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Medical Center Rookery
Hadn't meant to end so abruptly. I am without computer these days — or cameras, etc., although some of the motivation went with the heat of summer, too. This journal will continue when I get my office back.
José has the ceiling back up now, and sheetrock everywhere I wanted and mud in the crevices, and a lot of it is smooth again but yet unpainted — pale yellow walls and white ceiling paint on sale at HD.
So I'm hoping in a couple more days I can get my office back and post some new bird pix. I hope.
White Rock Lake
Anna and I always attend the lake at the moments of Summer Solstice, so were were there around 6 this morning, photographing sunrise, of course, but also any birds that happened along. It's been hot here all month and some before that, so this is the first official day of summer. Dallas and Texas are hot in spring usually and often in winter, too, so the first official day of summer is only of calendraic and solstice interest.
Gorgeous sunrise, though.
I think this is a crow. I've got enough out-of-focus shots of them over the years to recognize the fluttering flight with wingtips flailing in slow shutter motion.
Kept wanting to back the zoom off beyond its zoom range, but kept finding interesting tidbits to focus in on in the semi-darkness.
Had to borrow Anna's wide zoom for a couple minutes, so I could see all of today's Solstice Sunrise. Or most of it.
Couldn't tell if they were fighting or cavorting, but I finally managed to get this pair in a semblance of focus, tiny in the full frame as they disappeared behind that tree and did not come out on the other side. This. I can barely identify birds I focus. No idea who these are. But I like this shot a lot, despite the obvious grain. Vaguely reminds me of a Japanese print.
I'd thought they were much bigger, but when I asked this journal's invited bird-identifier, Jason M. Hogle, he suggested they were probably two Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, one adult (left) and one juvenile.
Eventually I began attempting to focus on birds flying fast against the sunrise. Only a very few of those were sharp or had much color behind them. More light helps smooth out the color and luminance noise that looks like grain. As the light raised, I lowered the ISO from 2,500 to 250.
Trouble was, closer I got to bird, less color was evident in its background.
Love them cloud subtleties.
If it even is a swallow. If it is, it's probably a Barn Swallow or a Cliff Swallow.
I had to pull the color into or out of this noisy pack of Monk Parakeets making their morning rounds.
I clicked away at this bird — looks a lot like a grackle — hoping for a series, but this is the only one in any semblance of focus, but then it is the peak of action, so I'll take it. Not sure what that is. I certainly could not see it when I shot it, since this is a considerable blow-up. Gorgeous sunrise in the lake.
I have shots of the sun rising over the trees on the far side, but I like this one better, even if no birds.
Way blurry, but the colors seem more real, and it was almost this close, so I'm amazed I got any focus at all. Fast panning the rocket launcher is not a recipe for success.
Which ends our early morning Solstice celebration, but I visited another favorite location after breakfast, and I'll post those in a day or two.
Village Creek Drying Beds
Anna wanted to go birding. As did I. She suggested the rookery or the drying beds. I liked the beds, because there was more light and fewer biting bugs, and I still itched from the last time. We left around 7:30. I'd tried White Rock the morning before at 6 — I just stayed up, rather than sleeping for a couple hours — and there wasn't enough light, thanks to early morning clouds and trees blocking the sun in Sunset Bay.
Despite the gobs of light at the beds today, I seriously underexposed this shot, here presented nearly full frame, but Photoshop brought it back. I got the whole sequence, but this is the only one interesting enough and in focus, to put here. Nice way to start the day, today's shots are presented chronologically.
The Great Blue Herons probably were born this spring in the tall trees behind the swamp less than a mile away. There were more Herons at the beds today than I may ever have seen in one place before, except last year at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation.
Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets. They were everywhere in some pans, and nowhere at all in others. We'd heard rumors of a Purple Gannilule, but we didn't seen any, though we've photographed them on South Padre last August. I'd link that pic, but I can't find it.
Though this image may belie the notion, I've thought Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were some of the most beautiful birds flying. Here, this one looks downright awkward, though it's managing some speed and directional accuracy, far as I could tell, and I followed a whole bunch of them back and forth over some of the fronter pans.
