White Rock Lake
June 30 2013
Some weeks ago, Charles discovered seven goose eggs in the area where they usually lay them. I've seen and photographed those ill-fated eggs often over past springs and early summers. Trouble is, these geese don't know how to care for eggs, even though they lay them well enough. They have no successful experience with hatching goose eggs. Sometimes one hen or another sits the nest for awhile, but always they abandon the eggs for one reason or none, really.
This time, Charles took his seven goose eggs home to keep them warm and safe in an incubator. I haven't seen the eggs or incubator, but I've seen the first gosling to break through its egg. That's who Charles brought to the lake Friday evening. It appears well-developed, healthy and progressing nicely. It felt firm and strong, and it was literally a handful to hold onto. It hatched three days ago, and this was its first public introduction.
I held the gosling for several minutes. It seems to do best and safest — it's a squirmy little bird — when it has a hand to stand on and give it support — its feet are pleasantly warm — with lots of gentle fingers keeping it from running off, which it will get to do soon. Charles confirmed that it is very healthy.
Notice the tiny flap of fine feathers that is all of its wing so far. It's yellowish, almost greenish now, but which of the several varieties of geese resident at White Rock Lake it is, is not yet known, but it will be fun to watch. The Sunset Bay flock gathered around it when Charles first attempted to introduce their first successful gosling, were extremely noisy, as if they all had something important to say and could not wait to announce the news. Later introductions led to a few snaps, as if all some gooses could thing to do was to try to eat it.
A mixed bag of birds today. Early in the now seven-year history of this Birding Journal, some people lauded me for photographing the common birds as well as the more exotic. Fact is, I photograph what I can find. I love to photograph citizens — even part-time citizens — of White Rock Lake, and every once in a while, I get some pretty nice photographs of the common folk — er... birds.
I love the jump shot, but this puffer is very nice, also..
Male flapping, female commenting. She is still commenting five images later, too.
Wood Ducks are beautiful at almost anything the do. Even flying away. Snowy egret next time.
Big, goose-like ducks.
That cart's been out there for many months, probably years. It's probably not much good anymore for anything but a perch or background device. When I shot this series (this is the best of the bunch), I was much more interested in the cart with its upended wheels than the birds, but I waited till they were in nearly the perfect placement in relation to those wheel. Still, I'm fascinated my Mallards' summer molt and how different it can show on different birds at the same time.
They do this a lot for various reasons. Sometimes I catch them at it.
Don't know who is the two-tone duck on the right, but those six ducks are very familiar since they were left after once-cute little Easter Ducklings got really boring for some family. For awhile each other was all they knew of ducks and being ducks. Then the family who owned them attempted to leave them at the lake, but Charles insisted they bring them for a little time each of several succeeding times, which they did, till the ducks were used to the neighborhood.
Now the six white ducks are nearly always within sight of each other, often piled right on top of each other. A success story of Easter Ducklings adapting to The Wild.
Every species has its own particular way to get into flight, but often it's just a matter of what's available.
I long-ago learned that perched on top of a sign is one of our Northern Mockingbirds' natural habitat.
So nice to get to see them in great detail
and up close, for a change.
For a big change, I arrived at the lake today just as the sun was coming up over the trees up the hill. Very early for me. That means I got one hour of sleep after I finished work. There's always the question when I set my alarm for one hour later, whether I'll actually get up. Today, I did. Got everything together. No coffee, because I intended to sleep when I got back, and off to the lake. This is the first image of this bird I shot. I had to crop this frame to compose it like I wanted.
When I saw it land nearby, I started shooting as quickly as possible, because they don't usually stay long once they sight a photographer. But either it did not see me, even though I was standing upright not forty feet from where it began its morning hunt, or it didn't care. It has to be the latter, because birds have better vision than we do.
Usually, when a bird encounters a human, it flies off the other direction. But for the second time this early day, instead of fleeing, a bird continued its hunt, coming closer and closer and closer to me. I was careful to stand still as I could while balancing the black chunk of camera and lens, projecting out from my eye. But I'm a fidgeter, and even when I inevitably moved, it only moved closer.
When I go to the lake early I always hope for something really interesting. Not so much an exotic species, what I want and wish and hope for is a close encounter. Near enough that I can render the bird in detail. That's what my latest camera and that lens are all about. High resolution and incredible sharpness. Wouldn't be worth lugging it unless it did something spectacular, and having a bird go along with me being that near, without it getting nervous or escaping only helps both resolution and sharpness, if I get it in focus.
By the last shot above, the little, bluish heron was too close to fully frame with my 600 millimeters of lens. And it still hadn't seemed to recognize there was a live human being in the picture. I had worn my usual green shorts, black sox and Cordovan SAS walking shoes with a hole in the sole, but instead of my customary gray or black or red T-shirt with a pocket, I was wearing an older green T that blended nicely with my waking shorts.
I had also sprayed enough DEET on myself to fully cover every exposed bit of skin or crawl space. I know Anna could have smelled me a mile off, but this Yellow-crown apparently did not. Or maybe it remembered me from previous visits when I made no motions to harm it. Who knows.
I gave up on the notion of fitting the entire bird in my frame, and concentrated on details I could manage, including as much of it as I could and still get it in focus. The camera is usually set for pinpoint focusing on as small a target area as possible, because I never know at what distance I'll be photographing.
I kept being surprised it kept getting closer. After not too long, it flew up to the pier I was standing on, and to get all of it in this shot, I had to very carefully — no sudden movements — inch back several feet to the edge of the platform to include all of the bird, get the focus point somewhere important on it and click.
I didn't think I had time to futz with the focus mode. My Nikon D300 was designed so I could switch between three area categories of focus with my thumb while securely holding the cam and lens. The D800 is full frame, so it includes more area with its larger and significantly higher-resolution sensor, but with this heavy lens whose center of gravity is far in front of where my hands would have to be to adjust the area modes, there's no way but to hold it pointing full down, so I can push the button on the side of the front, and turn the dial on the front of the top.
If I had that zero gravity I've been wanting for the last thirty years, I might be able to reach both while still aiming the cam toward the bird.
After standing there on the post of the pier, it jumped into flight, flew off to the east among the collected ducks, swan, gooses and coots. Sometimes this particular YCNH looked purple, I do not understand why. Perhaps it occurs when it get excited.
