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The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton
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White Rock Lake

December 31 2012

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

Skid Splash to Stop

To leave here on the top of 2012, I've been saving some pix I shot earlier this week — on the one day the sun shined.

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

Perfect Pelican Form

I just haven't got around to posting them, and since the year is about to end, I had better get cracking. I love photographing American White Pelicans flying, and my absolute favorite place to do that — especially in sunlight, but anytime really, is on the newly-renovated pier at Sunset Bay.

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

Landing Imminent

I can never plan sequences. It's just me taking the good shots out of a series. These are amazingly well lighted. This pelican seems to pop off the background and thus off this page. I like that about a photograph. I wish I could plan such a thing happening. But I always have to take what I can get — in focus, etc.

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

Inches from Touchdown

And yes, I shoot a lot of pictures. Only about a hundred and a half this time out, but sometimes several hundred, maybe a thousand or more, so it's hardly ever just a few to choose from. And all that takes up a lot of hard drive space. Eventually, I sift through a whole month or a whole year's worth and delete the ones I called my 1-star shots, and probably a lot of my 2-stars, too. But I keep my three stars, and usually use most or those. 4-stars are even better. Five stars are saved for shots I worked up and used on these pages.

Touched Down with Slice Splash - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Touchdown with Slice Splash

That's why I rarely shoot RAW. Those files are several times larger. They offer more opportunities for changing things, but I love JPEGs, and RAW takes too much space. I so much prefer showing my photographs online than in prints. Sometimes, when I do make prints, I wish I'd shot that one in RAW, but it's too late by then, and I've learned to print JPEGs very well. It's true that it's easier to make JPEGs online look good, but I can still print a JPEG very large.

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

Female Mallard  "Landing"

I'm always uneasy calling the sort of sudden drops in altitude this duck is perpetrating "a landing" when it will be into the lake. I have seen mallards 'land' on solid earth — and it is a precision maneuver, but mostly they land in water. Like pelicans, there's a bit of splash, then it almost always stops wherever that bird has planned to since it started looking down at possible sites as it fell in near complete control through the sky.

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

Low for Landing

I've talked about "the ground effect" before. To wit, according to Wikipedia:

... Ground effect is the increased lift and decreased drag that an aircraft's wings generate when they are close to a fixed surface. When landing, ground effect can give the pilot the feeling that the aircraft is "floating." When taking off, ground effect may temporarily reduce the stall speed. The pilot can then fly level just above the runway while the aircraft accelerates in ground effect until a safe climb speed is reached.

And I love watching birds do this. So elegant and intelligent.

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

Swooping By

I never get all my photos in focus, but this bright day, I did much better than usual, using the same young camera, my Nikon D7000, which since my precious D300 has died inside again, is my best camera. And if I don't lean too heavily on the shutter button, it shoots plenty fast using JPEGs. It chokes on RAW, but so do my drives.

Brown & White Duck Flap - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Brown & White Duck Flap

Much as I love photographing pelicans and other exotic creatures, plain old ducks often draw my attention. I'll shoot at anything that strikes my fancy, but this day — except for a few of the usual blurs and blobs, I almost felt like I was on fire. Got them sharp in focus and rendered nice color that may or may not have been there all along. I'm guessing this is a Muscovy/Mallard hybrid. Mallards are usually responsible for duck hybrids. And unlike many gooses, this bird can actually fly, although many Muscovies sound like freight trains huffing over any distance.

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

The Perfect Goose

I love portraying ordinary birds as anything but, and I'm often charmed when adults tell their children that these are swans.

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

45-degree American White Pelican

And I love photographing truly amazing birds as just what they are.

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

Short-winged Pelican Flying This Way

especially in the air.

Another Angle 0 Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Angle, Different Pelican

American White Pelicans are eloquent and adaptable creatures. Note how long this one's wings appear to be, and how short the one just up from it's wings seem to be. Like high-tech air and space craft, they adjust such things and wingspans whenever they need to.

