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The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton
All Contents Copyright 2011 and before by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.   Cameras & Lenses Used.
DO NOT USE photos without permission.   Bird Rescue Advice from Rogers Rehab   White Rock Map
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Learning my latest camera.     If you can help me identify unsubs birds here, I'd love to hear from you.

Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation in Wilmer, Texas

December 30 2011

Peacock with Spread - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Peacock with Spread Feathers

Turned out to be a close-up kinda day at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation today when Anna took grand-daughter Alice and me for a field trip. Peacocks were running wild all through the Rogers campus — as were Great Blue Herons, and several of both posed for me. Both species seem to have chosen to stay and prosper at this state's only widely-recognized wildlife rehabilitation center.

Caged Blue Jay - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Caged Blue Jay

My bluejay photo karma's been weird for a long time. The last time I got this close to a blue jay was in 1970 or 71 when I was on assignment with the Dallas Times Herald to photograph some who were attacking people in front of the then-new bent City Hall. Several male jays shot touch-and-goes on my head, grabbing a bit of hair each time they landed and took off again immediately. Those jays were protecting their nests. This one was a lot more friendly, although I was careful not to get in pecking distance — one shot its beak through the wire mesh by about three inches, so I never got closer.

Another Peacock - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Peacock Close up

Several species of pea fowl and hens were found all around Rogers. I found this one sunning his self near a short stairway.

 Roadrunner Portrait - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Roadrunner Wanting to Run Some Roads

Two roadrunners ran the length of their portion of a much larger cage that also included dozens of doves. One of the runners proffered a feather to Anna at her and Alice's visit, but had no feathers for me. I suspect they are partial to females, since many of Rogers' volunteers are women. This one ran back and forth, back and forth, out to the sunlight and back into the shadows, far faster than I could focus or stop it in action, but it finally agreed to pose, holding still for just a few seconds then back to its race.

Splashy Goose Bath - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Splashy Goose Bath

I have a shot of the goose sedately sitting in its tub causing nary a ripple, a shot that makes it utterly clear who is sitting there, if not what it is doing there. But I like this one so much better. Looks a little like a pussycat in a rainstorm.

Red-tailed Hawk Sploosh - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-tailed Hawk Sploosh

These two shots have merit, but they were more or less lost in the miasmas of way-overexposed outside showing through the cage on the left, and the branch these hawks were standing on also had too much light, and I wasn't sure what to do. I don't like maul retouching, far prefer to present my exposures pretty much as the sun shone on them, but neither of these two had anything approaching even lighting.

hmmmm...- Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hawk Swirl

In too many ways, these are mistakes, but in some other, more experimental ways, I really like them. For their swirl of activity, for their chiaroscuro lighting, for their vivid colors. So they're here as local color eXperiments. Hawks with red tails, gosh they must be Red-tailed Hawks.

Bird Art - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bird Sculpture

At last, a bird I don't have to identify. I would, however, like to know who created it. I didn't see a signature.

Two Smallish Owls - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Small Owls

Standing and staring. What owls do, even if they are recuperating in cages.

Fluffy Butt Peacock - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fluffy Butt Peacock

We like to pretend that it is peacocks' tail feathers that spread out so beautifully, but these are the real peacock tail feathers, and besides the fluffy tuft in the middle, they're not all that interesting, certainly not a spectrum of amazing color. According to Wikipedia, "The peacock tail ("train") is not the tail quill feathers but the highly elongated upper tail covert." shown here, upper right.

Great Blue Heron in Detail - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron in Detail

By now, you know I adore Great Blue Herons, and if they're just standing around in the yard, holding still for photographs, why not? Alice kept asking why this one was standing where it was, holding quite still, even as we passed nearby. We kept answering, because it wants to. But the real story Alice didn't know to ask about was that GBHs who had been rehabilitated at Rogers chose to stay on, nesting in tall trees in easy sight, and hanging out among the humans who helped them through their difficulties. Call them Rogers graduates, who just stayed on.

Big Brown Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One of the Hawks Who Splooshed

Another hawk in the same cage as the swirling birds above.

Handsome TV - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Really Handsome Turkey Vulture

Regular readers are probably aware of my growing affection for Turkey and Black Vultures. I used to think their red heads were ugly, but this one's changed my mind. White blur at right is part of the cage wire I was attempting to shoot through. Almost every one of today's shots of birds in cages were actually photographed with the camera lens right up against the wire mesh you see often in these shots.

Standing Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Standing Hawk

I've tried balancing two separate and different cameras on Rogers field trips previously, but for today, I brought my smaller, but slower Panasonic G2 and three lenses, a long telephoto zoom, a short zoom and a wide angle with a wide aperture that I never once today used. Because it focuses even slower than I do, I usually required a bird that held still, at least briefly. Like this one.

Big Hawk Ready to Jump - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hawk Ready to Jump into Short Flight to the Cage Edge

Who, moments later, assumed this position, which signals that it's about to do something else, and in this case, it flew the few feet to the outside edge of its cage, bounced off the wire mesh there, fell or flopped down some, then came back. At Rogers it is often difficult to discern the walking wounded from birds being once again startled that they can't just fly toward the light and get away.

Great Blue Heron - Neck Up - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron - Neck Up

I think I remember that this Great Blue Heron was standing on top of one of the cages, making this up the neck shot ever so much more likely.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck in a Cage

Black-bellied Whistlers are common in this area, so naturally they're represented here, although Rogers takes birds from all over the state and region.

Two Horned Owls - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Eastern Screech Owls

Happy New Year, ya'all.

 

White Rock Lake

December 29

Little Peep on the Steps - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Spotted Sandpiper on the Lower Steps

Of 262 shots today, these are the best. I was careful not to go to Sunset Bay, because I always go there, and when I always go to the same place, I generally find the same birds, and I found some of those over here at the Spillway, too, of course, but I also found some other guys, for a change. Unfortunately, I can't for sure identify all of them. But that's hardly anything new for this journal.