But I didn't want to call that much attention to myself, and I don't have a Zero Grav Unit yet, despite wishing for it for centuries. So I used the pinpoint area focus mode I'd set and just hoped aiming at its neck or chest would render its head and especially those eyes sharp. Pinpoint is perfect for smaller birds, and I usually aim at their eyes, but at that focal length what's in focus 'out there' does not always extend as far as from chest or neck to face on a larger, thicker and closer bird than a much-smaller grackle that's a good fifteen feet away.
The other bird that startled me by walking closer to me even though it could not possibly have missed my stout form the six, five, four, three and closer feet from me it got, was this Red-winged Blackbird.
He actually got close enough to me that I had to gingerly step back to get this shot in focus, since the chunk doesn't focus closer than ten feet. It's always amazing to me how looking down so obviously when I do it to photograph a bird, it still looks as if I'd got down to its floor-level to photograph. And he kept getting closer till he nearly walked over my feet going wherever it was insistent upon going.
And these two weren't the only birds who did that during this morning's photographing, but I have other things to do today, although I can't remember exactly what they were right now. So I'll save those for a later journal entry or two. I shot 543 frames this ayem, and at least half of them were good enough to post here, so I have plenty of winnowing yet.
That is the lower steps down the hill from the upper dam. There's a couple of drop-offs up there, but I don't know of steps up, nearer the dam. But I've called them the lower steps for years and years, and it doesn't seem likely I'll change anytime soon. This bird seems to have grown somewhat since last time we've seen it on June 6 below.
When there's birds down there more interesting then coots or ducks — or usually cormorants, although they are of some interest, even though they do their fishing in the pond behind the steps, because they are mostly divers, not grabbers — I pay attention. Every time I drive home, west along Garland Road, I snuggle into the right-most lane and look down under the walking bridge to see who's down there for a few fleeting seconds as I drive past. Today I saw a dark gray, heron-looking bird, so I turned and parked and walked back in the sunny heat, just to see, and I'm glad I did.
The steps are just behind this Great Blue Heron, covered with water tumbling down. It's waiting to see a fish in the flow, so it can pierce it with its sharp beak, then eat it. Their method of fishing seems to depend upon fast-moving water speedily moving fish from a couple inches long to somewhat larger. It's all food, and unlike human fisherpersons, they're not limited by size, a morsel not as good as a mouth or gullet-full, but it's a start.
Yellow foot, black legs, black beak and white in between, it's a Snowy Egret. Somewhat smaller than Great Egrets or Great Blue Herons.
When a bird shakes everything it's got like this — and the whole page of other examples by other birds — it's called a rouse. I love to capture rouses, and they can happen at any time.
Female Purple Martins don't exactly look like these birds when I looked them up in a couple of my bird books.
Not much chance I could forget this page, even if I wanted to, and I do not. But I've been busy with my other avocation, writing about art performance and performance art on DallasArtsRevue, this site's big sister website, but I still go to the lake every day, for solace and emotional and temporal balance, and to photograph more birds.
I have a perfectly decent and ordinary pic of a bird on the sign, but this is better. What it's done is jump off the sign to start flying. Like an airplane taking off an aircraft carrier, sometimes they first fall a ways, before they begin to fly. This began to fly in a second or two, and it flew away.
Another good excuse is that I have got caught in another flurry of early summer itching. Happens most every early summer and despite quarts of DEET sprayed toe-to-face and all the in-betweens, under shirt, up pant legs, spray, spray, spray, and still those little buggies love biting my sweet skin, and raising bumps all over, although I'll have to admit I only have about 22 itching bumps right now.
So, except for maybe five minutes on the pier at Sunset Bay today, where I got darned few birds of interest for here, I stayed in The Slider as much and often as possibly possible.
Soon as I arrived in the bay today, though, I started seeing creatures that were not birds.
The first one was this reddish brown rabbit, looked like an adult, ideally situated off the driver's side of The Slider when we slid into he lot closest to the pier. He was certain he couldn't be seen, and there were people who walked right by and sat not more than forty feet away to prove it, they never once looked its way.
And over by this end of the pier was another. I've gone months and sometimes years between Lake rabbit sightings, so it was rare to see two of them in five minutes. They're must be millions more of them out there right now.
I have a whole book I'll someday finish — but I've already looked at all the pictures — about birds and their molts, but still I am utterly fascinated how much some bigger birds that are so much easier to photograph change their colors from season to season through the year. .
Love the bright, open eye almost staring up at us, and the bright white tail sticking straight up.
And this just reminds me of that horde of moms and their baby pix I still have waiting for a day when I'm here and interested enough to put pages together but still too itchy to go out and get more pix.
I don't quite understand this, but I've looked at the original huge, and they are both biting one of them.
She must still be interested in what might happen next, but it sure seems indignant for him to spend so much time and effort pushing her head underwater when they could be doing something else instead.
Imagine one of those big, bulky gooses going all the way underwater, but that's exactly what we're seeing here. I tried to get a shot of her going under, and I missed her doing it three times in a row. But …
And scaring the poo out of two ducks that were very nearby sharing the same space and much the same circumstances, except they had been until this moment, minding their own business.
Again, I was surprised to see — well, maybe not quite downy — young Killdeer. This must be their time. I've seen many Killdeer limping around wanting me to follow them away from something, but try as I might, I have not been able to figure out exactly where they were leading me away from. Still, this (all four pix are of the same very young bird) may be the youngest Killdeer I've ever seen or photographed.
I can see it was really downy, but it must have got into a puddle, then ran a bit in the heat of day that fried the water to a crisp. Or is this guy fresh out of the egg? Did I get to see its first walk down the road toward the lake? Maybe even before its first bath? That must be it. Wow!
If that's true, it might make sense to run just a couple more of the pix I shot of it today. This one's body is a little fuzzy focus-wise, but its feet are a little more clear, and we can see just a little bit of its beak above the right edge of that white muff it's grown.
It's standing on this side of a dried mud track on an uneven dirt road. It seems to be resting. When it moved, it moved very fast, and I was usually unable to pan my tele lens with it for more than a few feet. When it stopped, however, I could catch a moment of stopping. Its energy was in spates. It'd run like the dickens, then stop and rest. On - Off, in quick succession down the hill. Parental units leading, then following patiently.
