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 The current Amateur Birder's Journal is always here.

The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton
All Photographs Copyright 2014 and earlier by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

GBH in the water with Feathers Awry and Neck Thick - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Blue Heron in the Water with Feathers Awry, Neck Thick and Crown and Brow up   Late June 2014

I no longer keep a fully-detailed index of all twelve years of my Amateur Birder's Journals, but I update the actual Birder's Journal often. I used to promise three times a week, but it's getting closer to twice a week now that I'm retired from whatever else I used to do.

The most recent page of my Amateur Birder's Journal is always at www.jrcompton.com/photos/The_Birds/J/ Ya'll come visit, ya'hear.

Some of my favorite-ever pictures are on this page, but I'm always much more excited about the latest pages on the latest Amateur Birder's Journal.

All words and images © 2006~2018 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in any form.
Get permission to use any of my fully-copyrighted images in your project.

If you are looking for a specific bird, place, or whatever, do a Google Site Search of all
my web pages, but remember, many are about art, family and other stuff, not just birds.

This page was updated and rewritten in July & August 2013.

This site is all about an often-updated Journal of bird photographs and stories from wherever I happen to be — usually that's White Rock Lake wholly inside the City Limits of Dallas, Texas, USA, but it could be almost anywhere in North America. New pages are added every month since June 2006. New pictures are added every couple of days, sometimes every day, rarely even more often than that.



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

Mock Egret Battle I call "Aerial Dancing"  from November 2013

OTHER PAGES:  green square  Books and Links  green square  Cameras & Lenses Used  green square  Feedback  green square  Map of White Rock Lake  green square  Feedback
green square  Birding Galveston  green square  2nd Birds of the Lower Rio Grande Valley   & the 1st  green square  red diamond  Bird Rescue Advice  blue dot  My Bird Photo Ethics 
blue dot  My D800e Journal  blue dot  G5 Journal   Feedback   Why?    Do Not Use My Photographs Without Permission & Payment.

BELOW ON THIS PAGE:  Species-specific Bird Pages   White Rock Lake   Beyond White Rock  Other Info   Other Birds    Cameras & Lenses Used   Procedure     Then there's The Index of links to the more interesting stories in Amateur Birder's Journals from June 2006 to March 2008 and the much-less linked Journal pages from then till August 2009, when I quit doing those. Then the links to the monthly journals till I quit doing those in January 2012.

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

Airstream Jetstream  American White Pelican Mid-flight Defueling - February 2013

The Species- & Behaviour-specific Bird Pages

Bald Eagle at White Rock Lake January 27, 2009 - The first time anyone's seen a Bald Eagle at White Rock Lake in years — and maybe the only time one's ever been photographed at White Rock, if only for 14 seconds.

Bird Display, Behavior & Courtship

Duck Love

Egrets - Great, Snowy and Cattle Egrets illustrated with photographs of their Socialization, Fishing, Flying, Courtship & Mating behaviors

Herons - Great Blue, Little Blue, Green, Black-crowned Night and Yellow-crowned Night Herons, with photographs of their specific fishing methods, fights over mating and their young at different stages of development.

Egrets vs. Herons - Full descriptions and photographs of each species, discussion of the confusions, showing and telling how to tell apart the species in Texas..

Several Strange Things Pelicans Do with Their Beaks begins what eventually become a suite of pages about the American White Pelicans that visit White Rock Lake every year between September and April.

When birds move every feather they've got, it's a rouse, and here's my growing page of birds rousing.

Short Flight of a Red-tailed Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Short Flight of a Red-tailed Hawk   November 23 2011

Beyond White Rock Lake

Up the Creek with a Paddle - me paddling up White Rock Creek from White Rock Lake led to this journal. I didn't have a camera then, but this page is illustrated with photos from that area.

Birds of New Mexico & Arizona - our trip to the Grand Canyon and back and birds along the way

Texas' Rio Grande Valley - visiting family and birds in the rich country along the border — summer 2005

Birds of The Rio Grande - II has more than a hundred large photos & dozens of stories about the birds of Texas' Lower Rio Grande Valley — winter 2007. We were better birders and I had a much better camera.

Our trip to Colorado for my family reunion is documented in the August journal page. We go other, closer places from time to time, but most of those are just folded into the current journal.

Our mini vacation among the birds along the South Texas Gulf Coast is scattered through the May 2009 Bird Journal.

White Ibis Flying - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

White Ibis Flying Over the Trinity River Audubon Center - August 30 2009

J R's Amateur Birders Journal

I walk and photograph birds at White Rock Lake at least three days almost every week. Sometimes weekends, but I don't like that many people at my lake. This journal is an obsession I ratchet back sometimes, so I have time and energy for life and family and my other obsessions, but I always come back to the birds. — J R Compton

Annotated Map of White Rock Lake telling where I've seen and photographed which birds at White Rock Lake inside Dallas, Texas, USA

The following links link directly to monthly journal pages from back when I had hours and hours to index everything. Not no more.
Many of those month's Birds of Interest are listed and linked below.

JOURNAL: This month.

It's just too tedious to link every page. If you are looking for a specific bird or place, do a this-site-specific Google Search of all my web pages.

2012: January  - The Empty Emory Eagle Fest
2011: January  February March April May June July August September October  November  December
2010: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2009: January
   February   March  April   May   June   July   August  September  October  November  December
2008: January  February  March  April  May  June   July  August  September   October  November  December
2007:  Jan  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  Sept  Oct  Nov  Dec
2006:   June  July  August  September  October  November  December


Changing Partners - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egrets July 7 2009

Monthly Journals

The current Journal page is always here.

August 2009

30 Again: White Ibises in the tree tops and flying magnificently at the Trinity Audubon Center
30: Canada Goose in a plastic pool; Light Morph Swainson's Hawk; peacock; juvenile Night-Herons; Black Vulture up close; Anhingas; American White Pelicans; Little Blue Heron; Barred Owl; arthritic Great Blue Heron and nest at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation
29: Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Black-necked Stilts, Killdeer, Green Heron, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Glossy Ibis, Little Blue Heron, Least Sandpipers, Barn Swallows, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Grackle, Red-winged Blackbirds; juvenile Northern Mockingbird; and Cooper's Hawk at the Village Creek Drying Beds
27: Great Blue Heron and Snowy Egret at White Rock Lake
26: Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Juvenile and Adult Tricolored Herons; Moorhen and chicks; Great Egrets; Rail on South Padre Island
24: Great and Snowy Egrets
19: an overheated Great Blue Heron with its tongue out
18: Great Blue Heron, grackles, ducks and sparrows
17: Little Blue Heron in detail
14: Wood Duck and Mallards; Green Heron; Monk Parakeets at White Rock Lake
10: Roseate Spoonbills; Black Duck at Laughing Gulls at South Padre Island
13: Great, Snowy Egrets and a dark Pigeon
12: Adult and Juvenile Laughing Gulls; Ruddy Turnstone; Willet; Sanderlings at South Padre Island
4: Green Heron; Wood Ducks; Black-crowned Night-Herons; Barn Swallows; Monk Parakeets
2: Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron at White Rock Lake
1: Juvenile Great Egret at the Medical Center Rookery

Osprey Airborne - Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

First Bald Eagle Photographed at White Rock Lake in a long time - See the quick-loading Bald Eagle page
or visit it on the larger January 2009 journal. Several people saw it. I was the only to photo it.  

