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Other Noteworthy Dallas Bird Photographers Robert Bunch Daniel S. Lim
Ibises in Sunset Bay below
Southwestern Medical School Rookery
April 29 2013
Haven't seen any babies or even any eggs yet, but we are ever hopeful that we will. Anna got shots of babies last year [now on my Herons page with babies of several other species) and I'm hoping I'll get some more this season. They sure are cute. If all I could find at the rookery was a Tri or two or three, I'd still go. But there's all these big, easy to photograph (telephotos help), beautiful birds, each and every one of which has a personality — er ... bird an ality — all their own.
I didn't go out of my way to just pick one of the egret species for this entry. Just happened these were what I think are the best of the shoot. I love that this fiery little bit of feistiness is looking down with such inquisitiveness. I seriously doubt it was looking at me, although one never knows with egrets. It was quite some distance up from me.
Note yellow lores (area around beak and eyes).
It's another Snowy Egret — orange feet, black legs, black beak. Great Egrets have black feet, yellow-orange beak. The gray mass at the top of this pic is a Tri-colored Heron not doing much interesting, at all. Note hot red lores on this Snowy. It's ready to mate and advance the Snowy Egret population.
I suppose if I'd been quicker I might have captured its head, also, but not this time. Almost a great shot ... No lores in sight.
I like the odd position and the way this shot is framed. I'm so glad to see one — the only — cattle egret I saw today. They are so showy in the rookery, and so utterly normal most other times. I hope to capture several more with major bouffant and strange crops and ... Well, just gotta keep going to the rookery with a fast, sharp lens. Today was a very decent start. I love Cattle Egrets doing almost anything but following cows around.
With big gray feet that are easily confused with brown branches of one of those gnarly rookery trees. Cute, cute, cute. This one's past true baby stage, but still, it's my first bird baby this season.
The black and white of it.
Amid all that fluff there's a big white fluffy bird with intentions of the next generation.
Was already exhausted, had planned a Saturday of utter leisure, maybe a couple movies, didn't even need to go beyond pajamas, but when Anna called inviting me to join her at the rookery, oh, why not? Always interesting to see who's not only there now, but who's willing to be seen. Lots of species in both categories today, bright, sunny with a blue sky. Yes!
My Lone Pine Birds of Texas calls this remarkably distinctive bird "one of North America's most plentiful wading birds," and we're lucky enough that some of them choose the med center rookery to raise young, although unlike another recent breeder here, I have not seen them inhabiting the Trinity River or White Rock Lake. Maybe we ought to offer them tax incentives or something, so they'll settle in.
I like the startled look up by the White Ibis at bottom left of this photograph. Another one? Actually, I have photographed and then counted more than 80 White Ibis flying over the med center — and what an amazing sight that is. I don't know where they go from here, but I'm always curious.
All today's shots were taken from the northern edge of the woods that is the rookery, in plain sight from the sidewalk around it. Ibis, it seems, are getting braver. In many seasons past, they seem to come from nowhere, staying hidden in the deep interior of the Southwestern Medical Center forest.
Anhinga, too, seem more brazen this year. I have often photographed them flying over and around the rookery, but I don't think I've ever seen more than one close enough to photograph at a time, and certainly not in the even remote company of White Ibis. This spring has been and I hope continues to be amazing for this bird photographer.
Those black blots are trees between them and me.
Two amazing birds in one long-shot photo. I'm impressed.
I'm a little sorry I didn't bring my 300mm chunk. Instead I carried the comparatively small 70-300mm lens that I used almost exclusively during the first two or three years of this bird journal. The chunk is substantially heavier, lately painfully so. The littler zoom is easy to handle, somewhere near featherweight, but not nearly as sharp. Oh well, can't win them all.
I'm hoping this actually is a juvie. I don't think I've ever photographed juvenile Anhingas before, and I'm really getting to like it.
Okay, time for a little knowledge from someone who knows these freshwater birds, Keith Arnold and Gregory Kennedy, authors of the aforementioned Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas: Their "ability to control its buoyancy makes it a stealthy hunter and an ominous presence in freshwater ponds and canals. With dense bones and easily waterlogged feathers, it swims almost completely submerged," with only its neck out of the water, hence its nickname, "Snake Bird."
I'm unused to photographing anhinga so easily. Maybe they'll get so used to us poking big black and tan and white and other probosces at them, that by the next time I visit, they won't mind getting a little closer, so I can capture much greater detail. A guy can dream...
