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August 28 2014
I encountered a another birder with both binoculars and a scope thingy, who told that all there was were Least Sandpipers, whom I hadn't even noticed previously there was so much going on down there, so I started looking carefully in every direction, because when I say something like that, there's always several more fascinating species available if I just look.
But there were plenty of Least Sandpipers, and only once while I was there, did they flock around the spillway so I could focus on most of the whole bunch of them, thus get many in near-enough focus. The duck wasn't much help, but I always appreciate the presence of a Great Blue Heron, whom I also hadn't noticed before I shot this of the sandpipers flocking around on the Spillway.
Not that a Killdeer is anything amazing. But I like 'em, and for my camera to render this one this well that far away is some sort of minor miracle.
I keep looking back and forth from this photo to my Sibley's Guide to Birds wondering why that beak just looks wrong. And I flat don't know, but it does. Turns out, it's a juvenile Cattle Egret, so its beak looks just about perfect. Thanks, Erin M. Smith for the correct I.D.
Cute little splash as its left foot hits the water.
You and I have seen "transitional" Little Blue Herons on the Spillway before, and I hope to see them there again, but this was the best treat of the day, species-wise, and I almost didn't see it, because it kept disappearing into these islands of huge tall, rich green plants. I would have thought it/they would be all white by now.
Sometimes I amaze myself. I was just up to my usual, if it flies past me anywhere close enough to focus on, I'll pan along with it and and click at it awhile, not paying a whole lot of attention to the light or the scene, and this bird with all that detail showing bright comes up. Thank you, Universe.
Same bird a little ways down the track.
Sudden Snowy Chasing Food
August 27 2014
Just looks so un-Snowy Egret-like with its crop up and head down. I am not at all sure what it's doing, but it's probably doing it about perfect. I envy that.
But this time looking the other way. Great Egrets are bigger, have black legs and feet and yellow beaks. Snowy egrets have black legs, yellow feet and black beaks. I know, the sun got this Snowy's beak, so it shows yellow or almost white, but it's really just yellow, which is probably what is throwing me off for these last two images that just look wrong.
I have probably made thousands of photographs of big white birds preening feathers, but I don't remember ever seeing so many feathers fly away from that action. I know there's not many feathers flying here, but those four or five are still more than I've either ever seen before or seen in a long while.
Whether preening or just standing there staring off into space, sometimes it looks like it's gonna keep doing that nearly nothing for awhile, when suddenly it sees food out there in the water, and it speeds over there to catch it. That's the process here. Snowies are especially well known for sudden movements, turning on dimes and being fierce competitors.
Saying Snowy and Sudden in the same sentence can be from a little redundant to a lot. They fast.
Teetering and tottering, it looks like it's lost its balance, but I've never seen a Snowy do that. They're amazing to watch.
Or try to keep up with with a telephoto lens.
Might last awhile. Might not.
Yell0w-crowned Night-Heron in Greater Sunset Bay
I've been driving east on Lawther past the arboretum, because I love the view of the lake from there, and I often see birds not seen anywhere else. Plus, when I parked in the parking strip down the hill from Winfrey, then left and down the hill almost to the wet part of Sunset Bay, I have to walk a little. I need to walk a lot, but a little is a start. Then I realized that when I park and walk, I miss Greater Sunset Bay (the vast picnicking area, well away from the water) and its avian inhabitants like this Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and the Green Heron [below] I saw there last week..
So today I drove down Garland Road, turned left on Buckner Boulevard, and another left up Poppy Drive past the Hospital, right downhill to the park on whatever road that is, then left on Lawther toward and on into the loop that used to go around Sunset Inn restaurant (the building is still there, but it hasn't been a restaurant in many years. Not quite into the area where the one-way loop that probably several dozen people a day drive the wrong way on, I saw a bird standing upright, who looked a lot like this adult Yell0w-crowned Night-Heron, who was just whom I wanted to see and maybe photograph somehow differently than the way I photographed it last week.
I was hoping to catch it flying, but when it instead caught a bug, I was happy to photograph that. I followed it at a safe distance, as it kept changing its mind where it was going. As usual, I keep hoping that as I get more familiar with this one bird, I'll be able to tune in and get pictures of the sort I wouldn't be able to on my first or second sightings of it.
Then, when The Slider and I were parked at just the wrong angle to catch it flying, it flew toward the bay. So I drove over there and very carefully searched the creek. Twice. Eventually, I gave up, and just went off to Sunset Beach to see what I could find. I saw Shirley B, with her binocs trained on a dark lump very close to where I call Sunset Beach, but with the sun behind it, so it rendered darkish and low contrast.
I wasn't making much headway shooting into its shadow, so I moved out of right up against a tree that helped me steady the blunderbuss, and arced out from its shade just a bit to get a better sunlight angle and wowie, zowie, look at what it got me. Hard to imagine how a little different angle sometime can almost work miracles, and I made it bigger, because it's so much better. It's even a different color in the sunshine.