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

Pelican Flat-out

Flat out coasting or —

Odd-angle Flyover - xpry

Odd-angle Flyover

curled up in impossibly muscled flying contortions, but only for milliseconds —

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

19 Pelicans on a Log

or lined up along the logs out in the middle of Sunset Bay, where it's maybe two or three inches deep. Like one could almost walk out there, and I suspect enterprising coyotes do just that sometimes, which is why pelicans go somewhere else to sleep nights.

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

Pintail Drake

I snuck up carefully, not even scaring any coots, till I was about as close as I was likely to get to the water. Then it took awhile to find and follow one of the three or maybe four Pintail Ducks swimming just off from where Charles will feed them soon. Coots are skittish, but nothing like how skittish Pintail ducks are — or when there's just a few Wood Ducks. Look at all those patterns and stripes and tones. Aren't Northern Pintails gorgeous?

 

December 30

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

Non-breeding Horned Grebe

Black & White on a gray gray day. Cold but not awfully cold. I didn't know whether I was happier with or without my brown winter coat. We drove down Lawther past the arboretum and Anna sighted this bird just off shore. We stared and easily identified it as grebe but which one? I thought I hadn't seen one of these before, but I have seen Eared Grebes in very nearly the same place along that same shore in years past. I often see Pied-billed Grebes there, but Adult, breeding Eared Grebes are beautiful and exotic birds.

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

Non-breeding Horned Grebe

Most grebes are plain by comparison to those gorgeous birds, but this is a handsome bird nonetheless.

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

FOS (first of season) Bufflehead Duck

If you look carefully at his head, especially along the neck and shoulder area, although it extends along his forehead, also, there are strong stripes of deep red and blue. Unless there's brilliant sunlight, we usually don't get to see those colors, at all. Yesterday was sunny, but not today. Today was gray.

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

Two Small Trees More than Filled with Starlings

By the time we got near this tree we had been watching fill and empty of little dark birds, they'd all escaped into the nearby trees. Gradually we learned their skittishness was due to people walking the trail right by the tree. For a minute or so, they'd gradually flock to the tree, fill it up, eating something growing there, then a bicycler or walker or a group of runners in black street clothes would jog by, and the birds would again disperse. So I had to wait awhile and get the right distance to fill the frame of my non-zoom telephoto lens.

 

December 26

 Owl in the Moon or Sunlight - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Horned Owl in the Light of the Full Moon

Pretty sure that was the near full moon glowing through the cloudy haze heading toward evening. A closer perch would have been easier to deal with. Better focus, more detail, that sort of thing. But it was far away and impossible to focus through all those branches. I should have brought a tripod, so I could have manually focused through the branches. The owl stayed there are long time, probably as interested in us as we were in it.. 

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

Fuzzy Great Horned Owl - Better Exposure for the Owl

But though we saw it arrive, and we spent many minutes in startlement that we simply could not see wherever it was it landed, we assumed we'd missed it flying away while we moved over to where we thought we might be able to see it better. Well after Daniel and I had decided it must have silently flapped away while we were either moving or jawing, it flew away for real, ever so much more distinctly than it had arrived.

These shots are all from later, in another place Robert knew the owl pair frequented.

Great Horned Owl Almost Sharp - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Horned Owl Almost Sharp

I promised myself I wouldn't get carried away with long, silly discussions of focus and apparent sharpness here, so I won't go into it, but this time, this owl — we saw two of them, so we assume it's near where there will be a nest, eggs and young later in the season — and it is my policy not to divulge locations of nests, because there are so many people bent on their destruction. But this is one of them, and I'll be looking for better shots as winter continues, which seems likely.

Quite a boon for a gray and very cold afternoon. I am so very weary of photographing the same birds over and over again.

