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The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton
All Contents © 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. DO NOT USE images without permission & payment.
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April 30 2007

Great Blue Heron Swoop - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron Swoop with Beak Open

Remember the Great Blue Heron - like bird I could not identify in the wrong meadow two entries ago? I believe this be the same bird. Obviously a Great Blue Heron. Breeding adult. Who else would look quite like this? The ones in the books don't have black legs, but this one appears to. In the books its butt is gray. This's butt in white.

Landing Approach - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gear Down Landing Approach with Turtle

Not sure where it lives, but we've seen a single, usually solitary Great Blue Heron out there often over the last couple years. I've recently learned that a lot of birds don't live here, just fish here. I suspect that's this's modus operandi. I'm glad he does that much in sight, although it'd be nicer if his fishing log were a little closer.

Our GBH Standing on a Log - cpry

Our GBH Standing on a Log with a Turtle

Note the color of its butt. White in shade. Grayish here. Bright white in the sunlight. A handsome bird with lots of distinctive markings. If he'd pose a little closer, we could show it off a bit more. Maybe some bleak unpopulated weekday, he'll come in for a quick portrait.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Flight - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck Flying Form

I've seen this peculiar flying form before — in my parents backyard in Texas' Lower Rio Grande Valley. I'd forgot it. This whistler has just attempted to stand, balanced on a thin limb over the water with its mate, who has better balance. It did not work, but the other whistler's still there, its bright pink feet shining in the sunlight just before the front of dark gray clouds floated over the lake.

Whistlers Standing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks Standing

Gonna rain for a couple days, weather guys say.

Duck Sex Escapee - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Duck Sex Escapee

The one other, rather extended, event we witnessed today was ducks doing it. Not altogether unusual. But today's antics were more artistic. Maybe if it rains the next couple days, I'll run more. They're mostly domestic ducks, but it was like performance art. Very well composed and the light fantastic.

April 27

Spread Eagle Scissor-tail - cpry

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Spread Eagle

Yesterday's must've been the wrong meadow. The one at Dreyfuss today was vivid with Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Eastern and Western Kingbirds, doves, Mockingbirds and several species I neither recognized nor captured. Jillions of bugs, too — hence all the flycatchers. I shot nearly five hundred photographs for about 50 keepers and these stars.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Flying to Catch Flies - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Flying to
Catch Flies - horizontal flight

Was especially eager to capture scissor-tails in action. But they're wary. A bunch of them in evidence today. All some distance from wherever I was. Luckily that hill is crisscrossed with bare paths. I was in the big middle of one meadow and nearly got dragged away by all the bugs. I still itch. Happy hunting grounds for all these amazing birds.

Twisting Into Tree - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Twisting Into A Tree

I did not set about getting top, side and bottom views of these amazing feathered friends, but idn't it nice that I managed to? Heck, I was hoping against hope to get just one good one flying. I probably photographed a dozen scissor-tails flitting about, up and down the hill, leaning on standbys of them perched on tall weeds, just in case.

Them in the air is like color magic, tails balancing and directing, veils flowing like beta splendora (Siamese Fighting Fish). This one is actually flying backward into the tree to perch there out of my sight. Well, not exactly backwards. More like VTO landing after horizontal flight, twisting into the tree.

Western Kingbird on a Wire - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Western Kingbird?

I'm not acquainted with this species. I'm sure I've seen them, but never before identified. Looked like brown cardinals, which is what I called the file before I got out Alsop's Birds of Texas to help me I.D. His maps may not be as subtle as Sibley's, but it's sure nice to see photographs of real birds instead of idealized drawings.

Eastern Kingbird - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Eastern Kingbird Chirping

This one was in a tree. I'd shoot, take ten steps closer, shoot again, ten more steps, ten more. Till I got much more than a blur, but never as much detail as I would have liked.

Red-winged Blackbird Flying in Red & Black - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird Flying in Vivid Red & Black

Oh yeah, nearly forgot the Red-winged Blackbirds flying, my annual ritual, though sometimes they're in focus better. I really need a longer telephoto with faster focusing. 'Course, if the object is larger in the view, the potential for sharp is higher. These are specs on much larger landscapes blown to smithereens. I need to closer or more magnification.

Red-winged Blackbird Flying in Glorious Red & Black - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird in Glorious Red
& Black Over a Yellow Landscape

Op cit.

Grackle Over Texas - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackle Over Texas

Not exactly an uncommon bird, but so very uncommon to capture one flying over in this detail. Someday I will get an angled view as one slides down, that Great Tail slicing the air. Till then, this will do nicely.  This guy waited for me to get my camera in position, then flew right up the hill over me. I like the visual comparison with the top of yester's entry.

April 26

Unsub Flyover - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Unsub Flyover — now obviously a Great Blue Heron of some distinctions

Standing in a overgrown field up the hill up from Sunset near those apartments, where I'd gone because I hadn't before and wanted to stand waist-high in a meadow wild with flowers, thinking there'd be birds. Not. Only butterflies and bugs.

