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 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 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.
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 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 Heron Swallowing Fish
... swallow it down. Then fish some more.
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
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
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
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.
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 - Barn Swallow Fluffed Up
Tail tucked into a sharp V, chest fluffed up.
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 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.
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.
Male Wood Duck Escaping While Female Gives Him What
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
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?
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Snow Goose Wings Spread
Especially when it spreads its wings.
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
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.
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.
Western Kingbird Hovering
But wow. 42/398
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.
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.
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.
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 of this lost
Juvenile Northern Cardinal
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.
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
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
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-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 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?
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,
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
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."
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.
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
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 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 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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 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
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
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
This recently escaped-from pod was on the ground at the
edge of the thicket.
Cattle Egret with Nestlings
And sure enough, here's a pair of furry little critters
recently out of similar eggs, debuting.
Cattle Egret Nestling in Cattle Egret Nest
A star is born.
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
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.
Barn Swallow as Yogi Pretzel
Last month I got an Austin,
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
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
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..
Eventually, my patience — such that
— 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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
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.
Grackle Hunkering Post
Hadn't seen this Grackle display before.
Small Fluffy Brown
Not sure if I even know this one.
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.
Egyptian Goose as Quiet Abstraction -
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.
Having Set Their Dog on the Birds,
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
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 - 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?
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.