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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 24 2009

Changing Little Blue Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Changing Little Blue Heron

Visited the rookery again today. A reader had told me where a Tri-colored Heron was nesting, but I did not find it. Saw and only partially photographed Anhingas in the woods and lots of Little Blue Herons, here looking like a mutant egret as its white coat turns black in spots on its way to all the way to dark blue, brown or the color is shows in whatever light you see it in.

Changing Little Blue Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Changing Its Spots

Gray legs and feet, almost but not quite a two-tone beak, black at the end, gray or blue (depending upon the light) bill.

Changing Little Blue Heron Obverse - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Changing Little Blue Heron Other End

I really thought I had something new and different and strange here. A black & white & gray egret or heron. As usual, such birder pipedream are blown almost immediately. But fun thinking them there for a while.

Fuzzed Up Little Blue Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fuzzed Up Little Blue Heron at Its Best

With a little sunlight an adult Little Blue Heron looks black.

Proper Blue Little Blue Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Proper Blue and Red Little Blue Heron

But without much direct sunlight and deep in shade it does actually look blue with a blue beak and red head.

Poofed Little Blue Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Poofed-out Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron posting for its portrait, but the trees and their leaves kept blowing between us.

Fur Ball Flurry - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fur-ball Flurry from the Back

A Great Egret with great fuzz in every direction.

Snowy Fluffed Down in a Tree- Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fuzzed-down Snowy Egret (yellow feet and black beak) In A Tree

Still plenty white egrets in the rookery, but today I concentrated on darker birds.

Anhinga Butt and BCHN - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Anhinga Butt and Black-crowned Night Heron in the Jungle

One Anhinga butt is the closest I got to photographing one in the nesting area. Note the BCNH in the lower right.

Anhinga Fly Past - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Anhinga Fly-past

But there were plenty Anhingas flying over.

Anhing Fly-over - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Anhinga Fly-over

I now know what part of the bird city this largish rookery is that the Anhingas occupy. Or at least a couple of them did. Mayhaps next time I'll get more precise instructions where the Tri-color's nest is. Or maybe an Anhinga nest. Surely there's Great Blue Heron nests in there, too.

Newest Screen - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Latest Version of the Pond Screen — Old Screen Below

I didn't come up to it or attempt to photograph over it, but I can't see through this one, so maybe birds can't either, and they'll feel safer in there. Almost as safe as before the trees got cut down. I did see birds flying into and out of the area behind this new screen, so I'm pretty sure they're still using the pond.

See yez again in early May.

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April 23

 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on STPerch - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Winfrey Meadow

Note to Readers: I've got an opportunity that'll keep me offline a week, ten days and it's too good to pass up, so I'm flying with it. See you early next month.

Today it's flycatchers in the meadow after finding nothing elsewhere. Yesterday was not much. First go-round today was nothing. Return trip netted these.

Scissor-tail Up - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tail Up

Not the same bird. This one is about to go into the air. I'd thought this was a scissor-tail, now I see it probably isn't. These are somewhat enlarged from tiny portions of a frame. So small I couldn't even see what bird it was through my long lens.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Flying - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tail Airborne

Whatever it is, it's up and flying now. Would have been such a lovely sequence were it the same bird I thought I started with. But not. Looks like a Western Kingbird, but you know what a great bird I.Der I am.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with Spider or Something - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tail Having Caught a Bug

Back to the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. This one's got a bug, maybe a spider. Almost in focus, about as close as I've got with a bug in its mouth. I love those legs sticking out. Light was failing so I upped the ISO, which made this shot grainy. Perfection is Unlikely says a messy sign on my kitchen door, but I keep trying.

Three Grackles - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Three Grackles

Pretty sure these actually are grackles.

Two Grackles - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Grackles

And these are the last two from the flight above. More than that, I hesitate to state.

Best Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Best Ducks Today

These are Mallards. Not Mallard Ducks, just Mallards. Flying between me and the sun.

April 22

 Barn Swallow with a Mouthfull of Bugs - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barn Swallow with a Mouth Full of Bugs

First Barn Swallow I saw in the puddle near the Yacht Clubs flew off soon as I arrived, and I drove down the shore. Then thinking there was something about the place they'd want to go back to, I circled and came back. Could not figure why they'd gather in a puddle when they've got the whole lake.

Mouthful - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gob Full

I could barely see the birds, they were so tiny in the frame. I hoped my recalcitrant Sigma lens would actually focus. I shot whenever I got anything near a profile. And I overexposed, although shooting RAW means I can usually overcome that.

Larvae? - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Larvae?

Not sure what this one is eating. More than it can put in its mouth, which may have some connection to why its near the puddle.

Is She Smiling? - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Is She Smiling?

Smiles are in the mind of viewers, like the smile on this mother's face is in mine. Maybe yours, too. I don't think ducks smile, although I suspect they can be happy.

Two Strange-looking Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Strange-looking Ducks

Had to look these up. Even though I'd seen — and identified — them often before. I can often name famous artist's art I've never seen before, but ducks I've seen often, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Mockingbirds, for a long time Grackles and others prove me a less-than bird identifier. But I am getting better. Just not fast.

Coot and Duck - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American Coot and Blue-winged Teal male

It didn't help that the duck was partially silhouetted. But while I didn't know what it was yet, I was willing to put the Teal against a bird of known size, to show about how big the duck was. About this big.

Coot & Duck Result - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coot & Duck Result

As the birds got closer, the American Coot started pulling away immediately. Then the Teal did, too.

Scizzor-tailed Flycatcher on a Sign - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on a Yield Right-of-Way Sign

Earlier today and earlier this month I'd photographed Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in all sorts of prosaic and poetic poses. But none of them were close up and personal. Leaving the Big Thicket today, this one landing on the sign as I was about to get back on Mockingbird East. Wind was blowing so I clicked away as its tail wagged all over, down and up to balance. I especially wanted the tail up, so we could see what it looked like.

Full Length Scissor-taile - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Full-lenght Scissortail with Sign

But it was nice to have a full-length shot — interruped only by that sign — with its tail straight out behind, too.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Up Close - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Up Very Close

Closer, we get to see some of the fuzzy feathers around its face that help it catch and hold flies and other bugs.

In Detail - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

In Detail

This is as photographically close as I've ever got to a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. We can even see how sharp its claws are in several shot in this sequence. Maybe eventually I'll get a shot of one eating a bug up this close.

Muscovy Flap - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Muscovy Flap

The one other shot today that was worth much of anything was this large Muscovy Duck flapping its wings near the water. It would have been a much better shot, if I could have coaxed the Mallard male out of the picture, but he wouldn't move.

See Daniel S.H. Lin's amazing photographs of Anhingas mating at the rookery. Wow.

April 21

 Fluffy B&W Bird with Wing Down - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fluffy Black & White Bird with Wing Down

I've got a regular walk down Winfrey Hill to the Walking/Biking Path, around toward Sunset Bay, then back toward the Arboretum, then back up the hill. I've been watching the meadow up Winfrey from the Arboretum, the perches are growing tall. Soon they'll be rife with avian life and flowers and weeds and bugs — food for birds, who will soon flood the area.

Fluffy B&W Bird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fluffy Black & White Bird Profile

By now you've probably figured I have no idea what bird this is. But I'm working on it. That beard might make it a fly-catcher. I think we need to ignore the fluff. The only flycatcher relative I can find with a white-ended double-tipped tail is the Eastern Kingbird. So that's my guess.

Reader Jason agrees. He says, "One way to pick them out of a crowd of flycatchers is this: (1) they're always charcoal on top and dusty white below, and (2) they always have a white stripe at the end of their tail feathers."

A Bow from an Eastern Kingbird or something - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bowing to My Identification

Nice of it to take a bow, so I could see more parts and maybe guess better. Maybe.