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

Many Shovelers Shoveling

At first, I assumed this mass of ducks floating so close together well out from the shore would be Ruddy Ducks, but I'd never seen Ruddies associate with their fellow ducks this closely, then I saw some floating much closer, saw their heads in the water, and their large bills when their heads weren't under, so I knew they were not Ruddies.

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

Northern Shovelers Near and Far

They look a lot like Mallards, but no mallard has that big and long a beak.

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

Blue Goose Talking

It is a wild goose, but when it arrived it had a tangle of fishing line around a wing, rendering it unable to fly away. So it stays. Pretty obviously not one of our overlarge domestic gooses, gray, white or brown. But it has slowly, very gradually, become one of the flock, though it usually remains apart from most of them.

 

December 19

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

Fast Wing Flapping

I am utterly fascinated by American White Pelican Wings. I've seen them conform to so many different shapes and forms, it's amazing. I'm pretty sure this was one in a very quick succession of more normal looking stationary wing flaps, perhaps in perpetration of drying them after a slap-water bath, maybe just what I've probably too long considered a Victory Flap. But I don't remember ever having seen whatever this bird is doing with its wings before.

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

Fuzzy Soft Wings Up

This bird's wings look soft, much more normal. Maybe like angel wings.

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

Long-winged Pelican Landing

And this pelican islanding. Very close to touch-down in the water, it's got its semi-automatic wing-tip extensions going. Sometimes pelican wings look all white. Sometimes, they look like they have extensive black feathers,  Compare these extended-length wings to the apparently much shorter wings of a bird from the previous journal entry just down this page, or even this next one just below. I'd like to see an accurate animation of them doing that. I know some jet fighter wings adjust mechanically, not unlike these guys do it organically.

Flaps Down - Air Brakes On - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flaps Down — Air Brakes On

See how its wings turn nearly 90 degrees from full glide mode to catch a lot of wind. Seconds later (above), it seemed to be going for maximum air speed with control, now it's slowing down and fast.

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

Collision Nearly Imminent

And now, with an almost imminent collision too close in sight, it slows maximally, showing us what looks like all of its wings, except they're significantly shorter than they were those few seconds previous.

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

Another Pelican Landing Showing Off Apparently Larger Primary Feathers
 

Short Wing Angle In to Land - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Comparatively Short-wing Angle in to Land

I guess if birds can move every feather in their body to shake, rattle and rouse (See my full page of different birds rousing.), and little mid-flight wing length adjustment is nothing.

 

December 18

Cormorant Family Tree - Two Adults and Two Juveniles — Yacht Club Row well behind them

I'm guessing I'll always have a short-term backlog of images, but eventually, I go back through all my monthly files and delete stuff I'll never use or that could never be used, so I'll have more hard drive space to store new ones for however long it takes. This was shot from the parking lot behind the building atop Winfrey Point.

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

Fishing Party By the Dam — with Viewing Turret on the Dam Side

The ones I was saving for today were on the same topic as this started being. The topic it ended up being is landscapes from differing viewpoints. I've long promised myself to explore the dam, the the many tons of concrete it employs and comprises and the view from here of there.

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

Over The Edge

There's a bit of a curb of concrete on the top of the dam, which is what we're seeing between the birds — gulls and cormorants — and the trees down in what I usually refer here to The Lower Spillway, where I often take pix of egrets, herons, cormorants and whoever else wanders through down there. I might eventually finish out the landscape portion of today's program with some night shots of this same area. Eventually being the keyword.

Gull On

Unfortunately, I was still hoping to capture interesting birds doing interesting things when I was shooting those guys down there by the dam, so that's about all I got that time. Telephoto offers an intriguing viewpoint of landscape. This is one of those shots I shot before, and it's been hanging around for about a week till I finally used it. Ring-billed Gull waiting for some person to throw more bread up for it to attempt to catch over the pier at Sunset Bay. Which it probably did. The guy throwing bread was so pleased with himself every time the gulls caught the bread. Gulls are amazing birds, just not my favorite.

