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The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton
The Current Journal is always Here  All Contents Copyright 2012 and before by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.   
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White Rock Lake

A Murder of Crows — about how smart crows are — is an online episode of PBS's Nature.

August 31

 Awkward Great Egret Landing - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Awkward Great Egret Landing

Today, using my little Panasonic Lumix G2 to attempt to focus and see egrets in flight, I was much less successful than a couple days ago with my Nikon. Instead of 50% usable images, I got maybe 15%, not counting all the empty frames. No birds, just blurs of water.

Snowy Chase - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Chases Snowy Egret

With the Nikon camera and lens, I could see what was going on at all times. My pans might have lagged the birds' horizontal progress then, but this time I couldn't even see the birds. They look clear in these shots, but not in the electronic viewfinder (EVF), which was extremely confusing with lack of focus and overcharged contrast of water, birds and rocks.

Stretched-out Snowy Egret Landing - crpy

Stretched-out Snowy Egret Landing

The much brighter (f2.8 compared with the Panasonic's f5.6) Nikon tele lens focuses almost as quickly as I could think what I wanted in focus. The Panasonic rarely would focus on anything, so finding something to focus on in the miasmas, was difficult at best and impossible the rest of the time. This shot is almost in focus, but not quite.

Great Egret Take-off - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Take-off

The Nikon lens (Actually, Nikon's lenses are called Nikkors.) was only 300mm, since I'd removed the 2X extender, so it would focus fast. The Panasonic 100-300mm lens is a 200-600mm equivalence. So, unless I zoomed back to include more in the frame, which I am wired not to do. Fill the frame, I can still hear somebody shouting at me, probably from some book I read in the 1960s, this lens was longer, which means it framed smaller areas, which were much more difficult to figure out what it was pointing at.

Two Snowies In Flight - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Snowies In Flight

So, obviously, what I need to use the Pany cam and lens, is more practice. A self-defeating prize, because the Nikon does all these things easier, quicker, albeit in a heavier, clunkier cam & lens. I'd much rather be able to see what I'm doing, so I'll probably stick with the Nikon stuff for birds. Until something available in a m43 or other mirrorless format does a heckuva lot better than this.

Comparative Egret Size - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Comparative Egret Size — Snowy vs. Great Egrets

I like this shot even if it's got nothing to do with birds in flight, because it's a direct size comparison between the fierce little Snowy Egret and the giant Great Egret. I've been hoping for such an image, so I can put it on one of my Heron pages.

Egret Chase - Flying Low - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Chase

This is the only shot I made yesterday that was worth having shot it. Same everything I've been complaining about.
 

August 30

 The Great Egret Chase - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Great Egret Chase

I got my little, folding step-stool delivered this morning, and in full sunlight set out to photograph egrets flying around the Lower Steps at the end of The Spillway at White Rock Lake. Took the doubler off the Blunderbuss, so it would focus about as fast as I could think, stood up over the balustrade on the walking bridge overlooking those Lower Steps and was careful to mostly only photograph egrets flying directly under me or flying past.

Great Egret Chasing Snowy Egret - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Chasing Snowy Egret

Snowy Egrets tend to be fierce and will pick on anyone down there who's the same size or smaller. Compared with a Great Egret, however, they run, which is what this one is up to here.

Flaps-down Rush Past The Rushes - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flaps Down and Reaching for Air, Great Egret Flies Past the Rushes

I didn't stay long. It was plenty hot, and I wasn't used to slinging the big lens and big camera around like that. When one or other hand or arm hurt from all that heavy activity, I'd press it against the hot, dark red steel I was leaning on, and within seconds the pain would leave me, and I could keep shooting birds flying mostly under me.

Ragged Great Egret Touches Down Near the Lower Steps - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ragged-edged Wings Out, a Great Egret Touches Down on the Lower STeps

I haven't had so much visual fun since we opened that art show I've been working on for the last year. And I'm going out next time with a different camera and a different lens I seriously doubt will give me the same 50% winners percentage, but I'm going to try anyway. I'm pretty sure the egrets will help me.

Great Egret Flaps-up - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret, Flaps-up, Neck-out and Scat Back

Classic side-view particularly easily available looking down into just such a unnatural (wholly man-made and recently updated with a gazillion tons of concrete) amphitheater.