Still didn't catch that elegance I experienced so long ago at Sunset Bay. Odd looking ducks, pink noses and feet, bright white stripes and bright white spectacles.
Ah! Here's the more elegant one. Eons ago, I captured one or two flying away, showing those exquisite browns with white patterns, and started deciding what gorgeous, lush colors they comprise. In the earliest days of this journal, my mom sent me a snap she'd taken in the canal behind where they lived them, of a parental unit BBWD and some cute, fuzzy, black and white striped ducklings. I still hope some day I will have the honor or photographing those kits up closer.
This one was so close, I couldn't not photograph it.
Frightened by a photographer (me) getting out of the car, so I could get a better, close-up shot of them, when suddenly they churned the water and sped out to the safety of the middle of the pond.
Still churning seconds later.
I have more shots, which I'll add later, but I wanted this to get started and up quickly, so here is my First Of Season Green Heron in the Wild. A recuperating one was at Rogers couple days ago.
Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation (continued)
Wish I'd had the good sense to plan this shot, but it's just what happened with hawks and Kestrels flying around while the photographer took his own sweet time to figure out just the right exposures, slow though they may have been.
I've often seen Little Blue Herons and other small Hegret / Egrons (Heron + Egrets) on either Kathy Rogers herself or some Rogers volunteer's shoulder. A place to hang on to, with a view.
All manner of common and exotic birds show up at Rogers. It'd be fascinating to know each new bird delivered there for rehabilitation's own unique story, but somebody'd have to stand there day and night for weeks on end to get a substantial sampling of the lucky birds in trouble that Kathy Rogers and her crews of volunteers deal with.
The main reason I believe this to be a Robin chick is because there was a Mama Redbreast just to its left.
I'm pretty certain this is a parrot, although exactly which variety of parrot, this amateur birder knows not.
This guy didn't budge as we photographed him from all angles and all disposiitons. He cool. He don't move for nobody.
Was heartening not to see the usual big bunch of rehabilitating pelicans in the pelican cage behind the office. There was talk at our last visit that Kathy Rogers was going to release her pelicans back into the wild. Most of White Rock Lake's pelicans had, by then, already left for southern Idaho and parts north. I should ask where they got off to.
If you had a beak that long and strong, it's probably what you'd use to show who's tog bird in your cage, too.
What a strange little face.
On a strange little bird.
This is the closest I've ever got to a roadrunner, and it was pretty wonderful. Behind it, in the next cage were birds with a heat lamp.
I know so little about Roadrunners that I don't know if this is a juvenile or a female or what.
Fabulous opportunity to see what I still think of as a truly exotic bird, up close and personal. Many birds at Rogers are still shy around humans, but these guys were not. Thank the Goodnesses.
One of my longest held bird dreams has been to photograph an owl in flight, although in a cage was never part of that dream, here is my first real owl (I may have photographed other in-captivity owls at the Birds of the World show at the State Fair) in flight. And yes, it was quiet. A whisper flying past me. Very quiet. I still hope some glorious day (or evening) to get to photograph one in the wild. But this was nice.
Such beautiful birds. I hope this one makes it back into the wild before long. Anna I.Deed it as female, saying "It's a female — I noticed the breast is light brown with lots of spots, male's is white with very few spots."
Remember the brace of five young Great Blue Herons we encountered on our April 15 visit to Rogers Wildlife?
Well, this is one of the much more grown up ones of those. Still in that same, special cage that appears to have been guilt just for them, although I suspect other troubled Great Blues will find it a great place to grow up into and then out of, also.
More owls. These are Great Horned Owls. One light, one dark. They seem to have slightly differing markings, especially along the sides. Anna's and my one previous Great Horned Owl in the wild sighting was of one killed by traffic in the Lower Rio Grande Valley a few years ago. We took much closer photos than these of that much more unfortunate owl's amazing parts, including the feather-forward wings that make them nearly silent in the air.