Little Peep on the Steps - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Same Puffed-out Peep on the Steps

For a long while this evening as I put all the puzzle pieces together, I assumed this little critter was a Spotted Sandpiper, mostly because every year at about this time, I find one of those, and I assume it's something else. I almost captioned this shot that, when I looked at the picture in the book one more time, and realized Spotted Sandpipers don't have "spectacles" around their eyes. And, now that I'm looking that close, this one's beak isn't the same, either.

Spot - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Spotted Sandpiper — Same Lil' Guy on the Same Steps

I'm pretty certain all three of these shots are of the one and same bird, because at the lower steps I only saw this one small bird that I couldn't identify, not counting the one duck I also couldn't identify, but even I can tell the differences between a peep (of which I believe this is one) and a duck. But with me identifying birds, there's always doubt.

How Small You Ask - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

How Small Is It? You Ask?

Well, I normally think of coots as small. But this guy is considerably smaller than a coot. So tiny might be a fair assumption of just how small.

That Duck - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gadwall

Oh, heck, I don't know. I do know it's duck.

Overflight of Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A High Overflight of American White Pelicans

Way high, remember I'm using a 500mm telephoto zoom for these shots. I just happened to look up. Well, I try to remember to always look up when I'm bird photographing, but sometimes I get carried away with birds on the ground or in the water. Till I remember they fly, too.

Pelicans High - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

They Looked Even Higher than This

Anna, who was on the other side of the lake, showing her granddaughter Alice the birds in Sunset Bay, saw these guys fly over way up high. I wasn't attempting to get away from photographing pelicans today, but in the back of the back of my mind, I assumed I would. Then there they were, looking down on me.

And More of Those Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And Up on the Spillway Proper were More of Those Ducks

At least I think these are the same as that single duck a few images up.

More Little Shorebirds - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

More Little Shorebirds

At first I assumed these were more of the same bird I saw on the Lower Steps, but upon scrutiny, I don't see the spots, and the upper tone is not patterned the same, so these are at least one other variety of shorebirds, and the third one from the right looks like a whole nother species.

Pelicans Passing the Bath House - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American White Pelicans Parading Past the Bath House Cultural Center

Shot from the dam, here's some pelicans swimming past that building and those houses on a far side of the lake. We can see little spots of gulls and only the barest hints of cormorants swimming along, but it, too, is the same fishing party I've been photographing for weeks now, but from a completely different perspective, and that is probably worth the trip. Besides, The Spillway is a longish, uphill walk I needed. And I didn't stop at the dam.

Peeps on the Spillway - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Peeps on the Spillway

On my return trip, down past the spillway toward the Lower Steps, I saw these peeps somewhat closer on the Spillway proper.

Great Blue Heron Hiding in Plain Sight - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron Hiding in Plain Sight on the Island in the Middle of the Spillway

I'd seen it, and photographed it, on the way up the hill, but those shots were partially overexposed, so I shot more on the way down. Any day with a Great Blue Heron is a day worth breathing and photographing.

Great Egret on the Island - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret on the Island

I've been thinking about Great Egrets lately. It's just about the time to find them in great hordes totally involved in what I call Egret Dances. I usually start seeing those active gatherings right about New Year's and that's tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Day after tomorrow according to this date, tomorrow actually as I type this. Gotta remember to spell check.

If you can identify any of my unidentifiables today, I'd sure appreciate it.

 

December 28

Pelican Escape - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Escape

Probably my most exciting few moments — something less than a minute  — of the day was when the pelicans who had been holed up along the peninsula, got spooked enough to stage a mass escape along this side of the Hidden Creeks area. I wasted several overexposed exposures on the melee, but eventually I got the exposure right, even if the guys were at some distance by then. I thought they were a little more organized earlier in the escape, but those white birds turn nasty white when overexposed.

Pelican Escape - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Escape

By this point, they're in disarray. But still amazing in several opposing contexts. No telling what spooked them. I saw one of the City's Habitat Destruction Machines do it convincingly one time. A couple of people with a couple of big dogs another time. Dimwad canoers have done it several times.

Pelican Escape - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

x

Just by putting in over near where they settle on the peninsula those turkeys have set every pelican in Sunset Bay in agitated escape, and the canoers don't even seem to recognize their action's reaction among the shorebirds there. Kinda like the woman who brought a big, black dog onto the pier this afternoon, then wondered why all the birds went away.

Last Pelk Escape - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Last Pelican Escape Photograph

Some of the text I lost yesterday went on and on about how, when I get excited about photographing fast-moving birds, I tend to tilt the camera one way or the other, making everything crooked. I was excited here, barely able to compose but somewhat able to point the camera in the right direction and hope for focus. Eventually, they landed near the logs out in the middle of Sunset Bay and dawdled around there most of the rest of the time I was there.

Skid to Stop - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Skid to Stop

This is a whole 'nother situation, but I forget all the details, except that this skid continues in the next shot…

Splashy Splash - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Splashy Splash

… only this shot is too much darker than that last one. I had no chance to adjust the exposure during said skid. If the exposure could go from almost good to miserable this fast, perhaps you can see how far out of my league I am sometimes.

Blue Black Grack - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

a blue-black Great-tailed Grackle, one of my favorite birds

Until the lady with the dog arrived, the inner bay around the pier was mobbed with bird species. Pelicans were on the big log just a few feet off the pier, and lots of ducks and gooses and scaups and everybody else crowded the area. Great for photographers, of which there was also a variety.

Pelican Details - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Details

Wonderfully close. Sometimes the light was a little difficult, shining right into my lens. And other times, when I could finagle a decent exposure , these sorts of shots were possible.

Or This - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Or This

I have no idea why I shot this, but it might have something to do with the pelican standing at left of this shot. It's got to be the scrawniest American White Pelican I've ever photographed. Or the most oddly posed. Or the weirdest-looking pelican. Or something else unknown.

Another Grackle Stare - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Great-tailed Grackle Stare

Grackles are great starers.

Two Pelican Heads - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Heads Preening

Now I think I'm remembering why I sometimes think I should just list photographs and not worry so much about filling the spaces in between with words.

Platter-tailed Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Splatter-tailed Pelican

I love what's going on with the light and slight shadows in this pelican's wings folded on top as usual but raised slightly, perhaps to let them dry after a bath or otherwise getting them wet.

