111 photos this month. The current Bird Journal is always here Cameras Used Ethics Feedback My Other Bird Pages: Herons Egrets Heron v, Egrets Links & Bird Books Pelican Beak Weirdness Pelicans Playing Catch Rouses Courtship Behaviors Banding Birding Galveston 2015 & 2013 2nd Lower Rio Grande Valley Birds page & the 1st Bald Eagles at White Rock Coyotes JR's resumé Contact Dallas Bird Resources: Dallas Bird Chat Bird Rescue Info You want to use my photos? How to Photograph Birds Birding Places: Bird-annotated Map of White Rock Lake & Spillway & the Med School Rookery & Village Creek Drying Beds February '17's Best Pix: Please do not share these images on Pinterest, Tumblr or other image sharing sites.
I sometimes post other photographers' bird pix here, and I'll watermark them with a © notice and web URL. Email at least
meg jpegs straight out of the camera to jrcompton 23 @ att.net (no spaces) with your name & the bird species in the file name.
1 Pelican, 1 Cormorant, at least 1 female Lesser Scaup, 2 Muscovies,
a Pied-billed Grebe, a Movie Shoot & a Whole Bunch of Redheads
— All at White Rock Lake ... shot February 22 & posted February 26
The first ten or so shots of this American White Pelican were just not nearly interesting enough, but I thought this pose was so much better — and it helped to see all that texture and subtle coloration among its white feathers. We've often seen cormorants engage in this pose. This American White Pelican was drying its wings. It had already flapped them standing there. Now this more restful pose. Meanwhile, the adult nonbreeding Neotropic cormorant at the left never once moved or changed its stance through the pelican's entire wing sequence.
Scaups — both Greater and Lesser — and the altogether too similar Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked and Tufted Ducks, as well as the Redheads, are all among the Aythya clan that Redheads are known to hang out with. But I only saw the scaups and a couple Ruddy ducks, and I've already photographed the Ruddies too much.
There's a bunch of Ruddy Duck close-up photos below on this page.
More plain, but just as regal, is this female, although probably not the same one as in the previous photo. Used to be, we didn't see female Lesser Scaups till late in their season of being around Sunset Bay. But this time, they were as much hanging out with the Redheads as anything else.
I started to title this photograph "HRM Scaup," as in Her Royal Majesty, because here, this scaup just looked so royal and clearly upper class. Like a stately watercraft of feathers.
I've seen Redheads at the lake before, but never in such abundance. I think there were a dozen or more. I was shooting with a long telephoto, and it doesn't zoom out, so I didn't take any full width of the flock photographs. Besides, when I do do that, individuals are rendered way too small.
At my first sighting of them, I didn't take any photographs, because I didn't know who they were. They looked from too far away like just a clatch of birds out there in the lake along DeGolyer Drive almost to the turn of land at the parking lot at the bottom of Winfrey Point. They looked different. I mean besides that vivid red color, which at that distance was hardly recognizable. Their shapes seemed odd.
And DeGolyer Drive there is a one-way, and I was already too far up it to comfortably twist around and photograph them from my car or park close, so I had to drive up to the Winfrey Building, down and up over to Garland Road past Barbec's, then drive way down to the Garland Road entrance to DeGolyer Drive (which is just what I call Lawther along the former DeGolyer properties).
And before I did all that, I had to convince myself that I really had seen something unusual, and that the full other round-trip would be worthwhile. That they definitely were not the same old clatch of Ruddy Ducks, who often hang out there.
And sure enough, they weren't. And they were well worth driving all the way around.
Always good to see well-exposed wings in action. Really nice of her to do that just when I was most ready for it. I would have enjoyed a bit more wing action from the red-headed one, too. But I take what I can get. Apparently, he was busy resting.
Bobbing in the surf.
From this odd angle, we miss most of the dark gray and nearly all of the black on the male Redhead, and what we are left with is what looks like a vaguely mottled and way overexposed brilliant white.
