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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 images without permission & payment.
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June 29 2007

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

Keet on the Wing

Stopped raining. Today. Deluge in Fort Worth. But dry here. Who knows about tomorrow. Sun shining. What to do with it? Birds, of course. Head to the lake. Sunset Bay first. The Monk Parakeets have been visiting there for months. Kept shooting at them flying till I got this. Finally shows their colors and flying form.

Mockingbird Over the Shoulder - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mockingbird Looking Out

I was coasting down the slope behind Winfrey. Very slowly. Sidling the edge of the road. Watching for birds down the hill toward the lake. There's usually something flying. Instead, this flew to the post nearest my car. Stared at me, then stared off.

Black-cronwed Night Heron - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crowned Night Heron Checks Out the Foam

At the Spillway I found lots of birds fishing in the foam. This Black-crown, like all the birds on the dam or in the trees nearby, was looking for the best place to fish. I saw it catch a couple of gulps worth, nothing silvery or shiny. Love the way its occipital plume flops across its neck.

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

Same Bird, Other Side of the Bridge

I always like how birds look, still against the flinging fury of water. Hydraulics in action. I think this bird is hot, so breathing hard. But I'm not sure. It was hot. I was digging the sunshine, sweating. Not panting, but I didn't have to stand on hot pavement in my bare feet to get dinner. The Little Blue was there when the Snowy flew in. It's possible the Snowy did not see it. What I know is that once they established eye contact, the Snowy started fluffing up.

Black & White Herons - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret Fluffing Up and The Same Little Blue Heron from Yesterday

When the Blue got this close, the Snowy fluffed up. To look bigger? Or just to fluff up? I have no idea. They each occupied the similar place in the same manner. They got along. Short interlude.

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

Snowy Egret Standing on the Slant Edge

Same Snowy. Unfluffed. Moments later, the Little Blue flew.

Little Blue Heron Over Foam - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Flying Through The Foam

Brief interspecies encounter. Then the Little Blue flew to the other side of the Spillway Steps. Just a couple feet over the foam. I'd hoped to catch one flying. Worked.

Landing on the Other Side - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Landing on The Other Side

Classic heron configuration. Feet drop for impending landing.

June 28

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

Egret Standing

Just keeps raining. More today. I was eager for egrets and bored with Sunset Bay's goose farm. Remembered egrets liked fishing in this rushing stuff, so I drove by the Spillway, saw egrets in the trees, stopped, parked and walked over to the walking bridge and watched. Only one egret on the slant down to the raging water was a little disappointing. At first.

Egret Fishing Trough - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.     Taking a Break - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egrets Fishing the Trough, Then Taking A Short Break

The way back I walked the other side of the bridge. From there, I saw this odd, compartmentalized vision of egrets fishing the wild waters from between the girders. Catching a fair amount, too, it seemed. I couldn't see the fishies, but I saw a lot of long necks dipping into the water, usually a sign of something down there worth getting beaks wet.

Egret Dipping for Fish - cpry

Great Egret Dipping for Fishies

Like this. Beak thrust into the water something fierce. Unfortunately, when it came up, no fish I could see. Happened a lot. Itty bitty fishies? Or none at all. I couldn't tell.

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

Cute Little Blue with Big Splotchy Feet

I wandered to the other side of the bridge, walked around looking for more, different birds, didn't see any, came back to find this. A Little Blue Heron, fishing in the sunlight this side of all the egrets in the shadows down the slant side of the rushing creek. First time I'd got to see a Little Blue fishing this year.

Little Blue Catches a Little White Fish - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Catches A Little Silver Fish

It was amazing. Every time it dipped its beak into the water, it brought up a fish. I saw and photographed three times. Never missed. Mostly this size or smaller. Bite sized. This one pincered between upper and lower mandibles.

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

Pierced Fish?

But not, apparently, this one. I've heard and read that herons and egrets catch fish by piercing them with their long sharp beaks. I'd decided that was a myth. That it only looked like that. Well, this  photo is as close as I've got to showing a heron- or egret-pierced fish. The beak didn't go all the way through, but it does not look like this fish bite-held. I'd have to be closer to know for sure. Or see from the side.

Little Blue Tosses Fish - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Tosses Just-Caught Fish

Another dip, another fish. Notice the thickness of the bird's neck, in anticipation of dropping yet another fish down it. Caught it, tossed it in the air to get the fish longways in its beak, so it could ...

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

Little Blue Heron Swallowing Fish

... swallow it down. Then fish some more.

June 26

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

Three Birds Flying - Two Pigeons and a Blur

Houses floating away rain so thick I didn't find many birds first four places I visited. These I found on that same wire across Dreyfuss. Fun with birds on wires today. Everybody else had sense to stay out of it, I guess. Saw one egret, dozens of grackles and starlings. They don't much care.

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

Same Two Pigeons

Usually I don't bother with pigeons but these guys were doing aerobatics on the high wire between rain rushes so I couldn't help myself.

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

And Again

Usually, they're so dull. Here there's a little excitement. Not much, they are pigeons, but a little flash. How can you not like a bird that squeals every time it starts flapping its wings?

