White Rock Lake : June 30
Always nice to leave something either beautiful or interesting on the top of the page on the last day of the month. I still find grackles fascinating, so this female drying off after a wild and splashy bath, counts. Those eyes. That stare.
First the water splashy, then the careful preening to get all the dirt out, then a bit of waggling this part and that part to dry everything out.
A quick side-stop at The Big Hum netted this homey little scene. I didn't even see the wide-winged bird on top. I was concentrating on the two lower right, whom themselves I could barely seen. The one hugging the strut in middle-right onl appeared when I got this on the monitor. Not terrible, awful composition, but I think I remember a lot more color — in all these shots. But the camera missed that part.
Then I hear this frantic peep-peeping, a piercing electronic noise coming from the other side of the car along the curb. I make a U-turn in the middle of the two-lane road, drive back, jump out of the car, keeping me behind it, so I can do my own peeping out behind, over and to the side of it.
Clicking away at the long-legged little parcel of little feathers and big stripes, totally unaware of the danger it is in. Parent peeps, Killdeer squirt peeps back and clears the area just as some dufus drives briskly past, totally unaware of the tiny life form darned near under its wheels.
I also photographed them — I think there were three of them, maybe one more — in the grass, but there you can't see those long, spindly legs.
Then two egrets in the lagoon. A great, skating across the mud bottom.
And a Snowy Egret transported along its series of bubbles at each careful step.
Medical Center Rookery
First, the joyful images. BCNHs, not long out of the nest, playing in the trees, and obviously having the time of their young lives doing what they'll always do, though usually with much more care and taking a lot more time. Tag in the trees.
And Hide 'n Seek.
I know better, but I want to say this bird is smiling at us.
Egret parents feeding big babies with their long, long necks, high in the trees where egrets — because of their considerable size — live and eat and grow.
More for the right babies.
I thought I didn't get any down-the-gullet shots during all this action. I couldn't tell on my fairly large LCD. As usual, to know what I got I gotta throw it up on the screen. Same with the Black-crowns at play. See, try to figure out what exactly's going on, shoot and hope focus will follow. These times, it did. But that's never a given.
While others have to beg for attention. This parental unit on the right has just turned her long neck and back to this comparatively small bird. The reason there's several babies is so that maybe one will survive. They don't all get fed, and they never get fed as much as they want. This is the same insistent 'child' that's trying to snag the parent's attention on the left of the two photos above. Not sure whose those wings are.
Great Egret baby tossed or fell from its nest. Dying on the grass, where we scooped it up and put it in a box headed for Rogers Wildlife
And another bestraggled puppy of a Great Egret. Too hot for comfort.
I don't mind photographing occasional dead birds, because it's all part of life's circle. But shooting this many dead birds in the rookery was sad and disturbing.
Took awhile for us to figure out what this was, hanging high in the trees.
Unfortunately, it was not the only bird hanging.
There were many big and little birds overcome by the unusual heat during hatching season.
Way too many dead birds. We noticed that "the pond" was nearly empty, except for bodies of dead birds, mostly white.
Jason Hogle agrees: "You found the same heartbreaking scene at the UTSWMC rookery that I discovered Saturday morning. Too much death — even accepting the numbers game of procreation. This early heat has been catastrophic."
Jason Hogle who often helps us identify birds on this journal, has sent Anna and me some distrubing news about some — and positive news about others — of the birds we've been following at the Medical Center Rookery. As usual — Jason and I have discussed its necesity — I have excised specific information about the location of active nests.
The Tricolored Heron nest with chicks appears to have failed. I watched it for two hours this morning. There was no sign of life — no chicks, no adults, nothing. The tricolored nest nearest the parking garage also appears abandoned, although I didn't watch it as long.
The nest near _ _ _ is still occupied. The adult was up preening this morning, then back down brooding shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, it's getting too late in the season, and I suspect that nest has also failed. I hope I'm wrong. (Maybe they're just late bloomers.)
The high number of nest failures right now is due to the heat. The very young are dying in large numbers because it got too hot too early, hence all the panting by babies and adults alike. (Interesting tidbit: Two tricolored herons visited Sunset Bay last night and spent the evening hunting all along the confluence and back into the creeks.)
The good news is that there are ibis chicks all along the _ _ _ side of the rookery. They're more easily heard than seen, but there are a few nests low enough to offer glimpses as the little ones bob up and down and chatter away. Just listen for the high-pitched warbling whistles, then let your eyes follow your ears.
Also, cattle egret chicks are popping up everywhere. They're still awfully small, but little heads poking up over the edges of nests and parents feeding them are two increasing sights.
What's sad about the new arrivals is that both species are hatching during our unusual heat. If our temperatures don't go down a bit (closer to normal), I think many of the young will no doubt perish).
Jason has made significant identification corrections for this and last month. Just find the purple text down these two months for more bird info, some that answers this amateur's long-standing confusions.
After the Killdeer parents removed every piece of their nest
near _ _ _ , he told me that, despite that nest's location so near the human
population, those parents will probably consider that placement successful,
and will likely return. I wonder what the Tricolored Herons will decide about
nesting this far from The Coast?
Earlier This Week
at white rock lake
I promised I show you these earlier this week when I photographed the elegant Great Egret. Then I forgot. These are the best of those. Possibly my favorite shots of that prolific day were of this kingbird trying to eat this enormously loud buzzing bug that I could not identify, but reader Susan P could.
It is, she says, "a cicada, but I can't tell which kind. Around my house, not too far from the lake, they are green with white bellies. To me, it's a sound that's as Texas as mockingbirds, but not loved by everybody!"
It's captor balanced it, flung it back and forth, tried several times — all very unsuccessfully to put it down its throat. But all the bug did was buzz and buzz and buzz. Annoyingly loud. Finally, I watched as the bird flung it down in disgust. Then it just stood there for a long time, staring down where the bug went.
Says Jason, "Wow! I love the western kingbird trying to eat the larger-than-life cicada. As Susan P pointed out, those insects are common around here, although I can't give you the definite species since they have to be keyed (by eye color, head, thorax and abdomen color, overall size, wing venation, etc.). We have several common species around here, not to mention the few species that only show up every 7-15 years (those are called the "brood" species)."
Actually, I way too far to hear this particular bird utter any sound. It just looks like it's screeching. I got no proof it actually did. It'd probably help if I knew who it was. But All the markings I'd know it by are on its other sides. I'll do some book research then ask Jason. The lower bird in the next photo looks similar, but not to the illustration on Sibley's online, so I don't know. I'm still guessing all three are Western Kingbirds or one gender, age or whatever. But what do I know?
