This Month's Highlights: John
Bunker Sands Wetlands Mute Swan
Adult Female Belted Kingfisher Flying & Hovering Parakeets in The Big Hum
White Rock Lake
August 30 2013
It's not uncommon to see Great Blue Herons in this cooling position on especially hot days. I saw another reference to a yoga-like position a Great Blue Heron was seen in, but then I couldn't find the refence either in the Fort Worth Audubon Society site or Dallas' Bird Chat, both of which site recent sightings of unusual and not bird sightings, usually around this area. After thinking all that and finding the links, I remembered "Lotus Position."
This heron standing on the top of the dam is a prime example of that focus I've been seeking.
When I went here I was expecting a Great Egret, and one was there, but not doing anything interesting. Great Blue Herons are always interesting.
And especially when they are paying rapt attention to food and the possibility of catching some.
I forget how I came to see this guy writhing and preening onthe far side of the dam from the spillway. I suspect it lives in the woods behind and under the dam.
At 300mm I was able to see birds in the bay somewhat differently. There's a persistent rumor that someone is going to ascertain what gender our Swanee is, so they can get a mate for it. I thought when I first heard that rumor at least a month ago, that it was a silly notion, that just parking an opposite sex bird in the pond would mean they'd live happily ever after, but anything is possible.
If I knew swans, I might say this is an iconic view of a swan, but what do I know?
I was wearing my usual 600mm lens, so this is a Photoshop-automated collage of three wide shots. I like the photo for its simplicity, and the fact that there's the radio tower (which is almost invisible just to the right of the white spike, which is the new tower ride, also at Fair Park.
As often as I go on about it here, you'd think by now I'd learn something, and lately I have. Soon, maybe, I'll know enough that I can match the earlier days of using my new camera. Sometime after that, I'll be able to do even better. I hope. Hope springs eternal, but I've been reading two authors' books about it and countless sites online, down into the long-winded fine print portions where either learning happens or the student panics.
This Neotropic Cormorant is down among the ducks under the pier across the lagoon from The Old Wood Boathouse, where I kept finding that elegant Great Egret recently, and had kinda hoped I'd find it again today. Instead there was this, and since it'd been way since yesterday that I'd shot a cormorant, I had to park him in under here, except this is exactly the same shot as the previous one with the color slightly activated and the size significantly increased to show how good my focus has got.
Is sharp as a tack, meaning I may actually be learning some important things lately.
Rapidly, so I not only stopped its action, I got in in pretty sharp focus.
After whom my current automobile was named. My car's name is The Red-eared Slider, and someday I may actually get around to painting is mirrors red, so I can find it in a parking lot full of white Priuses.
I had today's journal almost complete, when the electricity blitzed out for less than three seconds, taking everything I wrote and all the pictures off this page. Someday, I need to move to a part of town where the electric company cares enough to keep the electricity flowing. I live in what has become a Latino neighborhood, and I think it's racism and stupidity that keeps them from updating the equipment here. But those are huge factors, lil' ol' me probably will never have any sway against. Now, I'm saving after every few keystrokes. Wish I'd done that before.
I'd wondered why some cormorants stay over the summer while most of them didn't, but I wonder that about American Coots, too. The few coots who stay the summer are the same species as our winter coots, although they don't seem to have Ring-billed Gulls to contend with every time people "feed the ducks," and aren't those little black ducks cute, too."
Turns out, our summer cormorants are a whole different species from out winter cormorants. The winter ones are Double-crested Cormorants. These are Neotropic Cormorants. The Double-crested corms are broader-beamed and heavier, have longer wings and beaks and have much more dashing looks when their in breeding mode.
I like these guys, because they're quieter and don't stink up the trees and grounds around Cormorant Bay (See map.), and there's a whole lot fewer of them.
I'd always assumed it was the non-avian biodiversity and the natural protection from north and other winds of Sunset Bay that so attracted so many divergent species to that area. But when the gooses left for a week or two recently, to go off 'round the bend to The Bath House Cultural Center's back yard, they seemed to have taken all the other bird species with them. All those ducks and shorebirds and herons and everybody else disappeared simultaneously.
