to Show Us that other one wasn't a fluke - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Just to Show Us that Other One Wasn't a Fluke

And I've seen them do this before, and I'll probably see them do this again. But it is kinda strange looking, huh?

What Did You Say?  - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

What'd You Say?

They look like they might be coming to a meeting of the minds, but it only lasted a few seconds. I'm not convinced that cormorants are any more querulous than other birds, including my dear American White Pelicans, who are their close cousins.

 

 

Killdeer & Crow, and Keets at the Big Hum

January 27 2015

Killdeer with Crow Back - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Killdeer with Crow Back

Killdeer seem to come and go at White Rock nearly all year long. They're back now, but I didn't see but one all today.

Crow with Flower - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Crow with Flower

At first I thought it had caught a butterfly, but not I'm pretty sure it's picked a flower — wether off the ground (more likely) or off the plant (less likely), I don't know.

Small Stacks of Twigs with Heads Peeking Out - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Small Stacks of Twigs (Parakeet Nest) with Keet Heads Peeking Out

They build their twig-nests in what I call The Big Hum, because it's big, and it hums. It takes them a long time to build a nest adequate for the whole community's needs. But it only takes a few hours each month for the electric company to shake and bludgeon them down. It probably takes the electric company longer than that to put up the signs in whose writings they claim to be living peaceably with the parakeets. But it's all-out war.

Six Parakeets at The Big Hum - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Six Parakeets at the Big Hum

I need to stand at the lower gate for The Big Hum with my cam/lens on the tripod and shoot the nests and bars between one by one. It's very unusual for me to get much action up there. For one thing, even through my camera's lens, I can't see distances worth a darn, and for another I'm generally much slower on the uptake photographing the hyperactive parakeets. So these little bits of wings-out action are treasures to me.

Parakeet Flying toParakeet Nest - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Monk Parakeet Flying Up Toward Parakeet Nest of Twigs

Even if the keet's beak is pointed elsewhere, and I can't even see its other wing.

 

 

Ruddy & Canvasback Ducks & Cormorants Gathered
Peacefully, Then Dispersed in full-Panic Escape Modes

January 26 2015

Adult Nonbreeding Ruddy Duck - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Male Ruddy Duck in Half-alert Rest Mode

Two main reasons to stop at Cormorant Bay today. First, I couldn't find enough birds to watch and/or photograph anywhere else, though there were gobs of people on a warmish Sunday afternoon. And two, when I drove by the Bent Bridge, it looked like the Canvasbacks were much closer to the bridge than I've seen them yet this season, and there were darned few people on the bridge.

19 Canvasbacks and One Cormorant - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Nineteen Canvasbacks and One Cormorant

Another reason was that neither the Canvasbacks nor the Ruddy Ducks were always in their wrapped-up position resting or sleeping. They had their heads up and visible fairly often around 4 PM.

Five of 19 Canvasbacks - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Five of the Nineteen Canvasbacks

This is an enlargement of the center section of the image above, just to show some details in the white-backed males and the gray-backed female Canvasback Ducks.

Six Canvasbacks and Three Ruddies - cpyr

6 Canvasbacks, 3 Ruddy Ducks and 1 Cormorant

I thought there might be some animosity between Canvasbacks and Cormorants, but apparently not since the two birds intermingled often while I watched and photographed this Sunday afternoon. I'm pretty sure it was only the attack-like angle the cormorant the other day swooped down from that frightened some of the canvasbacks. These seem alert — up out of their swimming rest mode — but not running away. Yet, we'll see that shortly, but not because of cormorants.

Adult Female Ruddy Duck - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Female Ruddy Duck

This is as close as I've got to a Ruddy Duck this year. The Bent Bridge is a great place to watch birds, especially when they are close. But what seems close with a long telephoto lens is not so close with a cellphone or pocket camera's much winder angled lenses.

Male Ruddy Duck - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Ruddy Duck

Eyes open but beak into wing feathers — alert but resting. Unlike today's first Male Ruddy on the top of today's journal entry, this one's face has no reddish spots on its face.

Male and Femal Adult Ruddy Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male and Female Adult Ruddy Ducks

They seem to feel more comfortable closer to shore the longer they've been here. I've been seeing Ruddy Ducks for the last couple months, and this is comparatively very close. Males have brighter white faces under the dark feathers at the top of the heads, with eyes just barely under the dark feather line.

Three Female Ruddy Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Three Adult Female Ruddy Ducks

Females are characterized by generally brown bodies and tan to light brown faces with that dark horizontal stripe. Female's eyes are just up into that dark area.

Canvasbacks Near and Far - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Canvasbacks Near and Far

Most of my pictures of both Ruddy Ducks and Canvasbacks today are of them in their alert, head-up position, but that seems to occur only late in the day, according to my scant observations and talking with other photographers.

Two Males and a Female Canvasback - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Two Males and a Female Canvasback

Here, one male's head is up, the other has its beak buried under his wing feathers on top of his back. I read today that ducks keep half their brains awake even when in this resting mode, and I have often seen them turning around in the water to check out a 360-degree view.

Ruddies in Fright Flight - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ruddies in Sudden Fright Flight

When I saw both Ruddies and Canvasbacks suddenly becoming alarmed and fleeing from the area I kept my attention on them and hoped my lens could focus on individuals — sometimes it did, and sometimes it did not. They're always ready for quick escape flight, but we photographers aren't always ready for sudden changes.

Ruddy Fright Flight - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ruddies in Fright Flight

I was paying their fright reactions way more attention than what was causing it.

Ruddy Jump Out of Water - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ruddy Duck Jumps into Flight

And as visually interesting as it was,

Idiots in a Boat - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Stupid Human Tricks — Scaring all the Birds in the Bay, Away

I was still very angry at the stupid humans who frightened away all my subjects. The first two letters on the can the guy in front has in his right hand are B U. I doubt that's a can of coke or root beer. But I don't know my beer can designs very well. The dog on the bow doesn't endear them to birds any, either. And I wonder whether that motor is within the horsepower limits for lake boating. But there's nobody at the lake who watches out for such technicalities, so these turkeys are probably safe from the short arm of the law. I always try to photograph any numbers on such offensive boats, just in case.

Fantail Ruddy About to Dive - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Fantail Ruddy About to Dive

It looks like this Ruddy Duck has been under water already. Notice its tail is already spread out.

Rig for Silent Running - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Rig for Silent Running

Then he lowered his head.

Dive Ruddy Dive - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Dive Ruddy Dive

And dived.

Ruddies Skittering to Fly - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ruddies Skittering to Fly

Meanwhile, the Ruddy Ducks skittered across the surface of the lake to attain flight speed and a little altitude.

Ruddy Flapping - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Ruddy Duck Flapping

And at least one male duck slapped, although I'm not sure what that means yet.

Ruddies Escape Flying - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ruddies Escape Flying

Males and female Ruddy Ducks flew. I waited around awhile, hoping they'd come back, but only the cormorants and some gulls did.  

Southeast Out of Cormorant Bay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Southeast Out of Cormorant Bay

Looking Southeast from Cormorant Bay on the west side of the lake toward Yacht Club Row on the East Side.

Skyfull of Cormorants - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Flock of Cormorants

Lots of cormorants coming and going from and to Cormorant Bay.

  


Cormorants, Canvasbacks, A Coot & A Grebe

January 24 2015

Cormorant in Tree Looking Down and Right - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorant in Tree

Today's images are in strict chronological order, but that's not to say that this is the same bird in the swoop down to where the Canvasbacks in the next series.

Cormorant Inspection Tour - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorant Inspection Tour

This was the only cormorant to fly so close to the Canvasbacks while I watched, and it seemed to be diving directly at them.

Flapping Wings - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Flapping Wings

The female started first, but it took me a few seconds to pick up on the action. The male was still flapping. Everybody's eyes are open, but there was no alarm. Nor did they attempt any other action.

Interaction Reaction - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Interaction Reaction

The others just floated along, watching.

They're Awake Now - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

But They're Awake Now

And even then, only briefly.

One Female, One Male - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

One Female and One Male

She's watching.

American Coot with Left Foot Up - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

American Coot with Left Foot Up Out of the Water

What caught my attention was it doing a gentle version of a rouse, most of which I missed, although several feathers were still out of place. It was standing closer to shore at the north end of what I call Bent Bridge. I never figured out what it was doing, but I tried to capture that foot up out of the water, where it only was for a couple seconds. I love coot feet.

Five Males and One Female Canvasbacks - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Five Males and One Female Canvasbacks

I like the pattern. I never counted, so I don't know the ratio between sexes. When I drove by, parked and walked back, they were closer to the bridge. The longer I stood there without my tripod, the farther they were away.

Adult Nonbreeding Poed-billed Grebe - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Nonbreeding

This smallish bird was elusive and soon as I'd get a bead on it, it would disappear underwater and come back up again even farther away. I think I know that it knew I was paying attention.

Corm in tree facing left - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorant in the Tallest of the Tree

When you're in Cormorant Bay, you might as well photograph cormorants.

Alert But Calm with Corm Swimming Through - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Canvasbacks Alert But Calm as One of Three Cormorants Swam Through

When they swam carefully through the Canvasbacks, I watched — especially after the Canvasbacks flapped after that cormorant swoop.

Everybody's Eyes Are Open - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Everybody's Eyes Are Open

But nothing came of it. I was curious. I don't think the ducks were even that interested.

That Tree at the Edge of Cormorant Bay Again - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

That Same Tree at the Northern Edge of Cormorant Bay — Again

I tried several approaches to this tree I keep photographing, but the cormorants fixed it when they flew by.

Wing-dry & Friend - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Wing-dry & Friend Double-crested Cormorants

 

Some people think cormorants are ugly. I disagree.

 

 

Birds on a Cold, Gray Winter Day

January 23 2015

A Kestrel Kind of Day - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

A Kestrel Kind of Day

I associate American Kestrels with winter, and gray skies and cold with them, so here we are on a day I would rather have stayed home than venture out in, but once I did, I kept finding interesting birds, so I'm glad I did.

Pelican and Cormorants on a Long Log - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans and Cormorants on a Log Log

This was shot from the parking lot behind the Winfrey Building. Usually these logs are filled with cormorants, so having pelicans out there was different. Click. Later, I saw two fisher persons in tiny boats, and I suspected they scared the cormorants away, then the pelicans moved in. Although there's often competition between birds of the same species out there, I've never seen any cormorant verses pelican battles.

