91 photos so far in February 2018 Cameras Used Ethics Feedback My Special Herons & Egrets Pages include photos of eggs, just-hatched, fledgling and/or other juvenile birds. Telling Herons from Egrets Links & Bird Books Pelican Beak Weirdness Pelicans Playing Catch Birds Rousing Courtship Behaviors Banding Birding Galveston 2015 & 2013 The 2nd Lower Rio Grande Valley Birds page & the 1st Bald Eagles at White Rock Coyotes JR's resumé - Link Fixed Dallas Bird Resources: Dallas Audubon Bird Chat online Bird Rescue Info So you want to use my photos? How to Photograph Birds Bird Places: My Bird-annotated Map of White Rock Lake & Village Creek Drying Beds Please do not share these fully copyrighted images on Pinterest, Tumblr or other image-sharing sites. NO ADs & NOTHING FOR SALE!
Check out Ben Sandifer's lovely video of a Snowy Owl in Fort Worth on
YouTube, which is followed by some news station's not half as fine vid.
A Pair of Red-shouldered Hawks
Photographed February 22 & posted February 23
This is my favorite photo of the day. Both Red-shouldered Hawks were wet. The upper portion of me that was usually just inside The Slider's driver-side window was dry and cold, but the far end of my lens was wet, yet safe. My little Panasonic is not weather-proof, but this one is.
Today's images are in the order I like them, with no reference to chronology or anything else, except my notions of aesthetics.
I don't know what was in its beak or where it got it, although I saw both Red-shouldered Hawks rooting around on the ground often — although none of my shots of them doing that were worth much. I know that female hawks are bigger than males, but I would have had to photograph them flying or standing together to get that comparison, and I was too busy catching up with them when they flew singly.
The weather, the birds, me and The Slider were all of us wet and dark and cold. I stayed out of the weather as much as possible, aiming The Slider's wide-open driver-side window at wherever I wanted to photograph, while I kept the heater at 80 degrees F. I didn't see anyone out there with a camera, and hardly anyone at all. I saw lots of birds, but my most interesting and exciting avian encounter of the afternoon was this pair of Red-shouldered Hawks in the rain.
They kept coming back to this same tree, but I didn't see anything that looked like a nest — and I looked carefully, branch by branch. I am told there are other Red-shouldered Hawks' nests up and running already. Maybe these were looking for a righteous place to start a family.
The one on the left kept moving, while the smaller one stayed put. I think the hawk on the left is bigger, but telephoto optics do strange things with apparent size.
I started to say that this bird was flying upward and to the left, but now I don't know what it's up to. I was way too busy trying to get it in focus, but I only almost did.
There's a 50% chance this is the same bird, but I'd caught up with it; and it was pretty well focused and showing off its black and white barring, wing to wing, even if its head and feet blurred.
I've probably photographed these same birds at The Lake before. Since many RSHs are raised right around here.
Throwing a Net to Catch Some Fish
posted early February 21
I just happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right lens and light pouring into the net from behind. North of Northwest Highway. At the same creek or one pretty close to where we saw the woman fishing [below] a couple weeks ago.
He was standing on the edge of a creek..
To throw. Form perfect — or nearly so.
Throw it wet and wide.
Let it fall.
There's been some discussion of people having been caught and/or accused of catching turtles with nets awhile back, but poachers don't usually have the style and grace this guy did. It almost seemed like a religion to him. I don't think he had any inkling I was photographing him from the street several hundred yards away.
Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation
Where we saw an Even Dozen other species —
photographed February 16, posted February 18
I did a lot of photographing into cages this day — on our way south to Hutchins on I-45, and once on site at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation. Anna picked this big chicken up at City Vet on Gaston before she picked me up. This was my best shot of the chicken, which always seemed to be a gargantua of feathers, with only that red beak sticking out. I couldn't even see its eyes.
The workers at Rogers were already plenty busy, dealing with other birds who've made their ways there. See When Beaks Go Bad on the U of Illinois at Urbana Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine site for more info on beak grinding.
Kathy Rogers' initial diagnosis indicated it was this end that was causing its issues, so a thorough cleaning of its hind-quarters was quickly initiated.
Before Kathy Rogers trimmed it.
So the hen could see.
This was the last shot I made in the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation's front office.