So it was Farmer Charles feeding his flocks — and everybody else who comes along in the late evenings every night — that's responsible for much of that avian diversity. And I have to wonder what will happen if he ever stops pouring corn grain in long lines down by the shore and feeding gooses wheat bread and crackers.
I don't know how long ago it was that someone left off six white, formerly Easter, ducks at Sunset Bay, but it wasn't that long ago that their number turned up to seven with the addition of a much-larger domestic duck, but now they are nine white ducks who hang out and do perhaps not everything, but sure a lot of living together in Sunset Bay.
I brought my super tele, so I couldn't back off enough to get all nine in one shot, but they were dabbling and dunking not far off the pier in a tight little group today, as probably often. Sometimes Poofytop leads them, but when they left the area, it was not even in the first three.
NPR radio show on "97-year-old Birder Has No Intention of Slowing Down "At the Hagerman
National Wildlife Refuge in Texas Karl Haller has been counting birds for decades"
August 26 2013
Well, those plans fell apart. Mercifully and disastrously. Fact is, I'm again looking for birds to photograph but have not been able to walk very far or well for the last week. My doctor doesn't know why, either, but he prescribed something to deal with the pain, although there's a lot less of that now, and I can almost walk steadily.
I photographed this scene, because it involved a Great Blue Heron who was close, and I didn't have to get out of The Slider to capture it, although there were strands of plant life that interfered with my focus. It took at least a dozen tries, but eventually I got one shot I liked — of both the bird and its friend, who seems to be swimming in air.
I've been looking online, and I'm thinking the turtle may be a Texas River Cooter. Anybody out there know for sure?
I really like the pairing.
I've just got to stop taking bird pix for a couple weeks. I have a project — I always have a project, but I have to, have to, have to, stop photographing birds and art for a couple week till past the middle of September. Need to stare off in space and focus on infinity or farther out to relax my visions.
Come back past the middle of September, 'bout
a month from now, and surely by then I'll have something to show you.
I've been going to the lake nearly every day this week, so when today came along, I'd forgot that it was Saturday, and sometimes on Satty ayems the lake is packed with runners and biklers and people. I notice the walkers walking on both sides of the road on my way to the lake, and biklers doing the same, etc. etc.
I thought, oh, what the heck, why not go home, when I arrived across from the Old Boathouse Lagoon, which was crammed with cars. I'm used to sliding through the parking lot with my cam out the window, photographing birds. Easy. Smooth. Lovely.
But not today with all those people, so I headed back out to the main street around there, then suddenly I veered off toward the backside of The Big Hum, where the parakeets live, up the almost always muddy muddy hill. Up there was people-free. I didn't see a one of those strange being forms, and it was perfect, ideal, wonderful.
I did see a lot of parakeets, and seeing all those 'keets flying decided me to set my camera for wide-field focus, so maybe I could focus better on birds flying. Big mistake. I should have set focus to tiny little spots in the middle of the photo frame, so just tiny little spots of individual birds would be in focus, instead of everything it could see. Should have.
But sometimes my focus was good enough for publishing online where the rules are a little laxer. Probably I couldn't make huge great prints of these scenes, but here, in my chosen medium (where it seems absurd to have bought an amazing, high-resolution camera), they worked out pretty good.
Oh, yeah, despite what you may have heard on KERA-FM's "Everything You'd Ever Want to Know," these decidedly are parakeets, not parrots. They might seem too large to be parakeets, but that's not a parakeet determination. They're just the perfect size to be Monk Parakeets. And while some of them may have escaped from cages or people's houses, most of them here are wild and free.
Except for the Electric Company that's supposedly happily coexisting with them, and even has signs up telling us that, although the parakeets know better (and don't read the signs.), because the electric company knocks down their complex living quarters when those more or less humans think all those carefully gathered and selected sticks will mess with their electricity.
I call that fenced-in area "The Big Hum," because it hums day and night. I assume the keeps appreciate that aspect of their chosen neighborhood and just put up with the rest.
This one is sharp. I don't know why or how really, but I haven't devoured the chapter on focus yet, though I long to.
