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The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton
The Current Journal is always Here  All Contents Copyright 2013 and before by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.  Site Ethics
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J R is busy learning a new camera lately.

White Rock Lake

February 27

Male Grackle Bath - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Male Grackle Bath

The main reason I prefer grackle baths to pelican baths is that grackles tend to do it a lot closer. And Great Tail Grackles have wonderful, large, beautiful tails.

Male Grackle Bath - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Grackle Bath

This one looks like it's tied itself into a knot to get clean. It didn't, of course, that would probably hurt.

Male Grackle Bath - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Grackle Bath

Splashy splashy.

Male Grackle Bath - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Grackle Bath

I didn't see the pigeon till it was right there.

Male Grackle Bath - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Grackle Bath

Female Grackle maybe juvenile - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Grackle - Maybe Juvenile

Cormorant Trees - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorants in Trees around Cormorant Bay

I keep telling myself I need to come down with a wide zoom to get more trees than four full of cormorants to show what the place really looks like, except I generally think in telephoto. And I keep assuming they'll go away tomorrow or the next day, but they keep being there.

Cormorant Close - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blue-eyed Cormorant

Mockingbird Bridge -with ducks, coots and everybody else

Mockingbird Bridge with Coots, Ducks, Cormorants and Others

Old Boathouse' New Wood Bridge - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Old Boathouse New Wood Bridge

Comparatively new wood bridge with coots.

Scenic Bridge Fence with Cormorants Flying By - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scenic Fence, Bridge, Cormorants and an Eroding Cliff

This was an attempt at a landscape with water. I like those places, but now I see they're not all that photogenic. Oh, well.

Another Scenic - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Scenic Landscape

Just south of Parrot Bay (See map.), there's a little outlet with a boom sweep or sweeper (I forget the correct term.) er on it. I think it is intended to keep some of the junk people throw into flooding water or dump into their yard, then the flood or rainwater takes into the lake.  I pretty much circumnavigated the lake today looking for birds worth photographing in the great sunlight. I didn't find many of those, but I kept traveling and kept shooting. The six birds in this photo are four ducks, one coot and one gull.

Coot with Flyaway Feathers - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coot with Wind-blown Flyaway Feathers

Goose Gang - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Goose Gang

I tried all afternoon to avoid visiting Sunset Bay, but since there are always birds there, I went there, and found those birds. They were loud and a little obnoxious, but nothing out of the ordinary.

That Tree at the Bottom of the Hill at Dreyfuss Point - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Tree at the Bottom of the Hill at Dreyfuss Point

This is today's last landscape or lakescape. And there'll be no more bird photos this month.
 

 February 25

 Walking the Dog on a Windy Day - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Walking the Dog on a Windy Day

Windy, windy day — and cold enough for snow flurries tonight, but I went anyway. Not sure which cam would have been better, but I'm on this crusade lately to prove the Panasonic Lumix G5 is a good-enough birding camera, and so far, that's just what it's been. Maybe when I learn it better, it will get even better.

Farside Refuge from the Cold Wind - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Farside Refuge from the Cold Wind

A small group of pelicans were out, standing on their little island about halfway off the pier to the right, then a right angle left across the lagoon to the far side, where they sometimes — in times like these — hide from the cruel north wind. Two or three times more pelicans are off to the right , also on that side.

Rough Water Pelican Lake - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Rough Water and Submerged Pelican Island

And these five stayed on the sunken island where they usually hang out.  I wondered why some were on the far side of the lagoon and these others here. I'd probably have to be a pelican to know.

Windy Pelican Take-off - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Windy Pelican Short Hop Take-off Among Coots

Then I saw the temporary Hidden Creek Area pelicans starting to get a little restless, moving out to informally line up as if they were thinking of maybe heading off somewhere. Watch them long enough, and I can sometimes tell what might be about to happen. Maybe. I missed the trajectory of the first one, only saw it float in. After awhile, another one hopped and splashed into the air, and maybe a couple minutes later, another one did. Until they're about this stage, I wouldn't know what they were up to.

Windy Pelican Short Flight - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Windy Pelican Short Hop Max Altitude

I'm pretty sure this is the same bird as in the shot above, but I know I shot two of these short hop situations.

Windy Pelican Short Hop Max Altitude - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Windy Pelican Short Hop Cruising

It was a short hop, as I keep repeating, all the way to the sunken inland where the other pelicans stood, as these were, preening constantly.

Windy Pelican Short Hop Nearing Destijnation - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Windy Pelican Short Hop Near Destination

This one is dropping altitude, determining exactly where it will alight.

Windy Pelican Short HOp Landing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Windy Pelican Short Hop Landing

Then it does.

Short-skid Two-point Landing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Short-skid Two-point Landing with Formerly Paralleled  Gull

Not bad for a camera I've often read is not good enough to capture birds, especially birds in flight. Right? Wrong.

Talk About It - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Windy Pelican Short Hop Discussion

Then, like any traveler, far or near, it needs to talk about it.

Streamline Against the Wind - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Streamline Against the Wind

Aerodynamically designed, pelicans can hunker down and slip through the steady streams of wind blowing the other way.