Four Birds Same Wire - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Four Birds Same Wire

Generally, Barn Swallows plant themselves at some distance from other Barn Swallows and other birds, but those two on the right seem to be up to something leaning in on each other. I squinted to see what was happening there but couldn't tell. Didn't seem to be anything wrong with their feet. It wasn't all that cold. I don't know.

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

Cinnamon Twitter - Barn Swallow Looks Left

Not sure why this shot is here. Bird's in focus. We can see its eyes and beak. What's not to like?

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

Fuzzy Fur Coat - Barn Swallow Fluffed Up

Tail tucked into a sharp V, chest fluffed up.

June 24

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

Great Blue Heron Just Standing There

Been too much at Sunset Bay lately again. So we took a short walk — didn't want to get my poison oak all hot and sweaty — over Singing Bridge. Got three birds. Two more than I expected. This Great Blue Heron, who just stood there while I shot a dozen or more shots. I was hoping for something like correct exposure amid all those bright reflections and dark shadows. It was way too far away, this a small fraction of a full frame. I entirely missed another GBH Anna saw fly in behind this one. One or the other of them flew back by us later, when we weren't paying attention.

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

Eastern Kingbird in the Weeds

Out over the bridge, while it was still hot, then back to the Big Thicket end of the bridge when Anna saw this handsome little guy in the weeds on the slope down to the lake. Far enough away we didn't spook it walking on the bridge and stopping to take multiple pictures. Close enough to get it and the furry branched tree nearby fairly sharp.

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

Great Egret On The Far Side of the Creek

Third of three birds was the same Great Egret we often see fishing the waters under and around Singing Bridge — the one bird I expected all along, though not this close and not posing. It was on the other side of the creek from us and all the Sunday fisherpersons when the sky clouded and the wind started blowing almost cool.

It was perched over there in easy sight when we saw paddlers both up and down the creek on that side, heading for its perch, so I knew it would fly away, was happy to have somebody else for a change spooking it into flight. I was right there, knowing all this, and still I managed to fuzz out every flying shot of it. Not like I'd never got a decent flyby egret , but I sure missed this one.

June 21

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

Male Wood Duck Escaping While Female Gives Him What For

For walking through the unmown Fitchery meadows in shorts last weekend, I have Poison (well, it's not Ivy, so it must be) Oak or Sumac. So I'm staying safe. No exploring tall grass, overhanging trees or anything else scary or buggy, and I don't want to spray DEET on anything but my shoes. Which means straight back to Sunset Bay. Where I was following a pair of Wood Ducks taking cute pix of the couple together when this different female starts into it with this guy, giving him what for.

Wood Duck Chips Learn Where to Stand - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wood Duck Chips Learn Where to Stand

Nearby, I saw these Wood Duck juveniles standing in the same exact place I've often seen adult, usually male, Wood Ducks standing. Have they seen their uncles there or do they just know?

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

The Revolting Molting Mallard

Just when I was getting used to the colors birds were, they changed everything. When I started getting used to that, they molted some more. The only thing to change is change itself.

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

The Molting Muscovy Resting

Which must be what's going on with this Muscovy who, it turns out, is from, of all places, Moscow, not South America, as the books claim. I liked her in black last week. I love her in brown. Wonder who she gets to do all those crosshatched feathers. Nice!

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

Molting Brown Grackle or Some Unsub

Betsy tells me to go with what I think it is instead of trying to make unidentified birds into the exotics. This exotic creature must be a molting grackle. Not sure I've ever seen one before, but I like it. Fem Gracks are already brown, so I didn't think much of yesterday's brown female, but a brown male grackle got my attention.

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

Goose Caught Mid-Flap

Remember when I mentioned that our big white gooses, who've set up shop at Sunset Bay, flap but don't fly? This is probably why. Pretty, lots of nice feathers, but if science says bumblebees cannot fly because of the ratio of wing area to body weight, what possible chance does this goose have?

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

Gimp Goose Up Close

This is the gimped goose I've been concerned and worried about lately. I've shown its curled foot and written about the other gooses not letting it in on their reindeer games. Well, by today it's in the thick of goose government. I was following it around going click click, when a phalanx of goose goons put their heads down low and inside to try to bite my itchy ankles. I wasn't having any of it.

Each time the leader attacked, I lowered my long-lensed camera toward his (It's probably a male.) attacking head. I wanted to touch it, all orange and hovering so close, but I did not want to get bit. I'm thinking they're thinking (!) that my long black lens is a lot like a long black-faced goose, thereby needing of running off. When I had enough photographs and more than enough of being attacked, I walked away slowly, picking my way among the puddles.

Oh, I nearly forgot, the gimped goose was every bit a part of that advancing phalanx. In no visible way was it being shunned. Perhaps the previously resident gooses have finally taken it in, gimp and all.

June 20

Black-crowned Night Heron - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

"Strange Bird"

Hoping for herons, I visited the Boat House Lagoon. Last year this time many herons were easily found there, Yellow and Black-crowns. This year is different — so much wetter (wet at all is a major difference). The unofficial Upper Lakewood heron rookery has been eliminated, probably by the homeowner who didn't like the mess, stink or bother. And there's probably other anti-heron reasons I've yet to fathom.