Jason Hogle says: "That's a hard one to pin down. I won't venture a guess since there are many possibilities. As you noted, the diagnostic data is on the sides and back of the bird. Also, relative size is hard to make out from the photo. There are two wood-warbler and several tyrant flycatcher species that come to mind (among a few other groups). Still, I could only offer random possibilities."
These weren't shot chronologically close, but they look similar. I followed them from tree to tree, kept missing them or fuzzing the focus, till this shot of the upper one hovering over the tree and the other flashing yellow in the sun.
Expert birder Jason Hogle says: "Watching--and listening to--this kind of interaction is terribly fun. It often looks like they're trying to pummel each other. Sometimes you can see three or four of them involved in this exchange."
I see more Red-winged Blackbirds than anything else every day I visit the meadows. They stand up on something tall looking down like Ozymandias
Then they let loose with a feathery-body all-out release and it calls its call, proclaims in claims.
I'd just had a cross-the-path conversation with a guy walking who asked about the parrots. Parakeets I corrected, remembering KERA FM's Everything You Ever Wanted to Know's definitive pronuncement that these green guys at White Rock Lake are parrots when they're not.
They are Monk Parakeets, and they live in The Big Hum (shortened to "The Hum" on the lower left of our Annotated Map of White Rock Lake.) up the hill behind the Pumphouse. Nice conversation, then I encountered these greenies and had the devil of a time getting my lens to focus on them, green on green and in the dark shade that they were.
It might be drinking, or else it was digging in the mud under water along the shore. It later brought something up. Small, dark, round and generally way out of focus, or I'd show it here.
Says pro birder Jason Hogle: "May Be a Killdeer Drinking" is a really cool photo (it has great angular momentum!). I'm curious if the killdeer was drinking then found something of interest (whatever it pulled up out of the water), or if it was hunting to begin with." Me, too.
Earlier along Lawther around the lake from Garland Road past Garland Bridge, I saw baby Killdeer exploring the new world.
And posing for photographs. Seems like each new bunch of Killdeer babies I find are a tiny bit older than the ones before, although all appear to be in the range of days, rather than weeks old. I suspect by the time they are weeks old, I won't be able to teel them apart from adults. One thing it probably means is that Killdeer continue to make nests and raise young in the most precarious of places — very near humans running, jumping and picnicking.
While being carefully watched over by its adults.
Sibley's Guide to Birds, the bird identification book that's nearly always on the top of my stack, is now online at http://sibley.enature.com/ with smallish but enlargeable pictures, full descriptions and bird call audio. Nice implementation and unlike the book, free.
One of the troubles of early is it's dark. I was there minutes after six this ayem, wondering if cops let anybody be there before the 6 ayem they tell lovers parking the park is closed midnight to six. And there were dozens out already, trying to catch the cool before it rivered into sweat. Selective enforcement. Dark light means slow exposures and inevitable blurs.
First bird I saw to sneak up on was a big Great white Egret, and I snuck in on it good, discovering in the shadows the Bay Gray catching little fish and switched my attentions full time to it for long, dark minutes.
Sun's not out there this early, so photos are blurry. Trouble is, if I've not sneaked out there by then, I'll miss the show. Closing in on the Gray today, I crawled belly-up along the length of the pier, whenever it wasn't looking my way, through the since-dried silt still left from the monster rains.
Gradually, more light shone out there, and I saw a familiar shape much nearer, on the pier's left wing. I carefully turned to aim that way, placed the Rocket Launcher on one of the pier's piers, so it was solid, and I popped up the flash, to capture ...
My summer First-of-Season Green Heron. I'd been thinking about them the last week or so. Wondering where they'd gone, since I'd seen several in widely distributed places, Arlington and here much earlier this spring.
Fill-flash — what I still like to call "Synchro-Sunlight," though there wasn't much of that silvery stuff out there in the broad shade of all the trees in Sunset Bay. Yet.
The major drawback using flash in early darkness, is catching them at the wrong angle when their eyes are open and the flash fills them with reflective silver, making them look unnatural.
Last I saw that heron on the ground, it was associating with known ducks along the muddy flats out to the water's edge.
Green Herons flying over the bay out toward Dreyfuss. I wondered if the one I'd photographed earlier had found a friend, or if they were even related.
My Great Blue Heron, meanwhile, now in brighter light, was back fishing again. A constant struggle for its daily sustenance.
I'd noticed a flurry of soft white on the logs out in the middle of Sunset Bay, turned my camera that way to see.
One disappear, and the other set off on a journey.
Mr. Disappeared — a.k.a. Mr. Fluffy — came right around back and settled on the log the first Snowy'd just left.
And Snowy #1 disappeared into the distance across the lake toward Green Heron Park. See map.
And closer in, on this side, the Bay Gray was concentrating on the other great constant of its life, grooming.
Shot more than 400 images this early, cool morning at my lake. Most of my time at and around Winfrey — calling it a point is only true looking down from a satellite. When I'm there, it's a long, gradual curve around that big hill. Then an image of a small bird at the boat ramp across the lagoon from the Old Boat House, entered my mind, so I drove there while the Check Engine light flashed on my dashboard, and I found this exquisite creature.
This was my first one-to-one encounter with an egret, especially this close, in months, maybe all this year, though those memories tend to blur and stretch.
Instead of taking the time to work up all the good shots from today, I'm going to divvy them out over the next several days, so I can apply myself to tasks that are piling up. Might help regulate my wake/sleep cycle some, too. Oh, and there's a term for what I've been calling ruffling that I saw on a DVD, but I forget what it was.
Then there's my car that's dying after 19 years. I'm hoping to get a much better but more expensive one later, but I need something that will provide reliable transportation till then. Anyone out there have a used Corolla that drives good, gets adequate MPG and the AC works? Email me at the address linked at the top of the page. Thanks.
Sometimes they croak hoarsely. I hear it when I inadvertently frighten them. They fly away slowly, croaking gruffly like an old guy with issues. I've got sneaky in the last few years of serious birding. But not sneaky enough. I still scare them away sometimes. I kept sneaking closer to this one, but it didn't seem to mind. It was too busy slowly, carefully, painstakingly stepping across the boards.
This is a second egret. Usually, they leave the area a photographer is busy in. This one saw the first one, step, step, stepping around on that floating pier, and flew in, anyway. I doubt it saw me, though. Both's presence quickly developed into a competitive situation. That may be why this one dropped in.
The interloper did not stay long. It was flown at head-long, and it departed in a speedy and elongated manner. With haste.
So the first egret aimed directly at where the second egret landed, while the second egret was busy egressing.
They're so beautiful, whatever they're doing, and I'd finally got the exposure spot on.