Flat-winged Egret Flat-out Against the Sluice - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flat-winged Great Egret Flying Flat-out Past the Lower-step Sluice

Did get all sweaty standing in the hot sun, but there was a breeze and so many willing, big white birds with magnificent wings.

 

August 28

 Egret Flight Landing - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret Flight Landing

We won't do everything backwards this time, but I think this might be the best of today's bunch, and the one that preceded it wasn't, so it's next. Then we'll just go on as if nothing untoward ever happened. I had thought about capturing some bird or birds with all that blacked out (Why didn't they gray it out instead?) graffiti, but here, as I managed to accomplish that plan, I was only aware of the birds, which I had been panning along with since they were flying out of the woods at the top of the Spillway.

Flock of Eight Snowies - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flock of Eight Snowies Heading Up the Spillway

It's not terrible bad. It's just not as exciting or precise or nice as that first one.

Great Egret Flying Over the Spillway - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission. x

Great Egret Flying Over The Spillway

I shot more flying egrets today than anytime in maybe the last year. I had the Blunderbuss set on stun at 900mm, so I probably should come back with a toolbox step-up and just the 300 (450 equivalent mm) so I can get more of them in focus, as many today were not.

Great Egret with Fence Flying - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Flying (with Fence)

In general, the plainer or simpler the background, and the longer I've been following one bird, the better were my chances of catching up with focus. I'm excited about going back for more, and I have just the toolbox step-up, and am eager to capture me some souls of flying egrets or Little Blue Herons or Great Blue Herons or whomever else flies by. I have a couple perches in mind, so if not tomorrow, maybe the next day.

Egrets Over the Lip - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egrets Over The Lip

Looking down from the overlook overlooking The Spillway, down toward the cement slants this side of The Lower Steps, where various birds sometimes gather. Here we have a Great Egret (the tall one), a Snowy Egret (the first short one, left to right), another Great Egret and possibly or probably another Snowy.

Treed Egrets Greeting - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tree Egrets Greeting

The one on the left has just arrived. The one on the right appears to be flying out to greet it. More than than would be pure surmise.

Snowy Egrets Showing Off - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egrets Showing Off

I've often seen them fluff up to indicate they're ready to fight or run some lower species off, but this looks as if their various mops just got caught in the wind.

Great Egret Tableau - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Tableau

I had tried several clicks worth to capture the bird flying into forever above this one just standing there staring at the fishing situation around the Lower Steps. I failed on every shot of the upper egret, but I like this one.

Elegant Lady Wood Duck - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Elegant Lady Wood Duck in Autumn Molt

And I added one more shot of the other day's Green Heron, who semi roused sometime along that back-wards presented bunch of bird photos.

 Sharp Little Blue Heron - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sharp Little Blue Heron

I'm never quite sure why the Blunderbuss chooses to render some birds in some situations as incredibly sharp and others not quite or not at all, but maybe it's got to do with lighting. This Little Blue is hanging out in pure shade. No strong shadows apparent, and it looks sharp enough to cut glass.

 

August 27

 Little Blue Heron with Little Silver Fish - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron with Little Silver Fish

What I saw that made me stop at the lower steps of The Spillway was a flock of Great Egrets. Just as I walked to the bridge overlooking those lower steps, some intrepid young fisher person scared almost all of them away by illegally being down on the slanted concrete at the bottom of the trough water was gushing through, walking back and forth in the commission of fishing.

Walking Little Blue Heron with Littler Fish - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Walking Little Blue Heron with Littler Fish

About then I noticed one Little Blue Heron near the opposite end of the steps, where the slough from the dam and spillway makes a left turn to go under the walking bridge I was standing on leaning against the hot but bearable redbrown superstructure, then under the dark-underneath car bridge that is Garland Road.

The Moment of Capture - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Moment of Capture

The little fish that did not get away. This Little Blue Heron was pulling little fishies out every time he put his beak in, and that was stead and sure and often. He'd discovered where the little fish gather, and he was pulling them out like magic. The only kind of fishing I've ever withstood decades ago with my father on Mirror Lake on the Continental Divide in Colorado. Fast fish catching can be wondrous.