That sneaky telephoto effect again, where birds that aren't really larger, look larger, because there's a big, honking telephoto lens aimed at them, when they're well behind another bird. Here, the female with her head slightly tilted up seems much larger than the very red-headed male in front.
And here, she looks just like all the other Redheads, except for more muted colors. But not hugely bigger.
These are the two Muscovies that hang out together in Greater Sunset Bay (the dry, treed parts). Here in the lagoon adjacent to the bay itself. Often I see them in the creek up from the bridge those evil girls agitated them off of [below], or in the grass around there. They seem so gentle. I am afraid that showing their pictures here might get them poached. So very many Muscovies have been taken from us already. I assume there are thieves out there who steal these friendly birds, because the so like us humans.
There isn't always a Pied-billed Grebe in Sunset Bay or along DeGolyer Drive, but there is one — rarely two — often enough that I always look for them.
Just as I love taking advantage of pre-wedding pix and pre-baby preggers pix shot at our picturesque lake, I like the opportunity to include stills of movies being shot there. Like nearly everything else at White Rock Lake, it's in public, so anyone may legally photograph them. The thing on the tripod in the middle is a camera surrounded by a big, circular light that casts few unsightly shadows. The white thing at the left behind the woman is a reflector.
A Brief Interruption of Our Central Texas Visit To See Today's Action
at White Rock Lake — Shot February 23 & 24 & Posted February 24
When I get the Buda (pronounced boo - dah) trip finally organized, I'll add that last day's shoot there here, and put them all in near-enough chronological order and run them all together down this page. But these last few days at White Rock Lake have been too fruitful (birdly speaking) to not start posting them here now.
I was really surprised to see this Bufflehead pair, but very pleased that they were close enough to shore to photograph them well enough.
Ready to jump down but it's just gotta look before it leaps.
Only a couple gulls involved this early, but already nearly two dozen pelicans and too many cormorants already in the water to count. They were already pretty far, so I didn't follow them out, but I love the semi-organized quality or organization to the start.
I heard the unmistakable knocking sounds of a woodpecker and looked up into the deep shadows above and saw this and at least three other, too-dark little birds that were also not woodpeckers and clicked away for awhile. What I saw was a lot darker than this. And it probably would have helped to have seen its face.
These guys who often fish in the creek that goes under this bridge were sitting there contentedly minding their own business when four girls walked by, thought they were cute (They are.) and started messing with them with their hands until the birds fell back into flying away. Idiot humans are so mean sometimes.
I've been watching this nest grow, but today was the first time I've caught parental units in its vicinity. Notice the variety of found stuff that comprises this nest.
I never know which sex a hawk is, but here's the bottom end of a Red-shouldered Hawk tending his or her nest.
And once that first one flew off, it was more than a minute till this one swooped in. I have one shot of both the bird and the whole tree blurring, then this, when they all stopped shaking. I didn't even see the sticks between us and that bird… If I did, I was probably hoping they'd blur out.
And then a killdeer.
Northern Shovelers at Hornsby Bend near Austin.
Shot February 18 & 19 & Posted February 23
When there's a thousand or so Northern Shovelers in one place where many of them gather close to shore (easy telephoto distance), it's comparatively simple to find a wider than normal variety of varieties. That big, long beak is the species' main characteristic, and I know that oversized honker well. But I'd never before noticed that bit of gray feather along the edge of her wings.
I'm assuming she's a younger bird than the next one up, and that most of the difference here is the color of the sky on two different days.
First winter Male N. Shoveler. Maybe. Crossley shows one, but its wings are up, so we don't see the colors here on its upper wings.
Another variation. Head is dark, so I'm guessing it's a male, but you know… and it's begun to acquire color, but not colors I recognize.
Then whom I assume is male. The Crossley Guide, to which I usually look for intermediate ages and colorations, designates only a first-winter male, an adult male and an adult female shoveler. He shows us other forms, too, but he does not identify them.