I hoped to find a bird I hadn't before, nothing in mind. Surely such a lush meadow pyrotechnic with color would have birds. But not today. Then, in from the distance flew this. Single. Right over me, maybe 50 feet up. I shot it, turreting back over till I was leaning over backwards clicking.

Sidish of the Same Unsub - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sidish of the Same Unsub

Still don't know who he be. Heronish overall, stripy bib like a Great Blue, but nobody's I know underwing white except an Anhinga. That can't be optical dilusion can it? But their faces and butts aren't white. Watching it, I thought Great Blue once removed, and now I'm thinking Great Blue's second cousin. But GBHs are gray, not black or reddish, and their wingtips aren't white.

Two whole pages of large heron illustrations in my Encyclopedia of Birds and not one of their legs are black. So I'm settling into the gentle discomfort of definitely not knowing.

Lousy Shot of Vivid Green Parakeets - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Boring Photograph of Vivid Green Monk
Parakeets Eating Plant Springs

The one other fun bird sighting today was my first of Monk Parakeets on that side of the lake. Closer than I ever got on the other side where they are usually.

April 25

Why Did the Churkey Cross the Road? - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Why Did the Churkey Cross The Road?

Don't know if it was her moving so fast or because I couldn't help thinking "Why Did The Churkey Cross the Road" while she was, but darned few of this series are in focus. Some are furry blurs. Her haste was fleeing from small children, and her being on the far side of the road from the dark, low brushed and high treed creek bed where she finds security.

Churkey Portrait - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Churkey Portrait

Hardly expected to see her again. Was thinking just that when I did. Before the mysterious road crossing, she stood still for many portraits, this one of which, at least, is nearly sharp. We still don't know who or what she is. I'm thinking either an escapee or somebody "let her out at the lake."

Whistling Duck - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

When we last sighted the whistling ducks on April 10, my photos did not capture their pink legs in all their glory. This comes closer. They've grown more accustomed to being around humans, did not freak when I sat on the cold, wet ground to get down to their level. Notice the under area just aft its legs is black and white stripy. Had not noticed that till one leaned over from that log into the bog below.

Very Much in Evidence - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Very Much In Evidence

Remember the Wood Duck male I complained about not being around yesterday? This is he not far from those photographs of his kids. Looking even more rakish than he did March 30, when I first photographed the happy couple. Today, his do was amazing. I didn't get nearly close enough. But ain't he one handsome technicolor dude?

Furry Little Critters - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Furry Little Critters

We each wanted to pick up these furry little featherlumps and fondle all that softness. We don't interfere like that. But the urge was strong. It hadn't seemed likely when we set out for the lake on this cloudy warm day that turned sudden chill, but our bird luck was remarkably high, and most of them let us get near.

Ducks Over Tokyo - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ducks Over Tokyo

Another of those times when a short flock of ducks flapped over low and inside, and neither I nor my camera had much time to focus but we shot away nomatterwhat. A little dark, but love those bright whites on these Mallards' tails.

Black-faced Duck - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-faced Duck

We'll end today's foray with this probably domestic duck who requested I take its portrait. Always ready to oblige.

April 24

Mrs. Wood Duck in Full Protection Mode - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mrs. Wood Duck in Full Protection Mode

Her perceived enemies were mostly other, larger ducks. Every bird that came within a yard of her and her ducklings got hissed at something fierce, on land or in the water. I've been looking forward to finding this young family ever since March 30, when I photographed the Mr. and Mrs together. Now he's nowhere in sight.

Eleven Wood Ducklings - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mom Wood Duck and All Eleven Ducklings

I hardly expected 11 little ones, but duck families tend to start large. Then they're lucky if they don't get eaten. Right now, however, they're both precious and precocious. She doesn't feed them. They feed themselves. Almost constantly. Amazing little critters exploring the world.

Water On A Duck's Back - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Water Beaded on Two Ducklings' Backs

Note the eye treatment. They have their mother's eyes. Very distinctive. Wood Ducks through and through.

The Mrs. The Dry Look - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

She Looks Less Vivid Than She Did March 30

But she was aware, paying lots of attention and ready to lunge and hiss at anything that even might be a danger.

Duckling On Land - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Dryish Look, with a Few Water Droplets Still

Cute cute cute.

April 20

Grackle Flying Toward Me - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackle Flying Toward Me

About every fifteen years I go to the DeGoyler Estate. Not sure why, exactly. Always too many people there. Pretty plants and plant set-ups, I guess. Sure not for the birds. With that much money at hand, you'd think they could attract a better class of birds. I saw grackles, ducks, mockingbirds and sparrows.

Dark Grackle - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackle In Tree Close

Gracks with their heads in the air like this are looking for, not love exactly, but a mate. Lets the females know he's interested. This guy was so interested he ruffled his feathers all up and held the beak up position long enough for me to photograph.

Great-tailed Grackle with a Great Tail - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great-tailed Grackle with a Great Tail

Same position essentially, but he's rearranged his tail feathers to show off each individual feather.