Shirley watched it awhile, then walked on down the lake, but I drew carefully closer, trying not to spook it. I'm not sure I'm who did that, or whether it was hungry enough to look more closely among the plants at the edge of the lagoon. But it was soooo nice to catch it flying when I was ready to catch it flying, and I could pivot and keep following it up the lagoon..
I struggled to keep focus on the bird, and I managed to catch this, which I think is the best shot of my day, although the next one down is very nice, too.
Then it landed in a florid display of loose feathers, and I got that, too..
Then it stepped off the log and proceeded very close along the shore, step by step.
And when it got too close to this bramble of current or former tree, it paused, raised its wings and …
… grabbed all the air it could get in its hyper extended wings, jumped and …
Flew off, still dripping.
Took a bit to get my focus back. More nice pic of Yellow-crowned Night-Heron feathers.
So it was at this point that I quit following and let it go its own way. Nice of it to pose flying for me, though.
All Around the Lake
August 22 2014
'Course I don't really know its name. But it was fairly close when I started tip-toeing down the pier at Sunset Bay, and even though I was very careful and quiet with no sudden movements, it still jumped into the air, flaw left and back, circling around past that back log and off.
I think I remember last year about this time someone posting on Bird Chat that he'd seen the FOS (first of season) American Coot, and I reported back that a few of them stay and stay and stay, so Coots are never entirely absent from White Rock Lake, but lately it seems thee's more than there has been. Coot mobs just around the corner?
Seems like I take this shot every time I'm in Sunset Bay early in the morning, because there's always a lot of Woods there then, but after another hour or so, they fly, fly away. As we shall see.
Along the Upper Spillway from the Garland Road side.
I don't know for sure these are the same young Wood Ducks who I see almost every morning across the lake at Sunset Bay, but it stands to reason, since the Spillway is the exact direction they fly off into every day.
When I first saw this bird, I thought it was tan, giving yet another color for the Great Blue Heron to appear — along with blue, gray, green and purple.
Juvenile Great-tailed Grackle making noise. And he let me get even closer.
Took me awhile to get a decent place to park The Slider, so I could photograph the Crows — was about five of them total, but they kept flying off when a line of cars came down the road. When I finally got them, and they all flew off for awhile, I got a chance to look around and there was my first of season Red-tailed Hawk.
It's been way too long between hawks lately. So nice to find one just across the street where the crows were peeling something up off the road and eating it, when they could. Cars whooshing by on this side, and bike-lers and walkers at some distance behind the bird, so he was watching the trail, too.
Well, it looks like he is. He came waddling up to The Slider, and I thought it'd be begging for bread, but he didn't. I guess it was just curious. Me, too. When I started to back out of there, I had to be very careful, because Muscovies are slow and … well, slow and in the way, and he had no real sense of danger being that close to a wheeled vehicle.
Been awhile since I've got up close and personal with a Monk Parakeet. I did visit the Big Hum to see how many nests the electric company had torn down lately — most, but that's old news.
Sun coming over them and into the front of my lens, so everything's a little yellowed-out here.
This was the only YCNH I saw from my perch, legs spread farther than they usually go, hunched down on the bridge holding my camera/lens, so it'd hold very still — except when some bike-ler drove by.
Sunset Bay Again and Again
photographed August 20, posted August 21
Actually, there's two lagoons I fairly regularly photograph in and around. This is the one east toward Buckner (but not at all close to) Boulevard, off Sunset Bay. The other one is up the creek toward the Main Entrance off Williamson Road at The Old Boathouse. And I wouldn't be surprised if there was a couple more places people might call lagoons at White Rock. Until I looked it up. It's either "a stretch of salt water separated from the sea — well, that ain't it. Or a small freshwater lake near a larger lake or river. Not really one of those, either. Or an artificial pool for the treatment of effluent or to accommodate surface water that overflows drains during heavy rain. Nope, not that, either. Neither of my lagoons qualify by those definitions, which I assume, are just wrong.
I can't guarantee it's the same Anhinga that I started noticing at the end of last month, but Shirley Boyd, wife of the late and long-time White Rock Lake Nature Photographer George Boyd, and I watched it last last month from the Pier at Sunset Bay, after I'd been photographing it for several days. At first, it was free of attachments, then later it acquired one that appeared to be hooked to its beak, and not that is gone, thank goodness. Anyway, Shirley asked Master Naturalist Chris Runk and learned that our Anhinga was the first Anhinga sighted at White Rock Lake, so I contacted Jim Peterson, whose website keeps track of sightings, so that brings my sightings up to three — the Bald Eagle, a Merganzer pair, and the Anhinga. It always thrills me when I am able to photo a species that hasn't been seen before. I was also first to photograph a Tricolored Heron at the Rookery, but I didn't know about Peterson's sightings site, so I didn't know to note it till after someone else did.
After it flew out past the Anhinga and farther out into the bay, it and one other Great Blue Heron flew back to the right, and up into what I have been calling the Hidden Creeks area, but now I am finally pretty sure is actually Dixon Creek. Only it wasn't alone, there was another Great Blue Heron flying with it. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get more than one GBH in the telephoto picture at a time. GBHs tend to be solitary, but now three times in my life, I have seen two GBHs flying together.