Fuzzy Fellow - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

This Shot's Here to show the top of the one below's head

Hunching Stripey - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hunched Stripey Bird

This stripey bird alternately hunched down like this then stood (perched?) up straight. I caught two of each, this is the best of the bunch. Gray beak, dark stripes, white outlined wings, white outlined dark tail. I thought it'd be easy. I was wrong. I'll keep looking, but ...

Upon later reconsideration, the underside of her tail sure makes this look like yet another diguised female Red-winged Blackbird, Qausimoto-style.

Jason also says she is indeed a female Red-winged Blackbird.

Butter Butte - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black and White with Yellow Diamonds on each side

This one fools me a couple times every spring. It's a Yellow-rumped Warbler. A.k.a. "Butter-butt."

Still More Stripes - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Still More Stripes — RWBB

Not completely in focus. More an identification challenge than anything else maybe. Love the outlined feathers on the under side of its tail. Bird books tend to ignore undersides, even though most bird fly over us, or we have to look up at them in trees. I guess if that one was a female Red-winged Black Bird, then so is this one.

Reader Jason agrees. I love it when people who know these things agree with my guesses. Being wrong seems to help me learn these things. Thanks, readers. I really appreciate I.D help.

One Mockingbird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mockingbird

Another of the many species that keep fooling me is Mockingbirds. I thought they were gray, not white. So is this a bird that looks a lot like a mockingbird without actually being one? Or am I just wrong again? Hmmm.

1 Mockingbird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One Mockingbird

Little owl-faced Northern Mockingbird. This looks more like a mock. Is a mock.

Another One of These - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Western Kingbird

Another one of these.

First Year Franklin's Gull Just Standing There - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

First Year Franklin's Gull Just Standing There

First time I've seen any Franklin's Gull on the ground just standing there waiting for me to photograph it.

Adult Franklin's Gull Flying - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Franklin's Gull Flying

This is how they usually appear to me, although not always quite so vertical.

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April 17

First Sight - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

First Sight

Wandering down the hill from Winfrey, eyes out for the hawk I'd seen earlier along the Arboretum when I saw a familiar bump in a tree across the walking path toward the lake. I knew immediately it wasn't the little skinny one I'd seen earlier, but I was hoping it was an owl, though I've seen plenty hawks there on the way into Sunset Bay proper, and never even one owl.

A Little Profile - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Little Profile

Those big tail stripes were the big giveaway this wasn't just another (hate to say that, I love those guys) Red-tailed Hawk. Oddly enough, Red-tailed Hawks have red tails. At least the adults do.

Hawk Away - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hawk Away

Juvenile Red-tails have more subtly striped tails than this one does. Notice where the red is. Yup, it's a Red-shouldered Hawk, and we've seen them in the tall trees in and around the Hidden Creek area northeast of Sunset proper often. We [photographers] assume they live over there, they're such regular guests in the bay.

Hawk Farther - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Farther

If I'd been thinking hawk when I first saw what I wanted to be an owl, I would have asked for something more exotic, like that skinny thing I saw earlier, but I hadn't asked for a Bald Eagle when I saw that, either. I just take what I'm sometimes intelligent enough to notice in the trees or sky and hope I can get it in focus.

Into the Clouds - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hawk Into The Clouds

After it left the tree, I didn't do much of that. I got a long string of blurs as it faded into the clouds. This one out of about twenty hopeful shots sharp.

Purple Martin Majesty - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Purple Martin Majesty

Earlier I'd had big fun waggling the Rocket Launcher at littler (than a hawk) dark birds flitting around and up and down just off shore all the way from the Arboretum to Sunset Bay and probably all around the lake this cloudy darkish cool and sometimes wet day.

Fast Bird Odd Water - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fast Bird

I managed to miss most of them, snagging instead a long line of blurs. I wasn't at all sure what was being so much fun to try to photograph then, but now I think they're my first Purple Martins of the season. The Western variety of female Purple Martins have what Sibley refers to as a "prominent whitish collar" and are paler than the eastern ones. Since the West begins in Fort Worth, I'm never sure about those things.

The next most likely candidate for flitting about on our lake after bugs that change course mid-thought even quicker than the birds I was photographing today are Barn Swallows, but they have gold or red throats.

Fem Pur Mar - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fem Pur Mar

This is a Purple Martin of the female persuasion. And after awhile I started getting some of the flitters in some semblance of focus, but not every time and not altogether often. Just enough, I guess, to keep me going. I was literally laughing out loud trying to catch them in my long, narrow, rapidly slinging sights.

Martin Slant - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Martin Slant

And after all that, I was more than willing to settle for near focus.

Prancing Grackles - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Prancing Grackles

These handsome guys look like good buddies paralleling propped up tails, high stepping and beaks on their ways up.

Bumping Breasts - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackle Breast Bumping

Till I watched them do this a couple times. The only other birds I'd seen bumping breasts like this has been male Mallards. It must be a bird thing. After a few seconds of bumping, twice, they continued their parallel prance down the shore a ways.

Stripey Puffball - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Stripey Puffball

I was pretty sure it was a sparrow all along, but there's lots of those that tend to look very similar. I like D's I.D of them as Savannah Sparrows since I'd not known I was seeing them ever before, but I still had the sneaky feeling they're something more common. Of course I don't really know what's common or not. Yet.

But Betsy Baker does, and she says "actually, Savannahs are the most common species of native sparrow in this country. They're quite variable in appearance, too."

Cardinal on Wire - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Northern Cardinal on Wire

Though these guys are pretty common, too. But I always like seeing them. Always. So nice of Nature to throw in some birds that are easily identified.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with Head Up - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Head-up Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with its Head Up

I saw some more of these today, but since I'd gone all googly on them on Tax Day I really didn't need to today, too. But getting this shot of one popping its head this far up off its shoulders was a pleasant little surprise. Looking at this shot, I suddenly realized I had no idea of the differences between sexes on STFs. Turns out the only diff is that females' tails are 30% shorter.

No Mockingbird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Northern Mockingbird on a Warning Sign

I take a lot of photographs of Mockingbirds just perching there not doing anything interesting. I usually shoot them thinking the bird is something else, but often it is not. I rarely use those photographs because they're basically boring. This look may be just that, but the sign saves it.

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April 15 - The Stripers

 Yet Another Stripey Bird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Yet Another Stripey Bird - Yes, a Savannah Sparrow

Stripey birds give me fits trying to identify them. The bird above and the bird below look similar enough I sometimes think they're the same species, although their caps are different. Upper's is a dark stripe, lower's looks lighter with a twinge of green. Maybe up's the adult and down's the kid. I don't know, and I've looked.

What enchants me is that there's all these stripey birds in one shoot on one spring-like day. There were a couple others that day — I wanted to put everything all together in yester's journal entry, but then the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher shots were so amazing, I couldn't break them up with stripey birds I still hadn't identified.

May finally, thanks to readers, be identifying these top two as Savannah Sparrows. Se the Roysephotos reference D sent.

Little Stripey Bird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

First Winter White-throated Sparrow

I could go on and on about the similarities and slight differences between these top two stipey birds, but I've been too busy moving DallasArtsRevue from the old host to a sparkling new one, I haven't had a moment's pause to do birds. I might finally be dropping back a bit on the birds. Oh, I'll still have as many pictures, just they'll be broken up over more entries. I might actually do the three times a week I promise near the top.

Betsy Baker of the Dallas Audubon Society to the rescue. "This one, with the rather grayish bill and the yellow legs, I think is a first winter White-throated Sparrow."

I thought it looked different. Thanks, Betsy.

Another Stripe Bird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Stripey Bird with Big Beak - Female Red-winged Blackbird?

Well, I found some more Fighting Scissor-tailed Flycatcher photos from today and have added them into the mix below. Reader and friend D thinks this is a female Red-winged Blackbird, and so did I when I shot it, just it looks so different from those that usually look so dark.