The Grackle Fritz - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Vertical Tail Exhibition

Now he's still got his wings in flap-down position to his sides, but the Great Tail they're named after is arranged vertically and shoulder feathers are fritzed up. I've seen them glide long and straight with their tails held thusly, so it's not just a show-off for mating season arrangement, but part of both courting and flying repertoires.

Blue-winged Teal Flap - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Why They're Called Blue-winged Teals

Took awhile to find today's birds. Oh, they were right there in front of me all the time I was at Sunset Bay today. But I didn't notice the Teals, since they're a constant presence there lately. And I didn't see the sandpiper till I wandered up the creek seeking more exotic species.

Female & Male Teal - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female and Male Blue-winged Teal

I'd been hoping the teal would venture closer, so I could get more detail. Today, I sat on an itchy log for about twenty minutes and waited, watched and photographed. At first, they swam away. After I hadn't moved appreciably for awhile, they swam toward me and back and forth laterally. They were usually more social, with more teal than this, but this shot is simple. A female and a male.

Teal Dip - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Teal Dip

They also rocked forward on an invisible fulcrum and busied their beaks below for awhile. Bobbing for bugs, I suppose. A parting shot for today's coverage of the teals. I'll continue to watch them, maybe learn something more of their behaviors. Of course, every shot of a bird is it doing some behavior. Some more telling than others. I know zilch about teals now. My knowledge will grow.

Mallard Flap A - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mallard Flight A

Mallard Flight B - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mallard Flight B

Mallard Flight C - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mallard Flight C

Mallard Flight D - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mallard Flight D

I already know a bit about Mallards. As I've mentioned previously, when ducks fly by, I often go click-click-click just for fun. That's how I got this series. My most successful duck landing series ever.

Spotted Sandpiper Again - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Spotted Sandpiper Again

My second-ever sighting of a Spotted Sandpiper happened some time after I walked along the muddy shoreline at Sunset Bay and scared this one — or one very like it — off toward Dreyfuss. I was looking out on the water at considerably larger species. After I sat on the no-see-um insect-infested log for awhile, it came back. This shot is it out about 25 feet into the lake, standing on a log.

As we can both see, its legs could hardly be described as "long." I guess the one I saw at the dam was moving so fast, I assumed longer legs. This one seems puffier and more noticeably spotted, also.

Spotted Sandpiper Flying - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Spotted Sandpiper Coming in for a Landing

I was especially keen to get a better shot of a spotty sander flying, since my fist attempt was a tad soft. These are also soft in the focus and detail department, but I like their impressionism as it has dropped landing gear and slowed to approach speed.

Spotted Sandpiper Near Landing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Spotted Sandpiper Landing

Telling little details without getting all sharp-focus obsessed.

April 16

Long-legged Shore Bird - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Long-legged Shorebird - Spotted Sandpiper?

Didn't want to go to Sunset again, and someone said there were Cave Swallows and a Cliff Swallow flying at the dam Satty ayem, so I went there instead. Not surprisingly, I didn't see any swallows. Only this — couple mockingbirds and coots. I was on top of the dam. It was on the bottom.

Long-legged Unsub Flying - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Spotted Sandpiper Flying

I kept running up and down trying to get close enough it wouldn't dissolve into pixels. Those long legs moved it fast. Great beak, too. Wish I could tell you what it is. I've looked and looked. Like a killdeer without the stripes. Or something...

Ah! Here 'tis. Yeah. Pretty sure. A Spotted Sandpiper. In breeding plumage. "Generally seen singly," says Nat'l Geo.

April 15

Eight Feet Away - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Eggs Eight Feet From An Incubating Female

Strange day. Full of barely disguised anger and stupidity. We each encountered several instances on our ways to the lake. I wanted to check on the goose warming her eggs. But when we got there, two eggs were about eight feet away, though I'm pretty sure she was sitting on one or more others.

Two Eggs Apart - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Eggs Apart - One Appears Cracked

The goose clan had gathered about twenty feet distant. I counted 13. Counting her, one less than all of them. We thought because humans had usurped their usual gathering places. Lots of humans around. Why we usually don't go on Sundays. I'd forgot.

The Committee - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Committee - The Brown Goose standing is checking on the Egg-Sitter

The goose with the eggs stayed on the ground as The Committee gathered. I call them that because they do things together. They seem organized, almost a moral force. When I saw a very aggressive duck sex attack near where the gooses hang out several weeks ago, The Committee intervened. Broke it up. Sent the ducks packing.

Egg Inspectors - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egg Inspector with Security

Goose sex can be just as violent. So violent it's sometimes shocking. Like what we saw today. Watching birds do sex, it's very difficult not to get morally indignant, not to anthropomorphize. Only a few spectators watched the goings on this far. More gathered as the scene got more violent. Little kids kept asking parents what was happening. Some explained very well. We photographed, wondering what next.

