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The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton
All Contents © 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.  DO NOT USE photos without permission
The Current Journal    green square Bald Eagle green square Pelican Beaks green square Herons green square Egrets green square Both green square Feedback green square I.Ds green square White green square Links
Special thanks to Jason M. Hogle for bird identification and back-stories, usually in purple type added later.

White Rock Lake

July 31

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

Little Blue Heron Hunting

Always nice at the end of a month to find a beautiful bird, because it will be here on the top of this page for awhile. Today, wandering around the bay I happened to see a tiny movement off in the weeds. A familiar heron shape — long neck, long beak, reds, bronzes and grays, so I knew it was a Little Blue Heron, one of my favorites.

Prey Thrust with Wings Balance - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Prey Thrust with Wings Balance

I sat and watched, hunkered down as comfortable as these things get. I thought of stakeouts, though there was no car cushions in my brief dry world shooting this today. When the Little Blue Heron (LBH) suddenly thrust forward like this I thought it had tripped, then righted itself. But no. It was after some little morsel.

Little Blue Heron Startled At Not Catching Anything - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Startled at Not Catching Anything with that Thrust

Which, apparently, it did not catch. Note the look of startlement amid the splattering water drops when it came up.

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

LBH Pretzel Turn

Perhaps overcompensating after that little dipsy-do, here it exaggerates a turn to follow some other unseen morsel.

Catching a Little Morsel - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

LBH Catching A Dark Little Morsel

Which, moments later, it pulled up out of the green mass, its throat and body already expanding to take it down.

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

Full Slinkdown Stealth

You know a heron is very very interested in something when it goes into full slinkdown stealth mode, reducing its visual presence to as small a blot on the prey's landscape as possible.

Head Thrust with Vertical Splash - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

LBH Head Thrust with Vertical Splash

Hunker. Thrust. Splash.

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

LBH Full Fluff

Again no catch, but an alternative body motion — not a pretzel this time, but a full fluff.

LBH Watching with Intent - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

LBH Watching with Great Intent

Today's Little Blue Heron show is all about seeing LBHs at differing angles from how we usually see them (well, different from how I usually see them. I don't think I've ever seen one from this angle before. No biggie, just interesting. Oh, it's wet.

LBH Up At Attention - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

LBH Up at Attention

Something catches its attention, and up goes head, neck uncurls, and it's suddenly so tall I can't get it all in the frame.

LBH Stepping Off Log - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

LBH Stepping Off Log

Big feet, gray-green legs. I first thought this shot showed it standing there cross-legged. Now I'm pretty sure it's stepping off into the green miasmas. Or thinking seriously about it.

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

Ambling Off

This leaning down look is a very familiar Little Blue Heron specialty.

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

Upon Closer Inspection

Lest we think, as I often do, that Little Blue Herons are regular-sized critters, here's a styrofoam cup, and I don't think it's one of those bucket-sized ones, either. LBHs are little tiny birds, so maybe its not such a mystery why the Rocket Launcher kept veering off the focus. I deleted about 40% of today's shoot because it couldn't quite keep the slowly but quirkily moving bird in sharp focus.

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

LBH Lean Low

As it got closer, however, focus was easier.

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

Sudden Flight

I kept thinking this couldn't go on for much longer before it took flight. When it did, I managed to follow it up and away, but focus was not happening, as it so often does not with the Sigma.

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

Little Blue Heron Flying Away

Then it was gone, like a sylph into the other world, a being that is mostly air.

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July 29

 Yellow-crowned Night-Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Clammy, cloudy day. Even early, but plenty birds to be seen and photographed.

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

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Standing Up at Attention

I was especially taken by this jaunty YCNH hunting in the grass at Dryfuss, near perfectly blending into the abundant green.

Anna's Photo of the Tri Kid - copyright 2009 Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas-hatched Tricolored Heron Kid

Anna's been paying careful attention to the last living Tricolored Heron chick we know of — I assume there's three in the rook's interior we don't for each one we see. Another, who'd hatched earlier (last photographed ten days ago, below on this page) probably flew off with parents before the second wave of 100+ degree temperatures hit. I have no idea where to, although they've been seen hunting in Hidden Creek upstream from Sunset Bay...

Meanwhile, back at the lake:

Wood Family Parade up the Lagoon - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Male (right) and Four Adult Female Wood Ducks

I was looking — actually mostly listening — for a raucous young family of Cooper's Hawks who were reported to be busy learning how to hunt, but I did not find them (again) where they were reported to be, though I tracked their map several times, needing to walk probably even more than needing to get their pictures. I keep thinking of this shot as a male with his harem, though there may be some other dynamic at work here.

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

Pausing Cliff Swallow

Driving home, I thought maybe something interesting might be waiting for me at the Old Boat House Lagoon, and these guys were. They even posed nicely and quizically.

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

Cliff Swallow Stare

I guess we both knew I wasn't going to be able to catch them as they flew wildly about on their usual rollercoaster flight paths with the Rocket Launcher on this darkish day as they skittered through the sky catching bugs.

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

Egret in the Weeds

There's nearly always an egret around, so I shot that, too.

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

XCU Great Egret

And since he graciously allowed humans on the bridge to get very close, I got this slender shot, too.

Dead, Bloated Racoon - dedicate to the beligerant cop I encounterd today - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dead, Bloated Raccoon

Earlier, on my way down Lawther from Garland Avenue, I saw this disgusting beast that somebody had apparently hit driving down the 25 miles per hour limit road.

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July 24 again

 Tail-drag Landing of the Neotropic Cormorant - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Tail-drag Landing of a Neotropic Cormorant

Sorting through the too-many shots of this month's shoots in preparation for it to become next month soon, I found this landing, very nearly in focus. Looking closer, I discovered it's our other variety of cormorant. Not a Double-crested but a Neotropic Cormorant.

Tail-drag Landing Continued - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tail-drag Landing Continues in Elongated Skid

Also called "Olivacerous," "Mexican" or "Brazilian" Cormorants, according to my treasured Lone Pine Birds of Texas, this variety is much less often seen in these parts, and are generally difficult to discern from their much more svelte of body and beak cousins.

Two Neotropic Cormorants on a Log - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Neotropic Cormorants on a Log

My chief marker to differentiate Neotropics from our much more common Double-cresteds (I still don't see either crest.) is the sometimes very thin white delta-shapes white "lips" where beak meets face — what the Lone Pine edition calls, "white outline on throat patch" barely discernable in the tail-drag landing shots, but more obvious in the corms above.

I guess my tip-off was the tail-drag landing, in which both species may partake. I don't know whether Neotropics generally land with their tails down. Probably depends on air speed and humididity of the landing strip.

NOTE: I'm finding less time to track down I.Ds for your unknown birds. Please use a field bird identification book in your local library or Sibley's Guide to Birds now online.

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July 24

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

The Bay Gray in Full Array

Ahhhh! Finally. Back to White Rock Lake. I bee-lined to where I think of as and feel at home, Sunset Bay, where I always find interesting birds, many of those times the same bunch — the usual suspects. By now we should be on first-name basis. Though no busy little Snowy Egret flitting about fishing.

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

Pretzel Preening

Tying itself nearly in knots despite all the summer fringe, the "bay gray" pulls out feathers as it preens. Its colors keep changing, because I was experimenting with my cam's auto ISO today, when I should have just let it sit on low ISO. So it was upping and downing it all the time I was shooting, and ISO has some vague reference to colors, which los ISO does not.

This and the shot of it paying attention a could shots down are probably the most color accurate today, though none of these shots are outrageiously miscolored. Great Blue Herons change color in every light. I've seen them fly directly over looking black, skidding to slow and stop at the edge of Lake Tawakony looking royal blue and out over the lake often looking just gray.

Bay Gray Staring Back - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bay Gray Staring Straight at the Photographer

Showing off its colors. Looks like it could almost be but it's not a Tricolored Heron. Nope, it's the Great Blue Heron I've been calling the Bay Gray, because GBHs are essentially gray, but there's plenty of color in there among its early summer finery of feathers and today's rising sunlight ambers.