Duck Squad on Duck Island - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Duck Squad on Duck Island

I've never needed a name for this place before, but I've photographed a lot of birds there at one time or another over the last six-plus years.

Black Duck Males - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black Duck Males

Surely they are mallard hybrids. The grown ducks from I forget how many ducks were left off at the lake a couple years ago.

Coot Against the Wind - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coot Against the Wind

Swimming against the wind.
 
 Do Birds Have teeth?

February 23

Bufflehead Flying Low - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Bufflehead Duck Flying Low

Maybe it's landing. I'm not sure. And yeah, I know it's not as sharp as it could be or as I'd like it to be. Etc. etc. But I'm still playing with my new camera, and it doesn't always focus as quickly or as surely as I'd like, and it's not entirely the camera's fault. But I'm learning, and I couldn't pass this shot up, just because it's fuzzy. I make fun of pelican style sometimes, but this is truly pretty strange. I had no idea their feet were that big!

Bufflehead Aiming Down - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bufflehead Beginning A Dive

All the same excuses apply here, too. But it doesn't look like a Bufflehead and it is.

Bufflehead Beginning A Dive - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bufflehead Plunging Down

Dive! Dive! Dive! I remember from all those submarine movies I watched as a kid and as an adult. Shoulders raised, head pointed down, bill already under. This also does not look like a Buffle, but it, too, is.

Male Bufflehead Swimming - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Bufflehead Swimming

Female Bufflehead Swimming - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Bufflehead Looking Sharper Swimming

Maybe a Phoebe - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Maybe a Phoebe

I'll look it up later. It's late, and I'm tired, and identifying birds is one of those tasks I like to procrastinate.

Cormorant with Wings Out - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorant with Wings Out

I may be going through a dark phase. All these images look a tad too dark.

Cormorants Going Fishing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorants Going Fishing

Shot from the other side of the lake, specifically in Free Advice Point parking lot.

Cormorants Past the Yacht Clubs - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorants Flying Past the Yacht Clubs

two corms on a platform - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Cormorants on a Platform

The platform is what rowers use to get aboard rowing boats. The birds seem to like them, too. This is nearly full-frame, although there is a lot of water above and below this part of the image. To me, it's scrumptious. Delicious, gorgeous with color and density, reasons why I love this new camera and want it to work out well as a birder camera.

Fiercely Female Great-tailed Grackle - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fiercely Female Great-tailed Grackle

Male Hairy or Downy Woodpecker - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

owny Woodpecker

I photographed him at leas a dozen times, thinking it was about time I attempted smaller birds again. I later realized that I should have used the G5's pinpoint focus when a bird was holding still, although this woodpecker hardly ever did that for more than a few seconds.

Monk Parakeet in the Big Hum - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Monk Parakeet in The Big Hum

The electric station up the hill from the new, integrated, shiny bright in the sunlight, boathouse has significantly smaller mounds of nest than last time I saw it. The Electric Company's signs are still there, but they've been textually adjusted somewhat, so I won't show the one I photographed today, but I'll quote from it as I often have before.

"Monk Parakeet Habitat Coexisting with [name of electric company here] in consultation with the Dallas Museum of Natural History & the Dallas County Audubon Society." Which I suppose gives them the right to tear down Monk Parakeet nests whenever nobody's looking.

The View from Thre - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The View from There

This is the view that way from where I photographed the Big Hum.

Blue Jay Profile - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Not as Sharp as I would have Liked

But not terrible. I am imagining myself hauling my big heavy, black tripod up hills and down dales so I can hold that lens more stillish.

Blue Jay from Back - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blue Jay from Back

Photographing small birds started today when I was driving by a place with picnic tables and some woods and trees. I saw the first woodpecker flicker into one of the trees, so I turned The Slider around and hooked a hamburger in the middle of the road, parked, got out, and walked slowly and carefully towards where I saw that first woodpecker and discovered several others, most of whom were a little too nervous about having me in their vicinity. The blue jays didn't mind so much, but they didn't stay around very long either.

Little Fat Redding Bird - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Fat Reddish Bird

I love the tonality I get from this camera. Eventually I hope to follow that expressive stuff with sharpness. We'll see. This was all a bit experiment today. And when I got back I was exhausted.

Soft Bird Profile - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Pretty Bird in a Tree

 

February 21

 Cormorants on Pole - xpey

Cormorants on Poles

Those white poles are part of an art installation that's called The White Rock Lake Water Theatre, created some years ago by Dallas sculptor extraordinaire Tom Orr, and the poles were designed to have birds perch on them, and the white poles are painted with night-glowing paint, so we can see them from across the lake past sunset.

American Kestrel Too Far - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American Kestrel Too Far

Watching over the lake, and especially over the grassland where its prey tries to eye. But these eagle-eyed fleegles don't miss much. It stared at me for awhile, then seemed to decide I wasn't in its way, and it dove from here, disappeared into he tall gras for about a minute, then returned to the wire somewhat farther down the line.

Two Ring-billed Gulls - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Ring-billed Gulls

Just guessing, but from the comparative sizes and colorations, I'm guessing the parental unit is on the left and the juvenile on the right.