Egg Testing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egg Testing

First the big white goose males tested the eggs. We heard cracking when he stood on one. Then the brown female wrapped her foot around it very gently. Testing, we guessed, for something. Warmth? Viability? Who knows. She did not put her weight on it.

Climbed On Top - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

He Climbed On Top of Her

Meanwhile, the younger male mounted the egg sitter and had repeated sex with her.

Goose Sex - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Goose Sex

She stayed on the ground. Did not attempt to escape. Hardly moved, except when he moved her. Any human emotions I ascribe to these birds is my attempt to understand. I know it's sex. And I know that at least one and sometimes several ganders set up the situation and watched over all through it. The egg-sitter already seemed exhausted, and I wondered whether she'd had food the several days she'd been there. She seemed an easy target.

Standing On Her - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Between Acts, He Stood on Her

At the climax of one act, scrunched up on top of her, he fell off sideways. Other times he'd get up and stand on her. She didn't move. He stood on her a long time. Then he'd go at it again. About a half dozen times. The Committee kept watch. The other brown stood there awhile, then walked over where the two eggs were.

Is She Dead? - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Is She Dead?

After he finally stopped, she did not move. We both wondered aloud, "Is she dead?" After many minutes, she moved a little. Very little. It was difficult not to see this as punishment for abandoning the eggs. Which the other female had begun making a nest for, moving dirt. leaves and sticks into a tight circle her sitting circumference.

Two White Gooses - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Young and Old Gooses Stand Over Her

I don't know this behavior, with both males' heads up. What's going on? I kept moving around, hoping to get a clear shot of them, without all the brambles that had been stacked up around her. Meanwhile, the other female sat on the two eggs.

The Older Male Sits With Her - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Older Male Sits Next to Her

While the sated younger male still stood over her, the older male nestled down, close enough to give her warmth. I don't know why, but it looked like compassion. See that egg-shaped object just to the left of her tail on the ground? I got a slightly better shot earlier.

Is That An Egg? - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Is That an Egg?

Though a somewhat less dignified view. This is as close a I got to photographing his organ. It's right there in that vortex of goose down. I'm pretty sure the object on the ground below, and slightly to the right, is an egg. An egg that was right there under her all during.

Tongue-flapping Tired - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The New Egg-sitter Pants

I thought I'd seen a tongue quiver when I heard a goose hiss yesterday. Then I talked myself out of the notion. This, however, is a goose tongue. Here the substitute egg sitter I assume exhausted from her efforts at building a nest, pants. She continued for a several minutes, eventually nesting in and sitting the rest of the eggs. Nothing else happened for a long time, so we left.

[Next day Anna told me she'd checked on the egg-sitters, and they were both okay and still sitting on their respective eggs.]

April 14

Egret Scrunch - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  Egret Tall - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Periscoping

First bird I saw at the even darker, less moist but windier and much colder lake today was an elegant Great Egret with its finery draping down its back. White on white. Mostly it was scrunched down waiting for a fish to come by. Then it sensed, heard or saw something off to the right, and I watched it up periscope precipitously, nearly straightening out that long S-curve neck.

Brown Goose Tending Eggs - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Brown Goose Tending Eggs

I saw — and photographed, of course — this goose yesterday, but it looked like it was just sitting there. Out in the bramble of bushes and sticks and mud. Thick, gooey, sloppy mud. Today, I could see several large eggs protruding. Charles said they go up Hidden Creek to do their laying, but she's being rather obvious about it, out in plain sight.

Now I think on it, I remember a brown goose — we looked it up once and this variety was called "African Brown." Since then I've heard other names — waddling around with its fin hanging low beneath. Looking a lot like a goose gonna lay an egg. I sure hope we get to see some goslings.

Dreyfuss Canadian Goose - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Canadian Goose at Dreyfuss Point

I hadn't seen our Canadian Geese in well more than a month. So it was comforting to see this one again, intently munching something at the far edge of the greenery down to the lake from where The Dreyfuss Club used to stand.

The Usual Cormorant Landing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile Double-crested Cormorant Coming in for a Landing

I've heard there's a different variety of cormorant at Sunset Bay lately. This isn't it. This is the usual cormorant — our sometimes stinky winter visitors, the Double Crested Cormorant. The Neotropic Cormorant she says somebody sighted there is much the same, except its beak configuration is different.

This was the only corm I saw as I drove all the way around the lake today. It was on a bending bough out into this end of Sunset Bay. Soon as it saw me, it escaped toward me. So this is as close as we got. It landed and swam toward the point — away from me. I was hoping for a close-up of its face for eventual comparisons.

If I find a Neotrop I'll show the differences here. If I can get close enough.

12 O'clock High - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Speedy Little Bird

So there I was standing out on a point in the frigid blowing wind, and there were all these speedy little birds flitting by like jet planes, flying low and only rarely getting this close — or this close to focus; they're much faster than I and my camera are. I suppose I could try to identify it.

