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Sunset Bay at White Rock Lake
Although I've long believed that these were Black-crowned Night Herons, I am now nearly certain they are instead, Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, and I should have known better. When they were growing up fast in and around Sunset Bay this month and this year, I called them "The Twins." and followed and photographed them often. This time it was pacing up and down the pier at Sunset Bay, not far from where I last saw them both.
The big difference today was that I was able to get a lot closer, so more details show, including its incredibly cute "top knot" of incipient occipital plumes.
With its grimace showing in the feathers where its beak fastens to its head, it looks mean or angry. I suspect it's there to scare off other critters, but I don't know whom. I was probably close by then, but I wanted to see just how close I could possibly get.
The Twin put up with it for awhile, then started to feel a little crowded and hurriedly prepared to take wing. I managed to capture it pretty well considering I had the camera in the awkward vertical position for the rest of these shots — no time to stop and adjust to the much more comfortable, horizontal camera position I probably should have been in all along, instead of trying to such out every possible detail by filling the frame as fully as possible.
And quickly became jumped into the air.
An adult would probably handle this sudden flight with more aplomb, but this juvenile isn't as experienced, so despite the sudden jump and getting up into the air ...
... and reaching about as far as it could possibly reach —
... and looking remarkably stylish as it flapped down with as much force as it could muster —
it did not immediately attain much altitude. But it did get away much quicker than I could follow it with focus. Still, a marvelous, up-close encounter with one of two birds I hope I get to follow progress on for awhile. Darned nice of it to let me get as close as I did.
In Sunset Bay. I got all excited when I thought their (both of them) eyes were red. But the eyes were yellow. Red eyes — and a slight change in wing patterns and beak color — would have meant Black-crowned Night-Herons, which are much more plentiful at White Rock. Their cousins, the Yellow-crowned Night-Herons' informal rookery in a Lakewood residential area was destroyed — I saw him pulling down branches — by the home owner, because it stunk.
So these guys' presence is comparatively unusual, though not rare. Plenty Black-crowns are raised at the Medical Center Rookery, but I haven't found where Yellow-crowns, who are reputed to be less social, come from. Maybe close, because I have been seeing them around where these were photographed, for several years.
Such destruction of Shore Bird Habitat is illegal, but apparently nobody ratted on him, so we now have far fewer Yellow-crowns. I liked them, but Egret/Heron rookeries really do stink.
First I assumed there was only one juvenile present. Then I saw another one fly by the first. I was hoping they were Yellow-crowns, but a more expert birder insisted they were Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, then I learned they were Yellow-crowns after all. Black-crowned Night-Herons are much more common, but getting to photograph either up close and nearly personal was grand fun.
They kept taking wing and flying further up the lagoon, and I kept walking closer. Because they tend to ignore entirely people walking or bicycling up Lawther there, I walked up the road, walked with big trees blocking any possible view they'd have of me closing in on them, then steadying my camera/lens against one of those trees.
Tree bugs tend to bite deeper and nastier and itch more, but having a secure long lens is very helpful. Luckily, the Yellow-crown juvenile was very intent on finding food — and much less concerned about photographers sneaking up.
I did not see either of them catch anything, but that's hardly surprising. They are still new to hunting, but now, at this tender age, if they don't catch food, they don't get any. They are internally motivated.
When I first saw it, milliseconds before I got my first shot off. This one. It was perched on that post. I was stepping onto the pier at Sunset Bay, thinking I wasn't seeing any birds so it was safe. Safe maybe, but a very important bird I've spent weeks trying to get one good, solid shot of before, and here was, for fleeting milliseconds, within sight. And I blew it this morning, because I was in such a hurry to get out on the pier.
It is, of course, blue. Not red. Just looks red, because it's flying behind red berries on brown bushes. Soon as the bird leapt from the post on the Sunset Bay pier, I shot continuously, five frames per second, trying to follow the winged shape, first right, then left, no matter what was between us. This was the last good shot I got and the first to get anything at all in focus (wings).