Same almost everything here, except overall body shape. It might have to do with telephoto distortion.
This, apparently, is my only decent photograph of a Northern Shoveler in Flight. I should have got many, many more, because they were always flying away from us as we drove the perimeter. Until we settled in place on the usually one-lane road. Then they came back. And later flew off again.
Today's images were taken over two days. We especially wanted to get to photograph the Eared Grebes, whom we thought at the time to be some sort of Mergansers, but they were too far for my Panasonic GX8 and its mediocre, 100-300mm telephoto (especially at distance), and my Nikon was double-exposing everything, because in handling it, I'd accidentally shifted it to High-Density Mode [wherein it makes two separate shots at differing exposures, then puts them together to show a longer range of tones. And that is for tripod shots, not birds — or photographers who pan or move.
And not only had I not figured that out by then, I didn't know how to make it stop. This shot, however, had to have been taken by that same camera the next day, after I figured out the mystery, how to fix it, and I fixed it, which was a lot easier than I had worried.
Straight-ahead profiles of the main varieties of the current Northern Shovelers. Adult breeding male and female
More colorful, because this shot includes yellowish on his breast and that little bit of blue and even smaller bits of green showing on his wings. Plus, it's better exposed than some here.
Most of whom are busy snorking, which is what I call their form of dabbling [next image down]. See also online video of Northern Shovelers' "social feeding" a.k.a. dabbling.
With only two N. Shoveler heads showing — that of the male at the upper left and the female at upper right, everybody — including those two — is busy dabbling. Dabbling means to immerse one's bill and move it around in shallow water while feeding. Says Wikipedia, "Northern shovelers feed by dabbling for plant food, often by swinging its bill from side to side and using the bill to strain food from the water. They use their highly specialized bill (from which their name is derived) to forage for aquatic invertebrates – a carnivorous diet."
Their wide-flat bill is equipped with well-developed lamellae – small, comb-like structures on the edge of the bill that act like sieves, allowing the birds to skim crustaceans and plankton from the water's surface. This adaptation, more specialized in shovelers, gives them an advantage over other puddle ducks, with which they do not have to compete for food resources during most of the year. Thus, mud-bottomed marshes rich in invertebrate life are their habitat of choices."
If I'd really been paying attention, I probably could have captured more individual variations of N. Shovelers, but I didn't really plan to show those here — and by our second visit, we were in a hurry to beat the rains back to Dallas, which we just managed to accomplish.
Wandering The Prairies & Drying Beds for Birds
Shot February 18 & 19 and Posted February 21
We kept seeing big, red Cardinals all around us, and when we couldn't see them outright, we heard them. A familiar sound I and my non-audio-trained sound-detectors liked hearing again and again, though once they came from dense trees, like surrounding Hornsby Bend, they much more difficult to track down.
At Hornsby Bend. Basically, the place is called Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant — "originally established in the 1950s as a series of stabilization ponds used to treat wastewater sludge (biosolids) from the City's wastewater plants."
In Jared and Jen's back yard.
A wire somewhere else on one of our "no tell in' where we're off to once we get off the main roads" bird-hoping drives through the hills and prairies wherever we are.
In black & white and color.
Wonder what it would be like to live in a Mondrian House on the Texas Prairie.
Vaguely reminiscent of long lines of tall, skinny trees in the French Impressionists' early paintings.
I kept having to click and look, then open the aperture several clicks more, then click and look, etc.
I assume it's a Red-tailed Hawk. If you look up anywhere en Los Estados Unidos, that hawk is probably a Red-tailed, though they come in an amazing variety.
Visiting Family & Birds South of Here
Shot February 18 & 19 & Posted February 19
As usual, I have no idea where I was when I photographed these birds — driving around mostly sorta lost, just looking for birds —. But it was on the corner of one of those electric substations. We didn't notice any signs claiming how well the electric guys were getting along with the birds, and promoting their lifestyles like they do around White Rock Lake, while periodically destroying their large, stick filled nests, but we heard and saw an active area around the substation.