 

December 15

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

Pelican Flyby 1

Another one of those experiments. My oldest — and quickly fading — dSLR (Nikon D300) and my oldest autofocus lens (1991), which is also my slowest auto focusing lens (Nikkor 180 f2.8). See what happens.

Pelican Flyby 2 - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Flyby 2

Stand on the pier in Sunset Bay till the warm weather turns cold and/or the pier is full of people — both. Click whatever flies or floats by.

Pelican Flyby - 3 - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Flyby 3

This portion of our program was very successful and effective. Other portions not so much, really. Oddly enough, all of these were shot on December 15, 2012. Today, as I type this and as within a few minutes, I post here.

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

Tippy-Toe Splashy

I'd like to keep this today's-shots-shot-today routine, but I shot too many shots today.

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

Splash-lette

I probably won't use my unsuccessful failures (almost a thoroughly redunding dundancy) of which there were many, but there's enough other shots to show a few select images.

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

Splash Up!

Most involve American White Pelicans. That must be a surprise, he said ironically.

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

Flying Again

Then another series even more sharply focused.

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

Flashing and Flying

 

I thought this one was taking off. Except about as quckly as it got up.

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

Zero-point Landing

It started coming down again (I feel that way myself sometimes.)

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

Splash-along

And then it was landing.

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

Wing Zup Skid

So it was difficult to discern whether it was all planned out ahead of time. Or if the lens made it happen.

All of today's images are not necessarily the same bird(s).
  

December 14 2012

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

Pelican Surge

These were actually shot this morning. Early for me. About the time most people get to work, I suppose, although when I worked regular hours, I rarely did rush hours. These guys engage in rushing hours as often as they are hungry and fish are to be found.

More Cormorants Join the Fracas - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

More Cormorants Join the Fracas

Once the fishing party is established, usually by the cormorants or gulls, everybody piles on and piles on.

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

Power Winging

Reaching for air to accelerate quickly may be easier for American White Pelicans, whose wingspans can be the largest of any bird in America except the Condor, and this bird hasn't extended its wings at the far ends yet, although it seems to have at the body end.

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

The Race

Note the pelican on the right, who is already almost inflated its beak, so it can fill it with more fish here, where everybody is trying to be the first to find fish.

Coots, Gulls, Pelks and People - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coots, Gulls, Pelks and People

Quite a spectacle with the water and sky above roiling with birds. What we can't see is the excitement of the fish trying to get away.

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

Engaged in Scooping Fish

Apparently the black extensions (primaries) of pelican wings are useful for maneuvering quickly as well as turning broadly.

Floating Towards the Old Boathouse - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Floating Toward The Old Boathouse

While I fiddled with my camera and its focus settings, the fishing party swooped farther, then closer.

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

Swimming Along

They're excited, but at this moment, nobody seems to have found fresh fish.

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

Pelk Rush

Here, however, something is going on, and there's this sudden splash and rush.

 

Sunset Bay at White Rock Lake

December 13 2012

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

One Gull STanding, One Flying By

These are the shots that I haven't used the last couple weeks that I shot anyway.

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

Dark & Light Birds

Not much rhyme or reason to it, just what happened.

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

Black Duck

And I can't promise I won't bring you more bird photography I shot previously soon again.

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

Green TAg

I've got a mild little sequence of birds on the other side of the lake involved and rushing to get involved in one of my favorite bird activities.

Three Coirms & a Gull - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Three Corms and a Gull

But I might show what I actually shot that day or the day after I shot them first, just to keep it interesting.

Some of these and some of those - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Some of These and Some of Those

To me, and I hope, to you, too.

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

Buncha Cormorants

Here's two bunches of black birds. Double-crested Cormorants out on the logs in Sunset Bay.

Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds

And Great-tailed Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds in the tree by the Old Boathouse, as shot from the new Boathouse Bridge.