I'm considering starting a Baby Birds page, although it would need a more scientific main title, because many birders don't like us calling them babies. The Heron and Egret pages linked at the top of every Amateur Birder's Journal page already have many images of the various juvenile stages.
Another page possibility might be a showing of every species I've photographed for this journal, although I might have to break that down into component varieties.
I like a good stretch almost as much as this Killdeer probably does, too. I was going to lead today's entry with this shot, but instead, as it slowly dawned on me how young that very young Killdeer might be, I decided it might be a better debut for it to be on top of today's journal entry.
The sand was nowhere near the lake, although we were in White Rock Lake Park. Can you guess where? I drove there in The Slider.
I love House Sparrows at least partially, because they're so common they even hang around my house. But this one was at the lake. Much closer to the water this time, though. I went to a lot of different places today, and I don't remember which one I found this guy at, but I've been seeing a lot of them lately.
I'm hoping somebody out there notices that I'm getting a lot more detail in pictures of birds that can't possibly be this close.
If this really is an Eastern Kingbird, then it's the first one I've seen this season, which I gather means it's a F.O.S. (first of season). I guess if I hang around certified birdwatchers long enough, there's no end to what all I'll learn.
These kits are downy young and they've obviously got pretty wet, so why aren't they scraggly, too?
I have pix of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher just sitting there perched on the wire that extends down the hill toward Sunset Bay from the Winfrey Parking Lot, but today I promised myself something just a hair different.
Having flung off where I still don't quite know how to catch up with him on one of those sudden flings of his, he's come back with a bug, something delicious to eat.
And after digesting that, he's back on the trail for more food. Out there somewhere.
I keep trying and trying, and eventually, I expect to catch one doing loop-de-loops or something else fascinating. Meanwhile, we got these.
Not lately, but in times past, I've seen a STF heading in one direction, then suddenly turn all that caboosery into the exact opposite direction, so for brief miliseconds it looks like it's going both directions at the same time. This is not that.
Normally, I'd assume anything with stripes in the trees that near the water would almost necessarily be a Red-winged Blackbird, but their stripes go all the way down their fronts, so I don't know this bird.
I'd been looking for GBHs in the Big Thicket the other day, but I didn't find any. No wonder, it's back in Sunset Bay again. Glad to have it back.
I was going for the flower. I didn't even see the bugs. But nice and almost in focus.
Big bird. Big preen.
Duck (Mallard Male) ducking under to reach that beak into the pile of feathers on its breast.
It wasn't a hug tall tree, just one of those the City is apparently allowing to stay growing along the edge of Sunset Bay. I saw a lecture many years ago to the effect that trees that grow near the shore, help hold the dirt when rains and floods come. Do you suppose somebody at the Parks & Recreation Department finally got ahold of a book or pamphlet from this or the last century?
Keep the splatter splatting.
Can't splatter water all the time.
Adult male Great-tailed Grackle drying off from that bath.
Or two hot grackle females getting a little cooler.
Pretty colors for a molting Mallard.
June 18 & 19
And these aren't the half of the collection I've been holding back on, because I'm a little tired of cute ducks. But they're everywhere, they're everywhere I've been looking for something, anything different at the lake lately, wishing I could go somewhere that isn't the cute-duck capitol of the world.
The one in the middle is a Pekin duck, also known as an American Pekin Duck or Long Island duck. It's a breed of domesticated duck used primarily for egg and meat production. It was bred from the Mallard in China, according to this page and Wikipedia. The ones on either end are two of four domestic ducks released by a mother and her two children. They were former pets.
The ducks released include a very large white Pekin duck, a Swedish (tuxedo) duck and the two dark mallard-looking ducks shown here. They are females but not the Mallards I originally identified them as. The Mallard (sorta) look-alikes are actually domestic dark Campbell hybrids — much bigger than our standard mallards.
Charles (who feeds the gooses as mentioned below) asked the family to condition the ducks before they left them at the lake, and they complied. They dutifully brought them out every day until the ducks were used to being around the other ducks.
Most of this information came from Annette Abbott, although I augmented it slightly with some Yahoo Searches and Wikipedia.
If it's not, this isn't either. I've tried and tried, but I still can't tell them apart unless they've beginning to show their blood lines.
Wood Duck? Of course, it doesn't help that I don't know their relative ages. But doesn't it look like this duck is acquiring those distinctive Wood Duck stripes on and around its head?
Wing colors aren't the same, but that white fluff coming up its neck seems like Woody Duck fluff, right?
I only have questions. Darned few answers, as usual. I'd almost always rather take more pictures of birds than have to identify them.
But then that's what birds do morning to night every day of their lives. I doubt they have the concept of breakfast, lunch or dinner. It's all just eat.
You know, like the river — although the river is also spelled "Suwannee" and "Suwanee." I've actually seen and felt the Swanee River, and where I saw it it was barely more than a creek, hardly worth singing about. But Anna has named it, so we can call it (no idea of its sex yet) something besides "Hey, You."
I've watched people walk or run or flutter by this bird for the last several days at White Rock Lake. They don't even stare. Either they think it's just another big, honking goose, or they're too busy wanting to go out to the end of Sunset Pier and yell at each other, or throw white bread on the water. I think the swan is eating grass in the picture above. It does resemble a goose, and gooses are probably the best lawn mowers in existence in the bird world.
There's a new sign at some distance from anywhere I've ever seen anybody feed any birds or ducks. The City puts their no-bird-feeding signs in places where they know nobody will ever feed ducks, and I've never understood their reluctance to actually engage the duck-feeders.
Annette says, "As for the sign — one of our members worked with the Parks Department to get it moved from the feeding area" (Where Charles and others feed gooses, ducks, pigeons and any other bird that shows up). "The Parks Department said the only reason they put the sign out was because a lady complained a goose chased her. They put up a sign, so they can say they told people not to feed the birds — it has nothing to do with harming the birds."
I personally believe that feeding wild birds may lead to the birds not learning how to feed themselves. I have often seen birds get into fights over human food. And I've seen it rot when people have thrown or left too much food "for the birds." I also know that in parts of California and other places, it is illegal to feed wild birds, and we saw signs there that said people who feed birds were subject to arrest. We didn't see anybody feeding birds anywhere near those bright, bold signs on piers. It was a pleasant relief.