I saw it hunched over, beak away, for a long time. I photographed ducks and coots, then went back to it. I just barely got this shot in focus, when the Great Blue Heron leaned into and thrust itself into the air.
Then jumped into it.
And flew away in that so particular, nearly goofy, way they do. Head down, feet only slightly lower, big wings flapping its way up the creek to the other side.
Our Lady of the Lake Rookery, San Antonio
The lake has its own name, but we park in and it is closer to the big college than anywhere else, so we call it what it says above. And we almost always visit, even when it's blazing hot outside, as it was this day. There was a breeze, and it was cooler there than it's been in Dallas lately, but it wasn't cool, except for getting to see all the birds.
The real joy of this place is the wide variety of species. We've seen: Little Blue Herons, Cattle Egrets, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons and a lot of different cormorants. April is the best time to see them nesting and wobbling around too young to do much, but any time till August has its moments.
Adult and three very young cormorants, who perhaps nest and fledge somewhat after egrets and herons.
That distinctive faceplate.
Both are downy youth. Different sizes indicate different ages. But are they the same species? I don't know, and being at Our Lady of the Lake Rookery always confuses me, because downy young Cattle Egrets and Little Blue Herons and Snowy Egrets and Great Egrets look so much alike. These guys seem to have differing head and beak structures. Does that make them different species or just rapidly-growing different ages? Wish I knew.
The big brown one in the middle is a young juvenile cormorant. The one out on the limb may be a juvenile Snowy Egret or a little Little Blue Heron or a very young Cattle Egret. The one on the right is probably a juvenile Great Egret.
Black legs, yellow beak. Too easy.
I was thinking these were still-downy Little Blue Herons, but after perusing The Sibley Guide to Birds, which has more age, sex and other variations, but much smaller pictures than the Peterson Field Guide to Birds, which has much bigger pictures. Sibley shows two, much more tapered white Hegrets with more gradually tapered bills and lores than these.
Those are Little Egrets, which inhabit the Western Edge of Canada, and Snowy Egrets, which are scattered through the U.S. and on both coasts of Canada. So this must be Snowies, except his illustrations show no striations back from the eyes or at the tips of wings, shown here folded back.
This, perhaps slightly older bird, has dark wing tips, which only sometimes show when they're standing, but often show when they are flying. And the books agree they have greenish legs. The beak become gray with a black end and tip [below], and that may be the color direction this one is heading into.
As Herons (which officially includes Egrets) grow older, their beaks change color. Perhaps Little Blue Herons start out with dark beaks and lores, then gradually, they lighten to two-tone gray.
These shots of this bird look like it's got
the same beak as above, so is this a Little Blue Heron?
Boy, Howdy! I sure don't know. But I like the question of it.
Ask me, ask me. I know this one. There are occasional Cattle Egrets at White Rock Lake — in Sunset Bay and along Northwest Highway when I least expect them, out there near the tree line, walking like little short Egyptians, looking for and catching bugs, usually when there's Scissor-tailed Flycatchers about, so now is as good a time as any to look for them.
I'd never seen this swept-back look before, though.
Little bit of a hatchet-head look to help identify them, if this is one of them.
This one's got an orange beak, and that one's got a black beak, but its configuration of raised feathers is unfamiliar to me. They are fighting over something. Snowy Egrets do that more than any other Hegret (Heron or Egret) I know, but I've seen almost every Heron/Egret fighting with some other Heron/Egret sooner or later, except maybe the Cattle Egrets, and really haven't had enough experience with them.
Place, food, sex — Snowies — if that's what these are — will fight about almost anything.
Elegant long wings.
I know these guys best, because there's more of them around here, and though I've taken thousands of shots of them, I still love taking more.
White Rock Lake
Charles Fussell shares special bond with White Rock geese by Kendall Kirkham
I watched in horror as a big dog — not on a leash — batted and chased and batted again a small black and white and gray object that seemed to roll more than it ran or flew. The dog's owner kept calling its name, like suddenly it was going to start doing what she said, even though she had no control over it.