July 2009

31: Little Blue Heron hunting — in great detail
29: Yellow-crowned Night Heron hunting; Dallas-hatched Tricolored Heron juvenile; Wood Ducks, Cliff Swallows, egrets and a dead Raccoon
24: Neotropic Cormorants
24: Great Blue Heron fishing; Great Egret, cormorant and coot
22: Adult and juvenile Egrets and Tricolored Heron chick at the Rookery
18: Tricolored Heron chicks and parents; White Ibis chicks and parent; Black-crowned Night-Heron chick and adult; Great Egrets on nests; and a robin at the Rookery
18: Mallard, Moorhen, Little Blue Heron changing from white to Blue, flying; Green Heron, juvenile grackle; Western Kingbird with a bug; Snowy Egret; Little Blue feeding; Lesser Yellowlegs; Solitary Sandpiper; Killdeer flock flying at the Village Creek Drying Beds
16: Snowy Egret hunting, dancing and catching fish; Wood Ducks in Summer Eclipse; and Little Blue Herons (two of them) flying around the lagoon
14: Little Blue Heron flying, fishing and catching and eating fish
12: Great Blue Heron, Snowy and Great Egrets, Black-crowned Night-Herons fishing, fighting and flying around the Lower Steps at the Spillway full of construction
10: Yellow-crowned Night-Heron; Great Blue Heron with an errant feather; Black-crowned Night-Heron; Great Egret; Wood Duck Harem; pigeon; Monk Parakeet; Eastern Kingbird up close; Western Kingbird pair and nest; Northern Mockingbird adult and juvenile; Purple Martins; and female Red-winged Blackbirds
9: gooses; egg, Black-crowned Night-Heron in the dark
8: Obituary for Stumpy the Goose, who was fatally injured in a dog or coyote attack also killing 9 other gooses in Sunset Bay; the gooses then moved to the lake behind The Bath House Cultural Center
8: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with Western Kingbird; juvenile robin; Monk Parakeets in flight; Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron; Snowy Egret; Least Tern; and Northern Mockingbird
7: Egrets "dancing" on the logs in Sunset Bay during a rich, red sunset; Snowy Egret; Black-crowned Night-Heron flyover
6: Juvenile Tricolored Herons fighting and playing; Laughing Gull chicks; Black Skimmer parents and chicks by Fain Zimmerman near Rockport, Texas on the Gulf Coast
5: House Sparrows taking dust baths; Purple Martins at a Martin House; Great Egret; female Mallard at White Rock Lake
2: White Ibis with two and three dark baby Ibises at the Medical Center Rookery
2: American White Pelicans, Turkeys and a Helmeted Guineafowl; Blue Jay; Peahen and Peacock; Chaolos and Anna's baby Anhingas; a Cattle Egret; baby Cowbird; Dove with two baby Purple Martins; Bud, the squawking baby egret; a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron up close; Eastern Screech Owls; and a female American Kestrel at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation

Martins in Coming Storm - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Martin House Moments Before the Storm - June 10 2009

June 2009

23: Western Kingbird vs. buzzing bug (the bug wins), Monk Parakeet, baby killdeer
27: Jason's report on the rookery heat,
25: Great Blue Heron and Green Heron in Sunset Bay
23: Great Egret by new boathouse
22: Juvenile Mockingbird, martins, martins, martins; Scissor-tail Flycatcher catching big bugs
21: Baby Anhingas, Baby Great Egret, flying White Ibis, scraggly blue Egret rescued
19: Wood Duck and Mallard pairs in eclipse plumage
18: Baby Little Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night-Herons, Cattle Egrets and Blue Jays in the rookery
17: Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, close up, duck eclipse plumage, Great Blue Heron
15: Cliff Swallows' homes and babies
14: Baby Little Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-Herons, flooded boat house, Barn Swallow that's lost its nest and nestlings, wingless sparrow jump, budding young families of ducks, and everything underwater
10: Purple Martin frenzy before the storm and ducks during it
9: Baby Killdeers and Mourning Doves
5: Jason Hogle's pictures of baby Killdeer just out of the nest
7: Medical Center Rookery with White Ibis, Black-crowned Night-Heron
7: Drying Beds: Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Cattle Egrets, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Red-tailed Hawk chasing a Red-winged Blackbird and visa versa; Juvenile Little Blue Heron changing from white to blue; and Black-necked Stilts, their nest and eggs
6: Canada Goose family on urban lawn
5: 3 nestling Killdeer and one still in the just-opened egg, juvenile Cooper's Hawk, scissor-tails chasing and catching bugs, Cliff Swallows and their nests
4: young mockingbird learning how to flash its wings; House Sparrow with a beak full of bugs; Diamondback water snake caught in chain-link fence
2: Killdeer employing "broken wing display"  and unhatched eggs in open nest; Red-winged Blackbirds showing off their red, sometimes in unusual manners; chiaroscuro gooses, a handsome Blue Jay, adult male Northern Red-bellied Woodpecker


January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008

September 2008

30: Avocets flying around in big circles
American White Pelicans since September 8
26: Pelican beak stretch
24: Red-tailed Hawk and an American Kestrel within about 50 feet of each other
23: Crows chasing a hawk
22: Why the Stupid Damned City of Dallas is wasting millions of dollars covering The Spillway in concrete, so now they're going to drain the lake and kill lots of birds and fish and life on the lake for the next two years.
17: Great Blue Heron catches a big fish
12: Pelicans liven up the bay
11: Belted Kingfisher up close, for a change
 5: Great Blue Herons and egrets

Raven on a Hill - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Raven on a Hill  - Somewhere in New Mexico

August 2008

28: Remarkably close-up photos of a Red-tailed Hawk hunting along the path around Winfrey Point, with fabulous lighting.
27: Confusing array of hybrid ducks, each one illustrated. Possibly Muscovy Duck cousins.
26: Parakeets, hidden and strange birds, ducks, a Northern Mockingbird that looked like anything but and detail shots of a First Summer Green Heron in Sunset Bay.
22: Redwing Blackbird chewing something largish; Robins?; other LBBs (unknown Little Brown Birds); and a House Sparrow on a red light.
21: wild domestic duck taking a bath and the Sunset Bay Great Blue Heron in some detail.
19: Inelegant Great Egret taking off; and a much more elegant Great Egret on a pier; grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds deep in the reeds.
18: A very wet and hungry male Cardinal and a very wet juvenile grackle even closer
17: Muscovies
11: Estes Park, Colorado: a Bird-Banding Lecture with live, just-netted samples, including: Wilsons Warblers, Pygmy Nuthatch, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Black-chinned Hummingbird and a House Wren — all birds in hands.
11: Rocky Mountain National Park: Clark's Nutcracker
10: Estes Park, Colorado: Steller's Jay, pair of Chipping Sparrows, details of Black-billed Magpie and four crows at the top of a tall tree doing strange, I don't know what, things.
9: Nederland, Colorado: Rufous Hummingbirds very close and seemingly tame but wild
8: Nederland: Very Close-ups of Hummingbirds: Broad-tailed, Black-chinned, Rufous, Ruby-throated, and Kit Carson, Colorado: a Common Grackle (not at all common in Dallas) and a stuffed and fraying hawk.
7: Clarendon, Texas: a cornucopia of new and old to us species, Mourning Dove; Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk; Lark Sparrow, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher; and a really fierce-looking Great Horned Owl at a great distance; and several photos of a Mississippi Kite in and outside of town.
6: Dallas, Texas, USA: lots of photos in some detail of a Little Blue Heron in Sunset Bay
5: Mrs Wood Duck and her seven little Wood Ducklings
From Three Months Ago: (but never shown before) the photographer doesn't even see a Great Blue Heron standing there minding its own business and the photog takes picture after picture of an Egret escaping down Hidden Creek.
2: Mallards in their late-summer browns, released domestic gooses doing their things, and Great-tailed Grackles in the setting sun.
1: Great-tailed Grackle strutting and zooming in and in on a Great Blue Heron

Mock Fight 09 - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mockingbird Battle - July 18 2008