I used to call the Great Blue Heron who hung out and hunted in Sunset Bay, "The Bay Gray." Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing if this is the same one, but they live to be as old as 23 years, so it's not out of the question.
One of the quirks of my 300mm lens is that it does not render great distances particularly well. It's great at longish, but not too long distances, and wonderful closer up, but this distance is probably just past where it renders stuff best.
I was trying to photograph two crows, then one flew away, then the other one jumped into the air, and I photographed it flying away, and this was it.
Which is fortuitous, because I see a lot of young Wood Ducks in Sunset Bay, and I keep photographing them more, even though I have hundreds, if not thousands of pix of them already.
Wood Ducks of this age and development are actually termed Adult Nonbreeding Male Wood Ducks. Apparently this year's crop of young Wood Ducks was particularly successful at not getting eaten, mauled or messed with by dangerous weather, so we got a lot of them in Sunset Bay, and I just love photographing them, even if I have done so so many times already this year.
Another male Adult Nonbreeding Wood Duck, this time reflected.
August 19 2014
I spent several long minutes on the pier, even though Shirley had told me there was nothing interesting, but it was always nice. I wasted several minutes photographing a preening Great Blue Heron who ways way too far. Eventually, I gave up, got back in The Slider and drove through the rest of Sunset Bay — the part that has no lake shore I drove slow and paid a lot of attention to what was on either side, and sure enough, I saw a brown lump too far for me to focus on.
I wasn't entirely sure it was a bird. It might easily have been a lump of something much less interesting. But I parked on a gravel area left of the winding road, got out and walked at an angle not too near the lump. As I got closer and focused it, I could see it was a Green Heron. That startled me. It had been on the slope down to that creek, then it snuck slowly down to the creek itself, me clicking away, holding onto trees and rocks to help me steady the lens. I captured the actual fish-catching as long blurs, so, sorry, you don't get to see them.
One guy nearing the far bridge asked if I didn't really need a tripod for a lens that big. I told him I didn't. He asked how. I told him I was very careful. The lens has Image Stabilization, though Nikon calls in something else, and I hold it into and against trees and benches and vertically protruding concrete bridge parts, all of which I used this early (nine thirty-ish) morning. I don't think he believed me, but I can get away with stuff like that, because I've been practising a long time, and I usually only print these images at 72dpi here on the web. And I don't make big prints of shots from low contrast days when every time I look through the viewfinder, my glasses fog up.
Although many of these would make perfectly acceptable — to me, anyway — printed images, because I accept grain and visual noise as perfectly acceptable building blocks of photographic images, although I still strive for perfection, knowing full well how unlikely it is.
Took it awhile to get the fish aligned just right to swallow, so I had a bit of time to focus in while it was busy.
Like all the herons I know about, its throat and neck began expanding immediately after it grabbed the fish, even while it was still folded back. Here we see the crop that seems to come up when it's done something it's proud of, so it looks that important little bit more mighty.
Here, it's stretching its neck/throat about as far as is possible, its chin stripe appearing more like a grimace than usual, swallowing and beginning to digest. I think somebody else began talking with me then, and I was happy for the bit of sosh, but when I looked back, it was gone. Which was okay by me. I'd got some important bits, got them sharp and lusciously colorful. Nice. Then I drove to the Y, did that, and came back home for my good night's sleep, happy to have got some really nice pix for JR's Bird Jurrrr.
August 18 2014
I often point the blunderbuss up and hope to capture one or two shots as the sky rains birds into Sunset Bay while I'm standing on the pier hoping for birds.
By some miracle this time, I got all of this quick sequence of duckly action sharp in focus …
… as they performed controlled stall-like small craft falls …
… down past the pier and into the lagoon …
…out from Sunset Beach …
… where they settled, squabbling among themselves for awhile, then went on about their Mallardly business.
Glass windows kill birds - Read the full
story with "Open Article" link at top left.
Egrets Landing & a Yellow-crowned Night Heron Hunting
August 14 2014
The usual. Me standing on the pier in Sunset Bay looking for something interesting enough to follow for awhile till I get enough shots for today's journal.
Past some ducks, all low in the lakescape.
After awhile, I gave up on Sunset Bay proper and drove slow toward Buckner, keeping my eyes peeled for something moving that's not another human or an egret. Don't get me wrong. I love me some egrets almost any time, but it's nice, from time to time, to have something else a little more colorful to photograph.
I believe this is he — or she. Same almost exact place. It seemed very comfortable there, yet wary. I couldn't help but remember the YCNHs I saw in June this year hunting for and finding big, juicy worms in that very same environment. I was in The Slider when it seemed to be staring back at me. The exposure information file (EXIF) says I was 47.3 meters away.
Took its careful time watching not just both ways but every which way, before it jauntily crossed the road. Although it ended up crossing back after it didn't find anything worth hunting down over there.
