THIS MONTH: Thousands
of Snow Gooses Our
January 2014 Visit to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation
Great Trinity Forest TRAC Walking
The Drying Beds Buffleheads and In Flight
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Lemon Lakes Trail
in the Great Trinity Forest
Not Exactly a Wildlife Area
verbose sign at the entrance parking lot called this area was "one of the
very few wilderness areas left in Dallas County. The environment here is delicate.
It requires special care during your visit due to the flora and fauna that live
within. Therefore special restrictions need to be followed. But the 'trail' was
concrete — one-lane white top. Despite rules against them, we saw three
motorized vehicles inside the preserve. And at no time during our maybe-couple-mile
walk did it look or sound like wilderness.
It wasn't that we didn't see any wildlife,
just that we saw more people and cars on the trail than animals or birds. Interesting
area, we someday hope to explore is something that floats.
As Usual, the Most Obvious Avian Species
was the Turkey Vulture
I love TVs, and I love watching them fly,
and for that matter, I'd love to photograph them doing their real business, too.
If I could just get them to let me photograph them with their heads in some carcass.
I have a fading slide somewhere of some in deep south west Texas a million years
ago before digital photography, I still might someday find. But this is one
of my better shots of one flying.
Watching it hold to thermals, then let the
air out of its wings, so it could briefly spill down, then cup wings over another
warm wind was fascinating. I kept hoping it would get closer, then it id.
Not, I think, a Red-eared Slider
But what it is, is not entirely clear.
Tire in the Slough
Lots of little reminders that this really
was not a wilderness area. But we'll be coming back toward spring.
Snorkers on Lemon Lake
I think we saw more Northern Shovelers than
any other species, although many ducks were too far away to identify.
Anna photographed a Green-winged Teal takeoff.
I got a batch of what I believe might be
Ring-necked Ducks. Even those species were far and few between. Not exactly a
cornucopia of budding bird species.
Red-tailed Haw in the Trees
Map and info at dallastrinitytrails.blogspot.com/2011/03/trinity-river-spine-trail.html.
Trinity River Audubon
were driving into the Trinity River Audubon Center (TRAC), just down the street
from The Lemons — still hoping to photograph some birds, a hawk flew right past
and over The Slider. I think this was the same one, but ya never really know.
I was surprised to see it land in a tree just into the forest down the hill from
Red-shouldered Hawk Flying Down
I assume it was after food. It flew fast.
After the next shot, I never saw it again. I assume it caught it.
Same Red-shouldered Hawk Still Flying Down
A tree with wings.
Oh, Maybe a Tern, although it was flying
with a Ring-billed Gull
and Scurry, Texas
Wall-to-Wall Snow Gooses
Cheek sent me an email saying they were "in Warsaw and Scurry area of Texas
today. Must have been a gathering of Snowies??? They were located at a huge pond/lake.
Gorgeous!!!" and they
bade me to "Please go and show." This is a detail from the
lower left middle portion of the next image down — look for the small
patch of blue sky showing through under the Blue Morph Snow Goose's left wing
just a couple inches off the ground up from the fourth fence post over.
Snow Gooses — Light and Dark
So we went, and here we show. And for awhile,
early on, it was like this for a long, long way across the prairie.
Snow Goose Flock Taking Off
Thousands of them. Most exciting when they
all rise at once. Amazing vision. I almost wished I had a wide-angle lens.
Snow Gooses Flung Headlong
All in action at once it is a miracle of
Blue Sky Full of Snowies
Always amusing to see where exactly the camera
Where The Camera Will Focus
I point the camera in the precise direction,
then wonder what the lens will render sharp.
Layers and Layers
Sometimes, it seemed Snow Gooses were strung
across the skies for miles, and of course, the were.
Dark & Light Morph Snow Gooses
When Leslie Cheek wrote "Snowies," I
wasn't sure which snowies were being referred to. Probably not a Snowy Owl. Those
are far and few between around these parts. But Snowy Egrets are often present
far and wide, and I'd love to see this many of those, though that would be highly
More and More Coming In
We photographed The
Fluries above, where
we first saw them suddenly rise into the sky, behind a detached residential
neighborhood, and the rest of these where the Snowies settled next, in a farmer's
field. While we were photographing away at the thousands of birds there, a guy
in a pickup driving by, called to us telling us we should have seen them three
years ago, when the whole field was filled with them.
Especially, I Like the Ones Out Standing
in Someone's Field in this Photograph
Much slower when they've moved and are landing
in careful layers on and on.
Single Snow Goose Flyover
Three Light; One Dark Snow Goose Descending
Four White Snow Gooses Descending
Over and again,
… I was fascinated with them
cupping air and falling toward earth.
Details of the Snowies
Handsome critters and amazing in numbers.