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

The Other White Bird

 

December 11

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

More Spread-out Gulls

Regular readers know I'm not a big fan of gulls. Well, there may be some gulls I like, but Ring-billed Gulls usually bore me silly, unless they're playing drop and pick-up games or evincing some intelligence or fun. These guys, I assume, have separated, so everybody will have their own little feeding territory, and they won't fight with each other over what they find in their own territory. But that's a human describing bird behavior, which probably, as usual in inter-species edification, goes awry, if it doesn't start out awry.

Gull Flying over Laticed Water - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gull Flying Over Latticed Water

Nice of the water there to get all stripey. Make the gull look like it's flying fast, and it was.

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

Singing Bridge with Gulls

These appear to be — and are — flying slowly. No idea what they're up to, but they're out there doing it.

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

Dabbling Ducks Dabbling

Here we have three, as yet unidentified dabbling ducks. Ducks come in two basic styles. Them that dabble, like what these guys are doing to look for and find food. And them that dive. Diving is probably easier to understand. Diving ducks dive underwater till we can't see them anymore.

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

Two Up; One Still Down There

Both varieties come up for air every once in a while. Now, if we're paying any attention whatsoever, we notice these ducks have big beaks. The only American ducks I know of with beaks that big are Northern Shovelers. Since there's three of them hanging out together doing the same thing, we are permitted to assume all three are Northern Shovelers. Because these are mostly brown, we can also assume they're females, because males of this species have colors like mallards.

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

Pelican Skid Water Landing

The reason I go to Sunset Bay so way-too often is so I can watch American White Pelicans do what they do. And the best of what they do is fly. I only managed to photograph in focus, etc. one pelican today, and by the time I got it in focus, it was splashing into the lake "landing."

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

Pelican Preening

Probably not the same bird, but ya never know.

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

Der Pelican und Der Adult Double-crested Cormorant

One adult American White Pelican and one much smaller adult Double-crested Cormorant who happens to be squirting a small but strong stream of white cormorant scat down to the log they are sharing.

 

December 10

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

Swimming Ruddy Duck Foot Stretch

It's true. I get way too excited when I get the flotillas of Ruddy Ducks off the shore along the Arboretum. I shoot and shoot, and I still get these sort of nondescript images. Sad.

Ruddy Duck Doing Something Else - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ruddy Duck Up to — or Down to — Something Else

It's in there somewhere.

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

Portrait of an American Coot

I usually overexpose those mostly white beaks and underexpose those very dark gray bodies.

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

Pelicans Doing The Usual

What Pelicans do best is fly, soar, swoop, take-off and land. What pelicans do most often, is preen.

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

Gull Mob without Anyone Throwing White Bread at Them

They do this above, around and before people with white bread who somehow believe they are nourishing them, but these gulls are gathering in a similarly active mob on the Hidden Creek side of the lagoon, without a human anywhere near them.

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

Pelicans on Logs

The main trouble with not shooting photographs of birds every day is that I forget to upload the ones I've already shot.

 

December 6

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

Male Mallard Preening

Didn't get to the lake today till about 5, so there was maybe an hour and a half left of light, but George was there and we talked and made photographs, and after he left, I just stood there waiting for something to happen. I usually don't, but this evening I thought it might be fun to see if I photograph ducks coming down out of the sky to land — usually into the lagoon east of the pier I stood on having wonderful time photographing birds.

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

Male Mallard About to Touch Down

So, for a while, I photographed every duck or pair of ducks I saw coming in from out over the lake. Not that it kept me busy all the time. I left well before Charles arrived to feed the gooses and thus the arrival of all the ducks who fly in from all over the lake. And I photographed a bunch of other things in between, which I'll probably post here soon.

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

Mallard Pair Descending into Sunset Bay Lagoon

But I had enough willing subjects. And of the comparatively few shots I made of them, only about five were not worth using, although some were a little blurry around the moving parts.

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

Mallard Pair Descending

Some pairs seemed rather sedate.