Then the first egret landed right there in all its elegant beauty.
After spending most of my day hiding under an air-conditioner well away from any windows, I was amazed how many birds were active this hot, hot, hot afternoon. It may have been the year's hottest day yet. Might even have got to 100 degrees F. I dunno because I don't listen to human weatherpersons. If I could get birds to talk to me about it, I'd get much better forecasts. These guys know weather.
Wish I knew who this was. but I'll figure it out eventually. Pretty sure it's not a mockingbird or a grackle, my usual mis-IDs, and it's probably not a martin, although there were thousands of those everywhere I looked today.
Wrong again, or how would I ever learn. This is, Jason Hogle tells me, "a juvenile Northern Mockingbird. The breast spots fade quickly as they grow older. This one is probably recently fledged and may have had a truncated tail." Of course, always being right, like perfection, is unlikely and largely unhelpful. Nice to have someone who knows backing me up.. Jason will bring more corrections and identifications after he gets a break. Thanks, Jason.
I'd been wondering how I managed to miss them this year, and then I realized they are here now.
Photographing them en masse on a telephone wire was easy. Catching one sharp and in any semblance of focus flying over was quite a trick. I like how the sun's cast a shadow of this one's feet on its flap-down wing.
I think I saw this guy catch that bug. Of course I didn't get a shot of it, and I can't tell what kind of bug it is, but once it suddenly zagged when I thought it was about to zig, it flew straight —,
to a nearby tree where a hungry juvenile martin stood eagerly waiting.
But I seriously muffed focus on the actual beak-to-beak delivery.
This guy had parked his bike against a nearby picnic table, divested several items of clothing there, and was swimming and floating in our fair lake, where it's been illegal to swim since, depending on whose story you believe, Polio hit America or Integration did. It looked delicious cool and comfy. I'd never thought about floating in White Rock before, and I'm not sure where I could hide the Rocket Launcher while I did it, but it sure seems a worthy intermediate goal.
There were Purple Martins on the phone wires,
Purple Martins massing in the sky
And Purple Martins filling up whole trees down from the tops.
Yet plenty other bird species were all around.
Including this amazing hunter, who was happy to pose on a rusting hulk of metal for me, but soon as he got aloft, he'd fool me with up and down, and any direction. Wherever I pointed the Rocket Launcher, the bug hunter was somewhere else.
He fast. I only caught up with one or another of them a spare few times today down in the Winfrey Meadow hotbetd of bird life.
And when I did, I was happy. For a moment or two till I'd try again.
And when I didn't, I made the image small, so it would look sharp even if it wasn't.
So, of course, I missed it when this guy jumped off the wire, caught a big bug, then brought it back.
But I was right there shooting up while he struggled to get that big ole bug into his little beak and down its smallish throat.
Squash it out, peel it back, and ...
Widen its throat in a miniature of a egret
or heron's throat-thickening and hunk it down.
New pix by Anna at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation below.
It was a good day for babies. Jason showed us where were some Anhinga chicks — our first, who had already attained some size, so they could be seen over the edge of their nest, even looking up. Many other species of chicks could not.
We assumed this little, bluish (It's skin was literally that color.) egret (not a Little Blue Heron) had been pushed from the nest, just a few feet from the path. By parent or sibling, it hardly mattered; it was nt going to be picked up or returned. It looked pittiful and unlikely to live, but Anna found a box at a nearby store, put (Well, we're calling it Bud, because that's what kind of box Anna found.) in it with a matching blue towel, and drove it to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation in Hutchins, south of Dallas.
Much healthier egret siblings in nest.
Same birds with gaping mouth.
Adult Black-crowned Night-Heron reaching waaaaay down for something. Turned out to be a chunk of branch, which it flew off to its nest with.
Lots of birds in the rookery this morning.
And lots more at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation, too.
And where lots of old friends were: the healed ...
And we hoped our new friend would be, too.
... and the healing. Little and ...
big birds, too.
More Wood Ducks on the pier this morning. Several — the more interesting to me just now — females. I was eager over the last couple of days watching ducks molt, to see how the always lovely female Wood Ducks were doing. The males still parade themselves back and forth in single-gender groups, but females have been much less conspicuous lately. I missed them.
It's not always the case, but often, when I use this smaller size image (555 pixels wide, instead of the usual 777 pixels), it's because the original was not as sharp as I'd like it to have been. Sometimes I use it when the subject matter is less interesting or boring, but necessary. This young lady was far — I was tiptoeing up the pier from the shore side — and small. If I'd got her sharp, she'd be starring in a larger image.
When she jumped into the air, what semblance of focus I had achieved was lost forever in action, and it only got worse. I hope this image is informative, since it never quite made it as arty.
Then, this image, led to the next one.
Now, leading into summer, it's the female of Mallards who is the more colorful. When flying and that one wing patch shows.
Purple counts more for color than brown. Here, the usually green head of the male mallard is deep brown to black with no sign of iridescence. Neither of my two top — they're on the top of my bird book stack — bird books acknowledges this colorlessness of head and brown spottiness of body as an actual seasonal variety, but there it is. I knew I'd seen them, apparently until today, I hadn't photographed them
And here's a Mallard profile from April 2006 for comparison.
I think I've got that right, "in eclipse plumage." I'm struggling with terminology and understanding seasonal plumage changes. I used to call it "featheration," but that's just silly and kinda stupid. Watching Wood Ducks is part of what makes bird watching such an aesthetic experience, and when they change plumage, even more so. Handsome couple!
Their blue bits show up great in shade, but even in nearly all brown in bright sunlight (in Sunset Bay) they look great.
I've been adding photos to various dates below, and we've finally identified the two cute baby egrons (somewhere between an egret and a heron) Anna shot on June 14th.
The high point for me, as I write this about Anna's photographs at the Medical Center Rookery when I was at home dealing with contractors, are her photographs of very young Little Blue Herons. Like this one.
We've had photographs of youngish Little Blue Herons — especially from the Our Lady of the Lake rookery in San Antonio, where Little Blue Herons (not yet blue) and little Cattle Egrets were almost indistinguishable — before. But these are this site's first home-grown LBH chicks.
Not sure what this Tricolor parent is up to. It's hot there, it could be panting in the steaming air. It might be uttering a cry. Its cousins the Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets make a croaking sound when they're upset. I'm not even sure if this one was upset. I wasn't there.
This was another one of those notorious, long-way-away, tiny portion of a large image at high ISO shots that show us a Cattle Egret parent on the nest. Anna shot these, and I worked them up for presentation here.
And here are two young Black-crowneds still in the nest, but adding stripes by the day and growing toward the time they will fly away.