See Is Feeding Bread to Ducks Bad? What Do Ducks Eat? Nutricious Options for Feeding Waterfowl
Annette concludes, "It is not against the law or any City Ordinance to feed the birds … The Parks Department plus the Dallas police have assured us there is no law or ordinance prohibiting it. We asked this long ago! … That is why the sign is down the way — near where the geese gather every day to graze."
The one on the far left is a male. The rest are some other sex.
Nice to see more (or the same) House Finches at the meadow that did not become a parking lot for the Park-o-retum today. The colors are still pretty amazing for this late into summer. A guy on the radio (not NPR) a couple days ago when it was really hot, said it was now officially summer, even though of course it wasn't and won't be officially summer till June 21 or so. He meant, I assume, that it was hot, and that hot marked summer, not some stuffy dates.
Most of the coots that stay at White Rock Lake in the other seasons are gone by summer, but a few stay year-long, whether because of injury or some other reason unknown to this amateur birder, but the ones who stay are just as coot-like as ever. There's a duck in the bottom of this picture, and I cropped it out at first, then uncropped it back in, so this image makes some sense.
It wasn't raining when I drove into The Big Thicket, but it was very very green over there. I didn't see much in the way of birds, but there was a lot of rain for a little while.
June 17 2013
As often, we attended White Rock Lake and The Bird Squad in Sunset Bay, after dinner this lovely, almost cool evening. Actually, there's often a great many more birds than this. Must have been a new bird nightclub opening on the other side of the lake or something, but Sunset Bay was as ever a busy place.
Originally, Charles fed the gooses he'd released onto the lake, after he bought them from a farm store where the birds were mistreated. Now many wild birds, mostly ducks and a few wild gooses, come each evening for a feast of corn grain and wheat bread and crackers. Some gooses prefer crackers.
This is kind of a welcome change from the super-telephoto view I usually get of birds at the lake. I hadn't really expected to go to the lake while it was still light, and I only had with me my little micro-four-thirds camera, the Panasonic Lumix G5, with its wildish angle lens, the 20mm f 1.7, which in that format is only a moderate wide-angle — but very sharp, it's what we used to call a "fast," now called a "bright" lens. So it could see in the dark.
These gooses, I think they call them Grays or Browns, are somewhat wild now, but they still act tame. Some call them vagrants. My dictionary defines that word as "a person without a settled home or regular work who wanders from place to place and lives by begging," which seem rather a put-down.
The second definition is Ornithology, a bird that has strayed or been blown from its usual range or migratory route. Also called accidental," but there's nothing accidental about these gooses. They were planned and are provided for.
I've often seen other wild birds too meek to attend the mass feeding, cleaning up the few remaining grains of corn the next morning or afternoon, but the big piles you see here, are long gone by then. The big white bird upper leftish is the swan. It always looks much more elegant when swimming.
Some of the dots in the water are birds,
some are logs where birds perch.
June 15 2013
It's not listed or shown in my treasured Birds of Texas, but it is a Mute Swan, and this one was most certainly in Texas, although I do not know how it got here or what gender it has embraced. I know it's a Mute Swan, because it didn't say a word in all the time I watched it this hot early afternoon.
I did get relatively close to it, but the only lens I brought was my doubled 300mm = 600mm, so "close" is a relative term.
Slightly overexposed so we can see more detail in its usually somewhat darker face. It is apparently squinting. It was also breathing hard, so I know it was very hot. Probably not used to Texas weather. Me, either. I was breathing hard and sweating profusely, which birds don't do.
The swan looked back and down at its foot, so I took a photograph of it. It looks a lot like this. By the time I shot this image, I'd removed the doubler, because the images were just so immense. I brought that lens, because I expected to find this bird out in the lake, not sitting in the grass up on shore. Maybe the area it chose to rest had been in shade, but when I saw it, it was in bright sunlight. I backed up when I saw it look at its foot, and it gradually got up, then walked away.
In The SIBLEY Guide to Birds, David Sibley calls this species "relatively heavy" and classes it at about 22 pounds, 60 inches long with a wingspan of about 75 inches. Our American White Pelicans are about 62 inches long with 108-inch wingspans and weight 16.4 pounds, according to Sibley. I only saw it flap its wings once — after it'd gone out into the lake, where I hope it was a little cooler. It did not seem to be panting when it was swimming, or at least not as much.
I barely got all of it in the shot.
Then I shot in a hurry when it did this with its neck, and I missed the head altogether, so I cropped off the body, too, so it wouldn't look as odd. But it is odd, and it does look that way. It did this to help it swallow the water. I hope it helped cool it.
After each and every drink, it would do this to facilitate the water getting to where it needed it.
The tidal wave starting in the lower right portion of this image was caused when it put down its left foot as it slowly walked into the water.
David Allen Sibley asserts that the Mute Swan is not mute, it "gives a variety of calls." His descriptions are phonetic, and copyrighted, so I won't continue, but if you get a Mute Swan angry, it can exhale explosively, hiss, snort or gurgle, and its wings flapping hums when flying, unique among swans.
I didn't see it assume its species' distinctive aggressive posture, and this ain't it.
And it is very reminiscent of its drinking while standing at the edge posture but with a little less neck-crooking.
Drinking both shallow and deep.
More and More. They need each other for protection and whatever passes for camaraderie among the duck set.
Maybe a cross between a Wood Duck and a Muscovy Duck. It's a good deal stouter than most ducks, and it was not hanging with the others. Any other ducks. It looks peculiar, and I am amazed I only shot one image of it, but I saw that it was in focus, so I left it at that. Twenty minutes later, I looked over there again, and it was still there, and it still looked just like this.
As usual I couldn't find it in any of my bird I.D books, but I am so very tired, it hardly surprises me. Great day for birding and talking with good friends.
When our big white friend began getting closer to that one remaining duckling, its Mallard Mom made sure she was always between them. The swan had already taken a couple of very quick nips at the duckling. A shot of that speedy action might have been an interesting study in bird behavior, but I'm glad it missed, although the swan sure looked like it could use a little protein.
She was careful with what appears might be her last little one. They go fast sometimes in the duck eat duck world.