More rookery pix tomorrow. Then I need a vacation for a couple days.
White Rock Lake
So I went back and tried it again. Hope you're not tired of seeing Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. Although I must admit, I may have seen enough Scissor-tailed Flycatchers for awhile, I was happy to invest about three hours yesterday into the supposedly natural meadow that leads up from what I used to call Arboretum Way to Winfrey Point, just photographing the very distinctive Tyrannus forficatus.
I say "supposed," because though The City has signs on it proclaiming it as a natural meadow, they mow it at least once a year, and truly natural meadows don't get mowed. God don't need no mowers. This is a beautiful and amazing to me photograph. It was a booger to get, and it is worth all the bother. Sometimes I impress myself. Usually I don't all that much.
I didn't get every thing I wanted — no sharp photos of them suddenly flying straight up after a bug — and I did get an awesome number of blurs, but overall, it was worth the trouble. I was using my big chunk of a 300mm lens, usually with a 2X extender, rendering the 300mm a 600mm lens. We're not talking equivalency here.
The 600's so-called 35mm-equivalence is 900mm — it says so right there in the EXIF (the exposure information file that's recorded with the image data and contains all sorts of data mostly of interest to photographers, shutter-speed, aperture, did the flash go off, distance, ISO, etc.) But we all know that's poppycock. Lenses have the focal length they were created with, and that number, often expressed in millimeters, has nothing to do with the size of sensor the lens shines its image upon. Just it's easier to relate to it that way.
It wasn't until I went back and got my clunky tripod that I could keep the cam and long lens steady enough to photograph fast-moving birds. It holds the 7.5 or so pounds out there, and I just point it and push the trigger.
It doesn't have a gimbal, and it isn't light. But if I loosen the left-right, up-down and tilt twist adjustments, it acts kinda like one, letting me change angle, direction and tilt pretty much at will, while the camera and chunk of a lens is still sorta-kinda supported. I can't let go, or it'd pitch forward, but I can move it where I want it. Someday I'll figure out what tripod I want to spend nearly a thousand dollars on, but for now this loosened-up $100 one works well enough.
The future expensive tripod will let my cam go vertical when I need it to, and will be light — well not as a feather — those things are amazing light and strong — but a lot lighter than the one I got, because it'll be made of carbon fiber or some such way-past modern material, not clunky old aluminum.
Jungle-hopping. By now you have perhaps noted that today's journal entry is presented in descending order of focus/apparent sharpness, which technically are two different effects, but they look pretty much the same. Blur blur.
Even with the tripod, most of my shots were about as blurry as this one. Those birds fly fast and change direction on pennies.
I did not get a sharp shot of one flying sideways or straight up, which they often quite suddenly do. I'm not too excited about schlepping the pod over rough countryside in the big middle of the city to maybe, on the off-chance, eventually accomplish in the next couple days — the combination of new exercises and lugging all that heavy stuff around had rendered a slightly sore back I don't want to feed the pain of. But this far was worth the time and effort. But I gotta stop for a little while.
Today's top shot is the best I've ever accomplished, so I'm happy with that. One. For the moment. Yesterday was a very busy bird day for me. There's a couple more species I concentrated hours of attention upon with photographic results, so I might fill up the journal days till the end of the month with that.
And, of course, I'll be at the lake most every week day. Way too many people there to seriously bird in the afternoons when I usually get up, since I work nights. Yesterday I visited the lake at least three times. After awhile I lost count.
Not exactly perfect focus, but not bad for such an elusive bird.
When they flew away that way, I at least got the trailing parts of them sharp.
They (there's a bunch) never once flew toward me. Not once.
I was just about to make a shot similar to the next one, when this one, jumped up slightly, turned around 180 degrees half-circle and landed on the top of that weed again. Amazing grace.
They never hold still long. They're always always busy scoping out the next fly to catch. Yum-yum, eat'em up.
Birds let me get pretty close when I'm driving in The Slider. If I were walking or standing, they'd be gone in a flash, but for some unfathomable reason, birds don't mind being approached by automobiles. Makes it easier for me when there are roads to where they are, but it's so odd. Kinda like that the primary defense method of a nine-banded armadillo is to jump up. Not a problem when there's no cars around, but on the highway, it can be an issue.