Cormorant Splash - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorant Splash

I think I remember it jumping — or falling forward or flying down — to bounce, more or less, off the water up into flight. Or something like that.

Male Scaup Showing Foot - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Scaup Showing un-Duck-like Foot

I knew, if I kept at it, sooner or later, I'd catch a Scaup foot in a photograph. Next time, it'll be better.

Scaup Dive Pattern with Diving Scaup - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scaup's Post-dive Dive Pattern in the Waite

I tried to catch their movement as the went over and down, but this is as close as I got, except one shot where I got a few feathers but hardly any pattern. This, oddly enough, is a much better photo than that one.

Post Post-dive Dive Pattern - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Post Post-dive Scaup Dive Pattern without Scaup

Well, something is just barely visible at about 7 o'clock on the circle splash.

Coot Dabbling - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Other End of a Dabbling Coot

In order to explain this behavior, especially contrasting to the attempt to show the behavior above, yahood "dabbling and diving ducks," so I'd get it straight for once. I found this illustration-free but otherwise very informative site called Dabblers vs. Divers on the Standford's essay pages, which among other things says,

"Once assembled on the prairies in the spring, divers and dabblers appear to divide their habitat in a manner analogous to the way in which some warbler species divide trees in which they forage. This partitioning presumably has evolved to protect access to their preferred food items, which for breeding females consist of protein-rich aquatic insects, other invertebrates, and aquatic vegetation. During the period between their arrival and the laying of their eggs, females are essentially feathered eating machines, foraging from 50 to 70 percent of the day.

Diving ducks, or "divers," are ducks that propel themselves underwater with large feet attached to short legs situated far back on the body. "Dabblers," in contrast, have smaller feet and their legs are situated farther forward. While a few dabblers may occasionally dive to feed or to escape predators, typically they skim food from the surface or feed in the shallows by tipping forward to submerge their heads and necks. The table below lists the North American ducks generally included in the groups dabblers and divers. We have also listed a substantial group of species that dive after their food, but often are not meant when one refers to divers. Note that many of the ducks that dive also dabble. Although the Wood Duck (not listed) dabbles and shares with the dabblers the ability to take-off vertically, it is not ordinarily included in the dabblers."

Gull Landing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gull Landing in Front of Another Gull

Gull Over Up Close - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gull Flyover Up Close

Well, about 600mm close. So much more of a challenge than photographing them far away, then enlarging little portions of big pictures. This was nearly a frame-filler, so I had to be quicker, and my camera — the Panasonic G5 — quicker to focus. I didn't succeed this well every time I tried it, but I'm gaining confidence in that camera.

Juvenile Cormorant Flyover - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile Cormorant Flying Over

Cormorants rarely fly over the inner portion of Sunset Bay where I stand on the pier. And when they do, I rarely capture them flying over. This time, I did okay.

 

February 18

 a windy day - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Windy Day in Sunset Bay

Very windy. I was afraid I was going to get blown off the pier in Sunset Bay. I wished once again, I'd brought a folding chair and a tripod. Or a small tank. Too much wind. Glad it wasn't terribly cold.

Cormorants Over Glittering Water - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorants Over Glittering, Wind-swept Water

Cormorants flying off toward the middle of the lake where the hunting continued.

Gulls Fill The Air - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gulls Fill The Air

Coots and Gulls and Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coots and Gulls and Pelicans

Gone Fishing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Going Fishing with The Hunt Mansion in the Background

Male Lesser Scaup - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Lesser Scaup — no female scaups today.

 

Condor Escapes: Not sure why some idiot hockey pucks need an
endangered species bird
on their ice, but this one is just trying to
escape the worst rendition ever of The Star-Spangled Banner.

 

February 15

 Pretty Brown Duck - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pretty Brown Duck

At first, I thought this must be a muscovy hybrid, but there's really not much indication of it being that. No warts. No ungainly girth. That white on dark chocolate brown pattern looks like white flowers on a brown background. I don't think I've ever seen such a duck, but I'm no expert.

I haven't shot a Nikon camera since February 11.

Family Tree or Just Friends - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Family Tree or Just Friends?

Male ducks, especially Mallards, have curly tails. Female ducks don't. I'm not sure the brown one's tail feathers are long enough to curl yet. Sorry about that weed partially obscuring the flower brown duck's identity.

Scenic with Gulls - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scenic with Gulls

I got tipped off on a scenic side trip today. Was nice when I could include birds, since this is a bird journal, but that wasn't always possible.

Pop-up Cormorant - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pop-up Cormorant

I was slowly and carefully photographing the cormorant on the right, who had been perched there for a minute or so while I turned The Slide around in the parking lot near the Mockingbird Bridge. When up popped the cormorant behind it, who'd been diving for food.

And Flew Away - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And Flew Away

Then, while I was settling the camera down a little firmer, the pop-up cormorant started hopping across the landscape while I struggled to capture it, and it took off.

Cormorants Around Cormorant Bay in the Cormorant Trees - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorants in the Cormorant Trees Around Cormorant Bay

I think to really cover the cormorants who are still crowding Cormorant Bay, I'll need a wider-ange lens. They're everywhere. They're everywhere!

Black & White and Black & White - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black & White and Black & White on the Landscape

Mostly I was testing my new cam. This one is in focus. The closer-ups were not.