I watched a supposedly objective TV twit call Cattle Egrets "stinky nuisances" for daring to rook near a farm 'out there somewhere.' I've smelled the medical center rookery. I've been bit by the bugs they draw. I'd rather stinky birds breeding nearby than noisy neighbors any day. For one thing, eventually, the stink stops.

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

The Black-crowned Night Heron
Looking the Other Way

As you can see, I found one. One. Black-crowned Night Heron. No herons inside the park, till later when this one flew there. This one was in a tree outside the official park gate over which a train used to rumble, near where the dog park used to be. I persevered looking after I encountered Jon Woods and his friend sitting in a car along Lawther. They had, they told me, been watching a strange bird they guessed was a Kingfisher.

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

That Heron Flying Away Later

I carefully scanned the tops of trees. That's where I've seen Kingfishers. While I was staring up into space, I was startled by the vision topping today's entry. A heron. Black-crowned Night variety. Kingfishers are little. Herons much bigger. I don't know if this is what they saw, but it's what I found. Many minutes later, walking back to my car along the lagoon, I saw it flying toward the lake. Fracturing the quote about shaking a catsup bottle, first one comes, then alottle. I'll be back often, hoping for more herons.

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

Wood Duck Teens

Note the wide white neck and facial markings on these juvenile Wood Ducks. First time I've seen them on this year's crop. Probably first time I've ever noticed them. Likely the marking will grow as these Wood Ducks become adults.

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

Juvenile Wood Duck Closer

That photo is too wide to see the details, but this one does. Note, the amber ring around its eye. I'd begun to speculate that this bird is surely a male who would grow into his new markings, but that orange ring slows my assertion. Adult male Wood Ducks have thick red rings around their eyes. Adult females' are yellow-orange. So is this an evolutionary step in both sexes or one or the other? Just when I think I've figured something out, I learn I didn't.

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

Juvenile Wood Duck  

This shot shows those new markings from the front. It may remind you, as it reminds me, of a similar shot of one of its uncles. The beginnings of that fearsome look. Very distinctively wood duckian.

Female Grackle on the Boat House Bridge - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Grackle on the Boat House Bridge

I'm always surprised any bird would land close enough I have to zoom out to get it all in, but I was lucky this time to be ready. I like this shot, because it's so detailed, and because she looks so fierce, where in the several images that preceded it, she looks soft, gentle, even quizzical.

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

Two Unsub Eggs

I've been watching people "feed the birds" lately. Today, I focused on a boy with his father. I have been checking technique, whether they pay attention to the birds or were just doing it out of some strange ritualistic compulsion. Unlike others I've watched lately, the boy was aware of exactly what was happening. He threw well and waited till the birds ate one cracker before he threw another. I couldn't tell if they were wheat (better for birds and us) or white.

As we all were leaving, he came up to me wanting to tell something, like a secret. I waited, asked what, and he asked me to follow him, then showed me these two eggs wrapped encircled by a nearby tree trunk. I thanked him, photographed them, and wondered what the mom bird was thinking, leaving these this public.

June 17 redux

Different Boy Feeding the Ducks - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Different Boy Feeding the Ducks

Different boy, higher quality feed, different place, ducks, not birds, significantly better technique than most of the adults I watched doing similar things nearby. They often paid nearly no attention where the usually (unnutritious) white bread they were throwing at the ducks went, whether any birds were eating it or were even interested.

This bird feeding activity is a strange process, more likely feeding people's needs than birds'. I don't feed birds. Would rather they learn to get their own. Think they'll last longer that way, but I don't enforce my beliefs on those who don't think that. Yet.

June 17

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

Herded Gooses

These geese are being herded, which is a truly goofy sight. Charles, whom we've met here before, is behind it. Literally. He left them on the other side of the grassy shore from where he fed everybody else, till the other species had their fill. Then he went over and herded the gooses to the grain. As you can see, they're happy to go.

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

More Gooses

After they've eaten, like most other birds, they visit the lake and drink to wash it down. Though they flap their wings, and the flapping seems to help them move faster when speed is needed, these mostly domesticated gooses don't actually fly. Charles says it's been bred out of them.

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

Young Mallard Ducks — Almost Grown

We've been watching this young family grow for more than a month now (I think). Mom still herds them around, watches out, keeps them close, her usually between them and potential danger. But they're about as big as she is now, and 'graduation' can't be far away.

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

The Same Bunch Duck-stepping Back to Water

Some heads are light and others dark. I suspect it has to do with gender, with maybe the darker heads male. Note the adult male Mallard behind in the upper image. The females will retain this patterned brown texture, and the guys will grow into more white bodies with dark green heads.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Charles told us the Whistling Duck has a varied repertoire of songs that sound nothing like whistling. I haven't heard it yet, but I'm hoping to some quiet day when not so many visitors are around.

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

Adult Snow Goose

Another bird I paid special attention to today was a Snow Goose, a new species for me. Mostly white, shorter than the domestics, plumpish on a smaller scale, a little stand-offish yet. Pretty, in a goosey way...

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

Snow Goose Wings Spread

Especially when it spreads its wings.