Snowy Egret with Just-caught Fish - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret with Just-caught Fish

When the Little Blue tired of fishing or more likely, of eating so many fishies, it let this hungry Snowy Egret in on the game, and the Snowy made it work just as fast, stoop, eat; stoop, eat; stoop, eat.

Snowy Egret with Fishlet - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret with Fishlet

I've seen both birds looking and not finding, so it was a major treat to see them getting all they wanted on this hot, moist day.

Snowy Egret with Precarious Balance - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret with Precarious Balance

No competition. The only worry would be letting the rushing water have its way with it. Here the Snowy struggles slightly with balance, but keeps right on fishing and eating.
 

August 24

Green Heron Leap - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Green Heron Leap

I try to put the best pic on top of each journal entry. Even if it's out of sequential order. This leap, for example …

Green Heron Lean - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Heron Lean

Happened after this lean, which in turn, occurred prior to

Stealthy Green Heron Sneaking Up On Something - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Stealthy Green Heron Sneaking Up On Something

It slowly and somewhat stealthily sneaking up on something I couldn't see. And before that was …

Green Heron Neck Stretch - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Heron Neck Stretch

This Green Heron full neck extension.

The Other Neck Extreme - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Heron in the Other Neck Extreme

Which happened after this relaxed neck Green Heron pose. Which, well, you can probably tell by now, that we're going backwards into time. If I'd been a lot more careful when I first walked across the pier in Sunset Bay this afternoon, I might have got both these critters much closer and in greater detail. But I was clumsy and hot.

Before all that - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And before all that

And before all that, and just after I spooked the Great Egret and its fishing buddy, the Green Heron, and before this little scene with the Green-eared Slider (after which species I named my current automobile) is when I spooked them, and I have no pictures of that, so this is the end of today's adventure, close to where I began it.

Green Heron in Semi Rouse - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Heron in Semi Rouse

I want to add, however, that the conventional wisdom is that early mornings and later in the afternoon into evening are the best times to photograph birds, but I still believe that the hot middle of the day is just about as good a time as any. I've been working on that theory all this summer. It's dark in the evening, and I'm asleep in the mornings, so I didn't really have all that much choice, although I've wrecked my sleeping schedule for days by getting up early sometimes.

The right time to photograph birds is when you, me or anybody has birds, camera, lens and the need or want.
 

August 20

A Juvenile Great Blue Heron Comes Flying Along - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

A Juvenile Great Blue Heron Comes Flying Along

Not quite in focus, but the one before is much less sharp.

Lands About As Elegantly As Usual - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lands About As Elegant As Always

I have seen them land elegantly, but this ain't one of those.

Begins to Fold Its Wings - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Begins to Fold Its Wings

On solid concrete under a few inches of rushing water.

Ends Its Flight Check - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ends Its Flight Checklist

Wings almost folded down.

And Along Comes A Great Egret - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And Along Flies A Great Egret

Just about then, a Great Egret comes flying along ready to land nearby.

Eeg Toes Nearly Down - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egret Toes Nearly Down

Inches from toes-down.

Great Egret Screeching to a Halt - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Screeching to a Stop

Swing legs forward again.

Egret Touchdown - crpy

Egret Touchdown

Tiny splash. The judges won't count much off for that.

Landed Wing Disarray - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Landed Wings Disarray

The sudden stopping sends feathers flopping.

Still A Little Awry, but down solid - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Still a Little Splashy But Down Solid

I didn't wait for its flurry of flying feathers to calm down altogether, but its tail is still down and its wings are still a little up.

Juvie GBH later - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile Great Blue Heron Later

Such a beautiful bird.

 

August 17

 Egret Flying Over the Dam - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Flying Over the Dam

A few minutes before I parked on a street of posh houses just up a hill from the lake, I'd promised myself to go to anywhere but Sunset Bay. Then I went to Sunset Bay and didn't even get out of my car it looked so desolate. Then I drove my renta-car (The Slider's in the shop.) homeward, noticed a lot of tall white and tall dark birds on the upper spillway.

