Little Snowy Over a Big Duck
one got away today was a hummingbird, and it got away fast. Maybe the
first I've seen at the lake. Dark, bullet-shaped and about that
speed. My view was maybe four
of a second,
to see it more, and of course, photo it, stop it in its tracks.
It was among the thick reeds along Yacht
Club Row on the
east shore near Big Thicket,
and then it was gone.
That Little Hawk Again
Like Anna said, it was a day of Hs.
We also saw that Juvenile Red-shouldered
Hawk. Maybe it's easier
now we've tuned into the Hawk Channel, but I thought
it was a Mockingbird when I first saw it crashing through a tree.
that blunt, hooked nose, broad-striped tail and those penetrating eyes,
no doubt it's the hawk. The size makes it a juvie, and we assume it's the
watching as we continue our segmented circumnavigation of our favorite
Duck Island - lady mallards waiting in early
We also saw lots of ducks, of course. They're ubiquitous.
All swimming rapidly away from our every approach. I shot these guys from
distance, on an island under a pier.
Big-nosed Duck is not in my Golden Book of
big, orange-nosed duck was today's fave duck. I think it's new here,
at least new to me. Brilliant orange bill looks normalish duckly from the
quarter view above, but sidewise it's a real honker, long, heavy
The markings may be like calico cats, different every time.
Cock of the Walk - a Great Egret on The Boardwalk
And a couple of egrets. Today's big fun was a Great
Egret walking along the newish walk at the middle
yacht club. I liked the abstraction of its chosen place and the fact
that I got him in pretty good focus.
parallel to the wary bird, along the shore, attempting to duplicate its
big, long-toed feet and its peculiar gait of walking on wood slats. We
to see, but the eeg did it better.
The downer of today was finding the wasting carcass
of a Muscovy Duck in one
of the sailing clubs. Too far gone to tell what got it, but I pulled
some peculiarly dark green Muscovy feathers from its softing back. I identify
with those guys. They've always been welcoming and pleasant to us.
Anna and I once spent a half hour talking quietly
with a whole family of them up Hidden Lagoon in
deeper Sunset. They didn't run like most ducks do. They
just stood there and chatted quietly with us. That gentle attitude might
have got this one killed.
Muscovy Drake - That Face!
A Muscovy Duck kind of day of missed
timing and jangly nerves, but on that day, along the way on my walk, I
had a quiet little talk with the couple of Muscovies
who sit waiting at the first switchback turn on Lawther after the Garland
park entrance toward Winfrey Point.
The place needs a name, and I'm reworking a past proposed
City map of the lake, putting my and the real names on places. This one
might be Muscovy Point, but we can't forget the Duckfia, either.
The Muscovy Mrs.
When I slowed into direct view, the drake (guy duck)
walked down to greet me. I'm theoretically opposed to feeding ducks bread
should at least be Wheat Bread.), but I sure wished I'd had something to
feed the guy. He wasn't pushy or greedy, just stood there waiting quietly,
gently belying his size and apparent strength.
Green Heron on Bough
and echoes of quacks greeted us a little earlier this morning than usual.
A cool, crisp 85 degrees (It was 95 at ten last night, my AC
laboring.), not much of a breeze and clouds (I counted 30 in
one clump; at least four clumps across Sunset
Bay) of egrets in the distance.
I'd hoped to photo hawks and
crows, ended up photographing herons instead. Not likely I'd improve
from the last two days, anyway. Most of my crow shots were
dark and fuzzy.
Big Black Bee Enraptured
Three glimpses of that one juvenile Red-shouldered
Hawk, only once chased by an American
Crow. More often perched
near the tops of the same trees in mostly harmony. I figure yesterday
was peace talks, acrimonious as they were. Today is life as it continues.
While hunting hawk, Anna watched a small striped bird
she says is a Juvenile Downy Woodpecker and
I got blurs of gray and brown herons — Great
Blue, Little Blue, Yellow-crowned and Green
Herons — flying around the point or directly overhead.
walking mostly under the same trees up and around Dreyfuss — bees
but no dragonflies, we were about
I got an inkling to pause nearby and was awarded two
herons close and a bee even closer, all in a line into
Gray-Crowned Early Morning Heron
Does it look OLD to you, too?
I accidentally startled a Yellow-crowned
Night-Heron fishing — heard a splash and saw
it flap up to a low tree. Minutes later a Green Heron alighted
on a arched
directly behind the Yellow-crown,
who turned slowly. Waiting for good poses from both, fat black
bees suckling flowers sucked my attention from up closer.