See The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds: Snow
Goose for more info.
the Fort Worth Drying Beds
Swamp (off to
the left here) Drive Entrance to the Fort Worth Drying Beds
cold winter morning, we finally made it to the Fort Worth Drying Beds, which
most people call Legacy Park, although the sign on the front calls it what I
do. This is a long telephoto shot of the maybe quarter-mile road that leads from
public roads into the beds, here past what I call the swamp on the right, which
was our photo destination. We'd seen active Great Blue Heron nests at Rogers
Wildlife earlier this month (now
on its own page), to keep this page fast-loading), and I wondered if they'd
be active here, too, but they were not.
GBH Nests on the Far Side of the Swamp
The nests were
there, just no Great Blue Herons were using them yet. When they are using them,
they add to them, fix them up, etc. from last year. But the only GBH we saw was
on the far side of the swamp, and it didn't seem in any hurry to find food for
someone else. When the nests are active, there's plenty of activity. Great Blue
Herons flying to and fro, feeding their young. It's far away, but they are very
active. None of that today.
TV in a Tree
In fact, the only activity, besides very small
birds in those trees, was one large Turkey Vultures, whose name we usually shorten
to TV, and TVs rock. When they fly, the rock back and forth, unlike most other
birds, they soar like eagles, and they rock.
Detail of Large Turkey Vulture in a Tall
Tree in the Swamp
TV Soaring Close
And they don't
seem to mind being public about it. This one, whom I believe was the same one
in the trees where the GBHs nest, and some friends, soared over the Swamp Road
while I walked down it looking for birds, and more inside, past the walking gate
Sparrow in the
At least I think
it's a sparrow, high in one of the trees right on/over the Swamp Road, where
there were many small birds, although I only got a couple before they flew off.
Juvenile Male Red-winged Blackbird Looking
Down from the Swamp Road
From well up the
hill using the only lens I brought, a 600mm, which was still too short for most
of the birds in the pans. There's enough space through the gate off to
the left from this shot to let human through, even humans with tripods, but no
cars or motorcycles.
Drying Beds Landscape
I think this was north,
although it's difficult to tell. I'd been wanting to take a series of landscapes
at the beds for a long time, but I usually only take this lens, and today I realized
I could shoot landscapes with any lens. The trees of Legacy Park proper
are beyond the levee.
in Flight over the Main Pans
Shovelers were abundant, but discovering
later that I'd captured the flight of Northern Pintails (below) was a surprise.
Two Males and
Two Female Northern Pintails in Flight over the Pans
Northern Pintail Ducks flying high over one
of the front pains, looking east toward Legacy Park.
Another Photographer with a Tripod on the
I kept wondering what he could see that I
couldn't. The lazy me wishes we could still drive out there, where cars don't
scare birds like walking humans often do, but the pro-nature me loves the idea
of the place prohibiting cars altogether, and I don't have a bike, but that might
be best of all.
Northern Shovelers Flying in Their Own
Shadows on the Far Horizon
From what I saw there — and I didn't go out
to the Pans, because it was 39 degrees F, and Anna had already gone back to the
car to warm up, although next time I go, I'll plan to attend on a warm day, and
I'll go as far as my legs will carry me, rest, then come back. I didn't think
I could before I saw that other photog, but now I know I can.
Four Pans into the Distance
Looking low across the landscape, here we
can see four separate pans of water, each separated by a strip of raised landscape
covered with greenery. Then comes the levee that separates the Drying Beds from
the more public, Legacy Park next door.
We also saw one Great Blue Heron, at least
a half dozen Wigeons (much closer pic in Cottonwood
Park below), coots and maybe other ducks, but they were far away.
to Cottonwood Park in Richardson
Ring-billed Gull Through the Park
of us had ever been to Cottonwood Park in Richardson before, but Annette told
Anna there were lots of birds there, so we went, and walked a good long walk
around the lake / pond / creek through the park, and photographed a variety of
birds, some of whom we had not seen elsewhere lately.
Northern Shoveler Profile
There were lots of Northern Shovelers, perhaps
more of them than any other species. At first, they look like still more mallards,
but there are differences. That beak is prominent among them. Many of the same
colors are involved. Iridescent green heads are the same. The red brown of the
Mallard's breast splashes the Shoveler's flanks. Grayish feathers on top in Mallards
is black and white on Shovelers. Mallards have dark eyes. Shovelers have bright
A Snorker Snorking
They both dabble — move their bills
in the water while feeding, but the Northern Shoveler as a major advantage in
that activity, with a big honker of a beak. I often informally call Shovelers
"snorkers," because they's what they do. They snork.
Muscovy Drake Preening
All the birds I know about preen. This Muscovy
duck is busy spreading lanolin on his feathers, so water will roll off it like
water off a ... I shot about a half dozen shots as he did that, the others look
like he's writhing madly, and although I realize you can't tell why it's doubled-back
here, it make a startling composition.