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

Baltimore Oriole Wings

Earlier, we visited the Pump House area, up on the dam and down among the xeriscaping around the fenced-in employee parking lot. The Fitchery was already too dark, and the weeds were over my head. I came back to the dam and picked nits out of my socks for a quarter hour, resting after walking up the badkside of the dam. When I saw brilliant yellow birds with white wings, I had to photograph them. I especially like the surreality of pralleled wings in a tree with that humongous smoke stack behind.

Western Kingbird on the Wing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Western Kingbird on the Wing

I captured this same bird stately perched on a tall weed a couple times, but watching it flying was amazing. A revelation. I'd seen Kingbird's aerial skill before, catching bugs mid-air, suddenly changing directions, etc. But today I watched this one actually hover above its tiny, invisible (to me), prey.

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

Kingbird Hovering

Kinda like a helicopter, its wings slowed, flapping in very slow motion as it floated nearly in place, dropping slowly in a precisely controlled stall, down to more prey. I didn't see what it caught, but I saw it do this several times along the steep grassy slope. I had a devil of a time getting my lens to focus on it, not the grass all around.

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

Western Kingbird Hovering

But wow.   42/398

June 16

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

Still Egret

Didn't shoot much today. Walked instead. Only one worth posting. A sensation. Not of being alone exactly, there were three egrets standing in the moving stream just below the dam. More like I'm standing out there, and everything there is is passing me by. The egret is waiting for a fish. I guess we all are.   2/60

This is the first entry of the second year of this journal.

June 15

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

Mystery Bird Flapping

Major change of scenery. Everywhere I go, birds are there. I was at the Continental Gin Building in Deepest Elm photographing new art for DallasArtsRevue Supporting Members' Member pages. When it was discovered a wild bird had come in through one of the exterior doors.

Bird Too Near the Fan - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Closer Up: Bird Near Ceiling Fan

While others of us were struggling with identification of the flapping bird, artist Bob Nunn said it was a female cardinal, which it still might be. We weren't sure. I, the great birder, thought I was but really still wasn't so sure after I got home and checked my bird books. Other guesses were usually Cedar Waxwing.

The first time in a long time I shot at a bird with my flash. We turned off the lights, hoping the bird would fly to the comparatively bright open doors, but it was already pretty dark between the hanging fluorescents and the ancient ceiling. Of course, my single lens reflex camera blanks me out at the moment of exposure, so I never saw any of these while I was shooting.

Bird on a Rafter - cpry

Colorful Bird on a Rafter

Once, Fannie told me, "that was a good one," and I wondered how she knew since I couldn't see (but she could). Another of the problems of SLR photography is that the photog shoots blind at the moment most significant, when the shutter clicks or the flash goes off. My Sony Point-and-Shoot was comparatively simple. I'd always see the flash and what it exposed. Old-time Leica shooters never had that problem. Those photogs could see everything, and their shutter clicks were nearly silent,. SLRs are loud clunkers.

Here, I was constantly checking the LCD for the latest exposure. Unlike in sunlight, I could see it easy in the dark. And, of course, the bird kept flapping to a new perch, at different distances from my flash, where distance = exposure.

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

Best Portrait of this lost
Juvenile Northern Cardinal

Yes, it's a Northern Cardinal. About as close as I've ever been to one. Don't remember ever seeing a juvie before. Got the crest, the somatype, growing into the red. This one was a little confused. Hope it got out alright.

She (?) was not completely panicked, although she flapped around several places that could not support her tiny weight, usually the same places more than once. She'd pause for a few seconds to a minute or more between moves. I did not flash at her constantly. My camera can handle maybe two shots in a rapid row, then it has to charge up awhile. Plus, I didn't want to frighten her unduly, although I'm still not certain she could see it. When humans say their eyes were closed when the flash went off, photographers know to ask, "what color was it." If they say it was white, their eyes were open. If pink, they saw it through closed eyelids.

More Expert Than I, Betsy Baker tells me, "The dark bill on your interior cardinal tells me it's a juvenile, because they have dark bills and adult females have red bills, but I don't know of a way for human observers to tell the genders of juveniles without getting rather rudely inquisitive."

First time in weeks I've photographed birds without getting bit by bugs.

June 14

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

Snowy Egrets Chase

When I drive Garland Road past the spillway I always look down to see if there's any egret action near the Spillway steps. Today there was, but it was darking and threatening rain, so I fetched my elderly and slow (if ever) focusing 180mm fast (f/2.8) tele, and hung out around the walking bridge for an hour or so, walking up and down, back and forth.

If I were six inches taller, i could shoot over the side, but I'm not so I shot through and from the ends and whatever else I could do. When the City finally fixes the Spillway sometime in 2009, I'll be able to lean out over the wrought iron fence again, get closer to the action and off the gut-wrenching (every time joggers jog by) footbridge.

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

Snowy Landing

I love to point out that egrets are a social bunch, usually able to avoid agitating their cousins and kin. But today, around the Spillway Steps and under the bridge, they were jockeying for space. And if one bird thought another Great Egret, Snowy Egret or Black-crowned Night Heron had a better place, they would, depending upon their relative size, chase the smaller birds off.

Black-crowned Night Heron Landing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crowned Night Heron Landing

No bumping or biting going on, and they weren't trading vocal insults, but lots of flapping and flying into each other's space. After a while of that, they'd all (egrets and herons alike) chase everybody up toward the dam for awhile. Then one or two at a time, come back and have at it again. Meanwhile it was splattering rain, cloudy dark and clammy warm.