Two More Stripers - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two More Stripers - Female Brown-headed Cowbirds,

I'm also holding back a wonderful, silly, goofy series involving two white ducks, one might be a male, the other is probably a female, along with two male Mallards who were ripping it up at Sunset Bay today (April 15th — something about Tax Day got me all excited to find beautiful birds and ducks doing dizzy things.) and I'll add the duck series soon as I can figure out how it goes together most intelligently. Chronological doesn't always tell the whole story in a broken series of photos.

These are Brown-headed Cowbirds, But they are stripey birds, too, and that's landed them here today. Someone out there who knows, Betsy Baker, assures that yes, they are cowbirds.

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April 15

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Through the Trees

Most of today's journal entry is devoted to Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in peace, in war and looking for food.

A Single Scissor-tail - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Single Scissor-tile in a Tree

This bird is either resting up for what's to happen next or, since its tail is somewhat shorter, she is waiting to see who wins.

Three Scissor-tailed Flycatchers - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Three Male Scissor-tailed Flycatchers Very Much Aware of Each Other

Three Male scissor-tails in one shot is a new record for me. Notice how they're eyeing each other. Trouble's a brewing here. Or else maybe the littler ones below and looking up are females. They do seem to have shorter tails. In that case, the guy above is probably just showing off. If that is a guy above.

Two Scissor-tails - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Scissor-tails Showing Off

I couldn't hear what they were saying, but it looked tense.

Scizes About to Fight - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Near the Chase's End

Siztails Fighting in Air - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mid-air Negotiations

Another Sciztail Fight - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Beginning to Fight

Two Scissor-tailed Fighting - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Scissor-tails Fighting

Till they had at each other. Moving so fast, I was slow to catch on and the lens to acquire.

Scissor-tails Hunting - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Hunting

So now we'll follow along with several different Scissor-tailed Flycatchers as they go about their daily business of finding enough to eat.

A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Hunting - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hunting in the Tall Weeds

I need the practice catching them sharp and in focus, but I still love the action so much, I don't mind a few blurs as long as we can tell what we're dealing with.

A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Hunting - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hunting From A Tree

They were flying all over the place, near, far and usually ...

A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Hunting - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Spread-eagle in The Grass

Away into the opposite direction.

Hunting Over the Trees - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Catching Flies Over the Trees

Over the trees ... [I later learned that female STFs have shorter tails, as this one seems to, so perhaps it is a female.

Scissor-tail Hunting Under the Wire - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hunting Under the Wire

And under the wires ...

Scissortail Flying After A Bug - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flying After a Bug

And through the air high above ...

Scissor-tail Waiting for a Bug to Appear - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Waiting for a Bug to Appear

Or at rest.

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April 14

 Yellow-headed Blackbird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Yellow-headed Blackbird at Winfrey Meadow

As usual, I see orange and black, and I assume it's an oriole. Told Anna that's what I saw today. But it doesn't look like any of the orioles in any of my books, so I start paging for just that configuration of blacks and oranges or yellows. And found a Yellow-headed Blackbird.

I didn't even know there were Yellow-headed Blackbirds. My new Peterson's shows no Yellow-headed Blackbirds in Texas, only New Mexico west down across Mexico then north into almost California in the winter and the Northwestern states in summer.

Betsy Baker adds that "they only pass through and don't stick around."

Yellow-head and Friends Flap - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Yellow-head and His Entourage in Rapid Escape Mode

So I go back to my Lone Pine book of Birds of Texas that I bought at the little bookstore in Quinta Mazatlan in South McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley, and I think it shows this same bird migrates through almost all of Texas, including here. So they're just visiting. Flying through.

Jason, another reader who helps me with identifications, says "Your yellow-headed blackbird photos are spectacular. Amazingly, you saw that male in the same place I found one going the opposite direction last autumn." So Winfrey is Yellow-front Headquarters, twice a year.

Yellow-head & Friend - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male and Female (?) Yellow-headed Blackbirds

That settled, here are a few other photos I got of him and his entourage. Betsy says "The females look drabber than the field guides lead me to expect, but that bit of white in the wing of one of them, as well as the fact that it's in the company of a male, says it is indeed a female Yellow-headed Blackbird."

I was going to put his other comments on the Feedback page, when I realized I don't have a feedback page anymore. And I haven't for a long time. Wonder where it went?

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Remember earlier this week when I saw a Western Kingbird and naturally asked if a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher could be far behind? Well, here it is. I'm sure there'll be lots more in that falling meadow that surrounds the Winfrey Building. The green ones on the sides are teeming with new spring life and colorful birds. The glorified, official meadow up Lawther Drive from the Arboretum area is still brown and near lifeless, although I saw some Grackles fighting royally.

Grackle Bill-up Display - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great-tailed Grackle Bill-up Display

Until I got Blue stopped and safely parked. At which time the Grackles engaged in some 'Bill-Up Displays" then dispersed. This display often precedes a battle. This time it followed one.

Red-winged Blackbird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird of Indeterminate Age

I think I know it's a Red-tailed Blackbird. Probably some time in his first year of existence, but those tan- and white-outlined wing feathers are throwing me. Handsome bird, though, and those outlines are very distinctive.

A Downside Uppy - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Downside Uppy

Or was that a upside Downy Woodpecker? I keep seeing these flitty little birds, and I keep following them around their chosen trees. Great fun, though I've learned I no longer so utterly fascinated I shoot hundreds of exposures. Nope, this time I only got about twenty when I gave up and looked for something new.

A Half-mast Leaning Downy - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Half-mast Leaning Downy

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A Bluejay - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blue Jay Flyby

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The Noble Brown-headed Cowbird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Brown-headed Cowbird Looking Handsome

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The Noble Starling - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Noble Starling

Last week I called a Female Red-winged Blackbird a Noble Starling, but this time I've got the right bird. Despite its dreadful reputation as a bona fide nuisance, this is one gorgeous bird in bright early springtime sunshine. Gorgeous.

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April 12

Little Blue Sentry - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Sentry

Most Little Blue Herons I've known tend toward shyness. This one was on the top of everything and in plain sight, at some distance, though not too far for a Rocket Launcher.

Egret Fly Through - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egret Fly-through

While I was standing there photographing the it, other birds flew by. Took a while to catch one even this close.

Egret Guest - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

 Big White Visitor at the Top

Then a real bird — all those others are just ghosts —

LBH with Ghostly Eeg - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Real Great Egret with Little Blue Heron

landed right next to the Little Blue. For awhile they just stared at each other. Eventually, the white one flew away.

Little Blue Heron with Spiritual Awakening - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron with Spiritual Egret Awakening Issues

Later, the Little Blue Heron manifested its Inner Cattle Egret, and that flew away.

Little Blue Heron with Cattle Egret Ghost - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egret Ghost with Little Blue Heron

Whoosh!

 Little Blue Heron with White Ibis Flythrough - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron with White Ibis Fly-through — More Ibis below

I was already surprised to be photographing a Little Blue Heron in broad daylight. The blurred birds flashing by made it more fun, but imagine my surprise when I managed to capture this with one of them actually in focus. I didn't know who was flying over, I just saw something white whizzing near, and I went click. Would have been even nicer to capture the Ibis sharp, but a gift is a gift.

Angel Wings - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Angel Wings

Speaking of surrealism, here's a big white bug in a wedding veil.

Wooly Worm - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Big Wooly Worm

And a big fuzzy-wuzzy feather worm rising up out of the green.

Worm Head Emerging - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Worm Head Emerging

An eye appears among the fuzz.

Worm Head Revealed - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Worm Head Revealed

Egads! It's a breeding Great Egret.