Unsub Low Over - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  Banking Hard - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fast Little Bird with Brown Wings and Dark Tail  - Vaux's Swift

But wouldn't it be better if I just got some very identifiable photographs? I'm in this for the photographs, not the life's list. Although mayhaps I should pay a little attention to such a list someday... Fast Little Bird with Brown Wings, Dark Tail and white underside. I looked at the books. My best guess is a juvenile Tree Swallow.

In focus! And fast. Maybe a tad slower since it's a juvenile. Maybe just a tad slower enough to photograph.

Reader Emily Howard identifies this one as a Vaux's Swift.

Gull - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gull

I'm told — and I've noticed that — the gulls have gone. Except I still see some from time to time. This one flew close enough for some photographs. I've looked at the books, and I just don't know. I am pretty sure it's a gull. But it looks a lot like a lot of different gulls. A first winter something or an adult so and so. Yup.

Gull - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Same Gull A Little Further

Pretty wings. Almost no tail. White fuselage. Longish beak with dark at the end.

Long Slender Wings -

And Long Slender Wings

April 13

Blue-wing Teal Pair - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blue-wing Teal Pair

I keep saying it. Sunset Bay has the widest spectrum of avian biodiversity than anywhere else at White Rock Lake. Sometimes it feels like cheating to keep coming back to Sunset. Today was moist, gray, dark and suffused with the scent of wild onion. Lots of different species, most of the more interesting of them out somewhat from the shore.

3 Wood Ducks - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Three of Five Wood Ducks Males

I was watching male Wood Ducks swimming along. Then, suddenly, sploosh! where the duck was then is a big splash.

Wood Duck Splash - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dived Wood Duck Splash

I didn't get that one going down or coming up, but I paid better attention, and watched with wonder when the next Wood Duck came up suddenly.

Wood Duck Splashoff - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And flew away.

April 12

Grackle - More or Less Normal - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackle — More or Less Normal

My bird luck continues. Acceptable, I guess, if I can have high bird days like the whistlers and the churkey but they were gone by the next day's visit [although someone saw them.] Today I watched, not for the first time, grackles. They seemed to be involved in some inscrutable courting behavior I've noticed lately but have been unable to adequately capture. Got 'em this time.

Grackle Pass - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

 

No heads or beaks in the air. Just ruffling and scrunching. Both male and female look fierce, assuming somewhat extreme, symbolic positions. His wings are arched, his beak open wide. Her tail is up. Her wings out and back. Her beak open and angled up. The male walks in front of the female. He reminds us of the puffed up and fierced-out pigeon from last month.

Grackle - The Pass - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Male Walks In Front of the Female (barely visible behind)

The male maintains a posture that looks both large and fierce, walking the grackle goose step past the female.

Grackle Pass - cpry

Female Relaxes Slightly - Male Relaxes Slightly

Once he's past, both birds begin to relax slightly. Her tail is still up and wings out, but her beak is closed and head no longer tilted up as far. His wings drop slightly. His tail still touches the ground.

Grackle Strangeness - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Lowers Wings Slightly but Still Prances

Her tail is still up, her closed beak tilted upward. He's relaxed some but still has his wings out and tail spread and low.

Grackle Puff Ruffle - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackle Puff Ruffle

Moments later the male, with his wings relaxed down and his tail no longer spread, puffs up, his feathers ruffle and stick out at odd angles.

Grackle Puffle - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Then begins to relax.

There is no contact between the birds. He continues to strut slightly, but she seems to be paying no attention.

April 11

The Mallard Rush - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Mallard Rush

As I write this, April 11 is the day before yesterday. Not much bird happened. One photograph made any sense, and it didn't make any sense, at all. When we first looked up to see this, whatever this is, we assumed it was more violent duck sex. Splashy chasing going on. Then we noticed they were all males. One guy was it. Everybody else was engaged in chasing him.

Anna had seen male Mallards face-to-face fighting with beaks. Would a made a nice photo. She surmised that's how the duck with a broken beak might have happened.

April 10

Whistling Duck Pair - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Today's prize is a matching set of Black-belliied Whistling Ducks. I knew they were special soon as I saw them. Pink legs nearly glowing, they seemed to be quivering. That was their wings, which stayed in motion most of the time I followed them across the people side of Sunset Bay. Beautiful ducks.

Matching orange beaks and, well, you can see as well as I can. They were aloof but didn't fly away, kept walking in the opposite direction as I tried to fill my frame with theirs. My mother shot pictures of a pair in The Valley last summer — with a brood of the most beautiful little striped ducklings I've seen. I assume they're traveling through because I photographed them 500 miles south of here. Nice of them to visit.

Pink Beak - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female House Sparrow

The place was literally hopping with birds today, upping my flagging average again. I went to Sunset hoping for color. Brown and tan are definitely colors. The OC side of me is thinking female Red-winged Blackbird on this one. What's left of the rest of me doesn't care, but then I got this.

Bird with Worm - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female House Sparrow with Grub

Which seems to be kin, if not the same bird. With a scrumptious very green grub. Yum! Then again, the hallmark markings on a redwing are breast stripes, and this breast is stripeless. At least I think I know a grub when I see one.