Black-crowned Night Heron Landing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crown Just Landed

My 180 is a fixed focal length lens. Medium tele with a big maximum aperture, so I could use a fast shutter speed and still get enough depth of field. But no zoom. I couldn't follow all the arcs and gyres of their sometimes spiraling aerial chases, and I couldn't zoom in and out. I'll be back soon hoping to capture more fast flying while the water's still sluicing through, but these shots ain't bad.

Snowy Chase Some More - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret Chase

Later, I always think I should have brought a step to get me over the balustrade, so I can follow all the action even close in and directly down. As much fighting over the space to fish as I saw, I never once saw any of the birds, egrets or herons, catch a single fish. Spring? Mating season? Mercury Retrograde?

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

Snowy Chase Some More

After I posted these pix and today's comments, it become clear that birds chasing each other, especially when one has an elaborate 'do' and the other doesn't, could mean the dude is male and the undoed is female, and they're breeding chasing (Some call it foreplay.) rather than reasons of territory or fishing spots. It is spring, after all.

Betsy Baker says, "if you look closely at the head of the chased Snowy Egret in the first chase photo you posted on June 14, you can see some feathers hanging off the back of the head. Those are feathers that would form part of the crest (or the "do") if that bird erected them. The fact that they're erected on the chasing bird is an indication of aggression rather than of gender. Their being flattened close to the head on the other bird is an indication of submission.

The bird being chased looks noticeably smaller (the bill, for example), which means it's probably a juvenile. Once young birds (of various species) have left the nest, I notice that adult birds make a point of letting them know they're low status birds by chasing them away from feeding areas."

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

Snowy Flying Low

Except, of course that it often as not, involved other species. I also saw a Great Egret and the two Black-crowned Night Herons involved in the chasing and flying around, so it wasn't always sex related.

I don't expect to figure out the whys, I'm just glad for the opportunity to photograph what makes me think fast. I used to shoot dance for the similar thrill of stopping action and maintaining solid composition in liquid situations, and I don't have these critters' choreography down any better than I ever figured dancers' flight paths, so it's always surprising, exciting and photographic fun.  43/435

June 13

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

Young Killdeer Running

Because of Sunset Bay's continuing diversity, it's likely to see not just new species there, but families. My first, best discovery today were two very young Killdeer running (!) around on the leafy muddy skirts of shoreline — I've stood on those soggy flats, so I know to think of them as quicksand for humans. I'd never seen a Killdeer chick before, and would not have known to look if I hadn't heard the parent's piercing toot many times before I finally saw it move. Then I saw two smaller furry satellites.

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

Killdeer Chick Pausing Briefly

Both were amazing fast. The parent also seemed in awe of their energy. It just stood there tooting, while the chicks ran far and wild. I shot 50, maybe more, shots and only got them this sharp a half dozen times. Always a treat to discover a new family. These little birds look a lot like their parents, except they have only the single neck band, and their wings have yet to develop much.

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

Adult Killdeer Watching Her Kits Run

An adult Killdeer flying is a beautiful sight. I'd never seen one stand still as long as this adult did. Usually, they're dancing down the shore, stopping suddenly, then racing again. This one watched patiently.

Lame Goose's Foot - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

This is a close-up of the white domestic goose I've been writing about's lame, webbed foot in its usual walking position. We assume it's why the other gooses (22 of them now) won't let it join their clan. We're at a loss to know what anybody can do for it where so many natural enemies run loose. Not just dogs off or on leashes, but bigger cats, foxes, coyotes, hawks, owls and other natural natural enemies abound around our lake and park.  26/161
 

"The Amateur Birder's Journal" Exhibition

Thanks to artist and curator Rita Barnard, who suggested I propose a show of bird photographs to the White Rock Lake Museum in the Bath House Cultural Center, "The Amateur Birder's Journal" will show there from January through sometime in April 2008. I've been going through the nearly one full year's worth of entries picking out photographs.

This journal celebrates its first anniversary June 16th.

If you have a favorite, email me. My list now comprises 97 photographs, which I'll have to winnow down to fewer than 20 by late December. Be sure to say why you like any particular image. Don't worry about grammar, I just want to know what readers of this journal, think. Thanks, JR
 

June 12

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

Martins, Purple & Otherwise, On a Wire

Usually there's only a couple, generally flycatchers, on the wire down to Sunset Bay from Winfrey. Today dozens, not to say Purple Martins don't catch flies, they're out there speeding after little can't-see-ems from where I'm at. Here, they're resting up, preening and probably gossiping.

Teened Wood Ducks - crpy

All This Time Watching These Looks Like
At Least Teen Ducks Now Grow Up

There's a progression visible when one visits the same place often. These ducks are nearly old enough to fly off on their own. Not that I know when they do that, but these guys are big ducks now, and if you look through these pages, you'll see them each step of the way. Hard to imagine they'll continue long under Mom's watchful eye.

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

White Goose with Eye Liner

The first person I encountered at Sunset was Charles again. We talked about his gooses and the Park Departments worry that feeding birds corn would attract rats. We'd both seen a lot of rats in our other lives, but neither of us ever saw one at the lake, unless you counted squirrels or pigeons, and we don't. He was concerned about the lame goose, of the five he'd freed last weekend.