Ice White Egret - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ice White Egret

White against the palest of pale blue skies.

The Rookery's New Screen - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Rookery's New Nearly Invisible Screen  (back up to the new, new screen)

The rookery's new screen, easily showing two egrets and one egret reflection in the pond. Egrets and smaller birds still gather in the area, but not for as long as no dogs or humans are in sight — much easier than when the trees were there blocking the view. Do you suppose the dufus who didn't think anybody would notice when he got the trees chopped down thinks birds can't see through or over a four-foot sheer screen fence?

Sunset Egrets Comin' In - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sunset Egrets Commin' In

Toward late evening the hoards started flying in. Egrets en masse and Little Blue Herons and even smaller unsubs in twos and ones.

Little Red Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Red Heron

I'm pretty sure this is a Little Blue Heron adversely colored by the setting sun. Gray + Amber = Brown. I watched hundreds of them fly over the basketball court into the rookery Sunday evening — I left around 7:30 pm — from the general direction of the Trinity River or Oak Cliff. I'm sure I shot more than fifty times to get these two in focus — light dwindles after the sun goes down, more where I was than where they were flying.

Little Blue Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Red-brown Heron

This looks more like a Little Blue Heron.

The TOP links work now, finally.  top

April 11 Part 2

Ibis Ready to Jump - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ibis Ready to Jump

Anna and I visited the rookery at UT Southwestern Medical Center Saturday a couple hours after we got back from Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation. Easily our most exciting subjects were about a half dozen White Ibises, which we photographed perched in high trees near the basketball court and later in great circles around the rookery from high above.

Two Ibises in a Tree - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Ibises in a Tree

Nice to see I'm getting better at this. Last time I photographed White Ibises (Anna says they are pronounced with a hard I as in I) was May 19 2007, also at the rookery. Either they're slightly less shy or I'm better at sneaking up, although the FB (flying bird) shots from then are better than today's.

Quarter View of Ibis with Parallel Curves - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Front Quarter View with Paralleling Curves

Although they may have been a little more active. Seems like they even posed for us awhile today, then grew tired of the game and flew off.

Ibis Turnaround - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ibis Bend Down Turn Around

Although it was nice to see a little of their dexterity.

Ibis Escape - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ibis Escape

This sequence is caddy-wampus, since I put the best shot on top. That White Ibis with its wings unfolding and its knees bent like it's gonna jump into the air, did just that. As shown above.

Ibises Flying Far - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ibises Flying Far

Later, from the top of the parking garage, we both shot a flock of birds we knew not quite what were at some distance. Mine seem closer, because I was using my Rocket Launcher 150-500mm lens, and Anna was using the Nikon 70-300mm zoom. Her shot, as you are about to see, is in much better focus, although I prefer mine's dark trees and building to this bright, light building.

Ibises Flying Around - Photograph Copyright 2009 by Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ibises Flying Farther

Nice to have the sharp focus, however. Especially nice to see red faces, black wing tips and trailing red legs this far away. A much better shot of the birds.

Egret Flying Closer - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egret Flying Closer

It's easy to photograph a Great Egret going away. That's the norm. To get one to fly toward me, is a challenge. Here accomplished by standing on the front, near the elevator, of the what? seven-story parking garage that overlooks the medical center and especially the rookery.

Angle Egret - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Same Egret Turning West Past the Photographer

All the more ethereal with a light blue sky and vague clumps of whitish clouds in the distance. Note once again, the vivid green lores (area around the eye, back from the beak) showing this angelic white bird is a Breeding Great Egret.

Early Saturday Anhinga - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Early Saturday Anhinga

Again, I'm putting my best shot first, although the various photographs that follow, taken in another quick succession, show differing aspects of this same bird. This first bird I saw today was an Anhinga, but it quickly escaped around a corner and behind the trees of the rookery.

Anhinga Flying Past a Building - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Anhinga Flying Past a Building

I wondered if I'd catch up with them again. And in a miracle of minutes later, I did. I suspect there's dozens more hiding in the trees. That fist one was close. Subsequent Anhinga sightings were ...

Anhinga Flying - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Anhinga Flying

...  at considerably greater ...

Anhinga Past Another Building - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Anhinga Past Another Building

... and greater distance.

Puff Ball in the Trees - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Puff Ball in the Trees

I'm pretty sure Anna, whose eyes are better, picked this out from the landscape.

Puff Ball Revealed - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Puff Ball Revealed As Great Egret

And this is the follow-up shot when the egret put his silken plumes down.

Treetop Population - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tree Top Population

There's hundreds of birds to be seen from this high up. I think I see one Little Blue Heron just right of center. A great deal more herons and egrets nest under the sunny side up top of the trees.

A Passing Pigeon - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Passing Pigeon

I don't usually photograph pigeons unless they're involved in one of their intricate mating rituals, but this one presented itself in an ideal format, and I couldn't pass it up.

Robin and Starling at Curb - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Robin and Starling at Curb

Likewise this small gathering at a puddle by a curb across the street and well down from our lofty perch.

Angry-looking BCNH - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Angry-looking Black-crowned Night Heron

Back down to the ground and shooting up into the birds in the trees.

BCNH Nose Warming - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

"Nose-warming" Black-crowned Night-Heron

I often see BCNHs in this posture, but they're usually on the other side of the Boat House Lagoon and about as high as this one, but so much farther away that I cannot adequately zoom in on and focus sharp. There must be more to the position that many birds share, one way or another, inserting their beaks into their feathers, than simply getting warm.

BCNH Crouching on a Branch - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

BCNH Crouching on a Branch

I'm especially fond of Black-crowned Night Herons with their rakish white occipital plumes fashionably swooping back. I looked up "occipital plume" thinking maybe I could add something to this discussion but came up instead with a page I had to be a member to access and one of my own pages simply mentioning an occipital plume (I love saying that) sticking up like an explanation point in a BCNH chase.

This is a much better photograph of such feathers swooping from the back of a head.

Step-down BCNH - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

BCNH Stepping Down

Excuse me while I share a visual story. I'd never seen a BCNH do this reaching down to the next laddering step down through the branchy trees they pick. Nice to see the wrinkles on its 'wrist' and 'elbow,' too. I'm looking up 'bird's wrist,' too. According to the What Bird Glossary, that word "refers to the base of the primaries in the bird’s wing. Although homologous in relative location to the human wrist, the bird wrist is not as flexible as the human wrist."

'Ankle' is not on the glossary. So my surmise once again misses the marks. Their wrists are in their wings, these are their feet, legs and toes, so the parts in question are knees and ankles.

Betsy Baker links us to an online drawing that doesn't use words like feet, legs or toes, but shows how birds' lower appendages are put together. She says, "Since birds walk on their toes, the joints I see are the joints that correspond to our toes' ball joints, heel and knee (covered by feathers near the top of the visible part of the extended leg). (I used to think birds' knees bent backwards before I learned this!)"

Snowy Fluffed - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Max Fluffed

Remember when I mentioned that Snowy Egrets seem to have the fluffiest feathers? Here's a case in point, with vivid red lores, too. An amazing sight. The next pic shows a Snowy with far fewer feathers fluffing. Then again ...

Those vivid red lores had me concerned about my I.D here. Sibley says that Snowy Egrets have bright yellow lores in April and May, so I searched through some more books. My new Peterson's doesn't show anything, but my trusty National Geographic Complete Birds of North America shows and says it's Snowies that have bright red lores in high breeding season, like this. Particularly puffy pic, eh?

I guess I've been particularly sensitive to misidentifying strange-looking birds in the rookery ever since I called a Tri-colored Heron there a Great Blue Heron.

Snowy In A Tree - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret in a Tree

I had identified this bird as non-breeding, but as Betsy Baker points out, "it has the red lores of a bird in breeding condition. In birding lingo, non-breeding usually means either too young to breed or not in breeding condition because it's not breeding season."

