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Villiage Creek drying beds
Went back to the Drying Beds today. First stop was along the swamp, where the tall, far tree tops were still spotted with wild stirs of Great Blue Heron twig nests and great blue herons. I was so far away, as you will see shortly, it's amazing I got any details at all. But I'm really pleased about them when I got some.
Took me more than a dozen shots to realize the image stabilization was off, but when I turned it back on, I still couldn't stand still enough with my big goofy ortho boot — or hold the big goofy Sigma lens with its individually vibrating elements still enought to shoot. Then Anna drove the car up, and shooting resting on the top, I'd get one sharp every couple of times, so I just kept shooting.
So there were these two large blue blurry blobs in the top of the trees ever so far away, and rather than try to figure out exactly what was happening — I can actually see better through the lens than I can without it, but even then it's a guessing game, I just shot and shot and shot. Might have been nice if this were in focus, but ...
Every once in a while a frame would stand out, but I didn't stop, just kept kept shooting. Figure it out later when I have to put them on this page. Can you tell what's going on here? Me, neither. It took a lot longer than I've seen other birds do it, though. A lot longer.
Birds usually take seconds. This pair seemed to stretch it out, a little role-playing, a little pyrotechnic flying.
Or something like that.
This is the full frame and something of an explanation / excuse for the fuzziness of the previous shots that were cropped from this big an original frame and stirred or shook a little anyway. If I could walk, and I did not frighten them — who can see a lot better than I can — away before I got close enough with a clean enough shot through the branches, I might have got better shots of these guys going at it. Or — and this is more likely — I might not have.
Anna crept the car closer and closer till I got so many details my camera hardly even knew what to do with all those details. Still can't figure out what it had caught and promptly ate. Then while I was still catching up with that, it flew away. Rather magnificently, too. We just watched.
More birds from a little further down the road, then up the road, then all around, even some places where there weren't any roads, next time.
White rock lake
My most interesting bird experience of today was this juvenile heron flying past a smaller-appearing adult. Another photographer, with tripod and little telephoto was walking up and down the lagoon scaring birds into the air. Like I often do when I could walk, and probably will again when I can walk sometime in April. Today, I am driving. The ordeal with the ortho boot is complicated, but I can walk with it and drive without it.
I was up on the hill in my car standing on the wrong side of the road into the Boat House shooting these. Quite a distance. If I could walk steadily on uneven ground, I would have been down there scaring juvenile herons into the air. Instead, I was up here with my tele resting on my window sill, clicking away. As often, there were twenty or thirty herons and egrets in the woods on the far side of the lagoon.
Soon as I can walk well enough without falling over — although the ground's pretty soft down there. Probably wouldn't hurt that much — I'll be down there, getting about twice as close, so more detail. If I sit in one spot, I'll have to bring a lawn chair, but I won't frighten so many of them in flight. Let someone else do that, so I can catch them going by instead of flying away.
Also saw my first-of-the-season Brown-headed Cowbird mixed in with redwings and grackles and felt like I've not given any of those guys their due this season. Nice when they pose so nicely, and I can drive right up to them.
Nearly glowing iridescent blue in the shade — oof! Ain't he handsome.
A little cloudy-bright light to enunciate all those details besides color.
Drove so close to this one I could just barely get the whole bird into the shot. I'd heard an unfamiliar song, wondered who was singing it, saw it was a mock.
Had hoped to find Wood Ducks at Sunset Bay when I went there after pot shooting single birds there and here along my usual trek down Garland and off onto Lawther past The Arboretum.
Catching two, apparently competing males, one chasing the other away from the only female we saw, was a boon. Getting their new, late winter plumage in focus was amazing. I like that skidding wave captured mid-splash, too.
But the photographer only sees him, only just barely even gets her in the picture, even though they came up on the slant of shore together for grain corn poured out, as usual, by Charles, who said the Wood Ducks started coming about two weeks ago. Despite our human issues with cold and snow, they know it's spring. Great Blue Herons were nesting late last month, Great Egrets were salting the tops of the trees at the Medical Center Rookery earlier this week.
Whatever humans think, it is spring in bird land. Pairs are coming back together. A Wood Duck pair or more have been raising fuzzy little Wood Ducklings in Sunset Bay and up Boat House Lagoon every spring for decades. They'll happily though skittishly take corn from human-poured piles of it, but they're here to procreate.
Homer waddled up from the water, headed for the far east end of the long row of corn, established his territory and ate and ate and ate. He was still going at it when I left, tired of all the tromping around in my safety boot.