Stare of the Lesser Scaup - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Stare of the Male Lesser Scaup

Only two guys in the bay today. No females in sight, which is mostly normal.

Mallard Flyover - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mallard Flyover

Quick shot. Not really in focus or sharp, but fun.
 

December 27

Pelican with Singing Bridge - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelicans with Singing Bridge on Crooked Horizon

Oh, blast. Never did that before. I've posted a page with little Xs running down today's date, and that could only mean that after writing a whole day's journal worth of words to go with the pictures, I didn't save all those words. I still got the pictures, and I just don't feel like filling in all the words again, so today you'll get just picture along with this ignorant intro. Some of you probably prefer it this way. At the moment, I do, too.

Fishing Fleet with Yacht Club - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Daily Fishing Fleet with Yacht Club Back

Cormorant Flying - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Double-crested Cormorant

Ruddy Duck in Detail - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ruddy Duck in Best Detail of the Season So Far

Racing for Food - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Racing for Food

Where'd It Go? - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Where'd It Go?x

Gatherin of Hungry Birds - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gathering of Hungry Birds

Cormorants Landing - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorants Landing

Doing the Pelican Hop - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Doing The Pelican Hop on another Crooked Horizon

And I'd done a spell-check and everything. Oh, well. It was drudge work, and it probably showed. Now it don't.
 

December 24

 Puffed-out Kestrel - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Puffed-out Cold Female American Kestrel

I needed the break, but I was expecting a quick vacation on the coast, and we were pretty well into it, but my asthma kicked in, and here I am photographing the same old birds in the same old place again. A place that I happen to love, of course. Which is better than coughing myself to death, which seemed likely there for awhile. A little decent doctoring, some good-enough medicines, and I'm coughing less, so today I went to White Rock. This lady was the first interesting bird I saw.

I see and photo her so often, we ought to be on a first-name basis by now. Maybe I should call her Myrtle. Sometimes I see her and her mate hunting together. I haven't come up with a name for him, yet. I and may not, since I don't entirely approve of humans naming animals or birds, unless we provide them with full room and board.

Honker Pair - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Northern Shoveler Pair

Then I saw and photographed these guys flying toward Sunset Bay from Arboretum Drive. Then I walked into Sunset Bay, because I really needed the exercise.

Meanwhile, back in Sunset Bay - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Meanwhile Back in Sunset Bay a child scatters the sky with bread,
and the coots look like they think he ought to be throwing it to them.

Moms and kids feeding the coots and ducks and whoever wins the fights that always starts. I guess bird-feeders don't notice that part. In California, signs were posted at obvious places where people would likely try to feed birds, telling them not to. I don't think it's healthy for the birds.

It's different feeding the gooses, because our whole tribe of white and gray gooses are essentially farm animals, fed daily with the best corn grain available for that purpose — and crackers, which some of them prefer, and wheat bread. But then many of those guys can't fly. But coots and ducks can go find their own food, and even in winter, probably ought to.

Gooses and Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gooses and Ducks

And the usual retinue of farm birds and wild birds.

Then Guess What? - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Incoming Phalanx of American White Pelicans

Soon as I got out onto the pier in Sunset Bay, in came a whole bunch of my favorite big white & black birds, and this time I got to follow them in from some distance.

Two Red Lights - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Red Lights

I try to come up poetic or at least prosaic captions, but here were a big bunch of gorgeous birds coming in low and fast.

In - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

In

A short scad of pelicans flying in in close formation, and I had the camera set to take one shot at a slow time, so I switched that on the camera, but they were still coming in way too fast for my slow Nikon D7000, so I missed a lot of it, especially up close.

By a Nose Drop - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

By a Nose Drop

Just ever so barely got this one all in the picture, though there was some leeway behind it that I cropped to match the nose-drop end.

Angling In - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And Swept Past

And swept past me on the pier.

Gear Down - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gear Down

If I'd been a little more alert, and not coughing so much, I mighta set my cam a little differently. Or maybe not. I felt lucky, though it were a significant challenge. But I usually like it like that. Perfect exposure a few seconds ago, suddenly and without warning, turned into overexposure as the beautiful big birds flashed by me.

Wing Sprawl - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wing Sprawl to Dump Air Speed

I guess I was too close, with my zoom zoomed in too far, so I was barely able to capture whole birds. And I've been thinking I needed a longer telephoto lens, although I guess I could stand farther back with a new lens.

Screetching Stop - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Screeching Stop

Then it watered down. It seems wrong to call this "landing."

Inning - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Meanwhile, the ones already in were getting ready for something

Today was about the earliest (10:30 ayem) I'd been to the lake in awhile. Does it look like what I felt was a sense of Something's-gonna-happen? I felt it down deep but I just stood there and stared, because I'd just photographed so many of them coming in so fast, I never expected another bunch to take off and fly off in the other direction (west).

Sudden Take off - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sudden Takeoff

But they did, and I struggled to zoom back to include more birds. Taking turns going off fishing, I guess.

Power Up - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Power Up

Nice to know I can still capture pelicans sharp and in gorgeous flight, but I was hoping for something a little more exotic this week.

 

December 16

Dark Unsubs - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Jim Peterson of The North Texas Birds Sightings and Photos, says these are Red-breasted Mergansers

On the actual December 16, there was, for a while today, actual sunlight. But on the 15th, when I shot these, there wasn't. So it was dark and charcoal gray, kinda like these birds. Ducks, I think, whom I saw flying along the east coast of the lake. They look a little like Mergansers, I think in my mind that almost never is able to identify anything I can't get in focus. Like this and other very similar shots I made of these birds this day.

I thought they might be mergansers with those distinctive heads and beaks, but I'd never heard of such bird here at White Rock, so I waited for someone who knew more than I about these things to identify them. Jim Peterson certainly qualifies. He published my Bald Eagle photos on his site, and if I'd known about him when I finally twigged that I'd seen a Tricolored Heron at the Medical Center Rookery, I might have been cited as the first to see that bird in this area, but I only became aware of his site when he asked permission to use the eagle pic. Thanks, Jim for I.D confirmation.