Why I usually go with Anna to Rogers, is so I can take pics of the birds in the back, so that's where I headed next:
The light in this bluish gray plastic-wrapped cage dulls the colors anyway, and that red, I assume, heat lamp cocks everything to the red end of the spectrum. The closer anything is to that lamp, the redder it is. Without the red lamp, the middle dove probably looks a lot like the other White-Winged Doves in the cage, whose red parts are on their other sides. Another matter adding to the lighter aspect of their normal colors in this tented cage is that the double-gridded wire mesh you can see at the far end of this image, wraps all the way around this large cage, and I have to shoot directly through it, with my lens resting directly on it.
Put the lens as close as I can get to shooting between the wires, and move it around a little till I can mostly see "through" it. But it's much more clear a shot when I don't have to:
There's almost always a bunch of Peacocks loose in the areas between and around the big convalescence cages out behind the office.
Crested Caracaras are also called "Mexican Eagles" and probably a lot of other names. Nearly twelve years ago, when I started this bird journal, it was rare to see them this far north. Now it's almost common in some places, especially east of here. Thanks, Anna, for this RTH i.d., too.
I assume the mouse this owl — named "Ms. Chitters" — was showing off to everybody, was dead when she got it, but she was showing it off as if she had captured it on her own. I reassured her that she was truly a mighty hunter.
From what little I can tell from chickens on the Coops & Cages site in Australia, this is somewhat similar to a Serama. But I know next to nothing from chickens.
It wasn't cold when we visited Rogers that Friday afternoon. But it certainly was not warm, either. Unless you had your own red heat lamp. And this National Symbol had its own. And, apparently, it's big enough to rate only a single grid of rectangular wires enclosing its cage.
By now, I should know what this bird is, but Anna provided its identification. It doesn't look exactly like any of the illustrations in any of my main four bird I.D books: The Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas; Sibley's Guide to Birds, Second Edition; The Crossley ID Guide - Raptors and the Peterson Field Guide to Birds, and I always assumed that's who this was, but I wasn't certain.
My guess is this smallish Great Egret's issue has to do with its twisted or broken beak.
I am very fond of Black Vultures, and I have often — both in the wild and in one sort of captivity or another — had long conversations with them. They don't say much, but I appreciate any feedback.
Ducks — and especially variously reddish, Ruddy Ducks,
Bridges, Pelican & a Grackle — posted late February 16
It could be its own species, but it's not one I've noticed previously. Or anything I could find in the back (or front) of my various bird books. I've seen it swimming by in front of the pier at Sunset Bay, but none of those pix were this well-illuminated or distinctive. He's probably a Mallard Hybrid. It is said of Mallards that they'll mate with anything. Curly tails, I'm told, indicate that the duck is male.
This was either a complete accident or a barely on-purpose photo. I remember being surprised when I fist saw this person pedaling (in the photograph) under the bridge framing the other bridge, both of which I wanted to photograph — together. I was at some distance away (using my usual long telephoto) shooting back through an opened car window, kinda upside down (me) and backwards, if not exactly inside-out. I don't think I was aware of the guy on his bike, although he is utterly perfect and perfectly placed for the job. So maybe there was some purpose-ness in there, too.
What I was much more intent on was getting the two Mockingbird Bridges framing each other while still being the dominant elements in the pic — yet still lending some notions of where it is. I'd tried it before from a different point of view and failed utterly. So when I saw this loaded-down bicyclist in the big middle of the frames, I was initially dismayed, then thrilled..
Except, of course, it's not really an island, and maybe it never was, or if it was, all its dirt got washed away, north under the Mockingbird vehicle bridge, but now it's definitely not an island. Apparently and historically, it used to be where "the pelicans" gathered before they instead chose Sunset Bay. I don't really know the story. That was before my time taking pictures at the lake, which preceded the time of this bird journal.
The Amateur Birder's Journal will have been going 12 years next June. Before that I did an occasional journal with pics of and around White Rock Lake, which might have been called The White Rock Lake Journal. I have remnants of it somewhere around here. My memory is often not that good after 15 minutes. After 12 years, it dissipates almost entirely.
I was charmed by this bird, photographed her several times, and this was the best of the bunch.
This image was photographed at the end of what I usually call DeGoyler Drive, where one can sometimes find variously sized gatherings of Ruddy Ducks.
“Ruddy” means having a reddish color. The word's origin: late Old English rudig, from the base of archaic rud meaning red color. This image is from a few weeks earlier in the season, when the Ruddies were still mostly brownish. Towards spring, they turn Ruddy.