Not a perfect shot, but I was hand-holding my big Nikon cam and lens — and shooting through brush in the extension back from J & J's back yard. I could barely see it, but someone called it a "Mexican Vulture, and I remembered that Caracaras are sometimes called "The Mexican Eagle," so, after a little Googling, I found more info and bird pix, and I can now state flatly that this is a Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway). And I'm envious of the Js for having a Caracara who visits the back of their back yard, even if, it then flies away. And because it's so obviously nesting nearby.
I've seen Caracaras before, east of here as well as down south of San Antonio, but my far sight is lousy, so I didn't recognize it right away.
I realized then and now that the pic above this one is less than perfect, but there, standing high on Jen and Jared's new (to us) back porch and focusing through the weeds up the hill, I kept shooting as it flew away, and as you can see, I got one decent shot.
I think Anna and I were driving around when I shot this, and the more we looked, the more birds and interesting animals we found. .
Egyptian Gooses used to visit Sunset Bay — and some more did recently, but I missed them, so I was pleased to see this guy walking along the fenced prairie. More pix from our Austin - Buda, etc. trip this week. Stay tuned. I know I promised I'd post just three times a week, but I can never keep it to just that, unless I'm exhausted or doing something else more important.
Sunsets at White Rock Lake — shot
earlier but not posted till February 17
At least I think it's from Winfrey Point. I tend to save these shots up, although all three of today's shots may be from the same evening — although I only used the ones that don't duplicate pieces of it. I'm glad I had a camera.
These are from at least a week ago. Maybe a tad more. I always feel guilty when I show sunsets or people or anything but birds. But all those things happen at the lake.
At least I think it's Garland Road, but there are probably Italian restaurants all over the place. Anna was driving. I was photographing the sky with my Panasonic camera and wide-angle zoom.
Scenic-looking, but less than spectacularly beautiful. This is the same 'water feature' I photographed and discussed earlier [below]. Only this image shows a much wider view. Same nastiness sluicing down through it and out onto the lake, however.
More, Better Experimental Pix with Yesterday's Setup
Photographed February 13 & posted February 14, 2017
Today, I spent hours figuring out some settings for my middle-aged Panasonic Lumix GX8, then another couple hours practicing with it at the lake. I'm getting much better with it, so I'll keep on testing and reading favorite online reviewers. Who, it turns out, aren't really appreciative of the GX8. And they keep saying that the Olympus OM-whatever is better. I have one of those, and I never could figure it out, and would love to sell the fool thing for considerably less than I paid for it.
Love those iridescent blues.
As usual, I tried a variety of subjects. I especially appreciated this bench, though I don't know what the black square is.
I've tried this scene at nearly every other angle, but this — finally — is the right one. I hope. Maybe.
The tan-yellow weeds go up the hill on both sides of the road to "The Big Thicket" area from Mockingbird. The dog park area is on the far, right side.
I was looking for nests again today, but the only ones I found were not easily photographed. I don't think there's a nest in this shot. I think this tree is a nest.
I don't usually have so much company in my favorite place. First this one, then several, much noisier gooses. Luckily, I like birds.
This particular, nominally 100-300mm (200-600mm "equivalent") lens is much better closer and medium distance than farther. At least so far in my quest. I don't yet know how that 100-400mm I still daydream about does near and far. But there are many reviews of it online, and somebody is bound to mention that. All the reviewers are thrilled with it, so far, although at the farthest zoom (400mm) it's resolution is less than at shorter zoom. I also looked at reviews of the GX8, and I shouldn't have. I already have it. I photograph art with it often — and family and friends. But most of the reviewers don't love it like I do.
I haven't seen Canada Gooses at Sunset Bay for quite a while. Used to be a bunch of them. Now, today, there's just this one. That may be true about all birds. I remember reading that only one in ten juveniles last the first year. Which may be why there's so very many downy young in spring, and so few juveniles later.