Like monkeys and humans, some parakeets like to preen each other. But then they like living in tight quarters, so they are very community-oriented, and group preens make sense.
Looks like they might be cuddling, but I suspect that's just a side-benefit of preening another member of the community in The Big Hum.
They're not always in groups, of course.
This time our chosen parakeet is sculpture.
And not sculpture just standing there. Ah this is the sort of forms I was after when I came up the hill to The Big Hum today.
Is happy and noisy.
August 18 2013
All the way to Sunset Bay past the parkoRetum, I only saw faraway birds. No ducks or geese or much of anything but one Great Egret out near the logs and a couple more way far away, so I started photographing little birds and ones that weren't all that close. I like this House Sparrow's little side-view Hitler moustache. It was dark this morning, so I slept in, then I couldn't play D-Lighting games, because there was so little light, and I still learned a thing or two.
Most likely the former, but a birder can dream of something ever so slightly exotic. I didn't always today accomplish it, but I may actually be learning how to avoid splotchy, noisy pictures. But it would help if it were brighter during the days.
Probably teener ducks. Very pretty blues they got going. These two images are actually both sides of one image, just they two pairs were too far apart.
Someday I'm going to piece together an age-oriented step-by-step image series of Wood Ducks from downy babies to fuzzy adults. But it took me the longest time to just add heron babies to the heron pages, so no telling how long it might take.
Must be juvenile Mockingbirds, right?
I'm not sure whether I want this to be a Mockingbird or not, but it doesn't look like the pictures in the books.
It helps if it's not so dark dark ya can't pull it back out of the darkness.
The one with its beak open kept its beak open a long time, so it must be a downy young waiting for the other one to stuff its beak fulla food.
I keep remembering one of my first days in photo class at East Texas State University in Commerce that they now call something else entirely, but I didn't go to no TAMU. I was in one photography class or another, not that I needed a class. I was just fresh from being a Staff Photographer for the Dallas Times Herald and Underground Newspapers Publisher in Dallas — long story, not here, but both of them were gangbusters fun.
And my point was that I knew how to do quality things with film, but they were talking about the Zone System, with which I had no experience, but before I turned in my first assignment, I was gonna show off and do one of them fancy Zone System images. Except it was a disaster, since I didn't know what I was doing. Everything was murky muddy gray instead of my usual solid newsprint-worthy contrast middle tones, bright highlights and dark shadows.
I've been feeling a lot like that lately as I try new and old things on my new camera as I read Thom Hogan's deliriously detailed book about it. So I'm trying all kinds of things I've never messed with before and getting strange but only sometimes wonderful images (like these first four) that keep surprising and amazing me — and others that don't.
Today, I got an egregiously high number of out of focus shots — because in addition to the tonality games I've been playing, I've been messing with focus. "Oh, look, J R," I says to myself, "this looks impossible, let's try it. Maybe we'll get good at it if we play with it." THen we play with it and about half the shots are awful not sharp and low contrast and yuck.
But I keep at it, usually trying at least two new things every day I apply myself to this ordeal. Making oodles of mistakes, "wasting" silicone, sidewise, right and left. But learning. I keep learning.
These failures sure have helped. Maybe there are people who learn by doing it perfect the first time. I've never been one of those. I think I like it a little darker better.
Put it on the far side of the upper spillway (I seriously cropped the top one but slightly less cropped the second one, and this is still not full-frame.) and it almost looks sharp. Two quick shots, click-click. This one looks too far away, and the other one looked too close. This seems sharp. The other seems not. What to do, focus on something closer.
Do note how many more tonalities I've got going in the shots so far in today's journal. I've got Active quite set to High, which I read I probably shouldn't do, and that made me wonder, "why." So, of course, I tried it, being mostly careful to not seriously under or overexpose images, so I can use that extended tonal range.
The right one is a significantly different distance, so not rendered sharp focus like the one on the left. I missed them together at least four times before this, more successful shot, but today — maybe because it was so deliciously cool, still in the upper 80s instead of the lower hundreds Fahrenheit — maybe just because some days I'm slow about panning that 600mm worth of clunk. But still, the water behind them is sharper than either of them. Yuck.