What the ball of feathers was, was this mockingbird. Its wing badly damaged and drooping. Here, it's just come out from under the truck. I shot this with my Canon s90, so it was very close. The s90's zoom only goes out to about a hundred mm. Unlike my Rocket Launcher, which zooms to about 750mm equivalence.
The woman finally hauled her dog off the bird — never checking to see how the bird was nor telling the dog how bad it'd been — and they got into her Volvo and drove off. Soon as the dog threat was gone, another mockingbird flew to the nearest tree overlooking the scene and stood there looking at me and down at the mauled bird.
I got very close to it, but the s90 is not a fast camera. It took too long to focus, and by then — even though the concerned mockingbird was only maybe three feet away — it was gone, down to under the truck to check on things there.
I was charmed to see its obvious concern, as I was dismayed at the human's obvious lack of mercy. The wing-mauled mockingbird won't fly again, I think. Or it would have flown away from that big, leashless mauler of a dog. But it will continue to escape from perceived threats for awhile. I could not get it.
So it was alive but doomed. Birds who can't fly can't get away forever.
Irwin and I'd been trying to get together at the lake for awhile. Today, finally, our schedules meshed, and he chose Sunset Bay. I wasn't all that excited, having seen only ducks and gooses there the last few times out, but that's where we were to meet, and within seconds of approaching the shore, I frightened a Little Blue Heron I only saw when it got into the air. I wasn't ready for it, till it landed, if then.
There was already a Great Blue Heron on its own little island off toward the creek from the pier. I photographed it while I moved over where Irwin was, and we snuck up on the pier where I'd seen the Little Blue Heron settle on one of the posts.
Slowly we inched out on the pier, photographing ducks, a Great Egret standing very close, the Great Blue and this Little Blue. I was already thinking what a great choice for a place meet.
Eventually, while Irwin and I were busy photographing the Little Blue, the egret flew off. I tried to catch up with it with my telephoto lens, but I never quite managed to get it either in frame or in focus.
Anna and I have been going off to the Village Creek Drying Beds in Arlington or the Medical Center Rookery to get a wide variety of bird types and colors, but this morning at least, there was a great array of birds right there in Sunset Bay.
I'd wished for a Green Heron as I drove along the lake from the west, but I'd take a Great Blue and a Little Blue any morning. Especially this close.
We may not have been ready for another Little Blue Heron flight that suddenly, but it was not unlikely. I've never seen a bird catch anything standing on one of the pier posts.
Probably too much camera noise or activity or talk for the sensitive Great Blue Heron. He flew off up the creek, and we did not see it again, except for one brief flurry of wings between trees on the far side of the lagoon. As it flew away, it complained in its usual gruff voice.
I looked up, saw something flying by rapidly, took a couple exposures in that direction, and was startled to see that it wasn't the duck I half expected, it was my wished for Green Heron. Wow. Great day to break my bird fast this early Friday morning before Breakfast.
I'd been photographing the Little Blue Heron cross crossing back and forth along the far reaches of the peninsula that extends almost to the other side of the creek these days. The Little Blue was pretty far, and I thought perhaps too far then, and it worked out that way.
But when this Green Heron (We talked a lot about how this red and brown and black and white bird came to be called green.) arrived and stood solid still way out there, I did my best to render it sharp and with enough tonality. I hadn't been accomplishing that with the Blue, but these few shots of the "Green" worked out very well.
Suddenly the Green Heron was gone, and I was back to photographing the Little Blue. Either it got a lot closer, or I got better at capturing it.
The Little Blue kept catching tiny morsels as it worked its way toward us. He'd sneak up on one thing after another after another, as he covered the territory. And I never once captured what it was eating. I mean, small.
But I did not ever see it catch anything from in the water. Still, we both watched and waited.
Gradually, the Little Blue Heron got closer and closer to us standing on the shore. Then it turned back, crisscrossing its way toward the far end. We'd been there an hour, and I was getting hungry for my own breakfast, so I split, joyous for seeing a Great Egret (yeah, yeah), a Great Blue Heron (always hooray), a Little Blue Heron (wow!) and my first Green Heron of the season at White Rock Lake.
