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BEST PIX THIS MONTH: Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Wood Ducks Northern Shovelers Flying Common Terns Hovering Canada Gooses Scissor-tailed Flycatchers Parakeets Flocks of Peeps Flying Thither and Yon Adult Breeding Franklin's Gull & Adult Breeding Ruddy Duck Black Vultures Pelican Fly In and By Adult Breeding Male Anhingas at the Rookery Red-winged Blackbird contortions
There's an obituary for long-time White Rock Lake Bird Photographer George Boyd
on the Advocate site and an older story on the White Rock Lake Weekly site.
For about a week, I've been wanting to visit the lake early in the morning. But not wanting it badly enough to actually do it. I've been a day-sleeper since Jack Parr, before I was in high school, so it's always a struggle to get up when the sun does.
This morning, however, it was way worth it. I'd hoped for a Night Heron, got that and a bunch of other species who are fed and gone by the late morning or early afternoon when I usually show up.
Although capturing some cormorants could be accomplished most any time. Except it would be more difficult to get a yellow sun to splatter the logs.
Still, the species diversity amazed me, and I got every one of these in focus. I won't belabor that point, but it's important. I wasn't sleepy-eyed.
This bird pulled a munchy morsel out of the bottom crevice in the wood planks of the Pier at Sunset Bay.
And the jaunty Yellow-crowned Night-Heron I only half hoped for — thinking it unlikely as cold as mornings have been — flew right up the lagoon like it belonged there. This might be of the same family that has raised young in the early summers of years past. Hard to miss that erratic-looking flight as it flew in from wherever, then stood still watching, hoping for food, way long enough to finally get one really good shot. Then it flew off into Hidden Creek Lagoon.
Erin believes her name should be The Lady Katherine, not no simplified Katy. Especially now that she may be "with child." We'll see about that.
I probably should have taken — and shown — these two photographs when we last visited with Lady Katherine, but I didn't shoot them till today.
Of which there was a smallish spot of still on the ground os Sunset Beach this morning. Gradually, while I was there, various species discovered the short circle. Especially coots.
Magical and somewhat mystical floating among its peers in the early morning. I think I saw only one or two females this trip.
Preening and swimming and then preening some more.
Really great to have it confirmed that there are a bunch of them, and soon we'll see lots of Wood Duck babies, the vast majority of which will be eaten by their fathers or somebody else among the teeming masses of Sunset Bay and lagoon.
Still beautiful birds, though, in the morning light.
Not a White-winged Dove like the Country Music stars of the past sang and sang about.
Another Mallard Hybrid. Or maybe even a Mallard itself. Hard to tell from this view.
Northern Shoveler rising into flight.
Northern Shoveler still dripping, begins to attain air speed.
Except for that honker of a beak, it does resemble a Mallard — sorta.
Not exactly rare around here. I've been watching, but when I've seen them fly, they fly like other ducks, bee-lining to wherever they're going. I've seen no sudden changes of direction.
Of which there are so many I usually don't photograph them, but since I don't restrict my bird photography to rare elements, this one is here, looking rather more elegant with that slight halo of backlighting while its legs grow high pink.
Bucolic setting, now lovelier with little purple weed flowers.
These images were all photographed on April 9, but some are still pertinent, because in other places around North Texas, some of these birds are still being reported as FOS (firs of season) sightings. Which is a vote for White Rock Lake, because we seem to get many species earlier than other places do, but then White Rock Lake is something of a miracle.
I have not seen this particular species here or anywhere else, most recently, there were a smattering of them at the lake until about a week ago — although the smattering kept getting smaller.
First several times I photographed these guys doing their hovering trick, I was not able to focus.
By these two times (at least two different birds) I had got the secret locked in my camera and fingers, although not perhaps in my brain. When they fly, as when they hover, they flip around pretty much up there, and it's usually a chore to lock focus on them, but once I do lock on, it often stays on until they stall — and fall. And all I have to do is keep the camera pointed in the right direction, which itself is no mean feat. Then, of course, their numbers began to seriously dwindle.
All this action occurs at the height of the maneuver. From up here, they'd fall, tumbling through the air with control but without much elegance, and splat in the water below, where they'd catch the something they'd been hovering to find. Amazing aerial feat. I don't think they always got what they hoped to get, but it was sure fun watching.