Blue Jay Flapping Ready to Take Off - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blue Jay Flapping At The Moment of Take-off with
a chunk of yellow grain — probably corn — in its beak.

I've been watching a lone Blue Jay there the last week or so. He's way too wary to get close. Yet. But I got a couple today that weren't near good enough and this that's fantastical, in a blurry, out of focus, too-bright, uncomposed manner. At least it's energetic. You have to misplace that first name. There's nearly no blue here, and that's what I love most on this bird —

I remember in 1971 when the then-new falling-over City Hall was under construction, being touch-and-go buzz-bombed by by a succession of irate Blue Jays after I dared to photograph nests full of jaylings there. What's not to love about such aggressive birds.

Nanoseconds after this, after that wing flapped down, he was gone. This is the decisive moment Cartier Bresson photographed about. I like it for the excitement. Otherwise it's less than perfect is several important directions. I suspect I'll see him again soon. Maybe next time I'll catch his more classic form.

Turkey Vulture in the Trees - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Turkey Vulture

Didn't know what this was till I got it home. Seemed brown, so I thought maybe hawk, but none of the local birds were disturbed. It circled out from the Hidden Creek area between Sunset and Dreyfuss, then arced back into the woody creek where it disappeared. I watched for it time to time, but it stayed missing.

TV - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Long Fingers of a TV

When I got the image on my monitor, I finally recognized my old friend the Turkey Vulture. I've been seeing them in that aerial vicinity for several weeks. Nice critters to have around. The frequency I see dead birds in Sunset proper I assume somone's running dogs against them, though it could be bicycles, I suppose. Gotta keep the carrion population down. Turkey-headed vultures to the rescue.

Speaking of Turkey - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Speaking of Turkey-headed Critters - The Churkey

Trudging uphill I discovered this turkey-headed chicken eating no-seeums in the cool moist dirt around and under deep shade bushes. I still have a few issues with domestic ducks in my wild bird lake. Last thing I expected was a wild chicken. Sibley illustrates game birds galore — partridge, peafowl, chachalaca, quail, pheasant and even some wild turkeys. Alsop adds Prairie Chickens. But nothing quite like this.

The closest I've found in a wild bird book — wild bird authors may not want to associate with chickens — is a Brush Turkey in The Encyclopedia of Birds (nice, big illustrations, worldwide birds). Which author Dr. Richard Schoddle says, "live in rain-forest scrubs. They have huge feet to scrape up litter for their nest mounds."

Turkey Chicken - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wild Churkey Hen

This specimen has a similar turkey vulture head, medium-honker-sized yellow beak and huge feet. Alectura lathami, Brush Turkeys' latin name, means big feet. This guys's got 'em, too but not much more of the Brush Turkey. I don't think they're the same.

This one has a great tall tail up in all 15 of my mostly slow-shutter shots (He stayed in the dark deep shadows till I got bored and walked away thinking I had plenty.) and a subtle cacophony of beautiful neck and body feathers. Strangely beautiful bird (but then I like TVs and Muscovies). I hope he's not an escapee from a neighbor's backyard.

[According to Breeds of Chicken, it has a tail like the Australorp or La Fleche and the naked upper neck of a Turken. After looking at that many chickens (many listings were not illustrated), I'd venture it's not a chicken, but it is probably a hen. The best turkey pages are on the ALBC Heritage Turkey Census. Many illustrations presented as links, not one long list. Shows both fantail toms and lower presstail hens. I'm nearly convinced it is a turkey not sure which. It tends toward the wild look — Meleagris ocellata.]

Duck with a Doo - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Duck With A Doo  -  A Crested Rouen, Besty calls "mongrel
mallards, since most domestic duck breeds started with mallards."

And, oh, how could I almost forget this lovely creature. Speaking of domestic birds. This may be a cross. I've long admired her (Is it a her?) lovely feather pillbox. And isn't this a lavish portrait of my fine feathered friend's finery.

April 9

Male Purple Martin in Flight - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Purple Martin in Flight

Thought I could get better photos of Purple Martins if I concentrated on their closer arcs and followed through panning all the way out, up, down, around and back. I especially enjoyed them turning, banking hard, then sliding down like the steep track on a rollercoaster — fast. I could barely follow their far arcs. Their relative speed closer was too much. These shots — some of my better pans — look close but aren't.

Purple Martin Majesty - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The least I could do was to expose more correctly. Watching, they looked dark. The blue fleeting but noticeable. Maybe not as bright as here. But till I see one standing still, I won't know for sure.

Purple Martin - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Successful Pan

I staked out some Martin houses along the ridge overlooking The Bath House about a month ago. Though many birds were present, none there were martins, which I understand is a common problem with those houses.