Bay Gray Pays Attention - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bay Gray Pays Attention

So many positions herons and egrets adopt in the game to catch, well, uh... game. Here it's paying full attention.

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

Hunkered Great Egret

And here, a Great Egret, hunkers down in the same goal.

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

Elegant Egret

Glowing in the early morning light.

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

Flapping Cormorant

Golden light. Golden bird, flapping.

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

Coot Mirror

Most cormorants are gone by this late in the summer, but then so are most of the coots. A few stalwarts of both stay with us year around. My favorite coot parts are those big, honking lobed feet, which I've seen them propel themselves with underwater — almost like a screw-propellar on a submarine — "dive, dive!"

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The Rookery

July 22

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

Wrinkly Egret Chick

After shooting essentially the same shots every time I've been at the Med Center Rookery in awhile, I decided today to do up egrets a little different than before, though I wasn't sure how.

Eeg Feet Flyin' Away - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egret Feet Flying Away

Guess I was feeling a little abstract, because that's the way today's images turned out. More than a little sometimes.

Egret in Crotch of Tree -cpry

Great Egret in the Crotch of a Tree

Franz Kleine meets Jimbo Audubon.

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

Egret Sibs I

Many of today's more interesting and confusing shots have to do with young egrets who've only very recently come out of eggs, then the nest, although it's still difficult to call birds this big, "chicks."

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

Egret Sibs B

Lotta big, fluffy wing feathers here in this sibling play.

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

x

Looking a lot like a chair on a mild merry-go-round,

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

Egret Flyaway I

Here's an egret parent flying away, possibly for more food for the chicks.

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

Egret Flyaway B

I was intriguied by the wing action and dark, shadowy shapes.

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

Egret Flyaway III

And the elegant splays of sunshine on feather shapes.

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

De-birded Wings

Even without their birds.

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

Wings X

All week I've been photographing birds through crisscross shadows through trees.

Whose Head Is This, Anyway - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Whose Head Is This, Anyway

Often wondering what was going on up there.

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

Feeding Baby

Were they feeding or just fooling around with their new bodies and wings? Feeding here, fooling around was constant.

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

Sibs

Lots of big, furry action.

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

Tricolored Heron "chick"

And occasional shots of visitors up from the coast's babies, too.

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July 18

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

Tricolored Heron Chicks

These two little guys are why I was at the Medical Center Rookery this early Saturday morning. Not that they were easy to see or photograph. They weren't even visible most of the time I was at the rookery. Both times. I went early, met friends there, and we all went to the Arlington Drying Beds to see what we could see. Yes, this mid-day shot used on-camera flash to lighten the darkness in the trees.

Also see Fain Zimmerman's photos of Tricolored Heron chicks (link fixed) in Rockport, Texas along the Gulf Coast from earlier this month, below.

Leaning Out to See the World - copyright 2009 Anna Palmer

Leaning Out to See the World

Anna got this the next day. I think it's the same nest.

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

Tricolored Heron Parent

This is who sat the nest later this morning when we got back from the Arlington Drying beds. We were all proud of her for sticking it out through the heat of early summer here, although I don't guess she had much alternative.

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

Adult Tricolored Heron

I say 'she,' because we said 'she,' though none of us have any way of telling them apart. I'm trying to remember or find whether it was the male or female Killdeer who sit the nest at night, but the fact blurs in my brain, not that it necessarily has any relation to Tricolored Heron's nest sitting schedules.

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

Baby Ibis Resting

This likable fluff of feathers and banded beak is a baby White Ibis I watched and photographed very early in the day. So early it was still dark in the treetops, so these were shot with very high ISO, then sanded down smooth to present here. It's sitting in place, because it can do that fairly well.

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

Ibis Chick Struggling

Every time it tried to move around in the tree, however, it struggled to stay upright and to stay up in the tree. Lots of wild wing-flopping and stumbling into limbs. I felt for it. Every part it has is new, and few of them work perfectly the first time it attempted any movement. I never saw an adult around to explain things while it tripped and flailed up there, learning how to do trees.

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

Ibis Chick with Parent

But there was a parental unit available for reminding it who it was, and likely, for food. Ibis chicks who are hungry or scared or whatever, emit a peculiar, cricket-like sound that's more obvious than they are in the Flip video Anna just linked me.

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

Two Stages of Ibis

Here's a shot Anna got later of a parent with two bouncing baby Ibis.

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

Baby Black-crowned Night-Heron

I'm adding this cute little guy (or gal) much later than these surrounding images, because I'm going through images toward the end of the month, and this one is just so cute. And small. I photographed Ibis parents before and after it, so I assumed it was one of those, also, but now I'm less sure. Its eyes are amber, and so are Tricolored Heron chicks. While Ibis Eyes are black, so it must be about the smallest baby Tricolored Heron I've photographed, without that nest in the big way of seeing it. Although it could be any of a number of other species, too. I sent it off to Jason to find out.

Says Jason Hogle, "It's a Black-crowned Night-Heron chick. Looks like a very young one, too. All the fluffy down sticking up around its head will flatten out quickly after it fledges. Also, its wings are still highly underdeveloped and there are no tail feathers yet.

Black-crowned Night-Herons and Anhingas eat the chicks from other species, so their fledglings lurk about waiting for a chance to grab some food. That's why they're often seen standing near other nests — waiting for that moment when a parent isn't being as watchful as it needs to be.

Note that the eye color, leg color, and plumage color and design are indicative of the chicks from two species: Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and Black-crowned Night-Heron. Yellow-crown chicks would have less apparent marbling on the back and wings (making them look darker), plus they'd have longer legs, a smaller head, and a shorter, all-dark bill that doesn't have the slight downward curve of the black-crowns."

Thank you, Jason.

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

Black-crowned Night Heron Chick

This little one was not flailing, barely moving — and far easier to photograph without blurs. It had that hungry and willing to wait, look about it.

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

Three Egrets

I just wanted to remind us all that though there's a bunch of Ibis at the rookery, and a spare few pairs of Tricolored Herons, there's jillions of Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and Cattle Egrets, as well as a few Little Blue Herons.

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

Robin in Garages

I found this robin on the ledge on the top of the eastern most parking garage.

Arlington Drying Beds

Great Tripodal Stance - crpy

Great Bipedal Tripod Stance

Many birders were at the beds today. More than I'd ever seen there. Lots of help. This bird was at that pond, etc. Pleasant community feeling.

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

Female Mallard

In the right light to show purple and a distinctive wing-feathers spread.

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

Common Moorhen

Despite much talk of a Purple Gallinule, what we saw instead was this Common Moorhen, who is not nearly as colorful as its un-white-striped cousins.

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

Changing Little Blue Heron

We couldn't imagine what bird this was, flying over distant fields. If it had been closer, we might have seen that long beak and familiar heron shape and maybe figured it out. This is my only shot that's close to focus, and I had to stare at its greatly enlarged form on the monitor a few minutes before I remembered seeing another changing LBH out there a few weeks back.

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

Green Heron Bark

Don't know why it was barking, but soon as it started I got my camera up and shooting. Lone Pine's Birds of Texas says, "generally quiet. Loud skow alarm call." Oddly, there's no word in online dictionaries spelled that way. Must be the sound of its voice. I heard barking, but I've rarely heard it before, and I'm a big fan of Green Herons.

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

Green Heron Close-up

Not as if the heron considered itself in danger. It stayed close to this side of the pond — and an abundance of birders — for a long time.

Green Heron from Tree - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Heron Dropping into Flight

We saw this one in the tree, where it took us a few moments to realize how small Green Herons really are, big as they look in closer-up photographs without local size references.

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

Spot-fronted Brown Bird with Black Stripe Wings

Lots of interesting details here: That it is stumbling and wrapping itself around that post, may means it's a juveile something. The black on its wings, the fuzzy pants and spots on its front, longish black beak may back that notion up. But what it it?