Ever ready to take to the air, if ever necessary.
It didn't seem to mind me, in The Slider, turning round in the middle of the road, and easing up to look down on it.
Notice how different the same, single bird can look in different kinds of light and shadow.
Hungry, probably, but ever so patient. Careful, quiet, and I watched the people walking down the path on the far side of this Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and down the road on this side, and not one of them saw this bird, though several were openly curious what on earth I was photographing.
Mesmerizing in its deep intension and so still it very nearly melted into the background sometimes. When I turned around to check traffic or bike-lers or other dangerous objects, it always took several seconds to re-establish just where the Yellow-crown was in the landscape. There'd been people on the bridge back behind the creek it is so intently staring down into here, but it waited and watched for them to leave, and only when all of them had gone did it slip into the plants down into the creek where food often hides.
I'd already shot about a hundred frames when I left. But the bird was still hungry, and it was still hunting. Although it never seemed to figure out I was watching it carefully through my 10X lens, I wanted to get out and stay out of its way and just hope it found what it needed and gobbled it down quickly. I suspect I'll see it again sometime.
Egrets, Ducks and Landscapes
August 12 2014
Love that late evening — past 7:30 PM — sun lighting on the spillway.
I believe they were fussing and fighting about who had the right to fish right there where the both were. As usual with Snowies, nobody won.
Rather inelegant Great Egret form, but friendly ducks.
Same bird and same landing as the last shot on the Upper Spillway.
One of my favorite things to do with a 510mm lens is to photograph landscapes. So I did a bit of that today.
I tend to call Dreyfuss Dreyfuss Point, even though it's pretty obviously a round, but Winfrey Point is just as round and unpointed, and its official title is Winfrey Point. Winfrey may actually have become more popular after the building (The Dreyfuss Building) burned down. Here we see fishers, a bike-ler, various picnickers, the usual scattering of cars and trucks, including one rounding the rounded point. Sometimes in the evenings it is possible to drive around the top of the hill that occupies most of the land mass here (up from the fitted-stone wall) and notice how many vehicles are up there with the AC on but no humans in sight.
Not sure where exactly this was, but there's a good bit of mown grassland behind this lovely bit of tree. I looked all over the place today, for birds, and I only found a few at The Upper Spillway, but I was in a photographing mood, so I took them where I found them. I was enchanted by the light on this remnant of arboreal splendor, and I tried not to photograph it, driving right by at first. Then I backed up, slanted The Slider across the middle of the road, clicked ti once, and continued on my way to wherever I was going.
I didn't want the landscapes to take over today's journal entry, so these last two shots were actually shot with the rest of the Upper Spillway shots somewhat earlier.. There was a wind there then, so it had something to lean against.
This much of this photograph was a tiny portion, so I didn't notice that tether on what appears to be both its legs, but it doesn't seem to stop or even slow it down it from catching fish.
Looking for a Green Heron
August 11 2014
Starting out at Sunset Bay, I would have photographed just about anything interesting, but we've seen coots and Wood puppies often already. I half had the idea I might see a Green Heron there, so I carefully checked some of the taller trees I've seen them in during past summers, but I saw none there.
I don't remember where this is/was, but there weren't any obvious Green Herons there, either.
I'd hoped to find maybe something interesting at the Upper Spillway, but all I found was wonderful light on the buildings along the same edge as the dam.
They're probably not called Pom-pom Flowers, but I found them in the rich, dense green along the side of the pier at Sunset Bay. These images are in my usual strict chronological order, but I don't see how that could be, but be it were.
These were at the boat ramp across from the Old Boat House. Great flapping Muscovy Drake. I like using that d word. It seems so archival / fancy when I could just call it a male, and you'd already know what I was talking about.
Lovely, soft detail in our little duck friend here.
A closer-up of the Muscovy. I used t see them all the time, now I only rarely do. I wonder if they've been targeted by poachers.
I'm sure the chain is for keeping that beautiful chunk of driftwood attached to where it was at the Leaky (new, gleaming silver) Boat House
Probably one of the houses overlooking the Lagoon at the Old (classic, beautiful, adobe-ish) boathouse.
That's what the guy on the left, who seems to be directing's T-shirt says. This tableaux in front of the Leake new boat house.
At least I think this is a juvenile grackle. I like its multi-color wing feathers. So much more distinctive than just dark brown, black or gray. Although when it grows up, if it really is a grackle, it'll sometimes be iridescent blue, too. This guy was on the bridge by The New Old Boathouse Bridge, where I've often seen Green Herons this late in the season, although I didn't entirely expect one this day, because it was rather pleasant, and I usually only see them when it's hot as blazes.
But what, I wondered, if they came for the heat, but had to eat something while they waited there. I kept looking ever so carefully every which way.
And here's the hero of our today's little story. When I visit the Old Boat House area, this is whom I always think of, because that's where I have most often seen Green Herons. It was obvious once I got set up on the rumbling new wood bridge there, just as the crowds of high school kids evaporated from the area. Hard to find a parking space when they're active, but simple again, once they're gone or leaving.