Great Egret After Sunset - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret After Sunset

So I parked there and walked to the dam, and there were Great and Snowy Egrets and a couple Great Blue Herons and one Black-crowned Night-Heron (so far) and several Little Blue Herons. I was in heaven. Not only was I close enough to photograph any one I wanted of a variety of fun species, they were flying in places (generally below me) I could probably get them in focus, AND I already knew who they were.

Great Egret with Dam Froth - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret with Dam Froth

Plus, when I didn't think about it too much, I was able to get some artsy shots of birds I love photographing.

Great Egret on Sun-glittered Spillway - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret on Sun-splattered Spillway

As I approached the dam, I figured I had maybe a half hour before the sun set, rendering it mostly too dark to photograph. But it turned out I had plenty of time, and my interest waned just as the sun was disappearing, which wasn't for awhile yet in these photographs.

Aiming to PReen - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret Aiming to Preen

While his pal stood guard.

Three Great Egrets - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Three Great Egrets

I'd checked the day before, after the rain the night before, and the place was too rushing with great thrusts of water, then forgot my promise to myself to come back today. But I've made the lake on my way back from almost everywhere I go, so I inevitably get to see what's going on out there, on my ways home.
 

August 16

Little Little Blue Heron - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Little Little Blue Heron

Hardly expected anything exotic in Sunset Bay today, but you never know. I saw this little heron foraging in the grass and concrete down by shore just to the east of where Charles usually feeds the geese and ducks. Nobody else in sight on land nearby. A few dark ducks out in the water. Warmish out. I'm still not sure what, exactly this is.

I didn't know when I wrote this entry, but I've been thinking about it, and I think this is probably a young, juvenile Cattle Egret, which are — at that age — very difficult to discern from little Little Blue Herons.

Little Egret in the Grass - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Smallish Egret in the Grass

I first assumed it was a little Little Blue Heron, but this one's beak seems curved, and its legs and feet are not gray. More like brownish with black shins. Juvenile Snowy Egrets have black on the fronts of their legs, and it walked with that exaggerated head-bobbing Cattle Egrets do. We do see Cattle Egrets in and around Sunset Bay, but usually they just fly over, and if it's a Snowy, it doesn't look like any of the Snowies in the I.D books.

so what is it? - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

So What Is It?

Here, it (same one as before. There was only one white bird on shore at Sunset late this afternoon) looks like it does have gray legs, but it distinctly does not look like a juvenile Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron or even a Reddish Egret. Once again, I am in the not-at-all-peculiar position of not being quite sure. They say go with your first guess, and that's a little Little Blue Heron.

Two Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Our Two Pelicans

Of Sunset Bay from Dreyfuss Point, where there used to be the Dreyfus Building, that burned down when the fire department couldn't find it, so now places at the lake have signs with addresses and named streets on them.

Mallard Female - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tail-on Shot of a Female Mallard

It's nice to know that I know some birds at least.

Buddha Pose Great Blue Heron - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Buddha Pose Great Blue Heron from Some Distance

Great Blue Heron on straw pallet hidden from view from the other side — I tried.

Buddha Pose Detail - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Buddha Pose Great Blue Heron from the Same Distance only Blown Up More

I recently got an email from a new reader, saying, and I quote:

As for the buddha aka pterodactyl pose (only in great blues?) there are at least four hypotheses I have seen:

Cheers,
Tom

So I guess I have to change my opinion on this Great Blue Heron position and claim that I just don't know. That shouldn't surprise anybody.
 

August 15

 Two Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Pelicans

I took a lot of pictures last week, then I got awfully busy, now I'm laxing out a little, because next week is going to be dreadful busy as Terry Hays and I put together a major art exhibition at the Bath House Cultural Center. So I might forget to do this page again.

The two pelicans are not always in Sunset Bay, but when I see them I'm always pleased. I think it means that the pelican who was released by Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation last year has a companion. I don't know whether it just appeared out of nowhere, Rogers released another pelican, or something more mysterious.

Juvenile Mockingbird Standing - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile Mockingbird

Some birds and bird activities I only capture every few years. But young mockingbirds always seem to attract my attention. Maybe because there are just so many of them. At the lake and everywhere else.

Juvenile Mockingbird Tried Flashing - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile Mockingbird Tried Flashing

It is believed that flashing their wings — purportedly to show off those gorgeous white stripes there — scares or attracts or draws bugs out of the ground. I don't know about that, but I've seen them flashing and I've even more often seen them practicing flashing. This is that juvenile practicing, I think.