I hit the jackpot.
The Medical Center Rookery
Getting a juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron to shine in the dark overgrowth of the rookery is mostly a matter of finding one willing to dare sunlight — and the photographer willing to keep looking.
I got the feeling the one on the right was slightly — minutes to days — younger and less adventuresome. They may well not be siblings, at all. Maybe cousins or kids of parents who knew each other.
This one kept coming back to its nest. I know the feeling.
This guy flew low across the street, circled and landed in a tree overlooking several photographers and our long, birding lenses.
He watched us for maybe five minutes, then flew off, us all clicking every second or two.
Turning for one last look.
I didn't really want to go to the rookery, because I usually get bug-bit something awful there, although last week I got bug-bit pretty well standing on my own front porch. I'm not sure anywhere's really safe. But I went, and slathered in DEET, I didn't get bit awful. Here a day later, only two hard little bumps have risen to be nail-polish sealed.
Anna took The Great Circle Route, and I stayed in the lower right corner. I've been working on a map of the rookery, but since so much of it — including most of the path, is buried under trees, it really doesn't make much sense. In one of those breaks in the trees that let us see a ways into the crowded woods, I saw this.
And it looked strange. Stranger than most herons or egrets, so I stayed awhile and adjusted and readjusted my lens till the camera, at least, could see some details in that strongly back-lighted area. I'd shoot, chimp the LCD, adjust the exposure, shoot again, chimp some more, etc. Till I got something out of all that darkness.
I knew it was something I didn't see a lot of around here — although we've been seeing some few Tricolors for several years now. I think I have the first photograph of a Tricolored Heron at the Rookery, although that was before I knew about Jim Peterson's Sightings Gallery, so another shot of one the year after that by someone else, got first placement there. Oh, well. I was very pleased to later get my Bald Eagle there.
So, anyway, I feel a kinship with these jaunty, usually coastal, birds, and photograph them whenever I get the chance, bugs, rookery stink or not. Reminds me of a news story Anna sent me the other day, about neighbors of another, what the story called "heronry" somewhere just hating having one in their neighborhood. Apparently, neither the news writer or the locals yet realized that what they had was not just an egret jamboree but a rookery, and it's protected by federal laws about shore bird habitats.
First couple of shots, since all I could see was black against vague blue, I managed to miss its long yellow feet. Here they are.
I caught these two shots somewhat later after photographing several Anhinga, which you'll see later this week when I get another break in a busy schedule. This shot is straight-forward enough and distinctive, but what follows is not.
I'm pretty sure this is the same bird. It was shot only four seconds after another shot you don't need to see, because it was so very average. But this — though in no semblance of sharp — is not average. I've seen various birds doing partial upside-down before. Waxwings hanging upside-down in pursuit of fermenting berries in February 2007. Lots of woodpeckers running along trees upside-down. One White Ibis with its head upside down April 12 of this year.
But I think this is my first bird flying upside down, although if it is in a dive, it all makes some sense. And no, I did not, just turn the image around. Up is up and down isn't; note where the shadows fall.
White Rock Lake
Couldn't figure out which of these two versions of this shot I should use here. I like them both, leaning toward this one of this Juvenile Great Blue Heron on a short tree waaaay out in the middle of Sunset Bay, which seems to have more detail, at least writ this large.
Here, I like the amazing sense of depth from the log in the water all the way back to those houses on the far side of the lake. But there's hardly any detail in that Great Blue Heron on that short tree, yet I even I knew immediately what it was and wished I could get — or it would get — closer.
Very wet Muscovy Duck in summer molt. Remarkably beautiful three-tone-tan and brown — not to even mention the red face and partially black beak and tail, all mottled with feet nobody could believe.
Nice of the Muscovy to stand there while I advanced from the shore end of the pier all the way out to the middle aisle. But Muscovies are usually human-friendly.
And then a frilly portrait.
All these are actually Great-tailed Grackle, Dallas' usual variety. And they are all really black, unless the light shines on them just right, then portions of them turn this lilting turquoise. Grackles are amazing.