It's probably better to just change one thing at a time and try to remember what that change was at every click of the shutter. But not me, oh, no, let's jam a bunch of new things through, and see if we can remember any of them.
I'm guessing this Great Blue Heron felt a little cool, so it puffed out its insulation to warm up. It looks like I shot this bird on its own level, but I was considerably higher looking down. That High setting for Active D-Lighting really should only be used under bright, high-contrast lighting, like this.
I dearly wish my Nikon had something like the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) exposure, light balance, shutter-speed preview I see through my cheap (you can now get a Panasonic Lumix G5 for only $239, but my Nikon cost lots more than that, and the Nikon is a much better camera, just I can't see exposure before I shoot like I can with the Panasonic cheapie that I love for other kinds of photography work.
I tried it in relative dark before the sun got up a couple days ago, and I was really disgusted. If Hogan says don't try this, I just have to. But this one's beautiful. Helps that there all that dark water sluicing down the spillway and it's a natural light box anyway, so not many shadows showing.
Focusing fast-moving birds with a long telephoto lens is still a major challenge I haven't quite mastered, although when I keep at it, I do pretty good sometimes. But you've probably noticed some other tasks I haven't mastered, too. This worked out so well that tomorrow I'm going to try the next step higher in D-lighting, "Extra High." Then I'll try "Auto" to see how that goes. I don't think I've even read Hogan's words on that, yet. Then I'll go back to normal and try something else that'll freak me and my pix out for awhile. Ain't learning fun?
Aren't Great Egrets elegant-looking?
In addition to this Great Egret's landing and physical attitude adjustment, we got three sets of Great Egret Flybys today:
Sometimes I like the reflection in the water beneath them almost as much as the actual birds flying by over their reflections.
Sometimes a lot more.
I've often seen and sometimes photographed various birds dip their wingtips in the water as they fly. Either isn't no big deal, or they are slowing their forward progress, or they're just dipping their wingtips in the water. This morning, it probably felt good.
Sometimes when I'm panning around with a bird flying not too far distant, I get some shots in better focus than others.
Might as well dip the other wingtip, too.
I followed this egret quite a ways, mostly keeping it in focus. I need the practice. Someday I hope to photographs eagles doing pretty much the same thing, and I probably won't have continued access to those eagles, like I have to these egrets. Last time I photographed an eagle, I only got 14 seconds with it.
I like that reddish stripe just beyond its left wingtip and left foot. I wanted to think it was the rising sun, but that was behind me.
Here starts another but shorter series of an egret flying me by. Notice how formally organized its wing feathers seem to be in this shot and how informally unorganized they seem in the next one down.
It might be the same reason my car, The Slider, is so low to the ground. It's called "The Ground Effect," and when birds fly low to the ground or the surface of, say, a lake or ocean, they are using the Ground Effect, to reduce drag and allow them to fly faster without a lot of exertion.
And I think this one is from a different Great Egret. I don't identify with Great Egrets — or Snowies — like I do with Great Blue Herons, but I'm always happy to see them, especially if they're flying or anything else they do.
August 15 2013
By Wednesday of this week, which is when I'm writing this, I don't itch nearly as much as I did Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, so early this morning I went to the lake intending to take bird pictures, and as I got out of The Slider, I slathered myself in DEET. It was a gorgeous, cool morning with just the barest edges of sweat. The sky was amber for awhile then became an amazing powder blue with puffy white and gold clouds lit by the still-rising sun. I wanted there to be birds, and gradually and eventually there were. But first there was sky.
I photographed this bird in what I want to call Mockingbird Circle in front of the Winfrey Building. That name isn't on any map I know of, but as much as I'd like to call one of the newly-named street names in the vicinity, all of which used to be Lawther Drive, "Mockingbird Lane" because of all the Mockingbirds around there, I can't because there's already a rather long and famous Dallas street by that name. And that one goes right over the northern-most portions of White Rock Lake
Many of the streets circumnavigating White Rock Lake that used to be called Lawther Drive had to have their names changed after the Dreyfus Building (on Dreyfus Point, which is on my Map of White Rock Lake, but apparently none of the former or current Lawthers are) burned down some years ago, because the Dallas Fire Department couldn't find it, because all the streets over by the lake were called Lawther Drive, so they drove to the Winfrey Building several times but did not find the Dreyfus Building just across the bay until it had burned down.