Mockingbird on a Post - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Mockingbird on a Post

AFter I got this and the doves, I started seriously seeking birds on posts. I thought surely I could find a grackle on a post. But I could not.

Mourning Dove on a Post - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mourning Dove on a Post

Normally, I don't photograph doves. They're just so common. But they are also beautiful.

 Great Blue Grackle - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

a great blue grackle

It looks like a great blue grackle, but since there isn't a bird called that, it must instead just be a Great-tailed Grackle who looks blue in the light.

Hot Female Grackle - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hot Female Grackle

Hot female grackle hot-footing it across the mud.

Mourning Dove Rousing - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mourning Dove Rousing

Even when they're fluffed up.

Great Egret Standing on a Log - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Standing on a Log

A Great Egret standing on one of the logs out in Sunset Bay. This is the time of year when they gather out there for night time safety, often in numbers.

Snowy Egret Looking for Food - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret Looking for Food

Snowy Egret Pausing - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret Pausing
 

The old boathouse & lagoon at White Rock

August 10 2012

Parakeets Discussing - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Monk Parakeet Discussing Matters

I saw a bunch of Monk Parakeets gathered in the shade around the restrooms overlooking The Old Boathouse, so I slowly drove The Slider around, so I could lean out the driver's window and photograph me some parakeet behavior, something I've been wanting to do for a long time. Close enough to show individual feathers.

Two Parakeets - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Parakeets

It was great fun. There was a group of guys on the lower, boathouse part of the parking lot, but nobody to slow or stop me from turning around facing the wrong way and hang my big lens out the front window. Closest I've got to the 'keets in a long time. T

he last time I remember being here faced this way, a angry cop gave me a bad time for harassing some women I never saw. I was too busy photographing grackles playing in a leaking water fountain. But he wasn't having any of my excuses. That guy still scares me. But photographing parakeets up close and personal like this was too good a chance to pass up. Lake cops have been very nice over the last few years. No police person has hassled me then.

Parakeet Eating Grass - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Eating Grass

At first I was happy just to get shots of them eating grass. I've always wondered what they were doing in the grass. Now I know they were eating it.

One Parakeet Preens Another's Tail - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One Parakeet Preens Another's Tail

Then while I stared through the big lens, I noticed they were not preening themselves but each other.

Parakeets' Mutual Body Preening - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Parakeets' Mutual Body Preening

One roused up its feathers, to expose more of what needs to not be in there anymore. His pal was more than willing to help.

Pal Preens Parakeets Neck - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Parakeet Preening Pal's Neck

The puffed up parakeet lets the other 'keet in close to clean its neck.

Parakeet Rising - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Parakeet Rising

Not exactly close to focus, but colorful with some action. Gradually, the parakeets all flew away, but meanwhile some of them needed more preening.

Back-preening Parakeets - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Back-preening Parakeet

The one on the right bows low to expose its back.

Mutual Tail-preening Parakeets - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mutual Tail-preening Parakeets

Cooperative preening. It takes a village.

Mutual Tail-preening Parakeets - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mutual Tail-preening Parakeets

And another view of the same sort of action, as if to prove it was not a fluke.

 

August 8

 Tricolored Heron - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron in Old Boathouse Lagoon

Today was at least partially about finding and photographing almost invisible birds. This Tricolored Heron was the star of that show. I stood on the new wood bridge over the lagoon photographing the very visible eclipsed Wood Ducks below. Gradually, after focusing closely in on several others that I saw from the beginning, I began picking out movement in the weeds or among the muck.

Invisible Shorebird - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Solitary Sandpiper, the Invisible Shorebird

This guy was the best bird at hiding I eventually honed in on. I had to eventually pull the Tricolor out of the background before I ever even got a hint of the movement among the gray dirt and gunk this bird was traveling ever so slowly around on. Even then I could hardly believe my eyes or lens. Squint looking at this shot and you'll get a hint of what I didn't see till it moved, and even then the lens had great trouble focusing in on it.

Reader Brenda Loveless says this is a Solitary Sandpiper. Thank you, Brenda.