Juvenile Hawk Losing
Briefly to Crow Attack
return to the same place twice, but this morning I was keen to see the
hawk again. I didn't get as much detail as yester, but this was more
interesting. That's a
big, lone American
Crow on top.
Crow vs. Hawk
The underdog, though it flew away in good health seconds
later, is the juvenile
Red-shouldered Hawk from yesterday.
Fred J Alsop III (in his Birds
of Texas) says
crows gang up on hawks and owls, attacking from above, driving
them into trees or out of the neighborhood. Here it's one-upping a juvie
Mystery Bird Coming This Way
Big, Brown Reddish Heron
I saw this Reddish
Heron flying across the lake from
Sunset Bay. The difficulty
was figuring out just what it was when I first and second saw it.
Two different birds. When it finally
turned and flew left, it looked like it was assembled from parts in two
different kits and someone forgot to paint it red.
Bety Baker tells me no Reddish Herons come this far from
the shore, so this must be something else. Not, I think a Little Blue,
which is the usual culprit. No telling...
Today I worked at it a little longer to get more new
dragonflies in focus. Fun was to amble through hundreds of them down
Dreyfuss' back walk where they hovered. Cool.
Juvenile Cooper's Hawk (corrected January 2008)
See note above.
Few birds in sight
should have clued me the hawk Anna'd seen fly off before I arrived was
still around. As often early, I was groggy. Some swifts tall in a tree,
big black birds (Crows?) on the roof and yard at Dreyfuss
Point, around the straight from the Bath
we continue our segmented walk around the lake, visiting places
we haven't in awhile. Last I was there
was spring, when egrets were tiptoing on the waves.
Hawk Standing on the Treetop
Then two noticeably large, hawk-like birds flew to
the top of a neighboring tree, and one disappeared. Poof gone! The other
portraits then let me pan it stately across the sky
Coolish with a breeze at 7, but the weatherguys already
say 106 degrees thisaft.
Bird book time
Cooper's Hawk is what they are. They eat frogs,
snakes, lizards and small mammals. Could be related to the
Red-shoulder we saw this spring north along the White Rock
Creek Trail. In these shots the
of the rising sun makes
them redder and more golden.
Grackle Gracking from the Reeds
too hot to do anything but drive-by birding day, and late, well into the
heat. I musta got out for the grackle gracking in the reeds but did not
stay long. 105 degrees is warm even for Dallas.
I know I parked on Lawther, AC still gushing, to
photo the little bird in the big numbered bird box. Both yaps open.
That kinda day.
Mr. Grackle Fly-by
dragonflies this very hot (104 degree) afternoon when I slipped by the
lake after an appointment, hoping to find a photable bird without getting
out of my car. Most any bird would do. But no such luck.
Settled for the oven at Tilly's
Point, where I tried for perfect exposure with preening
ducklings dark in shadows against a bright shore (flash helped). Then
aimed for the truly implausible — catching
those newbie dragonflies mid-air (got instead focusless
fuzzballs floating). Impossiblest of all, close flybys by Great-tailed
Grackles, Mr. and Mrs.
Mrs. Grackle Flying By
Sometimes it's worth sweating the impossible.
Dream the improbable dream ...
Two of Nine Gooses Running
walked today. More than a mile, where we usually don't along the long
loop from Sunset
Bay to Stone
Walking's largely why I go to the lake, but sometimes we only
watch and photo birds, sauntering from snap to snap.
Yester's grain man told us of 9 non Klingon gooses
at Sunset which we'd seen but never much noticed, so when we arrived today
there were the 9 crisscross marauding
the grounds en masse, nothing
chasing them, them chasing nothing, wild in the joy of gooseness.
Buncha Egrets and Ducks
Lotsa egrets and ducks there, too, of course, and they
cool in their detached elegance and ubiquitous there-ness, flapping and
fishing and long-neck posing out wading in the water, but just sorta so-what
in the face of a gang of big trundling gooses caught up in
fast flapping motion, racing
across the grass.
One Great Cloud in the Eastern Sky
It's been more than a 100 degrees all
week, and some rain could help.
zackly sure I wanted to come back to the lake after my little encounter
with the angry cop (plus getting burgled last week). Hid out home couple
days, but when started rainin' Satty evenin' I
find some friendly birds.
Portrait of an African Brown Mushing Bread
Which is not exactly what we found, but I like these
guys like old friends. Turns out the African Brown's last mate was stolen
guy in a car, instead of getting killed by one (according to one of the
guys who tosses grain for them and other birds 'round the lake every evening),
imagine it ended up on someone's table.