Eventually, with the big white bird trailing them back and forth across the bay, whom might have been the dad joined them and they both kept the tyke between them and away from the marauding swan, whom I am sure deeply needed some nutrition. As did I, I was gushing buckets of sweat from birding and YMCA-ing before that. It was such lovely comfort to get back into The Slider and let the AC blast all over me, though I still worried about the biggest and the smallest birds I saw today.
Special thanks to Annette and Anna for telling me about the swan.
NOTE: Jim Peterson, who keeps track of bird sightings in North Central Texas says the "Mute Swan is not considered a wild bird in Texas. Hence, it is not on any official Texas list. That's true for many southern states. Lots of ferral birds."
this dichotomy with many people, between real birds and birds that
have been handled or fed or taken care of by human beings, even if other birds
in other places look and act exactly like the real birds that are no longer considered
real, are real.
To me, that's a very peculiar notion. I think if it's a bird, it's a bird, and
this is a birder's journal. Or at least, this is this birder's journal.
Live Bird Cams: Screech Owls in Austin Puffins Ospreys Cornell Herons
The Fort worth Solid Wastes Drying Beds
Drove to Fort Worth this morning to attend the press opening for the new WARIL Lords of the Ancient Andes show at the Kimbell Museum, where we changed back into our grubbies and on the way back to Dallas, stopped at what had become our favorite non-White Rock Lake birdwatching area. Not so much lately, however, and we keep promising ourselves not to return, but we keep coming back, because even in its off moments it's been very good.
They may look a little strange, and they're still not exactly common around here …
… but we see them almost every time we visit the rookery, where are lots of them.
For a change, I managed to get both of these quite different looking birds in focus and exposed about right. Dumb luck, really. The one in the back is an adult Little Blue Heron
And this is a juvenile Little Blue Heron who has begun its transition from solid white to splotchy blue on white. Over the next little while, it will turn solid blue.
This one will stay white with red face, blue eyes and red legs and feed.
If they're finding food in the water, and these birds are doing just that, they are finding fish (doesn't look like it) crustaceans or worms. If they're looking for food on land, they're looking for insects. Probably a little too far away to know for sure at this distance.
We've seen Dickcissels there before. We may even have seen this very one before. Dickcissels eat insects and seeds.
Next time, we'll either go back to cute ducks and ducklings — I've got a major stash of cute duck pix — or I'll have to go out and find something uncute and unduckish. If I knew what it was, I could probably find out what it eats.
White Rock Lake
June 12 2013
It's often odd the way these images turn out. As if they were designed to stay together, like they were of a unit, and planned that way. But today, I felt lucky to find any birds at all. I kept looking, and I kept finding the most ordinary of birds. Birds you and I have both seen hundreds of times in these pages. And yet, this time, really ordinary images turned out almost mystical.
I figure some of it had to do with the fact that I started pretty late in the day. In fact, I had visited earlier and found nearly nothing worth photographing. I even went to Sunset Bay. Twice. This time I was looking for an owl that a friend of a friend told me about frequenting an area I go through almost every day of my birding life. I didn't see the owl. Or any owl, although the person who told me then, was there this evening and told me exactly where the owl was. I just didn't want to walk though ticks and insects. But I saw a lot of other stuff that turned a little mystical after I photographed it.
I was not, I should point out, in any kind of a transcendental mood. I was hot and tired and sweaty. But I had decided to walk around instead of driving around in The Slider. For whatever that gets me.
I'd been photographing Killdeer off an on for awhile when Ben pointed at a couple, calling them juveniles. My far vision without a tele lens is dismal, so I looked the the tele, and I still couldn't tell much. I don't remember photographing this, at all. But it does seem to have a bit of the metaphorical about it. Maybe like a kung fu position. Then again, maybe all this mysticism talk is because I just saw a re-re-re-rerun of Kung Fu Panda on TV.
I saw this through the clunk (I wonder if that's endearing enough a name for my 300mm lens doubled. I love that lens, even if sometimes it feels like a heavy clunk.) It is easily the best lens I've ever used. But apparently I don't see much better through it than I do through air. It is very sharp, and this image is greatly enlarged.
This is a juvenile Killdeer, not a full-grown adult. Tail is longer, something about the dark bands around its neck and breast I never figured out what Sibley was writing about. And its legs are pinkish. I was wrong when I told Ben it was an adult.
Looks a little like a flash shot with that shadow, but it's not. It is, however, another juvenile Killdeer. So I was wrong again about identifying a bird. Something I'm pretty comfortable with — misidentifying birds. The setting sun was behind me.
This might have been a grackle. That was my first guess. Usually, several of my guesses are wrong. I take pretty good pix, identifying birds is a lot more difficult.
Red-winged Blackbirds mob the lake. Then they go away for awhile. Then they come back. When they come back, they do a lot of proclaiming. This one is not really putting its all into this proclaiming song. Sometimes they put all their physical all into it. Puff a big breath, then push it all out in a loud scream. This guy doesn't seem to need the power.
I've got a perfectly good shot of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on the wire. Too ordinary. It's just sitting there. Perched. This shot embodies the true spirit of this gorgeous bird. It helps that the bird is translucent into the direct sun, low in the sky. Nice.
Whenever some other dufus is not parked in the middle somewhere, like that circle drive is their own personal property and not a public road, I drive around it. Today, this evening, thee were two Mallards parked just outside the circle. I could have shot them both, but I liked the composition of this guy with those lined shadows. It's just a duck.
Of course I don't know what birds these are. They're all of the same ilk, though. Look kinda like female grackles. But I know my first guess is usually wrong. This feels like a snapshot to me. I saw it, I raised the clunk and fired. I'd already set the focus pattern for a broad group.
Western Kingbirds may be mystical, and they're certainly otherworldly. They also catch a lot of flies and other insects on the wing. Looking up at them just seems right.
It might be a grackle or a blackbird. Maybe it's a condor or Whooping Crane.
Mallard Mom with four ducklings, three of which are farther out, and out of focus. I'd been tracking them awhile, and could get maybe one sharp when they were separated, so this of them together was good.
This shot is so you know what it really looks like.
They do a lot of preening and stretching when they get on the high wires, but this Barn Swallow was stretching its body and tail as well as its reddish wings.