It could have been a cuckoo or something stranger. Sure looks that way, but what it is is a juvenile Blue Jay. So in addition to Great, Snowy and Cattle Egrets, Little Blue, Black-crowned Night- and Tricolored Herons, White Ibis and Anhingas, the Medical Center Rookery provides nesting for Blue Jays.
Not a morning person, today I just stayed up. I knew if I tried a nap, I'd still be sleeping. My sleep's disturbing enough already. So I was at the lake about 7 this ayem.
And loved its 76 degrees F weather, everything's prettier in the morning, like it sometimes is in the amber of evening. Same angles of sunlight involved. There was a slight breeze.
If some days are diamonds and some are dust, today was glittering with crushed carbon.
I felt lucky to have found the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on the wire leading down the hill toward Sunset Bay from upper Winfrey Point. Then this one landed on a post along the side of the little road I call Mockingbird Road and let me and Blue coast to within a few feet of it.
One of my favorite sports it to catch birds as they are about to jump into flight. It tells so much more about the bird than them just standing there looking pretty. Like the little bird a couple days ago, jumping up, not even bothering, yet, to stretch, let alone flap, its wings, certain of its trajectory, fully confident of flight.
This one is putting effort into it, already flapping blurs of wings, leaning into it, its feet firm on the top of the post.
I saw this RWBB catch this dragonfly, though I didn't know what it'd caught till I got it in proper size on my monitor. Of course, there was never any hope of capturing that swift, sudden turn of direction and clamp-down capture on silicone. I raced back to where I saw it land in the tall weeds along the shore, hoping I could get a glimpse before it swallowed, and I got one shot before it set out for someplace more secure, with something to grab onto and chew.
Was this tall, beautiful Great Egret fishing near the shore in Sunset Bay, but all my shots of it standing there were just so ordinary. When it flew away, they got slightly better.
I'd hoped to get closer to the summer eclipse Wood Ducks I shot from afar last time, but didn't expect them to be waiting for me on the pier as I was sneaking up on my favorite Great Blue Heron, "The Sunset Gray." I feel impelled to again tell you GBHs sometimes live to be 23 years old, and they keep going back to the same place to fish.
My Dashboard Dictionary defines "eclipse" as "a phase during which the distinctive markings of a bird (especially a male duck) are obscured by molting of their breeding plumage." That's what's going on here. Still colorful and pretty, but the arrangement differs.
After indulging me and my camera awhile, both Wood Ducks flew away, this one showing its under-wing glory.
A mix of plumages. Right to left: A Mallard with green head — many appear dark, black or gray, enduring their own molt; a male Wood Duck in near-full breeding plumage, then two more males in summer eclipse.
Lot of ducks are changing colors one way or another.
Int it handsome?
I've missed seeing my favorite Great Blue Heron. Bird Squadders report seeing it in the later evenings, but I haven't seen it in the hot old afternoons in a long time. Today, I watched it preen and stab splashing into the water a couple times, but if it caught anything, it was small. I didn't see it.
After a long time of not catching anything in its spot a few dozen yards off the dock that's no longer under water, "The Sunset Gray" flew out to the logs in the middle of the bay ...
... to one of its other spots, and continued preening and looking for food.
Farther away, where turtles watch.
This was actually today's first shot, but since there's no birds in it, it was relegated down here. Pretty, though. Guy at the car fixit joked that "a lens like that," pointing to the Rocket Launcher (He a guy who had operated a real rocket launcher, which apparently is only a little longer than mine.) "could do close-up details across the lake," but this is about as close as it got.
Looked odd but was pretty far out in the lake. I'd only been gone a day, but maybe because of the upper 90-degree F weather, it felt like longer, and I was happy to be back, although 5 pm is a lousy time to find birds.
It's too hot for man or bird that late in the aft.
Although some birds were active. Since it was closely associating with the following birds, it seems likely this is a female whatever those are. Resident bird-identifying expert Jason Hogle confirms the identity of what I first called a "little brown bird," all the more likely because the next two images in the same place are male House Sparrows.
And what I think these are are House Sparrows.
Showing remarkable color on a burning hot day like today.
This guy honked at me a bit as I stood on the pier at Sunset Bay and it swam by.
And usually, I see these as strictly black and white, but here, as it is, in its own deep shade, it has variations in those tones.
Before hanging out with the Cliff Swallows below, I would have immediately jumped to the conclusion these were all Barn Swallows, but I think these are Barn Swallows, because of the usually not seen white band across their tails (like the one on the left above)
Cliff Swallows have little, white areas in front of their foreheads and behind their beaks, instead of solid, dark blue-black there, though you can't see it in this shot.
After dropping my car off at the fixit again this morning, Anna drove us to the Cliff Swallow House again. I only later figured out that I'd need my medium telephoto lens or the Rocket Launcher with a big flash.
But I didn't have anything but a dinky 50mm lens, so I shot these images. Fun to use a lens that focuses that fast, though, and it's a sharp little lens that I used to capture this Cliff Swallow streaming by.
All of both of our shots today are big enlargements. To do this right, I'd have to set up a tripod at an angle with a telephoto lens, so I could just start shooting when a parent hooves into view, licitly away, and hope to catch that one millisecond when its jamming food into Baby's face.
I'd be fascinating to watch them big enough to figure out more about them. Right now they are puffy soft little bodies with big beaks, and their only job is to get big enough to fly the coop and catch their own dinners.
Parents, meanwhile, are crisscrossing the sky filling their beaks with bugs for the babies, whom they swoop in to feed often. Standing in the barely walled building is exciting, having swallows swoop past us up into the ceiling. A righteous bird moment or two.
Here a parent is stuffing baby's beak with bugs. There might be an angle to photo both faces, but it'd be difficult, since the parents head is poked well into the hole of the mud nest.
Hers show those all-important little beaks wide open, with their bright big targets parental units are not likely to miss.See the big yellow grin. Look how puffy it is. Parent has just turned to see the way out, moments from swooping out to catch some more morsels for junior.
There's a lot of really bad shots of Cliffies on the internet (But this is the best shot I found on the net.), so these seem plausible now. Anna was shooting with her Sony H1's 38-380mm (35mm equivalent) zoom, so she got in as much as 7.5 times closer and more detailed.
Too busy writing art crit and processing photos from yester's art tour, I stayed home while Anna visited the Medical Center Rookery early this ayem, capturing several egron (egrets and/or herons) babies, including this one, which baffled our identifications several times.
Neither Peterson's nor Sibley's shows babies. Neither does National Geographic or anybody else I have books from. Guess nobody ever has to i.d babies without their parents around. Jason says these two baby birds are little Little Blue Herons, and Anna and I agree.