So the City of Dallas started renaming streets around the lake and putting up mile-marker signs with WRLT (White Rock Lake Trail) with unique numbers on them, so fire, police and other emergency types might be able to find you before you burn down.
I really hadn't planned a flyover day. I was hoping to sight Green Herons finding food on the ground in my vicinity, but like several other species, they only flew over.
Ducks kept flying over and over, and I actually captured some of their images in sharp focus, which so rarely happens I usually blame it on my camera, my lens or whatever else I can blame it on, but now that I have finally captured some birds flying over in amazing focus, I'm going to take all the credit for it.
But it's still something of a miracle.
Many ducks swimming to and fro.
I think tomorrow is going to be all egrets flying all the time. See Swanee fly below.
August 12 2013
I've been avoiding going outside for extended periods. I can walk out on my porch, down the stairs and into my car without worrying much, but any other time "out there" means I'll probably get bit by some bug, a bump of some sort will form, and it will itch for several weeks, so I'm not at all sure it's worth it.
Luckily, I have accumulated lots of images I haven't used yet in the last week. So these are not archival history or anything, just images I liked slightly less than the ones I used below.
This duck, photographed along Yacht Club Row in the Big Thicket, shows heritages from Mallards, maybe via Muscovies and no-telling what all else.
I have become very familiar with the ducks in Sunset Bay, and these ducks are substantially different looking than those ducks whose life stories I know too well. This duck is from the same area, but I have no idea of what might have begat it.
I was too close to this Great Egret fishing yards off the edge of lake just south of the first Yacht Club along the shoreline in The Big Thicket. I'd struggled for several minutes to get this egret in focus, eventually managing. I waited for the duck to pass by, but expected her to just provide background interest. The intersection was left up to fate.
Finally, the egret turned to provide me with enough area to sharply focus on, but ...
That's because it had intended to fly away.
I, of course, panned along with it, despite trees and tall weeds/reeds between me and it.
This is as close as I got to all the Great Egret in one shot. Eventually, the comparative possibilities available via a good telephoto zoom lens do slowly sink in.
Many photographer photograph about-to-be-married couples in the more-or-less-natural setting of White Rock Lake Park. I've seen them posing all over the place, and I love to interlope into their graphics going on.
This is an add series predicated upon the abstract shapes of boats (certainly not ships) moored off the edge of the lake along Yacht Club Row in The Big Thicket along the north east shore of White Rock Lake below Mockingbird Lane.
A great Great-tailed Grackle pair.
Amid various showings of the Red, White and Blue.
Purple Martins Staging from late July.
I see this swan almost every time I go to Sunset Bay, but always before he/she/it was swimming. A couple days ago, I saw it swimming around Dreyfus Point at the end of the long line of gooses. I had wondered whether it could fly, but till this early morning I had no faith that it even could. Now I know better. Much better. It can not only fly, it can fly well. It's a strong flyer.
But then, it would pretty much have to be strong. That's no air-filled balloon out there. So-called Mute Swans (They are not mute.) like this weigh up to 22 pounds and have wingspans as long as 75 inches (6.25 feet). By comparison, American White Pelicans, which we should be seeing here by mid-September to mid-October weigh up to about 16 pounds and have wingspans of up to 108 inches (9 feet). I have many photographs of pelicans barrelling in that — except for the girth and foot size (pelicans' are smaller) — look a lot like this big bird.
When I first saw this bird flapping white, I announced it as a Great Egret to the other photographer on the pier this morning. It was large and white and at that time was still mostly out of focus. The closer it got, the better my focus. This set of photographs alone made it worth standing out on Sunset Pier this early morning, but then I probably would have thought it worth the while just to stand on the pier in that lovely, early morning breeze.
This is about as close as I got to filling the frame with the swan, and it looks like almost everything about the bird is in focus, both tasty accomplishments.