Crow with its Crest Up - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Crow with its Crest Up

This one looks a lot like the next image down, except it's got its crest up, and it's standing on a different kind of post of the many posts that line the road down from Winfrey, left down the hill to the sloped road that goes to the place where the walking / biking trail that once was a road around the far edge of Winfrey Point.

If it weren't for those yellow 'barriers,' we could just drive directly over to Sunset Bay, instead of having to drive up that hill, past the retirement & rehabilitation center on the right, and the now-empty plot of land that used to be a parking lot surrounded by lots of little doctors and dentists and who knows what all else offices, up past Barbec's on the right, wait for the traffic to subside, drive across Garland Road, turn left into north-east-bound traffic, down to turn left again onto Buckner Boulevard / Loop 12. And one last left again again onto Poppy Drive and up past Doctor's Hospital and those apartment that used to be The Rock, turn right down the hill, then left on I assume Lawther to get to Sunset Bay.

But that'd be too easy, way too short, and I wouldn't get the walking in I need on nice, warm or sunny days like it had been being this last week. But today, in the gray, wet, foggy cold, I drove all the way around, lazy bones that I am. To the one place at White Rock Lake where I always know I'll find some birds worth photographing.

Must Be a Crow - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Must Be A Crow

Everything but that odd tail section looks just like a crow, and it was hanging out with other crows, but these odd dark orange-brown feathers around its tail just looks wrong.

Crow Jumping into Flight - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Crow Jumping into flight atop a Utility Pole

Got this one a little too early, although the one I got a little too late was just as off. I liked watching them jump off the crossbar, put their wings out, and coast down, then swoop back up. Difficult to translate into just one shot.

Inner Sunset Bay Egret with Coots - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Inner Sunset Bay Great Egret with Coots and a Couple of Ducks

Same old coots and probably a regular visitor Great Egret just off Sunset Beach.

Inundated Pier Area - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Inundated Area around The Pier at Sunset Bay

The area from the barbecue pit on a stick out to the pier is usually filled with tall grasses, weeds and birds that look impassible but really aren't. Today it was. In a couple days, it'll be back to normal again, just a little soggier. This and the next shot were taken with me leaning out of The Sliders driver's side window with The Blunderbuss pointed down the hill. It's the only way I can get that wide an angle — by moving back farther and farther.

Pelicans Down In and Cormorants Up Out - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans Down and In & Cormorants Up and Out

From this observation of pelicans not seeming to mind being down in the water as long as they were on the log with their bodies, and the fact that on the far-out logs there weren't any cormorants on the logs that were underwater, I have begun to think that maybe pelicans don't mind getting their feet, legs, feather — something wet, but cormorants do or might.

How's that for observational equivocation?

Pelicans and Cormorants on Far Logs - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans and Cormorants On and Off the Far Logs

Depending upon where you're standing, these may not be the farthest logs, but from Sunset Beach — I didn't venture out on the pier today — this seems pretty far, since there's nothing farther.

Cormorants Away - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants Away

This kinda looks like the other end view of the same point (maybe) that I saw and photographed from the Mockingbird Car Bridge a couple days ago. Eh?

What to watch for — Duck Courtship Behaviors and other videos from Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

 

 

Trees & Shadows, StrangE Shapes, Landscapes, Birds & Bridges

January 21 2015

Tree Shadow - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Tree Shadow

I saw this on a house on my way to the north end of the lake, had to turn around, go back, find a side street with the perfect view. Didn't want to stand in the middle of the busy road. Love the shadows.

Comb - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Comb

A comb that's a little reminiscent vertically of the house's horizontal ribs. Yeah, I didn't once think about landscapes today, but I get it's got itself ingrained.

At Rest with Bridge - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

At Rest with Bridge and Bird

He looked comfortable, and this shot actually has a bird in it, though I'm not sure which.

Landscape Interrupted by Bridge - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Landscape Interrupted by Bridge

That's the Singing Bridge that quit singing shortly after they learned they hadn't really finished it yet.

Cormorant Checking Me Out - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Double-crested Cormorant Checking Me Out

This juvenile Double-crested Cormorant flew over the walking bridge from the direction of Cormorant Bay, circled the lake just south of the driving bridge I and my tripod stood upon, looped directly over me, then flew back. I assume it was just curious.

Landscape with a Point - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Landscape with a Point

Not sure which point that is. It looks too different from here, but I like the view. It has to be Free Advice Point.

GBH Flyover - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Blue Heron Flyover

One Great Blue Heron, one Great Egret, two Turkey Vultures — one who did a sideways stall and fell thirty feet before recovering like nothing had happened, just after I put the camera down to rest — and a bunch of coots, Mallards, other ducks and cormorants. Our pelicans visit there, too sometimes.

Northern Edge of Cormorant Bay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Northern Edge of Cormorant Bay

With its concomitant tree full of cormorants. See the view from the other side below on this page.

Four Mallards and a Cormorant - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Four Mallards, A Cormorant and the Rippled Reflection of a Walking Bridge

I was hoping for something really interesting to come swimming along, but when that cormorant looked up over its shoulder, I knew that was just fine. A landscape with birds is how I explained my plan to have a show with big pictures in the main gallery in five years. If I'm still alive. They said they liked the idea.

Elevated Landscape without a Bird - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Elevated Landscape Sand Bird

Looks a little like a bird near the top of that dead tree (Save your dead trees, because birds live there and want to stay.), but it's not. Lotta trees up there, and though we can't see any birds in this view, I'm sure they're out there, because I photographed them there for years. Besides, they're everywhere.

Great Egret in the Woods - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret in Woods

Lots of wood variety in this picture.

Tangled in a Tree - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Tangled in a Tree Looking Down at the Creek

I'd hoped to look down from the bridge and see birds. I did see a few, but I had to get back home in time, so I couldn't stay, but I'm exploring more places, and as I state in my burgeoning How to Photograph Birds, they're everywhere, and if they're not where we are, rest up and wait for them.

Female Mallard - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Mallard

 

 

Male Adult Breeding Northern Pintail, Odd American
White Pelican Bathing Moves & an invisible Pier

January 20 2014

Lost in the Wilderness - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Lost in the Wilderness?

This was my view from Winfrey Point somewhere. Nice that we can't see the lake, the pier, much of anything we'd expect. It really does look like those people are lost in the wilderness instead of standing on the pier at Sunset Bay on Martin Luther King Day 2015, with the sun shining and the weather warm enough for short sleeves for a change.

N Pintail reverse - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Northern Pintail - Reverse

Tail view of that bird I've been looking for, who just floated into view today, and the more I photographed him, the closer he got. I only wish I'd slightly underexposed it, so his white didn't boom so much.

Northern Pintail - Left - crpy

Northern Pintail - Left

Such a beautiful bird — did you notice the vertical green stripes on the back of his head in that last pix? I'd never seen — or noticed those — before.

Like Pavlov Ringing His Bell - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Like Pavlov Ringing His Bell

When Pavlov rings his bell and materializes yet another American White Pelican flying into Sunset Bay toward me, I have to forget everything I know and start photographing the incoming pelican. I can't not do it.

Northern Pintail - Right

Northern Pintail - Right

I'm just so fascinated by how incredibly beautiful — handsome — this bird is. And no, we have not seen a female in the several months he's been visiting us. But he's been here before, and behaved pretty much the same. Last time, I didn't pay nearly enough attention to him, and after awhile, he just disappeared off somewhere.

Right Tail View - N Pintail - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Right Tail View — Northern Pintail Breeding Male

This time, I'm probably paying him way too much attention. But look at the size of that tail. He's sure to impress some female. Wish I could watch and photograph that initial and subsequent interactions.

Long and Lean - Northern Pintail - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Long and Lean — Northern Pintail

So I asked the Goog where it breeds, and it showed me a page on Wikipedia that said, "the male's long central tail feathers give rise to the species' English and scientific names. Both sexes have blue-grey bills and grey legs and feet. The drake is more striking, having a thin white stripe running from the back of its catelectrotonic head down its neck to its mostly white undercarriage. The drake also has attractive grey, brown, and black patterning on its back and sides. The hen's plumage is more subtle and subdued, with drab brown feathers similar to those of other female dabbling ducks. Hens make a coarse quack and the drakes a flute-like whistle."

Another interesting page is WF360's Northern Pintail page, or you could buy a breeding pair from eFowl for $143.

Northern Pintail - Left - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Northern Pintail — Left

Wiki also said, "It winters mainly south of its breeding range, reaching almost to the equator in Panama, northern sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South Asia. Small numbers migrate to Pacific islands, particularly Hawaii, where a few hundred birds winter on the main islands in shallow wetlands and flooded agricultural habitats. Transoceanic journeys also occur: a bird that was caught and ringed in Labrador, Canada, was shot by a hunter in England nine days later, and Japanese-ringed birds have been recovered from six US states east to Utah and Mississippi. In parts of the range, such as Great Britain and the northwestern United States, the pintail may be present all year."

Which did not explain where he was going to find a mate.

Fluffy Pelican Bath - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Fluffy Pelican Bath

The one other notable sighting today was this pelican who had a peculiar way of getting itself wet underneath. It would flap around splashing water like most pelicans do most of the time, but then when it seemed to not get water all the places it wanted to get wet, it would let one side sink or slide into the water, then do some agitating to get the foam we see here.

Pelican Bath - Flying Fuffly Wing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Bath — Fluffy Flying Wing

Then here's some fairly typical American White Pelican bathing action.

This Doesn't Explain Enough - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

This Photo Doesn't Explain Nearly Enough

This is about as close as I got to photographing it allowing its left side to slide into the water while agitating it.

Flat-out Pelican Bathing with Coot - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Flat Out and Down — Pelican Bathing with Coots

And this is it a little further under in front, while showing the front of its beak, its backside and the end of his wing feathers.

Pelican Flop Bathing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Flop Twist Bathing

More side-wise movement in pursuit of splashing water down under where it was or felt dirty. I've watched many pelicans bathe, but never anything quite like this one, so I kept trying to capture what it was doing that seemed strange.

Pelican Bath Lump - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Bath Lump with Inverted Mandible

This looks pretty strange.

Pelk Bath LUmp with Uplook Eyes - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Bath Lump with Uplook Eye

But this seems normal, as it spread lanolin over its body with various parts of its beak. That stuff keeps its feathers more or less waterproof.

Pelk Bath Feather Fluff with Bubbles - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Bath Feather Fluff with Bubbles

Then it would splash and move around so everything got wet some more.

 

 

Pelicans, Cormorants, Ross's Goose, Lower Spillway Steps,
Classical Pelican Lower Mandible Stretches, Why They
Call It Sunset Bay & Pelicans Heading Out for the Night.