Altogether it was a great visit, the better so far this year, but we'll be back and back and back again. And tomorrow's report will include brief commentary and pictures of the new screen set up to partially replace the trees some dufus there ordered removed, even though some of those trees provided a natural visual barrier between the rest of the world and the inner sanctum of a pond near the edge of the rookery proper.

Unfortunately, the new 'screen' is more of a back-porch like screen you and I and they can all see right through, and not the opaque or translucent scrim that birds, the rookery and people who want the birds happy and/or calm need. Birds do gather there again, but soon as a human sees them, they see us and scram. Really, all the more this story needs is a photo of the current four-foot-high fence, but it's more artsy than practical.

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April 11

Sunning GBH on the Roof - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron (GBH) Sunning with Its Wings Spread Like Solar Panels

We visited Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation slightly south of here in Hutchins, Texas today. Where some birds are in protective cages and others choose to run wild. These are some that like it there enough to nest on top of a roofed-over cage. One of these has even selected its ideal nesting spot up there, as we shall see. Kathy Rogers told us that birds have a special need for Sunshine Vitamin D, and the GBH was getting it directly.

I had mistakenly identified this GBH as having its "legs spread like solar panels." Betsy writes, "I see you caught a GBH in what I call the Buddha pose. I've seen Yellow-crowned Night-herons in that pose as well. But those are its wings, not its legs, that are spread out — it's standing on its legs (those two dark stick-like things below the solar panels)."

Slender GBH - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

So Slender GBH

In the wild, GBHs are elusive birds, getting this close is a dream. If I had been particularly alert, I might have photographed it flying around over and down onto that roof, but I was still amazed that my precious GBHs had chosen to live on top of a cage of Black Vultures. Not that they are sworn enemies or anything, it just seemed ironic.

Caged Blue Jay - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Caged and Rehabilitating Blue Jay

Lots of other varieties scattered around, big and little birds brought to Kathy Rogers' extensive Rehabilitation Center for care, repair and feeding.

Roof GBH - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Roof GBH

But I kept going back to the majestic Great Blue Herons.

Turkey Float - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Bronze Turkey Named Tom

But there were also a variety of domestic and wild turkeys and many other species. This one, probably because its legs are hidden by all those feathers, looked like it was floating around via some sort of magical Neutral Gravity Unit.

Black Turkey - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dark Turkey

I don't know much about turkeys, except that when we discovered a wild bunch of them on the north face of the Grand Canyon a couple years ago, we felt blessed.

Turkey Parade - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Turkey Parade

Turkey Floats in the Turkey Parade. They followed us around, perhaps expecting food, although they did not wish to be touched.

Peacock Spread - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Peacock Spread

Here's another blessing of overabundance and color.

Sparrow Chicks in Kleenex - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Baby Blue Jays in Kleenex

In the front office, the Kathy and her staff care for the littlest and young birds who need constant attention.

Sparrow Chicks - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

House Finch Chicks Need Constant Attention

Rogers will take any species.

Barn Owl Chick - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Baby Barn Owl

Baby Barn Owls should be called owlets. There was an adult nearby but I seriously blurred my shot of it in the gentle darkness of the office bird hospital. For this timid little one backed into he back corner of its darkish crate, I used flash, although I rarely do.

1995 Cattle Egret - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

1995 Cattle Egret

Kathy Rogers described this guy as "the 1995 model," so it's been there a long time.

Kathy Rogers with Cattle Egret - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Kathy Rogers with an Egret  named Norman

Long enough to become quite friendly with Kathy and the staff. Norman originally came from the rookery at UT Southwestern Medical Center, which we visited afterwards. Stories and photos from there will join this journal Monday night or Tuesday.

Kathy Rogers with Egret - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Kathy and Egret Close-up

Very friendly.

Little Blue on Cabinet - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue on Cabinet

Also running around the office — I didn't see it do much flying, although that may have been involved in its ascent to the top of the cabinets — was this marvelous (I get all goodly-hearted around herons and egrets, especially if they've been injured or sick.) Little Blue Heron, my FOS (First of Season).

Yellow-crowned Night Heron up there, too - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron Up There, Too

I saw a wild pair of Yellow-crowned Night Herons in the Fitchery recently [below], but getting this up-close and personal with one was a charming experience. I probably could have touched it, but I thought it'd be better not to frighten it, and taking its photograph would be more meaningful.

Pheasant? - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pheasant? Nope, it's a Guinea Fowl

I think I remember this cage was marked as holding pheasants, but I don't know my pheasants even as well as I don't know my turkeys, or your turkeys, either. Now that I know what it really is is, I remember photographing some similar Guinea Fowl at the Dallas Zoo last April. Below that one is another, quite different species of Guinea-Fowl.

{When linking to other Journal pages, it's usually a good idea to link it to a new tab and give the page time to download.}

Red-tailed Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-tailed Hawk

I knew this guy immediately. Again was amazed it didn't hide from me. I suppose it's over being hidey from any human, which may mean he has to stay at the center. But I don't know a lot about the birds there. Kathy talked about releasing her now rehabilitated pelicans, and I know she releases many birds every year.

I'd love to photograph one of those momentous occasions sometime.

Canada Goose - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Canada Goose

Resting on the lawn near the once filled pond — with water and many avian species. Now the pond is nearly dry, so there's no swimming or splashing out there, and fewer species gathered round than last time we saw it.

Snow Goose? - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snow Goose?

Except for the eye patch, which may be its injury or a molt or something, this matches the pictures in my bird books for Snow Gooses.

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April 10

 Strange Gulls Gyring - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Strange Gulls Gyring

Driving down Lawther past the Arboretum on my right I look up to see a couple dozen of these. They didn't register as gulls. Probably because they don't resemble our usual variety, the Ring-beaked Gulls. I guess it was their different behavior that got me to stop and get out of Blue and try to capture them rather too high above.

Gulls Bigger - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gulls Bigger

This is a crop. From what I could see, all I knew was they were flying in all directions. More like a mob than something organized. Here we can tell they are gulls with black heads and black tips of gray wings with a white spot near the end. That should suffice to set these apart from all those other black-headed gulls. I hoped.

A Dark Headed Gull - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Not Exactly Sharp But A Gull with Almost Enough Detail to I.D. It

Looking at the new bird book's page of similar, Small Hooded Gulls, I see it's not a Laughing Gull, not a Sabine — ignoring for the moment that their maps say they belong somewhere else anyway — not a Black-headed, Not a Bonaparte's and not a Little Gull, and if its beak were orange, they would definitely have been Franklin's Gulls. But their beaks are black as their faces.

Oh, drat, yet another mystery bird. Why can't they wear little signs?  So my guess is they are Franklin's Gulls — no other hooded gulls have that black-striped wing tip with white on the tippy-tip, and I've just got the beak color wrong. Besides, the maps show them in north central US and south central Canada in summer and nowhere at all now.

Betsy Baker agrees, saying they "have a very distinctive wingtip pattern of white/black/white, as well as the white trailing edge to the wings and black heads of breeeding plumage Franklin's Gulls.

My First View - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

My First View

It wouldn't turn around, so I backed Blue up the hill a bit. Already I was guessing Kingbird, with that yellow underside.

Yellow-bellied Bug-catcher - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Let's Call It a Yellow-bellied Bug Catcher Catching Bugs

But it's a Western Kingbird, even if the new book shows its yellow a lot tamer than these pictures shout it.

Western Kingbird Flying - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Western Kingbird Chasing a Bug

I was looking up at it, only slightly angled below the wire, about as close as I could get without spooking the bird, getting pretty good detail when it stood still, but actually following its sudden leaps off the wire after a bug. No way I could wag cam and lens around that fast so I just pointed them where I thought the bird would be. And got several almost in focus.