More like an upper, partial, wing and back rouse, although its head seems to have expanded somewhat, crown to throat, as well.
Supposedly, ducks with curly tails are males.
I didn't put this shot here on this page before (It's now June 25, and I've kept it back long enough.) because I don't know what age these are. I didn't know then, and I don't know now. But aren't they handsome/beautiful?
These last two shots were from me going back through May's shots while attempting to save more disk space to accommodate the much larger image file sizes created by my new, much higher resolution camera. Hard to believe I'd passed on either of these shots before. Especially the exploding coot.
The species my car was named after.
A lot of Snowies available at the rookery these days, and their progeny. There's several websites available to tell me the differences between Snowies and Little Blue Herons (both of which species are available at the rookery) but nothing to tell the differences and sames between downy young and juvenile Cattle Egrets and Little Blue Herons (both of which are at the rookery).
So I really don't know who this is, or who these [below] were.
At least I'm sure who this is.
I assume that's somebody else's wings.
This very young egret whose wings don't yet work had come up with the notion of shinnying up and down a skinny tree or vine to get where it wanted to go until its wings worked. This first attempt (or the first little white egret we watched climb) got it where it was going almost easily as we watched the intrepid bird climb.
Another attempt (or perhaps another bird) a few minutes later did not go smoothly nor as planned. All its wings were good at was flailing about. Its feathers are coming in nicely, but they're not yet strong enough for our panicking juvenile to fly, and flying would be a much safer way. Here, it is hanging on but barely as it slips down, its grip slowly failing and gravity looking like it might win.
Still, it held its ground — or its tree — for the moment. It looked like its chances were about fifty-fifty.
We watched it climb awkwardly and not all that quickly up that first time, but this time, things were much more problematic. Slowly, inevitably, with its feet clinging to a spot on the tree that stayed in place, as its body slowly dropped.
Eventually, after flailing about al it could flail and waving those mostly useless wings around, it began to slide more and more rapidly down, till it ended up on the ground some distance behind a pile of branches, with plenty of time for abject panic that might subside into time maybe to discover another way back up.
A rather robust looking juvenile who might already be able to fly.
Flathead, because its head looks flat, not because that's some strange new species.
Normally, they're blessed with amazing balance, but suddenly while it was standing on the top of this tall stump, this particular White Ibis lost its balance and had to resort to this trick to keep from falling. Or flying away. Clearly, it wanted to stay right there and somewhat upright.
I didn't want to make this species out to be clumsy, as the following intricate maneuver will prove.
The White Ibis below is sitting a nest. Chris Jackson who also has a wildlife site, called DFW Urban Wildlife, was photographing to my left, and he said he had seen and photographed the black White Ibis chick in the nest, which I'll definitely add to this page. We weren't at all sure what they were up to in this careful dance, but we watched and photographed in wonder, as the two parental units executed these intricacies.
The upper Ibis steps very carefully while the lower Ibis stays in contact with the nest and at least that one chick.
The dance was already unfamiliar, but this step seemed bizarre.
It looked somewhat more normal as both Ibises shared the warming process as one edged in and the other out.
Note the bird on the left (whose head is on the right) is mostly in the nest now, and the bird on the right (whose head is on the left) is mostly out of it.
But still the out Ibis keeps in touch with the Ibis settling down into the nest. That curved beak over the other's back seemed almost like a gentle gesture.
Till the one that had been sitting the nest wasn't anymore, and the one that hadn't been was almost in full contact.
I keep wanting to call one of them she and her and the other him and he, but there's really no way to tell now. Obviously, the two sexes share nest-sitting chores, although the sitting looks fairly simple, the changing of the guard was complex.
Probably more rookery shots tomorrow and a few from my less successful attempts to find something worth photographing earlier at the lake.
White Rock Lake
June 9 2013
In photography, Night has its own rules, including about colors, if you can find some. All sure-thing bets are off. It's catch-can if you can catch. It's all one big experiment, and good luck. This duck and its companion flew right over the pier at Sunset Bay, where, for a change, I was ready for him.
Not really much action tonight, but the colors ganged up and look what we discovered. Usually, Red-winged Blackbirds are skittish and don't hang around when humans move in their own plans. But this guy ran toward me on several occasions, sometimes too close to focus. I took the doubler off the tele, so it'd be a nice, safe 300mm instead of six hundred.
Both male and female Brown-headed Cowbirds have brown heads. Just females have brown everything else, too. I've always thought the males were pretty.
And the females seem rather ordinary till one learns that they often lay their eggs in other birds' nests, so other moms and dads will care for and feed their young. I used to be incensed by all that skulduggery, later learned to just see it as another in a long, long list of adaptations birds make.
I never manage to get sunsets in my cameras to look just like the sunsets before my eyes. The colors are off or too dark or too light. Always too something.
I hadn't seen ducks do this before. Looked like they were skimming the surface and just under it for some sort of food stuff. They did it several time, creating a bubbly wake back and forth across the inner bay.
The brown duck is a female Mallard in her only slightly exaggerated summer colors. I don't know who the orange smudge in the background belongs to. The white one's its usual white color, and the black one is so dark it almost blends into the night. This shot seemed to call for a little flash, and since one is built into my new camera, and I already had that set to slightly underexpose the light beyond the flash, why not? All tonight's shots seems experimental, and in some ways they are.
Sometimes, if there's enough light and the photographer doesn't really need to fill any of the dark areas with detailed light, low ISO will do.
Low enough I could photograph its up-side. Male Mallard flying past evening over the lake..
Anna emailed me saying she liked "my time-traveling futuristic bird journal," meaning that I've been putting spurious, future dates on entries this week, because I've been out shooting my new camera at birds so often that one entry per day isn't nearly enough to handle the overflow.
Not to say dates on journal entries have ever been accurate. They usually reflect the date I posted them, not the date I photographed them, but I don't split up a day's shooting to make it look like I've been there and shooting more than I actually have, although sometimes I don't much like a photo till it's been around a few days. Sometimes it takes a day or two — used to take a year or more — to see that it's really worth posting.
Even I, who rarely knows what date it is, let alone what day of the week — probably because I don't have to be anywhere at any particular time and date most of the time — knew I was and am putting dates on entries, like this one, that showed dates that haven't got here yet. I thought about going back and putting in fill-in dates on old entries, but that just seemed wrong — and even more confusing. To me.