Mockingbird Bridge - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mockingbird Bridge

There used to always be an egret under the bridge, either on this side or the other, west side. I haven't seen it in a few months. But I'm only there once in awhile. I was hoping for more birds than I found there today.

 

Sunset Bay and White Rock Lake

February 14

Coots Gone Crazy - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Coots Gone Crazy

As I've mentioned here before, it doesn't take much to over-excite an American Coot. They panic easily, and they usually do in en masse. These particular birds are chasing after white bread thrown by some kids and a woman caretaker. They were thrilled with all the inter-species battles. I just think it's wrong.

Pelican Lumps on the Hidden Creeks Side - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Lumps on the Hidden Creeks side of Hidden Creeks

I assumed those white lumps were pelicans, because I'd seen them over there before — usually in times of high water. I had no idea this image would turn out so well. I'm dealing with a band new camera that I've read is very definitely not good for photographing birds with. But yeah, I realize, these birds aren't going anywhere.

Pelican Heading West - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Heading West Toward Winfrey Point

But this pelican is flying. Someone who knew me at the University of Dallas was engaging me in conversation, so it's a minor miracle that I got anything at all. I am surprised and pleased — as usual — that I got anything in focus.

Pelican Flying Flat-out - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Flying Flat-out

This might be that same pelican. But there's little and big details here, that we can see. I'm impressed with my new Panasonic Lumix G5. I still have my G2, but my fingers are all fumble-footed when operating the G5, although I'm beginning to catch on to some of its intricacies.

Pelican Stretching Lower Mandible - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Stretching Lower Mandible

Ya gotta be quick to catch this sort of thing, and it helps if one is paying attention. I was keeping track of at least a half dozen bird occurrences when I saw this one start up the routine, most of which I missed, but I got the upper most of the sequence.

Upper Extreme of Mandible Stretch - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Upper Extreme of Mandible Stretch

I've seen pelicans stretch their lower mandibles many times, but this is the first time I've seen this contraction while its beak was still pointing straight up.

Two Big-log Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Big-log Pelicans

The big log that got washed nearly ashore is some distance southwest of Sunset Pier. There's usually at least fourteen big, white birds lined up along its top.

Purple Grackle - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Purple Great-tailed Grackle

Purple's not a part of his species title, just the dominant color in the sun's reflections on his black body.

Female Scaup - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Lesser Scaup

I mentioned the other day that female scaups don't hang around with the males very much or often around here. At first, it seemed our four resident males didn't even notice her, nor she them. But I picked her out of the coot crowd pretty quickly, startled to see something new.  Notice those big lobed feet, which may have something to do with them being so comfortable among coots.

Ruddy Female Scaup - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

ruddy Female Scaup facing left

Lesser Scaups are diving ducks who are great divers. My treasured Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas says this species "dives for seeds, plant fibers and mollusks, crustaceans and other aquatic invertebrates" under their illustration of a pair of Lesser Scaups. I've not seen it mentioned that the males and females don't spend much time together, but I've noticed it at Sunset Bay, where she's a rare beauty.

Coot and Scaup - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coot and Female Scaup

Both Lesser and Greater Scaups are sometimes called "Bluebills." I often photograph the four males who often inhabit inner Sunset Bay. The next image down has two males, but there's lots more detail in the one a little ways below.

Two Males and One Female Lesser Scaup Head West - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Males and One Female Lesser Scaup

While both sexes were in the inner bay, around the pier at Sunset Bay, the males seemed not to even see the female, and versa visa. I photographed them all leaving, however separated they were, together, although I could only get two males and the female in a big enough long-zoom shot so we could recognize them.

Goose Chase - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Goose Chase

By the time I snapped to their broad, fast and splashy goose action, they were nearly finished with the noisy portion of their program, although I later saw them along the pier attempting either to have sex or fight each other some more. Hard to say which. Neither obtained for very long, but bird sex often doesn't.

Two Ring-billed Gulls Closer Up - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Ring-billed Gulls and a Coot Closer Up

Some coots stay year-around, but sometime after winter and before spring, the gulls all disappear. Hooray. I like coots. I don't trust gulls. I'm not sure its their fault.

Gulls in Various States - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gulls in Various States with Coots

Ring-bills and coots seem to get along fine unless humans are interfering by feeding the coots, whom most white-bread-throwers call "ducks," which they decidedly are not. Once coots get food gulls believe should rightfully all belong to them, gulls chase them down and are sometimes rather vicious about taking it away. Other than gulls' murderous intent, they get along fine.

Ringbilled Gull and Juvenile Double-crested Cormorant - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ring-billed Gull and Juvenile Double-crested Cormorant

Three Cormorants - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Adults and One Juvenile Double-crested Cormorants

Usually, cormorants gather on the logs far out from the pier in Sunset Bay. Today, they were much closer in, and so were more easily photographed and observed.

Cormorant Hops to Fly - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Cormorant Takes Off After Hopping Across the Water

Like pelicans, cormorants get up air speed by hopping two-footedly across the water.

Cormorant Takes Off - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Water Accumulated by Hopping Splashes Back into the Lake

Corm Neck Stretch - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorant Involved in a Neck and Wing Stretch

Great form.