Near the north end of the Bent Bridge in Cormorant Bay, I recently managed to get much closer to some Ruddy Ducks, so I can show up-closer details than in a while. Here, the upper Ruddy, who is in strong focus, shows his patches of red feathers (why it's called "ruddy.") and almost everything else in fine detail. It's even got it's left eye open. Might also have his right eye open, but we can't see that one. On this side of him is another Ruddy, who is much more out of focus.
Ah! Finally. A detailed and sharp photograph of a female Ruddy duck with enough detail to see who she really is.
Mostly Great Blue Herons
posted February 15
It took awhile, but I finally found the pix below, which is what this GBH got up to minutes after it landed.
I lightened the water behind the heron, because otherwise you wouldn't be able to see its details. But if I hadn't seen it land close by, I might have missed it.
Later, I found it again, still looking for food, very close to where it landed, but still not finding much. These first three photographs were one GBH, and the three that follow are at least one other Great Blue Heron, who are still my favorite birds. Then today's last two images are more, more different GBHs. Sometimes, it seems like everywhere I look, there's a Great Blue Heron — or two. There's usually two in Sunset Bay. But it's never enough. And there's lots fewer GBHs than Great Egrets in and around White Rock Lake.
I believe this one and the following two images are of the same GBH as this one.
As is this one.
Which probably makes this one the same, too.
I am pretty certain this is not the same bird.
And this is definitely not anywhere near the same GBH, but I really like this flyover image, so it's here.
More birds past the bikes.
Some Bikes @ The Lake
Posted February 12.
Renta-bikes in Dallas have been in the news lately. It seemed inevitable, and I was trying to get this together before that happened, but I procrastinated to get more pix.
This is my first favorite shot of the bunch. And I hasten to say I didn't move any bikes in any of these pix. I usually don't like to pose objects or people. These are as I found them. I did move around and try for the best angle, but these are strictly as found. Sunset Bay is on the other side of those stalks along the water's edge.
No idea where this is, but I like the spareness of it compared to the lined-up busyness in most of today's bike pix.
Anna and I had talked with the woman from LimeBike, who talked about the others there who hadn't kept up with their bikes, straightening them up and thinning them back. She told us most bikes at the lake were ridden there from somewhere else.
This one is at the parking lot at the foot of Winfrey Hill on the Garland Road side. Up the hill to the right is the Winfrey Building, circular drive and parking lot, where we often see and photograph one or the other — and sometimes more spectacularly both — of our pair of American Kestrels.
Oranges and blues and yellows go so well together. Too bad most of our grass is brown this season. It would have been nice to set these — and most of today's other bikes off with deep rich green and green and green.
Wish I'd planned the lines through the woods, street signs and diamond warning sign over these bikes. I saw the bikes and the sign and the guy running.
But I love the colorful froufrou in the grass behind this too close-up.
Almost altogether ordinary. There is no chronology in today's journal entry.
Oddly enough, I never once considered showing people on and/or connected to these bicycles — and I've been getting along with bike-lers — always signaling, ever watching, and staying out of their ways.
Pelicans Landing in Sunset Bay
on a Shmoggy Cold Tuesday
Shot Feb. 6; Posted Feb. 8.
Really did not know what to expect at Sunset Bay this cold and rainy day. Drove The Slider down DeGoyler Drive but saw only a few faraway ducks, coots, Ruddies and a Grebe or two on the dark gray water where Mists clung to the edges of land on the other side, and boat clubs up toward Mockingbird were fogged over. Wanted to set the scene with these shots, though I didn't really know why.
Must be the journa-photolist in me.
I really wanted the old trees on this side and the forest (interrupted by sports fields) on the other side of Loop 12 Buckner, and I was able to capture it just the way I saw it — or very close — but I should have waited for more dark vehicles.
I'm momentarily calling this pelican gathering area Pelican Central, although at least half as many pelks had already gathered on the snags west of The Pier at Sunset Bay, which is somewhat off to the left from here and thoroughly obscured by trees with lots of branches.
But by watching for black and white flutters among them, I could tell when the next bunch of pelicans were coming in. Yes, bunches, they usually come in threes, but a single or a double often comes flying in. Sometimes even more. And I follow them in via my viewfinder and click when it seems appropriate.
I noticed that where I'd backed up to from the slant lot centered on the pier, nearly gave me a clear shot to the pelicans coming back, though my view of them on the snags was entirely blocked. I stayed in The Slider, because it was vicious cold outside, but I'd set a fairly high semi-auto iso @ up to 3200, which I thought I needed in the foggy dark, and I'm glad I did, because I ended up significantly enlarging the pelicans coming in.