I put captions in lower case when I have no idea what species of bird is in the photo I'm captioning. Like this one, and I probably ought to know this one. He was elusive. Took about a dozen shots, before it being where I'm focusing happened to be at the same moment I was pushing the button. Click, and flick, it was gone again.
He's beautiful, and she's even more so, without all the gaudy colors.
For a long time there, I believed at least a dozen ibises flew into Sunset Bay, then spiraled downward depositing just three White-faced Ibises (a rarity) into the close-in bay proper. But I have no proof of that, and my memory in these things and others lately has been faulty. I remember wishing I had a zoom instead of the clunk, so I could back off and get more than just three birds at a time, but the clunk is very sharp and fast, so myeh.
The one other witness who was paying similar attention said he believed there were only ever three. And he could be right. Why else would only three of them settle? Except that I've seen dozens of Pelicans do much the same actions, then most of them fly off, leaving just a couple pelicans. And with my 300mm supposedly the equivalent of 450mm, it's hard to get as many as three big birds moving that fast, that close in one shot, so I have to go with what I can photographically prove.
There were three… The other photographer present said it was very unusual for more than three White-faced Ibises to arrive at White Rock Lake. I don't know that bit of history, but I'll happily go along. Makes sense. Here we have, as you will see, two adult breeding White-Faced Ibises and one, who usually seems larger than the others, of indeterminate age. I assume that other one is a juvenile, but I don't know exactly, although I've had my face in three of my best bird I.D books as I produced these images.
The third one is either another adult, only nonbreeding, or it's a 1st Year juvenile. I've seen Ibises at White Rock Lake before. I just did a Search My Sites Google Search and came up with two instances of Ibises I called White-faced, but these white faces seem whiter than those, so it's easy to imagine I was wrong. Way too easy.
Those may or may not have been White-faced Ibises, but I solidly believe all three of these are. The other photog, whose name I should know by now, though I don't think we've been introduced or introed ourselves, said so, clearly, at least three times. The two on the right are Adult Breeding White-faced Ibises. The one on the far left doesn't have nearly as white a white face, so I'm sure he's not an adult breeding one. That one is either an adult nonbreeding or the progeny of the other two, so they're traveling together as a family, econoclass.
According to The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior, which I haven't mentioned here in more than a year, says that unlike their cousins the White Ibises and Roseate Spoonbills, "White-faced Ibises that breed in the continent's interior winter in the southern United States and Mexico." Their other closer cousins "winter in Mexico and Central America."
When they've settled somewhere, they roost in one place and feed in another, flying back and forth daily. Once these arrived, they performed necessary preening, because they have probably already flown long and may have a ways to fly yet, then they nibbled on stuff they found in the mud out there. According to my Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas, this species "probes and gleans soil and shallow water for aquatic invertebrates, amphibians and other small vertebrates."
Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal and our new friends, the White-faced Ibises. I liked the White-faced on the right with its beak open, and especially compared with that big honker on the Northern Shoveler, who seems remarkably large for a duck.
After shooting these guys awhile at 300mm, I added the 2X Extender when I was pretty sure they were going to stay more than a few minutes, so I'd have time to go get it. I also brought my clunky tripod. With the extender, my lens becomes a nominal 600mm lens with the supposed equivalence to a 900mm, so on the images since three shots up I haven't had to blow them up so much — although it was getting much darker out there. It's an incredibly sharp lens, and it's designed to be used with that extender, so by this point I wasn't worried so much about hand-holding about eight pounds worth.
I tried to pay attention, so I could get shots of all three of them showing their beaks, since that's the most distinctive thing about them.
We'd hoped they'd spend a little more time, but we thoroughly enjoyed their brief visit, but all good things must end, they say.
And hope to see them again someday.
Off into the setting sun from Sunset Bay.
If the Great Blue Heron in Sunset Bay is the Bay Gray — and that's what I've been calling it for several years now, then this Tri-colored Heron who sometimes visits Sunset Bay might be called the Bay Tri. Good a name as any for the moment. Saw it here last year, and now I've seen it here this year. It flew past me while I was standing on my favorite place in the known universe today. It was cool, but I was in my shorts, because I'd just come from the Y.
I saw it well before I got the shot at the top of today's journal entry — of it heading for its favorite Sunset Bay hunting patch (far as I know) — I've photographed it there before. I hope to photograph it there again. Once exceedingly rare, they've been hatching in the Southwestern Medical School Rookery over the last three or more years, so we have many more than ever before this far north of the Texas Coast.