Some grackles have long, grande tails, some have nearly none.
I like a grackle in red, although that's as ephemeral as the turquoise back on the one a click or two above.
This grackle is as black as all the others.
Great-tailed Grackle on top. Unknown bird next, then more unknown birds, but most of them look different. Way too many runners at the lake today to go anywhere else. Mobs of them were run/walk-ing on both sides and some down the middle, making Blue cross about being steered anywhere else for more birds this ayem.
White Rock Lake — The Spillway
July 3 — Bright Afternoon
Later the same day as we shot the Spillway together, I returned alone and did some more photographing of the birds gathered along the spilling spillway — only this time it was several stops brighter. I still missed focus on a great many shots, but I shot more than five hundred that second trip — bringing my total for the day past a thousand — that I did manage to get several sharp in and focus.
One of my favorite birds that afternoon were several Little Blue Herons, some of whom were only too happy to show off their wings to a photographer willing to wait and watch and go click often.
Nice thing about Cloudy Bright is that it's so much more revealing than Cloudy Dark, like what happened that early morning when I thought would be the best time to photograph birds at the newly-opened Spillway. But I was wrong. It was fun, and we both got lots of nice shots. But mid-afternoon with a thick haze of solid, wall-to-wall clouds was ever so much more revealing than early morning.
Not that I nailed focus every time, but even getting close, shows so much more birdly details than those several hundreds of early ayem blurs.
And when I did nail the focus, wow!
I didn't see this Black-crowned catch a fish, but boy was he good at chasing them around.
And speedy, too.
Essentially, the Spillway is a long, descending concrete apron that gradually, suddenly, subtly and otherwise provides great flushing of water from in the lake, over the dam and down, down, down slides and falls and steps, past a lush island, around a much less sudden now but still rather sharp left curve, under the Walking Bridge, under the driving bridge on Garland Road (a continuation of Grande Avenue past the merge with Gaston Avenue) out out this particular White Rock Creek (there are about thirty creeks called that around Dallas), through the golf course, and on eastward to and past I-30.
So many big, white — and little white, too — birds out there that I was amazed never to have seen two run into each other. That would really be a sight.
And every bird has its own style.
And what everybody out there, white, gray, brown or blue, was fish. And yes, it was very competitive. Everybody trying to be the first to arrive at any new find.
So lots of opportunities to catch various angles of flight.
Snowy Egrets are the smaller variety, with yellow-orange feet, black legs, yellow lores (area around the eye) and black beaks, while Great Egrets are substantially large with all-yellow-orange beaks and long, black legs and feet.
Sometimes when they're standing still or presenting themselves to a rival (If you're a Snowy Egret, almost everybody out there is a rival.) their pop up their show-off feathers, and that is quite a sight [below].
Most of the time with the water flushing over the dam only this deep, egrets — even the feisty Snowy Egrets — were way too busy chasing after the latest fish find to be much of a bother to each other. Most of the time.
Or watching from too far away to do themselves any good as someone else catches the found fishies.
Or caught between all the possible directions to run, fly or get sluiced down the Spillway.
Ever I am fascinated by all the varying details of flight, takeoff and landing, and today's low-contrast sunlight filtering through all those thick clouds bounced enough light around down in the trough called the Spillway to render most of the ways egrets and herons ruffle this or that set of feathers to accomplish one goal or six others visible.
Too often, when there's brilliant, high-contrast light beaming down from our local star, it washes out all the detail on the tops of birds and renders the underparts too dark. So the gathering of hegrets (herons + egrets) on the Spillway after a heavy rain, while the sky is still full of diffusing clouds is a many-splendored thing for those of us who like gobs of details in white wings.
This is a little on that too high contrast side of sunlight. But there's still enough details in the orange breeding strand down its back and long legs, feet and pointy big toes ready to drag the surface to further reduce air speed to land a few dozen feet to the right.
So many birds, so many directions and modes of travel. What's a photographer to do but keep on shooting, once click at a time.
Watching them fly is fascinating.