Lot of Mallards. Lot of coots. Finding anything else in that dark swirling soup today was difficult. I had to get Charles to point me out some Wood Ducks above. This guy (his tail curls; that's supposed to mean he's a he, though I'm not sure how infallible that marker may be) stands out.
I'd been photographing this ponderously large bird swimming across the lagoon — to little photographic avail. But once it got up on shore, and moved even more slowly, it was comparatively easier to get it in focus. Love the styling red-black-white patterns on its beak and eye lores.
The rest of today's birds I shot from my car window, earlier.
Put on boot, walk out to car, sit in driver's seat; take off boot; gingerly lift foot over to accelerator pedal; close door; skootchie up chair; rest left foot near the brake, back up; front around; drive to lake. Hope to stay in the car, so I don't have to do the whole boot routine all over again. Photograph as interestingly as I can driving around the lake.
Take advantage of any bird that settles in one place long enough to get a bead on. I usually don't shoot doves, in or out of season, but I wasn't at all sure early in today's birding — late in today's everything else, I'd spent all afternoon getting Blue Inspected, so I could be Street Legal, now that I'm driving again.
Either that or a Yellow-rumped Warbler. Or something else. Today's the first day I've gone all day without powerful pain-killers, which also serve as serious mind-benders. I've been thinking of images to reflect that condition, and Anna suggested of photo of fog. I'm usually not awake early enough to get any of that, but it seems a good thing to photograph. Seems like I got some herons in it last year.
We had a tip on a Red-shouldered Hawk, but though we found something in near and dear to one or several of those, we never saw any hawks. We did find a Killdeer, which we'll be watching out for, because it seemed to be sitting on its nest.
This was even closer to where we'd hoped to find the hawk. No hawk and sorry we can't see much blue on this bird.
I was still pushing my walker across the rough countryside when Anna found a much better viewpoint.
Probably the same Grebe we see often. Today, it was much closer to shore.
As was this Ruddy Duck.
Just to see what was happening there — and since we were having such mediocre lusk finding any other birds, we visited the Medical Center Rookery, where we saw several dozen egrets.
Pushed my walker out to the pier at Sunset Bay during our tour of the East Side of White Rock today. It has a built-in seat, so I could rest as we watched birds. I was hoping to see me some pelicans flying, since I haven't been able to walk much lately, and before that I hadn't photographed pelks flying, because back then it seemed too commonplace, now after being away these last few weeks, it was exciting again. But first a pic of them being big fluffy feather bags preening.
It are two pelicans flying in nearly the space space under nearly the same circumstance. So close it nearly looks like one American White Pelican with four wings flapping, and I count only two feet and the bill on the upper one almost extends into the bill end of the lower one. Could never have planned it.
We were kept waiting in the cold wind, hoping more pelicans would fly. Then something up the creek started agitating the birds. Coots first, of course, and ducks and pelicans, rushing out, one and twos by one and twos.
Including a Great Blue Heron none of us — all three with telephoto lenses — had seen before the mysterious agitation. The GBH rose slowly through the woods on the other side, circuling farther and farther behind the trees.
It was really far away, and we never did find out what was scaring it/them.
Flying low. Wish I could see numbers on the band. I'd track it down. We do know from other bands that other birders tracked, that many of our White Rock flock(s) come from South Central Idaho.
And just watching the world go by.
We're pretty sure we've seen this Kestrel before. Saw it on the ground on the left side of the car, but before we could stop, it flew to the top of a tree on the right side of the street up to Barbeck's. We should be old friends by now.
Killed near the lake along Lawther Drive. Probably in the dark last night or this morning. I've seen — and felt — them at night, but never in the daylight. One crawled up my leg on Sunset shore one night while the Bird Squad laughed and hooted. It was quick. Glad it didn't want to stay. Anna (holding this one) said it was really soft.
As we were leaving Sunset Bay, I noticed swoops of waxwings and robins eating every berry in sight. Red berries on my, passenger side, blue berries on Anna's.
We stopped, parked on the side of Poppy Drive and had our fill of berry-eaters.
American Robin on the other side of Poppy Drive, among many blue berries.
Top, front and tail views of my friends, Cedar Waxwings. Usually, I'm lucky if I see a couple all season. The lake must be thick with them now.
Meanwhile, in the front yard of a small home near the lake, a squirrel made itself at home down the rope and into the storage area of this hanging feeder.