Said he would pick it up and take it to a wildlife sanctuary. He even talked about getting a prosthetic foot made for it. I was moving slowly, so proud of not being offensive to goose, when a big white one came up and bit me on my bare leg. No injury, except pride. Charles said it was establishing its supremacy here. He was top goose. I just an interloper.

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

Two Brown Ducks Running

Plenty goose and duck action. Light was failing, so I got a lot of blurry shots of ducks chasing ducks and catching them and ... doing what ducks do. Which very often frightens people into trying to stop them. I just photograph it, generally wondering if those were new species or mutant mixes of the same olds.

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

Unsub Brown Ducks

I'd seen these guys before, and as Charles and I talked, a group of fellow participants in the Goose Release Program showed up to talk about this species and that one. They'd seen four Canadian Geese near the lake today. They even noted the same last Coot I had. But no one mentioned these. So maybe they're more mutant Mallards, which they resemble, green heads, yellow beaks, orange legs and dark yellow beaks.

Dark Ducks with Mallard Comparison - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mallard vs. Dark Ducks

As you can see in this comparison photo, Mallards (left) have only the thin white ring around their necks, and the Dark Ducks have a bib. Mallards have white stomachs, and these have dark, mottled brown. Seen from some angles, the darks flash bright white rims on trailing edges of their wings. Another little i.d mystery.

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

The Last Coot of The Season

I'd got used to seeing blankets of coots wherever I went around the lake. But today I saw only this one. Some days lately, there's been none.

Two Wood Ducks Out for a Walk - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Wood Ducks Out for a Walk

These colorful creatures are walking over to get some of the grain Charles poured, joining the multi-species dinning club. I always photograph Wood Ducks, never once noticing the differences between their plumage. Very noticeable in this photograph. Molting? While I was shooting, I was more interested in getting the exposure and focus right. More than subtle differences in coloration here.

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

More interesting was watching one Wood Duck (right above), after it'd eaten awhile among the other ducks, gooses and everybody else, suddenly decided he needed much more space. So he ducked down into bullet mode and hissed at any bird that came close. Establishing his territory. Letting everybody know he's the Top Duck. He got a wide berth, and he kept it.

June 10 pm

Charles' New Gooses - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Charles' New Gooses on the Looses

Went back to the lake, birding again Sunday evening, because Charles had told Anna he was releasing some new gooses Saturday. We'd been wanting to photograph one of his releases, but notice was too quick, so after rooking this morning, then rest and recouping, we went to Sunset Bay to check out the new gooses.

There's already a dozen and a half mostly domestic geese who've settled into and around the bay, and Charles told me fourteen or fifteen were probably enough for the area. But where he gets them — $30 each — doesn't treat them well, and he's anxious to set them free in a good environment, which Sunset mostly (except stupid humans with mean dogs) qualifies as. We would love to have videoed loosing the gooses but settled for photographing them the next day.

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

Lame New Goose

These were standing apart from the established 18 geese that often gather along the pier. The new bunch — including one lame goose (the splotchy black-fronted one fourth from left) who walks on a curled foot — seemed disoriented, distinctly separate from the others that Charles had previously freed, and their more or less wild compatriots.

The Egyptian Gooses were never assimilated by the larger group of larger gooses, but eventually all the gooses I've seen at Sunset have joined the honker society. Some just take longer. I'm hoping against hope that the lame one is not set on by one of the boobs who get their jollies dogging helpless birds.

Green Heron Escape A - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Heron Escape - A

I thought I'd checked out the loose bird mob on the opposite side of the pier from the established geese, but while I was standing there staring off into space, this bird jumped up and flew through. No Egyptian geese today — haven't been in awhile; the same single Black-bellied Whistling Duck remains; probably the same Killdeer who drops by often, often with friends; a smattering of molting mallards and their mates; a couple of nuclear duck families — Mallard and Wood. And this first Green Heron of the season that I did not see till it flew into my line of sight.

Green Heron Escape B - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Heron Escape - B

Soon as I saw it, however, I was on it. Amazed the first shot — not this image, torqued as the bird slowed into the tree — was sharp. I'd spoken with a friend Saturday who'd seen little greens regularly around the community pond her back yard slopes down to, and I was jealous. She'd also recently watched from her deck a mother owl teaching fledglings how to hunt. I am still jealous.

Usually, Greens are in the reeds at water's edge. Doubly surprised to see this one in Sunset. But sooner or later, all the happening birds at White Rock drop by. Charles, who's there often, feeding all birds grain every evening, has seen owls, hawks and many others in the vicinity.

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

Green Heron Out Standing in a Tree

I kept shooting as the deceptively small heron short-flight flew and climbed ever upward through branches, and standing briefly still for this portrait. I don't think I've ever seen a Green in a tree before. I struggle still with the name of this species. It's a lot of beautiful colors, none of them green.