Pelk Over Corms - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Over Cormorants in Fishing Party (mob)

Driving the Slider ever so slowly down Arboretum Drive, because I could see the usual fishing party, mob or whatever, not far off the coast, it was raining, and I didn't want to get out and get soaked. Luckily nearly nobody else was driving down the road, although of course, there were bicyclists driving the other way, ignoring the trail they had banded together all over Dallas to require the City to install, and a couple of bozo walkers also ignoring the trail, needing somehow to walk down the street. I honked.

Pelican Off on a Journey - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Off on a Journey

Then got into another cozy spot for shooting out the wet window at birds feeding themselves.

Pelicans Going Home - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelicans on a Journey Home

And when they got their fill — four pounds of fish a day for pelicans — they'd take off from the crowd and head home. I tried to find out how many pounds of fish cormorants require, but learned instead that they have become a problem for coastal fish farms, about which I have mixed feelings.

Rounding Winfrey Point - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Rounding Winfrey Point

Quite awhile later, from the top of Winfrey Point, in the parking lot behind the Winfrey building, I saw other pelicans returning from fishing, then this one flew by. It's fuzzy, because it was dark and far away. I probably was, too.
 

December 15

Double-crested Cormorant and Great Blue Heron in the Dark Wind - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Double-crested Cormorant and Great Blue Heron on a nearly submerged log

Not particularly cold today (Wednesday). My long-sleeve flannel shirt and vest were plenty for the light cold, but there was wind enough to whip the Great Blue Heron's occipital plumes straight back, and it rained all the time I was at the lake today.

Gray Day with Red Ball - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gray Day with Red Marker Ball

I don't know what it's marking, but it's shallow there, so maybe that's it. Except there are no red balls in Sunset Bay, and even out past the few logs still caught out there, it's only less than a foot deep. I often see long-legged shore birds walking around out there.

Red-winged Blackbirds in the Reeds - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbirds in the Reeds

I didn't hear a single male Red-winged Blackbird screaming its territory today, but I saw hundreds, maybe thousands of them and their females thickening the reeds along the edge of the lake.

Low Clouds,, Retirement Home, and one bird - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Low Clouds, Rising Retirement Center and One Bird

That far north on White Rock Lake, that bird is very likely a cormorant of the double-crested variety. The retirement center on the horizon was going to build a tower, and I had visions of standing on the top of it to photograph the lake, but FtLOtL (pronounced fut-L-Lott-L and stands for Friends of the Lake) insisted that they not, fearing that other people would also build tall towers and before long, our lake would be like Central Park in New Yawk City, wholly encircled by tall buildings. I asked the retirement home, and they said there was no place up there I could look out a window and photograph, but I'm sure that's not true.

Northern Mockingbird - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Northern Mockingbird Among Autumn Leaves

I don't know if Mockingbirds or Grackles are our most common bird. I suspect the latter, but there's still gobs of Mocks around. I found this one of the street leading up the hill to Winfrey Point. There are also dozens of them on the hill down the other side from Winfrey toward Sunset Bay, where one can park and walk to Sunset, but you can't drive there. Well, you could, but not legally.

Anchored Boats - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Anchored Boats along Yacht Club Row

Out from Sunset, onto Loop 12 awhile, then back up to Mockingbird/Peavy, turn left at the bridge, stay in the far right lane, loop down into the part of Lawther that goes into The Big Thicket, where are all the yacht clubs and anchored boats, usually of the sailing variety.

Muscovy - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Muscovy Duck

High caliber birds as big as gooses, and when they fly, they sound like freight train engines huffing and puffing. That's a lot of weight to get off the ground. Some gooses cannot fly, but Muscovies can. This is the only Muscovy (historically misidentified, because people thought they came from Moscow, to which they had been exported from South America.

Interesting that the Muscovies identified in bird books all look pretty much the same, whereas in the wild — or even on pretty tame White Rock Lake — there are many color and pattern varieties. Most of whom have those odd warts around their eyes and beaks. And they tend to gather together according to what colors that individual bunch of them are.

December 14

Incoming Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Incoming American White Pelican

Shot these a couple days ago, although the weather's about the same it's been for awhile now — gray and dark.

Coming Down - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Foot Drag

I know you've seen pix like these before, but you'll probably see more this like later, too. Because I love photographing American White Pelicans zoom in from outer space, suddenly materialize out past the logs in Sunset Bay, wait as my Nikon D7000 fails at first to focus the fast-moving bird, then finally gives up and goes ahead and focuses on it, as it continues to barrel in.

Gear Down - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gear Down

Then all I gotta to is hold my finger on the shutter button, keeping the goofy camera from going off somewhere and focusing on something else entirely, or nothing at all — and keeping the visible frame surrounding the whole pelican as it comes closer to the lake's surface, then finally splashes down.

Splash Down - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Splashdown Skid

Twisting the photographer's body all along the way, keeping it facing into the bird. Clickity-click clicking away, being ever mindful that it'll only give me maybe 12 shots in any rapid succession, then stop and have to think about it all — contemplating the universe for its own sweet time — then starting shooting again.

Coasting to Stop - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coasting to Stop

Till the bird slows its forward progress, and settles slowly into the lake.

Female Bufflehead Duck - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Bufflehead on the East Side of the Lake

Then I'm out the next day, and it's even darker and grayer, but I see something unusual, out from the coast road along Arboretum Drive, and I see that it's a female Bufflehead duck. Buffles are unusual enough. Of course, they're usually paired off with somebody somewhere, and this is one of the females venturing off without anybody else in sight but one coot, who dives with her, but pops right back up, while she stays down a minute or so, and the photographers wait.

Fem Bufflehead Over and Down - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bufflehead Over and Down

A couple pix of the Buffle on top, and within a few seconds, she goes down again.

Bufflehead Sploosh Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bufflehead Sploosh!

Splattering a wake of water droplets and a crease in the water as she goes. My treasured Lone Pine edition of The Birds of Texas says this species "cives for aquatic crustaceans, insects and other invertebrates; also eats seed of glasswort and other aquaitc plants.