Hooters Calendar 2010
Was out at the lake today, ostensibly to photograph birds, but humans kept doing interesting things, as you may see. I did not know this person was about to jump off that clunk of snow; I just thought maybe something interesting might happen, and it did. I got him flying once completely out of focus, once slightly out of focus and twice sharp. This is my fave.
Thought it would serve to bring me jumping back into this suite of pages. I will do birds today, too, and they'll usually be the subjects on these pages, but today — with snow galore — was special.
While I was hobbling out to Anna's car today, we noticed flights of birds in the trees in my snow-bound front yard. I was startled and surprised to see they were Cedar Waxwings. Not really exotic birds. More like regular visitors, but they flew as one at the slightest provocation. Swooping back and forth, from treed to tree. Here they are in various stages of whatever.
Beautiful birds, amazing birds. And literally in my front yard.
I'll be back out there tomorrow, hoping to catch more Cedar Waxwings, which I've always before had to sneak through little forests to find.
Thee's more birds, but what we saw many more than birds were snow persons. Next down the list were photographers, many of whom were photographing snow persons. Hadn't seen so many of either in a long, long time. I did not see anybody spinning wheels or cars on the show. At no time today, did our tires even spin.
It was safe. It was cold, and I only ever got out of the car one single time. That hurt too much to do again. So I didn't. All these shots were from inside the car, usually with the window down, sometimes with the sun roof back, too.
I have photographed many different snow persons over the decades, but I have never seen such remarkable and creative ones. Ever. The diversity was amazing.
Snow Day means Snow Persons.
And non-persons persons, too.
In all hues and shapes.
And hat styles.
Another great hat.
Okay, we're back to birds for awhile. Nobody home at the Martin Houses on the road rimming the lake and looking down on the Bath House Cultural Center, kinda abstracting it.
Love me watching some crows.
You know I've been away from photographing birds, any birds, when I'm photographing pigeons and ...
And stuff across the lake.
First, closest ducks are every-day Mallards. The rest of them, especially the ones with stiff tails sticking up at 45-degree angles, are Ruddy Ducks.
So much fun following this guy fly me over, and me actually keeping up with the Rocket Launcher, and getting something useful out of it was a startling surprise.
Even more so when I got them up on the monitory and they were in focus. Wow!
We didn't see any pelicans in Sunset Bay — only the sign was so deep in snow it only said "sunset" — but several of them were lucky enough to find us around the edges of our lake today.
I'd watched this one do this whole sequence already, so I was ready when it started doing it again.
Fish is what they eat, so fish must have been what it was after down there.
Wings balanced way over, its neck must be stretched to the limit down there.
The lop-smiled look.
Lots of snow almost everywhere at the lake today.
And just a few birds.
Anna saw this one first. I was hurting too much to pay much attention. Nice find, though. We spent many long minutes clicking away at it, half expecting it to take wing and fly away at any moment. But it just perched there, looked at us every once in awhile, and waited. Maybe it was digesting something.
Since this is so not likely to be on the top of the page for very long at all, I'm putting it down here near the bottom. Hoping to see and photograph more hawks. It is, after all, Hawk Season now. We've even considered (briefly) driving down the the Lower Rio Grande Valley, just to get to photograph more owls, Caracaras and hawks. But it'd be better if they came to us, or we discovered them at the lake.
Broke my foot February 2
Fractured my foot in at least two places — more Xrays next week. Medical prognosis is I'll be able to walk again by early April, if all goes well. When the pain subsides, I can sometimes walk with a walker, rarely without it. I rented a wheelchair for extended visits on flat surfaces, but the rough places where birds hang out is, like perfection, improbable.
I will return to these pages, as I heal but more sporadically and far less obsessively often as in months previous. I've been to doctors and orthopedics and even prosthetics (wrong place no-thanks to Home Depot Instructions at the VA), I got a big black velcro boot to stabilize my foot, which I keep raised, but I hurt too much to consider going birding often. I've probably already overdone it, and I'm slowing way down.
On the way to the VA last week, we saw a hawk making lazy circles over my neighborhood. Always a wondrous sight, but neither of us had a telephoto ready, so we just watched. Guess that's what most of my life's going to be about for awhile. Resting and just watching.
I've been out on the porch, even out in the yard — sans walker or wheelchair — a couple times to photograph the snow. Amazing snow. So I'll probably venture at least there, and probably to the lake in the next couple of healing months. But not every day.,
T M I about my foot is on ThEdblog on DallasArtsRevue.com
There's jillions of links on the INDEX page to my bird photos here and there over the last four-plus years. Thanks for visiting.
text and photographs copyright 2009 by J
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My favorite answer is, "I don't
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.