I was in The Slider, looking down at something, then I see a cowboy and a horse walking slowly past. I didn't want to chase it, but though I knew better than to shoot through a windshield, I didn't have enough time to do it right, so I managed to render the horse's head all blurry through a spot of rain or a bend in the glass. Everything else looks good.
I may have photographed this bridge before. Once upon a time I thought it necessary to document all the bridges at the lake, and I used to park in that lot back when it was all gravel, and I was disappointed that the wild weeds growing all around that end of a body of land was being overly tamed and cemented. When I first started visiting there, there were no paved paths, just huge, tall reeds and weeds and pathways and places fisher-persons had invented out of dirt and rock and fallen trees. Then it was wonderful and wild. Not so much now.
Today's images skip around geographically. This turn-among-the-trees is in what somebody somewhere sometimes decided was "The Big Thicket." I liked its sense of space.
The one across the top of the water here. I didn't expect to, and I couldn't see it in the viewfinder or the LCD, but there it is. I tried to suck some light into the dark on the far side of the lake, but it just didn't get along with that white line, so I didn't mess with it.
Duck sex tends to resemble rape. I've seen women and girls throw items — rocks, chunks of wood, whatever is on hand — at the pair. Sometimes another duck or a moralistic goose gets involved and tries to stop them. I can't say what their motives are, but they are often almost as vehement as humans who just don't understand this is how ducks have sex.
Duck sex often includes pushing the female down into the water.
With lots of water splashed all around.
Actually, the chase went on longer than the sex. Both of these ducks are males, so it might be a matter of jealousy.
… And on … and on.
Essentially farm animals, these gooses also tend to get involved in duck sex sometimes. Here, however, they are minding their own business, though noisily. I used a tripod on most of today's shots, except the action sequences. It helped.
Experimenting with An Old Camera & An Even Older Lens
Photographed February 12 & posted Very Early February 13, 2017
Well, the old camera is still pretty new. It's my Panasonic (Pany) Lumix GX8, and it's way smaller than my heavy Nikon. And its sensor is also smaller — one quarter the size. In general, the bigger the sensor, the better the image quality, but more importantly, the Pany camera is significantly lighter. I can still hand-hold the Nikon monsters, but they only have one image-stabilizer, and the Pany potentially has two — one in the lens and one in the camera (but not this camera, because the two stabilizers only work together on newer lenses like that Leica 100 – 400 lens I want). Here, I'm struggling with contrast and exposure — a deadly duo.
I didn't use a tripod on any of today's shots.
These were very dark in the viewfinder (gotta rejig the LCD), so I couldn't even see how bright the pelicans were and how dark were the cormorants, which are almost invisible here. One of the treats of the Pany is that one can see the exact exposure, and, supposedly, get it right in the camera even before shooting. Nikons only get the view right, they can't show exposure. Or the photog can't. Since I have the electronic viewfinder set wrong here, I ended up with too-bright pelicans and a too-light landscape.
But, like I say, this is an experiment.
And especially noticeable in the background is "the Hoarfrost Tree" [on this page below] in Cormorant Bay. Warning, I'm the only one who officially uses that term for that tree.
Got the exposure better here. And luckily, no pelicans to see how well I really got the exposure, although the mansion is rendered very well.
Every time these potential caters got this particular up in the air, it nose-dived down into the ground. But it was pretty while it was just hanging there.
Oh, yeah, the lens used for all of today's shots is the Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm lens, which is touted as the equivalent to a 200-600mm lens. I always quibble with lens focal length equivalencies, because my usual lens for this site is a Nikon full frame 600mm, which fills a full-frame 35mm sensor, although it is true that both lenses capture an image with the same angle of view, which really has nothing to do with the sensor.
Exposure of white and black better here. But it still needs more texture in their bodies as they use the ground effect (which lowers the wind's resistance, so they can fly faster and farther with the same energy.