When following a flying or landing bird, I usually try to keep my centered focus ring on the body or, if possible, the eyes, of the bird flying. I significantly missed both here. Looking at this full frame now, I see I might have got the whole bird in, but I didn't. I'll get better after practicing with White Pelicans over the coming months. But this bird's landing style is similar tot he skidding landings employed by pelicans, although after a bit of skid, this swan seems to be running and skidding at the same time.
I love seeing that extended splash still lingering in the air in front of and along side of the landed swan. My single shot between this one and the one after the last one above also exceeded the frame, but it was likewise OOF (our of focus), but this one is most acceptable, especially by comparison.
Quite an accomplishment. Bravo or brava or whatever is appropriate. We might never know, although The Bird Squad has named this bird Swanee, a unisex name.
First time in awhile I've come at the Upper Spillway from the east. Usually I park in the newish parking lot on Winstead and walk up. This time I parked in a neighborhood and walked down. This way I'm not so huffy-puffy tired when I get there, and I think that relative serenity shows.
This is the first time I've photographed the dam in these colors, although I've shot it a hundred times at least. New cam makes it look much nicer. Might have to keep it.
And this from that same viewpoint Nice sense of depth.
We've seen this big, hulking bird before, but we gain a bit of perspective with it all in the shot.
Some strange karma working itself out in my shots of cormorants lately. They've usually got their heads off somewhere else doing something else when I think I've got them just right. I even focused on the bird in the middle, but I didn't notice its head was missing.
I've seen women — it's always women — picking some plant life in the reeds and weeds around the pier at Sunset Bay for a long time, this is just the first time they were far enough to fill my photo frame. The herb must be some sort of Asian delight.
It's that form that captures my attention. Of course, Great Egrets have a lot of forms.
The same one I keep photographing mornings by the gleaming new metal Boat House.
Not sure how, but for this shot, I managed to accidentally pop the flash up into the upright position, so it went off when I shot this.
Great Egret on a pedestal with dark dark green landscape behind and water so blue you could almost mistake it for the sky.
I don't know my turtles — except Red Sliders — much worse than I don't know my birds. But this is new to me. I had to scrutinize the image carefully, because it really did look more like sculpture than a real turtle. Big turtle.
John Bunker Sands Wetlands
See my first outing at John Bunker Sands.
Thought I'd used all my flying-bird pics from last Saturday morning in the last journal entry, but here's at least one more.
A lot of the time driving around, the other, more experienced birders spent not arguing, of course, but discussing which variety they'd actually just seen. There were field guides — including a Sibley guide new to me that had a lovely cover — and visual memories. That's always fascinating to me, because to even begin to identify a species I am not sure of, I have to first get a picture of it that's in focus. Before that's a sure thing, I don't even worry about who it was. I remember somebody repeating, "but it's got yellow legs," and sure enough, it did.
Somebody in the front of the car asked the driver to stop, so we could figure out who was this "hummingbird sized bird" just to the right of the road and five or six car lengths away. Somebody else said it was bigger than that. I think it looks suspiciously like a swallow. I'll have to look up the last two and probably more. Sibley says a Cave Swallow has a "tawny rump," but the back of their heads aren't dark, so maybe it's an adult Northern Cliff Swallow ...
The other stilt is behind the last egret on the right.
I loves them pink legs.
This species identity was much-discussed. Unfortunately, I was probably intently watching something else or just staring out into the lush green space when they were, because I do not remember their group conclusion. I spent about ten minutes tracking through my shorebird book, but I came to no conclusion.
Or maybe it was this one they discussed extensively. I remember them talking about particularly bright spectacles — meaning that white area around its eyes.
One or the other of the several possible identities for the big-eyed bird on the right was discussed in one of the field guides compared to a killdeer, so when it hunted up nearly alongside the Killdeer, I clicked, hoping to get them both in focus.
I was busy carefully focusing on it when it jumped into flight — I always wonder whether they can tell we're watching even more intently than usual — and I was pleased with the result, which might provide a little extra identification area for the final diagnosis. I believe the crew's final decision on this one was that it was a Solitary Sandpiper, and according to all the evidence and my The Shorebird Guide, I think they're right.