These images were photographed on Thursday June 6, 2013. The images in the previous entry, labeled "June 7" were photographed Wednesday June 5. These are new shots and may reflect me getting better at setting and getting the specific focus patterns I wanted. The flying female Finch (or Redwinged Blackbird) just above was mostly lucky, because I had focus set to one tiny spot in the middle of the frame, so I could aim at birds and not the flowers all around them, then that bird had the audacity to fly, making it all that much more difficult to follow it with just that one focus point.
The "meadow" or "Winfrey Meadow" I refer to in this day's journal entry is the big one on the left of the one-way street (Winfrey Point Drive, heading North toward the Winfrey Building on top of Winfrey Point) leading up the hill from driving along East Lawther Drive past The Parkoretum (A place that used to be dedicated to trees and was then called an arboretum, but now that they've paved paradise and put in a bunch parking lots, to borrow lyrics from Joanie Mitchell, proving they don't know what they're doing, I call them the Parkoretum, reflecting their new, real emphasis for all that public land and public money and public purpose they're wasting.
For awhile, they were desperate to park their cars on this very Winfrey Meadow, which may be why I now put a lot more effort into photographing wild things there. They still want it. They still might get it if the public doesn't remain vigilant.
It's a one-way street now, although cars still go downhill sometimes, and nobody seems intent on stopping them. Where are the Sheriff's Department constables that used to be so intent on giving tickets for aberrant parking behaviors, now that we actually need them?
I already loved this meadow that The City uses one or two of its Habitat Destruction Machines to mow one time every year, even though it posts signs and sends out press releases calling it a Wildflower or Natural Meadow. Which it cannot be if they mow it. But there's somebody in the Parks & Recreation Department that just can't stand having a natural, natural wildflower meadow.
Still, about now in the unfolding of a series of seasons, it looks pretty pretty.
I love it for its wild birds and wildflowers and its view of the lake, and because it forms a gentle gateway to Sunset Bay over the hill, even if a lot of people still don't know how to find Sunset Bay. I like fewer people knowing that. And I like that to get to Sunset Bay from this direction, you pretty much have to walk to it or drive another mile or so around and over and turn and down and — to tuck back into Sunset from Buckner. I've created a map that, unlike Google Maps, doesn't show the walking path as a bigger, wider and whiter, and more inviting a road to drive on than the ones cars are supposed to drive on.
A gathering of cormorants that far down Parkoretum Drive was unusual enough for me to stop, hoist my new cam and old, long telephoto lens to take this pic. I didn't notice the turtle till I reviewed the image to make sure I'd got the exposure somewhere close to right enough. Odd that it's got its legs and feet tucked into its shell and is balancing what I think of as precariously on the point of that rock or stump.
Next time, I promise no more long lectures about public nonprofit corporations led by idiots.
It looked a lot more like a Western Kingbird when, moments after this shot, it flew off into the green green background beyond.
The rest of today's images were taken at the Lower Spillway, where the water turns from splooshing headlong down from the dam, makes a sudden left turn, aided and abetted by oodles of newish concrete, and heads off toward I-30 East.
Feisty Snowy Egret showing some tongue.
Had about decided that there's only one week a year when the large meadow on the west side of Winfrey Point (leading up from the Parka-retum) had any really interesting birds each spring and summer. Then I saw these guys just in from my edge of that hill of wild flowers and birds.
I pulled The Slider up into the grass along the field and attempted to focus through all those swaying weeds — and flowers. The Lone Pine Birds of Texas tells me they eat vegetation, seeds, berries, buds and flower parts. People with feeders see them more often than photographers who troll the hills around White Rock Lake.
One of the cleaner shots of one of maybe three male House Finches that I saw.
Maybe about that many females in there today, too.
I'm worse at identifying wildflowers and wild weeds than reptiles or birds.
Just as I got it in sharp focus, it jumped into flight. Click.
I was surprised to see this reptile hanging off the back edge of a post, but even more surprised to have seen it — it hardly twitched all the time I watched and photographed it, till I was certain some of the shots were sharp. I found it in one of those places I check often, because it's sometimes worth visiting, and I often see birds close enough to photograph without leaving my car.
Like birds, reptiles (Didn't birds used to be reptiles? How can birds not be reptiles if reptiles are their ancestors? Reptiles crawl or slither and birds fly.) seem unafraid of cars, but head for the hills when humans walk into view. I backed and forwarded and turned this way and that, scootchying The Slider into just the right position to photo it. Then I came back the next day on a whim, decided to check it out again, to see if it was there, and it was. More startlement.
I've looked at way too many tiny and sometimes discolored photos of Texas Lizards online. Somebody who knows about those things, should put together a webpage with big pix of each variety. This looks spiny, but I can't hazard a guess as to its species, and it doesn't look enough like the itty-bitty pix on Texas Lizard webpages.
Link to goofy, but informative, video of Texas Spiney Lizard.
There's two batches of once-cute and cuddly, once little, ducks from Easter os some other time when humans think they might be able to raise ducks, then eventually, they instead leave them out in Sunset Bay. These Black ducks, which are called that, because they are black, not because they are of the Black Duck species, which mostly hang out along our coast. And the six White Ducks that got left off in Sunset Bay this last Easter. I'm sure they have lived interesting lives.
It's Wood Duck Season, so we got lots.
Down to eight ducklings.
She bowed her head as he reached for her with his beak. It was almost a there-there-now moment. I clicked. Maybe he was eating cooties off her noggin. I don't know.
When female Mallards turn brown for summer, it's hardly noticeable. When normally brilliant-colored with black and white accents, male Mallards do the summer molt, it's much more noticeable, especially because they don't all do it at the same time.
Ducks with broken beaks seem to get along better than other species, but I gotta wonder what it got caught in.
I've actually seen them fall over on the deep slant of the Lower Spillway with several million dollars worth of concrete. Besides all the concrete "retaining walls" that did not stay in place, let along hold back gobs of dirt from sluicing into the water, part of the reason for rebuilding the canyon known as The Lower Spillway, was to get water to flow all across the Lower Steps. Sure enough, the left side of those steps (as seen from the driving or walking bridges over the water) now flows, but the right side doesn't always...