Pelicans are not really solid white. They have areas of very subtle yellow and they need all that texture to show, so they and we both know who they are. Parts of four pelicans here, but there were about two dozen over there today. Mostly because all the places on The Logs out in the bay were occupied by Double-crested Cormorants.
Great texture, adequate focus. Only real problem is those weeds and reeds out of focus in front of its beak and body that I had to focus and shoot through. Oh, well. All three of these pelican pictures were photographed through the weeds, reeds and trees along the land edge of Sunset Bay.
This view is from The Pier At Sunset Bay that is still my favorite place (outside my home) in the Known Universe.
Remarkably good exposure on the bright white gull, the stump and all those black coots with their bright white beaks. I must admit, however, that I didn't even bother with trying to expose the coots correctly. On my best shots of them, I manage to render bot their feathers and their beaks darker. It wouldn't have hurt the gull any, either.
I was especially interested in fast action from the pelicans, who are often very difficult to get right in those areas. There's several things wrong with this shot — above and beyond how crooked everybody here is.
This one's much, much better. Texture in nearly all the bright whites. Woulda been nice to have white on black texture in the grackle, but that would have taken extraordinary effort and prior planning, and it would not have been worth it. We get way plenty detail in the Ring-billed Gull on the left and only a couple of too-bright places on the star in sharp focus on the right. And the Grackle is moving too fast and too far back of the plane of focus to matter.
Focus is pretty close, exposure righteous with texture visible in nearly all those bright whites, nice splash. Only thing wrong is I missed its head. Myeh.
And if I missed its head, I can't crow about getting its eyes in sharp focus, so it's a deadbeat photo. Because Single Lens Reflexes (SLRs) like my Nikon show the view continuously and unaltered by the exposure, shutter-speed, etc., it's much easier to follow a bird in motion (and the view is much larger there). Because the Pany shows the exposure, shutter speed and everything else, it gets pretty busy in the frame, and I need to learn to visually juggle all that. Which means I have to continue experimenting with the Pany.
Like I say, today's shots were an experiment. It'll be an uphill battle. But it always is.
A Kestrel, Possible Early Nests, Berries, a Small Bridge, a Sign,
a One-legged Crow & Cormorants — posted February 12, 2017
As I do pretty much every other day, I drove around Sunset Bay and Dreyfuss Point but didn't find any really interesting birds, so I drove up the hill, turned the hair-pin turn left, and rode out around that ritzy neighborhood and down the narrow blacktop up the hill from The Bath House, looked around, then down and saw this. Darned few other birds in sight.
It could be one big one or two littler nests or an accidental gathering of sticks and stems. Or something. But it looked like a nest to me. Then I went around looking for more nests, and I didn't find any. Yet.
I don't know the tree or the berries, but I liked them framing that part of the lake.
I thought I knew this bridge. But I put the wrong bridge in last time. It's where the water coming down from the area under the "arbor" eat-tom chopped down all those tall real trees to build bigger trees made of metal for kids to play on. The refuse water comes down from the Children's Garden there, then it goes under the sidewalk here, then out into the lake itself. I haven't, but I talked to a friend who has got that water tested, and all he would say was that it was "bad — really bad." I worried, because that stretch of lake is where some of my favorite bird species hang out in winter and spring — and the rest of the year.
I treasure my lake. Do you? Do the signs intensify those feelings? Or remind others to pick up their trash and garbage?
I'd wondered why its movements were so labored, then I saw it was hopping, not walking. But I bet it's good at flying. I can imagine it jumping up straight into the wind and flying off somewhere.
This pier used to be the lifeguard stand when the concrete-floored area in the lake out to there behind the Bath House Cultural Center used to be a swimming pool behind a real bath house, before either Blacks were denied entrance or the Polio Panic, whichever Big Fear you choose to believe, closed the pool. Swimming is still prohibited in the lake because of all the sewage that gets into the lake from all its feeder creeks and institutional waste water dumps. Although stranded boaters and wind-surfers are allowed. Probably not much worse than swimming in the ocean.