I shot this — and about a dozen other shots of the BWTs of which only this one got both male and female in such close proximity — from what we used to call The Singing Bridge. It's still called that on my Map of White Rock Lake, but it no longer sings. They fixed that pretty quickly after they'd first erected it, probably because it was so annoying, and perhaps because it threatened to shred the probably expensive construction.
Their species name is Canada Goose, not Canadian goose. According to Wikipedia:
In recent years, Canada Goose populations in some of natural predators and an abundance of sa areas have grown substantially, so much so that many consider them pests for their droppings, bacteria in their droppings, noise, and confrontational behavior. This problem is partially due to the removal of natural predators and an abundance of safe, , man-made bodies of water near food sources, such as those found on golf courses, in public parks and beaches, and in planned communities. Due in part to the interbreeding of various migratory subspecies with the introduced non-migratory Giant subspecies, Canada Geese are frequently a year-around feature of such urban environments.
Contrary to its normal migration routine, large flocks of Canada Geese have established permanent residence in Esquimalt, British Columbia, on Chesapeake Bay, in Virginia's James River regions, and in the Triangle area of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill), and nearby Hillsborough. Some Canada Geese have taken up permanent residence as far south as Florida, in places such as retention ponds in apartment complexes. Large resident populations of Canada Geese are also present in much of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California.
"Like most geese, the Canada Goose is naturally migratory with the wintering range being most of the United States. The calls overhead from large groups of Canada Geese flying in V-shaped formation signal the transitions into spring and autumn. In some areas, migration routes have changed due to changes in habitat and food sources. In mild climates from California to the Great Lakes, some of the population has become non-migratory due to adequate winter food supply and a lack of former predators.
Males exhibit agonistic behaviour both on and off breeding and nesting grounds. This behavior rarely involves interspecific killing."
The geese involved in this chase are domestic, but this is still a wild goose chase.
The reason for the chase may have been sex — it is that time of the year — but it also may have been aggravation. Gooses get aggravated with each other.
If this had been about sex, they probably would not have stopped shortly after this shot. They would have gone at it, unless, of course, it was not mutual.
But I am less convinced now.
Lady Katherine most probably was released at White Rock Lake by someone who didn't want her anymore. It might seem like a great idea — at first — to own a creature as elegant as a swan ... She does fly — I have seen that minor miracle, and she is often the first bird I see at Sunset Bay when The Slider slides around that last corner, because she is the biggest.
For a long time, it was not known what sex she was, but Erin has seen and photographed her mating with a distinctively male goose. Since the Mute Swan formerly known as Katy, first arrived, she's hung out with the gooses, which may be her closest relatives at the lake. Sure enough, I was driving around the curve when I saw this big fluff ball of I did not at first know what. When I focused in on her distinctive red-orange and black face, however, I knew and had to photograph her by stretching across the passenger seat and resting the talephoto on the passenger window sill. Someday I'll have to figure out a more comfortable way to do that.
I was not able to identify this bird, and I already asked for I.D.s of two other birds from the Dallas Audubon Bird Chat yesterday, so I'm hesitant, but I will probably try that later tonight. I wanted to get it posted here first. Anna thinks it might be a Yellow Grosbeak, a Female Indigo Bunting, a Female Scarlet Tanager or a Bobolink, but its feet are the wrong color.. Thanks to Chris A. on Bird Chat.
On Audubon Dallas' online Bird Chat, under the heading, Little Yellow Unsub, Chris A said it was an American Goldfinch. Then Mike C suggested it was a female House Sparrow, citing body, head and bill shapes and its strong green reflection from leaves, and Chris A agreed. So it must be that. I'll change the caption to show that identification. Thanks, all.
The most distinctive female duck I know — and yes, I know this bird very well — is the Wood Duck, here showing more of her distinctive feather colors than usual. It must be spring, because I saw two Wood Duck pair today.
But of course, she's rather plain compared with the male Wood Duck. Today I heard a little Black girl calling it an African Duck, and knowing some of the color combinations of her heritage, I understand why she might think that. Her mother apparently did not know what duck that was, and I dared not interject the duck's actual title. I like thinking of it as African, too.
I'd never thought to photograph it from the back before, but it's oddly revealing of several color facts I hadn't previously understood. Nice of him to turn and swim the other direction.
This is just one of my best-yet photographs of a female Mallard.
Both of these, and by the most grackles I photograph around here are the grackle variety known as Great-tailed Grackle, whose feathers sometimes sheen of blue in the sunlight.