I really should have known this one. I knew it then, but that black stripe around the wings totally threw me. Says Jason Hogle, "The "Spot-fronted Brown Bird with Black" from your Arlington Drying Beds entry is a good one. The image perspective plays tricks on you. Did you notice the long tail hanging down behind the bird? It looks like part of the wing on the left side of the image, but a close look shows it's the tail. The colors and patterns tell the rest of the story: it's a juvenile male great-tailed grackle that's just starting to take on the adult plumage."

Western Kingbird with Bug - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Western Kingbird with Bug

I know this bird, though I'm unfamiliar with its bug.

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

Snowy Egret

There were lots of Snowy Egrets there Saturday. We see them so often at the lake, there's not much reason to photograph every one, but this one seemed particularly handsome with its long black legs, beak and yellow lores and feet. Great egrets have long yellow beaks and black legs and feet.

If you like snowies like I like snowies, check out the last journal entry.

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

Cozy Tree

When I shot these I assumed they were Western Kingbirds, and they probably still are. There's almost always plenty WKs at the beds, but might these be Western Kingbird chicks all cozied up on this almost-tree? Jason Hogle agrees and amplifies, "the "Cozy Tree" photo does show all western kingbirds as you suspected. There's a bit of shadow draped over the two huddled together on the lower branch, so that makes their heads look darker than you'd otherwise expect."

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

Little Blue Heron Feeding in Pond Scum

I couldn't pass on an opportunity to photograph an LBH.

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

"Spotty Shorebird" — Lesser Yellowlegs

We wanted to find a Willet, but I really wouldn't know one if I saw it. Times like this that I find great humor in people sending me photos and vague descriptions of birds expecting me to know what it is. The biggest word on this page is still "amateur," and its size is indicative. Long-legged shorebirds are especially confusing to this birder. Probably if I lived on The Coast, they'd be more familiar. But I still don't always get Mockingbirds, Grackles and Robins identified correctly the first time.

Bird identifier extraordinaire Jason Hogle says, "The "Spotty Shorebird" is a lesser yellowlegs. A willet would have gray legs, a thicker bill and more markings on the breast and flanks. A greater yellowlegs would have more spotting along the flanks and a longer, slightly upturned bill (which is sometimes not easy to see)."

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

"Brown Shorebird" is a Solitary Sandpiper

So what do we have here? I suppose it could be the same bird but with differing exposure, but this one sure looks browner than the one above. Hmmm ... We heard several birders talking about Greater Yellowlegs, but these do not look like the ones I've successfully identified in the past.

Says Jason M. Hogle, "And great eye! The next photo ("Brown Shorebird") shows a completely different bird: it's a solitary sandpiper. Note the white chin as compared to the previous bird's spotted/barred chin. Also note the dark breast as compared to the previous bird's spotted/barred breast. Finally, note the first bird has obvious marbling across the back whereas the second bird has small white spots (even with exposure differences, the patterns are not the same)."

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

Killdeers Flying

We had no idea what these were when they jetted past us in a random compressing flock. This closer look, however, makes it obvious. Most, if not all of these are, Killdeer. Maybe the littler ones are juveniles.

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White Rock Lake

July 16

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

Wing Wave Snowy

Remember me mentioning the hyperactive Snowy Egrets last time out, who out-hyper any Little Blue Heron or any other heron or egret I know of? This is a Snowy Egret in action.Not just hyper but a little crazed. But very good at what it does, and like every other bird what it spends the most of its energy doing, is finding food.

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

Splash A Fish

Snowy Egrets are fisher birds, and in the twenty minutes or so I watched — and photographed — this one, it caught three fish. Pretty good for any heron. Of course, if you or I were nearly as hyper as a Snowy, we'd have to eat a lot more than we already do to stay that active.

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

Big-time Results

As is often the case with me and big birds, all these shots are of the same bird, and I could probably go back again tomorrow and find it just as active and just as successful at catching food. My precious little Birds of Texas book that tells stories and what birds eat, says this is a "stand-and-wait predator; also actively chases after fish in shallows, which is where I found this one.

Note how much bigger this Snowy seems. Its neck/throat has expanded considerably, and so has its body, all in preparation for ingesting and digesting food.

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

Wing Dance

Reminds me of the so-described "drunken dance" of its cousins the Reddish Egrets we watched in amazement on the South Texas Coast month before last. Like that much bigger bird, Snowies are not drunken at all, but have developed a highly specialized — and bizarre appearing — set of fishing technique that work.

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

Step Splash

Sometimes, comparatively often, Snowy Egrets adopt a fairly conservative wait and watch procedure, but a lot of the time, they're dancing around, flying thither and yon, back and forth, up and down.

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

Snowy Jump

Difficult as heck to follow focus on these wildly gyrating birds. Just when I thought I knew what it might try next, it would do something else stranger than I could imagine.

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

Winged Fisher

Look at those long, orange gloves streamline into the shallow water. Not so much comical as very business-like.

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

Hot Cha-chaah!

Dynamic, amazing bird in near constant action. And very very good at catching fish.

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

Calisthenics

Almost as if it were trying to scare the fish into action, so it could get 'em.

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

Tent

I've read and seen Nature videos of some foreign herons spreading their wings and cupping them over fish in the water in attempt to either cut out the light from above or scare them into thinking There Is No Escape and panic them. I don't know which of those is going on here, but this bird kept that pose for five shots over about seven seconds that I kept shooting — about as long as it held still all the time I watched.

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

Snowy Aggression

Then it jumped into yet another, more active mode.

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

Female and Summer Eclipse Male Wood Duck

Meanwhile, I was following several sets of Wood Ducks.

Mrs Wood & Six Baby Woods - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mrs. Woods and a Half-dozen Babies

I followed this mom and her kits all the way across the lagoon and back.

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

Wood Duck Train

Often in very close order drill.

Little Blue Heron Just Standing There - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Just Standing There

I'd also noticed a Little Blue Heron up the Lagoon a bit, but it didn't seem to be doing much more than just standing there, maybe preening a little, but nothing at all when I photographed it, just in case, ya never know.

Suddenly Two - cpyr

Suddenly Two

Then, moments later while I was thinking about finding the much more interesting in that brief moment, Snowy Egret still fishing nearby, when I looked up and, suddenly, my single Little Blue Heron had morphed into two Little Blue Herons leaving the vicinity in a hurry.

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

Two Very Active LBHs

I wasn't ready for the one LBH to move, and I was amazed that there were suddenly two very active Little Blue Herons that I wasn't ready for, and I kept hoping against hope that my stupid Sigma lens would focus — even though there were other objects in the vicinity. Surely my camera would tell it that the moving objects I was panning along with were what to focus on.

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

Sigma-blurry Little Blue Heron Flying rapidly past

But if the Sigma lens was listening, it was not gathering any such information. As usual. It never quite focused, even though it had plenty chances. I was dismayed but hardly surprised as the two, mostly gray Little Blue Herons sped past me and out over the lake.

And when the LBHs were gone, I again began thinking about someday owning a fast-focusing Nikon AFS (auto focus super, speedy or some such) lens instead of the elephant leg I was lugging around. Nikon's wildly popular and optically superb and fast-focusing 300mm lens has recently been in short supply, which may mean a new model — surely with VR (Vibration Reduction the Nippon Camera Company calls optical stabilization) in the offing soon.

I sure hope so. It'd be amazing to have a lens that quickly focused on fast-moving objects, like birds. Though it would probably cost a good deal more than silly Sigma rocket launchers.
 

NOTE: Slowly, gradually, I am introducing partially new design for this site, mostly at the top of pages. This is so we can more quickly link to Last Month, Next Month, the Page Index and This Month Last Year. I've also been fiddling with the Search link I often use to find specific birds here.

Rookery News Video: Several people whose names you may recognize from this journal are featured on a WFAA 8 news brief abou The Medical Center Rookery and its injured birds, but you'll have to hear an obnoxious ad first.

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July 14

LBH Foot-drag Landing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Foot-drag Take-off

Not that I get up early, these days I stay up till early, photo some birds, till I can't anymore, crash and wake up that afternoon or evening and finish the page. Gets me to the lake in comparative cool when birds are more active.