Corm Mobs - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Corm Mobs

Not sure why they chose Valentine's Day to make a major showing. I assume the fleetingly flying ones behind this log bunch are off on their way to go fishing, maybe with some pelicans, very probably with some gulls.

Many Gulls - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Many Gulls

Now let's back off from Sunset Bay to follow along my usual path down past the ... shudder ... arboretum, up to Winfrey Point, then back down into Sunset Bay. I understand many people do not know how to get to Sunset Bay, and I like that. If you really want to go to Sunset Bay, I have this Annotated Map of White Rock Lake, showing where various bird species have been seen and photographed over the last six years plus I've been watching the birds at White Rock Lake extra especially.

Lone Male Nornthern Shoveler - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lone Male Northern Shoveler

I have seen his whole family and probably then some on my usual daily drive down past the arboretum, but today, he was alone. Close enough to photograph but far enough to be well off shore. This is a mostly Mallard-like duck with an especially big beak.

Ruddies Floating - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ruddies Floating

Ruddy Ducks are easily distinguished by their stiff tails jutting out at about 45 degrees while they float and sleep. Sometimes there are dozens of them on Arboretum Way toward the hill up to Winfrey, sometimes hundreds, sometimes even a thousand or more.

Two Cormorants from Two Trees - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Cormorants in Two Trees

This and subsequent shots were taken from Winfrey Top. Assuming Winfrey Point is out near the water, and knowing it's a hill with a building on top, I was poking my new cam out The Slider's window looking down from Winfrey Top.

Sunset Bay from Winfrey Top - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Northish Toward Sunset Bay from Winfrey

The area in the background is officially called Hidden Creek, but there's at least three of them, so I usually make that plural. Here we see stripes of little white gulls, a couple big white pelicans, and a lot of medium-sized black cormorants and little black coots.

A Little Further Down the Road - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Little Further Down the Road North to Sunset Bay

And we get a little closer to Sunset Bay..

Busy Little Bay with Pier - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Busy Little Bay with Pier (people by pink and green kids)

Pelican and coots — and even four male and one female Least Scaup out there somewhere, and on the far shore, some pelican lumps lazing in the sun.

Best bird photo on the web lately.


February 13

 Black-crowned Night-Heron Flying - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crowned Night Heron in Flight

I chose a brilliant sunshiny day to test out the bright (They used to call lenses with large maximum apertures "fast." Now they call them "bright.") Then I chose this nasty wet, cold, gray day, when there was no sun and lots of hazy splatters of rain, to test the doubled, 600mm version that fully halves the light coming into it — so it's both "dark" and "slow." And I seriously underexposed this series using an ISO of 200 (left over from the last time) and the usual 1/1000th second shutter speed. So I know it ain't perfect.

The Very Next Shot - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Very Next Shot

Same everything, just as slow-motion, at least as grainy but a fraction of a second later. I'm testing focus and I'm not doing spectacularly.

Him and Me Both Holding Very Still - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

It and Me Holding Very Still

Adjusting the iSO to the more appropriate — for low, gray light — 1600 helped. But so did both it and I holding very still. Still a little grainy (actually, now they call that, digital noise, but it amounts to the same thing.

Male Mallard Swimming Up the Lagoon

Moving slowly.

Male Mallard Landing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Mallard Landing

Or fast: I figured I could capture some of the birds flying down past me on the pier, so I tried. After two blurs, I got this...

Dripping Mallard Among Coots - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Mallard Landing Among Coots on the Hidden Creek Side of the Lagoon

And this. Focus is good, but they're moving faster than my mere 1/1000th shutter speed could stop them.

Pelican Dismount - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Dismount

The pelican with its wings up behind the one in the center has decided it needs to be where this pelican was, so it uprooted it. Dis - Mount!

Pelican Log Activity - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Log Activity — Three Pelicans and Two Cormorants

The Preeners - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Preeners

Two Ringbilled Gulls Flying By - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Ring-billed Gulls

My conclusion: Not bad. I think it works, but next time I'll use the lens unextended in lousy weather and extended in sunlight. Maybe that'll improve my chances.

February 11

Sailboat - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Sailboat 5956

There will be birds. Fear not. But today was a test. Of an old camera and my still-new lens. No extender this time. Just straight lens. And me usually struggling with exposure. I didn't trust this one. Looks different in that old LCD on that old camera. I was testing focus. Which passed with flying colors, although this one's mostly monochrome.

Sunset Bay From Dreyfus Point - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sunset Bay from Dreyfus Point

Just to the right is that pier I love to stand on. There will be closer up birds. These are American White Pelicans and Gooses. What's so delicious for me is that everything is in sharp focus. The D7000 camera I bought to tide me over till Nikon delivered their long-rumored D400 can't hold my 300mm lens, because it's so heavy. Shots with it have been out of focus, because the weight distorted the flimsy bayonet mount. Very disappointing.

Shore Exercize - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Shore Exercise

Not all of today's shots were this sharp. But enough were that I know when it wasn't, it was my fault.

Two Grackle Bathing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Grackles Bathing

The plants between me and them are out of focus, but the birds are pretty sharp.