I think that makes these the first Little Blue Herons this little to make it into these pages. Let's celebrate.
My camera worked well yester but was busy drying the days before. The AC treatment worked. I'd not seen advice to AC it, and thinking it through, wonder at the logic, but it worked, and my D300 worked flawlessly through the hot out to cold AC in and back to 90-plus-degree mugginess all day, so I'll be back for birds Tuesday, as usual my bird week's first day.
Lake was wetter than usual. Inundated. We decided to meet at the Old Boathouse, because I hadn't been there in awhile, but just getting to it was a chore. And somewhere along the way, my best camera, safely bucked into my passenger seat was soaked. Though and through.
So I stuck paper towels into its accessible orifices, then took it home and opened all its little doors and sat it in the opposite of its position in Blue's seat. And waited. It didn't work at all Thursday, into the wee hours by candlelight. I wanted to turn on the AC, but without electricity for 30 hours, that was difficult.
[A day later, today as I write this and post these, the meter worked three times today and just now (1 p.m.) there's clicking of the shutter, mirror pop, all that amazing simultaneous mechanical stuff. The lenses focus themselves, so that's no watermark (pun intended). It shot a couple shots, then wouldn't anymore, so I'll park it in front of the new AC set on cold and hope...] But it was blank at the lake, so I borrowed back my D200 and set about documenting birds in the flood.
These are of the large lower parking lot for the Boathouse. Idiot drivers kept hauling down the ramp expecting to go somewhere, braking suddenly, then just staring, seeing for the first time what lay ahead, water where used to be concrete and grass. Minutes later, another blind driver would join in.
It was thoroughly disconcerting, but nothing about it was hidden. Anna saw it from the get go, and we parked in an uphill slot instead.
The Boathouse Bridge was nearly underwater all the way across. There was no "under the bridge" left, and the path on the far end, like many paths at the lake today, was under water.
This little guy — a Barn Swallow with some bit of food resting comfortably in its beak — looked befuddled. Swallows and Martins usually zip over and under the bridge chasing insects. I've seen them stop after hunting awhile with a beak full of bugs. Not sure what this one's got, but the bird looked flummoxed by the water level. Tamer than usual, too. It did not seem to mind posing for pictures of it and its plight.
I know the feeling. No electricity in my neighborhood all day Thursday, until 5 this morning. So much to do. Couldn't even turn on a computer or an AC.
As Jason Hogle notes, "Barn swallows build their nests under a lot of the bridges around the lake — including the one over Dixon Branch near Buckner and the one by the old paddle boat house. Considering how flooded it was, I suspect the nests and chicks drowned — and the swallow being tamer than usual meant it was likely panicked about its nest and offspring. Very unfortunate."
Not sure what bird this is, but it's jumping into flight, nonplused its wings aren't into it yet. Jason calls this "a really entertaining photo" and idntifies her as a female House Sparrow.
Lot of habitat under water, but birds fly over it.
Or swim though it, nearly unconcerned.
We liked the sign in the former park on the south side of Parrot Bay, or should I say, in it.
More on the northern side of the Parrot. We took lots more flood shots — several of lonely islands of bridges and piers and park benches staring out into a universe of water everywhere, but after a while, they all look the same. More water than a lake can hold.
We wondered whether the bozos concretizing the spillway were keeping the level high to keep themselves and their progress dry. Do you suppose the City's planners planned on rain this big?
It rained today, and instead of staying safe, secure and dry in my cubby-hole, I went off to the lake to see how the birds were handling it. I was under this martin house when the storm actually hit where I was. Swoosh. These guys knew it was coming, and were flapping around, heading here or there. Like a lot of people, coming a little unglued with the storm coming in.
Jason Hogle calls this shot "simply beguiling and beautiful! ... The colors are ominous, and the birds flitting around the house seem to add to the feeling of impending doom."
Literalist Dallas art bureaucrat Gail Sachson wrote about this photograph in her KERA blog about the 15 (th anniversary) show at The MAC. She called it black & white, showed it out of focus, purple and cropped so strangely that it includes part of the frame, and you might not recognize it from the original above. She also compared it with Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, which is apt.
Standing under the Mockingbird Bridge photographing the Singing Bridge through the wash off the road above. Nice to walk around and get the right (?) angle with it swishing and pounding and splooshing every whichaway.
Ducks are pretty stalwart about rain. Aim head and body into it, and endure.
I'd never thought to photograph this view of this end of the Singing Bridge before. Mother of invention and all that. Here, pointed that way, I didn't get drenched every time I opened my window in Blue.
You can see the partially bald spots on the Mallards' breasts where they've been bashing them into each other during mating season. Rain makes allies of us all.
Tornados touched down north of here. It was wet and windy. Fiercely so for awhile. Then it calmed somewhat, but the rain continued.
Twisting to flip off the soak of rain, this goose or duck or whatever it is — hard to tell, and I was hurrying the cam and lens (my 19-year-old slow auto-focus 180mm f/2.8, sharp as blazes, wide for darkness, long for challenges) in and out of the recalcitrant window on Blue, not busy identifying water fowl.
In the 1950s, before Integration and Polio, that platform was for lifeguards. There's concrete on the bottom out to it still. Very slippery. The yellowish poles are an art piece, the storm was driving surface water in tight fast waves. The wind was vicious and wet.
Before the sky let go of all that rain and wind, it forewarned. This shot from that place where cars tend to bottom out. Dip, indeed! Up toward the look-out over the Bath House and the lake at its widest.
Killdeer was about the last species I expected to find more of today. Nor had I any idea I'd find the next step up in age and ability. But I'm delighted it happened. Fascinated by an old friend's description of them at this age as cotton balls on toothpicks, I wanted to see just how apt her portrayal was.
Pretty close. This little bird standing there in the big way of bicyclists who barely look where they're going scared the poo outta me, but I'm learning that where Killdeer choose to have their young makes zero sense in a human world. I'm guessing these are not many hours older than the less-than-a-day-old hatchlings Jason photographed last week. [Just below.]
Of course, these are from a different family, too — although the parents were just as loud and protective. These were taken in Sunset Bay proper, just down the road from Winfrey, where Jason's babies were.
I assume these are slightly older, because they are running and not tripping over their own legs and feet. And they were running fast. Almost too fast for me and the Rocket Launcher to keep up, until they paused to pose for the photographer. Dig the tiny little stump of a wing and scraggly little tail. Ain't it cute?
Most of my pix of them running like crazy in every direction were too blurry to show. All of them were way far away and seriously over-exposed thanks to low blood sugar I only figured out much later, then fixed.