Until It Flew Away - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Until It Flew Away

As so often happens, I didn't get to see it in its glory till it swooped up to fly away. Revealing what should be an easy bird shape and pattern to identify, but of course, I'm having the devil of a time doing that. I've been looking through four different bird i.d books, and have not yet found this precise wiggly patterned tail. There is one with plain brown wing tops, however. And if all else fails — as it often does when I try to i.d an unsub — I'll use that term, even if that bird's tail is significantly different.

Two birds in The Crossley I.D. Guide show that brown tail down the middle of that wiggly tail pattern, the Solitary Sandpiper and the Long-billed Dowitcher, so it's one of those or another bird I didn't notice. Except, of course, that different books have differing versions of what the same birds' tails look like.

Meanwhile More Tricolor Pix - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Meanwhile Back in Tricolor Land

We've watched Tricolored Herons nesting at the Southwestern Medical Center rookery, and it is fascinating to think that maybe one of those juvies has taken residence at White Rock Lake, where I've recently photographed it at the Spillway, Sunset Bay and  now here. And I've seen bright blazing white Great and other egrets and various shades of herons suddenly materialize from the background while I was watching or photographing something else, but it's still startling that such a colorful bird can hide so well in such plain sight.

Mama Wood & Three Juveniles - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mama Wood and Three Juveniles

Seems kinda late in the season to be starting a family, but ducks don't read no rules.

Eclipse Male Wood Duck - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Eclipse Male Wood Duck

Another Eclipse Male Wood Duck - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Eclipse Male Wood Duck

Two male eclipse Wood Ducks looking rather different in beak, head top, eye and back colors. This lower one is a juvenile.

Eclipse Female Mallards - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Eclipse Female Mallards

According to my Mac's dictionary, eclipse is "the phase during which the distinctive markings of a bird (esp. a male duck) are obscured by molting of the breeding plumage" and  molt is when "an animal sheds old feathers, hair, or skin, or an old shell, to make way for a new growth " or "a loss of plumage, skin, or hair, especially as a regular feature of an animal's life cycle."

 

Sunset Bay at White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas, USA

August 7 2012

Semipalmated Sandpiper Winged Flurry - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sandpipers in a Flurry of Feathers, Fighting

On my first visit back to White Rock Lake, of course I went straight for Sunset Bay, which was hot and swampy, with the lake way down and the shore way out. Weather wise it was wet, with rain clouds overhead but no rain coming from them as they tantalizingly drifted over the lake. "The peninsula" has grown halfway across the bay toward past the "Hidden Creek" area. At first, I didn't see much going on. No solo White Pelican. No bevy of black ducks, no much of anything, except a bunch of nondescript brown ducks too far out to focus or photograph. Then, standing on the pier, I perceived the mud of the peninsula to be moving with tiny little peeps.

As I paid more attention, I saw more detail. And more activity. Those bird behaviors I so love to photograph.

Semipalmated Sandpiper - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sandpiper Standing for a Portrait

Turned out the place was crawling, hopping, running, flying and fighting with peeps. Most notably Killdeer, which I largely ignored since I've photographed them and their behaviors so much and so often before. But much smaller and more difficult to identify — but Anna did — were Semipalmated Sandpipers, which rove all over the U.S. from southernmost Alaska across to eastern, not  quite north-eastern-most Canada down to just past Tennessee and  west to a line edging Texas, Colorado, Wyoming and eastern Montana. I.e., widespread in this 'eastern' portion of the U.S. and well up into our neighbor to the north.

Tilting at Each Other - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sandpipers Tilting at Each Other

I brought my doubled 300mm, and for the first time ever, my clunky tripod. I didn't want to hand-hold that chunk of heavy Nikon and all that lens in the 100+ degree heat — or have to hold it still enough to target focus on the same tiny bird place long enough to get them in sharp focus. Instead of bunches of blurs, I sometimes got sharply in-focus birds behaving, mostly normally, pecking food out of the mud and water, but I ignored those,

Tilting and Looking Mean - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tilting, Flapping and Looking Mean

Almost the exact same pose as the image five shots up from here, except that "looking mean" ferocity look from the sandpiper on the left.

sandpipers fightin on the ground - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Battling Sandpipers

What got me excited was them fighting, running after each other, chasing, then battling on ground and in the air —

Semipalmated Sandpiper in Fight Tilt Mode - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sandpiper in "Fight Tilt" Mode

All of which was almost always preceded by them adopting this 'tilt" position, often, as here, accompanied by wings flapping and looking fierce.