The guy who stole him is worthy
shot or tortured.
I hope he gets his.
Portrait of the China White
with a Mouthful of Bread
Lucky the other African
found a China
White, and it'd
be nice to know which was the guy and which the lady of the pair,
but they're a fine match. Both loud honkers and friendly in an aggressive
sort of way. Every time we see them, we have a chat.
While we were there watching, photographing and conversing,
the Brown seemed to choke a little, shaking his head and upper throat,
foot, jerking and swinging in mild desperation.
We could tell something was caught in his throat.
I would have, but wouldn't know what or how. Can you imagine
a goose Heimlich? The busybodies 'd probably call the cops again. Instead,
I told it to try some bread, and eventually it did, and that seemed to
I've always been defensive when these guys tilt their
heads down and come in low for my bare legs, but I'm gonna let them
at me, once, just to see if they bite (as some say) or don't (as others
claim). I might do jeans and a little cardboard (since I don't know
goalies), just in case. But it'll be an intriguing pursuit.
Revealing Public Shower
I 'm still shaking. Today's intense encounter was with a cop. He drove
by where I was stopped on the No Parking side
of the Boat House lot. Twice. One of the water fountains about
a dozen feet away was leaking profusely and Great-tailed
to shower in the
water, strongly backlit by early morning sun.
It was a beautiful setup.
a big grack fluttering, flapping and splattering water every which way,
because he was behind the post. I should have shot anyway. I'd backed the
a better view, had my camera in hand, ready, waiting.
I saw the police car drive by, then back up parallel
mine. I opened the passenger window. The cop was very angry, demanded,
"You have permission from those people you're photographing?" I thought
asking Mr. Grackle if he minded me shooting his public shower, quickly
put that image out of my head.
"I wasn't photographing people," I told him
was shooting birds." The surly little cop didn't believe me. "I
you." I lifted my camera, willing to play back images. "I'm
waiting for the people to leave, so the birds will come back. I'm shooting
bathing in the dripping water. They splash all around." I pointed
to the fountain.
"You may be doing just that," he said, not
believing a word. "But if I get a call complaining about somebody
harassing someone, I have to come."
I tried to explain "the law"
— that no one can have a legal expectation of privacy in
a public place, but he cut me off at "the law."
"The law," he interrupted gruffly, "is
that if someone complains, I have to investigate." Complaints
rule. No assumption of innocence. No mercy. I was the bad guy, lurking
in the shadows, even if I couldn't be more obvious, my car on the
wrong side of the lot, big ugly camera in plain sight, windows open,
top back, radio playing quietly.
He demanded I.D, checked it, made notes
on a pad, gruffly warned me twice more about harassing people, insisting
I might be
doing what I said I
was doing, but he would have to investigate, walked back
his squad car and drove off.
I tried to wait for more grackles to use the still dripping
fountain. But I couldn't hold the camera still. I was
violently. Still am.
Illegal Public Splatter
I added Partial Pages for Ducks (showing
their violent "romance") and Red-winged
Blackbirds today, but was too sleepy from partying
with friends to walk. Anna said it
was wicked humid even very early. No breeze.
23 Egrets, 2 ducks
and 1 Great Blue Heron
The biggest issue with taking 967 photographs
(Great opportunity to watch and photo dozens of them at once)
is sorting through them to find the eleven
for here. It also allows me to be very
very picky, which may be a way of life. (I
eventually kept 252.)
Four Egrets Grouped: Great Egret bracketed by two
Egrets with a Little Blue Heron lower left
we found in Sunset
party. We'd never
seen that many — Great
Egrets and Snowy
Egrets — in one place before. Anna counted
and we saw more flying up the creek to the recent rain-filled
Egret Landing in the
Shallows Among Ducks
We also saw one Great
Blue Heron on
the far side of the creek, probably the one we've seen there
often — and the
usual array of ducks, who weren't altogether pleased at the
egret intrusion. There was much raucous,
scolding, quacking. But they're a loud bunch anyway.
Artsy Snowy Fly
Ducks eat vegetation.
Egrets catch fish. So no interspecies food fights. We also saw
Coot couple we were
pleased to see again and eager for more to return, so I can study
them for a Coot Page (See Index).
They're such an endearing little species with their mild manners,
permanent stealth mode black, white nose and ungainly big knobby
feet. The muddy shore crawls with them in winter and spring.