This is the best shot I got of it over there hunting. I know it'll be back, because I've seen it there before, and that little inlet — like so much of Sunset Bay — is a rich source of nutrients for a lot of different types of birds. If you see the Bay Gray, it's usually pretty far out into the Bay hunting fish.
I hope I didn't spook it, but there were lots of things going on around the bay today — picnics, dog walkers with several very inquisitive dogs, one of which really wanted to chase a catch him some birds. I dunno.
On the pier at Sunset Bay. Its mate, maybe, just behind it. It was there, when I arrived there first visit, and I told them I wouldn't bother them, so don't worry; I'll be careful and not wander over there. When I went off to photograph the Bay Tri (I really like saying that; I talk when I write words.), it was still there. But there was a guy wandering around the pier telling me I should photograph some baby ducks he saw there, and I suspect he scared the pigeons away.
I don't know if this one was hurting or ill or just resting. I figured it had the right to, but when I got back from photographing the Bay Tri, they were gone. And then I did photograph some cute baby ducks, which you'll probably see in tomorrow's entry.
Driving down my soothe span, where I turn off my radio or audio book and just watch the lake and anybody in it. Looking for something to photograph, yes, of course, always that. But I only look up into the trees overhead or in the directions of the lake. I don't even have to think about it anymore, but I avert my eyes from the dreaded parking lots where the arboretum used to be.
For a long time on this first trip to the lake today, I saw only Red-winged Blackbirds and grackles, maybe a gull out over the lake, but I was happy watching the lake's smooth undulations, a cool cool breeze swarming in The Slider. Then I saw a big, tall, black cormorant out there just on the edge of the lake. When I drove close enough to rest the cam and lens on the window sill, I saw exactly what it was.
Shopping Center at Mockingbird & Abrams
April 19 2013
I was enjoying a NSA (no sugar added; I always wonder how much is already there.) cup of Chocolate Chocolate froze yogurt in the parking lot in front of the grocery store and happened to notice a buncha birds sharing and fighting over a good-sized cone that kept getting smaller.
Start as in startle.
I like that it looks like she was jumping up and down, but I think she was landing after a very short flight.
I didn't zoom in, I cropped in.
I kept wanting them to be a little more active.
The Evil Eye. Guess there's no Fem Lib yet for grackles.
Great Greats in The Little Thicket
Don't think I've ever seen Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons occupying such near spaces before. So I had to sit there in The Slider parked in one of those lots along the Little Thicket end of Lawther. Actually, the City and others call it The Big Thicket, and maybe once it was, although the real one of those along the densely wooded east end of Texas puts White Rock's "big thicket" to shame.
These images are captioned with a great many Greats, probably too many greats. They're just bigger, not necessarily, better than the various other egrets, all of whom are also herons.
Great fun watching one or the other of this one GBH with a bunch of Great Egrets floating. I did not see the stead GBH frolicking in the air, but the Egrets were sure having a blast with the wind.
Looking utterly magnificent, maybe John J. Audubon or whomever else named this species saw it like this when it decided it would be the Great One.
I might have shot a shot like this before, but I don't think so. Leaning out The Slider's pilot window, I kept hoping for interesting species juxtapositions, but I shot when I thought I should, not when we'd achieved the correct juxta.
They look immediately close, but there weren't really, or else they'd both be in sharp focus, so I'd trade off focusing on the egret or the heron.
This was shot earlier, but since there's only that one GBH and no bright white egrets in sight I've relegated this image down here to the bottom of today's stack. I was already too close for a full height view of this Great Blue Heron, but just when I was about to see it do something really interesting — not quite, but close, and no I don't know what it was going to do — a family with a lot of picnic gear drove up, and parked directly in front of me, completely blocking my view. I couldn't believe it, but they probably didn't see me hanging out the front window, or they didn't care.
I'm sure the couple with a middle-sized kid also did not see the GBH on the nearby shore. When they bustled up the hill toward a picnic table, the heron took off and grumbled loudly. I agreed.
I so rarely get to photograph a single Great Blue Heron that I was audibly and visibly upset for a few minutes, then I turned off to the right and found the lone GBH and all those GEs above. A worthy transition, I suppose, but I'm not sure it would have happened that way without my brief anger.
My 2007 Banded Bird's Birthplace Revealed
A colleague sent me the url for your pelican photos and noted that one of your 28 October 2007 photos was of a banded pelican. We banded American White Pelican E561 (green band with white codes) with metal band 0669-00859 as a pre-fledged bird at the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, ND colony in July 2000. This bird was banded as part of a colony dynamics research study.