I thought I was about to photograph two doves standing close on the high wire down the hill from Winfrey, but what I got was scads better than what I thought I was planning. Nice of photography to do that sometimes. Bird identifying expert Jason Hogle says these are Mourning Doves.
June 5 Again
Wow! Remember our hatchling and baby Killdeer still in their nest? [below] Well, Jason Hogle, who directed us to the nest, got great photographs of them running around the meadow a couple hours after we got shots of them still in the nest and Anna got video of the parents protecting them.
So I finally get to see the babies. So very pleased about that. Hope you are, too. That's what I was hoping for all along. Nice that I get to see them, even though I wasn't there when they separated from the nest.
This one is one of the first two out of the nest.
Jason says this is "The second one already out of the nest, although this one stayed closer until I got out of the car, at which point it vanished into the wildflowers." Note the amazing detail Jason got in the legs and feathers all around this tiny little fluffy body.
These are, "The two who were still in the nest. Both were trying out their shaky legs and wound up in a tuft of grass," Jason says.
Says Jason, "This was the last chick to hatch. You can see its feathers are still wet."
Jason adds: "Mostly what I saw was the backside of the chicks as they ran around the field. They disappeared into the wildflowers when I got out of the car and didn't come out until I was back in the car (and the parents gave the all-clear signal).
"The two out of the nest were indeed wild children. Until I caused them to run and hide, they rushed all over the place. At one point, one of them jumped off the curb and wound up in the circle drive. It had to run all the way to the end of the curb just to get back on the grass.
Very cool to have seen all this. Very cool indeed."
J R agrees completely. Thanks again, Jason.
Dallas Medical Center Rookery
We probably would have gone anyway, since we usually drop by on our way home from the drying beds, but we'd heard about nesting Ibis at the rookery again, so we checked them out, even though we've seen Ibis there off and on all spring, even before they were reported elsewhere.
We may have been the first to photograph some aspects of Ibis being a couple years ago, also at the rookery, but we're always up for more views and photographs of the curved-beak wonders. I've heard several birding "experts" proclaim that "Dallas doesn't have any Ibis," but we know better.
We counted about a dozen and speculated there's probably twice that. Earlier visitors may have reported a positive experience to their Ibis friends. That and the global warming trend that's pushing the hot South further north and inland, so we're becoming tropical enough.
One more set of Ibis shots I didn't use at first, because they're not as good as ones I've shot of the same process before. But they are informative, and they were shot within the same second. Note that despite their name, they are not all white.
And a really good way to show off their big, pink feet.
Strange faces and a looooong, curved bill that turns black on the far end. More Ibis photographs on the April journal (Link, then give it time to load in another tab or window).
Which brings us back to heron babies. Be sure to note the other gold-rimmed black eye on the left of this image. Just guessing, and without much actual knowledge, I'm thinking the heron above is slightly younger than the next one down.
Not its real name, of course, but Spike is a Night-Heron, we're pretty sure, although distinguishing a Black- from a Yellow- crowned Night-Heron at this age is not a sure thing. Sibley cites the Black-crowned's sharply pointed, extensively yellowish bill and the Yell0w's dark, thick beak. And the Black's broad, blurry stripes and the Yellow's relatively narrow distinct streaks.
So now I'm much less certain which this is, with its bill that's neither sharply pointed nor dark, distinct breast stripes. If I could watch it grow, its wings would tell, but finding the same one again might be difficult. I am pretty sure it's a heron, and we saw lots of Black-crowns and not a single Yellow-crown.
Love the stripes and spiky hair ... er ... feathers atop its head.
Jason Hogle writes: "Spike" is a Black-crowned Night-Heron. Yellow-crowned night-herons aren't gregarious and won't nest in the rookery because of all the other birds. The same is true of great blue herons and green herons. All three species might visit the rookery, but none of them would ever nest there."
Which answers several of my lingering questions. Thanks, Jason, for the info and the bird back-stories.
This is my day's best shot of a baby bird. Usually, they're well hidden behind nest sticks and branchletts. Parents keep it that way, so curious photographers don't get easy shots. As they grow in size and intelligence, however, birds — by this stage, we're calling them teenagers, because they look like and act like teeners. And like human teens, they get a little more visibility and freedom.
As I am a fan of so many other herons, I like the black-crowns for their sleek beauty and gangly legs and feet. That dashing occipital plume laid back over its upper body here also helps.
Nice to get this close to a BCNH. I've had to do without shooting them along the lower schuss of the Spillway and its Lower Steps, because of all those construction workers and big machines so busy filling the cavern with concrete after they failed utterly to protect the concrete they'd already installed from getting regularly soaked.
So I'll have to wait another year or more till I can lean out over the guard rail over the walking bridge overlooking the steps to photograph The Annual Great Egret Dance there and all those Little Blue, Great Blue, Black- and Yellow-crowned Night- Herons there. Even then, though, I wasn't able to get this close.
Smaller and less developed than our teen bird above, this one has more blurry stripes on front, and all of today's babies have the yellow eyes of a Black-crowned Night-Heron, and here I go trying to guess identities again. Jason says Stripey Baby is a Black-crowned Night-Heron.
Big red eyes looking down.
By now, we know just where to find our resident Tricolored Heron. We can almost even see its nest. But we have yet to glimpse any of its babies, though we'll keep trying. It's grown a lot more tolerant of photographers these last few months.
Village Creek Drying Beds in Arlington
We drove slow down the swamp-lined street just inside the gate at the Village Creek Drying Beds in Arlington, Texas way early enough this morning, hunting, as always for some bird interesting to photograph. So this Yellow-crowned Night Heron in the swamp left of the road going in was our first of many, many, many species today. I shot more than 700 photos. These are my favorites.
Three, I think, sliders raced us down one of the roads. They fast for turtles.
We'd heard there was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher nest out there, but unless "Somebody's Nest" was theirs, we didn't see it.
There were a smattering of Cattle Egrets looking their usual elegant.
It helps, I suppose, their image that they walk like Egyptians.
They were not, however, all that interested in posing for photographs.
We couldn't see eggs and did not see anybody near enough the nest to peg it on them.
BBWDs are some of my favorites. Love those big orange beaks and bright pink legs.
The rest of them are right nice looking, too. Beautiful three-tone brown bodies. Here joined by the much smaller Blue-winged Teal.
I don't know what these guys are doing, but my guess is that they were definitely not fighting. I think they were in the same area — I'd never seen so many Little Blue Herons in one place before — landing, flying and taking off.