 

December 13

Irridescent Duck - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Iridescent Duck

Part of the fun of going back to the same place every day for months and months is that I get to watch the same characters grow up. I think this is one of the dark ducks — not the big-tail Muscovies, but the "black" ducks some woman left off at Sunset Bay last summer. The green head and neck and irridescent colors

More Black Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

More Black Ducks

Certainly similar to Mallards, but different, too.

The Kids are growing up - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Kids Are Growing Up

Before our eyes.

And I'm Not Sure Who This Is - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

This Guy

This guy — and supposedly any duck with a curly tail like this is a male — I'm not sure about. Have to look him up in Sibley's Guide to Birds. Sib always has the best drawings of all the intermediate steps in ducks' lives. Or so I thought. I don't know if this one looked like this two weeks ago. Nope, he's not on the Mallard page. Hmm…… I read somewhere that Mallards are who creates the most hybids. This must be another one of them.

Young Muscovy - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Young Muscov

Here's one of the, I think, two muscovies that have been hanging around Sunset Bay. I don't have kids or grandkids, you suppose I'm overcompensating with these birds? Still fun watching them grow up, though.

xRed-winged Blackbird - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird of Indeterminate Age or Sex

This looks like a First Summer Red-winged Blackbird, except of course, it's not summer. It's officially autumn, so that can't be it. I'm pretty sure it's a Red-winged Blackbird. I'll check The Crossley Guide. It's got actual photographs of differing age and sex birds all on one page. Nope, it doesn't look like any of those, either. I worried that I might have brought too much of those colors in this photograph. But I'm pretty careful about that, and I didn't do anything like that to this next shot.

Two Red-winged Blackbirds - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Of Them

And it looks pretty much the same. So Sibley and Crossley are both a little behind the eight-ball on this one. Thank goodness for what we sometimes perceive as reality.

Speedboat Coot - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Speedboat Coot

Not quite up on the surface of the water and skittering (running on the water), and in fact slowing down from some of that. Great water sculpture.

Two Male Mallards Flying Over - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Male Mallards

Flying over.

Red-tailed Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-tailed Hawk

Lately, there's generally a Red-tailed Hawk around pretty often. But they float by at a distance not able to be photographed well. Red-tailed Hawks mostly eat rodents it sights by making arduous (not at all lazy) circles in the sky. This one was flying over near the baseball field at the bottom of Winfrey Way or whatever that street is now called.
 

December 9

Pelicans Coming In from Far - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American White Pelicans Flying Back to Sunset Bay

Dark gray today. Not so cold. Almost pleasant. I stood on the pier at Sunset Bay and talked birding with Jennifer who reads this journal. Great fun. And we got a slow and sporadic landing of the pelicans show most of the time.

Low Across the Lake - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Low Across the Lake

I should point out that these photographs are not of just one pair of pelicans materializing out across the lake. These are the best of about a half dozen flights back to Sunset.

Low and Fast - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Low & Fast

But I've ordered them, so they look like one, long sequence.

Two Pelicans Flying in Parallel - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Drafting the Slipstream

I almost didn't notice how dark it was till I saw these photographs.

Pelicans Drafting Each Other - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

1.43 Pelicans

I have lots of excuses why this is not just one, long series of two pelicans flying in and past us on the pier. The best is that my Nikon simply would not focus much of the time, but my favorite excuse was that I never got a nice, long trajectory, because although I got to watch a few coming in from across the lake, most of them simply materialized at about just past the logs out in the middle of Sunset Bay.

Almost Fill the Frame - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Almost Got it All in the Frame

They weren't there, because after awhile, we were watching very carefully. Then, poof! they were there and piling in low and at great speed.

Zoom Past - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Zooming Past

Swooping By - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And Away

Oddly, I didn't follow any of my passers by to the usual splash, skid and coast in to the rest of "our" pelicans, which number about 28 these days. Which I only assume includes the eight pelicans that summered here this last year.
 

December 8

Fishing Mob with Skyline - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fishing Mob with Skyline

When I was a photographer with the Dallas Times Herald about a million years ago, our chief photographer, John Mazziotta would get all excited anytime we included a silhouette of the Dallas skyline in any of our news photographs. Probably because that miniscule skyline is always popular, it's a major cliché and it shows right where you are in this burg. So I'm aware it was back there, and I sometimes line things up to show it off well. Directing these guys, however, would have been a major chore. They were there. I photographed them there, and it was nice to have a skyline included.

Much More Exciting - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Much More Exciting

Today's subject, part of my ongoing obsession with American White Pelicans filling their gullets every day — they require four pounds of fish each, and a fishing mob — what I used to call a fishing armada, although armadas have to do with getting armed and not anything to do with fishing except armadas usually include boats and ships, and fisherpersons sometimes use those devices.

Cormorants and Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorants and Pelicans Racing toward where they perceive is food

There's probably a correct avian term for a bunch of different species of birds getting together to catch some fish, and I know there are mobs of crows, but no crows involved in today's fishing, except they may also have been in the same sky, but lately I've been calling these gatherings mobs, because — not to be confused with The Mafia — these are unruly, unruled and mostly anarchic, except they are all there together for a purpose. To feed themselves. Pelicans often engage in cooperative fishing, but not when they're in one of these mobs. It's every bird for itself.

Face-Off - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Face-off with Gull Watching

Most of our gulls are, so that particular gull probably is also, a Ring-beaked Gull. Yeah, they'll eat pretty much anything you throw at them, but they really like fish, and I've seen a pair of gulls carrying a fish that's as big as both of them. So they're not just hanging around for the excitement.

Pelicans with gulls - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Pelicans Dunking  Competitively for Fish while a Gull Watches

If the pelicans missed the fish, the gull, who probably sees it as well if not better, would probably take its chance at it, but the pelicans are bigger and closer.

So What'd they Get? - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Gull Got Zilch. The Right Pelican Got a Taste and …

At this point it's difficult to discern if anybody got anything worth all that scurrying and fighting.

And Swallow - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Swallows Catch

But milliseconds later, it's obvious that this one pelican got something worth tilting back and swallowing. It was the only actual swallow I saw all day, but cormorants usually take theirs underwater, and thus out of sight, and most often, with gulls, there's such a knot of them, it's impossible to see who got what. But this pelican swallowed something real and food.