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

Mallard Pair Landing

And others were noticeably colorful.

1 and 3/5 Pigeons - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One and One and 3/5ths Pigeons

I even captured some pigeons circling the inner bay — so they'd know where they were. They were birds and flying, and it took me a couple seconds to figure out who they were, and by then I was already photographing them. It was a fun mini-project.
 

The Fort Worth Solid Wastes Drying Beds
Near Arlington's Legacy Park

December 4 2012

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

Wilson's Snipe

In my treasured Lone Pine edition of The Birds of Texas, one of the authors calls this bird "shy and secretive" in Texas, and when an intruder gets too close, it flushes from its hiding place to perform "a series of aerial zigzags" that are meant to confuse all of us predators. Because of those aerial hijinks, only a few experienced hunters could shoot one, and they became known as snipers.

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

Wilson's Snipe

Its long bill with a pointed tip that's flexible is useful for finding food underground. According to the Birds of Texas, it "proves soft substrates for soft-bodied invertebrates; also eats mollusks, crustaceans, spiders, small amphibians and some seeds."

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

Hawk in a Tree

I almost let us drive right by this big bird in a smallish tree. And I hoped it wouldn't be just another Red-tailed Hawk, and it sorta is not. It is a Red-tailed Hawk with a black beak. None of the other photos or drawings or paintings of Red-tailed Hawks show one with a black beak. But this one does.

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

Greater Yellowlegs Slogging Through the Mud

This is either a Lesser or Greater Yellowlegs. The Greater has a longer, straighter bill. The Lesser's bill is slightly upturned.

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

Greater Yellowlegs Pinching Food

The nice thing about going somewhere we don't go every day or even every week or month is that we get to see different birds, and that's a blessed change. The trouble with seeing different birds, is that they are much more difficult to identify than the same old ones.

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

Killdeer

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

Green-winged Teal Clan

In the left, and especially in the right foreground are 1st winter juveniles, then two adult males in the middle and one more near the top of the image.

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

Northern Shoveler Clan

Here is one adult male Northern Shoveler and a half dozen females.

Crow Doing What Crows Do - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crow Doing What Crows Do

Making noise.

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

Two Ducks

I'm pretty sure these are two ducks, but which ducks I am not at all sure about. I thought I knew them when I photographed them, but after spending about thirty minutes looking at all the ducks in all of my bird I.D books, I still can't tell you.

Are These Green-winged Teals? - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gadwalls

The bigger one on the far right is probably an adult male Gadwall, and it stands to reason that behind him is a an adult female Gadwall. The tow on the left showing us their tail configurations might be Green-winged Teal.

Some of These and Some of Those - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Some of These and Some of Those

The Thoses are far enough out of focus, there's no sense trying to track down. It is possible that the two on the left are related. But I don't know how or two whom? Anybody out there know. Do tell. My latest email address is always on my Contact Us page.

I Hoped This wasn't a Mallard - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

I Was Hoping It Would Not Be a Mallard

But it just might be.
 

White Rock Lake

December 3 2012

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

Ring-billed Gull Sluice Landing

Had never thought about gulls doing this way of landing.

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

Gull-winged Gull

When I was a teenager, I used to dream about owning and driving a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe. Now, it's always odd to think about a gull-winged gull, but here one is.

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

Ring-bill

Black and white and a little bit of orange against a light blue sky.

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

Over Back-Looking Male Grackle on a Post

Grackles are gorgeous, noisy, scatty.

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

Male Grackle by Recently Cut Wood

Wing-down Grack Staring Straight At Me - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wing-down Grackle Staring Straight At Me

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

Bowed-down Male Grackle

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

Let-up Male Grackle

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

Bold Male Grackle

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

Running Starling

Starlings and Some Other Guys - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Starlings and Other Guys

 

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All text and photographs copyright 2012 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 six years,
although I've been photographing professionally since 1964.

Thanks always to Anna.

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