Fierce-looking owls, with slightly differing markings on their sides. One seemed reddish, the other grayish. But look at those eyes.
Another beautiful owl, sadly growing up at Rogers.
I've been looking high and low for Green Herons for at least two months now at White Rock Lake. But I've seen none, so far. Maybe it's too early in the summer season. Maybe there's just fewer of them out there. I'm not at all sure what the deal is, but I'm glad to have seen at least one on the mend. Notice that it must have got its face and beak caught in somethng destructive.
These last birds from our visit to Rogers were just wandering around the extensive grounds, watching, waiting.
Not in cages or restraints. Happy to be there, belong there.
The White Rock Lake Spillway
Sometime in the last century I was a staff photographer for a great metropolitan newspaper, and before that I was a star reporter for a much smaller newspaper about five hundred miles south of there. I guess some of that jounra-Photolism is still flowing in these veins. Anna and I attended the Grand Press Opening for our big new, concrete-everywhere Spillway today. Except the event itself was held, not on or along or particularly near the Spillway itself, but in the parking lot across the creek from it.
Which is more or less appropriate. That odd change of venue left the actual Spillway Park for a couple of us photographers taking pictures of birds and landscape, instead of politicians, of which there were plenty in the parking lot, where I eventually found my way for a few snaps, but mostly I concentrated on the places that were now, suddenly and gloriously, open to the public, heck, even open to the press.
Places with spaces to lean out over the Spillway myself, with camera and lens in hand, and photograph birds and birds and birds and birds, when and if they all gather along the long wet slough again. But meanwhile, where I could photograph singles of birds.
Eventually in today's journal, we'll even get to some birds who gathered, in ones and twos and up to fives in the spillway itself, whose down-the-hill and across-the-creek parking lot was being officially celebrated, partially we suppose, because this Spillway Esplanade wasn't quite finished yet. Two workers were over there doing something, and there were places that definitely looked undone.
The people side, closer to the slosh down from the dam, is at long last, finally separated from the bicyclers for their own safety. Runners and walkers and high-speed bicyclers will go down the path off to the right of this photo, closer to Garland Avenue, while the Spillway is over to the left. I expect to see many people trip over these almost invisible steps like the ones at the Fair Park DART Rail station, which we can clunk into and fall over when we're still expecting the horizon to stay below us like concrete usually does, and the Skateboarders can run amuck.
Probably they held the Official Opening in the Parking Lot, because it was, at least, mostly finished. And who wanted a bunch of press persons wandering all the way over to the other side of the creek where all that fresh, new, concrete and grassless grass was on open display?
Here, a happy walker walks behind the press stand, probably after being warned not to stand back there very long, although it was okay to walk through. For the cameras. Nice fountains for a bit of mist on a hot, sticky day. A cooling fountain that so very unfortunately, was strictly temporary. For the show of it, as we shall shortly see.
The Press looks busy. Did I mention that it was dreadfully hot out there, although there was sometimes a big of a breeze or a waft from the fountain was momentarily cooling.
I always like people at Press Events. Nobody seems to be pointing the same way. With so much nature and concrete going on all around, why would anybody want to watch politicians palavering?
Lots of words from lots of politicians in the City and here in our city. Professional politicians like this guy and lots of amateur politicians out there practicing. Official and otherwise. Paul is the head of the Parks Department here. Does he look like a politician to you. I have another photograph of him with a bunch of brightly colored words behind him in which he looks a lot more like a politician. But I like green better.
Nice old pump. Too bad it didn't get to do anything. It was just for show.
A bunch of preselected people turned the fat black bar on the top of the unconnected pump in a big, empty circle so all the photographers gathered there would have something symbolic to photograph. The hands turned the bar; the photographers (and I) snapped and clicked and flashed away. And the lovely, misting fountain stopped, and everybody — except those near it — cheered.
What exactly it was symbolic of, I'm not at all sure. Were they celebrating turning off the Spillway those many years ago? Or some future turning off of the water that runs through the Spillway. Can that possibly be it?