Competitive Flying - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Competitive Flying

Who arrives first has a pretty good chance of eating first, so to the fleet goes the victory. A lot of the time during today's fishing mob that wandered around the big middle of the lake from west side of Winfrey Point to the dam, they all just sat (swam) out there wondering who'd discover fishes and where they'd be and how close each individual pelicans, cormorant or gull would be. But when there was a flurry of finding and catching fish, everything got visually exciting in a hurry.

Hovering after short, fast flight - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hovering after Short, Fast Flight

I love photographing American White Pelicans flying. I'll take them just flying into Sunset Bay anytime, but to get them engaged in purposeful flight, especially of a competitive nature, is all the more wonderful. In the air, they are amazing graceful and controlled.

Splash Landing - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Skidding In

Then Slide In - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Then Splash-sliding in

Splash-hopping Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Splash-hopping Pelican AFter Food

I rarely knew where they were heading, and it's fairly obvious that none of the other birds — cormorants or pelicans assuming their usual, duh… now what? positions have any clues either — but this pelican is hot on the trail of something worth chasing down and swallowing whole.
 

December 7

American Kestrel Dive - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American Kestrel Dive

Despite all the talk about snow on the TV weather shows last night, it did not. Instead, by the time I got to the lake this afternoon, the sky was blue and sunshine strong. This kestrel was much more easily found than yesterday's, and I got a lot closer to in focus shots of actions  I've photographed — I guess — often enough to start getting good at. They don't tell me when they're going to jump off the wire, dive down into the grass …

Kestrel Catching Bug - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Kestrel Catches a Bug

… and catches something food to eat. I've shot at this scene many, many times over the last half dozen years, but this is one of the spare few times I've captured it capturing food. It probably would have been somewhat more exciting if it were a meat-eater to see it catch something much bigger than a bug, but kestrels eat bugs, which are smaller and maybe even faster than animals or other birds. They are certainly much more difficult to photograph. I was right there struggling with the camera and big, honking lens, and I'm amazed I got this shot.
 

December 6

Female American Kestrel - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female American Kestrel

I kept thinking this weather was perfect for a Kestrel, but where was it? I looked in the usual places, down the lake edge of the Winfrey parking lot, the Bath House end of Dreyfus, and along the ridge up, overlooking the Bath House. It wasn't till I thought to give the west side of the lake a good look for something new, that I finally found her upstairs at The Old Boat House area. In a tree near the children's playground. I was driving around the parking lot as usual, looking for something, anything, that resembled a bird. Saw a bump in a tree, turned The Slider around facing the wrong direction in the middle lot, so I wouldn't have to get out in the cold, cold wind.

Then I took a couple dozen shots to make sure I got some close to being in focus, even though she was really far away and even then, still small in the frame. Like this rather nice portrait. Her staring at me, staring through my camera back at her.

Kestrel Swoops Away - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Kestrel Swoops Away

Then, while I was attempting another focus in,  it swooped away, and I wondered whether I'd see it again.

Kestrel with Bug - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Kestrel with Caught Bug

Took awhile to find it, atop a skinnier tree, not far away, then with a good-sized bug. Nutritious. And I now realize that would probably have been enough for the day, But I had work to do at home, so I stayed at the lake longer and found and photographed lots more birds.

Pelican Joins the Corm Fishing Party - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelicans Join the Cormorant Fishing Party

Kinda was hoping for snow today, but may be better luck for that tomorrow. It was cold. Froze last night — hey! this is supposed to be the tropics, now that Global Warming's taken over. Any kind of futzy weather, you know where I went. The lake.

First Five Pelks in Sunset Bay - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

First Five Pelicans in Sunset Bay

There'd probably been more before we got there. But there were only five then. We wondered where all the others were. Later they were joined by the five more pelicans who had gone fishing but didn't catch anything.

Corms in the Fishing Party - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorants and Gulls in the Fishing Party

These white dots are gulls.

Fishing Party with Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelicans were Widely Dispersed in the Fishing Party

This is the first time this season I've seen Pelicans join in on the big — up to a quarter mile long — fishing party out in the middle of the lake. But, like I said, they weren't catching anything, and after awhile I just gave up. It's so much more interesting and exciting when they keep finding fish. Makes for some great shots sometimes. But by the next time I circled around and back along Arboretum Drive, the pelicans had left the area, and gone back to Sunset Bay.

Female Grackle - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Grackle

More opportunities not to get out of the car.

First Winter Juvenile Starling - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

First-winter Juvenile European Starling

Takes about twenty shots for every one that appears here. They're fast — and busy, sticking their beaks down into the ground, obscuring it from view when I go click. They don't spend much time with their heads up, posing for photographs. I maybe oughtta just photograph them with their heads buried in the deep grass, where they find what they eat. According to the Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas, they forage for "invertebrates, berries, seeds and human food waste."

My Season's First Bufflehead - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

My First-of-Season Bufflehead

He was a long way out, under not not enough light, so you can't see the deep blues and reds in the black area around his neck and cheek, but we can see his long tail dragging behind. Again according to my Birds of Texas, "during their winter stay in Texas, Buffleheads ride the waves, diving for mollusks, mostly snails."

What Usually Happens - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

What Usually Happens

Here, my F O S Bufflehead dives, — they stay down longer than a minute, and when they come up, it's often a long way from where they started. I didn't see him again, but I'm glad to have found him today. There'll be more along the northern and central west side of the lake as winter wears on.

Cormorants Flying Low Back to Cormorant Bay - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorants Flying Back to Cormorant Bay

Cormorant Bay [See my White Rock Lake map} is on the upper west end of the lake .
 

December 5

Fluffy Feather Day - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

It's Fluffy Feather Day!

Didn't find them where I expected them — on the Pelican Peninsula in Sunset Bay — but instead across Sunset Bay to the this-side edge of Dreyfus Point, which you shall see forthwith.

Only Eyes Showing - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Only Eyes Showing

Well, actually, there's a bit of beak showing orange between and below those eyes, which, combined with the sudden shock of feathers pointing straight up, adds an odd comicality to this image shot from behind of an American White Pelican warming its beak among its fluffy wing feathers on a cold day.