January 19 2015

Not Altogether Elegant in the Air - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

American White Pelicans — Not Altogether Elegant in the Air

But always interesting coming down.

Spreadwing Double-crested Cormorant Flyover - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Double-crested Cormorant Flyover

It was flying over Cormorant Bay where Anna and I went to see what we could see, and though we saw fewer adult breeding Canvasbacks than I did around 4 P.M. the previous day, we saw plenty canvasbacks and Ruddy Ducks sleeping / floating and cormorants flying low, high and all over Cormorant Bay.

Pelican Skid Landing by Gull - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

American White Pelican Skid Landing by Ring-billed Gull

This is, as usual, all chronological, but I didn't choose much from Cormorant Bay and didn't mind coming back to Sunset Bay, except there were an awful lot of people there, since it was a gorgeous day.

Snow Goose on dark Beach by the Pier at Sunset Bay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ross's Goose on the Beach by the Pier at Sunset Beach

I sometimes forget to notice "our" Ross's Goose, but today I got several nice pix of it. But I looked and looked and looked for the Northern Pintail, who also seems to live there, but I did not find him. Ben told me a couple days ago, that it should now or very soon have all its breeding feathers showing. Since no one's reported a female Pintail, that probably means he's gone of to where there is one — or more.

Thanks to Kala King, for correcting my misidentification of this goose as a Snow Goose, which it is not.
 

The Lower Spillway Steps with Walking Bridge Shadow - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Lower Spillway Stairs with Walking Bridge Shadow

After visiting Sunset Bay, Anna and I went over to the Upper (from which I shot this scene) and Lower Spillway. We had hoped for larger and more interesting birds than gulls, gulls and more Ring-billed Gulls. I took this hanging off one of the overlooks that curved-balcony off the sheer wall still called the retaining wall. I've long wished to show where the walking bridge over the lower spillway steps is exactly, but this is as close as I've got that geographic lesson.

Crest-up Pelican Down on Log in Sunset Bay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Crest-up Pelican Down on Log Off Sunset Beach

And later I went back to Sunset Bay to practice using my new tripod. And though some of these shots look bright and day-lit, most of them were taken during or after sunset.

Classic Pelican Mandible Stretch - 01 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Classic Pelican Lower Mandible Stretch 1

I thanked this pelican for his display, and for allowing me to show just how high density is the Mallard population off Sunset Beach in he evenings after 5 P.M.

Classic Pelican Lower Mandible Stretch 02 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Classic Pelican Lower Mandible Stretch 2

 

I'm sorry this pelican — like all but one of the others I shot today — did not continue the Mandible Stretch Routine into the upper levels. But one did later.

Classic Pelican Lower Mandible Stretch 03 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Classic Pelican Lower Mandible Stretch 3

These first three of this series are all full-frame, meaning this particular pelican was remarkably close.

Classic Pelican Lower Mandible Stretch 04 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Classic Pelican Lower Mandible Stretch 4

But after awhile I got tired of looking at all those ducks and am cropping the pelican doing this stretching more.

Classic Pelican Lower Mandible Stretch 04 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Classic Pelican Lower Mandible Stretch 5

And more — while subtly allowing the pelican swimming past to show. This portion of some stretches involves the rapid waggling — or wiggling — back and forth of the stretched mandible.

Classic Pelican Lower Mandible Stretch 05 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Classic Pelican Lower Mandible Stretch 6

Tonight, the pelicans stayed in place what seemed like much later into night, before they swam (mostly) or flew (fewer birds) into the night. Notice that while this pelicans lower mandible has been stretched to its heart's content, it does not show. Looks like an ordinary, unstretched mandible, but it's probably much more pliable. I bet ti feels better.

Pelican Over Silhouette Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

American White Pelican Over Silhouetted Ducks

This looks bright because I didn't want the pelican to disappear into the darkness, so I brought it and the water back from the darkness a little.

Another Why Do You Think They Call It Sunset Bay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Another Stab at Why Do You Think They Call It Sunset Bay?

And I'd dearly hoped some bird species besides the Ring-billed Gulls were behind the screen of thinly leafed trees on this side of the pier would show on the other side of these trees, but once I noticed the rich red and yellow-orange colors of the setting sun shining through those trees, I really didn't care who flew on the other side.

I'm sure people were throwing white bread in the water and the air around the pier. Notice that the setting sun reflects in Sunset Bay, but not in the lake on the other side of Winfrey's Point.

Snow Goose Pecking Corn Comparison - cpyr

Ross's Goose Pecking Corn in Comparison with Larger Domestic Goose

Just a shot that accidentally shows the comparative sizes of the visiting Ross's Goose with the resident domestic.

Upper Portion of the Mandible Stretch Thingy - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Upper Portion of the Mandible Stretch Thingy

And this is the best shot of another series involving many of the same moves as in the other mandible stretch routine above. I just didn't feel like working up this second whole series tonight, when I'm still hoping to get some sleep. But they're prettier, but darker. Note the difference is size, shape and translucency of the two pelican lower mandible that show in this photograph.

American White Pelicans Heading Out - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

American White Pelicans Heading Out

Some pelicans flew out, but most of them swam out toward Dreyfuss Point and points beyond.

Headlinegs & Taillights into the Farside Night - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Headlights and Tail Lights into the Farside Night

Classically, what photographers use tripods for is to hold the camera still while something in the picture moves. Like these two or maybe three motor vehicles whose presence is only betrayed by their amber side and tail lights. When I firs set the tripod up, I got space to the right of the tall building over there, but somewhere before this series I managed to nudge it into this position instead.

 

 

Canvasbacks — including a Head-Back Display
— and Ruddies in "Cormorant Bay" Saturday

January 18 2015

Adult Breeding Male Canvasback in Head-back Display - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Male Breeding Canvasback in Head-back Display

I'd been photographing the Canvasbacks and Ruddy Ducks and Cormorants in Cormorant Bay (See my Bird-annotated Map [link fixed] of White Rock Lake or the explanation just below) long enough to think I'd got plenty pictures of these birds, and shouldn't I really pack up and go home already, when I saw this behavior. The only reason I knew I was seeing — and photographing — a behavior and what behavior that was, was that I'd seen a vastly too expensive video with slides from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bird Behavior webinar just last week that included a brief video and mention of it.

Adult Male Breeding Canvasback in Head Back Display - Position Two - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Coming Back from Full Head-back Display

They'd showed another species of duck doing it. But this is it, although I only got two clicks off while I figured out what was happening. Luckily I'd experimented with exposure enough that I'd got it nailed pretty well, and the Blunderbuss was on my tripod, so I didn't waver my view between shots.

Some of the Duck & Behavior sites I visited for today's sermon include:

Nearest Female Canvasback - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Nearest Female to Male Exhibiting Head-back Behavior

Finally, I came upon Wildlife Journal Junior's Gadwall page, which mentions a head back behavior by Gadwalls, whereby "The male courts the female with a series of display behaviors. He throws his head back and raises his tail feathers. He also rears up out of the water and sinks back down while calling out to the female. Both the male and female bob their heads up and down and touch bills together during courtship."

I know Gadwalls aren't Canvasbacks, but they're both ducks, so at least sometimes it's a courting behavior. The rocking back and forth behavior mentioned is also common among Mallards.

Adult Breeding Male Canvasback - three-quarters view - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Breeding Male Canvasback in Three-quarters View

There's some fairly interesting info about this species on TheBirdZoo.com's Ducks, Geese and Swans page, which also includes an interesting notice about our Sunset Bay resident Mute Swan, and the issues many have with their "unchecked foraging" and "aggressive behaviors toward other species." I've been wondering what some people have against them.

Adult Breeding Canvasback - Front View - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Breeding Male Canvasback - Front View

A month or so ago, I had wanted to go not-far north, I think, to view Canvasbacks, but today, it was just dumb luck to have found them in Cormorant Bay, along with Cormorants and various other species, as we shall see scrolling down today's journal entry.

Three Canvasbacks - 2 Females and a Male - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

May Be One Adult Nonbreeding Female and One Breeding Female and One Male Breeding Adult

With that unique and streamlined bill and forehead, this species "has been clocked at over 70mph, says the aforementioned Ducks, Geese, Swans page on TheBirdZoo.com.

Almost Sleeping Canvasback Females - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Almost Sleeping (right pose, but her eyes are open) and Alert Female Canvasbacks

At least I think these are female Canvasbacks, although the pix online don't look the same as mine, but they seemed to be hanging out with the males in Cormorant Bay. I've almost given up discerning Canvasback females.

Adult Breeding Canvasbacks - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Breeding Canvasbacks in front and Ruddy Ducks Behind

Three male Canvasbacks and one female among dozens of others there around 4 pm Saturday January 17.

Pelks, Corms & Gulls - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican, Cormorants and Gulls with Yacht Clubs Back

The view of outer Cormorant Bay with the yacht clubs on the other side.

Large and Small Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Large and Small Ducks — Breeding Male Canvasback and Nonbreeding Male Ruddy Duck

Canvasbacks are 19 – 22 inches long with wingspans of 29 inches. Ruddy Ducks are 15 – 16 inches long with 18.5-inch wingspans. According to the aforementioned TheBirdZoo page, "Individuals weighing almost 4 pounds have been reported, though 2.5 – 2.75 pounds seems the norm." I believe this Ruddy Duck is a non-breeding adult male.

ruddy with fem breed canvas - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ruddy Duck in foreground with Adult Female Canvasback Behind

I'm still unsure about the larger duck in this photograph's identify, but that's hardly new here.

Male Breeding Ruddy Duck - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Breeding Ruddy Duck

Ruddy means red-ish, and Ruddy Ducks are not always red, but this male certainly is.

Breeding Adult Pied-billed Grebe - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Breeding Adult Pied-billed Grebe

There's an adult non-breeding Grebe below on this page for comparison. When I photographed that one, I wondered how long it'd be before we got full breeding adults. I guess the answer was 11 days.

Cormorant in Cormorant Bay

Many different species occupied the wetter parts of Cormorant Bay today, but above human eye-level it was certainly the cormorants who were the majority species.

 

Where Cormorant Bay Is: Going north along the shore of White Rock Lake, Cormorant Bay is the last bay on the right before Mockingbird Lane, where the Dog Park is — and the first one on the left from Mockingbird going south. In winter, Cormorant Bay is surrounded by tall trees full of cormorants, thus my name for it (Before I knew their proper name, I called them "stinkybirds.")