Did you submit the
sighting of the band to the Bird Banding Laboratory? Reports of banded birds
help us track their movements and provide helpful information about their ecology.
The easiest way to report a band sighting is: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/bblretrv/
Research Wildlife Biologist
White Rock Lake
The Slider and I slid over much of the east side of the lake today. Looking for anything I could find, but mostly finding common birds, doing common things.
I've never been exactly sure what a grub is, but I think this is one of them, about to be eaten by a Great-tailed Grackle.
And this one, as you probably already guessed, is taking a bath.
And when that happens, they get wet and need to dry their wings, so they can use them anytime they need to translocate.
Mockingbird flashing up some dinner.
An intimate close-up. Shooting 600mm lens, so I couldn't zoom back.
As usual, I was testing focus, which sometimes worked very well.
And sometimes not quite.
Crossing is an hour-long, good-res video showing lots of beautiful
birds but also radars their journeys across the Gulf and up into the U.S.
Upper Sunset Bay & White Rock Lake Spillway
Much as I love the bigger birds, it's so nice to get a little one sharp. Even a bird with a bad reputation, but it's just a bird that does what it does. Looks good.
I was intrigued by this one's choice of perches overlooking one of the baseball fields on the downhill far side of Winfrey Point, down toward Sunset Bay. It looks like a Pine Sparrow, but they're only in Texas in the winter, and it ain't no winter here no more. It's a sparrow, probably a really really common one. LBB is derogatory for little brown bird. One of the many J R doesn't know on a first-name basis.
I love photographing frothy water over the dam.
A little too far away, but elegant nonetheless. Sometimes when I make them smaller, they look sharper.
Big white bird landing among little black ones. What these shots of Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons is the first time this spring I've seen a bunch of those birds on the upper spillway. I've been hoping for many more soon. It's one of my favorite perches on the lake, and as spring continues, more and more diverse birds will hunt down there.
The egret is not watching out for the coots. Nobody's as wary as coots.
Love that froth.
My today's best GBH shot. Everybody itches. This one scratched with its left foot, then continued with its right foot. He might be still itching and scratching. Nice to have something in common with gorgeous birds like this.
I'm calling it a Lesser Yellowlegs, but if you know better, let me know, please.
Those guys are really straining.
Southwestern Medical School Rookery
It's landing in the trees at the edge of the rookery, and I was practicing capturing birds in flight.
Perhaps because it was later on a hot day, most of the birds I found were cooling in the shade.
I think this is this year's first Snowy Egret in heat.
As usual, lots of fluff and personality overflowing.
And a couple of egrets.
I tend to obsess on Tricolored Herons in Dallas. On the South Texas Coast I accept them as normal and natural. But here, despite global warming, they're miracles.
Great Horned Owl Cam from OKC
White Rock Lake
For about a month now, I've been carefully checking among all the ducks that sometimes gather in Sunset Bay, hoping to find the first several or pair or one individual member of the Wood Duck species. I'd been to the lake already once today, but I had the time and the inclinations, so why not. I'd twice searched the wood along the path from outer Sunset Bay looking for owlets, but I saw neither owlets nor owls, which is almost never a surprise, because they're awfully good at hiding, and I'm not all that great at finding owls.
At first, while the evening sun shone brightly, and all the birds close in were swimming in their shadows, it was very difficult to pick it out, despite its odd head ornamentation, but within a minute or so of looking, I found it. I continued to look for its mate — I mean someone decked out in all those mating colors surely would have found a mate by now, but if he had, I did not see her.
I'm not claiming this is the first Wood Duck anybody has seen in Sunset Bay this season, just that it's mine. I kept asking it where its mate was, but it did not say a word, just swam back and forth along the shoreline where Charles generally feeds everybody in the evenings. Several times, it looked like it was about to step up onto shore, but it never did.
Several times I've clicked the Last Year link at the top middle of this page, to see when they've arrived in years past, and generally they'd shown up by early April, but I know they don't do the same things exactly the same every year. NOr do I know where they come from, or why they leave there to come here. I just know I love seeing them, and that the female of the species is also beautiful, and I look forward to getting to watch them swimming back and forth, first alone, then with a string of unique-looking babies.