This one's head might have been a little sharper if I hadn't photographed it through some tall weeds.
Looks like they've either been standing there for awhile, or they stand there often.
And for tomorrow, I've already shot some early morning (today) birds at White Rock Lake, and I might even throw in a verdant landscape or two. I've been enjoying doing the occasional landscape there, too.
Birds In Flight (BIF) has become its own specific variety in photography, so that's what today's shots are mostly about.
This species (Ceryle alcyon) has long been a goal of mine to photograph flying — over, by or around. On the Bird Walk at John Bunker Sands Wetlands Saturday morning, I got three shots at it, and this one worked particularly well. I could still get the details a little sharper next time, but this shows great progress. It helped greatly that whenever a bird flew toward us from any direction, one of the walkers would shout that it was and from which direction and heading. Being able to see these often-tiny birds coming was a tremendous leg up to photographing it.
Not exactly sterling focus here, but have you ever seen a Kingfisher hover? When there was one in the vicinity, and I could see it, I just shot and shot and shot, pausing each time to attempt focus, so I was paying a certain, technical sort of attention, but I don't remember this happening, although there it is, and I mostly captured the moment.
And I captured it for at least two running seconds, so it was hovering and in this vertical position. But what is it up to? Is it falling or floating? So many questions.
My previous experience with Belted Kingfishers has been spotted with disappointment. Seems usually when we spot one, and move in to get a better view, it flies away just as we're about to click our shutters. Not this time. Some eagle-eyed birder saw one in the scene above and pointed to it. I saw right where it was, which amazed me. Can you find the Belted Kingfisher in this photograph that's actually en enlargement of what we could see from where we stopped?
Can you find it is sort of a trick question. It's in there, but so small, there's no room for any detail. It's the bright, apparently white spot near the end of a branch, in the middle left portion of the pic.
All manner of exotic avian life over flew us that morning. Probably they were almost as curious as we about the wetland's latest visitors.
Love the long, sleek form.
Noisier than most of our Saturday morning flyovers.
We saw them fly over. We did not see them land anywhere, but I bet they did — soon as we were out of their sight.
One of the more exotic species we saw that day.
Black-necked stilts are tiny birds, except sometimes in photographs. They are usually 14-15 inches long, which position they are politely posing for us in this shot.
Green Herons are much smaller than they sometimes seem — usually 15 to 22 inches long.
I am still, after seven years of active GE photography, fascinated with the notion of following one across the sky. Nice of them to be so bright and white.
Looks like a lot of other birds that are more or less common around here, but there are many excepts. Except for the beak, it could be a Tricolored Heron. Except for the white spots, it could be a Tricolored Heron. If it were darker, or gray or. Etc. I'm no expert at identifying birds, and too many people already know it, but that's my guess.
I thought I was going on a walk, which is what the event was promoted as, out along the boardwalks and roads behind the John Bunker Hunt Wetlands (JBHW) building, from more or less which direction this shot was taken. Actually, this shot was taken from one of the big tin barns behind the JBHW building and across the road.
And this is why I was out standing near the barn. I had to field strip the hulk to remove the 2X Extender and just use the 300mm, so it could see in the dark and thus adjust to the darkness in the barn better and quicker than my eyes were busy doing. I had the doubler bag stuffed in my pocket through the whole three-hour car ride through the extensive JBHW acreage, because I hadn't worn a belt. So that transition was easy, just I had to be careful with the two straps, one each on the hulk and the cam. A drag not to have a strap when I use the cam without the hulk, so there's two, and that's sometimes a real challenge.
We saw a wide variety of birds in that time-frame. Our Talk/Walk started out cool at just after 7, then got progressively warmer all the way to hot by the end, but it was so much fun being around birders of more experience and species-identifying ability than me, that it was fascinating.
There were many varieties of landscape, too. Though most were, in one or several ways, wet, they attracted a variety of birds. And not just the large varieties I prefer, because they're easier to photograph and show some detail.
With one, probably Neotropic Cormorant.