Western Kingbird From Top - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Western Kingbird from Top and Front

Wings sharp, which is very nice, face blurred, because it's small, wire sharpest of all, because it's right there.

Western Kingbird Landing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blurred Flap Landing

I always want the first one I see each season to be a Tropical Kingbird, because that species is so much yellower than the variety we get in early spring.

Best Kingbird Portrait - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Best Kingbird Portrait

With everything sharp, I can see the line from beak trailing back through its eye. Dead giveaway for a Western Kingbird. No other Kingbird has that, and this has that, so this is that. Right? Can Scissor-tailed Flycatchers be far behind?

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April 9

Two Woods on Wood - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Two Wood Ducks on Wood Duck Wood

Way too early — I was hoping for a heron, either Great or Little Blue — and way too dark for decent photography, so I cranked up the ISO and shot sometimes awful slow. We were visiting out-of-town artist friends, so I was on the pier at Sunset Bay at 6:30 — I thought it was 7:30.

Wad of Woodies - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wad 'o Woodies

I never even saw a heron, although egrets figure in today's scenario. So do a total of 18 Wood Ducks, more than I've seen together anywhere ever. Maybe they're there every morning, maybe the nasty gray clouds brought them out of hiding.

Wood Duck Escorts - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Her Escorts

And one female.

Around One Her - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

12 Males and 1 Female

Lots of action going on. Little guy on guy chases. Splashing around. Flapping and crowing. I picked my shots. Zero depth of field. Not much stopping any action. Notice who's in the big middle of it all.

Bodyguards - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bodyguards

She was well protected, if she needed any. Most wood duck females I've seen and photographed did just fine on their own.

Somewhere, there's a pic of her giving some other ducks what for, but I can't find it. Instead, I found a lovely sequence of a female Wood Duck teaching her kids how to climb stairs. Her being teacherly, instead of protective.

Woods on Wood - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Woods on Wood

These guys were a little closer, although out of about fifty shots, I never got both of them holding still at the same time. Sunlight would have let me get both sharp. This is available darkness, corrected so their white parts show white, hence the purple log.

Little Brown Birds - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Brown Birds

I know, I know, they are female Red-winged Blackbirds, which is sorta why they are here, transitioning from Wood Ducks to egrets through RWBBs and, of course, the three shovelers. But they all really really really are Little Brown Birds, and I love 'em. LBB no longer a disparaging word. Thanks, all, who complained.

RWBB Crow - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-wing Blackbird Crowing

'Tis the season for male Red-winged Blackbirds to perch on something tallish and build their breath till they can push it all out of their throbbing bodies to announce their existence and territory. I like that a silhouette of a bird with only three areas of smallish details is so obviously what it is.

Three Northern Shovelers - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Three Northern Shovelers

Almost missed them among so many similarly colored Mallards, but three shovelers in a row.

Cattle Egret on the Edge - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret on the Edge

Meanwhile on the other side of a lake following a tip from a fellow photographer, I found egrets. Zoom a little closer and I see these are Cattle Egrets in high Breeding colors.

Cattle Egret Jump - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret Jump

Soon as they saw — or heard — me, they jumped into the air and flew a ways down the shore.

Great Egret Dance - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Dance

Two great egrets dancing into a one-foot landing nearer me.

Eeg Edge Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Eeg Edge Dancing

Little bit of a two-step on a rock on the edge.

Big-foot Eeg on the Edge

Big at both ends. Long straight beak and long legs with big feet. Nobody's quite like the Great Egret.

Dripping Left Turn - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dripping Left Turn

Jump dripping into the air, decide once it's up there which way to fly.

Eeg Sling Left - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

V Turn

And fling off there.

April 8

Return of the Upside Downy - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Return of the Upside Downy

Hate to give away such a stirring theme in a caption, where I know everybody who reads anything on a blog will see it when I could have put it in this text text, that a lot fewer folk will read. I really wanted to lead off saying that, "Return of the Upside Downy," complete with a big red capital R. But I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

Upside Downy Again - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Upside Downy Again

Anna came up with the words,"Upside Downy," and it was perfect, except now that I've got my new bird book I'm not absolutely convinced it's a downy. Only way I could even be fairly sure is that Betsy didn't call attention to it when she reviewed this journal recently. So maybe it is a downy.

Upside Down Cake - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Upside Down Again

Ah! Thanks to the new book, now I'm pretty certain this is a downy, so I can have used the phrase earlier in today's journal, after all. Whew. Good thing. I'm not sure what kind of tree this is, but this speedy little woodpecker that was so entranced with eating the tops off all those branchlettes today, he hardly even noticed me a scant ten or so feet away.

Hairy Faced Woodpecker -cpry

Hairy Bearded Downy Woodpecker

If it were a Hairy Woodpecker — the other likely choice on this map — it'd have a longer beak. Again, I don't really I.D birds till I get them in focus and on my monitor at home. Too late to decide whether to photograph it again.

Note the scraggly beard that helps it catch bugs. That is not pictured in the bigger pictures in my new book or the itty-bitty images in The Sibley Guide to Birds, but it is clearly shown in the even larger drawings in my old favorite bird book, the Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas.

Fluffy Downy Blur - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fluffy Downy Flying Away Too Fast to Focus on its Face

All of which is the beginning of a much longer explanation for me having at least seven big birds books I regularly use to help I.D the birds I don't know. Plus at least three or four more I look at from time to time. Not to mention various websites.

Wonder what the heck I'm talking about? Visit the bird I.D reference somewhere below.

Blue-winged Teal - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blue-winged Teal Pair

Sometime after I shot this and several other pictures of one or the other or both of these ducks, I watched a male BwT fly across the bay. I knew it was something different, and that I'd have a clear shot of it if I'd raise my camera, but I was more interested in that moment in what bird it was and how beautiful it was than taking a photo of it. Guess I'm at heart, or at least at eyes, more of a bird-watcher than a bird photographer. I don't like admitting it, but it's true.

Red-winged Blackbird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Red-winged Blackbird

I'm pretty sure this is a Red-winged Blackbird. I can see the red and yellow and maybe even the white on his right wing. What separates a Red-wing from a Tri-colored Blackbird, besides the colors and the shapes and sizes of the colors, is that Red-wings are all over the U.S., and Tri-colors are only in Old and New California.

Snowy Egret - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

SoS Snowy Egret at the lake

Second of Season. Note the big yellow feet on the end of its long black legs and long black bill with yellow lores. Great Egrets, which are somewhat larger, have yellow beaks and black feet. If you see an egret at the lake, it's probably a Great Egret.

Snow Talking - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Talking

I was so busy holding my camera in a vertical position to get more bird bigger in the frame, I didn't notice it talking. I don't remember any sound. There may not have been any. Can't see it's distinctive feet here, and the inside of its black beak is red. Maybe it's coughing up little blobs of water.

Portrait of a Snowy Egret - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Portrait of a Snowy Egret

Snowies have more fine feathers through all the seasons than the Great Egrets (who have a lot more on their bodies in spring) or the Cattle Egret during any season but spring. Snowies are whom I often refer to as Mr. Fluffy, because they pop up all their fine feathers when they're bullying other birds — egrets and herons — for a place to hunt for food or the food (primarily fish) itself.

I saw but only photographed boringly two pelicans out on the logs in Sunset Bay this morning. They were gone by evening when I actually visited that bay without a camera. We don't know where they were. They didn't leave a note.

I get so much more detail when I shoot with my 12-megapixel Nikon D300 than with that puny, but quiet, eight-year-old, 5mp Sony F707 I used below, yesterday.