Do you suppose...? Noooo, that can't be. But maybe, just maybe, on the off-est possible chance that the whole exercise was symbolic of the way The City is connected to The People, and when the people jon together to accomplish something, somebody throws a switch somewhere else, and another something really good stops, and we're all told it was only temporary, anyway. Budget restraints or some silly excuse. Surely that can't be the story here.
A far more eloquent statement than any of those uttered on this other side of White Rock Creek. Here, I'm standing on the creek edge of the parking lot looking back at a lone Great Egret flying across the creek that eventually winds around and through a big golf course and off to flow under I-30. The dark columns hold up the walking and driving bridges along Garland Road.
In our "Hundred-year Flood" that took that side of the Spillway away, these slanting walls were seriously corrupted and partially deconstructed. This egret is looking for food. His shadow a little more intently than its white portions.
Meanwhile, a sometimes summer visitor who is spotted in vague yellow spots in this and other places on the map of Texas in Peterson's Field Guide to Birds and probably Sibley's, too. This particular example of the species seems to be dragging a bit of line and who knows what is on it. Looks like seaweed, but it's probably Lake gunk.
Then it landed, fiddled with the string with its beak (all far away and badly out of focus), and apparently gathered it up into some sort of bracelet, with which off it flew.
Lots of flying going on today at the Spillway. Just not so many birds doing it. Well off to the left on that far, Dam side is where the Press Opening of the New Spillway Parking Lot was jawing on and on. I mostly busied myself with the other visitors to the Spillway that day. The important ones who would file stories with even more important ones.
Spreading the news about the Spillway finally being reopened after so many long years. I terribly missed the place and its view. Can't wait for a big gully-washer of rain water slaloming through the Spillway, splashing down the steps, butting frothy heads with the slanted cement, making an abrupt left turn and sluicing off down that particular iteration of White Rock Creek. Oh, the great, glorious feeling of power all that hydro causes in us humans who gather along the Spillway for such momentous events.
Yes, Mr. Mallard, Tell everybody the news. Birds are welcome once again to this wet runway.
Six vociferous Killdeer peeping up the Spillway, as they often do.
In his own special way.
I'm a big fan of the way The Spillway was before they poured all those ga-jillions of tons of concrete in it — all because whoever designed the previous, much less concrete-intensive "protective" layers along side of the Spillway, did such a terrible job of not even bothering to tether the so-called "retaining" walls that gave way and let tons of dirt ooze into the spillway.
Not to even mention the very obvious sink holes all along the inside of those unretaining walls that, over the years, slowly filled with water. Then the City would fill the sink hole already full of water with sand and dirt, and plant grass on top, all of which sunk lower and lower, till it all caved in, while everybody blamed it on a big flood that was really not much worse than many, except this one took big chunks of the spillway away with it.
I keep hoping more birds will show up there, but I might have to wait for summer to pass.
This is the only egret — Great or Otherwise — I saw down there this morning as the speechifying dragged on and on. The same one I keep photographing in one elegant or inelegant pose after another. I guess I prefer the company of birds.
They're a little less predictable. But they don't stand around and talk about what they're going to do. They just do it. Often without preamble.
I like it when they do that.
It swallowed it whole a little while later, but that photo wasn't as good as this one. Oh, well.
We'll continue our visit to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation with many other species of birds the next time. Thanks for listening. I am so very happy to have my favorite perch on the lake for photographing birds back from the concreters and plastic fencers and big, heavy, foreign trucks and other chuggers, bumpers and loud, shrill earth vibrators, even if it wasn't really ready for its Big Press Reopening. At least the fence is down.
Medical Center Rookery
We visited the Rookery this clammy early morning mostly to photograph Tricolored Herons, which were their usual elusive, but also to photograph species I hadn't seen at White Rock or anywhere else lately. Haggerman (Dennison) and even The Drying Beds (Arlington) just seemed too far.
But the rookery, at least, was doable this sweltering early morning in foggy overcast.