Lawther surrounds the lake — West Lawther on the west side, and East Lawther on the east side. Mockingbird runs along the north and Garland Road runs along the south of the lake.

I remember when Lawther got cut up into shorter runs, because homeowners complained about us racing all around the lake — it was great fun. Since The City cut Lawther down, we have to dodge around back to Mockingbird (north), Buckner Boulevard (east), Garland Road (south).

Now only West Lawther is one continuous, though very looping and turning, road — once you get into White Rock Lake Park, at Williamson Road, which runs most of the way up the west side to Mockingbird. But getting from Williamson to the lake or back always gets me lost.

Most of the place names on my map have been in use for many years, but I made up a few — like Free Advice Point, Green Heron Park and Cormorant Bay.

For those of us who are Geographically Challenged: Going north along the shore of White Rock Lake, Cormorant Bay is the last bay on the right before Mockingbird Lane, where the Dog Park is — and the first one on the left from Mockingbird going south. In winter, Cormorant Bay is surrounded by tall trees full of cormorants, thus my name for it (Before I knew their proper name, I called them "stinkybirds.")

Lawther surrounds the lake — West Lawther on the west side, and East Lawther on the east side. Mockingbird runs along the north and Garland Road runs along the south of the lake.

I remember when Lawther got cut up into shorter runs, because homeowners complained about us racing all around the lake — it was great fun. Since The City cut Lawther down, we have to dodge around back to Mockingbird (north), Buckner Boulevard (east), Garland Road (south).

Now only West Lawther is one continuous, though very looping and turning, road — once you get into White Rock Lake Park, at Williamson Road, which runs most of the way up the west side to Mockingbird. But getting from Williamson to the lake or back always gets me lost.

Most of the place names on my map have been in use for many years, but I made up a few — like Free Advice Point, Green Heron Park and Cormorant Bay.

 

 

Corm & Pelk, Female Redwings, Coots Skoot,
gulls chase and Some Odd Ducks

January 17 2015

Cormorant and Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorant and Pelican on a Near Log

I like the pelicans crown-up and the fact that, for this photo moment, at least, the cormorant is looking at the pelican. If I didn't know that anthropomorphizing only gets in the way of our understanding birds, who are not like humans, and they act upon entirely different reasons, I'd describe the cormorant's look as "suspicious."

Female RWBBs - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female RWBBs in a Tree

RWBB = Red-winged Blackbirds. I'd wondered earlier, because I'd come to understand that most of the time the females stayed together without the males, and those pix showed them in mixed flocks. But here, they're back to what I thought was usual.

Pelican Preening in the Setting Sun - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Preening in the Setting Sun

Tranquility.

Tranquility Destroyed - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Tranquility Destroyed by Five Gulls Chasing Coot for a Piece of White Bread

Someone was feeding the coots, gooses, swan and anyone else, so now and then, a couple coots would skoot by with a big chunk of over-sized bread, and I'd try to photograph the action.

Wreckage in Their Wake - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Wreckage in their Wake

It looks like that big gull on the far left has been tumbled from his flight by the racing speed of the runaway coot. To me, at least. But that's the usual nonsense of caption writers.

Coots Always Lose - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Coots Always Lose

Well, maybe once in a great while, a coot will swallow the bread before the avenging angels alight on it — they never, ever share it with other coots. But coots can not possibly win, so they don't.

Pigeons and Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pigeons and Pelicans on a Twisted Log

Pigeon, gulls and pelicans.

Delta Pelk - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Delta Pelk Landing

I hadn't seen this triangular a wing configuration previously, although I've seen them violently flap their wings like this many times.

Four Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Four Ducks

Ben was telling me awhile back that all the peculiar ducks we see are not the result of male Mallards. Some are 'created' by humans. "Designed," if you will. The white one on the end is familiar. The second one from the right looks like a normal male Mallard, except for that the usually thin while neck ring is much thicker; the yellow bill looks bright orange (but that could be the setting sun illuminating it); and its neck is more orange than dark brown (could be that setting sun look, again).

The two on the left are much more different. Especially on top. Those cute little poofs on top are outgrowths skull defects. I forget the exact details, and don't remember the correct term. Early on in this journal someone told me those ducks were Rouens. But when I looked up images for those in Yahoo, I got a bunch of pix of Mallards, so I don't know the differences. Ignorance is.

 

Dispersed Fisher-bird Party Provides A Panoramic
Visual Tour of The Other Side Of White Rock Lake

January 15 2015

Fishing Far Apart - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Fishing Far Apart

Usually when I see cormorants, gulls and pelicans fishing from East Lawther up the shoreline from Garland Road, they're in a tight line about 3 - 5 birds across. Today's version involved much wider spacing and no discernible line, and I never saw any distinct swallowing behaviors, although there were stretched lower mandibles (see above) on some pelicans, and they seemed busy moving around and chasing.

Cormorants and Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants and Pelican Fishing Separately

Random groupings would turn around and/or fly up and away at random times.

I was so busy photographing, then catching up with the birds to do more photographing that I never once thought of the concept of landscapes, but that's what these are. All the How To photo stories recommend using wide-angle lenses to capture landscapes, but I seem to be in the habit of rendering them with a 600mm lens, which is squarely in the super telephoto realm, far from wide angles.

Wide-angle lenses are called wide angle, because they capture a wide angle of view measured from the sensor / film. I'd send you to Wikipedia's page on wide-angle, but it makes little sense. I was hoping it would show and tell some of the angles captured by different lenses, some of which are wide and others telephoto, but it never got around to it by the time I got bored with it, although the page had warned that "This article needs additional citations for verification."

Bulls, Corms, Pelks - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Gulls, Cormorants and Pelicans

From this image on out, we seem to be involved in a far-horizon travelog, as those parts of these images follow the birds north.

Disbursed Fisherbirds - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Disbursed Fisher-birds with Pump House and Filter Building

These buildings are directly adjacent to the dam and maybe forty or fifty yard north of it.

More Fisher Birds - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

More Fisherbirds

These views of the far side are unfamiliar to me, but just guessing, I'd put them somewhere between the last shot and the next one.

Pelicans, Gulls, Corms and The Old Boat Hosue - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Gulls, Cormorants and Pelicans This Side of The Old Boathouse

I've always called that body of water only hinted at around left and behind the boat house, "The Old Boathouse Lagoon," but it actually connects with a creek, that collects rainwater from the residential area east of the "lagoon," up past the little park where the egrets have been involved in Fishing Parties, along Williamson Road.

One Pelican on This Side - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

One Pelican On This Side

I did mention "widely dispersed," didn't I?

Fisherbirds with a view of the Mockingbird Bridges - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans with a View North to the Mockingbird Bridges

The darkly outlined rusted-steel red bridge just this side of the much more obvious car bridge with a red truck about midway across is the walking bridge I call "The Singing Bridge" on my bird-annotated map of White Rock Lake, but it doesn't sing any more. Click on the bridge at the north end of the map — and the lake — for the full story on that, and what birds you can often see there.

Pelicans and Some Gulls with Hunt Mansion - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans and a Few Gulls with the Hunt Mansion

As in Hunt Catsup and cornering the silver market many years ago. I have no idea who lives there now, although I used to know of at least one resident. Looks like it could hold a big family. I shot more pix when I finally wended around to Sunset Bay, but I got stuff to do tomorrow, so I won't post those till then.

 

 

Tripod into the Night — Birds & Boats & Landscapes

January 15 2014

Adult Cormorant Through Cormorant Woods on Cormorant Bay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Adult Cormorant Flying Through the Cormorant Trees

We'll start with the birds, then gradually drift into other subjects.

Cormorants in Trees - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants in Trees and the Air

Driving down West Lawther, I once again wanted to capture the souls of Double-crested Cormorants. So I tried again.

Lace - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Lace and Red-winged Blackbirds

These are Red-winged Blackbirds, and there were hundreds of them, but I had this Blunderbuss of a telephoto.

Rowers Through Trees - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Rowers through Trees

This is kinda where I began to get the notion that eventuated in the second image down. This is a start, and I really like the trees here. My game for this conceit was to focus on them through the trees.

Rowers & Yellers Framed - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Rowers and Yell-ers Framed

Then I saw this, didn't really think much of the art, but liked the frame. I've been thinking landscape thoughts all week or so, although I didn't purposely set out to photograph them. Just they're there, and I was generally pretty far from subjects, since I was standing on the uppermost part of T & P Hill (Texas & Pacific, like in a railroad, I guess) so I could photograph all those egrets gathered over the lagoon..

Rowers through the Trees - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Rowers and Trees

This may get at the essence of trees. We think of them as motionless, but they're always moving, and of course the rowers were moving faster, but by then I was having fun panning along with them, so the trees would whoosh while they held their still.

Of course, that's all post-production nonsense. I wasn't dealing with any of that while shooting. I was just toying with holding focus on objects moving behind 'porous' trees, and that worked, if my panning was sticky. Both these images are of boats behind trees, but this is by far the more successful.

Egrets Trees Houses - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Egrets Trees Houses

I probably shot these guys twenty times this evening, and this is really the only one I like. All I saw was the birds, and it was too dark for the colors to show. I thought of their background and dark, and at first really didn't like the power lines, but now I hardly even see them.

Winfrey - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Winfrey

This image began dark and colorless. I tried about thirty variations, but liked plain but a little brighter best.

The Old Boathouse Past Dark - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Old Boathouse Past Light

This is exactly what it is, and I spent quite some time getting it framed right and the light leveled and focus sharp. Photographing that building, inside and out and through, started me taking photos of the lake, which started me photographing birds at the lake after I got tired of photographing people. I've never noticed that building from this side before, but I like it. That dowdy, old building rarely looks this elegant anymore.

Sunset Bay from the Other Side - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Sunset Bay from the Far Side

Pelicans on the far left, in the middles left and the middle out from behind the trees, and other birds in other places, including the gulls, I think, in the foreground. That's the very sharp point of Winfrey on the right and a tree on this side on the shore on the right.

Rowers & Yellers into the Night - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Rowers and Yellers Into the Night

They kept rowing, and when I could see them through the trees or past the hills, I photographed them. I never thought of it as terrain, just something around and behind the subjects.

Bike-ler in the Dark - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Bike-ler in the Dark

I didn't think I'd got this guy, and I didn't think there was any chance I would, so I never even looked at it till I worked up all the other images.