While the Snowy in the Middle Catches a Fish.
Three Snowy Egrets.
Gobs of Great Egrets — maybe hundreds; dozens of Snowy Egrets; I think I counted five Little Blue Herons — They're quick and deadly accurate after fish; maybe a half dozen Black-crowned Night Herons; not even one Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and only one juvenile Great Blue Heron.
Who looks a lot like this.
I've often watched various egrets defer to a Great Blue Heron, all while carefully ignoring it, while fishing slowly. But this was fishing fast, and everybody paid rapt attention almost all the time. Still hardly acknowledging any other species, except to attempt to stay out of the direct path of any one larger than them.
This shoot is here presented willy nilly. Sometimes I try to keep everything in strict chronological order, but not here. So there'll be quite different viewpoints sometimes obviously obvious from one photograph to the next.
The parking lot's where the Grand Opening of the newly concretized Spillway was dedicated and publicly promulgated.
Both these images were shot from there. Zoomed in above and zoomed out as far as my Rocket Launcher will go here. When I changed zoom, I must have encountered exposure changes that led to differing colors and contrast in these last two juxtaposed photos.. Oh, well.
It took awhile after reconfiguring my office before I could engage in computering images shot of birds. Then it took a couple days to get used to the idea that instead of working on my office, I could go out and photograph birds. Then I did, and I still have not messed much with art, although that will probably have to be next.
So it's always a bit of competition between me photographing birds for this brrrd jrrrr or photoing art for that other rag I publish.
Sometimes I lean time on one. Sometimes the other. Right now, art can go hang. It's way too much fun photographing birds. But art's time will come. It always has. I've been thinking that I ought to spend some time with some art. Then I go birding again. Sometimes even twice in one day.
I'm so very pleased to see Little Blue Herons back at the Spillway. They're never — in my memory and sight — been very populous there, but there's always been that lilting presence.
Water in all its forms.
Some birds caught fish so small I could not see them or make them out against the shallows or deeps of water streaming by.
I didn't catch this one catching the fish that it caught moments after this shot, and my attempts to focus on it swallowing its catch fizzled, but here is a — dare I say it — cat-like approach that was very successful.
And we'll end today's way-too-lengthy and wordy exercise with a beauty shot from an angle that makes this big white bird look a little like a hatchet.
Thirty-five shots that took nearly all of yesterday, today and early this next morning. Yawn.
July 3 — Early Morning
A reader — Jennifer L — emailed that there was "water ... gushing over the rocks and [she] saw about 50 snowy egrets, a couple of great blue herons, little blues, night herons, little white egrets having a fishing party there at the spillway."
Her letter is on the Feedback page, which I just now updated from last October. So easy to let some things slide ...
I decided to visit the Spillway on an early morning, invited Anna, and we visited on a wet fog way-too-early morning in muted fog-borne darkness. Lots of birds of many colors and shapes. So much fun.
Froth in every direction but on the island of tentative serenity, where an egret and two herons waited for fish.
The huge hydraulic force plunged down the spillway roaring. A woman walked by fairly shouting, "Isn't it incredible," not saying exactly what was, but we both knew, everything was after a good rain at the Spillway.
Each bird had its own technique for dealing with the rush of water against its feet. Some ran over it, splashing all the way. Most planted one foot in the unending current and let the power push their other foot back, then they'd dangle it back up in front of the water, and the flow would push it back.
This one Little Blue Heron stood with both feet planted, the dash of water splashing up behind it.
Lots of Snowies running around, flying around, starting fights for the best possible fishing spot of the moment, running off any and all its multitudinous competition, flashing all those fine feathers for just a moment or two, then down and off.
Put one Snowy Egret together, and you got a battle. Very territorial. Very willing to engage and run off any competitors for food, for territory, for whatever.
Apparently, the chaser, once it has the chasee well on the run — or walk fast as this appears — puffs out everything it has to puff, looking formidable as all get out.
The sheer, enormous power of the water raucously wiggling down the concrete hill was too amazing to contemplate. Then a bird flew out over its charge, delicate white against all that shred of lace.