Barn Swallow on the Ground - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Barn Swallows on the Ground

I almost got photos of Barn Swallows flying slow as they played along the shore at Dreyfuss. I'm getting more used to seeing them stopped since that couple in Austin showed themselves off so amazingly. I'm warming to the species I had often failed to capture because they fly so fast in sudden direction-changing loops around, over and under bridges and along shorelines.  22/134

June 10 am

Young Egret in Stealth Mode - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Young Egret in Land Stealth Mode

Back at the Southwestern Medical Center Rookery again, early-birding it (thus the worm). Lots of biting bugs and egrets - mostly Cattle, their eggs, recently hatched young and immature hunters as well as several other species. Nothing terribly unusual, except the pups.

Young Egret with Worm - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egret with Juicy Worm

My itch seemed awful and I kept batting small rounded furry fliers, but didn't itch an hour later which was fine. Still don't late this night. (The day after, I itched only where DEET wasn't sprayed. Biting bugs love me.) This was our first ayem visit. Wall to wall egrets inside the thicket and all around all around. With a smattering of others to sort through before we get to today's stars.

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

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

I thought I had this young one pegged as a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron, but its beak is the wrong color. Nor did I see any adult Yellow-crowns, though there were a few Black-crowned Night Herons, so it's probably a juvenile of those. All alone. Did not see another today, but the rookery rules are such that, unless we climb one of the parking garages or look out a tinted hospital window, we only see birds on the edge of the thicket.

Nesting Black-crowned Night Heron - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Nesting Adult Black-crowned Night Heron

Only saw two adult Black-crowns today. The other, like so many other birds, soon as I got a bead on it and settled on the appropriate exposure and focus, flew away. Camera shy. If I coulda stood to stand there longer and more carefully, I shoulda brought and used a tripod. But the itchies were a powerful incentive to keep moving.

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

Breeding Adult Little Blue Heron

More than a smattering of Little Blues among the crowded Cattle Egrets, but most were blending with the trees. This was the only clear shot of a Blue. Truly one handsome critter, huh? Later saw it with its head plumage down, not nearly so impressive, but less formal.

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

Baby Blue Eggs in Nest

We hadn't got pictures of eggs in nests before, and these were the only today. But here un sat upon by an adult with no adult in sight, to make eggdentification easy. Otherwise, the rookery was thick with Cattle eegs.

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

This recently escaped-from pod was on the ground at the edge of the thicket.

Cattle Egret with Chicks - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret with Nestlings

And sure enough, here's a pair of furry little critters recently out of similar eggs, debuting.

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

Cattle Egret Nestling in Cattle Egret Nest

A star is born.

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

Mom with Chick

Okay, here's one more shot, saved from the refuse pile. I did a lot of Photoshop work getting rid of branches in front of their faces and greening glaring bright sky spots. The chick in this photo is comparatively larger than in any of the others of my shots that day. On my last long look through the Probably Trash Images folder, this shot perked up and gave such a better, more detailed idea what the chicks look like, even though this one was in deep shadow, that I had to resurrect it.        89/520

June 9

Fledgling Jay - copyright 2007 by Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved.

Fledgling Blue Jay

This poor bird had its leg/foot broken by a cat. Then it was repeatedly "rescued" by someone who accidentally dropped it off a second-story balcony. Humans should leave fledgling birds to be taken care of by the bird's parents, who know better than well-meaning but often ignorant humans.

Photograph by Anna Palmer.

June 8

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

Barn Swallow as Yogi Pretzel

Last month I got an Austin, Texas-based Barn Swallow to turn 360 degrees, so I could photo it from all sides. Today, I got bottom sides of a bunch of Dallas-based birds by driving under them on Dreyfuss Hill.

Barn Swallow Shows Tail Feathers - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female and Male Barn Swallows

First time I published a Barn Swallow photo, there was a bit of hubbub among serious birders here, because they had never seen the black tipped white tail feathers. Here, a male pauses while re-arranging his.

June 7

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

Curious Mockingbird

Driving down the hill behind Winfrey toward Sunset Bay today I met this Mockingbird. Another bird not car shy, so I eased Blue closer and closer hoping for something, anything in the way of recognizable or even potentially decipherable bird behavior..

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

Standing Mockingbird

Eventually, my patience — such that it is — was rewarded. It meanwhile, perhaps as curious as I, flew to one of the concrete bumps lining the road, keeping most of us from driving on the grass. Probably looking around for the opportunity of food. I understand the curiosity.

Bird on a Bump - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bird on a Concrete Bump

I'm developing the theory that mocks prop their tails up when they're about to fly away. Maybe in that position it can push air under them more quickly. I haven't correlated the tail cock with flight with any certainty, but I'm wondering, and that curiosity sometimes leads to understanding, if I pay attention. Writing about it reminds me to pay that attention.

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

Northern Mockingbird Engaging in Wing Flash Behavior

Moments later, the mock flew a few feet away, landed in the grass, stood for a while then raised its wings. I hadn't seen the behavior in awhile, but was keen to photograph it again, perhaps better (certainly in better resolution and color). Birders who write books aren't certain why they flash their wings, but it seems to have to do with food, although I did not see the direct correlation. In my limited experience, all birds flap from time to time. I think it's a stretch thing. Some ruffle their feathers for similar reasons.