This puffy little guy — keeping cool, no doubt — was the great, elusive target of our visit at the grounds of Southwestern Medical School approximately at Inwood and Harry Hines Boulevard. The Tricolors had moved since I'd last seen them at the rookery. Further into the jungle, farther away from human access, more trees that my great, long lens would rather focus on than these comparatively small birds, back into the forest.
Other chicks were there, also, a variety as usual. Not sure who exactly this is. I asked Jason Hogle, who sometimes helps me figure out what birds are what. But he was stymied, also. He said, "I would bet it's a little blue heron chick. The dark beak and lores would be typical for them. But--and here's the catch--both snowy egrets and little blue herons have some variability in the young. It's possible this is just a dark snowy egret chick. Sometimes the only way to know between the two is to watch for an adult to come feed them. I wish I could give you a definitive answer."
Jason's own superb website, Xenogere, includes bird, yes, but many other animals, insects, spiders and the rest of nature, too.
Knew this one right away. A juvenile Great-tailed Grackle. I was struggling with carrying a tripod — very helpful for photographing the Tricolor adolescent, but mostly a nuisance to drag around all over the rookery — and two lenses and my self. Shot this with one hand using the Rocket Launcher. All the others are grossly blurred by camera motion. This one, not so bad. Quite the juggling challenge.
By the time I'd trudged back to the car, Anna had found this tadpole, probably thrown out of its nest, for being the weakest of the brood. May have broke its wing on the abrupt spiral down to the ground. It was scared, hurt and shy. We chased it awhile. It hid in some bushes. I outflanked it and got my hands on the base of its long neck — the closest part of it. It bit me several times, but I've been bit by gooses, so those nibbles were hardly noticeable. For awhile, I let it hang on to one finger. It seemed to calm it down.
We put it in a box we'd brought for just that purpose. Apparently white sheets or other stuff puts them at ease, since that's the color of their parental units. The wound behind its eye on this side was probably the result of its older siblings showing their dominance by poking and pushing it out of the nest.
Once it was in all that white and thoroughly swaddled, however, it settled into a bit of a journey south to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation in Hutchins, Texas. Somewhere along the way, I started calling it "Peep." I know, serious anthropomorphizing. Usually I try to avoid such, but we felt a kinship.
From the Rookery, we went east toward downtown Dallas ...
Then south on I-45 ...
To Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation and nice people and lots more birds, some of whom we'll see here later this week. Here, Rogers volunteer Kelly holds our friend Peep, where we know it will be safe and well cared-for.
Inside the imagination of Kathy Boortz
I know. I know. It's not a real bird. But it thinks it is, and we don't want to tell it otherwise. He'd just squawk more and louder, and who needs that? Two or three or four times a year I am lucky enough to get to photograph Dallas artist Kathy Boortz' latest work.
I've been way too busy lately to go photo more birds — much as I'd love to, but I photographed these guys a couple days ago, and am only working them up tonight and tomorrow and probably the next day. There's a bunch of them and a lot of views of each sculpture. This Van Gogh-ish peacock is exquisite, as is so much of her work. She also does figures, O'Bamas and other, mostly Texan political figures, including you know who. But I like her birds best.
And when I'm not busy working up the latest bunch, I'm looking forward to that happening the time after that. She finds the central body portions as wood or other materials or is given them by friends and family, then she adds sculpted and painted. metal and carved wood bits to make them more real. If it's a water bird, she'll often give it its own little pool to stand in so it feels at home.
I think she studies birds even closer than I do, because she has to make them as real as her chosen materials allow. She shows her work every summer at Kathy Buchanan Gallery in Galveston, others at Valley House Gallery in Dallas, and she's usually on the White Rock Lake Artists Stduio Tour every October. She's also a Supporting Member of DallasArtsRevue.com, which I publish, so she has a page of new works there, where you can see more of her work.
Sometimes Kathy Boortz' sculptures are deadly serious — when she did a piece about illegally smuggled South American Parrots, people wrote in about that "photo" of parrots and how sad it made them. Her pieces often look realer than real. Other times she has fun with what she finds to turn into birds.