Coot Preening Wing Feathers - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coot Preening Wing Feathers

We can't see the coot's eyes, but we can see its beak with that red diamond at the top of it, and all those delicious feathers. I'm thinking I should go to the lake with ulterior motives more often. Just going 'for birds' rarely nets me this interesting shots lately. It's as if I became somebody else with my old D300 and the 300mm lens I've been shooting almost exclusively for months and months and months.

Preened Coot Lowering Wings - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Preened Coot Lowering Wings

Coots are so dark and most of their beaks so bright, it's usually difficult to capture both. Love that red-eyed stare.

Pelican with Gull Flyby - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican with Unanticipated Gull Flyby

I didn't know there'd be a gull here, I was focusing on the pelican. Nice contrast.

Flap-winged Pelican Landing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flap-winged Pelican Landing with Gull Scooting Out of the Picture

The caption about covers it. Both birds are mostly dark, because the sun is behind them. And yeah, I tend to tilt the camera.

Pelican Landing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

That Same Pelican Closer to Landing

I shot three intervening shots of this one pelican as it got closer to me and to the surface of Sunset Bay. This is the most interesting of those.

Coot Path Crosses Landing Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Panicked Coot Crossing Landing Pelican's Path

I don't know if that's the same pelican landing. I didn't see all that many today. Incoming pelicans and outgoing flying pelicans is why I usually think I am there. Luckily, most often a lot of more interesting bird occurrences occur. Until this shot, I was convinced that landing pelicans always planned out their landing path down to the tiniest detail. Guess not. I don't think I've ever captured a panicked coot with its wings up like that before.

Semi Definitie Shot of a Lesser Scaup - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Semi Definitive Photograph of a Male Lesser Scaup

Maybe I can stop taking them every time I see them now that this shot captured all the tones without compressing them. Love the texture and shapes in the water, too. And everything is so blessedly sharp. Love it. Can you tell I'm a big fan of scaups? Someday I'll render a definitive photograph of a scaup pair, but the females visit only occasionally, and they only stay a couple days.

Gull-napping Coot-got-food-item - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gull Napping Coot-caught Food-item

This is the moment when a gull that has seen that a coot has a morsel of food and has already decided to take it away, gets about as close as it's going to to this defiant coot. I always pull for the coots, and tend to think of the gulls as mean. Of course, every bird's main goal every day is to get enough to eat. I have not ever seen a coot get the better of a gull except by getting away. This gull was a fraction of a second too late, and this coot got away with whatever the people on the pier were throwing at what they call "the ducks" today.

Ring-billed Gull Flying Against the Trees of Hidden Creek - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ring-billed Gull Seen Flying with the Trees of Hidden Creek Behind

Getting a bird flying against a plain sky is comparatively easy. Getting one sharp against a blur of trees is a booger, so this focus mode on this old camera is working remarkably well, even if my "Whatever's Out There First" mode that I loved about this camera, did not work at all today, as usual. I guess I can learn to do without it.

Log Pelk Flap - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Log Pelk Flap

It rained enough last night that the logs all out into Sunset Bay were slightly under water today. They won't move when the water goes over the dam in the next couple days, but we'll be able to see more of it. Whenever I'm in range for a wing-flapping I'll probably take a shot at it. I shot this one about a half dozen times, and this is the most interesting and best-exposed shot of the bunch.

Full-Tilt Pelican Mandible Stretch  - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Full-Tilt Pelican Mandible Stretch

I have a whole page of pelican mandible stretches and others of the various weird things pelicans do with those stretchy-skinned things. But they do it often, and if you watch a bunch of them gathered on the ground or in the water, sooner or later you'll get to see the whole sequence, of which this is the peak, although it often keeps stretching at both beginning and end of the sequences. They use those bags of skin to dredge along the bottom and scoop up fish, tilt back and swallow, then do it again, so keeping them in tip-top stretching shape is important.

Ring-nose Gulles - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ring-nose Gulls

Of course, gulls don't have noses. They have beaks. But I tend to remember this variety of greedy-gut gulls by their non-present noses and the ring around them. The trick here, is that the gull is flying over fairly close and fast, and just getting the camera to focus on that moving target quickly is of great benefit to a photographer who does not always think fast enough to follow them all the way in, is very handy. Sharp and quick. Yes!

Female Grackle on a Post - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Grackle on a Post

More fast-focusing tests. Got her before she flew away. I think they can sense that someone's paying particular attention to them, and when they can't think of anything better to do about it, they fly away.

Red-winged Blackbird - Skuhhh waaaaahk! - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird Skuhhh-wahhk!

Every year I spend an inordinate amount of time, energy and silicon, attempting to capture a definitive Red-winged Blackbird territorial announcement, with which screaming noise he will attract a female, and they well settle down in that territory.

 

February 7

 Two Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Pelicans

More focus games today, but with a different camera and a different lens. I hadn't shot with a zoom lens this year and much of last year, so I did that today, and I liked it. Much lighter lens than I've been dealing with, also.

Three Scaups - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Three Scaups

I love these guys. No telling why. But I saw them skittering (running on the surface of the water) last week, and have been watching them carefully ever since, just in case they get up speed and run on the water again.