July 2008

31: House Sparrows taking dust baths and Killdeer running along shore
30: Mockingbird close-ups
29: Great Blue Heron searches for food and does a major ruffle; killdeer run and fly
25: Great Egret on the end of a pier, running, jumping and scratching its head; green heron blurs and juvenile grackles running and twisting
24: Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron around the Spillway's lower stairs; gobs of Purple Martins; and Mom Wood Duck teaches her newish Ducklings How to Climb the Stairs
23: Great Egrets landing and flying away
18: Mockingbird Battle — two Northern Mockingbirds go at it, whatever it might be.
16: We visit San Antonio, Texas, find many of the usual Texas birds from a higher perch, then discover an island rookery full of egrets and especially Juvenile Cattle Egrets we first thought were Little Blues
13: The Lonely Swan
11: Snowy Egret in the Jungle, a Turkey Vulture, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and a dragonfly
 9: Egrets in the dark and Great Crested Flycatcher
 8: Bird Blurreds - Barn Swallows flying faster than light
 7: Mockingbirds Hopping and standing Off and Staring
 6: Purple Martins take over the world; Baby Grackle Food Delivery Systems; and a Great Blue Heron going fishing
 3: Anna visits Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and gets pix of sick critters, some of whom are really cute, like the baby Red-shouldered Hawk, a huddled pair of baby Barn Owls, and some White Pelicans.
 3: J R photographs a Great Egret with a little fish; Yellow-crowned Night Herons blurring across the forest; a nearly adult House Sparrow; and a very colorful Boom-boom Muscovy Duck

June 2008

30: Killdeer up close, juvenile Grackle and a retreating Killdeer
29: Green Heron in some detail; a Snowy Egret and an unidentified LBB
26: My first Green Heron of the Season, mostly in silhouette; three parakeets and a band of egrets flying over
25: Egrets, gooses, ducks and clouds
20: artsy bird, Barn Swallow flying with remarkable detail, killdeer flying and Mallards in white and brown summer garb,  a Wood Duck, Black-crowned Night Heron, grackle, Great Blue Heron, more Barn Swallows, an artsy egret, Eastern Kingbird and a drippy dunker
19: blue-mouthed cormorant snagged in fishing line; the Sunset Bay Great Blue Heron; a Mallard family; and a solo Coot
17: teenaged and adult House Sparrows; two teen Wood Ducks and an adult male; LBB on a fence; doves and pigeons
13: too-cute-for-comfort baby Screech Owls; a Sickly Red-tailed Hawk and several varieties of floating Turkeys at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
12: Flying Birds: grackles, Barn Swallow; juvenile grackles play in the water and Mom & Kid Wood Duck swim
11: Playing and fishing on the Spillway: Great Egrets, Black-crowned Night Herons; and Little Blue Herons
 8: Exotic Bird Fair with red, green, yellow, blue, brown and gray birds, some very young with barely feathers and big beaks — sad
 5: Panning a Great Blue Heron; an egret in the Lagoon gets blown over by a sudden gust of wind, then flies away; preening very close of grackles; and Barn Swallows racing
 3: American Kestrel in a cage; turkeys; peacocks, and young herons at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation

BS Everything Out - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Barn Swallow Stretches Pretty Much Everything - May 22 2008

May 2008

31: Mockingbird flying artily and other birds in the setting sun
30: Great Egret stretch; Black-crowned Night Heron flies; Snowy Egret swoops; Great Egret climbs; juvenile heron descends; and a cattle egret catches writhing food
29: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at rest momentarily; pigeons kissing [and more] on the high wire
28: Black-crowned Night Heron landing and taking off in great detail
27: big clouds, Killdeer, House Finches close and low-flying crows
26: Great-tailed Grackle flying with tail held vertically
25: young goose paralleling parent goose; releasing another pet goose
23: Releasing more gooses
21: Barn Swallow actions on a high wire in great detail
20: Great Blue Heron catching a snake and puffing up
15: Mr. Fluffy vs. The Universe
15: Great & Snowy egrets fish, fly and wait and run off the competition; Black-crowned Night Heron flying close; Brown-headed Cowbird; and a Great Blue Heron flying remarkably close
14: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher trying to catch a fly and catching some; Red-wings Blackbirds of both sexes; and chasing
14: from the Rookery: Great Egret, fluffed-out Snowy Egret in Nest; Great Egret, Little Blue
15: tribute to KeKe, whom we saw at the Dallas Zoo April 16
11: Northern Shoveler preening in detail; Wood Ducks, Black-crowned Night Heron flying over close
 9: Snowy Egret escaping; marauding torpedo gooses; female Mallard tries to escape; gorgeous close-up of another female duck; several photos close-up on brilliant feathers
 8: so-called European Starlings fighting in the grass
 7: Red-winged Blackbirds chasing Black Vultures over the Hidden Creek area
 6: First-summer variation Red-winged Blackbird and some spooky-looking grackles flying
   : dancing Great Blue Heron; fluffy white and brown and yellow
 3: At The Rookery: Little Blue Herons and in nests, fluffed up and feathered down; my first-ever Tricolored Heron; Anhingas, Cattle Egrets normal and fluffed up; breeding Great Egret with bright red tail feathers;
 2: Eastern Kingbirds in the meadow
 1: Red-winged Blackbirds, turtles, bunny and duckies; then a baby grackle Anna shot at Rogers

Great Blue Heron Flight - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron Flight - October 11 2009

April 2008

30: Mockingbird chick by itself and interacting with parental unit
Zoo Pictures: Andean Condor, African Penguin, Superb Starling, California Quail, Vulturine Guineafowl, Lilac-breasted Roller, African Pygmy Falcon, Blue-naped Mousebird, pink-eyed pigeons, Guinea-fowl and vivid Flamingoes
28: female and male Red-winged Blackbirds fuss and flounder and fly; egrets, turtles and Barn Swallows
27: Female Cardinal quite close; American Goldfinch?; Franklin Gull
Zoo: Black Vulture, African Penguin, multicolor zoo unsub, California Quail, Vulturine Guineafowl, Lilac-breasted Roller, African Pygmy Falcon, Blue-napped Mousebird, Guinea-fowl, Flamingoes, and
Rogers Rehabilitation: Black Vulture, Crested Caracara, Eastern Screech Owl, Barn Owls, Harris Hawk, Barred Owl, Anhinga, chorus line of little herons, Néné (Hawaiian Goose), cormorant, dove, peacock and pigeons
25: tiny baby Great Blue Heron and adults
24: Egrets Flying Fast and close and same with a Spotted Sandpiper
23: Grackles flying in several positions; Scissor-tailed Flycatcher; Brown-headed Cowbirds of both sexes; and peeps
22: Scissor-tailed Flycatchers up, down and flying all around; Redwinged Blackbirds; mallard ducklings and mother
Last Week at the Zoo: King Vulture, Brown Pelican and Flamingoes
19: European Starling
18: Blue Jay, Baltimore Oriole, Spotted Sandpipers and a Cormorant
17: Mrs. Wood Duck and her 8 Wood Ducklings and a Great Egret
More Zoo: Hooded Merganser, Bald Eagle, Harpy Eagle, pair of Rhinoceros Hornbills, Grackle Mating Dance and African Penguin, Black Crake, Red-and-Yellow Barbet,
15: Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in a tree
11: Monk Parakeets build their homes one stick at a time; and Barn Swallows Flying High and Fast; Grebe, starling, Eastern Kingbird;
10: Ducks: albino Morph or molt or just some soft white feathers; Northern Shoveler; Rudy Duck
 8: Egret, Red-wings, Doves, Mockingbird, female redwing
 7: Grackles Fighting and fuzzy little duckies being released
 4: Fort Worth egrets and starlings
 3: Black and White Muscovies in the surf; dead muscovy foot, dead chicken head, some nests, Grackle doing the bill-up Display
 2: Red-winged Blackbird yapping; black-footed dead chicken
 1: Mute Swan in Aggression Pose
Not April 1: Very close-up Turkey Vulture Flyover; House Sparrow; Grackle; Goose, Cowbirds; Red-winged Blackbird grackles; Muscovy Duck

Single-winged Cormorant - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission. x