Op. Cit. Great Tailed Grackle. A heads-up display like this is often a challenge to a fight, and I saw some grackles fighting in the air today, but I wasn't quick enough to capture them doing that.
One female grackle has a small wad of white bread in her beak. All the time I was there, people come out on the pier and fed any bird that would take them, white bread. Which is not any better for birds than it is for people, and for people it is dangerous.
And that flyover continued briefly as ...
After which, the GBH flew through then behind the trees in the Hidden Creek area across the lagoon from where I was standing, as usual, on the Pier at Sunset Bay.
At least, I'm pretty sure it's a sparrow. I'd hoped to snag its I.D from Birds of Texas, which automatically narrows down the field to this state's birds only, but this guy/these guys don't fit any of those categories just right. I thought I was Glad I got two shots, one from each end, thinking if I was any good at all at this identification game, that should have done it. But I'm so bad at it, even that head start left me at the starter gate.
And now it's becoming clear that these are two very distinctly different birds. Oh drat! Both have light or white eyebrow slashes and squatily pointed beaks. Except the upper one's beak is yellow, and this one's beak is black. The upper one's underside is striped but only a little way down, and this one's belly is striped or barred or textured all the way back. I wonder if they are even friends.
Once again I was bumfuzzled by a female Red-winged Blackbird, which seems to be a every-spring thing for me. I asked Dallas Audubon's Bird Chat (It's free, but you have to register, and remember your password), and Ken there correctly identified both these birds. He told me:
"The first photo is a Savannah Sparrow. The other is a female Red-winged Blackbird. A number of sub-species of both of these birds winter & migrate through our area and do not always exactly match the typical examples illustrated in the field guides. Female & juvenile Red-wing Blackbirds in particular are great deceivers when seen out of context away from males as when seen at a feeder or alone out in the field. They are frequently mistaken for sparrows." and Ken later added, "Warren Pulich in The Birds of North Central Texas mentions five subspecies of Red-winged Blackbird attributed to Dallas and Tarrant Counties by specimens though he is skeptical of one of these."
I think I know this one. And the next one, too.
I was focusing in on it carefully enough that...
...when it jumped off the wire to chase down a bug, I still got it very nearly in good enough focus.
There's still plenty of these in nearly every tree along the Arboretum coast. Not like we'll run out any time soon.
And the little street that coasts down the hill from Upper Winfrey Point, which I think really should have been renamed "Mockingbird Lane," except here's already a Mockingbird Lane that hugely longer and very well known in Dallas. Hard to imagine we'll ever run out of Mockingbirds around the lake. And it was a particularly pleasant day to hang out in the shade.
I walked most of the way around Winfrey Point this afternoon — probably should have done it in the early morning — looking for Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, of which I saw exactly none. Lots of other new, little birds, though. I didn't use the 2X on the lens, thinking I could track little birds flying fast like Scissor-tails tend to do, and I almost could, but I needed the stretch for far away little birds more than I even got a chance at fast-flying little birds.
Had to enlarge this image a bit, but it worked out very well, although I still haven't seen the sudden changes of direction teal are supposedly known for. At least I can identify it.
Or close. The next shot was the two of them floating pretty much right there, and neither seemed miffed or bloodied, so it's difficult to discern if they crashed or just came close. Surely sometimes birds must crash into each other, though this is about as close to collision as I've seen.
He was way too intent on shooting some fish. Certainly there's those swimming around out there. If the pelicans hadn't left, right on time just before Income Tax Deadline, they would have been fishing with far better accuracy and luck than this mighty hunter. I watched and photographed him for a long time, and I never once saw him shoot at anything. And I know there's fish out there.
Usually all it takes is one of the City Park Department's Habitat Destruction Machines to clear the area of birds, more of whom— and a greater diversity of which — hang out in Sunset Bay than anywhere in the lake. Some boaters seem to take it as a point of pride to clear the area of birds. Some even laugh as they do it, but this guy apparently did it without even noticing birds had been there, then they were gone.
We'll call him oblivious.
Interesting boat, known for its stability. With a comfy sliding chair with a back. Yum. Interesting that it comes in "desert camo" like this one. May be the best choice, although wearing an orange shirt may thwart the camo. I want one, but I don't think it would fit in The Slider or carry two people, although I could probably handle 68 pounds.