Odds, Ends and An Osprey from Kelley – posted February 9
According to Kelley who made this photograph, "it was only there for less than 5 minutes, did a quick fly by Sunset Bay, and poof it was gone!" I've seen them do that. They really are elusive.
Well, sometimes that spot where the pelicans are here, is the tip, but now that the water level has fallen again, there's more grass for ducks at the new, real tip.
Cormorants in Cormorant Bay — who woulda thunk it? Others of the same species of trees where cormorants don't perch aren't that color. From a distance, it looks like snow, but it is anything but.
if these Ruddies were red [hence "ruddy"], they'd be breeding adults.
They turn ruddy when they're in breeding mode. This one's still mostly brown, but the reddish color is coming on fast.
Both are regular visitors on The Pier at Sunset Bay whether there are people out there or not. Pigeons drag their tail when they are seeking a mate.
Nice view of Sunset Beach and the lagoon, framed by one of the ever-present bicyclers.
Corms & Pelks Fishing, More of the Bufflehead Pair, Some Ruddies
& A Pelican Coming in for a Landing / Posted Late-ish February 7
Not many pelicans but hoards of Cormorants near the edge of the lake along the Garland Road end of that big lake I go to couple times almost every day, which meant not many chances later to photograph a pelican or two flying into Sunset Bay, which is always a thrill. Then I drove toward Winfrey.
Sliding down the road in The Slider, fresh back from Toy E after three days of them messing with the radio, which works fine now, and me stuck driving a RAV 4, wondering what was a RAV for. This time, I found both Buffleheads swimming along, but every time I got a little closer, they dived together. But I had my fancy tripod this time, so I got a little better pictures of the both of them, whom I kept seeing along the way.
I know this was she, because the same shot included the he, but he was way off on the left edge, and if I'd cluded-in both of them, she wouldn't have shown near enough detail. As it is she looks like somebody got their wig blown off.
And next time I photographed her, she dived, dived, dived again.
Then finally, she got more used to the camera.
And I got several more decent shots of her.
And then they swam nearly through the small flock of Ruddy Ducks up near the end of the road.
Nice to finally capture him as grayscale with some color — and not pure white and pure black.
Kelly and I on the Pier at Sunset Bay only saw one incoming pelican today, but it's always worth the wait. Kelly's much younger eyes saw it way farther out than I could see it, even though Kelly told me exactly where it was. Then suddenly it appeared, and followed it in and inner.
Although it is true they every bird with feathers can move every each and every one of them separately and at will, sometimes they dip their primaries in the water, to help them slow down or turn.
Almost everybody who comments upon my big, honking, heavy lens, calls it a zoom. But it's not a zoom. The only zooming I do is into the details of an image in Photoshop. I was still kinda wondering how this pelican would look if I 'zoomed' into it and the cormorant in the air just behind it here — until I did just that and saw that it was just boring. Oh, well.
Although I have my own — more philosophical than technical — version of How to Photograph Birds already on this site, I stumbled into Bird Photography Tips and Tricks by Elizabeth of Photography Life, one of my favorite photo websites this evening, and I was wowed enough to post their link here.
Bufflehead Ducks Along One of those Coastlines with a Road
At White Rock Lake / Posted Late February 6
Not at all sure whether Buffleheads even have chins, but that's what this Buffle is doing. We all itch; we all gotta scratch. This left Bufflehead foot scratching is really not much different from many other ducks' feet. Just he's got his toes together.
Note the subtle coloration in the otherwise black feathers below his cheek. In different lighting, his iridescence shows less (cloudy) or more (sunshine) colors.
Here we see his blues as well as purples. Buffleheads are called "buffle," because someone somewhere decided they look like buffaloes. I don't see it. Do you?
I love this picture. She's just so cute. I was wrong calling this a juvenile earlier. She's a female. She's also easier to photograph with that tan-colored lower body instead of the pure, solid white of the male, which is very difficult to photograph so that the white shows white, yet we can see his eye in that dark area.