I was just lucky this lovely little heron found something while I was already tuned and focused in on it. Clicking away at any movement whatsoever, then suddenly, it sees something …
And just as suddenly stretched its body out farther than imaginable …
… to grab it.
Just for a little perspective, these birds are about 18 – 22 inches long with wingspans of 26 inches, although they seem impossibly smaller than that. This whole plump of feathers could probably fit into my two smallish hands of fingers and thumbs curled together. Tiny little birds. Seven ounces. I'm so amazed my new telextender and my old already pretty good 300mm lens got so much sharp detail when I was — well, the camera did not record how far I was from it — not exactly close.
f9 at 1/1,000th at about 510mm amazes me. They hang out in marshes, lakes, canals and mangroves, according to my always informative but out of print, Lone Pine Birds of Texas, and they "slowly stalk or stands and waits, stabs prey with bill, eats mostly small fish."
Then look for some more. I figured I'd bothered it enough, and I finally had some closish-up pics of a Green Heron. The one other shot I got this summer came from that same lagoon, only I photographed that one without actually see it. Just shot in all the places a Green Heron might be found at, and sure enough, I got one. This Green Heron encounter was a little more personal. I kept worrying I was too close, but it didn't seem to notice me. Which is perfect.
Tracking Birds at TRAC
August 7 2014
First birds we heard at TRAC were crows. I hoped they were mobbing some more hawk or something, but they were just making noise.
I remember ducking when these guys flew over way too high to need to duck, but I felt their presence when they did, although not quick enough to render even one in any great detail. Or get them flying toward over me.
But I kept trying.
The topmost bird in this tree is a White Ibis. I think the second one down is a juvenile White Ibis, but all the rest look like Great Egrets.
Most usually, I see Great Egrets standing on the ground very near White Rock Lake, so I still am bemused that they, like almost every other bird I've ever seen, hang out in trees.
I don't know who else it could possibly be. But I bet there are those among you who do.
The fence is along a boardwalk close to the Trinity River Audubon Center. We were too eager early and too tired after to use its extensive air-conditioning to cool our overheated bodies, and we both assumed this fast-flying bird was a Great Blue Heron, although clearly — even through chain link fencing — it was not. Nor was it flying into the fence. It was definitely on the other side. As I have photographed many birds behind the grids of cages, I focused on this bird on the other side of this fence.
About as close as I got, and this was not close. That same old lens slightly less extended is at least the 10% sharper that I expected.
We used to get more than our fill of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at The Fort Worth Drying Beds (so says the sign on its front gate, but everybody calls it the Village Creek Drying Beds, or VCDB. But we haven't been interested in walking that far much since they turned it from an easy bird-viewing crisscross of roads to a walking-only site.
Before that, they used to visit White Rock Lake, which was even easier. But very nice to see them whenever we do. Beautiful pink beaks and legs and luscious colors upper and lower for ducks anytime.
In a way, today was the first real-world test of my new 1.7X telextender, which focuses quicker than my strained 2X, and I haven't missed the slight extra magnification. I had an amazing percentage of sharp pix today, even the tiny birds.
Splattering water behind them. All this color and beauty, and their babies are fluffy and striped and amazing gorgeous.
A nice lady at Dallas Audubon told me about an intensive experience birding with one of our outstanding Dallas-area birders, where after a few hours with tips from him, she understood shorebirds. They all still confuse me. I wasn't at all sure I'd shot two of them today or just one.
Whatever it was, it was the same as the one before. I will figure its identity out, though maybe not soon. I'm pretty sure this was the same bird as I'd just photographed, meaning the one just above.
Of that much I am certain. I know my little brown birds much less well than my middle-sized shorebirds, but I keep learning a little bit at a time.
Distinctive-looking bird. I wonder who it is?
Different enough from one of the other two shots of shorebirds that it's probably a second one, and likely not a third. Meaning I only have to name two this time.
This is another one I don't know yet, although I remember watching another little bird some time ago, dive from the far side of a pond or part of an bay, flash down with the same elan as did this busy tyke.
Amazing that camera, lens and extender manages to focus so sharply on something that's no more than a few inches long and really far away.
As in questionable. It was in the pond a few feet closer than the little tiny brown bird that kept diving off its reedy perch and splashing into the water below. Way too far to tell what it was getting. I'm getting pretty certain that this was only the second shorebird of the day. But which one?
But it might be a trick of the light and shadows.
I bet this is the very same Cardinal who hangs out around the big glass door out to the boardwalk in front of, on the side of or whatever orientation they claim it is, out, off or by TRAC. I've seen this guy before, and will probably see him again.
And I especially appreciate the focus on his sudden jump.
And speaking of focus!
A real prize. And a booger to capture, which I only managed once in a half dozen attempts before it disappeared into thin air. Hot, but thin. My first hummingbird this year.