Single-winged Cormorant Drying Its Only Good Wing

March 2008

Muscovies flying out to do it and a log full of cormorants in the fog
Formidable Pelicans and one Barn Swallow fleeting past a log full of cormorants
Pelicans flying and Muscovy Ducks just sitting there
Ring-nosed Gulls and Red-winged Blackbird
Cormorant catching fish
Cardinal, Cedar Waxwings and Coots Running on Water
Mockingbird, Black Vultures, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Butterbutt, Brown Thrasher and Bluegray Gnatcatcher in Sunset Forest
Pelicans fishing
Cedar Waxwings in my front yard
American White Pelican beak exercise
Mockingbird fight,
Great Kiskadee, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, gorgeous Harris Hawk, Mrs. Cardinal, Green Jay, Brown Thrasher, Black-necked Stilts standing, flying and landing and Great Blue Heron pair cavorting in the air on what may be our last trip to the Rio Grande Valley

February 2008

Black Vultures cavorting
Pelicans beaking 
Keets Ahoy
Killdeer extravaganza
Mr. & Mrs. Kestrel 
Least Sandpiper 
Spooked pelicans amok
Red-tailed Hawk 
Hissing Goose 
Mrs. Kestrel 
Mrs. Bufflehead 
Crooning gull
More commando pelicans  Coots chasing coots   Pie-billed Grebe 
Pigeons courting and mating
Commando pelicans flying, landing and fighting off cormorants
Fan Tail Egret and other breeding egrets at the rookery
Pick it up and drop it and pick it up and drop it Ringed-beak Gull game
Downy Woodpecker very up close
My first Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers
American White Pelican taking a sunny cold bath
Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron flying down and around
one female scaup finally shows up only to leave by the next day
Blue-eyed Juvenile Cormorant swimming by

Chachalaca Face Off - copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without written permission.

Plain Chachalaca Dance at Betsen-Rio Grande Valley State
Park in Mission, Texas, USA - December 26, 2007

January 2008   Links Fixed

Egrets flying and fighting and other courting and/or fishing behaviors
High-wire American Kestrel blown by the wind
Gooses behaving oddly; it must be spring.
Great Blue Heron rising, Red-winged Blackbirds migrating and Turkey Vultures low over the dump
Gull with sinker, line and hook caught in its bill
Great Egrets engaging in competitive behaviors near early spring — with either courting or fishing in mind, more courting/fishing
As the Crows Fly.
The Great Six-pak Duck Rescue and more recent Six-pack sightings
Gulls, young and old
Aggressive Coots
Gooses eating off each other 
Bufflehead Ducks taking off
Cormorants, gulls and pelicans' Fishing Party
Spectacular photographs of American White Pelicans descending and landing
"Six-Pack Duck" trapped in the plastic from a six-pack
Ruddy and Bufflehead Ducks

December 2007

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Herons in the sun
Black-crowned Night-Herons in the dark
Little Eagle or Northern Mockingbird?
Eastern Downy Woodpecker tracked down momentarily holding still
Magnificent American White Pelicans gyring up into the sky
Cold cormorants and pelicans
Juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons
Cormorants either drying their wings or killing parasites with sunlight
Ring-billed Gulls
Pelicans Fly At Night, so do ducks. Gooses swim and pelicans do too.
Cormorants, and gulls polkadotting the Spillway.
Killdeer, cormorants, scaups, pelicans and the season's first Buffleheads.

November 2007

Pelican Puddle, Gorgeous Grackle and goofy pigeons
Red-tailed Hawk close-up (photo by Anna Palmer)
Black-crowned Night-Heron flying up the lagoon
Eastern Phoebe hunting
More beautiful American White Pelicans
Splashy American Coot bath and one Running on Water
American Kestrel in tree and flying away
Portraits of a Muscovy Duck
Unidentified red hawk and Ring-beaked Gulls
American White Pelicans flying high
Coots running on water, Great Blue Heron and some Monk Parakeets flying near
An illustrated survey of Pelican Beak Actions
Red-tailed Hawk close and in detail
Crows vs. Hawks in the distance
Gray Morph Eastern Screech Owl up close
Big cuddly soft American White Pelicans doing stuff
Fishing party with Ring-beak Gulls, cormorants and plenty pelicans
Variety Pack of Black & light black cormorants, Northern Pintails, Coots, Scaups and Pelicans Bathing
Crows going away
A visit to Lake Tawakoni - Forster's Tern closer, Killdeer, Bluebird
One hawk, two pelicans and a Kingfisher
Sturdy turtles, Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets fishing and an etched grackle beak.
Great Blue Heron landing, pelican beak stretch and a Black-crowned Night Heron sticking out its tongue.
Cormorants, Corm Frost, Parallel pelk beaks and a gull vs coot
Low flying pelicans, pelk beaks, coot feet and lake reconstruction

Eeg Down - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Catching a Big Fish - September 18 2007

October 2007

Indecisive Sandpipers
Forster's Tern and Not A Gadwall
Cormorant Fishing Party
Pelican Beak Stories
Twice-tagged Pelican with a little tongue
Coot Running on Water
Northern Flicker
Great Blue Heron standing, flying and looking fabulous
Western Light Juvenile Red-winged Hawk flyover
Dallas Mockingbird
Cattle Egret in Non-breeding Plumage
Higher Flying Pelicans
Two Cormorants Flying
Ring-billed Gull and some pelicans looking gorgeously funky
Pelicans Sleeping with eyes open and lids shut
Belted Kingfisher swooping up
Pelicans Closer Up
Goofy Friday - pelicans doing strange and being strange
Our Annual Birds at the State Fair story with many different birds not from around here — Maribou Storks, eagle, albino hawk, colorful parrots, plastic lizard thrasher, ostriches and emus
Downy Woodpecker over, sideways, up and down
Scissor-tails in the top of tree
Great Blue Heron looking Impressionistic and pix of a juvenile Great Blue Heron fishing
Egrets Flying
Gooses and Coots
Coot escape melee
Birds sculpture in Frisco, Texas


September 2007 (Back online after getting lost in the April re-shuffle of this site. Sorry.)

Pelicans fishing in the dark
Least Sandpiper, egrets and great flying grackles
Two American White Pelicans fishing in bright sunlight
Beautiful flying egrets, a blurry Great Blue Heron and Black-necked Stilts
Gooses, pigeons, ducks and ducks
This season's first shots of Pelicans Flying
Elastic faced American White Pelican stretching its big beak out, up and around
A Great Egret acting like a Kingfisher, flying fast down to the surface, splashing down and coming up with a big fish.
Green Herons again
Great-tailed Grackles
A lesson in Muscovy Ducks
Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Ruffle showing its red head
Scissor-tailed Flycatchers on a wire
Great Blue Heron flying flat-out
Rare Juvenile Little Blue Heron fishing
Oodles of Egrets flying and fishing
The Noble Crow
A Panic of Gooses - running on the water and even flying
Intermediate Swainson's Hawk
a bunch of fine photographs of a Green Heron hunting
Two Muscovy Ducks
Long, thin Little Blue Heron hunting
Ducks and Terns and Egrets
Egret with its head stretched way below its feet
Great Blue Heron flying away
Muscovy Hens

August 2007

Little Blue Herons around the Spillway Steps
Juvenile and adult Black-crowned Night Herons in various actions
Double-crested Cormorants over Sunset
A blurry Red-shouldered Hawk
More and more Belted Kingfishers flying
Egrets at low ISO, a Solitary Sandpiper (?) and a Belted Kingfisher in action
Indigo Bunting, Little Blue Herons, Anhingas and Turkey Vultures at the Heard Natural Science Museum grounds
Forster's Terns way out in Sunset Bay
The great Green Heron patience test
Great Blue flying, Wood Duck ducking and a Barn Swallow pair resting
Snowy Egret flying by close and an elegant Heron landing
Fierce Great Egret behind the Bath House
One Great Blue Heron fishing the Lagoon
Egrets chasing and biting and a Great Blue Heron rising