Flash In The Grass - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Doing the Mockingbird Flash

Whatever food was out there in the grassy field was safely hid from me, though apparently not from the mock, who may have sighted a tasty morsel. The wings are beautiful. I wish I'd got the head, beak and whatever it was hunting as well, but it's a great, detailed shot of the Mockingbird Flash, and I was as close as Blue and I could maneuver without scaring birds away.

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

Northern Mockingbird with Worm

Further down the road, I found another mock engaging — I did not at first know what. As it struggled with it a scant few feet from me hanging out Blue's window with my telephoto, a large worm came into focus. It did not come out easy, but he mock was determined, probably hungry. Once the writhing pink invertebrate was out, the mock ate it in sections, while the rest still wiggled.

June 6

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

Almost Grown

Might have been low blood sugar, but I felt really stupid settling for cute ducklings on the verge of being whoever they were about to become, duckwise. Not even a Red-winged Blackbird to spice up this page today. Oh, the ignominy of it all.

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

Long Duckling

Usually, when this happens several days in a row, I am gifted with something a little spectacular. Wouldn't that be nice. I've been daydreaming young hawks or coming unrepentantly upon a Turkey Vulture diving for gore. We'll see. We'll also see these guys as they grow a incrementally larger. Some of these ducklings have darker heads, although I failed to capture a good image of them. Is that the gender differences beginning to show? Or some quirk of nature?

June 5

Squacking Red-winged Blackbird - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Squawking Female Red-winged Blackbird

It's too easy to keep going back to Sunset Bay or the Boat House Lagoon, where I can almost always find some sort of often interesting bird action. So I'm hitting less fascinating stretches of lake. Today I walked Lawther off Garland to Winfrey.

Red-winged Blackbird Flying - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

I did not discover new or unusual species or oddly behaviors. Just the usual suspects, mostly hunting for and catching bugs in whatever way they do. The female Redwing above this flying male hopped around in shrubs and deep grass. Usually all I could see was a stalk wiggling above where she hunted as I crept toward her. Males of the species tend to fly after their prey. Fast.

Great-tailed Grackle with Bug - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

I saw the grackle, but I never saw the bug, was surprised when the image came up with that in her beak. I guess if I keep shooting birds in the grass or anywhere else, there'll be bugs in beaks often enough.

June 4

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

The Magnificent Egyptian Flaps

Just odds and ends today. Barely that. Finally the full flapping Egyptian Goose I've been working at for weeks. Some kind of magnificent. I guess.

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

Grackle Hunkering Post

Hadn't seen this Grackle display before.

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

Small Fluffy Brown

Not sure if I even know this one.

June 3

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

Wingspread Egyptian Goose - Dig the colors

We'd always rather visit the lake on a weekday because of all the stupid people and noise distractions weekends bring. But I hadn't been yet this month and needed to get this June page going. Besides, the day was bright, not hot and no dark clouds in sight. Anna chose Sunset, then the Boat House. Birds were difficult to find at either. Too many people.

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

Egyptian Goose as Quiet Abstraction -
rubbing lanolin on its feathers

A few availed themselves, some in gentle splendor, like the Egyptian Geese I've been so fascinated with ever since they stopped here sometime last month. Gorgeous colors in combinations with interesting textures. Their ruffled necks are luscious. I was careful and slow and subtle so got in close with lots of rich detail. Something else I've noted is that the Egyptians flutter wings alternately sometimes. Cooling down? Drying off. I dunno. But it's noticeable, difficult to show in photos and intriguing.

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

Having Set Their Dog on the Birds,
Two Louts Laugh Uproariously

Before I could find more birds to photograph, however, two guys brought their small black dog into the area, carefully (and illegally) unleashed it and laughed uproariously as it chased gooses and ducks into the lake, then followed, snapping at our feathered friends. Needles to say, we weren't much impressed with these human turkeys.

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

Great Sport: Dog Chases Geese

After seeing too many bird carcasses in this same area in recent months, I figured someone must be purposely running dogs against the ducks and geese and coots here. These two idiots proved my theory and had apparently come here just to do some birds in. They apparently thought it was great sport.

Not Very Sporting - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Not Very Sporting - Gooses Flee from Black Dog

I'm sorry we don't have birds who could fight back. We know it wouldn't do any good to involve the police. We're pretty sure it's illegal for ice cream trucks to troll the park spewing their amplified noise — Anna asked one if he had a permit; the driver said he did, but when she asked to see it, he wouldn't show. When she she was going to call the police, he said he was leaving anyway and departed quickly. Earlier, a Dallas police car drove within inches of the same obnoxiously loud truck. If they're not there to enforce laws, why do cops bother?

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

Red-winged Blackbird Scattered Bug Splatter as He Crunches

The Boat House area was similarly afflicted with human abundance, noise and clutter, but we were able to find a few birds worth notice. I watched a Wood Duck Mrs. escort her teenish ducklings too far along the far side of the lagoon, to photograph in focus or detail, and I was again fascinated by the flying skills of Eastern Kingbirds cruising for bugs. But the closest I got to a bug-catcher today was this red and white epauleted Red-winged Blackbird scattering a fine mist of bug in the essence of breeze as he crunched his catch, holding the bug in his beak for a long time.

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Index of Pages
A year ago

 

All text and photographs
copyright 2007 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved.

No reproduction without
specific written permission.

Formerly "The Addlepated Birder's Journal"


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