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

Flying Low

I can find fairly active birds almost any time — even in the scorching heat, but the really interesting birds are mostly active early and I far prefer a cool 80-something to 103 or 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

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

Elegant Two-point Landing

So I, too, am active early these days. All the pictures of this bird I shot even earlier this morning, when it was pretty far away, were out of focus. Couple hundred of those. I guess that early I kept thinking maybe the next one will be sharp. Disappointing, but both me and the bird kept at it.

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

Sniffin' Close

Then when it flew in closer, me click-clunking away — it never seemed bothered by the loud mirror bouncing, shutter clunking noise — its pictures turned sharp. Must be more than a coincident. It was busy fishing, at which Little Blue Herons are sometimes amazing.

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

Stab Splash

This particular Little Blue Heron this morning was not amazing, except that it had tenacity, as did I documenting it.

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

Careful Scrutiny

But every once in a long while, it would see something.

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

Ka-Sploosh!

Quickly dunk under to get it and, luckily for me, they are either semi- spectacular at getting it — or play with it for a while till I got my shot.

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

Little Blue Heron Juggling a Fish

Little Blue Herons, even those that sometimes look big and powerful through tricks of optics and distance and a Rocket Launcher lens, are little creatures (about 24 inches long with wingspans of only about 3.5 feet) that blend extraordinarily well into whatever background happenstance offers.

Little Blue Herons may be my all-time favorite birds, although I have an affection for Great Blue Herons that is all out of proportion. If I wore dangly things, I'd have one of a GBH for sure, although the adventuresome spirit and verve of LBHs may deserve that honor more.

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

Comparative Sizes

Even when I know exactly where they are, they are often very difficult to see. Almost every time I checked focus or exposure or how many shots I had left on the card, when I looked back up to photograph it more, the Little Blue Heron had disappeared again. Like a little blue mirage in a blue and green desert.

LBH Shakin' It - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Shaking It

When feathers get too heavy or out of place or something just feels awry or amiss, birds gotta ruffle. All birds I've seen so far, sooner or later gotta ruffle everything, stick 'em all out and shake it all around, Hokey Pokey or not. I've got a page full of them doing that, so I know, and this is an amazing one of those. I know there's a proper term for that diffuse action, and I should probably ask Jason what it is

Scrunch Down Twist Around - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scrunch Down, Twist Around, Catch a Pile of Fishes

Little Blue Herons adopt some of the most comical and/or amazing positions of any Egron (egret/heron). I don't think I've ever seen anybody else do a "Knock-Kneed Crouch with Full Head-Twist" before. Glad I got a photo, or even I might not believe it.

I've been calling egrets and herons "egrons" and sometimes "Hegrets," but more properly they are all herons, and most of the white herons are called egrets. See Herons, Egrets and Herons vs. Egrets for more info about them all and how to I.D one from another.

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

Investigative Pause

Amazing to watch, and today I was lucky enough to see this one come closer and closer, so gradually, slowly, it simultaneously sharper and more desperate for food, checking every nook and cranny.

Catching a Little Something - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Catching A Little Something

I would have loved to see it catch something big enough to recognize in a photograph. It would probably have liked that, too. But I saw it stop and deal with some things small and unrecognizable — like this whatever — often.

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

Look A Way

[First time I wrote this, I said that during all the time I watched this LBH — about 40 minutes — I never saw it catch anything bigger than that little fish it juggled. I thought that till I checked back through to delete all my early blurs, when I found this encounter:

LBH w Big Something - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

LBH with a big clump of something to eat

Not sure what that is it's caught, or how it turned from the sorta fish-shaped thingy above into the brown thing in the next show, but it was splattering water every which way till the LBH killed it or something.

LBH w big blot of food - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

No Idea What this Is, but Its Neck is Thick, so It's Gonna Eat It

Now, we'll return to our regularly scheduled program.]

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

Pulling Up Garbage

Several times I saw it dredge up what looked like soaked rags, big chunks of cardboard or similar unsub materials.

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

Upon Further Examination, However

Much as that crud it pulled up, it never seemed to eat any of it, exhibiting instead something between hope, desire and curiosity. It must have expected something to swim or crawl out when it pulled that junk up.

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

Looking Low

According to my story-filled, Lone Pine Birds of Texas, Little Blue Herons eat fish, amphibians and aquatic invertebrates. I looked up that last phrase, curious who those guys were, and apparently there are books that just list them, and many are in danger of extinction. So probably are the birds who eat them. According to the Water Words Glossary online, aquatic invertebrates include insects, mollusks and crayfish. I was hoping for more detail.

According to Stalking Wildlife Aboard Florida's Gator Gal, LBHs mostly eat frogs and minnows. The much more detailed report in The Animal Diversity Web says about Little Blue Heron's Food Habits:

Egretta caerulea feed mainly during the daylight hours. They are carnivorous, with their diet consisting of fish, frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, and crustaceans such as fiddler crabs, crayfish and shrimp. They also eat aquatic insects and spiders. When swamps and marshes become dry, they live on grasshoppers, crickets, beetles and other grassland insects.

The Little Blue Heron's long legs enable it to wade into the water, where it walks slowly along an area in order to locate prey, often retracing its steps or standing motionless. They sometimes rake the ground with their foot to disturb prey into movement and stretch their long necks to peer into the water. Their long beak is used to jab and eat the prey. Extensive studies found the heron's prey capture success rate to be about 60 percent. (Terres 1980, Riegner 1998)

And, according to another report, they will also sometimes scavenge and eat mullet carcases and other rotting flesh.

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

LBH (Little Blue Heron) Looking for Food

LBHs aren't as hyperactive as the similar-sized, bright white Snowy Egrets. Almost nobody has that much energy and speed, but they are fast, looking this way, then that, back and forth, faster than this old photographer can keep up most of the time. Luckily, they stop and stare often.

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

Twisting, Turning, Yearning to Catch Some Food

The much larger (double or more the dimensions) Great Blue Heron and Great Egrets are patient and slow. These guys are energetic — and amazing fun to watch. When one can still see them. And, yes, all these shots are of the same Little Blue Heron, even though it seems to change colors, shapes, existence, moment by moment.

Bright Eyes, Long Neck - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bright Eyes, Long Neck, Hunger in Action

Every time I looked away, and some of the times while I watched intently, this seemingly starkly-designed bird, utterly disappeared into the similarly-toned and colored background of water and rippling shadows of trees and plants. At least a dozen times during today's 40 minutes of intense watching and photographing.

LINKS

In today's several web searches, I discovered Jason M. Hogle (our expert bird-identifier)'s Xenogere that Anna had told me about but I had not yet read. That biological blog includes a report on Little Blue Herons, especially at the Medical School Rookery, and many other birds and animals.

I also discovered this charming video that documents and explains Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center that we visit and photograph often on these pages.

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July 12

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

Why I Haven't Been Back Here in Awhile

Has been awhile since I visited what had been my favorite and most productive bird-photographing perch at White Rock Lake, and these machines and dozens more like them — as well as the "thinking" that got them here — is why. It's almost as if The City, even before their water-soaked and undermined 'retaining walls' fell, had all along set about to fill the Spillway Canyon with concrete.

At least they're buying American.

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

Rusty Great Blue Heron on the Steps

When I tried to propose my theories of the Spillway idiocy to Sheffie, the area City Councilperson, he stared through me and said, "You an engineer?" And of course I am not, but I think neither must be the City's designers of this and the previous Spillway fiascos.

They either allowed or planned for two self-destroying places on the "retaining wall" along the Garland Road side of the Spillway to gradually fill with water (I have photos, but they are boring), which undermined the those concrete-block walls, so they blew out during the 100-year-flood that finally set all this concrete-pouring into action.

Snowy Flying Low Over Dark Water - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Flying Low Over Dark Water

Or inaction, as the case usually is.

Snowy in the Crosscureent Falls - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy in Crosscurrent Falls

I expect stupidity from government engineers. Consider New Orleans or any of our other major man-made disasters. That bridge in Minnesota. Etc. etc. etc. Engineers are always in the thick of those mis-estimations. What upsets me is that all that equipment and their concomitant drilling, digging, bashing and pouring, seriously interferes with my bird photography, although it has not kept the birds away.