More identifications to come. If I tried in this hot, sleepy mode, they'd mostly be mis-identifications. Maybe later.
the evening of August 5, 2014
I didn't plan on photographing the rain. For that matter, I didn't plan on attending White Rock Lake. I was a little hungry, and just curious. I'd used my little camera a few days ago, and that turned out so well, I thought some more experimenting with it might be fun. It's such a little camera, and so easy to use, etc.
It wouldn't have been difficult to prognosticate rain, but I was enjoying the atmosphere — its look and feel — too much to plan anything. I'd been fussing with a DARts page and diddling with this and that and the other. I needed a break. I took it. The rain did not interrupt. It just made it more interesting.
There's no order here, chrono- or any logic. If anything, they're in the order I worked them up. So I'm more likely to know I like the ones farther up this stack.
I'd been meaning to photograph this place properly. After the rain is when it become important to Anna and me, because it's the second loudest insect noise place at White Rock. We've each extensively recorded just the sounds this place makes after a rain, when all the insects take over the sound spectrum. I can't wait.
Yeah, a guy in a Yoga-like pose, waiting. Everything out there was wet. I took my time aiming The Slider so I didn't get inundated. Luckily, I had a big towel to wipe the window-buttons and my left leg, which was still sopping when I finally got to the Thai place after the rain went away. A little later, I changed some settings and photographed Mr. Wet again.
Taken from the other side of something, somewhere. I've never seen this object glow so perceptibly before. Nice yard.
This building has always looked like someplace bought by somebody who had too much money and too little taste. Anna loves it. I'm beginning to like it in the rain, where the dark brown bricks turn more reddish, and I like the planes of the roof and sides and the compression of all that from using the longest end of that little Panasonic zoom.
I didn't like driving in the rain when it was really coming down, but I didn't like being where I'd pretty much explored the immediate area with my camera. So I just sat here awhile, enjoying the relative calm of a neighborhood full of trees.
I worried about this shot being too pat, too schmaltzy, and I didn't worry about that with any of the other shots. I still like it, but …
Not sure I could easily identify this place if I hadn't taken the picture so soon ago this evening, but it's across the end of the bay I call Parrot, where there's a low walking bridge and a long narrow parking lot that parallels the road. This is closer to that short tunnel that leads to the neighborhood park I'd usually have to go through to see that park in what seems an entirely different neighborhood. I've often photographed egrets in this stream, but I've never seen so much water in it.
After I'd named this and placed it here, I came up with another pic that should have been called this name, but by then it had been taken, and I was in no mood to go back and redo anything, so caught up in the experimental mode I was.
So I just named this one Porch. The other one was a pic that included one of the porch lights on the Bath House Cultural Center on the other side of the lake. This was somebody's private space, but the view is public, so I'm probably okay. I don't know where I was, although there may be some sort of trail through my pix today, except they are not being presented in geographical order, either. This shot, however, is truly about porch light.
These were close to that guy sitting up on one of these off to the left from here, but this composition thrills me more than that composition.
I loved it when I realized that jar of water had to be the title. Eventually, I was eliminated all of the doubles. I like the jar for translucing what little light was out there, his armpits and the foliage. This one wins.
I've always loved the colors and stripes on the wood chunks that keep people from driving into the park in some few places around the lake. I figure if the Park Dept. really wanted none of us parking in the grass, they'd put these wonderful abstractions all the way around. I've photographed these guys more often than you've seen them in the Birders' Journal, and I adore them when they gather together and don't quite match.
I had not intended to include that car, which is not terribly unlike The Slider but it's serving as a stand in this time, even though it's moving faster than I was thinking at the time. And I didn't check it in time to take the pic of the lights on the far horizon again, so I'm stuck with this, so I'm warming to it.
The bridge was on the wrong side to photo out the window going either way on Lawther around the edge, so I drove up the hill I sometimes park on the lower end of, parked Slider crosswise in the middle of the road to take this. Kinda nice it doesn't exactly look like this when I think of it. I might have liked it better with more light on the road, but there wasn't much there, and the bridge was already plenty bright.
This is, I think, along that road overlooking the lake from that residential area along the look-down road, but I liked the feeling of light beyond, and I never even noticed the lamp.
I wanted to call this The Island, but it's not, and it's also not anywhere near as skinny an island as it looks. Just a bend in the road around the lake.
I've always appreciated the lake's landscape, and I used to photograph it more often and considerably less successfully, so it's nice of the hunger and the rain to have pulled me out of my complacency to drive around and take these pix tonight. There might be something in the notion that these were my less favorite shots so I did them last, but I'm warming to them quickly now they're up.
When I shoot with the big Nikon, I can see before and after every shot. When I shoot a quick sequence on this camera with these settings, it just goes dark and I have to hope I'm aiming it about right, although it does continue to focus before shooting — or it mostly stayed in focus due to some other minor miracle. There's a better setting, but I don't remember what it's called or where in the Panasonic Lumix G-5's labyrinthine menus that setting is, so I didn't bother.
This is one of two shots of that sign, though the compositions are different enough that if I hadn't called your attention to it, you might not have noticed.