Fishing Party Way Out There - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fishing Party Way Out There

By the time I left the bay today, there was not a pelican in sight in the inner bay.

Duck Race - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Duck Race

Well, maybe in one way it was a duck race, but in several other ways, it was ducks having sex. But first comes the race. This usually involves several other ducks.

Duck Sex - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Duck Sex

Other than the fact there's one duck on top of another one, and his wing is loose and just hanging there as if it really had nothing for it to do for the moment, this would be an innocuous scene.

One Happy Family - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One Happy Family

Duck sex almost always looks a lot like rape, but these are consenting adults who know what's going on. Some females try — and usually succeed — getting away, but that's just choice.

Ring Nose Over - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ring-nose Over

Sometimes I slip and call Ring-billed Gulls ring-noses. Today, I was happy enough photographing them. Usually there's something more interesting to do with my camera. Today, I took all comers.

Coot Run with the Dough - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coot Run with the Dough

It looks like dough. Could be fried chicken or a Cheeto, I suppose. When the gulls — barely visible at the top of the frame — chased after this coot with a beak-full of yellowish substance, it did what coots usually do, run, skittering across the surface as if its life depended upon it. Not so much its life, as its food, really.

Coot Ballet Escape - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coot Ballet Escape

I'd been looking at something else when this quick action happened. I was happy to just watch, but my camera was pointed over there, so I started shooting as quickly as I could. My eye was not on the viewfinder, so I was pointing the camera where I thought I should to capture the coot. And remarkably, it worked out pretty well.

Ring-billed Gull Over - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ring-billed Gull Over Close Enough to See Its Eyes Were Blue

Ring-bill On the Pier - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ring-bill On The Pier

Noble-looking, eh?

Ringbill Getting Away with a Snack - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ringbill Getting Away with a Snack

It looks like a piece of sliced carrot that'd got dipped in the water. Off and on as I was on the pier today, digging the cool, cool breeze, other humans would come by and briefly throw human food items at the gulls, who seemed to enjoy the attention.

Attack of the Gull Air Force - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Attack of the Gull Air Force

When whole swoops full of them arrive to fight with coots and each other over every morsel, I often take off. So I did that today, too.

How Owls Turn their Heads 270 degrees
without cutting off blood supply to their brains
.

 

February 5

Pelican Falling from the Sky - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Falling from the Sky with Perfect Control

Yeah, me, too. I'd love to be photographing somebody different for a change, but I drive nearly all around the lake most days, and I always end up in Sunset Bay. Of course, I like it there. I like it enough to want my ashes scattered there some blustery day. It's my favorite place in the world.

Wingup Pelican with Blue Sky - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Wingup Pelican with Blue Sky

Almost even when people who don't think things through want to go pet the gooses, while carrying a dog in their arms, and slogging through the mud and eventually do manage to scare all the coots — they are nervous enough to always be the first to escape, and the gulls, and the pelicans (That's when I get nervous and angry. I want to protect them, so they always come back here every year.)

And it was grande fun to watch two gooses go a little rogue, put their heads out and down in bona fide goose aggression mode, make a bunch of noise, so even the mud-slogging dog-carriers backed off a little, thinking about getting goose-bit. (It can be a surprise, but it does not hurt; I've gone out of my way to let birds bite me, just so I know what that's like. Gooses have no teeth, and their jaws are weak, unlike vultures or hawks.)

(Of course, everybody who wants to get close to birds, should bring a dog, what other creature could be more fearsome to birds? A cat? Another stupid human? Yes. Yes.

Rapidly Losing Altitude - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Rapidly Losing Air Speed

But even then, I love the pier at Sunset Bay. Enough to usually know better than to come on a Sunday when all the amateur bird-lovers bring their puppies. Even then.

Falling Falling - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Falling Falling

But lately I've been having my focus troubles again, so I keep testing my lens on whatever I can find. And what I can almost always find is pelicans doing pelicano things in Sunset Bay.

Wide-winged Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wide-winged Pelican with Blue Sky

Coming in Low - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

These aren't all the same bird.

Descension Nearly Complete - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Descension Nearly Complete

Just a couple a more inches - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Just A Coupla More Inches

Dumping Air Speed - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dumping Air Speed

Catch Wind Stop - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Catch Wind, Stop

These are just the ones that were in adequate focus. But even when my lens won't focus, I love Sunset Bay.

 

February 1

 Male Grackle Stare - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Grackle Stare

Some days are glorious, and everything works perfectly. Some days are normal, and they don't work out perfectly right off, but with a little adjustment, things turn out well in the end. Then there are days like today, when I was so full of confidence that I did not remember or bother to check my camera/lens settings before I started or anywhere along the way, even though it was abundantly clear that everything I was shooting was way overexposed.

 Splish-Splash Grackle Bath - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Splish Splash Grackle Bath

In photography, that's something that can often be adjusted back to a semblance of reality. I didn't fight it — or learn from it — I just adjusted for it. It's nice to be able to make certain adjustments along the way sometimes.