Mouths Open Explanation - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Barn Swallow Feeds Demanding Young Mid-air - July 2 2007


July 2007

Immature Black-crowned Night Herons flying, walking, learning to fish
Immature Cattle Egret
Wood Duck male in eclipse plumage
Eloquent dance of Snowy Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons
White Ibis among Cattle Egrets
Wire full of European Starlings of different ages
Snowy Egrets
as beautiful object and aggressive creep
Juvenile Great-tailed Grackles with a great tail
Really really blue Little Blue Heron
Great Egret catches two fish in one beak
Snowy Egrets Chase each other out of the pond
Goose Mystery solved
Invisible Yellow-crowned Night Heron in the dark
Three Killdeer up close, running, ruffling and standing in the sun
Dallas Morning News Interview with Steve Blow
    The True Facts behind that story and one in Texas Parks &
    Wildlife Magazine
that also quotes and misquotes me.
Monk Parakeet trying to drag big leaf
House Sparrow taking Dust Bath
Aggresso Duck, head-low attack and Breast Butting
Black-cronwed Night Heron up the dam among sparkling water
Snowy Egret ruffle
Goose Ballet and fireworks over the water
Zillions of Swallows hog all the wires in sight
Cattle Egrets flying and landing near the northern swamps
Scissor-tailed Flycatchers doing the mid-air twist
Yellow-crowned Night Herons fishing in the deep weeds
Flutter greetings from Barn Swallows on a wire


June 2007

Monk Parakeet as colorful flying abstract
Close encounter - Little Blue Heron and Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron Fishing
Pigeons and Barn Swallows on the wire
Wood Ducks & Goose News
Black-crowned Night Heron
Juvenile Wood Ducks
Watching people "feed the birds"
Gooses on the Looses, ducks, Snow Goose. Baltimore Oriole and Hovering Kingbird
Juvenile Cardinal loose in the Gin Building
Black-crowned Night Herons, Snow & Great Egrets chasing round the Spillway
Downy young
New Gooses at Sunset Bay
First Green Heron of the Season best quality image
Black-crowned Night Heron Nesting
Breeding Adult Little Blue Heron best quality image
Rookery: Cattle Egret eggs in nest and Nestlings alone and with mom best quality image
Fledgling Blue Jay with a broken foot
Barn Swallows preening and showing special tail feathers
Northern Mockingbirds Close-Up and exhibiting Flashing Behavior
Egyptian Goose as abstract art best quality image


May 2007

Barn Swallow close-ups best quality image
Three different colored Muscovy Ducks best quality image
Northern Mockingbirds fighting best quality image
Baltimore Oriole breeding adult
Egyptian Geese walking, stooping and short-trip flying
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks flying away best quality image
White Ibis at the Medical Center Rookery
Molted Mallard doesn't look that mallardish
The Fitchery ("The Old Fish Hatchery Area), where many birds live
Scissor-tail Flycatchers
catching butterflies and bugs
Tropical Kingbird and nest in Texas breeding territory
Large, economy sized domestic ducklings
Female Red-bellied Woodpecker pecking wood
Killdeer in the grass
Mockingbird chick demands feeding best quality image
Monk Parakeets feeding their young
Snowy Egret Fishing in the shallows
First returning Muscovy Duck — a blonde best quality image
Female Downy Woodpecker
Big black dog attacks geese and ducks and catches one
High-wing Red-winged Blackbird in the air best quality image , and out standing in their field
Eastern Kingbird?
High-Breeding Season Cattle Egrets at the Rookery, them in full fluff mode best quality image , a Cattle Egret flying at the lake, their nests in the rookery and a nester
Sunset Bay's resident Great Blue Heron flying
First Yellow-crowned Night Heron best quality image of the season
Grackle courting displays
Great Egret courting displays best quality image
First Snowy Egret of the season
Comparing ages of Wood Duck ducklings
Northern Shoveler's disheveled flight best quality image
Churky finally identified
Spotted Sandpiper up close
Wood Ducks

Flee with Monster Branch - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret with Betrothal Branch — April 1 2007


April 2007 - link fixed

Great Blue Heron
Scissor-tailed Flycatchers - top, side and bottom views best quality image
White-butted black heron...
Wood Duck mom being protective of 11 ducklings
Why they're called Blue-wing Teal best quality image
Spotted Sandpiper
Goose Egg Sitting drama and violent sex
Courting Grackle makes a pass best quality image
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and their pink legs
The Mysterious Churkey and why it crossed the road
Purple Martins majesty
Tree Swallow passing through
Barn Swallow with white coverlets showing
Mallard mom and 12 new ducklings
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
doing his mating attraction display best quality image
Rookery - lots of Little Blues, a pair of Anhingas and a jillion Great Egrets


March 2007

Detailed photographs of Wood Duck pair
Brown-headed Cowbird
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - first sighting
Soundless Starling
 — mouth-open behavior
The Last Pelicans of the Season
Downy Woodpecker

Muscovy Duck - bath

Northern Shoveler and it flying like abstract art
Pigeons - The Real Courting Rituals as well as explaining dragging tail feathers
Red-winged Blackbirds - gather for mating, epaulet popping and more epaulet action
Killdeers - have returned
Ducks - consensual sex and straightening up after, mating rituals, defying gravity, killed by a bicyclist
House Sparrows decked out for spring,
Red-shouldered Hawk Attack!
Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker
Barred Owl - first sighting, more detailed views a couple days later
Butter-Butt - scratching its chin
Belted Kingfisher Fishing
Coots Catching, playing with, showing off and fighting about fish, Coots Running on Water
Dead Coot Photographed best quality image in the studio - no blood or gore, just strange images, but finally a great, close-up of a coot foot
Mallard with broken bill
Ring-billed Gull that caught a big fish - The Last Gull of the Season
First-year Red-winged Blackbird
Noble-looking European Starling best quality image
Yellow-rumped Warbler — "Butter Butt"
Lesser or Greater Scaup?


February 2007

Cedar Waxwings best quality image falling for blackberries
Mr & Mrs Mallard
at the Old Fish Hatchery
Mockingbird in Flight - photos
Parakeets carrying branches to rebuild their nests after windstorms
Pelicans fishing Esther Williams Style
best quality image but not always in unison
Pelicans less than beautiful - best quality image bold, interesting, odd pelican photos
Pigeon mating dance
- best quality image puffing up, dragging feathers and "kissing?"
Ruddy Ducks
Touring White Rock Birds with George Boyd

Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal
Carolina Chickadee

6 painted pigeons
Coot running on water


January 2007

Question: Do Cormorants Run or Hop Over The Water to get airborne?
Answer: How Cormorants Take Off
Shape-Shifting Double-crested Cormorant
Immature Black-crowned Night Heron, another, another,
Baby Double-crested Cormorant?
Female Red-winged Blackbird,
American White Pelicans - extreme beak stretch, another, beaking, flying and floating best quality image, flying again best quality image, 15 pelicans flying along together best quality image, a fleet of them with cormorants fishing
Portraits of Four Gooses
More Gooses
Great Egret flying with fish,
Northern Mockingbird on branch best quality image
Undefined but exciting Goose Action best quality image
American Coot feet best quality image
Huge Flock of Ring-billed Gulls
Great Blue Heron from several angles best quality image
Portrait of a Pigeon - up close and personal best quality image

Immature Black-crowned Night Heron Flying Away - copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Immature Black-crowned Night Heron - January 25, 2007 best quality image



December 2006

Cormorant Flurry
Lesser Scaups - Female Scaup, Scaups Diving,
Goose Sex
The Absurd Drama of Gooses "Diving"
Gulls Chase Coots
Shape-shifting Cormorants best quality image, First Winter Cormorant Fly-by best quality image,
American White Pelican Bathing Habits
Cormorants Running or Hopping to Fly?
Pelican Beak Stretching best quality image, Balance Beam Routine,
Best Grackle Bath Shot