Dallas Medical Center Rookery
As usual, I did not plan this. It just turned out that I had some rookery shots left over that I still wanted to use, so here they are. We're starting with a little, lost bird wandering around the Memorial Gardens area of the rookery, where that day I saw several immature birds who were either lost or had been pushed out of a nest by a parent intent on saving another or other immature birds.
The adult Great Egret was not there when I first sighted this little lost baby egret.
And shortly after this shot, they went off in separate directions. I wish I knew exactly what went on between them. Egret words of comfort?
We used to call them teenagers, but of course they aren't 12 or more years old, more like a few weeks. Adolescents is a better word, and when I can remember, I now use the A word instead of calling them teenagers, although the latter word has been used throughout these pages over the years. They act so much like human teenagers, we just couldn't help calling them that.
Here's another very young bird that's either gotten outside the nesting area where many young birds run and walk around in the valleys and hills inside the official rookery perimeter, or it's lost or been thrown out of a nest. It may not yet know how to catch its own food.
And nobody's been preening its feathers.
Note these young nestling Great Egrets' wings are still nearly bare of feathers.
Photographed on top of the neighboring high-rise parking garage.
Anybody can take a photograph showing a Great Egret looking elegant and gorgeous, but it takes a special kind of bird photographer to come up with a photo as awkward as this one. Very special.
Really, really far away, as photographed from the tallest drive-up-and-around parking garage.
The only Ibis I successfully photographed that day.
Hadn't really expected to post these in strict chronological order. Had no idea what order I was going to put them in. But strict chronological worked out pretty good.
As you can probably tell from this fairly obvious shot — although many of these others are nothing close to obvious — this is a Northern Mockingbird doing a fairly normal Northern Mockingbird pastime or behavior.
He — an it probably actually is a he — is jumping off the tallest tree around, flying mostly straight up, flapping around up there much like a clown shot from a booming cannon, except no boom, just the raucous call of the mockingbird.
Every shot in this vertical series is from one or the other of two succeeding jumps, and they are in the order I shot them. I have blurs from several preceding jumps, but once I decided to quit having the lens & camera try to figure out focus and instead just set the cam and lens so he was in focus when he was on perched on top of the tree, then clicked it to Manual Focus,
which I never use, even with a still object, and this object was almost never still. Then put all my energy and aim-ability into following the bird up and down and up and down again.
Clicking all the way. My Nikon D300 supposedly can fire 6 frames per second if I'm using JPEGs and 3 fps with RAW, which is what I was shooting that day that does not jibe entirely with today's date, but today's date is a good date to use on top of this series, because I am writing these words —
the journa portion of this journa-photolist extravaganza — today. Okay now, we have just introduced a secondary character in our little story.
See it, off to the right in this frame, all kinda blue and flappy?
It may look like I zoomed in and out, but I had no time for that. I cropped later in Photoshop, and lightened a little, the blue part of the blue butterfly.
Pretty Little Blue flutter stays with us into and through this frame — then he's off again on his horizontal way, and we go down, down.
But our main character stays down and downer, finally letting its silk fill with air, to parachute into the next frame all the way to the end, which it nigh.
The first tree-jumping mockingbird I can remember was at the top of Turner Falls in Oklahoma, where instead of a tree, that Mock used a light pole at the highest point of one long slope down, far, far down to the pond and falls falling away way down below himself flying up off the pole into the otherwise empty air over the pole, doing his mocker aerobatics, then coming down to alight again on the pole. Again and again and again.
Same thing this Mocker was doing on the tallest tree adjacent to the parking garage at Southwestern Medical School where I stood on the tallest floor in the closest corner photographing its antics for at least a third of an hour.
Says David Allen Sibley, on page 473 of his The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior [ISBN 0-679-45123-4], which concerns courtship displays and everything else about bird behaviors, and that I've gone way too long without quoting here, "The Northern Mockingbird has several different displays, one of which is an elaborate flight display in which the male jumps off a perch in mid-song, flaps a couple of times as it rises in the air, then "parachutes" with open wings back to its perch."