This, which I perceive to be a hummingbird — who else would have a beak like that? — appears to be a Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, but I have to doubt that, because it's the only hummer I've ever successfully photographed at White Rock Lake, and it was just perched there, not flitting about like hummingbirds do. Maybe it was resting.
I found a Blue Jay, also, but couldn't even get him this well. As usual, I'll take what I can get. Both these were photographed in what I like calling Sunset Forest. Upper Sunset Forest, for that matter. I hadn't visited there since I and a couple other photographers were hoping for owls. A couple of us saw some, but they flew away just when neither of us had cameras ready. So it goes.
There's thousands of Red-winged Blackbirds at White Rock Lake. Minus one male the hawk got yesterday.
Their natural habitat. This one was in upper Upper Sunset Field, just a little toward Barbec's Restaurant.
I was following and attempting to focus the male of the pair. I've cropped off the right third or so of the frame, so he was in the center of my view of this photograph as in unfolded. I probably didn't even see the female till I brought it up on my monitor just a little while ago. If I'd seen her, I might have edged the view over to the left enough to capture her, too. Might have.
This was today's first bird. I'd heard it knock- knock- knocking on a tree nearby, then I saw it flutter over to the telephone pole. By then, I'd already got out of The Slider. I got three shots of it, mostly blurs. And this. I circled the pole at least three times, hoping to catch up with it again, but it was gone.
I looked for Barred Owl juveniles for about a half hour today, finding none. I wasn't really looking for any of the other species I saw or captured, which may mean I do better when I just happen on them.
Looked like it was eating a Red-winged Blackbird, although I'm not sure. During the tearing and shredding of that bird meal, the hawk had an audience. Besides me, down on the ground, there were up to three Blue Jays at a time up on the wires very close to where it was ingesting said bird.
I put off going to the lake almost all day, arriving there around four or four-thirty on an already lousy, cold, gray day. The kind of day the birder in me keeps reminding me that there won't be any birds out on a day like this, let's just blow it off for a change. But I went anyway.
First they flew together, then they flew their separate ways. Later I realized they were looking for food as well as fun. Actually, at first first I thought they might be cavorting, flying parallel and such like I've seen Great Blue Herons and a spare few other birds in mating season.
But now I'm pretty sure after floating on that current swooping up over Winfrey, they were hunting. As I was leaving for the last time today, I kept stopping The Slider down the hill toward Sunset Bay, hoping to photograph something interesting. That's when I noticed the one Red-tail on top of the telephone pole, stopped, photographed, backed up, photographed some more, then backed up yet again, to photograph even more.
I'd say I overshot the hawks today, except I never knew if I was getting them as sharp as I hoped, and I usually wasn't, so I shot and shot and shot.
Part of a flock of about thirty, maybe more — I was too busy trying to photograph them to count them. They kept flying over me as I stood in the parking lot at Winfrey Point. I first stopped there, because I saw two Red-tailed Hawk enjoying the upsweep of wind over the building there. I couldn't get out of the car fast enough to capture them both flying together, paralleling and floating up there.
The whole flock was making a lot of noise, so I could always tell — while I was generally trying to catch up with one or the other of the two Red-tailed Hawk — when they were about to fly over yet again. Making Franklin's Gull sounds, which my Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas describes as a "shrill weeeh-ah weeeh-ah" in migration," which they probably were.
In one of the moments waiting for the hawks to come gyring back over or the gulls to swoop over the hill again, I noticed this lone Killdeer standing in the parking lot. For a little while, it stared up at me. Then it set to walking, then while I was still trying to catch up with that speeding, he started flying.
And I wasn't ready for that, so I didn't keep it sharp. But I still wanted to show you one flying, because I so rarely am able to capture one doing that.
I was thinking I'd had all that incredible bird luck, there's no sense trying for more, but the drive from Garland up to Winfrey Point always always calms me, and I can always use some of the, so I turned off again and drove past the lake, paying more attention to it than where I was driving, but remembering a lot of the time anyway.
I saw some little tiny birds fling from the left to the right within about forty feet of shore. Some gulls, too, but I did not at first identify the little birds, and I got out of The Slider, walked down very near the shore and waited. Within a couple minutes, more came zipping by, and I started clicking. The first dozen or so were out of focus because I wasn't panning accurately or fast enough, but eventually I got maybe three shots of them that were sharp.
Standing on the pier at Sunset Bay I kept seeing ducks angling down and in, and occasionally I'd photograph some, never expecting to get anything sharp, but wouldn't it be nice if I could?