Airstream Jetstream - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Airstream Jetstream

I did not see it take this mid-flight whiz. I just photographed a bunch of American White Pelicans flying into camp today, hoping a couple would be in focus, I think it's a little amusing, but mostly entirely natural. If you're a bird, you can go pretty much anywhere.

 Pelican Flying Past White Gooses - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Flying Past Gooses

It took till when I was working up the nearly one gigabyte of shots from this afternoon's visit to White Rock Lake that I noticed I'd set my lens to f4. F4 offers very little in the way of focus leeway, a photographic aspect usually called "depth of field." The field the depth is in is "out there." The depth out there is from where focus starts to where focus ends. Here it gets most of the bird, for which I'm thankful.

Pelican with coot and orange reflection, landing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

I Got Lucky Sometimes - Pelican Landing with Coot and Orange Reflections

This lens is 'brighter' than f4, but I was not. I'd set the camera, as usual, at aperture priority. A mode. Which means everything sets itself according to the aperture I chose, except I didn't chose it, I just left it there from shooting something else sometime else. And since I often do, I also set the ISO (film speed) to set itself however it needed, which is how I ended up with 1/8,000th of a second shutter speeds (which more than adequately stopped the action, but often didn't help the depth of field enough), but since I wasn't paying attention, I didn't notice.  I.e., I was confident without checking.

 Pelican Past Hidden Creek - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Flying Past Hidden Creek Area

Still, several shots, like this one, the one before it and a few others today, worked out pretty well despite slight to about medium overexposure. Can't do much about that.

Pelican Mid-stream Preen - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American White Pelican   Midstream Preen

Modern cameras can correct for a lot of owner stupidity, as my Nikon D7000, which I sometimes call an "amateur camera," because it it made for amateurs, but today, it was made for me, and it helped me get out of it, and this and others of today's shots look good enough. Usually, if I manage — by some inadvertent minor miracle — to get the eyes in focus, we see that first and decide everything else is fine, too. Here it almost is.

Red-winged Blackbird Falling into Flight - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird Hurtling Through Space

I think it's female Red-winged Blackbird of intermediate coloration. Crossley shows one on his Red-winged Blackbird page. One just like this one. But he doesn't bother to identify it, even though his book is called The Crossley ID Guide, and I couldn't find her in Sibley or Peterson. She's just let go of the branch I focused her on, and is hurtling through space, where, within a few seconds, she'll bring out her wings, and fly off to wherever she's going off to. Right now she's just hurtling through space. I think I know that feeling.

Red-striped Starling - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-striped Starling

This starling is not a Red-striped Starling. It's just a starling. The red-stripe over its neck and right shoulder is probably a reddish branch between me and the bird that shows in this photograph as a red stripe. One of those errors I did not see coming. I felt inordinately proud of myself for getting it in focus and thereby identifiable. I sure hope it's a starling. At least I hope it's a starling. I'm not at all sure what it is is if it's not a starling. But considering the day it was was, I wouldn't be too surprised if if were actually a swan or a condor.

If you know different, email me at the address on the page linked at the top of every bird page, called Contact Us.

The place — the tall reeds along the shore at Sunset Bay — was rife with Red-winged Blackbirds, so it sure could be one of those. I don't know. I know I thought starling when I was focusing in on it. But as we have already noted, my mind was on vacation this afternoon.

Red-winged Blackbird Announcing Its Territory - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Red-winged Blackbird Announcing

What male Red-winged Blackbirds are usually announcing — and will continue announcing till probably spring or so — is their territory. And they're hoping a female Red-winged Blackbird will deign to join him there. It could happen. If it couldn't, I don't know how long they'd continue anyway, but I suspect it'd be a long, long time. That's their job in life right now. And they're good at it. If sometimes a little screamy-loud.

This one is giving its all. Throwing all of its energy into that pleading scream. Throwing its head forward and opening its wings so all that red shows to its maximum. I wish it luck. I know things don't always turn out as we expect them to, but they usually turn out.

Coot Splash Bath - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American Coot Splash Bath

And at other times, the bird was almost totally out of focus, and I really didn't care about that. Here the water off the coot's back is close enough to fully focused to tell the story of a coot coming clean. I rarely get water this good.

Bold Male Mallard - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bold Male Mallard

I wanted to catch this guy so he'd fill the frame with his almost glowing colors. Nice that his eye and all of him back to his tail section appears to be sharp.

Tern Heading This Way - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Forster's Tern Heading This Way

Not sure how these got left in such good focus. Or why most of the rest of my ongoing photographic attentions to terns went so awry. It probably helps that these white birds sometimes carry dark shadows along with them, so at least some parts are rendered with some detail. We can barely see this one's top, and we're all the better for that.

Tern Tern - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Forster's Tern

Forster's Terns spend an inordinate amount of time hovering over where they thought they might have seen something worth falling out of the sky in a full stall to go down and get, then they just fly off somewhere else to do that again. When they did this closer to me (this is still an enlargement) I have been able to capture the inactivity about half the time I try for it.

Hovering Tern - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hovering Forster's Tern

So there's several more attempts at these hovers that were badly out of focus, but that happens all the time in photography. It's rare, too, to get everything I shoot in good-enough focus. So, all in all, myeh; it could be worse.
   

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All text and photographs Copyright 2013 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.

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