Fluffoid - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fluffed

Most of their big orange/pink beaks were stuffed under wing feathers folded up on their backs to keep the beaks warm in the cold wind today. Fluffed-up feathers keep bodies warmer, too.

Warm Beak - Cold Beak - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Warm Beak — Cold Beak, with Ducks and Coot

Although, I think I've seen swimming pelicans with their beaks warming in their feathers. So this is not necessarily an either/or situation.

Sunset Bay, Cormorants, Sunset Bay, American White Pelicans, Dreyfus Wall - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sunset Bay Reeds & Weeds, Double-crested Cormorants on the Logs,
American White Pelicans on the Far Shore and the Retaining Wall on Dreyfuss Point

When I shot this, I assumed those big white blots on the far side were gooses, because the herd often hangs out over there. The Gooses were off to the right and left of this bunch, however.

Not a Peninsula Anymore - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Not Much of a Peninsula Today After Rain and More Rain

Good thing I photographed the Pelican Peninsula day before yesterday, because it's not there today. Well, a spud of it — this one — is still above water, but the part that spanned the lagoon in Sunset Bay, is all underwater. Leaving the pelicans no place to rest on this side of the bay. Give it a couple days without rain — or snow, and they'll have the peninsula back.

About 40 American White Pelicans on Dreyfuss Point - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Most of the Forty American White Pelicans I Counted on Dreyfuss Point Today

I don't think the full forty are here. Several have split the crowd and were still swimming diagonally off to the right, possibly to do a little fishing. Maybe just because they don't enjoy a crowd.

Corm Fishing Armada - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorant & Gull Fishing Armada Strung Out This Side of the Old Pump House

I usually mostly ignore Cormorant Fishing Armadas, because I'd rather wait for the pelicans to join in, but I haven't seen that happen this winter yet. There are a few white dots scattered among the black lines of cormorants here, but no big white blots. Maybe they just have not invited any pelicans.

Cormorants Past Houses on the Far Side of the Lake - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorants Flying  st houses on the far side

They're still in an elongated straight line from fishing in that same long, thin line that goes on and on.

Cormorants with Trees Behind - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorants Passing Trees and Buildings

I assume they were heading nearly to Mockingbird Bridge near the north most top of the lake. Specifically, to Cormorant Bay, where they sit in trees and scat a odoriferous splatting stench on the trees till they look like snow and on the ground below till it smells like a chemical factory. Doesn't seem to do the grass or trees any harm, however.

Pelicans Flying toward Dreyfus - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelicans Flying toward Dreyfus Point

From Sunset Bay I saw big, white birds flying toward Dreyfus, so I drove over there.

Pelk Pair Flying - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two American White Pelicans Flying Toward Dreyfus

I just love any opportunity to photograph pelicans flying, even far away and going farther.

Pelks Toward Dreyfus - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Pelicans Flying Past Hidden Creeks

And farther.

December 3

Pelican Peninsula from Dreyfus Point - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Peninsula from Dreyfus Point

A little too dark for bird action today. It had rained, was promising to do it again, but it didn't while I drove around Sunset and Dreyfus this afternoon. There was mist on the water farther out, as you shall see down the page a bit.

Pelicans Visible from the Sunset Bay Parking Lot - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Peninsula View from Sunset Bay Parking Lot

I've heard people complain that Sunset Bay was difficult to get to or find. I figure that's probably a good thing. Way too many people already know the way there. People with dogs unleashed. People who throw rocks at birds. People who think it's fun or funny to chase ducks or gooses or pelicans. Never cared much for those people, myself.

See my map of White Rock Lake for a fairly obvious way to get there, if you realize that Poppy Drive (by Doctor's Hospital) crosses North Buckner. Toward the lake on Poppy, past the hospital, right at the aprrtments, down the hill to the woods, left on that street (carefully avoiding the wlkers and bicyclists, who don't obey any rules), and that will wend you into Sunset Bay's capriciously unmarked one-way loop.

 Pelican Pininsula - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Peninsula a little closer in

You might not be able to tell from today's first photo, but here it's fairly obvious that the now narrow (It got pretty wide during the summer.) peninsula is separate from shore. Last summer, the peninsula almost bridged from Sunset to Hidden Creek Forest. I still want to get the City Parks Department to bring a couple of their Habitat Destruction Machines and cut off the peninsula at this end, so it'd be an island.

It wouldn't alliterate as well, but Pelican Island might make those big white birds a little less susceptible to the coyotes who run wild at night during their winter mating season, although they're probably hungry all the time.

See my page on  Sunset Bay Coyotes.

Pelicans on the Logs - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelicans on The Logs

This is from Dreyfuss Point again. They were talking about somebody rebuilding the Dreyfuss Building after it got destroyed by a fire. The fire could have been stopped in plenty of time to save it, except the Fire Department couldn't find Dreyfuss and kept showing up at Winfrey instead, because they could find Winfrey, but had no idea how to get to Dreyfuss, so they didn't, and it burned down.

So now I call it Dreyfuss Point, even if it's just as rounded as Winfrey "Point." I understand that the Fire Department now knows how to find Dreyfuss, and those little signs that say WRT with some number after it, are all about the Fire Department and the police being able to find things at White Rock Lake now. But I guess the only way to prove it would be if they just have to, and I wouldn't put any money on that bet.

Dallas Skyline - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Misty Dallas Skyline from Dreyfuss Point

I was thinking about photographing a bird flying by, but it's difficult to get them to fly by in just the right place, and this duck was following a bunch of other ducks that I missed the opportunity to photograph sharp again the dull, misty background while I hoped a more interesting bird would fly through the scene. All in all, this duck was just fine. I think she's a female Mallard.

Sunset Bay from the top of Winfrey - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sunset Bay Pelicans and Cormorants from the Top of Winfrey —  That's Dreyfuss on the Far Side.

I've only recently been photographing Sunset Bay from Winfrey. I probably ought to back up a little up there and show where the Bath House and some other land- and water- marks are that you might recognize from somewhere deep in your past.