It was gray dark and difficult to focus, but I tried and failed numerous times today. It didn't help that my fingers were cold — so cold I tried photographing with my gloves on, which is not a particularly intelligent thing to do.
But every once in a while, a minor miracle would happen and even some that were far away and I had to crop out most of what I could see from there, the bird would look almost spectacular.
And for a long time I though I should end this day's bird journal with a really sharp, in-focus shot of a coot that had been run over with what looked like a bicycle, because it wasn't flattened, just exploded. I hate to give byklers any excuses, since they never follow any traffic rules, but to turn suddenly to miss a coot or duck or goose is to invite falling over and breaking something personal. And birds don't follow those pedestrian rules, either. But this shot is particularly gruesome, so I won't. This time.
The Southwestern Medical School Rookery
The Tricolored Herons are back. About the same place they were last couple years, except maybe a little higher. And farther from the camera, so they're a little less shy.
I know the look of this same bird one pic up from seeing them often down on the Texas Coast. But this odd angle or something makes it look very different. Maybe because its beak is foreshortened, and from that angle, its beak looks oddly attached. Or maybe just because I'd never photographed or noticed one from that angle.
Truly handsome bird.
I tried at least a dozen times to get a decent image of the other Tricolored Heron I saw today, but this is the closest I got to doing that, and this isn't very close. I liked the wings spread, but I can't figure out that lump of head.
I saw a grayish brown flock (my far vision is lousy). But I was in a mood to photograph nearly anything I saw that might be interesting.
Everybody has a job to do in life as in a rookery. This species' job, beside laying eggs and raising young, yeah, yeah. But these birds' not-s-secret mission is to eat other birds' eggs. Cuts down on the population, I guess.
My plan for visiting the rookery this late Tuesday afternoon was to practice photographing egrets flying. I only did that three or seven times today, usually from way too far away, but this one was close, and I clicked fast.
It's always a gable whether I'll get birds this far away — blown up considerably — in anything approaching sharp. But then miracles happen. That sharp lens helps.
A lot of nest-building going on in a rookery.
And sometimes what ya' really need is a little one with a tiny little crook at the end.
As usual, I couldn't tell who these guys were from looking — or looking through my fancy telephoto lens — but it looks a little different from they way Great Egrets settle a neighborhood. So I clicked it.
Then I significantly enlarged that full-frame shot, so we could all see who's new to the neighborhood. The white ones are adults, mostly adult breeding White Ibis. The brownish gray ones are immature. Nice neighborhood.
I saw them flying way before I saw them in that neighborhood. Just I didn't know who I was seeing flying, as usual.
I saw some Anhinga, but I never got them close or in focus. That'll have to happen later. But who's this, all dark and shadowy?
I hope to see some of these a little closer, too. I usually do, they're anything but rare there. The Tricolors are still rare in this North Central Texas area, but so are a lot of other species that used to be only found in southern Texas.
Its natural habitat.
White Rock Lake
This was the star of my today's walk around Winfrey Point. Big, colorfully beautiful and not terribly shy. When I walked closer to the edge of the pond, it did not run, dive or swim away. I think it wanted to show off its ruggedly handsome good looks.
There were two of them out there. Among some coots when I first saw them. One Grebe had a kinda pointed crown. The other's was sorta smoothed over. I could only assume one was male and the other female, but none of my books genderize them, so I just don't know. This is the other one from the one on top of today's journal entry.
But most of today's shots are of the first one I saw, the brazen one who let me get remarkably close, to and for a grebe. Such pretty birds. I know I've photographed them at White Rock before. In fact, in almost this same exact spot.
Prettiest bird I've photographed in a while. Glad I brought my 300mm tele today. It was perfect, although my hands and arms were shaking somewhat. That bouncing only stopped when I pulled the cam + lens tightly back into my face.
I watched them long enough to get one good shot. Didn't know then which that was, but the next time I looked up at them, they were well more than halfway across the lake.
I either caught it just as it was taking off or just as it was landing. Nice to capture one of these beautiful birds with their wings up and out and their tail spread.
Singing. Alternating singing and flying off to the nearest tree, then flying back. I expected it to fly straight up, then come down and start singing again. It didn't do that.
Darkish, gray gray day today. Still lots of birds, but scattered. I shot all these pictures from The Slider. Not many people at the lake, walking, driving or anything else, really.
More birds, this time far away filling a little leafless tree.