 

 

White Bread, Stone Tables, Fishing Off Piers,
Great-tailed Grackle, Egrets, Cormorants & Coots

January 14 2014

 White Bread - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

White Bread

One of the dozen or so people who show up at the lake every day to "save the birds from starving" by feeding them white bread that's not any better for them than it is for us," is what I usually say, but it's probably worse than that. There must be a better way to give people the sense of accomplishment than to allow them to feed garbage to our beloved birds.

Stone Tables Reconstruction Underway - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Stone Tables Reconstruction Underway

It always amazes me how The City can spend multis of millions to cement back stone tables and pour cement thither and yon to park cars on, and some dare call it progress. But put up some of that delicious neon red plastic fencing, and I can understand calling it art.

Fishing Off Leaky Boathouse Pier - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Guy Fishing Off one of the Leaky Boathouse's two Plastic Portable Piers

I'm sure the Leaky folks would rather human beings not fish off their plastic pier for putting boats in, but The City has hired a company to refit and reconstruct all the piers at White Rock Lake, and the decent wood one somewhat off to the left of this guy fishing has been fenced off for months and months. I don't know how Leaky Incorporated feels about birds fishing from this pier, but I've seen dozens working off them.

Our Usual GTG - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Our Usual, Great-tailed Grackle

Blue birds of good-enough, if not exactly of Happiness.

Breeding Adult Great Egrets with Wing-drying Juvenile Cormorant - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Breeding Adult Great Egrets with One Double-crested Cormorant Drying Its Wings

White and black. White draping breeding plumes and the corm drying its feathers in place.

Middle Upper Spillway with Coots - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Middle Upper Spillway with American Coots

Just above this picture — if I had a zoom, I would have pulled back to see it — is the dam. By the time the water from over the dam flows down into the waterway moat around Egret Island toward the parking lot north northwest on Winstead from Garland Road, it's called "The Lower Steps." These are the upper and middle steps.

Red-winged Blackbirds are Mobbing White Rock Lake - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Red-winged Blackbirds (RwBbs) Are Mobbing White Rock Lake These Days

Thousands and thousands of them arrive every winter.

Mixed Groups of RWBBs - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

RwBbs of Various configurations are All Around the Lake These Days

Just because they have bright colors, doesn't mean they're not both sexes. I suppose some birds could be gay, but mostly birds have sex, not gender, as I've heard some birders misunderstate.

GBH Grabs Air - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Blue Heron Grabs Air to Escape

Not sure what this GBH is escaping from. I think I was way too far away for him to consider me the intruder.

GBH Take Off - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

GBH Take-off

Because I'd rocked the camera into both hands to hold it vertically to capture what I anticipated as a few vertical moments, I had to leave it thusly aimed and oriented while it did this, too. Not sure what I'll do next time. Sometimes I'm lucky; sometimes I'm just Out Of Luck.

 

  

Red-tailed Hawk, Katy, Cormorants, Pelicans & Coots

January 13

Frame-filled RTH - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Frame-billing Red-Tailed Hawk

Driving down West Lawther off Garland Road I saw motion into the tree almost directly above me, so I parked The Slider semi-crosswise, pulled out The Blunderbuss, pointed it up and clicked.  Oh, and I didn't use my tripod for any of today's or tomorrow's pics (I shot too many good ones to use in one day's journal entry.)

RTH turned Around and Flung Off - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Red-tailed Hawk on its Way Away

Then it flew up into the tree, off toward the lake a few seconds, then came back. Very close. About as close as I've been to a hawk — any hawk in a long, long time. What I'm not telling you, is that I hadn't checked my camera settings before shooting today, and I had left them at f18! @ ISO 100 and –3.67 EV, which seems utterly absurd on such a dark, gray, wet day.

What rendered was not completely unrecognizable, but a dark bird on a dark background, that looked on the high-contrast LCD like a black bird silhouette on a dark gray sky. Impossible I thought, but not nearly as bad as that much over-exposure would have been. Overexposure in slides or digital wipes all the details out. With underexposure, it's often worth trying to bring them back, and today that worked.

I'd set it at f18 to try to get a series of birds at differing distances in focus yesterday, and that worked. This worked, too.

Katy Preening Quietly to Herself - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Katy (popular Mute Swan among humans at Sunset Bay) Preens Quietly to Herself

I also got a pretty good shot — though boring — of a Great Blue Heron in the bay on the Garland Road side of Winfrey Point. Then I drove around Winfrey, down toward Sunset Bay, around on Garland Road to Buckner Boulevard and over to Poppy Drive past Doctor's Hospital, then down into Greater Sunset Bay, where I photographed Katy with her wing up and beak down into the feathers back there. That tan ish pinkish curve on the left is the back of Katy's long, elegant neck.

Aerial Deposit - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Gradual Aerial Deposit

Birds poop or pee wherever they are, whatever they're doing. I didn't notice while I was photographing pelicans coming into Sunset Bay — and trying to do that differently (for a change), but there it is.

Two Cormorants - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Two Juvenile Cormorants in Sunset Bay

I've been trying to overcome my prejudices against cormorants, and what I notice most often now, as always, is them drying wings. Unlike most shorebirds who spend time swimming underwater, cormorants' wings aren't waterproofed, because they need to waterlog themselves down so they can stay down long enough to catch fish. Then they spend long minutes drying their wings, which is all the more difficult a task on cold, humid days like today. Sunshine would be helpful.

Near Touchdown - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Near Touchdown

My camera goes clickety-click in comparatively quick succession, and I shot all those images too, but I'm only showing my favorites, which today, seem to all be at or very near the end of their landing trajectory, when they're closest and showing the most detail.

Adult Breeding American White Pelican Landing

Breeding American White Pelicans — Note Barely Perceptible "fin" about 1/3 back on Upper Mandible

Notice the spots on this pelican's beak. This is not the same bird as above, though both have what the authors of the Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas call "small, keeled plate on upper mandible and pale yellow crest on back of head," that mark thusly adorned American White Pelicans as breeders. Those fins will grow over the next three months till they are quite noticeable.

Then mid-April, our Sunset Bay-based pelicans will fly off north to their breeding grounds, as far northwest as British Columbia, Canada; southeast Idaho; Utah and across to eastern Minnesota. All places we've tracked them via tags on their legs and wings.

Titled photo of AWP - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Tilted Photo of that same American White Pelican

Hardly noticeable at first, but eventually I picked out the building just above its forehead that seems to be tilting strongly to the left and noticed the lake tilts, too. According to the positions of the spots on this one's lower mandible (perhaps caused by beaking by other pelicans), this is the same pelican as in the image above, but not as the one in the image above that, though both pelicans have fins.

American Coots Skittering - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

American Coot Skittering

Because someone up from Sunset Beach is feeding white bread to birds. More images tomorrow.

 

 

Following the fishing party egrets
into White Rock Lake Park proper

January 12 2015

Great Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

11 Great Egrets and at least Two Black-crowned Night-Herons

I'd stopped at the park across from the Main Entrance to White Rock Lake and Park to watch the egrets do their Fishing Party again, and was happily hiding me and my camera in the car, because I was worried about frightening the egrets away, because many of them were quite close in the area too near the bridge and parking area.

Before the lady in the red car stopped, I'd even seen some of the big white birds flying under that bridge that links the creek that eventually joins The Old Boathouse Lagoon. But the lady just stopped and got out of her car and walked over where the egrets were, pointed her cellphone at them and frightened most of them off, so she probably didn't get any pix.

One Flying and Three Perched Egrets over the Lagoon - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

One Flying and Three Perched Great Egrets over the Lagoon

This is about as close as I got to the egrets. I kept attempting to photograph them as great groups of egrets instead of as individuals. I like this better.

Treetop Airlines - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Treetop Airlines

I remember when they used to call Southwest Airlines Treetop Airlines. This Great Egret just reminded me of that kind of local transportation. I assume the tree-top name was originated — if you can even call it that — by Braniff, another now-defunct competitor to Southwest and AA.

Great Blue Heron in a Tree Top - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Blue Heron in a Treetop

Sometimes I wonder whether finally having a halfway decent tripod will help me make better pictures, and sometimes I can tell that it sometimes does. Not always, of course. Nothing always helps, but this thing does, and I'm working at learning how to wield it.

Black-crowned Night Heron in the Trees - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Black-crowned Night-Heron in the Trees

There were probably several times more Black-crowned Night-Herons in the trees across the lagoon, where trains used to haul freight, but they only became visible when I stared intently over there for long minutes. I kept seeing more and more, but only a few of them were close enough to photograph well. I think I shot this one from the New Wood Bridge at The Old Boat House. This is my friend Matt's favorite bird, and I understand why.

Great Egrets in a Tree - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egrets in a Tree

Most of the GEs stayed in the trees with their heads buried in their wing-feathers most of the time, but once in awhile, they bard heads and beaks like this.

GEs in the Reeds - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret in the Reeds

Last time I saw egrets crowding the northern portion of the Lagoon, there were pelicans there, too. I seem to have misplaced those images, but should be able to track them up soon.

Gizmos on Wires - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Gizmos on Wires

Leading from Lawther down toward The Old Boathouse. Those wires kept being in my way photographing the egrets, so I photographed the wires. That should fix them.

Female REd-winged Blackbirds in the reeds in the lagoon - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Red-winged Blackbird in the Light Brown Reeds

I don't remember them being that dark before.

Two REd-winged Blackbirds - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Two Red-winged Blackbirds

The one on the left is probably a female if it's even a RWBB at all. The one on the right's peculiar colorations do not appear in The Sibley Guide to Birds, Second Edition, where I usually expect to find alternative colorations, but I'm pretty sue it's a RWBB, too, although I had to look up European Starlings just in case, but this configuration isn't there, either.

It is a black bird, and it does have some red on its wing. Two similar birds are shown in my Crossley ID Guide to Eastern Birds as First-year Male Red-winged Blackbirds, and that would have been my first guess, having found a similar bird sometime a few years ago.

Two Corms & 5 Gulls - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Two Cormorants & Seven Gulls

I like it when slightly larger birds perch on the wires that crisscross over the wood bridge in The Old Boathouse Lagoon

Birds in the Creek Before the idiot scared them away - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egrets along the Creek before that person Scared Them All Away

I wasn't terribly worried when they all got flushed from the area, because I knew where they'd head sooner or later, so I drove over to Sunset Bay to catch these images, then I returned above to The Old Boathouse Lagoon to see what would occur there.

Gulls, Pelicans & Cormorants in the lake by The New Boathouse - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Gulls, Pelicans and Cormorants in and over The Lake by The New (usually shiny) Boat House

Photographed from the road that winds around the Arborectum, up Winfrey Point, then Overlooks Sunset Bay before it climbs up to Garland Road past Barbec's restaurant. I keep noticing mobs of birds fishing or flying around the dam, which is somewhat off to the south from this view of the now-un-shiny boathouse.