At first I thought the lower, smaller-seeming bird was a baby or juvenile, but babies are cuter than cute with fluffy black and white stripes. I've never seen one, but my mother photographed a young family in the canal behind the house they used to live in in Mission, Texas.
Had to be, I suppose, some unsubs. These are they. I followed them all around the place. Got fairly close in the next shot.
Somebody probably knows who they are. I hope they're not doves, just to protect my ignorance and stupidity.
Didn't realize this was either a RTH or a RWBB when I shot it. I just shot it.
They were way far away.
This one, and many like it, buzzed us all over the beds. I should know its name, but I haven't figured it out yet. Just glad they were busy catching bugs. Jason Hogle confirms it's not only a Cliff Swallow, but a Juvenile Cliff Swallow.
I know this one. The ever-elegant Little Blue Heron. One of many.
Including white Juveniles turning slowly into blue, one patch of feathers at a time.
A closer look to see its new, blue/black splotches better..
I was fascinated, as I often am, with the brilliant yellow pond scum. And LBHs, too.
I think these are, left to right, a Great Egret, the Little Blue Heron, a Snowy Egret and another Great Egret. Maybe.
Lest we forget just how beautiful the surroundings are there, I've not blown the Snowy up all out of proportion, but let it perch in its environment in this photograph, that's still an enlargement, so far away it was.
The friendly, local Black Vulture.
And our pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks performing a close-order fly-by.
Close enough to almost merge.
Not sure what it's eating, but I was fascinated by that pose, wings up to balance.
When we discovered their nest island and eggs, the stilts got angry with us, but we assured them we were not about to endanger them.
Still, they cursed us, sometimes flying by fairly close.
That little peninsula served as the stilt pair's off-nest headquarters. Anna said one was presenting a broken-wing display reminiscent of the killdeers we covered last week. I didn't see it, staying busy trying to get the stupid Rocket Launcher to focus on the flying stilts when there was anything but distant sky or landscape behind it, where it flat refused to focus, despite the stilt being amazing close many times. Sometimes a real Nikon lens, with its wicked fast focusing would be awful handy.
Similar to agitated egrets or herons, stilts' complaints were punctuated by a gruff, rough voice, though will less volume the the "egrons."
Eagle-eyed Palmer saw them first, of course, my lens is longer, but I see less well. Very well camouflaged though in plain sight.
A little closer view of the lower middle of the photo above.
Such pretty birds. We first encountered stilts in the Rio Grande Valley, but those were at great distance well before I got the Rocket Launcher. We saw them again at Mithell Lake just south of San Antonio, on our trip to the Texas Gulf Coast. We didn't see them on the beach, but we photographed them there, largely accidentally.
This time, we saw them closer and were more personally involved with them — albeit negatively, since they seemed to think we were after their nest of eggs. I've greatly enlarged the portion of the photo that shows the roundish object in its beak, but I did not recognize what it'd caught. Moments later, it ate it.
We almost drove right by today's first Great Blue Heron, but I somehow picked it out of its surrounding colors. This was more obvious, and I was really getting into making its portrait.
Then, when it suddenly decided to split, I didn't react fast enough and got only this.
After our bountiful bird visit to the Village Creek Drying Beds, we stopped off at the Medical Center Rookery on our ways home, and got a bunch of other pictures — including some cute baby birds. But those will have to wait till Tuesday. I got up early to do the drying beds, and I'm exhausted. Good-night.
I was on this side of the the fence photographing a friend's art, when she started talking about geese, then pointed, and we walked down the hill and up to the fence, and I leaned over with my camera — the wide zoom on; Rocket Launchers aren't much good for shooting art — and photographed this buccolic scene..
Kathy said this Canada Goose pair had come to visit, nested, then hatched this downy youth, and they might stay longer. She said the smaller one on the left was the female, the dad's in the middle, and with its furry head in the grass — the majority of gooses' diet is grass — is their progeny.
White Rock Lake
There's lots more photos from this morning, which I'll post today or over the weekend, but this is the best of the bunch. Top middle is one chick, two others are blurry and fuzzy on the right, with the last one only partially out of the egg here. We worried that the chicks weren't breathing, but Anna could see that the one coming out of the egg was, and this photo shows the back one sneaking a peek.
I hope they're all right. The parental units were aggressively protective this cool, bright morning (Anna has a 36-second video of one doing that, online).
According to Jason, the shallow breathing is a survival technique. Anytime a parent sounds an alarm, the hatchlings go into catatonic mode, barely breathing, not moving. "The fluff of their down helps hide the shallow breathing. Believe me, all four are alive and running wild." Less than an hour after he sent that email, the nest, all remnants of eggs, the chicks and the parents, were gone, as expected. They were way too popular there.
Jason, who's been keeping me up on their day-to-day progress, also said, "I visited before noon and found two of the babes running wildly around the field — giving their dad a fit as he tried to stay up with them. The other two were still in the nest under their mom's care — and both were working hard at learning to use their legs (a cute display of get up, fall down, get up and move, fall down again ... then start all over).
When I first saw this unknown entity, it was alone. I was tracking it across the sky, already well away from me and getting more so with every flap. I hardly even noticed its little companion till much later.
Bird identifier Jason Hogle says, "The raptor is a juvenile Cooper's hawk. Shape of the tail and pattern on the underside pin that down. And the pursuer looks like a western kingbird, although I really can't say that with any certainty."
I believe the lower bird is a hawk, and I don't know who that is squawking at it. I've looked through several books and I'm still not at all sure, though it's probably a juvenile. The scene reminds me of a Red-winged Blackbird harassing a vulture over Hidden Creek sometime last year. Jason says it's a juvenile Cooper's Hawk.
They were already well past close when I saw them. My Hawks from Every Angle book, which I hope will finally help me identify this critter, calls this view "Going away." Okay, it's not a Red-tailed, although that's usually the best guess here in the U.S.A.
This one's got fairly broad stripes on its tail, although I never did get a good look at it. The colors as rendered above might well be way off. It could be a juvie Cooper's, though as small as it seems, it might be a Merlin or Peregrine. I'm at a loss. Again.
I'd hardly rested the Rocket Launcher after that busy little flyover, when this comparative giant hove into view, and I managed to get all of it in two rapid-succession frames. This is the better of those.
Lots of flies and flyers to be caught this morning, and lots of birds to catch them.
I'm so amazed we can see the bugs dotted as white lights into the sunlight. I'm sure the sciz-tail could see them clearly.
These shots are tiny specs in much larger frames. When they were close, they were nearly impossible for me to track with this huge, 750mm (35mm equivalent) lens. Much easier when they were farther, but they're rendered smaller when they're far...
Almost up close and birdinal.