Because I created my own map and I had no idea what the City might be calling this place, I got to rename it for a bird I'd loved seeing and photographing there. It was raining heavily when I shot this, and though I noticed the portacan in the big middle of the composition, I did not notice that there's a guy standing in it, looking out and wondering if it'd be worth it to get out of that smelly place but get really wet.
The rain's clearing, but we can still see it bouncing off the metal floor. I used to call the area this little bridge and the path beyond leads to Thistledown Road, before the City plowed up the fields, destroyed the amazing variety of plants that used to grow there, the main path, and the several access paths that angled down sharp in sometimes mud but let me and fisher persons I never even saw, sit on a big log at the peninsula-most point and just stare out at the water.
Someone probably thought they were way too dangerous. Then they replaced all that natural wonder with a wide, concrete path that curved over to the bridge that for a couple weeks got to sing to its heart's content, even if it scared everybody who walked over it. It was a good scare.
This is another of a pair of very similar images of this same phenomenon, but because I finally chose this one, you won't get to compare them.
I don't think I ever saw this place as red before, but even the trees are infected with that color, so it must be true.
And in the end, I decided I liked this one better. As I type this, it is early Wednesday, so there'll be more birds and likely less landscape tomorrow.
Testing with that Snowy Egret
August 5 2014
Got my new 1.7 x extender to replace my torqued-out 2x today, and rushed off to the lake before I had to call about standby jury duty. Meanwhile, I'm changing over to a night-sleep pattern instead of sleeping all day and missing all the good things, so I slept in, and barely had time. Rushed off to the lake, decided on Sunset Bay, certain something there would need some quick photographing, and was surprised to see most everybody gone but the gooses wandering down the grass and a few ducks plying the finally-settled muddy waters.
Didn't see my favorite, hyper-active Snowy Egret till I was set to go somewhere else and in kinda a hurry. It standing on a log resting is most unusual, but I clicked at him and was almost instantly rewarded with a quick turnaround bound into the air.
With a fist-dripping while it begins checking out what's on the left.
Water's barely inches deep around there, making egrets and herons a perfect place to fish and do gymnastics. My favorite Snowy was off and flying'.
Off full force in one direction, then turning on a dime the other way. No energy lost in changing directions. It's always all there, no — there, no — over there.
Tippy toes dripping and it was off after something new worthy of eating if it could catch it.
I sometimes think Snowy Egrets are switching back and forth among their many fishing tricks so quickly they must have the most scattered of brain powers, but they've really got a one-track mind. FOOOD! And any technique necessary or why not try this or that or the other, then there's always... will do if it feeds the hunger.
It has faster reactions that I do, but I followed him (her?) split second by second, and amazingly, kept it in sharp focus all those seconds of dashing this way and that and this again. So much fun, and yes, the new eXtnder works pretty good. No problems, and I even rigged a splint to carry it through high-torque situations, so it doesn't twist between solid lens and solid camera through the movable lowest common denominator fulcrum of extender, which may be my issue with the other one. Feels solid now, but then it's new, if I can remember to always care for it in the splint or other solid place, maybe it'll last longer than that last one, that may yet live again, when I send it back to Nikon with high hopes.
August 4 2014
Driving past the hospitals and cocking The Slider semi-sideways in the middle of the road, so I can stick the Pany G5 with my 100-300 (200-600mm equivalent projected image size) telephoto lens out the driver's window to get this without it being distorted by its double curved windshield.
I liked the tree whorls and the squirrel's pose being the tree.
They're really just black and black and black, with some brown, but when I photographed it underexposed with the color turned a teensy bit up, it turned the bluish of the sky and red of the sunlight splattering through the park.
I knew my new, sharper, faster extender that will do till I send off and get back by doubler for my 300mm behemoth, would be here soon, and I wanted to experiment with my other, significantly lighter camera and lens that let me decide a lot of settings based on real light coming in, not hoped for correct exposure.
I've shot toward this Great Blue Heron standing on that faraway log so many times without ever once rendering the exposure, color and contrast just right so many times with my Nikon, I don't even try anymore. It may not be a great shot, but I like this.
Snorking breakfast with ripples.
Another photo exposure nightmare — bright white bird, dark duck shapes and that leaning f-shaped log that I almost always overexpose with the Nikon.
Helps the habitat, and I see it every time, but I rarely photograph it unless there's a bird.
Scrumptious light and colors. No wonder so many birds hang out "on the logs." I would.
More Mallards, who are our most common ducks, if we don't count all the Easter Ducks that get dumped off and grow up.
And I think I'll probably go ahead and call it one, as dangerous as that can be if you're as bad a bird identifier as I am. Like some puppies, it's got big feet to grow into.
She was looking up just before she looked over her left shoulder to see something.
That's female Mallard.