They wouldn't get closer, so I couldn't get them both in focus at the same time. But I'll keep my eyes peeled for them now that I know yet another place where I can sometimes find them.
Too Warm for Little Gulls on Wednesday, So
Back to Bonaparte's Gulls / Posted February 3
The Bonaparte's Gulls hung out on the lake east of the dam most of the time. Then, in ones, twos and maybe threes, they'd single-file fly over the dam to the Uppermost Spillway, fool around there awhile, catch an aquatic invertebrate, fishlet, tadpole, terrestrial invertebrate or two, then go back out among their flock on the lake, where supposedly they felt safer.
All today's shots are as photographed from the Observation area on the Spillway End of the Dam. The observation 'deck' is especially nice, because it give an even more elevated position to photograph the birds in the trough we call The Spillway. It was also closer to where the gulls tended to gather in the spillway. Note the unknown, headless photographer at the top left of the picture, in front of the downhill traffic on Garland Road.
Anytime you see a horizontal photograph reduced to 666 pixels instead of the usual 888 pixels wide as seen above and below this, you know it's a tad soft of focus, and I'm hoping making it smaller helps the illusion that it's sharp. It's really the best flying Bonaparte's Gull pic here.
Focusing on such widely-separated flying birds this close to the photographer is a booger, but it is closer — And the foam off the dam looks great.
All of these may well be Bonaparte's Gulls. According to my treasured Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas, which I often quoted in this journal when I incorrectly thought it had gone out of print, "During winter, Bonaparte's Gulls are seen flying about for hours on end, wheeling and flashing their pale wings. Flocks are fairly common along the coast and are occasionally spotted at large inland lakes during migration. This gull was named after Charles-Lucien Bonaparte, a nephew of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and a naturalist who made significant contributions to the study of ornithology in the 1800s."
Except the really bigger ones near the top of this photo are probably Ring-bills. But then every gull you see at White Rock is probably a Ring-bill …
There's almost always a large contingent of American Coots along the Spillway somewhere, but I mostly ignored them this time. Although I like the splash rising from this one's dunked-down head as the thready water sluices by. The Gadwalls are another persistent denizen of that place, and they have been there for months.
It didn't seem to mind us, and we liked having it around — although I'm sure it figured it was a safe-enough distance away from dawdling humans.
I like to look around when I'm in high places.
I keep making a photograph like this, then I get all disappointed in it. I think I like this one the best of all, so far. It's kinda an ugly area, but it's a big hill, and well off to the right there's the downtown skyline.
I nearly forgot this one shot from up there into an entirely other direction — off through the forest along the track of the creek. It's called White Rock Creek but so are a lot of creeks in and around Dallas. This one goes through the Municipal Golf Course, over a couple of real water falls (though pretty short ones) and past a lot of lush green only some of which is the golf course. I have no idea what the gizmo on the far left edge is.
As photographed from the Winsted Parking lot at Winsted Drive & Garland Road.
Okay, I think I'm finally through with Bonaparte's Gulls for awhile …
One of my ongoing winter challenges is to get closer to Ruddy Ducks who gather in large and small communities around the lake. This day, I got this close. Another is to catch up on the books I've been buying the last few months & years, and the sleep I've been missing out on, so I won't be doing this every single day.
A day or so later, I got this close — above and below.
And on a third day (skipping one or two), I managed this much detail on a drake.
And a hen. I could still ask for more details and to have their heads up — and still be able to see their whole faces. But this ain't bad, considering.
Where it'll be safer for it till it figures out what to do next. All today's shots were taken earlier than today, then just left to gather more and similar ones till there was enough to do one of these catch-up days.
Except as noted, all text and photographs Copyright 2017 & before by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission from and payment to Writer and Photographer J R Compton. I am an amateur. I've only been birding since June 2006, and the best of that is documented in this Journal, all the pages of which continue online — see links at top and bottom of every Bird Journal page. I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally yet always amateurishly since 1964. A total of 52 years.