Grackle with Injured Claw
We watched amazed as one female Wood Duck attacked
another in the same insulting manner male ducks attack females during
mating (Think amphibious rape.), and a male Grackle
with an injured claw which, as we watched, gathered a half
Great Egret Flies By
do not tire of egrets,
as many as we've seen and photographed — as often as we
have seen them. Having this many fishin' and flyin' and fussin'
so close we could almost touch the elegant creatures was fascinating,
and we learned even
more about them with so many individuals in easy sight.
Ire Up; Feathers Out
— That's MY Fish!
Egrets get along, even in very close proximity unless they're
after the same fish. In that case, the bigger or more aggressive generally
wins. When their ire goes up, so does their plumage
and wings, making them seem larger and scarier. An angry egret is
Two Snowy Egrets Flying
Close Far Out Over
Luckily — I wasn't sure at first, but now I'm glad
— I'd brought my best (oldest and sharpest), though not longest or fastest
the first in
time. It's eight time faster (lets in more light) than my usual tele.
and stand-closes were
so near they filled the frame.
Low Stealth Mode — Uncoil that Neck and ...
Standing egrets are waiting. Stealth crouching egrets
— like cats — their bodies low, necks coiled and beaks close to
are finding food and very likely about to catch some.
... Inspect Carefully, then Grab.
The horizontal stripes are reflections.
Grimacing Green Heron
(The grimacing teeth are markings.)
About 8 inches high.
got me most confused about Green
Herons is the
apparent relative size of the kids and adults. The
first juvenile I saw seemed normal-sized for a heron (Yellow-
or Black-crowned Night-Heron varieties, he says holding his hands
about 2.5 feet apart), but the several
we saw today and yester seem tiny. Sibley says
about 7 ounces, and that seems plausible (holding my hands about
7 inches) for these but not the first.
I brought us back to the same reeds as yester today and
found what I suspect was the same bird standing in the same
aspect (legs switched). Then either 2 or 3 others down the coast to Winfrey
Point. Definitely Green Herons, with all the classic identification
points showing in today's brighter sun.
Fighting Eastern Kingbirds
I saw MysBirdMo
#2 from yesterday again, as expected.
This time two of them fighting on top of a tree. Scolding each other about
something. Acting all fierce and flappy. It was way too hot to be fussing
like that. Since this seems the right forum, I'll ask
for direct light next time I spot them. And focus.
Distant V of 27 Egrets
We also saw a long, distant V of egrets
flying across the by-then bright morning sky.
been on Lawther from Garland
Rd. to Winfrey Point since
they fenced over the Spillway, and discovered wild plants lining
the shore —
an official attempt to keep the rest of the shore
Eeg in the Weeds
The City's tried rocks and walls to minus effect. The
lake's lapping the paved path now. You suppose they've finally read eco
books published this century? Or just haven't
how to mow
Heron Shape— Compare
Green Heron (below) and
Juvenile Green Heron, (in July).
I tracked a shore-hopping Great
the weeds, hardly sensing the dark shape in the reeds behind. When the
eeg flew off, I honed in on the lump, slowly groking its heron shape
and stance. Sun still behind
the trees, I kept shooting into the low morning light, over exposing,
even flashing the puffy dark shape
nose, tall legs, and black
& white striped ascot.
The major Mystery Bird
of the Moment (MysBirdMo)
has to be the Green Heron,
are "small, stocky and dark." For that, this qualifies.
Of course it's not green,
but neither are the red and blue "green" herons. So who
is this rakish lump [I wondered till
the next day, when I I.Ded it for certain as a Green Heron.]
Today's MysBirdMo #2
I was even less successful focusing today's second mystery
bird and barely able to keep its flying form in a much larger frame. Tired
of paging mindlessly through the bird i.d books, I'm just sticking its
here. I suspect I'll see it again. That's how it works.
Maybe the sun will shine next sighting, I'll be alert, my lens
will focus and pigs will fly.
MysBirdMo #3: The Pointy-Nosed Stripey Chest
is actually a Female Red-Winged Blackbird.
Another little bird up close and in focus.
What it was when I shot it, I did not know. Rakish little varmint,
though. Amazed when Anna I.Ded it as a female Red-winged Blackbird. I should
The Duckfia Flotilla
We call these guys the Duckfia, because they gang up,
block traffic and insist passers feed them. We've seen them
up to four cars, whose drivers could not roll toward the mob.
So they sat there till we shepherded the miscreants back into the grass.
The pair of large Muscovy Ducks
at Lawther's first full switchback are regulars, though I hadn't
noticed the Domestic White
Duck hidden beneath its dark feathers, like an alternate identity
under a rubber Hollywood mask.