I keep trying, and today I captured this bird getting away — which may be what Scissor-tails do best. I've only seen a few so far, but I've heard about others in the vicinity, and soon there'll be lots and lots of them. Then we'll know it's just about summer, I guess.
The one who didn't get away, and this shot shows most of its colors and all of its tail. A beautiful and well-balanced bird.
"Forages on the ground for seeds, rarely takes insects." Is what my now out-of-print Lone Pine Birds of Texas says. Another harbinger of summer, I think. They have a bad reputation for depositing their eggs in other birds' nests, but we all have our survival techniques.
Another unsub in the annals of J R's ignorance. Guess I needed reminding. There used to be people I could count upon naming the birds I can't, but I haven't heard from them lately. More's the pity. This one seems a juvenile, all feathery and puffy, but I just don't know.
It's a busy little place at The Big Hum lately. Monk Parakeets are setting up homesteads — after either the wind blew the previous one away — or the electric company dismantled it, and the dirt — often mud — road up from the road to the Pump House and the far shore from the Old Boat House and Lagoon — has been fenced off. I could still walk up there, but for this shot, I just drove up to the Big Hum itself (along the road from the Pump House to the neighborhood) and remained in the relative comfort of The Slider, which I angled just right to get this and many other, lesser shots.
Today is another scattershot presentation of all the birds I've found to photograph in the last couple days. There's always coots around, including all through the winter, although there's usually only a few then.
I love that without knowing who this is, you might never learn.
I have House Sparrows at home, but my trees are too thick to track them down and photograph them. At the lake, I can back off and focus in.
Actually, I didn't hear anything, just quickly clicked the shutter when I saw that beak open.
Beautiful and colorful little birds. They're about 7 inches long with wingspans of 15 inches. I used to practice photographing them flying, but they do that fast with sudden changes of direction and loop-de-loops so them standing on the gravel at Dreyfus Point is sooo much easier.
I wasn't sure I'd seen those markings before. Surely I must have. Just never noticed, I guess.
That's a description, not a definition. It is golden brown. It's species is a Mallard Hybrid. Most ducks are.
Like Mallards are the most common duck at White Rock, Ring-billeds are the most common gull.
I'd seen several already, so this is not my FOS (first of season), but it's my first good shot of the season. Better would be one in the air. I followed this one and its two or three close friends on Dreyfus today, but the only one I caught in focus was this one perched. Which challenge calls for a morning tour of Winfrey Point soon.
I usually call them snorkers, because they spend a good deal of their time snorking under water for food. According to my treasured, and now out-of-print, Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas, this species "dabbles in shallow and often muddy water; strains out plant and animal matter, especially aquatic crustaceans, insect larvae and seeds; also takes small fish."
Like so many other ducks, this one looks enough like Mallards to confuse those who don't see their "shoveler" beaks. Same colors, just arranged differently. At Sunset Bay, Shovelers stay on the far side most of the time, and Mallards are everywhere. Toward summer — like about right now — they get a little braver. But of course, I'm shooting with a 12X lens, so they're not that close.
I've watched with fascination, the farm gooses gather after being fed on Sunset Beach, line up in some order of who's more important and less, and the leader leads them off to wherever they'll spend the night and bring them back the next day. But are these guys in such an order? I don't know. They all look alike to me.
Although the Moe hairdo seems very odd, it doesn't seem to match any of the other crow family members in the U.S. I found in my growing collection of bird I.D. books.
This is the pier next to the newer boat house — not to mention a floating boat house being planned to blot out our lake that already has two boat houses. This pier has been fenced off for a long time, but that has not stopped the fisher persons who like to fish there. It usually doesn't take much agitating to wake The Park Department up to do something they've been procrastinating. A couple calls usually does it. I was there, because there's often either a Great Egret or a Great Blue Heron, both intrepid fishers in their own right. Although the birds would probably rather the Park Department keep their fences up.
Sometimes it seems we'd go anywhere to see some birds. Trouble with this place was there weren't many birds, but gobs of people. We forgot it was Easter Sunday. I found this bird when I tromped through a place in the woods where there wasn't any path, just weeds that kept grabbing my legs and feet. This is one of the birds who are featured on the White Rock Lake bird signs near some piers and look-out places. I've only very rarely seen any there. This one's about to fly away. It caught my attention when it repeatedly flew down from this perch, to the creek water below to get something. It was too quick for me to figure out what.