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April 7

 One of the Last Two Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One of the Last Two Pelicans in Sunset Bay

Was getting a little soft-headed nostalgic about my old, quiet, Sony F707 last week, so I found the sucker, plugged it in to charge up the battery, and see what it could do. Compared to the Rocket Launcher, the Sony's 5x zoom is limpid, and the camera is painfully slower than my Nikon, and using it was a pain.

Of course, I hadn't used it in a couple years, so it took a long time — and Anna's help — to figure out what to do with it. All the words had long-since rubbed off the main dial, so I missed it entirely..

There's also some new pictures a ways below that are new here from the week before. Photos that were shot on my good camera with the longest lens and have lots of detail and color.

The Last Two Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Last Two Pelicans

So we went to Sunset Bay to see what I could do with the silly thing and be social with The Bird Squad. Where I spied a male Wood Duck I never got close to getting an adequate shot of, thanks the the Sony's slow reaction and pitiful response times. I almost immediately began missing the Nikon.

The difference is that with the Nikon I see everything that happens except when it's taking a shot. With the glorified Point-and-Shoot, once I shoot, I have to see that shot for a couple seconds until the cam's ready to try again, and by then the target has moved on to new habitats.

This one looks young, and it doesn't have the nose (er... beak) fin, so I'm guessing it's comparatively young, and maybe even it was left in the older pelican's care when everybody else left this last week or so. I figure there's families all over Dallas who are really going to miss their "storks" at White Rock Lake.

That's the most often cited species for these American White Pelicans. I've heard so many fathers and mothers carefully explaining to their kids that's what these long-beaked birds are, storks.

Red-winged Blackbird Eating from a Pan - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird eating from a pan of water-softened bread

It's a brave bird for getting up close and personal with both human beings of the Bird Squad and all the dogs, caged birds and wild, tame and domesticated gooses gathered up near the road (Lawther Drive) up from shore.

Grackles, coots and ducks soften bread by soaking it in the drink, why not Red-winged Blackbirds taking it direct? Not the Sony's significantly lower quality image and its near detail-less ness.

Duck Pair -cpry

Duck Pair

If it was moving or would likely move by the time I got close enough to shoot a detailed image, the Sony might render and almost good enough shot, though it'd still be soft and not nearly as color saturated.

Muscovy Shake - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Muscovy Shake

I wish this shot had more shining details, but the colors are exquisite, the exposure — left on Automatic, because the viewfinder is so washed out it's impossible to detect what kind of exposure it would have — was left on full automatic. And that's pretty darned good.

Next time I'll break out the egregiously loud Nikon.

April 6

Egret in a Nest - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret in a Nest

We visited the Southwestern Medical School Rookery Sunday — and I'll be back. We'd hoped to see Anhingae. Anna saw one, but neither of us got shots. A friend saw several last week, and I'd got excited about shooting them here with the lens I didn't have last year this time.

The rocket launcher made these shots a lot easier — although this early in the season while the rookery population is still low, they tend to park themselves deeper in the thicket, and that's probably where the exotics are, but next time I'll have to spend a lot more time there to figure out where all the non-egrets are in the thicket.

Great Egret Finery - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Finery

These fine feathers are what got egrets nearly hunted out of existence when fuzzy feathers on women's hats were high fashion. You can probably see the allure. Fellow egrets sure pick up on it. Note the green lores on the fuzzy out of focus eeg in the foreground. That's another sign of Egret Spring.

Egret with a Stick - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egret with a Stick for Its Nest

And this is another. That's a big honking bird with a big honking stick, which it will weave into a large nest like the one in the top photo today.

Egret Flying Past a Building - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Past a Building

This is where I photographed Angingas last time I was able to get even this close to them at our local rookery (at the bottom of the May 2008 Journal and the time before that at the bottom of April 2007). Today I saw one Little Blue Heron but only as a quick blur past the bird I was trying to photograph.

Snowy FOS - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

FOS Snowy Egret

My First-of-Season Snowy Egret with its feathers down, unfortunately. I waited for it to spring them up, but no go today. I will return with hopes of Little Blue Herons, Anhingas and maybe even an Ibis or two.

Starling Flying - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Texas Starling Flying Over

With all the exotic possibilities, this rather ordinary mortal is who I got one of the more action-packed shots of. They're called European Starlings, even though they came from Asia, so I figure this must be a Texas one.

BCNH Losenge - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crowned Night Heron

These guys are among my favorites to see and photograph. Bullet-plug-shaped in this position, I've missed photographing them as much as I used to across the Old Boat House Lagoon — probably because I'm rarely up in the early morning when these supposedly night herons are. Sibley, I think it was, says they are "primarily nocturnal," and so am I.

BCNH in Tree - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

BCNH in a Tree

But this is bright, blazing, broad daylight, and though they do tend toward shade and thus are much more difficult to photograph, these ain't night shots. Handsome little fifth cousin of a penguin, with wings.

Shadetree BCNH - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Shade-tree BCNH

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Earlier

 Aggressive Gooses - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Aggressive Goose Goes Low

Sometimes I manage to miss the opportunity to use perfectly good images that just don't happen to fit into the rant of the moment or don't make sense in whatever context I've created, or that I simply overlook. These are some of those.

Coot Running on Water - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

When a Coot Runs on Water, They Call it Skittering

I discovered in a book Anna found at Half Price on Northwest Highway — Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America — for only $10, that is the latest edition (I was wrong before, today it's available from Amazon for only $10.49 as "a bargain book — and I bought one of eight on April 8 for $10.50 — that the word for coots, when they swim so fast in the water that they can get up and start running on it, is "rafting." It looks like rafting, but I think there should be a better word for it.

Peterson calls this action that I've heard called Coot Scooting "skittering," and the word simply means going fast, which a lot of non-skittering birds do, too.

Coot Gathering - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coot Gathering

These guys gathered the day the bunch of them further out were taking turns standing tall, staring each other down then tusseling briefly. It didn't fit with that story, but I still like the photo — coots standing around, like at a party, with lots of detail everywhere but their eyes. An informal moment with four-and-a-half coots.

Last of the Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Last of the Pelicans

This was late last week, or earlier this when I thought these may be the last pelicans not to fly north and west from here to where they breed and raise young, then come back here six months later. I especially liked the white, white pelicans with their bushy little heads against dark gray and black everything else in sight.

Mallard Pair - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mallard Pair

It is generally considered that male ducks are prettier and more colorful. But hidden away on females are great bits of beauty. Here he looks rather drab, while she flashes that gorgeous purple on her wings, not to mention the herringbone pattern over her body.

Pelican Over - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Over

Nostalgia for when there were always a big bunch of American White Pelicans immediately available for remarkable photography — them flying over, preening in place on the sand bar, jostling each other in the big crowd there or swimming or bathing or whatever. I miss them already.

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Last Week

Two Nesting Keets - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Nesting Parakeets Keep Watch at the Lawther Electric Substation

Started paying more attention (again) to the Monk Parakeets in The Big Hum when a friend linked me to a story about Oncor snatching parakeet and their eggs and carting them off to live happily ever after somewhere Oncor did want them.

Parakeet Fly Through - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Monk Parakeet Fly-Through

Where they took them from was a Dallas electric substation, and where they stuck eggs and birds was Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation near Hutchins south of here.

Another Branch for the Nest - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Branch for the Nest

I always have my doubts when a big corporation says it's doing something to protect Nature. I know Oncor chops down trees after they'd promised a blue streak they wouldn't (happened in the beaver portion of the Fitchery a few years ago, probably will again.),

Keet Flies Past Disks - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Keet Flies Past the Big Bad Disks

Then after the trees that were in their way were gone, they apologized publicly, knowing that would help their corporate image. They did not plant new trees.

Standing There Staring - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Standing There Staring

I think they do what they do when they want to, go hang anybody or any species that gets in their way.