Already a little bit agitated because humans were coming down the road in vehicles. Certainly these birds have seen vehicles before, just they never know what to expect from humans in them. Apparently JBHW has had several policies in regard to individual vehicles transversing their extensive lands. I'm hoping someday to get me and The Slider thoroughly lost out there, taking my own sweet time, with a tripod and all that patience I'm reputed to have.
But binocular and telescope birders move more quickly than photo birders. Often, I didn't even have time to set up a shot, let alone execute it. I didn't complain, because I was having too much fun, and as you will see, I got plenty good shots. I'm doling them out at 10 shots a day, because I have a couple other things that need doing these days.
Females have that black bit on their wings/back. Males may even be bigger. It's hard to tell here, where leg ends and the reflection begins. I'm not sure, but I don't think today added to my Life List — as if I had such a thing. I've thought about doing a Life List page, just so I can figure out how many there are. But I haven't photographed all the ones I've seen, nor remembered them, nor got them into focus, so I can't count them anyway. Most of those are on this journal's pages, however. Somewhere.
White Rock Lake
Coupla egrets standing and flying a fishing this cool (comparatively) early morning in Sunset Bay.
'Specially this very active Snowy Egret fishing in among the larger and much more substantial gooses.
Back and forth in the inner and middle ranges, close and far, in and out, catching itty bitty fishies, sidewise, right and left.
If those even are feathers. I don't remember any such thing, though here they are, more or less obviously somethings.
Waiting and preening and waiting some more.
Egret heading out toward the logs, and here's J R watchin' and focusing. Kinda lilting colors with that wingtip in the rising sun over the trees behind us and to the east.
One leaves, the other is coming in.
Elegant as always.
Out of here.
I'd been all over the east side of the lake and only found fairly common birds. I got nothing against common birds. Egrets are pretty common here, too. But it's nice to get some spick in my bird-photographing life from time to time, too. But I saw no spice there.
So I was heading home when I remembered seeing, this or that other egret (We saw two on our walk Sunday morning, so this could be one of those.) under the pier between the Old Boathouse and The New One, and I wondered if it might be there now. It was, but in the time I took to get the camera out and leveled on The Slider's window sill, up came this rower's boat, which elicited a flight reaction from our big white friend, who quickly decided not to leave, since there was decent fishing there.
The Latin across the side of the boat translates as "Go All Fired." Meanwhile, the egret strutted out of my view, so I moved up a few yards and continued shooting, as the boat guy quickly tied up and went inside.
The Great Egret watched carefully for fish.
And eventually caught something I could barely even see.
Having caught something large, this Mockingbird was hurrying to get it under control, because a bikler was speeding towards it along the sidewalk, as ever, mindless of any other bodies who might need that sidewalk just then. I saw impending conflict and struggled to get the Nikonery up, focused and ready to shoot.
Who could blame it? It's a big ol' juicy grasshopper. Not the sort of thing one wants to leave on a sidewalk with an impending bikler coming up the track. A whole one is so much more flavorful than a bike tire-squished one. I'm happy to note that the Mocker escaped with a couple of seconds to spare, but I was not quick enough to follow it into the shrubs.
I've never seen so many rabbits at White Rock as I have this year. We did have a mild winter and an extended and very pleasant spring, and the summer hasn't been utterly awful yet. Maybe that's what it takes for bunnies to abound.
Trouble is, I don't know who this is. what species? Name or number. Might have thought it were a grackle at first, but all that detail on its back and under side. I just don't know.
But here it is in profile and much more detail, except now I don't think it's the same bird. Uh-oh. Looks like I'll have to spend time with my I.D books. The best thing about photographing common, everyday birds, is that I don't have to have my nose buried deep in bird I.D books for hours. Too bad, J R.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to limit myself to ten images for each journal entry, so it doesn't take all day to put these things together. So this is the end of the beginning of what, as I write this, is still next month. But I do want to leave Anna's and my early Sunday morning walk on the top of last month.
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text and photographs Copyright 2013 by J
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My favorite answer is, "I don't
am, after all, an amateur.
I've only birded for seven years as of last month, although
I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally and
always amateurishly since 1964.
Thanks always to Anna.
counter stays with monthly content