Mockingbird on a Rail
slowly realizing that by concentrating on the bigger (easier to photograph
and identify at distance) birds I am losing track
of littler ones. When a Northern Mockingbirdflies
or sings, I know it. But just sitting there on a branch
or rail, and I'm lost. I had to check my bird books for this shot,
even though I knew the several shots after were more failed attempts
at capturing a Mockingbird in Flight.
Maybe not exactly handsome, but certainly cute. I like
the biggish black beak and the subtle polka dot pants. Then the stripes
when it flies or attempts to
frighten or impress.
Another small bird the lake has by the thousands, if
not millions, are what I'm calling (till I know better)
Pole Swallows. I should know better. What I also don't know is
why they gather on phone and electrical lines. Is it warm? Is there
a buzz? I assume they are communal
creatures, so they don't mind being that close, but what exactly
are they accomplishing up there — except, of course, catching
up on all the latest gossip.
Juvenile Mourning Dove
Another plentiful bird I've ignored is the dove, Mourning
or happy. The Valley had a lumpy looking variety that appeared naked, and
I have pictures but never published them. I've seen these and
White Wing Doves (On the wings of a snow white dove...) at the lake and
at (human) gathering
place (shopping centers, downtown) for years. I've always classified them
among the flying rat (pigeons) population.
Although I've dined on
delicious dove, I've never eaten pigeons, and there can't be much difference,
although I've heard the latter are mostly not worth the effort. Dove hunters
are proud to shoot doves but as many as there
might be more practical. This young one allowed us to get within whispering
I like the cooing and that they squeak when they first
flap their wings.
Not A Mock
The Eastern Kingbird - a flycatcher
I assumed this one was an adult Mockingbird, but he doesn't
look anything like the pictures. Anna said it's an Eastern Kingbird, known
to attack even hawks, crows and the ever-aggressive Blue Jays. Some chutzpah.
Eeg Eye Down
I took lots of lovely photographs of Great and
Snowy Egrets today, also. And watched a Yellow-crowned Night Heronstand
in the green weeds on the desiccating sand bar in Boat House Creek. When
my shutter crashes frightened it into the woods, it flew to the top of
the tallest vertical log in the neighborhood. In all that, I never once
rendered it sharp.
Maybe I should concentrate on little birds for awhile.
That should be challenging.
I added [Partial] pages for Mockingbirds and Grackles
of White Rock Lake today.
hoped to go up the dam-side path to shoot birds in the spillway. But no
go. The City has that side fenced off like they've fenced
Garland Avenue path, probably the best and easiest bird-watching
perch on the lake, often with the most birds and best diversity.
Big hunks of the supposed "retaining" walls
fell on both sides during the
100-year flood last spring.
Steep Slope Signs — not at the beginnings of
back side but way down in the middle. If
you didn't know where it was by then, you probably
fell down it already. But here's this sign leaning.
There's far fewer
birds now there's so little water. The spillway creek that
backed up into the Old Fish Hatchery is nearly empty
as is the spillway. We saw The
City spewing water down Ross Avenue near downtown today, but the drought
Adult Green Heron
Coming back from our dam walk, we found an opened gate
and visited the woodsy side of the spillway, even walked down through
the bottoms where there used to be an abundance of water. There we
small Green Heron adults (the
parents?). First we thought they might be Little Blue (heron)
babies but the colors were all wrong. Nobody else has those yellow
And yes, as you can see by the bird above that Green
Herons are not, in any way, green. They are, in fact, shades
reds. You have to wonder how they got that name.
Mockingbird Flying with
White Stripes Exposed
Plus I finally got a decent shot of a Mockingbirdflashing
flight. Not sharp yet, but I keep panning every Mock I even get
close to. As often, this shot is a small portion of a much bigger shot.
Flexible Boom Sweeps Floating
Trash from Creek Water
I'd try the old, little, light Sony F707 today and get to see each exposure
before I shot it, maybe reduce my exposure error rate, take advantage
of that zoom's wider apertures.
I knew the name of this guy
it's a whole other way of seeing I'm not used to anymore. The viewfinder
is smaller, lower resolution and darker, with one shot
or four seconds instead of five per. It's got half the megapixels but
the colors are vivid.
Pretty Purple Flowers
with Fat Black Bees
I settled into Parrot Bay, long called that, because
the parakeets fly across it when they're not in the
big hum. Naturally,
the City wants to call it something else, but I resist. Two egrets and
a bunch of fat black bees on pretty blue flowers among the reeds along