Cedar Waxwing Flockette - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cedar Waxwing Flocklette

I also saw at least one Barn Swallow, Grackles of course and Coots. Plus a flock of birds I followed in from some distance. I noticed them because of the remarkable random compression going on within the flight. I've lightened the some, but these birds appear dark because of the bright sky behind them

April 8

White Winged Blue Thing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

White-winged Blue Thing  —  Purple Martin Male

Easter Sunday so uncomfortably cold folk weren't packed or stacked at the lake. Plenty of them, but not in the way. Parking was to be had and, stalwart picnickers aside, so were birds. I'd hoped to get a better shot of the visiting Tree Swallows, but this isn't he.

White-winged Blue Thing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Slightly Better Detail — Not Much Focus

This was plenty fast. What attracted me. Swift like swifts or swallows, also apparently after bugs. Turning and gyring in unmathematical figures out over the lagoon. No 8s or circles, very unpredictable. Long graceful arcing curves abruptly interrupted by upturns sometimes almost straight up. I'd lose telephoto sight when they changed directions. Probably darker than looks here. Lighter rings around dark eyes? Gray beak. Blue all over except the outer and trailing wing and tail feathers, grayish toward the tips.

Visiting Blue Bird? - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Nope, a Purple resident

Spring brings new birds every day or oftener. Hard to keep up. I've long hoped to see a bluebird at White Rock. This a blue bird, not bluebird. Not many of them in the books. According to my Sibley, Purple Martins aren't purple and real bluebirds aren't this dark a blue. So somewhere in between?

Part of being a rank amateur with what someone passing called "a serious lens you got there" is that I still love photographing birds more than identifying them. But something there is that needs the I.Ds. I'd switched to The Sibley Guide to Birds for its multiplicity of views and better distribution maps. But I've yet to track down either of these real birds in any of my books.

Dark Ring-necked Some-thing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dark Ring-necked Thing  —  female Purple Martin

Since I actually got it in focus, it must have been moving slower than the blue. It has a lighter underside, darkish brownish nearly colorless everything else, except a lighter ring around its neck, like a Barn Swallows this could actually be one of, if it weren't so dark.

[Martins are not only swift, they are Swallows, and Sibley's drawings don't do them justice. Part of why I like the photos in Alsop's Birds of Texas, though that tome doesn't any more approximate these guys than Sibley. Arghhhh!]

Dark Ring-neck - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

She probably lives around here.

Also along Boat House Lagoon today were a Killdeer I managed to blur every shot of, a Red-winged Blackbird that flew by in intermittant red splendor less than a dozen feet out that I was so visually smit with I didn't think to raise my camera.

April 6

Unsub - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tree Swallow passing through

Cool today. Snow expected tonight or in the morning. Anna drove, first through Sunset Bay where we saw pigeons doing the drop-tail, neck-puff bop; the usual abundance of cootus ubiquitous; and ducks. Neither of us wanted to get out in that whipping wind, but when we looped around to Dreyfuss I stood in the chill while little birds I thought I'd surely find in my bird books — look like yesterday's swallowers of barns, except the colors are different — they fly at least as fast — whipped over the water.

Unsubs Over the Water - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One Two-tone Blue Unsub + One Barn Swallow

April 5

Barn Swallow Flying - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barn Swallow Flying Up the Dam

Visited the Fitchery again today and once again saw no birds. Heard dozens but all I glimpsed were fickering feathers in leafy branches. I did not hear screeches of hawks or barks of owls but lots else. I've been studying bird calls with a DVD called Birds, Birds, Birds - An Indoor Birdwatching Field Trip by John Feith and have enjoyed listening and watching. Focus doesn't enter their video vocabulary, but the stills are illustrative and mostly beautiful, although most of the birds don't live around here. Trouble is I pay more attention to and remember better the visual.

Except, of course, I can't seem to place a simple grackle.

Barn Swallows Frolicking Along the Dam - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Swallows Cavorting Along the Dam

There I was not seeing birds in the Fitchery and wondering whether I could photograph the tops of the trees, where I imagined all the birds must be, from the top of the dam. I climbed it, huffing and puffing and looked out at birdless treetops. With a nice breeze. I had seen birdlettes skimming across those tree tops earlier and was curious about photographing them without the trees.

So I did, but my golly whiz are they fast. My first shots were the onlies approximating focus. After I got into it, all I got were blurs.

April 3

Mom & - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mom and 12 Ducklings

Counted two pairs of Northern Shovelers and two pairs of Blue-wing Teal at Sunset, coots of course, sundry ducks, grackles galore, 15 gooses now, and a big brown unsub with a large fan tail. But my best discovery was this mother duck and her even dozen ducklings out for a swim.

Wood Duck Ling - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Duck Ling

They're the first duck family I've seen this spring. And these little ducklings, while fairly adept at swimming, weren't enthusiastic about climbing onto even the slightest rise of soft mud. Not saying this was their first outing, but close.

First Steps - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

First steps?

The only one who actually got up on its legs and walked, or made the attempt, was not very good at it. Yet. It stumbled and kept its body close to the ground while trying to make food of anything that protruded. The rest didn't even watch.