Neighborhood with Parking Lot - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Upper Lakewood Neighborhood with Parking Lot

More gulls along what I think is one of my favorite trolling-for-birds places on the lake. But from this view, it's very unfamiliar. I think if I panned left some more, we'd see the New Boat House, then the Filter Building, then the Old Pump House, the dam, The Spillway, then Garland Road. I kept thinking I should drive over there, but by the time I arrived all the gulls and pelicans would have headed off somewhere else. They almost always do when I cross the lake to get a picture.

 

 

Slightly Different Pelican Approach & Some Gull Action

January 11 2015

 Pelican Over Trees - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican over the Dreyfuss Trees

Photographing American White Pelicans suddenly appearing out beyond the logs — or in this case, out beyond the point of Dreyfuss Point — is one of my favorite activities, but pelicans in-coming tend to be so alike from pelican to pelican.

Pelican in that Tree - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican in that Tree

Not this one. I'm used to seeing pelicans coming east into Sunset Bay. And that was the general direction from which these bird came.

Leveling Out - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Leveling Out to Land

But they're usually sighted low on the far lake horizon. These birds came in high, then descended.

Tilting In - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Stalling to Reducing Altitude

Lower, lower …

Near Touchdown - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Near Touchdown

Lower.

That Tree on Winfrey Point - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

That Tree on Dreyfuss Point

I photograph this tree very very often. It's back there, when I stand on the pier at Sunset Bay, which is from which I photographed it today.
 

Ring-billed Gull - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ring-billed Gull

I don't photograph these guys either very often or often enough. The tripod helps hold the camera aimed in the same general difference, instead of raising and re-raising the camera/lens, I can — if I can keep up with their sudden changes of direction — keep it aimed in the same general direction. Which works easier than raising it, pointing that heavy thing — about 7.5 pounds — for awhile, putting it down to rest my hand and arm, then bring it up again and try to point back where I — or the bird — left off.

Gull Mob Gathers - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Gull Mob Gathers Past Far Logs in Sunset Bay

Not sure why they don't do this gathering closer to photographers, but these sudden gathering tend to occur far from us. They are gulls, so they're always hungry, and when one bird — not sure it matters what species — finds some fish, and one gull sees it, many more gather. Kinda like this. Same thing happens when a coot gets a wad of white bread from someone who thinks it's a great idea to feed birds bread — an one, then two or three or seven gulls see it happening and join the pursuit.

Gull Mob Condensing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Gull Mob Condensing

Quickly, out beyond those same logs, upon which here perch cormorants, the gathering quickly accelerates, and the gull density quickly increases.

Gull Mob Pre Dispersing - crpy

Gull Mob Just Before Dispersing

And just after, I assume, catching some little fishies. Then they dissipate.

 

 

Lots of Flying Action at Great Egret Fishing Party

January 9 2015

 Leaning Into Flight - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Leaning into Flight with a Fish

I found these guys in the same place I found those guys couple days ago, so I was really surprised, and I set up shop carefully off the side of the road, so no old turkeys would park in the middle of the road and honk at me when there was gobs of room for him to go around. And I wish I could say I shot this one differently, but I almost immediately fell into the same habit I'd got going last time

Crossing The Creek - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Crossing the Creek with a Fish

But this time was different. And it showed. There was a lot more light last time. Today was gray and cold. Low contrast fuzz sometimes, where once was high contrast blazing sunlight. No wonder the pix turned out different, but I don't think I quite ever caught on, out there.

Chase Even Without A Fish - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

A Chase Even Without a Fish

Luckily, the same old shots looked like the same old shots — so you're not seeing those. But the action and flying ones stood out. They flew. And since I'd been practicing with those, I had to pay attention to what was better this time.

Wing-drag

Wing-dragging Do-si-do

With all its quirks and curiosities.

Crossing the Creek - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Crossing the Creek

And what was unfolding before my eyes while I was still kinda wishing it was more like it wasn't.

Flap Over - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Flap Over

It feels so good to be photographing birds in flight that don't do pretty much the same exact thing, one after another, after another as they reintegrate out past the outer logs, fly in together or apart and land nearly the same where they did the last thirty times. These guys have their similarities, but each has its own style, too, and that seems to help mine.

Egret Flying Over Coot with Fish - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Egret Flying Over Coot with Fish

I have a whole long, boring series of the coot catching a fish, then slapping it around till it's all the way dead, then washing it off, when suddenly along comes a Great Egret who dips down and takes it away. But this is better, quicker. And there's just that little bit of tension. Or you don't even notice.

Eeg with Fish and Extra Beak - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Egret Across with the Tiniest of Fish and an Extra Beak

So everybody's happy.

Fish in Beak and Coot Scrambling - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Fish in Beak and Coot Scrambling

Big birds decide the trajectory. Little ones just try to get out of the way in time.

Landing & Waiting - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Landing & Waiting

I guess what I like about this one is the balance, and what I also like about it is the near complete lack of it.

Chaser Without Chaser - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Chasee without Chaser

If only the egret it the back would have paid enough attention to just look at the other egret, I could have got away with calling this action a chase.

Angel Egret with Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Angel Egret with Mallards

I think there's another one kinda like this one down a few clicks, but it doesn't have the mallard family, so enjoy them while you got 'em.

A Real Chase - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

A Real Chase

Elegance with malice aforethought as perpetrated by a Great Egret who is so intent, it's got its head down and is flying with all its might. Not sure why, none of them ever catch anybody, and if they did nearly nothing would happen. But it sure is exciting there for a few frenetic seconds.

Exit Stage Right - crpy

Exit Stage Right

I struggled with this one, passed it up and came back twice. It's left heavy — or it would have been without the fuzzed out female Mallard. She saves the day.

Fly - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Fly

I kept struggling to close down the aperture so more of the ones in front would be in the same, extended plane of focus as the birds in back. When there never was any way that was going to happen. And it's so much more interesting when focus holds the one in front in front, and disfocus sucks the back birds way far back, because they're so soft.

Angel with Onlooker - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Angel with Onlooker

Another headless angel floating inches off the surface of water that's only a few feet deep but still managed to contain enough loaves and fishes to feed the whole crowd. And I completely forgot to count them. That's real progress.

Egress - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Egress

Someday I'll have to go back and look at each of today's shots to see which ones I closed down to f16 or f22 and see just how successful that was. Now I wonder wheather what I should have been trying is wider apertures instead. Heck of a lot more challenge there.

 

 

Too Cold To Think — Photographing Every Bird in Sight

January 8 2015

Katy Disses a Coot - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Katy Gives a Coot What For

I only just barely captured this moment when the vastly larger and stronger supposedly Mute Swan many of us call Katy dished it out to an offending American Coot. I didn't see what the coot did to deserve this, but it's clearly slinking outta there post haste. Compare its posture to the other two coots in this picture. It's as if Katy's scorn has flattenedd that offending coot. I have heard Katy's hoarse croaking before, but only once, ever.

Adult Nonbreeding Pied-billed Grebe - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Non-breeding Pied-billed

In this particular species at this particular time, breeding status has more to do with what month it is than most other factors. Sibley's Guide to Birds 2nd Edition states it plainly, "September to March, Adult Nonbreeding." Juvenile Pied-billed Grebes have dark stripey faces, and I don't think I've ever seen one of those, but this one looks unfamiliar also.

Killdeer Walking - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Killdeer Walking down Arborectum Road

Killdeer visit Dallas several times a year — or else they hide out the other times. This is the first one I've seen in awhile, and it didn't seem to mind me hanging The Blunderbuss out my driver's side window pointing it at it as it walked along in the blazing sunlight on this cold, cold day, while I drove backwards the few feet it took.

New Sign - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

New Sign

I wonder if Texas Parks and Wildlife knows that the City of Dallas Parks & Recreation Department has been mowing the Prairie Grass / Wildflower Area just before spring, and that capricious destruction of supposedly wild habitat has seriously diminished the number of avian species that used to be found in the Winfrey Point grasslands area for the last couple (2) years. Anyone know whom I should contact to stop them from mowing the major meadow up the south hill to the Winfrey building?

One of the birds that has not been available there since they've been doing that, is the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers who used to nest low in trees around the walking path nearest the lake all around Winfrey Point, although they are still present in other places around the lake. Shirley Boyd knows all the species affected by the premature mowing. I was amazed when I brought the subject, that she knew so many birds — at least a half dozen — that aren't there anymore up. I wish I'd made a list.

Not That Great a Tail - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Not That Great A Tail

This bird's species is Great-tailed Grackle, but it hasn't got that great a tail just now. Handsome bird nonetheless. It looks younger somehow. Is that the difference between this bird and the one next down?

Great-tailed Grackle Standing in Water - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great-tailed Grackle Standing in Cold Water

This one's got a significantly greater tail. Birds don't have enough nerve-endings in their legs and feet for them to worry about where they stand in winter, and water is important for cleaning and hydrating them, and letting them soften their food in it.

Coot Composition - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

American Coot Composition

For a long time this evening — especially on Sunset Beach — I was photographing pretty much anything that moved, although I did have some quality control involved. I notice that I do much better when I have some reason to photograph some bird or another, but some of today's scatter shooting netted some remarkably good shots.

Coot Composition with Lesser Scaup - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Coot Composition with Male Lesser Scaup

I especially like this short series of coots and scaups.

More Coots and Lesser Scaup - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

More American Coots and Gorgeous Lesser Scaup in Golden Hour Sunlight

We usually 'get' four male scaups about this time in winter, with only very occasional visits by one female.

Female Mallard Howl - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Mallard 'Howl"

Of course, Mallards don't howl, and I doubt that's what this one is doing, but it looks like that, and I shot so many images this afternoon, I have no idea what it was doing.

Female Mallard with Coot Back - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Mallard with Coot Back

Male Mallards are brightly colorful, but female Mallards are gorgeous in their own right …

Female Mallard with Coot Back Preening - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Mallard with Coot Back Preening

… even when they're twisted up into a dark ball of pretty feathers.

Female Grackle on a Log - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Great-tailed Crackle on a Log

At least I think this is a Fem Grack.

Blue-eyed Goose with Remnants of a Cracker - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Blue-eyed Goose with Remnants of a Cracker

This is one of Sunset Bay's domestic gooses.

Red-rimmed Blue-eyed Goose - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Red-rimmed, Blue-eyed Goose Portrait

And so is this.