Years ago I bought a Photoshop filter called Dfine that was then sold to another company, then given away for free, and for another while disappeared altogether, then stuck off somewhere else, but my older version that I bought those many years ago still works on my elderly iMac, which I still use for all Bird Journal entries, because I rely upon that filter. And it doesn't work on newer Macs.
What it does is takes the visual noise out of photographs while leaving most of the details. In film, we used to call it grain. But digital images don't have grain; they have noise, though they both work pretty much the same, except it's easier to filter it out of digital files.
Not that I'd planned to photograph pelicans landing, even though pelicans incoming almost always thrills photographers (including me). It was the only action I could see to photograph, and I — like the rest of us lake photogs — love the excitement of pelicans coming in for landings, since nearly every one of them does it differently.
Pelicans are elegant and inelegant. Amazing and goofy. Etc. As you can see here.
These two shots were pretty close, and I love that first cormorant on the left's dark near-silhouette against the just touched-down pelican wing, showing just a little bit of off-black texture, so we know it's real.
I shot from 3:32 PM till 4:22, and these are the best of those shots. The first pelican down is still showing elegant form. The other one, now on the right, has sloppily crashed into a crowd of pelicans.
By far the majority of these images were cropped down to just the pelican or pelicans coming in for landings. I've been looking at this picture for too long, and I think that third pelican from the left's beak is jammed into the breast of the tallest pelican. Pelicans often get riled when another pelican bumps into them or tries to move them off a favored spot, but I think these birds were just too cold to bother.
When I had chimped the LCD to see the first couple shots in this endeavor, I noticed a couple really wild looking wing, body and feet forms, so I thought I ought to keep shooting to see what other landing forms I could capture. I did creep The Slider north a few feet to get out from having tree branches obscure the tops of photos — so I drove down the wrong side of the road, so I could photograph out the driver's window.
More contemporary — or more expensive — cameras shoot faster, and other people with my same camera turn up the shot-to-shot click speed, so they can get more intervening shots. I set mine on slow, so I don't have to go through hundreds or thousands of shots. Been there; done that — it's just boring. In general, I leave it to happenstance.
Every shot in today's journal involved a single application of finger to shutter button.
Then I chose from those. These last two shots are probably the same bird from differing angles. I stayed in my warm little car while wearing my favorite dark gray jacket that I got for $7 from the big thrift store on Garland Road for part of a Halloween costume as Mr. Gray, which no one ever figured out, but it's a great coat.
The pelican was moving pretty fast.
I mostly used the single-point focus method which forces me to keep the dot in the middle of the viewfinder on the bird till the camera realizes that's what I'm aiming at. Neither readers nor photog can tell where that was, because almost all of today's shots are seriously cropped. I suspect this one was focused on the gull aloft.
After the dot has been on the right bird a few milliseconds, the camera knows where to follow the focus. But as you can see, sometimes I get the cam to focus on something other than the most important being. Here, I seem to get every bird in the frame in better focus than the pelican.
Oh well. As it says in a hand-scrawled page on my dining room wall, “Perfection Is Unlikely.”
I didn't really have a specific plan, so I clicked this grouping of American White Pelicans soon as I saw it while following the pelk flying. Three pelicans in close apparent proximity? Click. Now, days later, I see the pelk on the right seems noticeably different from the other two. Smaller, sharper, thinner beak. Black on wing showing. A juvenile?
This is probably closer to the actual lighting of the bay today. I brightened some of today's pictures, because they looked better that way, but this one looks better dark, with that bright white pelican flying through. The dark log full of out of focus birds lends depth to the lone pelican flying by.
But showing pelicans as their bright white selves — with some semblance of gray lines in the betweens — seems more natural. Most people with cameras (cell phones, etc.) are happy when pelicans, which are all sorts of shades of white and black and oranges, show as black and white with orange beaks and feet. I prefer as much feather texture as possible without getting crazy.
We can tell that the pelicans in this photo are the same as the pelicans in the next photo down. If the other side of the lake showed in the rest of these pictures before I adjusted them, they all would have been leaning to the far left — especially if I hadn't spent oodles of time straightening every one of them out. A tripod would have helped, but I thought I didn't need one, because I had the cam very near to resting on the driver-side window. I suspect I naturally lean left.