There were four or five Muscovites who are large, friendly ducks we like and are sometimes pleasant company. This was the handsomest of those I could photograph. We also like them, because they are pretty weird looking.
My First Of Season Western Kingbird. We'll be seeing many of these at the lake soon. One of our more common flycatchers in spring.
With all those intricate pipes, I first thought it might be sculpture or at least art. Those pants nearly cinched the deal. But I think it's a fisherman. These non-bird pix are to give you an idea what the place looked like — if I can remember where it was we were. There were a lot of fisherpersons around the lake.
There were several kites going — and almost enough wind to keep them up. If I can, I usually photograph butterflies, so naturally I photographed this.
You can't tell from the barely wet pix I got of this large pond or tiny lake, but everything was gorgeous green, and behind me as I shot this fountain, was a small forest, that we did not find a trail into. The small forest was the incentive to drive that far north to see what we could see.
A Red-tailed Hawk kite is about as close as we got to any kind of larger bird.
Another almost-bird bird experience. Nice kite — especially from the other side, where you can see its markings better.
They did get it into the air and flying for awhile, but there just wasn't enough wind to keep it up there.
I didn't think there was any need of showing these people's faces. Mostly I just didn't want to show them. I was interested in the color and the way, in some cases, it seemed to reflect the people above.
I worried going in about ticks and biting bugs, but once I was well inside there, all I worried about was getting out without falling and breaking my head or foot.
Doesn't seem all that difficult to photograph peeps — little birds that go "peep" — which could be anything from the Sandpipers that these or some of these might be to Killdeer — against the clear blue Texas sky.
But photographing them in focus past trees has always been much more difficult. I think the only reason I could do it this time, is because my Nikon already had them in focus — it has a mysterious 'follow focus' ability that seems to have got better in more recent iterations of their cameras and lenses, but I usually just think of it as miraculous. As in, it's always a miracle if I can get tiny little birds in focus.
I cannot guarantee that all these peeps are the same species. In fact, I'd be surprised if they were. They were, however, all shot from the dam side of the upper spillway. I had no notion they were there. I was, as usual, after whatever I could find, and today I found these. A fellow birder said they were probably Sandpipers, but there are many varieties of those, and I don't remember which ones he said these or some of the others I shot that day were.
And these are peeps from the same shoot as the above peeps against trees, except these are slightly enlarged in Photoshop, which I use and have always used on all the images in the Bird Journal since June of 2006, when I began this endeavor. Anyway, these are the same birds as the birds two shots up that were flying past the same trees, only these are blown up more.
Again, this and the following four shots may be of the same or different birds.
Usually after one or two circles round the canyon area of the Upper Spillway, they'd land not far from where they started.
Kinda like pigeons that jump up and fly around — Sunset Bay is where I usually see those birds.
I read somewhere that pigeons are smart birds, but I know better than to believe everything I read.
I love it that peeps take flight every once in a while, because they're so much fun to follow, try to focus, and photograph.
When I first saw these guys, I assumed they were Laughing Gulls, because something down there was laughing a lot like Laughing Gulls do. I usually only see Laughing Gulls along the South Texas Coast, and I should have assumed they were not Laughing Bulls, but birders, especially amateur birders are always hoping for that miraculous finding. Miracles again.
I don't thing whatever is behind these Franklin's Gulls is another Franklin's Gull, but I'm not at all sure what it is is. It would have been helpful if I'd got it in focus, I suppose.
I have a whole book about how to tell one shorebird from another, and it includes sandpipers, but my mind blurs when I page through those pages, and I already paged through my brand new Sibley Guide to Birds Second Edition, and I could not tell who the peeps flying past things above in this journal entry were.
And I think the one waling behind the two standing gulls in front is also a Franklin's Gull. And it may be that its wings are the same color but that it's not in shadow. Maybe.
Laughing Gulls' eye-arcs are narrower white than Franklin's Gulls' broad white eye-arcs
I was driving past the Bent Bridge this side of Cormorant Bay when I saw Ruddy Ducks a lot closer than I'd found them yet this year. In fact, I had assumed, that since I hadn't seen them along Arboretum Drive over the last several weeks, that they'd gone. But there, visible just over the bent bridge were a flotilla of them. So I nosed The Slider into a residential street, and nearly ran down to the south end of the bridge and slowly approached them. It helped that I had the longish telephoto I usually carry and think in.
Not absolutely great focus here, but a fair delineation between male (left) and juvenile (right - no cheek swath) Ruddy Ducks.