Black Throat - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-throated House Sparrow

I really wanted this to be a Black-throated oh, something. And it has a black throat, sure enough. But none of the images I found on the Internet searching for "black-throated" look anything like it. I don't have time to track it down right now (it's a quarter to six, and I've been up all night writing, and I need sleep, but I desperately want to get this page up. So I can sleep for a couple days, then do my taxes.

[Oh drat! I'm thinking its bib is eerily reminiscent of a House Sparrow. I knew it would be fiendishly common. I bet it's a House Sparrow. It is. It is. Alsop's Birds of Texas agrees — er... confirms. Not identical markings to those photos, of course, but awe fully close. Now I can sleep.]

Big-tailed Brown Bird - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Big-tailed Brown Bird in Bramble of Branches

I mentioned a Big, Brown bird with a Big Tail. This is it. I saw it in the bramble of branches in one of the trees on the greenest part of the knollish grass in front of the building at Sunset Bay. If I spent a couple hours looking it up in my I.D books, I'll probably find it. Probably.

Big-tailed Brown - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.   BTBB side view - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great-tailed Grackles showing off their great tails.

April 2

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Air Dancing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Air Dancing Off the High Wire

The big difference was today's scissor-tail made the jump from flying to and from tree branches to doing his act — jumping up, flip-flop flying back and forth, up and down, with a little spin somersaulting for punctuation — on a telephone wire, and for an even bigger change, close to the photographer.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Flip-flop Flying - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flip-flop Flying

So we have a better semblance of focus. Keeping him in the viewfinder was the big trick. It'd begun misting by then, so I didn't want to get outside. Close as he was, it would probably have scared him away. Cars are less than perfect photographic platforms, turned sidewise panning up and down and side to side, hurts. The photog.

SfFc Aloft - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

StFc Aloft

So I did the best I could, and was happy with these. I will get closer and focuser, in near time.

Lock & Hide Mockingbird - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lock & Hide Mockingbird

The one other treat this morning was a mockingbird alighting on a sign top even closer and regaling us with a long version repertoire of calls and tweets. It was way too close to photograph flying away, when it finally did that.

Twittering Mockingbird - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Twittering Mockingbird

But marvelous close while it was there and singing. More than amusing to watch the fluffy feathers at his chin ruffle and throb with the notes reverberating. Then it flew away.

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April 1

Treegret Ready to Fly Away - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egret in Tree Ready to Fly

Today was our first visit to the Rookery at Southwestern Medical Center. We were impressed. We saw several that excited us and a few we'd never seen before. We were thrilled.

Fleeg With Branch - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egret With Branch for Nest

What we saw most of was Great Egrets engaged in flying back and forth, nesting, walking and flying through the near and far woods and sky. They industriously gathering sticks for their nests. Many with smallish twigs, some with sticks and a very few with monster branches.

Flee with Monster Branch - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret with Monster Branch

Which they'd fly back to the edge of the woods. And drop. At first, we thought that must be an accident. But it happened too often. Later, we saw the egret assigned to gathering duty, venturing out from the woods to where the sticks were dropped. We didn't figure out the scheme until later, or I might have got photos of the sorter sorting, maybe even breaking them off to order.

Red-tailed Fleeg - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-tailed Fleeg (Flying Egret)

I've seen the reddish plume coloration before but never this intense.

Unflattering Ruffles - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

This unflattering view gives us a glimpse of the plumery available. The egret on the left is engaged in an Egret Ruffle, a particularly energetic display wherein it simultaneously twists, shakes and stretches nearly everything it has. The bird on the right is simply dangling its finery while it preens.

Nesting Egret - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Nesting — Note Green Lores

The business of a rookery — besides keeping vast acres of our inner city green and gorgeous — is breeding birds. We saw many nests, but only a few were photographable through the thick vegetation. We'll learn more on future visits. But these are the highest lights of today's 640-image tour.

Anhinga Flying Far - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Anhinga Far

We also saw a very few Anhingas, which we'd never heard of before, maybe seen paging through the books, but we didn't recognize it, only surmised it was what we thought we remembered seeing in books. We were surprised, unsure, had to look them up, only got a few photos, nothing detailed.

Anhinga Flyover - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Anhinga Flyover

Although we saw two at once once, and one flew over us twice, but we still haven't seen or learned enough details. Like I say, we'll be back.

Freddish - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron.

We thought this was a Reddish Egret when it and its buddies soared high and low over the rookery. But I'm not convinced. According to my own Herons vs. Egrets — How to tell them apart, that's what I thought it was then. Its beak is blue.

Six of Nine Reddish - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Six Little Blues Flying

We saw as many as 9 at a time flying far and close, making the great circle around and over the rookery. We were delighted.

FReddish Pair - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Herons Separated Only by Altitude

They seemed to have fun flying up there, and we were happy watching them.

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Index of Pages

 

All text and photographs
copyright 2006 and 2007 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved.

No reproduction without
specific written permission.

Formerly "The Addlepated Birder's Journal"


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