It's the pelk on the left in this shot and near the bottom right in the photo above that gives it away.
Birds & Horses & People
— North of Mockingbird
Posted Early February 6.
As perhaps way too often here, these photographs, taken over two days are in strict chronological order. The first day I just wandered over there and took some pix, figuring I could do it well enough without paying much attention — on my Micro Four-Thirds (small sensor) Panasonic camera. That night, I paid much more attention, and decided I could do better, so I came back a couple days later — with my big Nikon — with its much larger viewfinder — and a tripod..
I saw a lot of fisher-persons and way more birds, but this person was the most colorful. She seems to have made friends with the birds, who were otherwise plenty skittish. When I moved, they fretted and flew. When she moved, they kept doing what they'd been doing.
Nearby were stables, which I'd photographed years before, but I like to think I've become a better photographer since then, and this day, I was utterly fascinated with all those variously illuminated grids and shadows … This is the first example of those "other things" I've been hankering to photograph. Nice of these to be right around (just north of) White Rock Lake.
… And horses.
Especially this photo.
I thought I'd know for sure where yesterday's images ended and the next day's began, but I thoroughly confused them. First day, I took way too many pix of way too many birds together, so I promised myself when I went back, I'd pay more attention to focus, and follow singular birds when I could.
Now that I've had time with these images, I can tell by the day's contrast this is the first of the second day's shots. Low to no contrast early on, and the colors were hiding from me. Although I got some real sunshine later.
Like this. Actual sunshine creates actual bright spots and actual shadows.
I'm thinking my next side-trip should be to downtown. There's plenty of ordinary birds there, and all kinds of other visual possibilities. But first I'll try the lake a couple more times.
Not every bird in every bunch has to be sharp. I didn't notice all the lures hanging on every branch when I shot this, but when I was sorting through the several hundreds of shots, I realized all the spots of brighter color in this white, brown and gray landscape. I hate that fisher-persons leave their lures and bobbers and such in the trees, because inquisitive birds too often get caught up in them, which often leads to injury and death.
Notice how friendly these Muscovies are. I know this is the second day, because she's in a new outfit. And I really liked her polka-dotty red hat [above].
I was never much for riding horses, except one time in, I think, Wyoming when we rode and rode and rode during an early family reunion, or some such gathering of clan. But I've always enjoyed horses from afar.
All the other colorful birds were just too far away.
Muscovy Ducks Released Last Month —
Pix Saved Till February 4, 2018
Their caravan arrived quickly, and they took the Muscovy ducks out of their cages and threw them into the water, whereupon the Muscovies looked like they'd found heaven or The Promised Water. They immediately began splashing and playing. They knew what water was for and all about, and — I suspect — they hadn't adequate access to the stuff in too long a time.
The reason I saved these pix from when I photographed them, was to give the emancipated birds time to settle in or move off somewhere else. Because they tend to trust humans — even the humans who sometimes chase after, rope them, then throw these trusting birds in into the back of a big truck, then sell them to others who butcher and sell them to grocery stores like Central Markets who sell them for meat.
Something I'd like to avoid in the lives of friendly Muscovies.
Signs around the lake prohibit poaching, but poaching happens often — especially to Muscovies and gooses., and nobody really seems interested-enough in stopping the poachers. These Muscovies were, however, the skinniest Muscovies I've seen.
So the Christians who delivered them to the lake in wire cages must have been feeding them for their health, not trying to fatten them up. People at the lake, however, since all they're interested in is feeding the ducks, will way over-feed them, so sooner, rather than later, the poachers will get them. I suspect it will be inevitable.
I was busy photographing the just-released birds, but Anna spoke with the people in white who delivered them.
It also seemed that these ducks had not been in lake, pond or stream water in too long a time. But boy! were they ever happy splashing in lake water that day. They seemed joyous.
This Muscovy seemed older and more mature. It swam in the water, and did not try to get up out of it quickly. I suspect it'd been a while since it had swum in water deeper than a few inches.
Except as noted, all text and photographs Copyright 2018 & before by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission from and payment to J R Compton. I am an amateur. I've only been birding since June 2006, and the best of that is documented in this ongoing Journal, all the pages of which continue online — see the links at top and bottom of every Bird Journal page. I've been photographing professionally, yet always amateurishly since 1964 = 54 years now. My photos have been in more than 100 exhibitions and 50 publications including Life Magazine. Now, I just take the pix I want to and show most of them here.