Then I traced them escaping from the little tree to this grass this side of the newly named (I never remember the name of it) that rolls down the hill from the Dreyfuss Building atop Dreyfuss Point.
Car coming from the right. Runner coming from up the road, so the birds are getting agitated and a little worried.
Then they fly in various directions.
Gradually, they decide upon a direction, everybody lines up, and off they go.
The Fort Worth Drying Beds
The main reason for procrastinating these images is that I don't know who they are. My ignorance in this field is rampant. It took me years to be able to accurately identify grackles, so perhaps you'll understand why I don't yet know for certain much less common birds, many of whom are only passing through.
It's not like I haven't done my dada duty here. I've scoured through My Crossley ID Guide with its actual photographs of all the species of the Eastern United States, and though I firmly believe Texas has to be in the West, birders seem to consider it being East, which is just wrong; my favorite little book of birds the Lone Pine Edition of Birds of Texas, which is oddly my only Birds of Texas book, though there's a fold-out guide to our most common species around here someplace; my Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America, with its larger pictures than, but never as many variations as Sibley's; and Sibley's Guide to Birds with its teensy-weensy painted pictures.
Found this guy with a bunch of others like it in the swampland away from the wet drying beds. It had rained the night before, so everything, really, was wet or wettish. It looks a little like a Swamp Sparrow, but not mostly.
Which brings us to yet another lousy picture of the Great Horned Owlets:
Whom I have driven however many miles it is over to the big ugly pyramiddish building in Arlington to turn right past the big Christian church, down past that school, down, down that long hill, past the Glop 'n Pop store on the left, which may have the closest toilet, turn right, pass the first left, which doesn't go anywhere, to the second left before the curve toward the park on the other side of the big green levee bumps from the Drying Beds to drive down that entry straight, park half way down on the left, set up the tripod and point the doubled 300mm lens up at the nests on the far side of the swamp, and shoot.
I've done that trip four times now, just to take pics of the Great Horned owletts. And I have failed every single time. After each of those mistakes, I stay at the Drying Beds, I tell myself, to make the trip worthwhile, and there is something calming and utterly pleasant driving up and down all the roads and roadlets along and among the drying beds, looking for birds. And I always find something interesting, something beautiful and several birds I cannot identify.
But I can't tell myself there's any chance whatsowever, that any photo of mine will ever capture those rascally, fuzzy and blurry oweletts.
422 shots today at the Dry Beds. Wet, actually, after last night's rain. Just a little precarious driving through the puddles on the grid roads between the pans of water, trees, shrubs, ponds or really not much of anything. A lot of the pans were dry, as they have been the last couple months. I never saw these traveling gooses on land or in the water, and if I got them in focus, I only barely did. I would like to have photographed them at their leisure, although most Canada Geese I've encountered have not been wary of humans.
A female whose face we can't see, one male just landing, and one looking a little startled. Lots of Teal today. Apparently that word came from medieval English or Dutch, meaning "small."
Blue-winged Teal aren't all that small.
But the Green-winged variety sure is.
Right about now, most birds, are in full breeding colors.
They do not nest in Texas, but they come through on their way north. None of the birds in today's journal entry are in any way rare, although Green Teals are infrequenter than most of these.
The name comes from that shovel of a beak. Not sure why, but I've been thinking of Shovelers as snorkers for a long time. It's a bad habit. Most of the time I've seen them feeding, they've got their beaks in the water and it looks like their snorkeling food.
According to my Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas, they dabble "in shallow and often muddy water, strains out plant and animal matter, especially aquatic crustaceans, insect larvae and seed, also takes small fish."
I sometimes confuse both genders with mallards, whom I was going to say, are smaller, but I've just read that mallards are 20-27 inches long and Shovelers only 18-20 inches long. I guess they just look big with those honking bills.
When I shot this I saw the Shovelers, but I must have just assumed the gull was another "snorker." After this shot, it raised its wings (that shot was mostly out of focus), and flew up and toward me (all of those were, too.) Oh well. I'm guessing from the wingtips in the wing-raised shot, that it's a Franklin's Gull, although it could be somebody else's.
I got a few more decent shots, but I'm tired and I need sleep. Maybe tomorrow or in a couple days. My official schedule for adding pictures to this page is, by the way, when and if.
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My favorite answer is, "I don't
am, after all, an amateur.
I'm not kidding. I've only been birding for six years,
although I've been photographing professionally since 1964.
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