Notice the color differences between this adult male Breeding Ruddy and the lighter colored one above and the red-splotchy one below? I don't think I'd seen them in their breeding colors before, and this one is vividly, bright, blazing red. And I love that he's trailing his usually upright tail behind him in the water, as is the one below.
That one male on the bottom right appears to this amateur to be changing into his red red breeding colors. The first one on the left and behind the male is a juvenile (because it has no dark swath across its cheek. The next one up from the male is, I think, a female, because it has that dark cheek swath, and I can't see the top Ruddy's cheeks.
Nonbreeding adult males look like females only without the cheek swath, so the bottom right one is a breeding adult and it looks like it's changing its colors toward red.
The two in the back middle are adult (pretty much have to be adults if they're) breeding male Ruddy Ducks. The rest are either females or juveniles.
I got to this one and assumed these were two female Ruddy Ducks from looking at the latest Sibley's, but looking at my old (copyright 2009_ Peterson Field Guide to Birds, I see that these are both female Ruddy Ducks, and now I have to go back and re-identify the duller Ruddies above.
Despite the fact that it's still cold some nights and rains a lot, it is spring in Texas, so a lot of birds are procreating, and Mallards are perhaps the most procreating birds out there, and male Mallards with procreate with almost any duck that looks even vaguely like himself.
So here come the Mallard babies.
I'm having a devil of a time dealing with programs I've been using for the last couple centuries after my hard drive crashed and took with it all the amazing little utilities that made this job so much easier. Now, suddenly, it's just so much more difficult. Eventually I'll get it straightened out, so when my finger goes over here and pushes, the right thing will happen, but right now, it doesn't / won't / can't possibly / is utterly impossible.
I don't remember Great Blue Herons looking this special. Must be breeding season.
April 17 2014
We got small birds today, starting with the Bluebirds I've seen flying from the ground up to littlest trees along the road out to Dryfus Point (Looks like whoever said they would rebuild the building there isn't going to, so I can't talk about Dreyfus Building) for years and years, but every time I got closer, I'd encounter disappearing birds, so I never saw their color.
So this time I just used the telephoto and took what I could get that way, and I got it. Very pretty bird. Thanks, Erin, who told me where they were.
Yum!. The next several shots are from our visit to Dogwood Canyon to see David Allen Sibley talk about his Bird Illustration Career. It was great, and I got shots of his drawings, which I'll show you later — along with a few more shots of various birds at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation.
The container of sugar water apparently got bumped down on the other side by something heavier than a hummingbird Black-chinned Hummingbird, which weighs about 0.12 oz. or 3.3 grams. All the hummers I saw and photographed had the same issue., but I didn't see any try the hole on the other side.
My camera's shutterspeed goes up to 1/8,000 of a second, but the photographer didn't think of that, so he got blurred wings. Maybe next time.
And gets the same results. I shot these before we went out on the trail to find no birds. When we got back, there were no hummingbirds.
Unknown species, as usual for butterflies here.
As we were leaving, I saw these familiar looking birds flying toward Dallas. I bet they got there before we did.
April 13 2014
Sorry, I have been awfully busy, but I've been thinking a lot about Black Vultures, and I've been seeing and photographing them much more than usual lately. Then Anna told me that Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation had baby Black Vultures. We couldn't even see those, let alone photograph them. It's against the law, but Rogers showed us some Black Vulture and other incubating eggs, and we could hear the chick still in the egg making
I don't usually get this close, but I like being even closer, and Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation is the only place I can get right up to the bird, although there's usually wire fencing between us. Sometimes I can shoot through it, and sometimes I just cannot.
Turkey Vultures are okay, too. Just they don't seem as intelligent, or human-friendly. The Big difference is that the area of white under their wings extends almost to their bodies, and Black Vulture's only show on the 'fingers' of their wings. A little difference is the fact that Turkey Vultures have red heads, and Black Vulture heads are wrinkly gray. They eat pretty much the same things.
But this one gets lost in all that rectangular wire. Rogers used to have cages that were more easily photographed through, but now they have these photographically nearly inpenetrable ones that are probably better for their inhabitants.
I seem to have an affinity with Black Vultures. I like that. Nice of it to show me its claw.