November 2006

The Belligerent Coot
Sudden Multi-species Escape
Sky Full of Ducks
Red-shouldered Hawk in my neighborhood,
Cormorants in Late Evening with Flash
Coot Running to Fly, The Secret of Their Feet,
Monk Parakeet Flying In Low


October 2006

Birds at the State Fair
Great Egret Flyover best quality image,
Double-crested Cormorant drying wings
American White Pelicans - dueling with their beaks best quality image, fishing like Esther Williams with fans best quality image,  
Pigeon Flying Almost Too Close best quality image,
Black-crowned Night Heron with spillway as art,
Duck Splash Fight
Goose with Plastic Tab,
Herring Gull - the first gull back to the lake


September 2006

Goose Sex
Black-crowned Night Heron - family,
Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk - in the trees,
Great-tailed Grackles - bathing best quality image,
Ducks doing the one-foot, left-lean Duck Dance,
Great Blue Heron - stealing fish,
Belted Kingfisher
Green Heron


August 2006 - I don't know why exactly — it could be the in-flight fight between crows and a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk — but this is the most popular Amateur Birder's page ever.

Immature Little Blue Heron - flying,
American Coots - shows his big feet best quality image,
Hundreds of Great Egrets Sleeping, then flying out in great blurs
Yellow-crowned Night Heron Juvenile best quality image,
Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk - perched, all-out Battle with American Crow best quality image, flying
Muscovy Gander - portrait  best quality image,
Reddish Heron - flying,
2 of 9 Gooses Running best quality image , portraits of gooses

Pink Nosed Ducks copyright 2006 by Mary Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Pink-nosed Ducks and Seven Stripey Ducklings
Anna I.Deed them as Black Bellied Whistling Ducks
Photograph by my mother, Mary Compton
June 24 2006


July 2006

Little Blue Heron flying close, standing in creek best quality image
Juvenile Great Blue Heron wading - good detail
Green Heron best quality image
Little Blue Heron "wiggle-beaking fish"
gooses attacking - coming in low
Green Monk Parakeets playing lovebirds
Monk Parakeet Nests in the electrical substation
Great Egret catching a fish
Black-crowned Night Heron - landing wings out, juvenile,
Yellow-crowned Night Heron - being nearly invisible,
Cattle Egret Flying,


June 2006

Black-bellied Whistling Duck family (male, female and 6 vivid black and white striped ducklings) in the canal behind my parent's house in the Rio Grande Valley near McAllen, Texas — photograph by Mary Compton (my mother)
Little Blue Heron on White Rock Lake's Spillway Steps
Close Fly-by by a Black-crowned Night Heron
Little Blue Heron wiggle-beaking fish

Open Wide - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Open Wide and Say Ahhh
from Strange Things Pelicans Do with Their Beaks linked below

Other Bird Pages

The Bird Identification Page: Photographs of birds readers send to get identified.

I'm still organizing  Strange Things Pelicans Do with Their Beaks but pix are amazing.

The following pages are old and not very well organized or presented:

Mockingbirds - attractive and distractive tree-top aerobatics and ground-level wing flashings

Grackles - courtship behaviors, including knock-down, flopping-around fights to near death

Redwing Blackbirds - male and female close-ups him chasing her at high speed, puffing and color-showing behavior

Ducks - Ducks (and gooses) have the most violent and rape-like sex I've seen in any species

Flycatchers - Scissor-tailed Flycatchers perched and flying — big, long tails and hovering flights

Starlings - fighting over food


Steep Learning Curve in Nikon D200 LandBefore the Birder Journal, I photographed birds at the lake and a lot of other things as I first learned my then new d SLR camera. Unlike the later Amateur Birder's Journal, this one contains both good and lousy photographs as I learned from both.


Supplemental Pages

Birding + Lake Links

Bibliography - Bird books and movie

Feedback - our readers write

White Rock Lake

Map of White Rock Lake - annotated, sometimes even illustrated, with names I've learned over the years and some we just made up.

White Rock Trail - We'd heard about it, but till we walked all the way from Mockingbird Lane to just north of LBJ Freeway, we didn't know what it was all about. There's Red-shouldered Hawks and lots more birds up and down, as it winds through urban and even industrial North Dallas.

White Rock Creek - I paddled up it.

“My Best Birds” were at one time, about the middle of 2005, my best bird photograph. They now pale in comparison to most of what I do every week, but one must start somewhere.


Cameras + Lenses Used

Roseate Spoonbill Flying Low - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Roseate Spoonbill Flying at South Padre Island Convention Center - August 2009
photographed with a Stigma 150-500mm lens

In February 2006 I replaced my Sony F707 (5 megapixel, 5:1 zoom, very small sensor but a bright electronic viewfinder, so I could always see exposure, focus and colors) with a Nikon D200 dSLR, partly because I had several old and new Nikon lenses, and it had a much larger sensor. Although I still use some of the lenses I had in the 1970s when I was a photojournalist for a mediocre metropolitan newspaper, I usually use one of two autofocus telephoto zoom lenses.

At first, my main lens was the 70-300mm f/4.5~5.6 VR Nikon zoom. It's comparatively fast and not terribly expensive. It is especially sharp at the less telephoto end of its zoom, where it's almost never useful. I used it almost every time I birded till early September 2008, when I bought what I usually call either the Stigma or Stigmatta 150-500mm VR I had been lusting after — until I realized what a lousy lens it truly was. I had to send the first one back, but the second one was just as bad. Supposedly, Sigma pays more attention to Quality Control now, but I still don't trust them.

Sometimes it refused to focus and other times it produced black — no image — frames. Images were noisy, and they often vibrated or jumped around in the viewfinder when I tried to focus. Photos from it look okay at low res on the web, but it fares much less well in prints larger than letter-sheet size. It is not a sharp or bright lens at the long end of the zoom, where I usually used it.

Red-tailed Hawk Attack - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-tailed Hawk - August 28 2008
photographed with the Nikkor 70-300mm lens at 280mm

Late in 2008 I bought a Nikon D300 (1.82 pounds) semi-pro camera, because Garland Camera Repair assured me it would work well (It didn't.) with my Sigma lens — nothing would. But I loved the D300, even if it was huge and heavy, because it focused and shot fast, and it was easier to use than my D200. Both cameras worked well with all my other lenses.

Because I wanted a camera to carry in my pocket, so I'd have one whenever I needed it, I bought a Canon SD780 IS in August 2009. It had a tiny but (barely) workable optical viewfinder, a 2.5-inch LCD and a short 33-100mm zoom, that I usually use un-zoomed, because like most point-and-shoots, its widest aperture at full zoom is abysmally small (f5.8), and, like my Stigma lens, telephoto resolution is lousy.

But it was the length and width of a credit card and only weighed 4.5 ounces (including batteries and an SD card), and its max aperture at wide-angle was f/3.3, which is, as they now say instead of "fast" is "bright" in a dull and mediocre way.


Light Morph Swainson's Hawk shot with Canon SD780-IS -
August 2009 at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation

It usually did not review well, and I understand why, though Consumers Reports listed it high on their recommendations twice (I subscribe to CR, but they're usually behind the curve with cameras and lenses.) I have used it for birds in cages (like above) and others I can come right up to, but it's mostly just a pocket camera. And it quickly and mercifully died.

Then I bought a Canon S90, which I blogged about in my S90/95 Journal, listed accessories for on my remarkably popular S90 Accessories page and usually just stuck in my pocket. But like all Point & Shoots, it was too slow for anything that moves.