Ring-billed Gull Walking Up Sunset Beach - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ring-billed Gull Walking Up Sunset Beach

They are handsome birds.

Fem Grack on Wood Chunk - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Grackle on a Wood Chunk

There are thousands of grackles at the lake at any given — or taken — moment. Maybe tens of thousands.

Ross's Goose with Female Mallard Back - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Visiting Ross's Goose with Female Mallard Back

And far as any of us knows, this is the only Ross's Goose in residence here. It still has not fully integrated into our domestic goose flock, but it can generally be found of the periphery of them.

High-stepping Mallards at Sunset Beach - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

High-stepping Mallards at Sunset Beach

Beautiful, beautiful birds — males and females.

 

 

Photographing Birds Off Dreyfuss Point After Sunset

January 7 2015

Pelicans Flying Out into the Night over White Rock Lake - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans Flying Out into the Night

That's downtown Dallas' skyline above and reflecting in the lake below and behind these pelicans. All these sunset and later after-sunset pictures were taken from Dreyfuss Point on the other side of Sunset Bay, between Sunset and the Bath House Cultural Center along the eastern coast of White Rock Lake. I thought I wanted to photograph the other (East) side, but most of it was already dark by the time I arrived, so I drove around toward Sunset Bay, which I needed to avoid, because I shoot from there nearly every day of my life, and I wanted these shots to be different.

Easiest way to do different is to change location.

Two Pelicans and a Coot - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Two American White Pelicans and another Bird (maybe a gull) in the Water

Couple days ago, I said that the leading culprits for cameras refusing to focus were low contrast lighting, low light and cold. This night wasn't cold, but it was certainly darker than the light I usually photograph in, yet I had few shots that weren't in focus. So maybe we have to remove available darkness from the focus issues list.

(And I've since learned that if we keep an extra camera battery body-heat warm in a pocket, and replace the battery in a camera whose focus is slowing, we might have a better chance of focusing. Then put the cold battery in the pocket next to your body to warm it up. Then change them out every fifteen minutes or so. (Words of wisdom from Ben, thanks.) It might help. I haven't tried it yet, but it seems logical, and we got a couple more months of winter.

Two Pelicans Farther into the Night - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Two Pelicans Farther

I'm only showing you, as usual, the best shots for each daily journal entry, and some of the pix I shot for tonight's were not in focus, but the vast majority were. And most of the objects I saw through the lens were darker than you see them here.

Not Sure Who these Guys Are - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Not Sure Who These Birds Are

But how these tiny (compared with the full screen) objects ever got focused seems magic to me.

Some of the Pelicans in Sunset Bay after the Sun Set - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Some of the Sunset Bay Pelicans after the Sun Set

These are some of the pelicans in Sunset Bay as shot from Dreyfuss. My new tripod helps me shoot with more clarity, because it holds the camera and lens  steady, whereas without it, I'd be waving that big thing around  in the dark.

Duck Silhouettes after the Set Sun - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Some Ducks and Other Birds After the Sun Set

Not a lot of information to go on here.

Gulls Past Sunset - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Gulls Past Sunset

I think these guys are Bonaparte Gulls, but none of those have been reported lately, and they don't fit the categories of the gulls who have been seen lately. But then I am one of the lousier bird identifiers, and I'm always curious where those who send me pix of their unsubs get the idea I'm good at it.

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

Bonaparte Gull

Our most common gulls are Ring-billed Gulls, and these aren't those.

Pelicans By the Pier in Sunset Bay - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans by the Pier in Sunset Bay

I liked the amber glow reflected in the water. Many of the piers on White Rock Lake are being or about to get closed, then reconstructed, and some photographers are wondering where they'll find to shoot from next. Another of the reasons I'm trying to cut the Sunset Bay umbilical, but I've been trying that for years. Feel guilty when I do and don't.

Three Pelicans with Crisscrossing Wakes - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Three Pelicans with Criss-crossing Wakes

A familiar place from an unfamiliar viewpoint. I've seen the pelicans move out from the bay before.

Panning Pelican Night MOves - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Panning along with Pelican Night Moves

But I've never got to follow them out. My tripod pans easily, so I was able to keep up with the fast-moving birds swimming.

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

Pelicans Past Sunset

 

I'm not yet used to using a tripod, and I'm not used to panning, which is a lot different from just twisting my upper body, but I keep practising, light or dark, warm or cold.

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

More Pelicans Leaving Sunset Bay

I'm always amazed when anything this dark gets and stays in focus. It helps to be able to keep the camera pointing in the same direction the pelicans are flying into.

Two Pelicans Off Dreyfuss Point - c[ur

Two Pelicans Off Dreyfuss Point

This late, white shows the dark blue of the sky above, so I pulled out the blue and let it be the real color of pelicans instead of deep indigo it looked to the camera. I rarely see that blue with just my eyes or through my optical viewfinder, but the focus is real, and I wish I could have got its beak to show true orange.

Late Rowers with Line-dancing Herons - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Late Rowers with Line-dancing Herons

I don't know which species those birds flying in the zigzag line from the big Pump House chimney and past the tower are, but they look like herons when magnified. This pic turned out amazing, almost showing detail in the people rowing, and this would make a great, large photo in the show I'll eventually have, especially with those birds up high that I never saw when taking this. All I saw were the paddle boats and the light-shining leaders as I carefully composed this to include both rowing crews.

 

 

Another Great Egret Fishing Party

January 6 2015

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

The Fishing Creek

Pretty sure the one, primary reason for these Great Egret Convocations is to catch fish and when they're sated, to stand around looking at other egrets, or just hang out, and only maybe sometimes get in fights, mock-fights or chases. There could always be a sex subtext, and maybe that's what the fighting — or mock fighting — is about, but these birds spent most of the time I watched them catching fish or looking for fish to catch, although they are birds, and birds fly, so they did some of that, too.

Egret Mock-Battle - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Either Egret Mock Battle or Two Birds Not Getting Along

I've never seen an egret get hurt or damaged or bleeding in one of these "battles." But there is definitely animosity exhibited. That often happens when too many of any species is confined in a too-small space. I guess birds aren't exempt. They really look more interesting and engaging when I catch them coming toward me, maybe then we can see their 'faces."

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

Mutual Flapping

But since the vast majority of it involves no pain and darn little gain, I suspect it's all for show, and it is the showy display that I love to photograph. Perhaps you can see why.

Egret Flat Out Flying - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Flat-out Flying

I counted about forty birds involved in today's get-together, and really, darned few of them did any serious flying, although a few of them could be seen to cross the creek to get on the other side, which always looks to be a better place to fish — or do anything else — from the one they were on before they flew over. Fishing is serious business for birds, including Great Egrets. Their lives depend upon success at it.

Great Egret Flying Up into the Trees - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Flying Up into the Trees

And flying is the main thing that separates them from us. Well, that and feathers.

Egret Mock Battle - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Egret Feet-first Attack

There really weren't many attacks or battle or fights. And never any blood.

Egret Lying Down - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Egret Lying Down

And one of these fishing convocations is the only place I've ever seen an egret lying down. And usually only one — max two — even then. It's utterly fascinating to me, who likes to think of myself as an observer of bird behavior — and not just a bird portraitist, that I've only ever seen this behavior, if we can call it that, at one of these gatherings.

Lots of Activity - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Lots of Activity

This fishing party was a diverse and active place. Lots going on, and yet, mostly what they accomplished while I watched, was them watching for a fish to catch, then only sometimes catching it, and if they had the bad luck to come ashore with that fish yet unswallowed, a bit of a skirmish from another Great Egret, who seemed to believe that fish would have been better caught by them, not the one who actually got wet and stuck its beak into it.

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

At Center Stage: Great Egret Hydra

They only have one head each, but because they were often to my view of today's party, I kept thinking of them as Hydra, which, in Greek Mythology I must have stumbled over during my education at the University of Dallas some years back," is a many-headed snake whose heads grew again as they were cut off, killed by Hercules. A thing that is hard to overcome or resist because of its pervasive or enduring quality or its many aspects."

Down After a Fish - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Down After a Fish

This is not the same Great Egret as in the following sequence, but that one probably used an entry form very much like this one's, all the while staring intently at the fish it intends to catch.

GE with only its wings showing - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret with Mostly Its Wings Showing as it fishes for a Fish under the Surface

Some birds stood tall in the water and picked the fish up, others got down in it and swirled around a bit, catching — or not catching — the elusive fishy.

Flapping Above while Lurking Below -cpry

Flapping Above while Lurking Below

Usually, an egret jumped/flew down off the elevated shore, pierced the fish it was aiming at, brought it back up with it, or encountered other hungry egrets back up on shore. This one spent some time down there, and all I saw was splashing and flapping and bubbles.

Emerging Sans Fish - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Emerging Sans Fish

And its throat/neck is still thin, which indicates it didn't do any swallowing down under. Still, it does look rather victorious.

GE Springs into Flight - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

GE (Great Egret) Springs into Flight

With droplets of water streaming from its beak and both feet.

Somebody Caught a Fish - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Somebody Caught a Fish

This is not the same Great Egret we've been following down under then up, up and up. Nope. This one actually caught a fish.

After looking carefully through all these images, I am beginning to believe there may be an element of "Look what a good provider I am." in this fishing display. Emerging with a fish, any sized fish, would be better than showing great form, but not coming up with food, in front of their whole tribe.

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

Egret Chase

There were many more chases than there were fights / battles.

 

 

High Spirits Among the Cormorants on
the Near Logs in Sunset Bay Today

January 5 2015

Juvenile Cormorants Beaking - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Juvenile Double-crested Cormorants Beaking

I photographed pelicans again today, but since I also photographed cormorants rather up-close-ish and personal, I'm showing these instead of those. Maybe I'll show those later. Maybe I'll find something more interesting and show that. I never know. These guys seemed to be much more high-spirited than I've ever noticed them before. What drew me in initially was one of them braying loudly like a donkey, and once my attention was on them, soon my camera was, too. What were they up to?

So The Little Cormorant Attacks a Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

So The Little Cormorant Attacks a Pelican

I wondered what that little cormorant thought it could get out of it, if it attacked the big-beaked pelican.

Then Decides, Well, Maybe Not - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Then, Well, Maybe Not

More beak than it ever expected, I assume.

So They Go Back to Playing with The Stick - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

So They Go Back to Playing with the Stick

The cormorant on the left picked the stick up out of the water below the log they are all perched on. But it didn't keep it long.