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

Glory 'Gret

So this morning, I set about discovering what photography I could still do in the confines of this man-making disaster, and I found several. The walking bridge over the Lower Steps that turns the flow from the dam east after it drips or gushes lower down the Spillway, is blocked off at both ends, leaving it like an island of steel in the busy yard, even though it plays little part in the destruction so far. That's my all-time favorite White Rock perch.

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

Great Egret Landing on the Slanted End of the Spillway
where the water turns east and all the fishes race to waiting and hungry birds

What's left is the three-lane Garland Road automobile bridge over White Rock Creek (apparently there are about twenty creeks so named in and around Dallas. This is the one that exits the lake down the Spillway, turns at the Steps and flows through the municipal golf course and south under I-30).

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

Black-crowned Night-Heron Chases a Snowy Egret

The walking and bicycling portion of that bridge is narrowed by a four-foot-high chunk of concrete on the car side and 'protected' by a chain-link fence taller than I am on top of a concrete (what else?) abutment along the Spillway side. The concrete is narrow but if one is just a bit deft (or daft), one can stand on it, cantilevering the shins off the steel rail set into its top, so that I am depending considerably more on my skeleton and muscles against the rail and not, almost at all, on the much weaker fence across its top.

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

Still Chasing

Or so I kept telling myself.

Walkers walked by me below and bicyclers raced past all of us along that rather narrow chute. When this concrete project is finished, there'll be two separate paths. One for human beings and another, separate path for steam-rolling bicyclers. Right now, the two groups often occupy the same space under nearly the same circumstances, making it very dangerous for all.

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

Chasing Snowy Up the Steps

Of course, the bikes are traveling at great speed, while most humans are walking or running, and the crazed photographer is "hanging" from the fence hoping to get insightful images and not fall into the abyss. I don't know how many people are injured there, but I bet a lot more than anybody yet realizes. Engineers at work again.

Says our best bird-identifier Jason Hogle, "The black-crowned night-heron chasing the snowy egret at the spillway is a great find. Competition can be ugly and violent, but that series of photos shows a slightly less bloody aspect. Very cool!"

GBH Jumps into Flight - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron Jumps into Flight off the Top of the Steps

The old, blocked off, walking bridge is very much in the way of said photographer's view of any bird who flies up past the top of the Spillway's Lower Steps. And the columns that hold that bridge up are in the way of much lateral bird movement, but bird photography always has its challenges.

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

Great Blue Herons Have a Wingspan of 72 inches

But I was surprised to learn that it is still possible to take interesting photographs of Hegrets' and Egrons' inter- and intra-action down there. Next time, I'll take my little plastic toolbox that I've often used to stand taller — and more securely — against the similarly tall guard rail along the walking bridge. It's a little clunky, but it has a comfortable handle and provides approximately 160 square inches of standing space and raises me an important additionsl 13 inches.

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

Great Blue Heron on the Steps

This morning's second perch, at the upper, dam end of the fence offers a smallish but substantial, though difficult to attain for this unathletic old guy, concrete chunk to stand on. The tool stool would help me get up on that chunk, but placing it on the already narrow passageway would likely endanger bicylers and walkers allong that narrow, engineered trough.

Great Egret Jumps the Big Splash - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Jumps the Big Splashy at the End of the Steps

Next time, I'll go a little later, when the sun's begun to fill that busy little bowl of water and birds, and I'll pay more attention to expose. These were substantially under-shot, although they turned out well, thanks to shooting RAW, uncompressed image files. I couldn't usually check my exposures while precariously perched there.

BCNH Jumps Down the Steps - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crowned Night-Heron Lands on the Steps

Hanging around the steel rail on the concrete along the fence was a strenuous endeavor, although I didn't have that much else to do at the time. It was fun being up there, and I was out of the flow of traffic that grew substantial as the sun rose, though it was always uncomfortably hot.

BCNH Tippy-Toe Running - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crowned Night-Heron with Occipital Plume Angled Up Runs on Tippy-Toes

More light helped me, too, as you can see in this well-exposed shot of a Black-crowned Night-Heron running along the steps. I love the way its head plumes rake back as it scampers.

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

Black-crowned Night-Heron Slows

Part of the claimed reason for adding all those giga-tons of concrete was to redirect water over the steps, but the far side (closer to the 7-11) remains dry while the others are very wet. That could change upon the project's completion, but I doubt it. I strongly suspect that whoever sold all that concrete is who aimed this whole phony retaining-wall demolition and concrete-pouring extravaganza. Follow the money.

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

Black-crowned Night Heron Scrutinizes Food in the Water

This Black-crown is staring intently into the water under the bottom step. It's already projected its head out into and under the surface a couple of times, expanding its own architecture by about eighteen inches as it darts to catch food. Black-crowns eat ... I'm always amused by books' insistence that Night-Herons are nocturnal. My precious, story-telling Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas says this bird eats ... "Often at dusk; patient stand-and-wait predator; stabs for fish, crustaceans, amphibians and other aquatic prey."

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

A Great Egret Skating in Thin Air

My new perch and station technique are probably only useful on weekends and holidays, though that time may be expanded by using my toolbox, which would be safer and put zero stress on the fence, but my little experiment this early Sunday morning was enormously successful. I have more images that I might later add here, as I often do, but right now this more truly nocturnal Night Owl needs sleep.

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July 10

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

Yellow-crowned Night Heron Landing in the Hidden Creek Jungle

Three times today I photographed flying Night-Herons close enough to expect quality. Must be heron season, I remember thinking — something I look forward to every year. Yellow-crowns have been scarce after being over-abundant three and more years ago, and I was slow on the uptake — initially more intent on watching than photographing — as this Yellow-crown, my second heron sighting of the day, silently flapped by. My first was the usual object of my affection, the Bay Gray we'll see in a few moments.

Time: 6:36:24 AM.

YCNH Landing Gear Down - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Flaps-down Landing

6:36:26: I'd got the Rocket Launcher into position after oh-so-carefully sneaking, one slow step at a time — each time the Bay Gray looked into the water for food instead of back over its shoulder at me — the length of the Sunset Bay pier till I was crouched down hiding from birds with my lens resting on one of piers, ready to photograph whatever I could, when I noticed this moth-quiet, middle-sized heron flying along the far side.

I was slow on the uptake and didn't get clicking till the YCNH (Yellow-crowned Night-Heron) had passed me and was gliding elegantly through a sudden flock of pigeons toward the jungle growth and tall reeds where things it likes to eat try to hide. Two and three years ago, I'd often watch Yellow-crowns along a similar far-side — of the Boat House Lagoon — usually out in the open. Slow, methodical, they are remarkably successful fisher-birds but much more stealthy in the last couple years.

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

GBH with Feather Pointing Wrong

6:38:06: Back to photographing the Bay Gray, my camera firmly ensconced on one of the more solid piers so there'd be no shaking, when I noticed a large feather on its left side pointing oddly.

Sunset Gray with Feather Awry - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bay Gray with Big Feather Awry

6:39:43: I had earlier watched but was not quick enough to photograph the Gray neatly flip that big feather off, and I watched it float out there, wishing it would eddy back to me, but that was a long way away.

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

Night-Heron Fly-By

6:43:57: A Black-cronwed Night-Heron flew much closer, just out from the near-side lake's edge, and by then I was ready for flyovers, so got a dozen and a half shots of it barreling by in near darkness, my exposures low.

So here slowly unwinding right in front of me was an ideal bird photographer's opportunity. Three herons that I knew of in my close vicinity that would soon be plying the water for their daily meals. Right in front of me and well within the range of my long lens. was excited and eager to document them.

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

Elegant Great Egret Shape

6:52:15: But that was before human variety turkeys came to frighten away all my so carefully planned bird-watching.

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

Wood Duck Harem

6:52:44: I always look for Wood Ducks, one of our Year-round Residents at White Rock Lake, but from where I stood to take this shot, I really couldn't tell who they were, but they seemed an interesting bunch, so click and click.