I left the Stigmata in the closet for a half year or so, and bought a Panasonic G2 Micro Four-Thirds "mirrorless" camera with a sensor 2/3 the size of my Nikons' DX sensor and a 100-300mm (200-600mm equivalent) lens that I hoped would replace my Nikons. (For a long time, you could track my continuing progress with that camera in my G2 Journal, which is now called my G5 Journal, because I upgraded to the new, improved model in 2013,) which I still use, but almost never for birds.

It was lighter and smaller, and instead of guessing at exposure and focus and white balance, like I still have to do on all my Nikons, I could see those qualities in its Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). But the G2 was much slower to focus and could not make nearly as many exposures quickly (burst speed), so it was a real challenge for photographing birds or anything else that moved.

My Nikons' exposure meters are almost always wrong. That WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) paradigm is worth a lot. The big camera review sites I pay most attention to, found my G2 not entirely wonderful. But I used it anyway, and was mostly happy with my results. In the summer of 2012 I used it for my family reunion and for close, intimate family candids, and it was superb. I have also used it (or the G5 that has long since replaced it) extensively for photographing art and artists at openings and art gatherings.

If I were starting new, knew what I've learned and didn't have all those old Nikon lenses, I'd probably get a big Canon dSLR. Their lenses are less expensive and more varied, and they are updated more often. And Canon appears not to be nearly as nuts as Nikon.

Egret Escape - Copyright 2011 J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Egret Escape with My Panasonic G2 and 100-300mm lens

In mid-2011 I tried my old Nikon D200 (when my D300's shutter died.) long enough to know I wanted a better, faster-focusing Nikon, and since I couldn't get a D400, because there wasn't one yet (and four years later as of this summer 2015 rewrite of this page, they still don't have one, but it is still regularly rumored), and I didn't want to spend five grand on a bigger and better full-frame camera (Although that full-frame dream lingered.), I settled for a Nikon D7000, which I thought might be good enough, and it almost was. (Track my progress with the D7000 in my Nikon D7000 Journal.)

When I tried the Stigma (I know that company with its historically lousy quality control is actually called Sigma, but for me it will always be stigma or stigmatta) with the D7000, the lens worked better, but still not well. The Stigmata has the deadly combination of low contrast and low resolution., so eventually I got a Nikkor 300mm f2.8 lens that I adore, and it has very high resolution. But it's expensive.

As of this May 2015 update of this article, I still use the 300.

Some say it is Nikon's highest quality lens ever — and holds resolution and contrast when used with Nikon's 2X telextender (in bright sunlight) which makes it a 600mm f/5.6 lens (and supposedly a 900mm equivalent on DX sensor like on the D200 and D300 cameras, but that's just a lot of hooey). And the D7000 had significantly improved high ISO noise reduction, so it worked well until my cat knocked the big tele lens and camera about two feet to a rug on my wood floor.

That sudden impact tore the camera from the lens, and luckily the lens won. So I sent the D7000 off to Nikon for repair and when I got it back I began using it and the 300mm almost exclusively, till that heavy lens torqued out the 7000's recently replaced bayonet mount — again, so until I left a couple bricks on the bayonet end of the cam for a couple weeks (with suitable paper around it) none of my lenses focused on it, and now only lighter ones do.

I still may eventually send it back to Nikon for a re-repair, but I have lost faith in them, even though I am careful to only ever use their Melville, New York facility, eschewing "the butchers in Los Angeles" until me choosing was no longer an option. Dealing with the Melville facility is confusing enough. They never seem to know what's going on, and their paperwork often shows they worked on cameras other than the ones I sent them.

I continue to use the little Panasonic G2's replacement, the G5 for birds sometimes, and I have actually taken a few really good shots (like the photo above). I passed on the Lumix G3, because my G2 was still newish when it was released, and I just about knew how to use it. But when the G5 came out, was thoroughly vetted by the m43 forum and others, and the price came down the third time, I bought one.

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

Coot Panic   February 14 2013   in Sunset Bay   Panasonic Lumix G5

I miss the Panasonic's EVF every time I pick up one of my Nikons optical viewfinder, but Nikon dSLRs are quicker to use, have much higher shutter speeds and are much more accurate about focus and exposure.

In late 2012, I got my D300 almost completely repaired by Nikon, who fixed everything about it — replaced the shutter mechanism, tightened the skin so it didn't sag anymore — except the focus mode switch, and of course it was that that stopped working next. And I pretty much gave up on it.

My Nikon D7000 focused faster, although its burst speed is truly mediocre after the first 12 shots, and the D300 just keeps going, so I'm still looking forward to either re-repairing my recently repaired D300 or a new D400, except there still isn't a D400.

I thought the recent (late-February 2013) D7100 might be my salvation, since it was touted as the replacement for the D300s (a slight video upgrade of the D300), but it is not fast or solid. My trusted Nikon repair guy recommended I get a full-frame Nikon like the D800, 800E or D600, except since they're new, they're all experiencing Nikon birth defects. The 800 has unresolved focusing issues, and the 600 splatters oil on the sensor for the first 3,000 shots. I can wait.

When I bought a Panasonic Lumix G5 in mid-February 2013 I started testing its faster focusing abilities and improved sensor for birds in flight and whatever else they were up to. It's not perfect, and I still don't completely understand it as a system (but then as of this rewriting about a year later and probably never will), but by allowing myself to make lots of mistakes, I'm learning enough and I like its bigger sensor's tonality.

When I think I really needed the reach — which is usually, I continued to use my 300mm lens on my Nikon D300, although I miss its whatever's-out-there-first focusing mode, which died shortly after I got the camera back from Nikon Repair. It focused faster than anything I had ever shot, including my D7000. But my oh my, that G5 is easier to hold and use than the Nikon gargantua. (Oddly, when I finally got my D800E, it seemed to fit my hand perfectly.

Eventually, I despaired of all my issues with all those cameras except the Panasonic Lumix G5, which I still use almost daily, though not for birds, and my Nikon D800e, which cost more than any of the cars I'd ever bought till The Slider.

My D800e is full frame (Nikon calls it FX.), offers more resolution than I sometimes know what to do with (but should make outstanding prints if I get around to doing that again), and it has a whopping 36-megapixel sensor that lets me blow up tiny portions of that full frame and still have spectacular resolution here online, and various other niceties that I'm still very pleased with.

It's not perfect. It has the same image buffer as the D7000, so it doesn't crank through images like a Gattling Gun, but I don't do that much fast-shooting anymore, because it's a big waste of shutter mechanisms. Those used to go out after a mere one hundred thousand shots. My D800 is rated for twice that. I think I just plumb wore out my D300's shutter shooting rapid-fire at birds in flight.

And I have to stop using the camera when it's connected to my long, heavy, 300mm lens, just to change focus modes. Unlike the D200 and D300, I can't just flip a switch on the back with my thumb while I'm shooting. But other than those two major issues and lots of littler ones, I love my 800e, TMI about those and other niggling issues is in my D800e Journal (that I quit using when I got my Nikon D810.)

And I love the high resolution the D800 yields. I can greatly enlarge even tiny portions of the frame when the focus is dead on — and it usually is. Since I got my D800, I don't waste time yearning for the next best thing to come along. It's here, and I've got one. It's not perfect, but it's so much closer than any other camera I've ever owned since I was a staff photographer for The Dallas Times Herald, when cameras and lenses 'just worked,' although we had to focus the silly things manually. Can you imagine?

Every choice involves a tradeoff — or seven.

Eventually, the 800 showed signs of — oh, that was a year or more ago, and I don't remember, although Nikon fixed all that, I love my 810 so much I haven't gone back. Anybody want to buy a factory refurbished Nikon D800. It even got an all-new front for no extra charge.

I use the 810 every time I photograph birds. I used it with by telextenders till I realized that for my web-publishing purposes, I don't need the slight mauling they make of my stellar resolution without. I often go weeks or months without using the extenders, but when I finally had to make a big print, I noticed the diff, and the last couple days (May 3 2015) I've been testing the 2X again. I couldn't get my 1.7X extender to let go of the real lens cap. It mauls the resolution less and lets in more light.