With Variations - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sandpiper tilting without flapping wings at the moment

I should point out that Semipalmated Sandpipers are very small — about six and-a-quarter inches long, with a wingspan up to 14 inches. I saw them flying, especially very close to the ground, but I was usually unable to capture them in any focus up there.

Semipalmated Sandpiper Flying - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sandpiper Flying

I still got lots of blurs., but when I paid closer attention, I managed to capture a some of them in more sharply-focused blurs. For awhile, when I was working up these images, I thought perhaps these were juveniles playing very much like I've seen juvie Mockingbirds, mock-fighting. But that bit of feather in the upper left one beak seems to indicate that it got it from the other bird.

Semipalmated Sandpiper with bit of feather in its beak - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The One on the Left has a bit of feather in its beak

It looks more like feather than food, which they might also be fighting about. I've often seen birds chasing, catching and fighting each other for food.

just-landed sandpiper - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

just landed sandpiper intent on chasing

sandpipers chasing - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sandpipers Chasing

Wings-up Chasing Detail - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wings-up Chasing Detail

semipalmated sandpiper foraging - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sandpiper Foraging

 

Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Indiana

 Adult Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Some of these shots could be from a couple of the other states we transversed, but most are from those five. I spent long minutes photographing hummers in Indiana and hours in Kentucky, and I might be getting better, but I need more practice. I've even thought I might feed some here.

Adult Female Black-chinned Hummingbird - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Female Black-chinned Hummingbird

We had hoped to find birds everywhere we went, but it was so hot in the southeast this summer, we think many of the usual birds were hiding. We found hummers at Margie's house in Popcorn, Indiana and again at Jica and Bob's in Henderson, Kentucky.

Female Black-chinned - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Black-chinned near Henderson, Kentucky

x

More Black-chins - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

More Black-chinneds

Hummingbirds, hummingbirds and more hummingbirds.

Adult Female Black-chinned Hummingbird Standing on a Bird's Head - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Female Black-chinned Hummingbird Perched on a Bird's Head

I know this is in Bob & Jica's because I got to sit out on their little front porch trying desperately to get those little guys in sharp focus, for hours. Great fun. I think if I had another couple of days I could have done much better, but I was so tired of sitting out there in the heat, me slowly melting

We Think it's a Juvenile Something - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

We think this is a juvenile something

I found this fluffy spotted bird on a plant growing out of the edge of a swampy lake off The Natchez Trace just as the rain started. It's part of a wildlife area near Jackson, Mississippi we'd hoped to explore, although it seemed more devoted to hunters than photographers. The rain greeted us at the gate, then eventually wetted us away.

Merlin - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Merlin in the Forest somewhere in Tennessee, I think

Not sure where we were when I saw a sign pointing up a roughish road to "Serenity Point" or some such name. But all we found was homes and trees and a steep little road. I saw something flap across the road and land off to our left in dense foliage so dark I had a devil of a time getting anything in focus. I think it's a Merlin, but I'm not certain.

Another Shot of that same Merlin - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Shot of the Same Merlin

If that's what it really is.

Very Shy Woodpecker - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Very Shy Female Hairy Woodpecker at the John J. Audubon Museum

Adult Hairy Woodpecker at the museum near Henderson, Kentucky, where Audubon lived for nine years. It took several long minutes of holding my heavy camera and heavy lens, witing for it to circle the feeder to the left, so I and the camera could see its whole head and beak. I had to employ that patience thing people keep telling me I must have to get shots of birds, but I finally got it.

Pretty Little Yellow Bird - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pretty Little Yellow Bird

Anna says this is a female Goldfinch.
 

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All text and photographs copyright 2011 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without
specific written permission from and payment to
the writer or photographer.

My favorite answer is, "I don't know." I am, after all, an amateur.
I'm not kidding. I've only been birding for three years,
although I've been photographing professionally since 1964.

Thanks always to Anna.

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