Which is just what we've been watching here, and that I've wanted and hoped to get to photograph well for at least four years. Thanks for going up and down and up and down with me today, dear readers.
Fort Worth Solid Waste Drying Beds
Anna expected hummingbirds at those same end-0f-parking-lot bright red flowers in Legacy Park, just over the hills beyond The Drying Beds, where we saw a female last May so we went over there when the birding got momentarily thin. And waited. I saw one, and I quickly raised the Rocket Launcher in salute and got three quick shots. Remarkably two of which were in good focus, and one of which was actually interesting.
Here, it has had its beak so far buried into pollen, the end of it is caked with the bright yellow stuff.
Tomorrow, I'll show here a rather long and very strange series of the same bird doing mostly the same thing almost maniacally yet achieving a different result with every time I captured it. Something I've wanted to do for nearly four years, since I learned this bird did this, and that day, finally, I managed to catch one in the act, momentarily accompanied by one small blue butterfly.
I'd begun watching and photographing them well before we knew what they were up to, although my interest waned just before Anna figured out what was about to happen, but at least I already had the focus distance, and had improved exposure and color.
My captions use terms that only became obvious after we figured out what was really going on in the road between the pans of ... uh ... water at the Village Creek Drying Beds. At the time, it just seemed peculiar and interesting, worth photographing since we were comparatively close. This may be the first time I've ever photographed two killdeer and actually figured out which was which sex, although I still can't see the definitive difference. Can you?
Even when they got down in what seems obvious now positions, it didn't mean anything to me at the time.
It's just some sort of wonder I kept shooting through it all. The next shot shows a slightly different perspective, because I'd got bored photographing without them doing anything out of the ordinary, and I let the heavy camera down, its big, heavy lens, pointing down, when Anna almost shouted that they were having sex.
And sure enough, they were. I missed his mount through my inattention, but I was quickly able to reacquire a fairly detailed view, in remarkably sharp focus.
I've seen many other species do it, but I hadn't seen Killdeer do it. Usually, ducks and geese disengage before they start their Victory Flap or begin washing off. This guy started flapping in just a few short seconds. Birds don't linger in sex — at least none we've observed, so far. He's still standing on top of her, but he's already flapping those beautiful wings.
These are of other Killdeer out there at the time. Nobody special, and they were not connected with the sexers. But first, one final image of Killdeer that day.
Tomorrow, there'll be just one shot, but it's an interesting and lucky one.
The most exotic birds we found at the drying beds were this pair of Black-necked Stilts, waaaaaay out in the middle of one of the now brim-filled pans of ... uh ... water. Tall, lean and handsome, we didn't even see them the first seven or more times we checked out the island they waded near. They so well blend into their chosen habitat. Eventually, Anna snapped to their then-suddenly obvious presence out there.
I shot and shot and shot in their long direction, and struggled mightily with several other exposures, but in this one I just lucked out with exposure, focus, tonal range and color in a major enlargement of their small presence in a bigger image frame. Last time we saw stilts was at Mitchell Lake just barely south of San Antonio.
First, Mom Mallard dunks down into the shallow water just off the edge of one of the drying beds with her ducklings all lined up and ready to go.
Lots of Mallards out there today, many of them very young ones learning one new lesson or another. Training day at the beds.
First time we saw this bunch, we only saw Mom and her shadow, as we hove closer, the babies began to emerge from the shadows.
Until she lined them up, so they could follow her into the lake for a lesson or two in being young mallards.
Birds were hardly the only creatures buzzing and flying about. There were scads of dragonflies out there, too. This one just happened to get as close as the Rocket Launcher would focus outside the passenger window as Anna was photographing something else on the other side.
Our Drying Beds Adventure Continues Soon with a Little More Excitement ...
text and photographs copyright 2010 by J
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without
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My favorite answer is, "I don't
am, after all, an amateur.
I'm not kidding. I've only been birding for three years,
although I've been photographing professionally since 1964.
Thanks always to Anna.