When several boisterous kids who claimed to be from the Texas Conservation something or other — but acted like radical Christian proselytizers — came loud and boisterously out onto the pier all but ignoring me crouched there in obvious-to-anybody-with-half-a-brain photo stealth mode and scared not only the Bay Gray — it's always the first to split at any distraction — but the Wood Ducks and ...

Black-crowned Night-Heron Flyby - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Night-Heron Back Again

6:56:17: Here came 'my' Black-crowned Night-Heron getting out of that suddenly noisy place. By then there was plenty light but I'd been shooting darker things closer to the surface. I've always got a good excuse ready — and these escape shots were grossly overexposed but I love the motion, especially the jungle side streaking behind this fleeing heron.

As I clicked away, the idiot of the group kept trying to engage me in conversation, repeatedly calling me "Mr. Photographer Man." I attempted to ignore the intrusion, but by then I was so angry with those twenty-nothings for scaring all the birds I'd been so careful with away, I wanted to scream — but they have as much right to be there, as I did, despite their obvious ignorance of their surroundings and lack of couth.

After a few more minutes of their loud idiocy, and nearly no interesting birds remaining, I left, "the friendly one" calling inanely after me, that I "should photograph that bird out there that is different from all the others."

It was a duck.

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

Pigeon Pretending to be a Bird of Peace

The rest of 'today's' shots are a mix from earlier this week:

Natural Camoflauge - copyright Anna Palmer

Monk Parakeet

"Showing off" its natural camouflage.

Eastern Kingbird Up Close - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Eastern Kingbird Up Close

This is a car shot so close you'd think I'd 'a got it in sharp focus, wouldn't ya?

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

Western Kingbird Pair

A cute couple looking down on the photographer.

Jason Hogle, bird identifier, says, "That photo of the two western kingbirds on the wire with the one looking down is absolutely brilliant! I know Anna took that one, but still--it's a fun image."

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

Mama Western Kingbird in Threaded Nest

I looked at this photograph at least a dozen times before I saw Mom back there all subtle and soft.

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

Papa Western Kingbird - Front

They're never this yellow in the books. Wonder why?

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

Western Kingbird - Back

I followed this guy through three sudden jump-up, swoop down to pick up a bug, then off to another perches.

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

Auburn Pigeon

Really liked the way this one auburn-colored pigeon stood out from his crowd.

Mockingbird on a Picnic Table - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mockingbird on a Picnic Table

And this one looked like it was about to take a dive off the board.

Purple Martins on the Spotlight - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Purple Martins on the Spotlight

A bird on every perch.

Robin Kid - copyright Anna Palmer

American Robin Kid - Front

Robin Kids playing in the park.

Robin Kid - side - copyright Anna Palmer

American Robin Kid - Profile

Nice composition.

Robin Twisted - Copyright Anna Palmer

Robin Kid Twisted

Looking the other way.

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

Little Brown Birds

One of those birds — well, two, actually — who always surprise me who they really are — and that I don't know yet. You'd think I'd know these two by now, but Jason says they are both Red-winged Blackbirds.

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July 9

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

Gooses, Fisher Persons and The Bird Squad

Since Stumpy died, I figured there'd be a meeting of the Bird Squad at the lake, and I needed some bird pix for today's entry, so I went to Sunset Bay, where they were just leaving for Dreyfuss, where the gooses had gathered, still finding Sunset to scary.

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

Goose Flap

Watching and learning what gooses do is knowledge applicable to many other birds. I always learn something. Tonight they were, as the Bird Squad kept reiterating, traumatized. They acted subdued, shy, careful. They stayed in groups, close together.

Many people fervently believe that all domestic gooses cannot fly, because they're too heavy, and that's been my experience with the white ones, but I've seen the also ponderous gray/brown gooses run across the water and eventually, if thoroughly stimulated to do so, actually fly.

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

Egg

I wandered off for awhile to look where I'd often seen the Sunset Great Blue Heron (The Sunset Gray) and Great Egrets and both capped Night-Herons. But all I found was this egg. Don't know whose. Not big like a goose egg. More like the ones I buy at the grocery store.

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

Goose Sunset

Back at the squad, I photographed the flock.

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

Bread & Water

There was not as much goose/human interaction as there often was, more like the humans gathered around the gooses than vice versa.

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

Gooses Eating Corn

Near and far, there were birds all around us. Gooses, gray and white, up close. Yellow-crowned Night-Herons flying over nearly invisible up the Hidden Creek area and back out even later and darker, like moths, soft wads of color almost the same as the background distorting across the bay as we watched.

Deciding Where Would Be Safe for the Night - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Deciding Where Would Be Safe for the Night - ISO 1,250

Not long later we saw silhouettes of long necks and pointed beaks on our local Dreyfuss Point horizon. Goose society is not exactly a democracy, but everybody seems to get their say. It took them a long time to decide, or at least to execute their plan for safety tonight. Only my camera could see the lights of their feathers. All I saw was dark goose shapes.

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

Black-crowned Night-Heron on Nearby Limb - ISO 5,000

The friends in the Bird Squad I showed this to, bright on my cam's LCD, were surprised there were birds so close (comparatively close for a Rocket Launcher shooting in dark so dark I could barely see the the bright branches in the background). I like that it was out there watching back, though not in this particular shot. Like us, hanging around being social.

The photo above has been extensively de-noised — I'm experiementing with noise and sharpening filters. The next shot has not.

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

Escape to Comparative Safety - ISO 5,000

And so they swam in a bunched up phalanx out into the deepest water of the lake, where coyotes or wild dogs or whoever else got about a dozen of their number the night before last, could not get to them.

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July 8

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

Stumpy The Goose Died Today

Stumpy the goose that so many people at Sunset Bay have touched, picked up or been groomed by, was euthanized today at noon. Charles, who adopted him, held him during the procedure. Stumpy had extensive injuries and could not be saved.

Ten other geese are missing after what many believe was an attack by a pack of coyotes. According to "Bird Squad" leader Annette Abbot, "We believe we have some injured ones in the woods, as we spotted one of our Toulose geese standing guard there. She always guards the sick and wounded. Our resident mama goose, Jill, an African Goose, is also missing. She has always adopted new babies and probably gave her life for them. The babies are all alive.

We are greatly saddened. The geese are severely traumatized and will not come near Sunset Bay. They stayed at the Bath House last night and Charles was able to coax them onto Dreyfuss to eat. We will work with the Dallas Park and Recreation Department to get the light fixed at the dock on Sunset Bay. The vet said it would be perfect cover for the coyotes to attack.

We have an overpopulation of coyotes at the lake. We counted seven last summer coming within 20 yards of us at night. They have bred and have pups now, so we really have a lot of coyotes. There are at least 2 dens at Sunset Bay and some near Big Thicket. I know it is nature but there are just too many.

Stumpy was one special goose!"

I agree. I've been groomed by Stumpy, have held him and talked with him on many occasions, including earlier this week. When he'd see me, he'd often hobble over to bite my fingers (no pain), while I'd try to hold his beak. I was a big fan.

There will be a memorial for Stumpy TBA.

; j r

July 8

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

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher over Western Kingbird

Anna and I met early on the hill. I'd heard the electronic peeeep of a Killdeer protecting its nest, and another one came and did the usual "I am wounded and you should follow me away from my nest" routine, so we set about attempting to find the nest, usually in the opposite direction of desperately peeping parents.

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

Interspecies Bug Frolic

I ended up gridding the territory down the hill from the peeper, and found instead a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher trying to catch bugs and a Western Kingbird, here catching something largish. So the frolic I thought I saw was actually a tussle between hungry birds, both adept at catching flies and other bugs mid-air.

I heard more peeps and saw more "wounded" Killdeer, but never discovered a nest. Nice to know they're still at it.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in the Weeds - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in the Weeds

Focus is often the issue when tracking Scissor-tails. Here, this one is almost sharp in a muddled background of tall weeds The City likes to proclaim is a Natural Meadow, when we all know it's just some weeds they gloriously let grow in the summer, and full of birdable bugs.