A Burgeoning Nest - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Burgeoning Nest

I've long suspected the electric company dismantles the extensive parakeet nests at the Lawther Substation, but I'd have to keep watch there all the time to find out. Maybe big winds do it. Maybe the parakeets tear down heir own nests from time to time. I don't know.

Bringing More Nest Materials - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Delivering More Nesting Materials

I know there's a stained sign on the fence at the White Rock stations stating, "Monk Parakeet Habitat Coexisting with TU Electric (now Oncor) Habitat maintained in consulatation with the Dallas Museum of Natural History & The Dallas County Audubon Society." I guess they didn't want to coexist with the birds on Garland Road in an otherwise very very very similar situation to the one at White Rock Lake.

Weaving Nest - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Weaving New Materials Into a Growing Nest

And if they keep getting good publicity for stealing babies and eggs out on Garland Road, what will they try with these guys they've been wanting rid of for years?

Matrix for Nest Extensions - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Matrix for Nest Extensions

I wonder.

Keets Flying Through The Hum - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flying Through The Hum

I call it "The Hum," because it hums. I visit fairly often, and I've never seen electrocuted bird bodies littering the landscape. To learn about the electric companies' side of this issue and keet nests size, tune in to Wildlife Outages.

Dove in The Hum - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dove on a Hum Aerial Pipe

And green Monk Parakeets aren't the only species that likes to be in The Hum.

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April 3

 YCNH in the Swamp - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron in the Swamp

Had one of those feelings I call inklings as I turned off the main path into the swampy woods in the Fitchery today. A good feeling. Couple days ago I went all the way around the lake without any shots worth showing, and there were a lot more leaves on the trees in the swamp that I had planned for, meaning it would be easy for birds to hide, and they mostly did.

YCNH Full - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron - Full View

So imagine my startled surprise when I was carefully picking my way down one of those undulating paths through vines, and brushes, trees and gaping holes in the path that drop down into the swampy water, and there starkly bright in the direct sun was a Yellow-crowned Night Heron. They appear bluish in shadow, but there were no shadows today.

Actually, there were two herons. A pair I suspect, but I didn't see the other one till it started flying through the swamp trees, shrubs, etc. I shot wildly, wildly hoping, but I didn't get anything. Soon as the other one flew off toward the other side of the poond, so did this one. A good reflex around a noisy human.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Yellow-crown Looking Left

The YCNH flinched noticeably at each shot after the first several. I think of the noise my camera makes as "clicks," but they are really ker-plunks as the mirror flips up in the black box of the camera, the shutter opens, and the mirror clunks down, all in a fraction of a second.

My old Sony F707 — and for that matter, its replacement, my Canon S5 IS, both "ProSumer" point-and-shoot cameras, were utterly silent, something no Single Lens Reflex camera quite manages. I miss the quiet and am hoping one of the new non-reflex (no mirror bounce), interchangeable lens cameras will be as good as mine, but quiet.

If these herons hadn't heard my camera ker-plunking, maybe I — standing in silent awe of seeing a Yellow-crowned Night Heron here at all, and my first of this season — eventually would have noticed the other Yellow-crown and maybe got both their pictures together, although it probably wouldn't help me crash through the jungle any quieter, like when I scared what I think was a Little Blue Heron today while I was attempting to stay on the path and not fall into the swampy soup.

April 2

 The Coot Challenge - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Coot Challenge

So windy I had to hold my long lens against a tree so it wouldn't blow off subject, although it still did that a couple times, just not nearly as often as hand-holding it alone, when we were both vibrating. I was looking vaguely out at the Coot's new sandbar when I noticed two of them standing up every minute or so in differing parts of their new island to face off.

Doh See Doe - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Doh See Doe

I wasn't sure exactly what happened next, but my camera/lens can often clear up these too-far-for-the-J R-to-focus mysteries. They weren't dancing the Virginia Reel, there was genuine animosity involved. Probably some fear, too. From where I stood, it looked like a tussle. But the whole sequence of standing up tall, facing off, fighting, then blending back into the crowd took only a few seconds each.

Encounter - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cooty Encounter

It's spring and they're probably in discussion about who's the better, stronger, faster, meaner or whatever male or mate. The mini melee was way too subtle to see what or whom they were fighting about.

Discussion - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Stare

I understand why it's sometimes called a "pecking order."

Growl - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Growl

In this sequence, first the right one, then the left one, then the right one again seemed more dominant, at least it stood taller. I'm thinking they may be males. I couldn't see from where I was way up on shore attached to my tree, but there's some claw flashing going on on the right.

Back Down - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Back Down (blur)

One of those moments when a big wind pushed the focus point off the subjects in question, but I think you can figure out who's the dominant one in this moment. All of these shots are small crops from much bigger full image frames.

Back Biting - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Back-biting Bird

And once it's cowed, the apparent winner take a big bite. I don't think this is grooming.

Squack - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Squawk!

I tried to keep this sequence framed about the same as these two American Coots start with what I assume was a squawking discussion — the wind was so fierce I probably could not have heard a chimpanzee screaming.

In Your Face - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

In Your Face

The coot on the right recoils ...

Back Down - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Back-down

... Then backs the other one back down.

Noble American Starling - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Noble American Unsub (for the moment)

After awhile I left the coots to their springtime bashing and found this noble ... uh .. unsub, which may be a Red-winged Blackbird.

Betsy Baker tells me this is not a starling as I assumed. She says it will take awhile for me to track down its real identify, but that he is a male. She also says my favorite book won't help, and I'll have to use my big Sibley.

My favorite book keeps changing. Right now it's the [See above.] Field Guide to Birds of North America, and it's true it wasn't as useful as Sibley's comparatively smaller images.

I really like that it's not a starling, thanks Betsy.

Maybe a First-summer Red-winged Blackbird. I wish I could see his wings, although that would've made it too easy.

April 1

Flight of the Grackle - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flight of the Grackle

I saw him coming a long way out from over the lake. I got him in sight and in focus and the focus followed him in this far, missing most of the early shots in this quick couple-second sequence. This is right on target and in focus.

 Barnswallow On Line - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barn Swallow On Line

So's this, but that's a lot easier when they are not flying like little banchees, shooting loop-de-loops after bugs. These guys looked tired, willing to rest while some idiot snapped their pictures.

Barn Swallow Stretch - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barn Swallow Stretch

Or stretched every fiber of their being, splaying out their tail feathers we rarely get to see.

Crow Down - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crow Down

On a roll, I photographed a crow looking downward or inward.

Cattle Egret in Sunset Bay - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret in Sunset Bay

Found a rare Cattle Egret in Sunset. They're common as dirt in fields around cattle — I've seen huge undulating flocks of them out in the boons. But usually they stay on the ground, hunt among bushes, not around bodies of water. I've only ever seen one Cattle Egret in Sunset Bay, and this may be the same one a couple years ago.

Mallard Fly By 1 - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mallards Flying

I'm still panning anything that moves, so happened to catch these colorful Mallards in  bright sunshine and in action, streaking across Sunset ...

Mallards Landing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mallards Landing

To land there. Splash.

Leg-licking Goose - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Leg-licking Goose

Most of these were shot from Dreyfuss, across Sunset Bay into the land mass known as Sunset. This goose was cleaning all its necessaries.

Ruddy Take-off 1 - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ruddy Take-off 1

Again, I shot, expecting to I.D later. They reminded me so much of running on water coots.

Ruddy Take-off 2 - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ruddy Take-off 2

And took their sweet time racing across the water, finally getting up air speed,

Ruddy Take-off 3 - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ruddy Take-off 3

And flying away toward downtown Dallas.

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All text and photographs copyright 2009 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without
specific written permission from the writer or photographer.

My favorite answer is, "I don't know." I am, after all, an amateur. I'm not kidding. I've only been birding for less than three years, although I've been photographing for 45 years.

Thanks always to Anna.

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