I sometimes — in weather when clouds or whole landscapes might be interesting to photograph — also bring my Panasonic Lumix G5, which is having its own age-related issues (I'm waiting for the successor to Olympic because they have in-camera image stabilization for any lens I attach)'s OM1, which should be coming along sometime this or next year. Maybe.

Ducks in Sudden Flight - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Ducks in Sudden Fright Flight - November 17, 2006 best quality image


Photographing Procedure

When Fain Zimmerman, whose pictures of baby Tricolored Herons, Laughing Gull and Black Skimmer chicks I used in July 2009, asked me what my technique was, saying that knowledge was my price for using her work, I wrote:

Standard technique with RAW images is to open in Photoshop (full blown, it came free with an expensive scanner I got a thousand years ago, i upgrade every third major version).

Check the correct light variety or Auto if none is as good as reality. I shoot VIVID color on both my Nikons and Canons [Panasonic has a different name for it, but I use it on that, too], usually hidden somewhere in the menus.

I only rarely shoot RAW (NEF — Nikon Exposure File). The files are too big. I like JPEGs out of both Nikons and Panasonics, open them in Adobe Bridge, where I adjust Exposure, fuss with Recovery, am very careful with Fill Light only if it's really necessary (since it leave nasty edges if I'm heavy handed with it), Blacks are great, always before left Contrast alone till I realized how much that simple adjustment can really help sometimes, then quickly down to Clarity (rack it to the right, unless that turns everything black), pussyfoot with Vibrance and am very delicate with Saturation.

Back in Photoshop proper, I almost always adjust with Levels — the right, light triangle goes under the right-most bit, even if it's only a line. The left, dark triangle points up to the highest peak, or the first one on the left, unless that turns everything too dark. I need lots of density, Levels does it fast.

I pay the Adobe idiots ten bucks a month for their latest updates to Photoshop CC but I still keep and often use CS5 Photoshop and Bridge, because Adobe keeps changing things that I really prefer on the older versions. Now, my usual is to use CS5 Bridge with CC Photoplop. It's confusing but it has the controls I prefer.

I'm very sparing with burn and dodge. I was very good in the analog darkroom before the dawn of digital.

No sharpening or softening till the end, and almost never much Smart Sharpening — more for the Lumix and a lot less for the inherently sharper 300 f2.8. Dumb old Elements doesn't have Smart Sharpen, which I read somewhere long after I adopted it as my primary method, is one of only two sharpeners used by pros, whoever those are. I rarely use anything but Smart Sharpen.

I save to web jpegs with Save for Web, almost always at 80% for up to a minute of download time at 56k, which only rural Americans are still stuck with. I like quality, and now that most folks in cities have high-speed, I don't care if it shows up to almost a minute each at 56k.

My web standard [both J R Compton.com and DallasArtsRevue.com] is horizontal shots at 888 pixels wide. Verticals lose out at 666 pixels, unless it's taller than 10 inches, then they get even smaller. Some rare times when I got focus and tones and no blown highlights, etc. I make verticals wide, too, even if viewers have to scroll to see the whole thing, unless the important image elements exceed small monitor's max size. At that point the game is about detail.

I crop close to my subject, so the image will be relatively larger.

That's about it, though I'm willing to answer specific questions, because I often learn from them. The sooner you upgrade to actual Photoshop, the better, except I just can't recommend the silly CC version. Buy the CS5 if you can get it. I got it free with a repair of my elderly iMac. It can be expensive, but professional, and Elements is not. I had to use that dumb program at one of my clients, and it's just Not Good Enough. When you go up to full bull Photoshop, pay Lynda.com the $25/month or $250/year to learn all about it and most other professional soft wares. (Except she apparently doesn't teach softwares by non-Adobe softwares).

Reddish Egrets in Heads Up Pose

Reddish Egrets in Matagorda, Texas - See First Reddish Sighting,
then events leading to and This Mating Dance just a little later



The idea for this journal was to learn my then-new Nikon D200 and to relearn how to write. Where I could say anything. Let it flow without worrying about precision sentencing. Like we talk when our minds are engaged. With as few words as possible. Pared to the quick. Come back the next day and pare more.

This suite of web pages — some call it a blog — changed my writing style. I think it works better. It is more fun. The text is usually shorter and makes more sense. Although readers probably wonder where the verbs went, adverbs are the real enemy.

I'd already begun taking photographs of birds. My then oft-changing journal of the lake, its flora, fauna and folk, J R's New White Rock Lake Journal (A few pages of it are still there but are never updated.) was getting stale. I tired of cute kids, sunsets, skylines, wrinkled old men and snakes and was ready for something more challenging.

Originally I called these pages "The Addlepated Birder's Journal," which was a great name, un PC but cute — and appropriate. Unfortunately, nobody would admit knowing what addlepated meant. So I changed it. I'm an excellent photographer with 51 years experience as a professional, but I am still truly an amateur birder. I hope it shows. I love doing it.


Crow Descending by K Benton - from a photo by JRCompton.com

Kathleen Benton   Crow Descending   2011 inkjet print from original drawing
on Velin Museum Rag   8.5 x 11 inches   from an original photograph by J R Compton

Cameras & Lenses Used is above.

So you want to use my images in your project?

I started The Amateur Birder's Journal to learn to write better and make better photographs, and both of those have worked well. But almost from the beginning, people have asked to use my images for their projects. I have been a professional photographer since 1964, and I've always been a stickler for both credit and payment for photographs.

My policy is to sell images and use the money to buy new equipment, so I can make even better photographs. Photography is expensive, and I will always need newer and better equipment, and selling my photographs is the best way.

Trouble is, readers want to use my images in projects that help them get ahead, but they don't want to pay me. Some are ornery about it, like the Dallas-area Master Naturalist who admitted to have stolen my eagle photos from this site to use in his slide show to make him look more professional. Ha!

All images on this and my other web sites are Copyright by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Specific Written Permission. Everything original on any website is automatically copyrighted to that site's owner(s) by Federal law, but it seems to help to put my name, copyright and those magic words, "All Rights Reserved" on each an every image, because fewer of them are stolen outright.

For commercial use — like in or on low-circulation books, magazines, CDs, catalogs, websites, brochures or other projects, I usually charge $200, maybe more depending on the rights requested, circulation, reproduction size and other variables. Email me first.

My price is negotiable.

Emily Lutz Painting of J R Compton photo

Emily Lutz Drawing of J R Compton Photo — My first in-kind pay for use of my photographs.
This lovely mockingbird hangs on my office wall.

For small projects and provided you give me credit and a copyright notice adjacent to the image, I'll sell one-time publication rights for less. If you want to use one of my images in another medium, you will need to send me a copy in that medium. If you make a painting for you using one of my images, you need to send me a (probably smaller) painting also.

Either way, if you send me a check, I'll attach a full-resolution JPEG file of the image as an email attachment. The actual files in The Amateur Birder's Journal are low-resolution that most commercial printers do not like to use.

For noncommercial or nonprofit use — like student papers, presentations or use by artists as reference. The credit phrasing I prefer is "Photograph Copyright 2008 by JRCompton.com/birds." And it should be adjacent to the image as published — plus you should send me a photocopy or high-resolution 1 megabyte or more) color JPEG of the resulting work(s).

Online the credit should always link to http://www.JRCompton.com/photos/The_Birds/J/

I require you send me a copy of whatever you are using my photographic images for. If you need one of my images to create a counted cross-stitch pattern or to illustrate a scientific article about the aero dynamitic properties of birds' feathers in fluid mechanics — or whatever else, you have to credit me and my site. I.e., "image by JRCompton.com/birds/" and send me a copy of the publication, cross-stitch or other object.

Make checks payable to "J R Compton" and I'll send you my address.


All text and photographs
copyright 2006, 2007, 2008
, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without specific written permission.

Who I am