Ah... the beauty of my favorite meadow that wraps around Winfrey so-called "Point."
And of course, the male of the species.
After thoroughly documenting the Killdeer nest and its inhabitants and its protectors and wide-surrounding species, Anna showed me where Cliff Swallows have taken up residence in a picnic building they fly through and seem to have claimed.
Not sure what they do when picnickers are picnicking there. I guess just without.
They were going fast. I was barely able to capture these in the semi-darkness of the cave.
Going that fast, it was amazing to see them fold themselves up like cockroaches and disappear up the rabbit hole.
I also want to be able to catch the action of them swooping through the building at top speed. I'll probably need a lens a little wider than the Rocket Launcher for that, maybe even my wide zoom. It's really dark up into these caverns, and the contrast of the contrast between outside daylight and inside darkness was shocking. I had to back nearly out of the building to get far enough away to capture these..
Delicious cool this ayem, till I got out in the sun and traipsed up and down the trails awhile. Nice to know that June in global warming can still be cool in Dallas, Texas, USA.
I found this Northern Mockingbird hopping along the shaved grass very near the yet-unmown meadow I love so much to hunt lately. It would hop-hop-hop, then stand there a moment, then flash. Long enough I got it in focus and from several angles. A first in the many years I've been following Mock Flash Displays.
I've read a variety of theories about why they do this. But I think sometimes they do it because it feels good.
This one was alone and did not seem to be pecking the ground for food, so it wasn't trying to scare anything and probably wasn't hungry. If anything, it seemed to be practicing. It's an elusive behavior. In the three years I've been aware of it, I've only photographed it maybe five times, and usually my images aren't this sharp.
Feeding time. We've seen this before — a small bird with what looks like more bugs in its beak than it could possibly eat. Then it flies awy to eat it somewhere photograpehrs aren't watching.
I love to see bugs in their beaks, but I rarely get to see that till I've got it large on the monitor. I was just photographing this Fem RWBB, and it jumped into the air. What she had in her beak was invisible till then.
Wish I'd seen this one coming. I looked off toward the north to see a large, gray mass hurtling under the bridge, got the Rocket Launcher out, had to wait till it was in clear sight, and rapidly leaving. Still, a GBH is a GBH, and I love them all. Hadn't seen any in awhile, and I missed them. This one disappeared under and perhaps beyong the Mockingbird car bridge.
Got a couple shots of this flock that also surprised me.
I guess it stands to reason that the most populous species would profilerate enough so mostly what J R sees and photographs in late spring is juveniles of those species.
I always wonder when I see a snake in a predicament like this, whether some human put it in this difficulty or it got its own self thusly entangled. I shot this from the bridge, and it never moved an inch. Nature writer Jason Hogle says, "The snake in the fence is a diamondback water snake (nonvenomous). Interesting to find it there... Given their violent disposition, I doubt anyone put it there — I'd guess it climbed up there on its own, although "Why?" is the question of the day."
Wish I could claim I planned to be out at the lake early, before the clouds came in, but it was just stupid luck. I woke early (Any time before noon is early for me.) and figured I ought to go before it got unmercifully hot. I crashed when it looked like rain, but apparently it never did. Neither has it got hot till later that night.
Thanks to reader Jason M H, I was easily able to find this nest, and its four black & white speckled eggs, which is what the Killdeers were protecting with all their might.
Killdeer can get cross about this protection racket they've got going. If I don't heed them and chase them away from the nest, they get closer and louder. These birds are called 'peeps," and those peeps can be piercing, man.
My earlier hunts had always been into he tall weedy wildflowers, but that's not where the nest is. It is dangerously close to normal human habitation, so the local Killdeer population must stay in high peep mode most of the day.
Mom, Dad and I think even some uncles and aunts kept urging me away from their nest, flying and ...
... standing unnaturally close, almost as if to pose for the camera.
Jenny is the Dallas Zoo's mistreated elephant.
You can tell who they are, even if they're rarely in focus.
What I said.
What RwBbs do is proclaim themselves, their territory and life. You can hear their high-pitched screams all around the lake.
I guess, since every other bird out there this morning was a Red-winged Blackbird, it's appropriate to have lots of them presented here in the every other bird shuffle. I hadn't seen this behavior before. They're always standing on some tallish weed or reed.
But I'd never seen or photographed one spreading everything out and popping the red parts up like this, this close to the ground. It's obviously showing off, and there were females close by to be impressed.
One of my better pan-and-clicks.
Like birders everywhere and always, I just knew I had something rare and wonderful, even though I never once got it sharp or in any semblance of focus. But no, of course not, it's an ordinary House Finch.
Usually I only use the photographs that show birds' profiles, so they look more like birds, but this one is all glinty-eyed sharp among branches so grotty, I had to use it.
Most duck families spread out till Mom brings them back in line (queue), but these guys — and I've been photographing them every couple of days lately — always stay close. Wonder what calamity befell them earlier in life.
I almost always simply ignore doves, but they're out there today and every day.
Squeaking at every wing-flap.
With the storm coming on and darking the sky, all the gooses lined up and headed for — well, I thought they were going toward the fairly well protected Hidden Creeks Area.
But somewhere along that journey, they changed course, made the great circle route back to the area left of the pier, still all lined up, still fleeing whatever weather was coming their way.
Looking stately and serene, a pair of Mallards.
Except for that little bit of blue showing in the back, this does not look to me like a Blue Jay.
But, of course, it is.
On my way back to my car, something unphysical told me to raise my ISO, and I did so. Then this guy flittered in from parts unknown, pecked briefly, then flew off. All in a matter of seconds.
Had a bunch of other things to do today, one of which was to buy some sulphur. At the Wildflower Tour we did Saturday, a bunch of Master Naturalists preparing to walk in the fields and woods, slapped their sox and shoes with sulphur in a sock. I did, too, and far fewer biters bit me that day than have been despite oceans of DEET. I was itch-shy, so I stayed in my car on the first day in June. And this bird is the only one I got close enough to to matter, although I have interesting instructions for a little adventure on the second day of June..
It's a beginning. I started May 09 with a male Scissor-tail, why not?
Actually, I overexposed the poo out of this one, but since I shoot RAW — Nikon calls its version NEF — I was able to save it and bring its density and colors back into the vicinity of reality. I've been shooting with my shorter zoom, so was a little uneasy with the Rocket Launcher at first, but we settled quickly back into the usual.
text and photographs copyright 2009 by J
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without
specific written permission from the writer or photographer.
My favorite answer is, "I don't
am, after all, an amateur.
I'm not kidding. I've only been birding for less than three years,
although I've been photographing for 45 years.
Thanks always to Anna.