Muscovy Gander Gander
We have no doubts what this male Muscovy
is doing. He's staring back at us from his colorful face. He looks so fierce,
it's always amazing how gentle and friendly they are.
Adult Male Breeding American Widgeon
I think Anna and
I would agree it was the American Widgeons scattered among the Northern Shovelers
and Mallards who stole the show. She called them "cute," and I'd have
to agree. The adults are nearly the same length as the Shovelers, but they look
much smaller. They seemed gentle and almost meek.
Breeding Pair of American Wigeons
Can't see the vivid green swash back from
the male's eye in this shot, but the distinctive white outlined wings and tail
and bluish beak with black highlights and reddish flanks mark these handsome
ducks as something special indeed. More birds from Cottonwood Park in tomorrow's
entry. Stay tuned.
To keep this page loading fast, I've created
for our recent Rogers Wildlife
Wild Duck Chase at Tee Pee Hill
Adult Double-crested Cormorants Flying
Past a Gloriodsky Morning Sky
I was hunting Long-tail Ducks, which I've seen
before — and photographed — but not their tails, but I'm getting better at this
photo thing, so maybe I could get more interesting pix this time. What I was
really up to and out for was a cold, early morning walk, which
was lovely and energizing. Not a terrible trade, but for awhile at least, something
of a delusion.
The Gloriodsky Corms Closer
I was under the thrall of either a hoax or
a big mistake. When I make those, it's usually my fault. This time, it was definitely
Feather-winged Black-Crowned Night Heron
up the Old Boat House Lagoon
At the Audubon meeting the night before,
the emcee asked for news of any interesting birds, and someone said Long-tail
ducks. I was interested but thought I had other plans.
The First Warty Muscovy Drake I've Seen
But it was close — much closer than
the dry beds, which I thought I might like to drive out to this morning, if only
to photograph Great Blue Herons nesting over The Swamp and see what the place
looks and acts like lately, since they've put up barriers against driving around
the pans, and it's now limited to walking around. I doubted I'd walk
that far. Besides,
birds are much less afraid of cars than people, but they are very skittish
Juvenile Double-crested Cormorant
Before I left, I re-read the reports on Bird
Chat about multiple sightings of Long-tailed Ducks (LTDs), which were only
the seventh listing down, so I assumed they were recent. That was a mistake.
But it didn't stop me, because I didn't know about it yet. I read the posts carefully,
gradually realizing those people weren't talking about the same directional landscape
I knew fairly well, although I am also often geographically challenged.
Three Male Scaups — One Breeding and Two
One birder noted they were "right off
teepee hill where they rent the boats." Only they don't rent boats anywhere
near Tee Pee Hill (official spelling of name, as on the sign there), and they
haven't for years, maybe decades. The nearest boat-rental is sometimes on the
east side of what my map calls "The Singing Bridge." The Old Boat House at the
bottom of the hill along the lagoon is slip-rental only. Used
to be — although
it was dangerous — anyone could wander in there. Now every door is locked.
Sleeping Pelican in Sunset Bay — Most
of the Others Were Out Fishing
Another birder noted LTDs were
seen on the "west side of the pump house." Unfortunately the west side
of the dam, which fronts the Pump House, the Filter Building and the new Boat
House, is the dry side — back off below the dam is The Fitchery (what
Anna calls The Old Fish Hatchery Area), then much of residential Dallas. Yet
another bird Chatter cited LTDs seen on the "west end
of the dam," which actually runs North Northwest to South Southeast, so
it doesn't end anywhere near the west. Still another said they'd seen
them while "looking
west from the pump house toward Winfrey Point." But Winfrey Point is almost dead-on
North East across the lake from the Pump House.
Male Grackle on the New Wooden Bridge
I tried to keep all the directional mumbo-jumbo
in mind as I wandered around Tee Pee Hill looking for anything I could find,
including these birds. I did not find Long-tail Ducks, because all that
happened in April, 2013. I checked when I got back. I could
have slept in, if I'd read the dates before I ventured out, but then I would
have missed a nice, long and lovely, morning walk. I should do more of that.
Bufflehead Duck Looking Slightly to the
Left — FOS (first of season)
Male Bufflehead either noticing the photographer
of something else that moved him to take flight.
Male Bufflehead in Flight
Male Bufflehead Flying Low. He flew past
Male Bufflehead Skidding to Landing
landed, then took off again, then landed,
then took off again. When my father was in the Air Force, they used to call such
behavior with airplanes, "Shooting Touch and Goes."
Two Male Buffleheads Rounding a Corner
I thought I'd had all the Bufflehead excitement
I was likely to have for awhile, when I saw two birds whose flight attitudes
I did not recognize. All I knew for sure was that they were something different.