Others are Canada Geese and we forget exactly what. We were mostly interested in the Black Vulture ones, and the one was getting ready to break out, making noise that Anna described as "coarse, heavy breathing." Kathy Rogers described it as "the same call an adult Vulture makes." Wikipedia says, "Lacking a syrinx—the vocal organ of birds—its only vocalizations are grunts or low hisses.
There's a tiny pecked hold we can see here between her thumb and little finger. A crackish disruption in the color and texture, which, if the tiny vulture could be seen, we'd have to quit photographing it, although apparently Channel 4 came by sometime today and got video — of something. Turns out that was about an injured eagle someone found in their back yard and took to Rogers, and had nothing to do with our precious Black Vulture babies.
There's a darling photo of Mandy, who pecked her way out of this egg yesterday.
Among the cages behind the office at Rogers we saw several Black Vultures, with a couple more on top of some cages, like this elegant creature who is beautifully back-lighted.
This is not a quick capture of a bird flapping its wings. This bird held its wings out until I got my camera setup correctly, then it waited for me to focus. Very accommodating species.
The name vulture comes from Latin meaning one who tears.
Wiki also says, "Like all New World Vultures, the Black Vulture often defecates on its own legs, using the evaporation of the water in the feces and/or urine to cool itself, a process known as urohidrosis. It cools the blood vessels in the unfeathered tarsi and feet, and causes white uric acid to streak the legs."
And sometimes they get a little carried away and do more than just their legs and feet. We've seen Black Vultures that looked like they had large white spots. And did.
Made these shots about a week ago, already aware these guys won't be around much longer this year. Then I forgot about them. And when I checked them again, I wasn't sure they were all that good. Now I just love them, especially since the pelicans will be gone too soon. Etc...
Then I was worried because I hadn't framed them just right, I kept not getting the whole bird in the shot. Now that matters not a whit.
Goofy, yet elegant form.
Well, it is a 600mm lens, so it wasn't like right there, it was out a bit, but for that lens, a little too close to have the whole bird in every shot.
Kinda sad I still can't always tell them apart.
American Coots and Northern Shovelers a lot closer than they usually. Usually, the snorkers are all the way across the lagoon in Sunset Bay.
I stopped for this bird, because I always stop for Great Blue Herons, but this particular one had the city of Dallas behind it, but so far behind and above, that I couldn't show you all this detail and still get this much detail in this gorgeous bird. And the skyline looks kinda ragged from here, anyway. Here being down Yacht Club Row, where I seldom go, because I so seldom find any birds worth photographing down there. But sometimes when I get lucky, there's a Great Blue Heron close enough to show how beautiful they are.
These birds are a long way off, and they showed as barely a black speck on the frame when we were photographing the Medical Center Rookery from the top floor of the parking garage across the street — because that gives us such a nice look down onto the top of the trees in the rookery. Here, they are enlarged as much as I could without shattering pixels.
Since the trees around it don't change, this must be that same bird facing sideways. I had the camera resting on something solid, the lens focusing on the tiniest spot, and I kept shooting for a while, hoping to catch something I could use. This.
The trees changed, so this must be a different anhinga, but also a male breeding one, which we can tell by his graying crown, and it's a little closer — Anna found him in the top of a tree. We looked and looked for more, but I think we only saw maybe three anhinga this cool Saturday morning, and the other one was much farther away. Soon, there'll be more and some flying.
I thought he was about to fly, but he didn't.
We got lots of other pix of Great Egrets, Black-crowned Night Herons and even one Great Blue Heron, whom I have been told by more expert birders than I am don't go to rookeries, but there it was, as you might see next time, although they're plentiful locally.
And here's the full-frame version of that last shot, just to show how good a lens and camera this is. Our cormorant is almost dead center of the frame, just under the dark spot of tree and directly above the J R in my copyright notice toward the bottom of the image.
The first bird I noticed when I got on the pier this day was a red-wing going though a rapid-fire continuum of all kinds of physical contortions to do with it drying off after a bath (I think. I guess it's possible it'd got infested with ants or something.) This pose is the most neutral of them so I thought I would start with it, even if he did not.
The Nikon I use only shoots five frames per second, so that's about as fast as I left it running some of the time. Not all the clicks were of any value, but enough were to keep shooting. Trouble with waiting for him to get in a position that needed shooting before I shot was that by then he'd be in yet another pose, and I'd have missed that last really great one. Sometimes he paused as we all must. When he paused, I paused.
Almost like inside out.
I didn't even know they could do that.