A lush brown Juvenile Great Blue Heron with blazing orange epaulets bright in the surge of foam and dark water in the early sluice, a Great Egret landing in the distance.
Others caught some good-sized fish, then raced off with their prizes as everybody else headed in that direction.
I barely managed to keep up with some of the winners.
Racing off from the community of fishers.
In a wondrous richness of herons and egrets. All of this morning's photographs are deceptive. It was much darker than it looks in these shots, and any one that's sharp or in-focus is a minor miracle. I have many many blurs, and I kept asking "will it get brighter later in the day," but we didn't know.
All waiting for fishes to happen to them.
White Rock Lake Park
Dark, early. First most shots today were of rather ordinary birds. Then after attempting to get a Muscovy Duck who'd got itself up into a tree — as in inside the tree — in focus, mostly without success, I drove Blue up along the road back home, happy I'd got something, but not deliriously so, when I saw a larger shape on the ground near the road.
When it dawned on me who it was, I started clicking away, the first half dozen or so completely out of focus. Nothing else I could do but hope the Sigma would finally, eventually, figure out how to focus on the fleeing bird. Slowly. Gradually, it did. This is the first instance of that happy feeling.
I only hoped the shutter speed would hold some of it stopped from blurring out. No time to change such subtleties. Try to keep it framed and hope and dream for focus.
And wonder, as it banked into the trees over there, whether I'd see it again.
Busy photographing the single bird in the relative darkness of the deep shade in the trees, I tried to figure out which was tree and which bird, never once imagining there could be two birds, although I guess the fact that I thought it flew away yet was still there, blurry in my poor distance vision, might have entered the logic quotient.
Who are they? My best guess is juvenile Red-shouldered Hawks, but your guess may well be better.
I do know of a young family of Red-shoulders recently raised somewhat in the vicinity, and if these are they, it's nice to finally get to photograph them, which I earlier (spring) found difficult both because I was hobbling around in an ortho boot and because their parents chose to bury them deep in a complicated nest high enough in a tallish tree that I was never able to get back far enough in straight enough a line to photograph their little heads when they peeked out over that nest. Although I tried many times, spending hours out there.
We seem to be revealing today's shoot backwards, a direction I am eminently familiar with. This is as I first saw it as I was driving by ever so slowly, hoping to see a bird, most any bird, and there it was.
Since I sat in my car stopped in front of its tree, got out of the car and rested the cam and the Rocket Launcher (big, honking Sigma 150~500mm lens) on the hood, on the roof, in and around the cranked-back sunroof, everything I could think of to try to trick the lens and the camera into focusing on the duck's eye. No go on that, but you get the drift in this shot. Finally.
I like photographing birds on human signs. They're up there, so they can look down farther and clearer than most of their other perches. When I saw this one, I thought maybe it might be something unusual. And, of course, it is. I don't think I've photographed a juvenile Scissor-tailed Flycatcher ever before.
I still want it to be something truly exotic, but looking at that tail leads me to want to believe it is a scissor-tail. But the next photo may prove otherwise.
Or something like that. Getting close enough to a scistail is amazing unusual for me. But that mask/set of wild eyebrows really threw/throws me. Is it really a scistail? Or that something exotic I always want unfamiliar birds to be?
I thought it was a bug in there, but after scrutinizing it up close and huge on my pyooter screen, I'm pretty well convinced it's a beakful of vegetation, although it more resembles wood chips. If I'd got the focus as sharp on its beak as I got it on its middle portions, we might know. But I didn't and don't.
Not sure what to say or why I keep shooting these same birds from this same angle, except that I can and I enjoy it.
Except our usual variety of Purple Martins don't have white stripes around their necks in any of the pictures I can find in the only bird book that's risen to the top of my book pile as I slowly reintroduce me and everything that used to be in my office back in here after getting the ceiling replaced and walls painted. And they're not purple.
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My favorite answer is, "I don't
am, after all, an amateur.
I'm not kidding. I've only been birding for three years,
although I've been photographing professionally since 1964.
Thanks always to Anna.