Two Male Buffleheads Speeding Past
I was very surprised when I at last recognized
two male Buffleheads circling, then streak past me.
Male Bufflehead Flying Low
Then fly out into the bay, where I found
bright sun setting light blinding my way.
Pelican Incoming at Sunset Bay
I'd seen most of the local pelican population
out in the bottom end of the lake fishing from widely separate positions, nearly
everybody freelancing. So I knew if I waited long enough on the pier, they're
be plenty of pelicans to watch and photograph coming in. Then I got tired of
waiting and roamed around to Dreyfuss Point where I saw the Buffleheads out in
the other side of Sunset Bay.
Gull Playing with Red Strip
Lots of gulls playing today. I watched one
drop, then dive to catch, then drop, then dive to catch, etc. a ball, which I
thought was probably going too fast to capture on silicon, but this one wasn't
moving very fast, so I shot it playing.
Sunset Bay at White Rock Lake
in Dallas, Texas, USA
Ring-billed Gull Stooping
stooping is the pitch forward moment when a bird's airspeed all but stops, and
they start falling. In this case that stall is very controlled. The bird wants
to get down to the water where it likely sees something it wants, probably to
eat — although I have seen them stoop to get a floating ball they want
to take up, drop down, take up, drop down, etc. until they've had too much fun.
These two journal entries are now combined and the pictures are chronologically
organized, so it makes sense.
Killdeer in Greater Sunset Area
The whole area from the lake, out from
the water in Sunset Bay itself out to Garland Road on the south and Buckner on
the east is "Sunset Bay," and I found this guy at the corner of Poppy
Drive and East Lawther (although they might have changed that street name; I'll
look tomorrow.) in the "park" area east southeast of Sunset Bay proper.
Killdeer nest all over White Rock Lake.
Thought It Was a Mallard
When I was shooting this, worried more about
focusing and photo stuff like that, I assumed it was a female mallard. But female
Mallards don't have black beaks, so I'm not sure. Have to look it up in one of
my five favorite Bird I.D books. I looked and looked and didn't find, so I'll
admit I don't know who this is. I'm not even sure it's a duck. The face looks
a lot like a goose, but perhaps a wild variety. Unsub.
These Are Mallards
Today was a test of my 300mm tele with the
2X extender I gave up on a month ago. Seems to work just fine, when I set the
focus grid right, and sometimes when I don't. Guess I should try it out more
Grackles still throw my miniscule bird identifying
skills. I so wanted this to be something different, but she's just not.
American White Pelican Flying with Ring-billed
Gull and over American Coots
Even when sharing the same or very similar
air under similar circumstance.
Pintail Duck Preening
This duck — if it's the same one — comes
to visit Sunset Bay sometimes. He was often seen off Sunset Beach last
autumn, then he disappeared as easily and quickly as he had appeared. I wondered
if we'd see it again. Sure enough.
Check out my Annotated
Map of White Rock Lake for a full list of birds often found in Sunset Bay — and
other sites around the lake.
White Rock Lake,
inside Dallas, Texas, USA
Gull Racing with Coots
Today was just fun. I knew there'd be birds
in Sunset Bay, and if I was lucky, friends, too. And there was and they were,
Coots vs. Gulls
A guy and his son were feeding bread to coots,
and of course the gulls stayed close. They seemed oblivious of all the havoc
they were causing. At least three photographers, maybe four or five were enjoying
this and other avian shows.
Coot Long Gone
I love the abstraction of gull wings white
and coot black on the rustled blue water.
Gull Want Coot Bread
And all the splashing.
Two Wet Gulls Flying
Just flying along.
Among the blue and black.
Grackle Wingspread Red
I can't imagine me being quoted saying I
photograph grackles and pigeons, because they're easier to focus. Maybe when
they're holding still, but few birds do that.
Too Many People on the Pier at Sunset Bay
for Serious Birding
We drove by, took one
look at the mob on the pier, and decided not to venture there. You can't see
them this small, but there was at least one dog, too. I guess if you have a dog
it seems natural to go birding with one, but most birds are afraid of dogs.
Grackle Tree Toppers
So we watched the grackle trees fill and
empty near sunset at Sunset Bay instead. The next day and the day after that,
the grackles were nearly gone. Perhaps what grackles gather for is people, since
there were almost as many of those as grackles that day.
of Pages A
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text and photographs Copyright 2014 by J
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without
specific written permission from and payment to
the writer or photographer. My favorite answer is, "I
don't know." I
am, after all, an amateur. I've only been birding for
seven years — nearly all of which is documented on my Bird Journal.
photographing professionally and semi-professionally and almost always amateurishly
at least 1964. Thanks always to Anna.
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