Sizz on a Wire - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scizz on a Wire

The only way my comparatively inexpensive Rocket Launcher lens was going to focus on a flycatcher — not long scissoring tail — was if it stood still, here unusually close on a lower wire than usual.

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

Juvenile Robin Spotty Breast

Anna got some nice shots of somewhat younger robins a couple days ago I'll probably put in the journal tomorrow, but this is the latest version.

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

Western Kingbird Landing

And here's the species that out fly catched the Scissor-tail, landing.

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

Keet Flight

And, way far away, some Monk Parakeets flying along the edge of the lake at the bottom of Winfrey "Point."

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

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Hunting

Not bad a collection of birds anyway, but after Anna left, I wandered over to Sunset Bay to find this gorgeous heron whom I hadn't seen much of lately. A friend told me they'd seen a young Great Blue Heron along this stretch, and I wondered then as I wonder now, if this might have been that. Very gray like the GBH, much smaller, 24 to the GBH's 46 inches long.

Sibley's online says, "... More strictly nocturnal than Black-crowned...At night they forage in shallow ponds and marshes, Yellow-crowned mainly on crabs. Foraging Black-cronwed birds crouch, foraging Yellow-cronwed birds usually walk slowly.

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

YCNH Take-Off

After hunting along that stretch for a long time without finding anything big enough for me to photograph or it to eat, it flew off. Since I had it so sharply focused in the water, it was still sharp in the air as I panned along.

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

YCNH Fly-away

Beautiful, amazing sight. What a treat on a sweltering sweaty morning.

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

Snowy Egret Fishing

The usual Snowy Egret was switching quickly back and forth nearby trying to catch something. I caught it with its foot out of the water, just to show off its big yellow foot.

Tern Looking to Fish - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tern Looking for Fish

I see a lot of black and/or dark birds flying around and over the bay, but light and white birds now that the gulls are finally gone, are the exception, so I paid attention to this, and when it got close enough, I began attempting to capture it on silicon. With its dark eye line shown here but not on subsequent birds of its feather, this is probably a Least Tern.

Jason agrees. It's a Least Tern. Not only does the dark head and malar stripe help, but the big of black at the tip of the beak pins it down."

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

Tern Midair Pause

And this is somebody different. Probably a Least, Caspian or Forster's Tern as it hovers in place well over the water, staring intently down into the water below, going neither forward or down. Looking for food.

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

Northern Mockingbird on Picnic Table

Our State Bird.
 

NOTE: "Stumpy" — the very popular white goose with the curled-up foot — is in the hospital at Eastlake. Charles found him this morning with a broken wing and a deep bite on his body under the wing. Several gooses have recently been attacked in this same manner. We're thinking it could be a Coyote or a big dog. Please send healing thoughts his way.

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July 7

Great Egret om tje Simset - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret in the Setting Sun

Thought I was sneaking up on this Great Egret, but while I was behind tall weeds on the edge of the lake, it was flying toward me very near the shore. I was almost ready to stop and hold the camera and long lens steady, instead, my intended target was flying fast into the bright of sunset. I wasn't ready for it, but hoped it was set okay and would focus.

grocery cart at sunset - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sunset Grocery Cart

Then it turned and flew out toward the logs. Pretty much what I always hope. Sometimes, like this, it works. Often it does not. It hardly matters, I just shoot and hope. Follow the birds.

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

The Egrets' Turn

If it looks like I know what I'm doing, you are mistaken. I was happy to see it was the egrets' turn to play on the logs out in the bay.

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

Musical Perches

One lands, one takes off, a couple in the middle try both at once. All seem to succeed.

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

Changing Partners

Amazing luck. The sun's just gone down. I haven't yet looked to see what luck I'm having with exposure. Too busy having fun. Big, pretty birds. Elegant form like a Japanese print.

Green Universe with Snowy - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Universe, Foamy White Stars and a Snowy Egret Fishing

What more could anybody ask for after the sun's gone down. Focus? Nyaaah. Greatly overrated.

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

Juvenile Night-Heron Flyover

On the juvenile side of the cusp between adult and baby bird. There were five of them flying out over me, standing on the pier at Sunset Bay. I didn't have time to make sure I had the right shutter speed — I didn't, or the right aperture — close, but no cigar or if it was in focus. Shoot and hope.

Jason confirms this is a Black-crowned Night-Heron. I thought it surely was a Yellow-crown, but I didn't say because it looks so gray or brown, so I was confused about how old it was — looks somewhere between juvenile and adult, but that's probably the light of the setting sun. Jason Hogle took this image and brightened it in Photoshop to discover "additional details needed for positive ID."

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

Great Egret Blur Over the Water

No idea what I was doing. Perhaps that's best sometimes. If I knew, I mighta planned and blew it. As it was, I got this, and I had no right to expect anything at all.

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Rockport, Texas

July 6

Tricolored Heron Chicks Fighting - copyright 2009 Fain Zimmerman

Tricolored Heron "chicks" Playing (or more likely, Fighting)- Photos by Fain Zimmerman

There's quotes around this word "chicks," because these very young birds are already nearly as tall or all the way as tall as their parents. I'd love to be on the Texas Coast these days, even if it's as enormously hot down there with ocean breezes as it is up here in Dallas with high humidity claming.

Two Chicks Play as Parents Watch - copyright 2009 Fain Zimmerman. All Rights Reserved.

Tricolored Heron Chicks Play While Parents Watch

Fain Zimmerman, who emailed to get my take on identifying another picture she sent that turned out to be, not a White Morph Reddish Egret chick, but a Great Egret. She emailed me, because she'd seen one of my EgRon pages (Herons, Egrets or/and Herons vs. Egrets, how to tell them apart).

Fain says, "the babies were screaming for attention and food. It was a constant background clamor. When Momw ould leave, the chicks would fight with each other for awhile."

Tricolored Chicks Indicate to Mom they're  Hungry - Copyright 2009 by Fain Zimmerman. All Rights Reserved.

But Mom, I'm Hungry

Happily, with the egret chick were Tricolored Heron chicks and parents. Something we'd been looking forward to seeing at the Rookery ever since we'd discovered nesting Tricolored Herons there somewhat west of White Rock Lake on May 3, 2008, even though then, I thought it was a Great Blue Heron.

Feeding Time - copyright 2009 Fain Zimmerman. All Rights Reserved.

Tricolor Feeding Time

So these are what we've been missing, thanks to the horrible heat we got too early in the summer to hatch and raise young Tricolored Herons (and many other birds; the carnage was awful.), and Fain's shots are from where Tricolored Herons normally nest, along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

More Feeding - copyright 2009 Fain Zimmerman

More Feeding, and Standing In Line for More

Of course, if these chicks had been born here, we might have seen (photographed) them when they got taller than the sides of their nest, but even that would have been very difficult, because of all the intermediary branches that stealthy Tricolored Herons parents this far inland hide their nests into. Nothing like the wide open savannah to be able to see for thousands of feet, where the main trick is to get close enough or have a long enough lens. Fain photographed these with a 300mm.

Laughing Gull Chicks - copyright 2009 Fain Zimmerman

Laughing Gull Chicks

But we do get to see some cute little chicks today, also. These Laughing Gulls will grow to be the dominant species along the Texas Gulf Coast. Anna and I remember fondly, driving through towns where Laughing Gulls were everywhere, even standing in the middle of busy streets, just expecting everyone to have to go around them. We did.

Black Skimmers and Skimmer Chicks - copyright 2009 by Fain Zimmerman

Black Skimmer Parents and Black Skimmer Chicks

What a treat to get to see these little guys. In all of our running around The Coast in April (May in the Journal), I only saw two Black Skimmers and only got one decent shot of those. So very nice to see their young. Not sure why, but birds this young don't get their pictures in the usual bird identification books. Our only resource now is finding other photographers who've correctly identified them and posted photos on the web.