The nicest thing about shooting with my Panasonic Lumix G5 instead of my Nikon is that when I look through the viewfinder, I can see what the resulting image will look like, so I can adjust the light balance, exposure, focus and all that photo stuff — before I click. When birds aren't moving fast, I have loads of time to preview and get all that right the first time. With the Nikon, it's pick some settings, click, chimp (like a monkey looking down at the LCD) the resulting image, attempt to adjust the adjustments to make it better.
And when there's light as gorgeous as it was this morning, there's just so much happy light to choose from.
And maybe, if they're lucky, get to stop some cars.
They are, after all, essentially farm animals with not nearly that much to do except get in the way of ducks having sex as the self-appointed moral guiders of Sunset Bay.
Rather ordinary white ducks.
Leaving Sunset Bay proper and heading in the general direction of Poppy Drive up the hill and past the hospitals. Except I didn't go there, I drove around past Dixon Creek, Stone Tables and those other big, beautiful lines of trees and green grass that it always amazes me people picnic on, although I'm on the lookout for birds.
It's a one way from the Bath House side around the point of Dreyfuss and back behind me, but so very many bike-lers and drivers and everybody else ignore the signs to drive left up that way. I go up the 10mph hill off to the right , and that's from where I photographed the runner.
I got bike-lers, but I really wanted a runner. So I waited up on top of old Dreyfus, having lined The Slider up just right to let in a lovely morning gentle cool breeze through, then just when I was about to give up, I saw a jogger, so I waited, and she finally ran through the sparkling concrete past the sign under the tree toward Stone Tables, and I clicked and clicked and clicked, and in this one shot, her hair bounces to sparkle in the sunshine.
In another story on another site, I called this area an Upper Middle Class neighborhood. I wasn't so sure today, but I like the flag, peace symbol and Aston Martin sticker left of the rear window.
The water is moving pretty fast along the top edge of the dam, and this Great Egret is having a time of it just staying in the same place. Lots of fancy footwork just to stand in one place long enough to catch some fish. It's a challenge, but there are almost always some birds up there making the attempt. Smaller, weaker birds only try it when the water is slower.
But it was hardly the only one racing against the stream jut to hold still. I love the bright plastic grocery cartons, red in the gray land and water-scape. Today's journal entry is arranged geographically from the top of the dam to the Lower Steps where the water takes a sharp left turn, then flows east out along one of Dallas' many "White Rock Creeks" toward I-30. There are usually egrets all along that length.
Leaning in to keep its legs beneath it.
There always seems to be a few Great Egrets at the top of the dam. Must be a great place to pick off fish hurtling toward it.
And nice to be able to take to the air sometimes when sure-footedness is impossible.
This is a ways down from the dam and the concrete surface below it.
There's almost always a lot of ducks on the mid-spillway.
And that tree was just over the raging river sluicing below past the island the tree was on and the concretized land mass and sturdy fence I was leaning against to take this Black-crowned's picture. Herons rarely stand so nonchalantly close to humans, but those storming waters below make all the difference. He knew it was safe, and I was careful.
Who was fishing on the slanted concrete apron that surrounds the lowerst spillway, where I keep seeing fisher persons illegally down there and worry about them falling into the water. The only heron I've ever seen fall from that apron was around under the walking bridge and up the part of the apron that parallels Winstead Drive. It was a juvenile — being, I think, chased and taking way too many chances. I suspect it learned some lessons there.
One of several webs woven along the steps side of the walking birdge over the lower steps.
Since I've been shooting without that doubler, I've been photographing just about any bird who flies over, and especially flocks. I always wonder whether the now, mush sharper lens will show any detail in the birds, but it would help if there were a bright sun shining. Especially if we could get it to shine up.
posted August 2 2014
TRAC is Trinity River Audubon Center, and here's their website. Anna and I have been there many times, and the resulting photographs have been on this journal often. Use the Site Search link at the top of this page for more info.
These top three are my favorite photographs by Tommy Fisher.
People are often amazed when they see a small bird like this night heron put something that looks bigger than their head, down its throat. But that's where everything goes with herons, and whole — no chewing. Just down the hatch.
I still have not, but seeing a Roseate Spoonbill in Dallas — or Mesquite — would be a special thrill. I'll eventually see and I hope photograph a spoonbill here. But I have seen and photographed many of them south of here, especially along the South Texas Coast, and more recently at the Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area southeast of Corsicana and I hope to do more of those, too.
I saw a couple of Tommy's photographs, and I asked him for some more. I kinda wish I'd been quicker about it, so I could have put his photos — not all of which he had photographed by that time — with my pix of the park where Anna and I visited him late last month, but I'd always rather put recent photographs on or near the latest ones.
I hadn't seen a thrasher since I stopped birding in the Lower Rio Grande Valley several years ago, because my parents moved from there to San Antonio, where the birding is pretty good, but I've never seen a thrasher here, although I bet they have them. San Antonio is only 300 miles south of here. The Valley was 500.
All text and photographs Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission from and payment to the writer or photographer.
I am an amateur. I've only been birding for about eight years — most all of which is documented in this Bird Journal, and indexed on the Index page. Lately I've been indexing on the top of each new page.
I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally since 1964.
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