Log Dogs - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Log Dogs from the top of the Road down to Sunset Bay

You can drive down the road to Sunset Bay, but you can't actually drive to Sunset Bay from the Road to Sunset Bay, because now that it's a parking lot, driving farther is blocked by a bright yellow fence. I remember being able to drive all around the lake when I was at the University of Dallas in Irving in 1962, and yes, of course, I probably drove a little fast sometimes. I still dream of the White Rock Grand Prix sometimes, but it would be ruinous of bird life there, and probably kill a few humans, too. So I don't want it to happen, it's just another one of my passing fancies.

Cormorants Drying their wings - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorants Drying their Wings

Until the lake got dredged a few years ago — maybe a decade …  — the wide paved walking path around Winfrey Point was a one-lane road very much like the one that goes from Garland Road to Winfrey Point. I was sorry to not get to drive that drive anymore, but I bet the birds like it better now. The road is not nearly as close as this truncated telephoto shot makes it look.
  

December 2

Landing Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American White Pelican Landing

Or watering, since it was landing on water. Step one: it materializes right in front of us. We were watching for just such an event, but we didn't see it coming in from far away. As they so often do, it just materialized suddenly a few seconds before it got nearly down the the water's surface, and we photographed it coming in those last few steps.

Pelican Incoming - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican About to Touch Down

I still think our non-brown pelicans are ungainly on the ground, a lot awkward there, but even a few inches off the ground, they are amazing.

Pelican Skidding In - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Skidding In

Having touched down those last few inches, it is now spending its forward motion into the water, raising sparks of suddenly skewered water, splashing in its wake. Wings out and cupped to slow it down even more.

Pelk Landing - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Now the Disrupted Surf is in Front of It

Almost stopped, where it will quickly blend in with the other sleeping and resting and sunning pelicans along "the peninsula" in Sunset Bay.

Gull One - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

gull

Having got het up with such excitement, the photographer turns to an interesting gull sprawling in the air close in above Sunset Bay.

Gull Another - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And a few seconds later, the same gull in a differing position

Still flying along, the gull assumes a whole 'nother form.

More Gulls Near Dreyfuss - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Many More Gulls Wadding Near Dreyfuss Point

These are very probably our usual, major population, Ring-beaked Gulls. Below are Cormorants. On yester's trip, we kept seeing official signs prohibiting wadding on the beach at various lakes. Obviously somebody in charge of making official Texas lake signs cannot spell wading. So if you need to do any wadding, you're out of luck. These gulls, however, don't read signs, so they can wad all they want to.

Another Pelk Landing - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Meanwhile, Another White Pelican …

… suddenly materializes from nearly nothing a few inches off the surface of the inner of Sunset Bay. Clickity-click.

Skid Tires on Pavement - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Skid Tires On Pavement

Skids a bit with its big wings creating air resistance to enable it to translate its body from air speed to ground speed.

Body Down in It - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fall Forward

Falls, forward breast now down into the juice, as the skid-splash precedes the bird, and wings are mostly just aiming it now.. Then it goes behind some other pelicans and melds into the pelican pack.

Coot Against Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black Against White: Coot On Pelican

I shot this last month, and never found just the right place to put it into this journal. Now I have.

 

Quinlan and Tawakoni and Environs

December 1

Black Vulture on a Pole - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black Vulture on a Pole

We drove to Lake Tawakoni way too early this morning, the first warm day in awhile, and the last un-rainy one for a couple days — supposedly. I never believe the weather guys, and I never pay enough attention to see if they're wrong this time, too. I like pretty much all birds, but I have a special affection for Black Vultures.

Four Black Vultures - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Four Black Vultures

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Mockinbird - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mockingbird with Electric Pole Gizmo

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Killdeer on a Hill

Nice thing about Killdeer is that they're more than happy to let you know where they are by keeping up a near-constant din of peeping. Why their kind of shorebirds are often called "peeps." The tick is tracking down that distinct call to one place, because their peeping tends to bounce all over the place. This one was up a bit of a hill, which it walked and ran dead center of all the time I watched it.

Great Blue Heron on the Rocks - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron on the Rocks

Seems like everywhere we go, far or near, we always come back with at least one photograph of a Great Blue Heron.

Not Sure Who This Is - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Non-breeding Adult Eastern Meadowlark

I thought I had lured a couple people who really know birds to help me with identifying further ones. But I haven't heard from them in awhile. Meadowlark or a cousin thereof?

The Same One Looking the Other Way

The Same One Looking the Other Way

We thought this might be a thrasher of some sort, but it doesn't look like any of the ones in the three books I've scanned so far. Noble little beast. Very distinctive brown pattern, Sibley doesn't even get close to. Yup, reader Jacob Grange is correct. It's an Eastern Meadolark.

Skunk - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dead Skunk Near the Edge of the Road

It didn't smell anywhere near as stinky as the animal the hawks and the first Caracara we saw on the side of the road waiting their turn at that really stinkoid animal. But I mangled those shots, and I got this one real pretty. Even thought briefly about making a hat of it. Not that I'm adept at that sort of craft.

Cara Cara - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One of Two Crested Caracaras we Saw Today

Today's first Caracara proved difficult to photograph. Not its fault, to be sure. Mine for being unfamiliar with my main camera and for not having the good sense to prep it before we set off.

Weird Cow - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Weird Cow

I thought I knew what these were, but they turned out not to be.  Not exactly wildlife, they were fenced in at a well-kept place.

Two of Them - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two of Them from the Rear

Very distinctive-looking animals. Not exactly Texas' usual variety of Longhorns.

European Starling - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

European Starling

I was driving, and I saw a colorful bird on a wire high above us. Backed up to find this rather ordinary, albeit colorful, bird.

Starling Flying Away - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Same Starling Flying Away

And, since I had the focus already, and though I didn't expect it to fly off, I managed to catch it when it flew.

Black Vulture - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black Vulture

Yeah, we pretty much kept seeing the same birds, as we explored new territory — and did not find all that many new birds, as we expected.

Two Black Vultures on a Pole - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Black Vultures on a Pole

Looked like they were cozying up next to each other to keep friendly.
 

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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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