Which is how Fain Zimmerman found The Amateur Birder's Journal. She says, "Since we live only about an hour from there, we visit the general area fairly often, including Port Aransas, Aransas Pass and Aransas Wildlife Refuge. Lots of great shorebird opportunities, but you are lucky to have such a nice lake in your area. In Port Aransas, there is a neat little pond behind a water treatment plant. Last time we went, we were lucky to get a Least Bittern!"

Something else we don't see much around here. Thank-you mightily, Fain, for showing us baby pictures of species we've not seen this far north yet.

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white rock lake

July 5

No, It's Not Dead - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Getting a Dust On

This House Sparrow is taking a cool, afternoon dust bath, while a friend skoothies in to start its own bath. Dust bath. Shake up a bunch of dust.

No, it is NOT dead or dying!

Originally, I said that I'd never tried a dust bath, but now I remember on a long-ago camping/canoeing trip, dusting to scrub other stuff off my arms and legs. Same principle really. Using an abrasive to get rid of stuff that won't come off any other way. Horses, dogs, chinchillas and other animals engaging in the same activity. Where Bison used to do it are called Buffalo Wallows and in some places it has changed the landscape. It helps bird rid themselves of lice and mites.

Honey, I'm Home - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Honey, I'm Home

Purple Martin flying into Purple Martin house with female Purple Martin waiting.

Great Egret on a Branch - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret on a Branch

I figured since it was cooler these few rainy days, there might be some birds out in the afternoon. Unfortunately, I was right. Darned few birds out in the comparatively cool breezes today. Egrets are always nice. Especially ones so close to the walking/biking path — is there any reason to go on calling those things "biking paths," even though all the bikers got together to get them put there, so they could use it instead of the road, then soon as it was built for them, insisted on being on the road instead.

Where where I? Oh, yeah. So close to the path with folks whizzing by, I didn't even have to sneak up on this one.

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

Beautiful Female Mallard Resting

Such beautiful birds.

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The Medical Center Rookery

July 2

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

Ibis with Two Babies

We could hear them "whistling" long before we got to the place under their nests to photograph up at them. The whistling sounds like an electronic cricket or buzzing noise. Lots of it. We shot and shot and shot, but darned few of my images were correctly exposed in the wicked brew of cross and back light and deep shadows (which I've worked mightily to eliminate in these shots). Even more were out of focus by either the birds — baby Ibis are very active creatures — or us moving.

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

Same Mom and One More Baby Ibis

They say a psychopath is someone who does the same thing over and again expecting differing results. That was us clicking away into the dark forest this early morning hoping to get good shots of Ibis babies. Except that, of course, out of more than two hundred shots, this big old psychopath got a several that were almost sharp.

one mom one baby one beak - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Doin' the Baby Ibis Flap

Close enough and worth all that standing and pointing up and changing exposures and focus. Etc.

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

Dead Black-crowned Night-Heron

We didn't find any birds to rescue today, and I didn't want to look for anything still hanging in the trees. I suspect someone's been cleaning up most of the bodies. But we'd planned to go to Rogers anyway.
 

Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation

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

American White Pelican in Chain-link Cage

First birds I encountered "in the yard" around Rogers Wildlife were some American White Pelicans that were still sick enough to keep — despite the heat, which is why pelicans usually fly north in April.

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

Two Turkeys Talking

And the birds that were almost our national birds, although you have to wonder what Ben Franklin had been smoking when he thought that.

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

Helmeted Guineafowl

Guineafowl, too, were wandering around on their own.

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

Blue Jay in Cage

Blue Jays, however, still have to be kept in cages. I did notice that there were far fewer birds and species than at my last visit sometime last spring. If you visit Rogers, be sure to put a donation in the donation jar just to the right as you come in the front door.

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

Peahen in Shade

One of the more colorful aspects of an outside visit to Rogers is the probability of more than one encounter with a pea fowl.

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

Peacock in Open Shade but Facing the Sun

Which is almost the same thing as sunlight, although there seems to be a bit of the full spectrum of colors missing here.

Carlo's Anhinga - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Chalo's Anhinga

Chalo rescued an de-nested Anhinga chick yesterday. So this is not a species name, it's just who rescued this particular one. Neither Anna nor I had ever seen an Anhinga — or an Anhinga chick — this close before. It was a treat.

Chalo's Anhinga - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Chalo's Anhinga

Anna had talked with Chalo about it at the rookery, and this young bird was the reason for our visit today. Reason enough.

Anna's Hinga - copyright Anna Palmer

Anna's Hinga with Baggie of Fish

We've photographed at them in high trees with lots of twigs and branches and leaves between us, to not much effect. But shooting one all cool and calm at Rogers was comparatively simple.

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

Up At a Cattle Egret

Even normally shy birds raised and rehabilitating around humans tend to be willing to stand there posing as photographers struggle with the changing light and other excuses.

Cattle Egret with Claw Thrust - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret with Claw Thrust

I can only wonder what it is thinking, but I was thankful it chose to do this. Nice show of claw.

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

Feeding Baby Cowbird at Rogers

Each batch of birds in a long line of them, every morning — when they have plenty of volunteers — and every evening — when they're open to more volunteers after work — get species-specific food. Unfortunately, although I got her hands sharp and the bird fuzzy, my mind is even fuzzier about which bird this was.

Aha! After viewing Anna's short video of a Cowbird Chck, I see this is one of those, if not the same exact one.

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

Dove with Two Female Purple Martins

I saw a lot of doves in the outside cages while Anna was helping out inside.

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

Bud Squawking

And squawking and squawking. He's hungry and he wants everybody to know it. At high volume. His staccato of squawk fills the office / hospital / recuperation ward at Rogers. It's likely it will not be forgot during feeding times, but it is just as likely it won't get fed as quickly and voluminously as Bud would like and just then felt was its right.

For a better idea just how active and loud this little critter is, see Anna's video of it doing its thing. You can hear Bud squawking away in her other vids from today — Chalo's Anhinga, a Blue & Gold Macaw, a Cowbird Chick and furiously flapping Monk Parakeets.

Standing close to Bud and pointing my finger toward it, to maybe try to touch this litte Great Egret, it instead clamped down on it, and it felt like it was trying to swallow it. Bud probably perceives any peninsula as a long beak ready to feed it, and since that had never happened before, I let it try.

Warm, moist and fleshy down there. I did not feel any semblance of throat descending further. I let it try to suckle a few seconds, then withdrew, feeling oddly profound for being mistaken for a parent. I quickly wiped off the wetness with a paper towel I had in my pocket. Only then did I realize the noise had stopped for a few second, then it was back at it, loud as ever.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron Looming

Rogers is about the only place I get to see Yellow-crowned Night-Herons since that guy who owned the property dismantled their ersatz rookery in the highfalutin' houses of Lakewood proper, near the lake.

Peabody's Owl - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Peabody's Owls Are Eastern Screech Owls

And I don't think I've ever photographed a Peabody's Owl before. They seemed very inquisitive but shy. The sign continues: "Feed 2X Daily." It was dark in that cage, probably just to Peabody and Company's preferences.

Hmmm. I looked up "Peabody's Owls" and got no results, so maybe, like Chalo's Anhinga, these owls belong to somebody named Peabody, so I'll have to figure out what their proper species is. Darn.

Jason to the rescue with an intelligent I.D. It's an Eastern Screech Owl. Though it was very quiet when I saw it about ten inches away.

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

Female American Kestrel

It's not, but if she were, she'd be the first Merlin I've photographed. Jason agrees that she's not, and that it is another female American Kestrel, whom I often see at White Rock Lake.

 Tiny Baby Bird with Skin Issues - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tiny Baby Bird with Skin Issues

I don't remember being introduced to this one, and I haven't nearly enough clues. Jason Hogle, resident I.D. expert, agrees, "There's just not enough information from what we can see."

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All text and photographs copyright 2009 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without
specific written permission from the writer or photographer.

My favorite answer is, "I don't know." I am, after all, an amateur.
I'm not kidding. I've only been birding for less than three years,
although I've been photographing for 45 years.

Thanks always to Anna.

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