Head Biting Cormorants - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Head-biting Cormorants with a Stick

Like any good game of keep the ball or stick away from everybody else, the big guy soon takes it over.

Cormorants Fighting Over Stick - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants Fighting Over Stick

And there doesn't seem to be anything anybody else can do about it.

Corm Stick Fight - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorant Stick Fight

I just kept clicking away. It's been awhile — or forever — since I've seen cormorants so involved in some ongoing plot.

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

Cormorants Beaking

I kept seeing them beaking each other.

Corm Suddenly Mounting Corm - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorant Quite Suddenly Mounting the other Cormorant

If I'd know this was next on the agenda, I would have photographed what happened just before this, but really, there wasn't much happening then.

Post-mount Something - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Post-Mount Expression

I don't know if this is joy or anger or what. It was an expression of something almost as sudden as the mounting, which seemed to be an expression of aggression. But I don't know what or why or if that was sex. I wanted to call this joy, but I really have no idea what emotion — if any — they were expressing.

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

Two Cormorants

I was talking with a friend on email this afternoon, and he was complaining about how his photography class got hijacked by a guy who wanted to teach about portraiture instead of general photography, and I thought that learning portraiture would directly help bird photographers, because whet we are doing, after all, is making portraits of birds, and anything that could teach us lighting of people might well help us with lighting birds.

 

 

Long-promised Image Showing at the Bath House
Cultural Center
's Levitas show up
through January 31, 2015

Belted-Kingfisher Hovering - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Belted Kingfisher Hovering by J R Compton   original image is 10 inches square

May be what I do best: Words & Pictures. I love to read it aloud, almost basso profundo, but I chickened out from doing it at the opening reception. If I'd had the nerve, I had trained myself to wag my arms like a hummingbird and a kingfisher. I've been thinking about doing a series of these with birds and poetic text, but first I need to figure out which behaviors go with what images and still make sense. This one was comparatively easy, only took a couple dozen hours. Usually I work up pix for this page in five to twenty minutes or quicker.

I originally posted this down this page somewhat, because I was more interested in my latest pix, but just in case somebody missed this, I'm pulling it to the top, now that last week's pix are less new.

 

 

All Around the Lake Except Sunset Bay,
Looking for a Gathering of Egrets

January 3rd & 4th, 2015
Story continues under yesterday's ...

 Four Ring-billed Gulls - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Four Ring-billed Gulls

Almost every time I visit White Rock Lake I wonder whether I could possibly do without Sunset Bay for one day, and I usually decide to go there anyway. Not today. I drove all around the lake — up the East side, across to the Big Thicket, looped around down then, then around and up past Flagpole Hill to where all the fisher persons clog the roads back there around the stables and creeks, neatly avoiding The Bay, and I was amazed at what all I found — especially in the way of landscapes, although there's always birds there, too.

Cormorants and a Gull - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants and a Gull

Once I got going, I realized it might be a good day to find an Egret Convocation, so I looked everywhere I'd ever seen one before and some places I'd never seen one before.

Cormorants and Gulls on a Ramp - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants and Gulls on a Ramp by the new Boat House

Most places today, the light was low and the contrast even lower, but that's not always obvious in my photographs.

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

Great Egret Convocation

I found them, though not in anywhere near the numbers I'd expected — that I'd come to believe I should expect. But they were doing meet and greet and heads-up displays of challenge, and there was an area off to the left and behind here where a creek ran through, where the real, physical challenges were carried out, but that was hidden from my prying eyes by the landscape.

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

More Egrets Kept Arriving at the Egret Convocation

In the creek just over the low horizon here, and down at least four or five feet, was probably where the competitive fishing was done. That seems to be an important event at these things. Always before, I was able to view and photograph that, too. But not today.

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

Standing Around, Heads-up Displays

I maybe should have stayed where I was, several hundred feet or yards or hectares away from the convocation, so I could make better sense of it, but I kept on the drive around the lake, hoping for a bigger gathering of egrets, and finding none.

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

Egret Convocation

And the cocktail party portion of the program. I later looped back through this area just south of the words Fisher Road on the left central side of my White Rock Lake map and found more egrets in a moodier and darker landscape. And I'll probably check back tomorrow and tomorrow.

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

Great Blue Heron over the Convocation

Just as there always seems to be a few Great Blue Herons over and around and in the Southwest Medical School Rookery off Inwood Road, there always seems to be a Great Blue Heron somewhere near the convocation.

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

Four Cormorants along a Creek

North of Northwest Highway is all I know for sure about this location. I love those dark green hills and valleys and creeks, and the last big egret convocation I witnessed had been there, so I kept hoping to find another, huge one, just over the next hill or around the next bend. But nope.

Pier Under Repair - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pier Under Repair

There's a bunch more pix from this set, and by the time I add more, there'll probably be even more, so hang loose. More pix are always coming. This is one of the several piers I found to be screened off with Under-Reconstruction signs today. This one's at Green Heron Park.

 Cormorant Tree - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved. '

Cormorant Tree North of Green Heron Park

One gull is barely visible at the far right. That gull is probably a Ring-billed Gull. The cormorants are probably Double-crested Cormorants, our usual variety at White Rock Lake.

Cormorant Tree & Two bridges - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorant Tree and Two Bridges

Here we see just one of the trees that rim what I call Cormorant Bay, just south of Mockingbird. The darker brown bridge is a walking bridge, and the lighter colored one beyond the yellow signs is the Mockingbird Lane auto Bridge that climbs past this area to the top of Boy Scout Hill, where Mockingbird Lane transforms into Peavy over North Buckner Boulevard/Loop 12.

Crow Sipping Curb Water - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Crow Drinking Curb Water

Although I kept seeing many of the same birds all around the lake, there is some variety, also.

Double-crested Cormorant Under Bridge - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Double-crested Cormorant Under Mockingbird Car Bridge

This shot seems almost serene, whereas the other one, shot a little later, looks busy.

American Coot: Hop, Hop, Skitter - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

American Coot: Hop, Hop, Skitter

If you had large, lobed feet like American Coots do, you could probably run across the surface of the water, which we call "skittering."

Yacht Club Standard - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Yacht Club Standard

Light pole with spread-wing Cormorant

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

Its Own Duck Variety

Ben was telling me just the other day that many of the ducks, especially those around Sunset Bay — although I found this one along Yacht Club Row — are, if not their own species, their own variety. It only looks like yet another Mallard hybrid. This guy was designed and created, not just found along the way. And with that girth, we could probably assume, meat was the basic idea, although the spots and dappling are nice, too.

Cormorants over Gulls - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants on Top and Gulls Below

x

Gulls Over Cormorants - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Gulls Over Cormorant

Looking from the Big Thicket shore, across the lake past these guys, to this shore of the Dog Park area.

Three Cormorants Under the Bridge - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Three Double-crested Cormorants Under Mockingbird Bridge

I wanted this to be a different perch than the one with just one corm on it from earlier, but it's the same sticks.

Cormorant Mob in Cormorant Bay - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants in Cormorant Bay Past Bent Bridge

I often photograph cormorants flying down from the trees at the north end of Cormorant Bay as they fly out into the larger lake, but today, every time I stopped for another shot, they swam farther, so I should have saved my breath and not walked out to the bridge.

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

That Green Heron Park Fence I like So Much

As photographed from the Upper Class neighborhood overlooking the lake from a street on the west side, very near that fake Tudor style home halfway up the hill. Then I looped back to where the Egret Convocation was, just to see how it was going.

Tree Egret Over Egret Convocation - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret in the Same Tree the Great Blue Heron Was [above]

Dry is nice for any convocation, where I've sometimes seen Great Egrets lying on their fronts in the lush green grass, but when you live outdoor, sometimes wet is what it gets. Then it gets wetter.

Egret Convocation Later - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

That Same Egret Convocation Later & Wetter

I kept trying to figure out a way to get closer, then studying the Google Maps I used to create my White Rock Lake Map, I think I may have. I have not, however, been back to test it out. Yet.

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

Great Egret Convocation

These shots were taken with my long telephoto sometimes called "The Blunderbuss." Of course, I always want to get closer. I'd also like to shoot from more altitude, so I might be able to catch some of the action down in the creek bed, which is several feet lower than this grassy plain. That's often where the birds pair off, fly together or mock-battle each other, all of which was beyond my seeing today.

 

 

 

Happy another New Year. Thanks for Visiting The Bird Journal Again.
January 2 2015

Gray Day on Sunset Beach with Colored Balloons - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Gray Day on Sunset Beach with Colored Balloons

Not exactly festive, but I did notice the balloons. Somebody's been celebrating, but probably not birds.

Blue-footed Coot - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Blue-footed Coot

Lousy weather, lousy contrast, and more than once, lousy focus. But these are, at least, sharp enough, although the colors are weird.

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

Pelicans on the Far Side of the Lagoon

Many surmises why they're over there. I suspect they feel safer there, though they often huddle there when it's especially cold, which i really hasn't been — yet. There's more water in the lake now thanks to all the rain, so maybe their usual perches are waterlogged.

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

Pelicans in the Cold

We've been almost learning some possible to probably markers for juvenile and female vs. male pelicans, but I keep forgetting the info I think I know. Are these two a male and a female? An adult and a juvenile? Friends or just standing together. Birds don't have the complexity of nerves in their feet, so standing in the cold is not the bother for them that it is for us.

Pelicans Settling in for the Cold - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans Settling in for the Cold

They just look cold.

Dinnertime on Sunset Beach - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Dinner Time On Sunset Beach

Birds come from far and wide to enjoy cracked corn on Sunset Beach.

No Thanks, We're Just Eating - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

No Thanks. We're Just Eating

Charles feeds the gooses, ducks, coots, and anybody else who shows up.

Coots & A Mallard Eating Cracked Corn - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

25 Coots and One Mallard Eating Cracked Corn

That's been poured on the wet, dark earth.

Domestic Gooses Keeping Their Distance from the Snow Goose Visitor - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Domestic Gooses Keeping Their Distance from the Visiting Wild Snow Goose

When it turns its head, they nip at him. No love lost for visitors from some birds at the lake.

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

Land and Lakescape — Evening of the first day this year

This is the water fountain area where the eagle stood in a tree overlooking a couple months ago. I didn't really want to leave the lake this cold night, so I drove down past the Arborectum, slow and steady, improving my The Slider's usually impressive mileage, which has got down to the mid 40s MPG thanks to all the cold and wet lately.

 

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All text and photographs Copyright 2015 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, and most of it is documented in this Journal. I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally yet always amateurishly since 1964.

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