Such thin birds seen straight-on.
Amazing collection of colors and textures.
Looking down at the funny-looking guy pointing a big black cylinder up out of his white car's front window at him.
They look like boulders, but that's just gravel.
Some local Mallards have already lost most of their color and turned inevitably brown. This guy still has some of the brilliant iridescent green and a lot of white left, but that'll be gone for its summer molt soon.
One of the recent crop of big-bustled Mallard young from this season, probably no more than a couple weeks old. That it's lasted this long is some kind of a miracle.
One of the one above's sibs.
I've been calling these aggressive situations "Mock Fights," but that's because I've never seen any blood let, and I assumed (that word again) it had something to do with courtship, although I don't know that either. There's actually a lot about birds that I don't know, which is one of the reasons for "Amateur" being the largest word on this page.
But photographing such events has been a fascinating challenge regardless which camera I'm using. One this particular camera seems to do very well. It does not have the so-called clairvoyant focusing I read somewhere that it has, and for which I hoped against hope for. That would have been very nice indeed. But miracles are sometimes very expensive.
But when I point my Nikon D800E in the general direction of such confrontational activity as these Snowy Egrets are engaged in, lots of the photographs I clicked the right button at seemed to come out remarkably well focused. Color me amazed. I didn't think I'd have a chance of getting more than maybe one of these sharp. The action was fast, and I'm still pretty slow on the focus portion of our new cam program.
Not every bird part or every flap is sharp, but enough are to make it worthwhile. Plus I expect to gain enough experience at it to someday get better at this game. Luckily, Snowy Egrets are very aggressive birds. They're feisty and antagonistic. They'll pick one of these battles with just about anyone their size or smaller.
And keep doing it. I doubt that all of this particular showcase of belligerence lasted much more than one minute, but I'd have to check the EXIF (which I think stands for Exposure Information File.) for the exact particulars. [It lasted — or the part of it I saw — it had already begun when I tuned it — took one minute and thirty-seven seconds.] But it went by amazing fast. And the camera, that still needs a name, so I can be endearing without always being quite so precise and promotional, kept up with it, although I did finally take its rate of exposure off Single fire to rapid fire. But I did not just lean my finger into the shutter button.
Instead, I only clicked when I thought I had something going on. All these images are significantly enlarged from smaller crops into the full frame. I could have enlarged this one, too, but that would have shown that while the innocent bystanders here were fairly sharp, the battlers way back there, might have been a tad disfocused.
But usually at least one of the combatants were sharp.
When you're that intent of being macho, you sometimes end up all wet. I've never seen an egret actually swimming, but surely they are able to. And they can always flap those wings and take off. Overall, this quick episode was gangbusters fun to photograph, and the new cam acquitted itself amazing well, even if I'm still just getting to know it well enough to begin to understand some few of its systems.
In the end, the chaser chased the chasee out of the area, and eventually the chaser stopped chasing. Maybe all they're really after is dominance. Knowing Snowies, these are probably just the preliminaries. Then come the quarter finals, etc. etc.
Plenty of variety in Sunset this fairly early morning. Some days, there's nothing. Some others, there's plenty. I'm always happy for the plenty days, except it takes me longer to work up all the good ones when I'm inspired by the variety. Not counting the book-end turtles here, there's only two species represented. Great Blue Heron and three Great Egrets, and yes, those are some of "The Logs" oft referred to on these pages.
Seems like just a few days ago there were a lot more than three. She'll be lucky to keep those three all alive.
I saw three again today, but I only managed one decent shot before they swam out of sight. Which means the three we saw last month ago are all still here. Nice ears!
I followed this guy all around where Charles usually feeds the ducks in the evening, so I'm thinking of calling it Charles' Inlet or something like that, so I don't keep having to describe where it is. I don't think this Snowy has caught anything this chomp, but it sure looks like it thought it had.
Actually, I didn't go anywhere once I saw the Snowy, who must already have been there close. I just stood and was careful not to make any sudden moves with me or my cam and lens. It was too busy hunting and fishing to notice me. Of course, even though this is nearly full frame, my frame is something like a 600mm lens, which I once thought was impossibly long a telephoto lens, but now it's the way I think most of the time in daylight.
It would come so close I'd have to decide was portion of it to include in my frame. Then he'd be out nearly on the other side of the peninsula. And back in a couple flashes. Busy little bee, he.
Just wanted to show you its usual style and big yellow feet.
It looks familiar — and quite dashing. I spent ten minutes looking through three books, but I didn't figure it out yet. I know enough not to get my hopes up for anything rare or even unusual. But this is one handsome bird. Brown, yeah. And small compared to say, a Snowy Egret or even a monstered-up Great-tailed Grackle, but suave and debonair.
Plunking the link in the gold box at the top middle of this page to last June's page, I note with felicity that another bird pretty much like this one was also left unidentified for awhile, then I.Ded as a female Red-winged Blackbird? Could it possibly be?
Balancing the bridge to nowhere.
I generally prefer photographing wild birds, but that's what these guys got made into when they got turned out in two sets of three, after their cuteness wore off after Easter this year. Now they're growing up pretty fast, but staying together, and being pretty intelligent about this whole living out in nature thing.
Often there's a physical characteristic that turns one duck or goose or moose or somebody into the leader of the pack. I've seen them running or swimming in a line or whatever they're up to, being led by Poofytop here for weeks and weeks. I'm not saying this duck of indeterminate gender didn't earn its job as leader, I'm just wondering why the other five let this one lead. Gooses often go with the goose with the biggest wattle. You suppose Easter Ducks go with the biggest poof?
And here they are June 1 fishing pelican style. These ducks didn't arrive till after our annual pelican presence left till next September or October, so they probably haven't seen them doing this — unless they watched nature shows on TV when they were still cute and fuzzy.
Of course, a lot of ducks stick their heads under water looking for and finding food, but these guys are synchronized, so their dunking style looks so much like pelicans that I could laugh out loud.
It's the bit about its bib being dirty off white — and the fact that it had been hanging out with other House Sparrows that makes me guess that, but I've seen elephants hanging out with giraffes, and they were still them, so who knows?
And they're all — especially the females — beautiful.
Perhaps a little clownish with all that color, but nice, nonetheless.
Lotsa Wood Ducks in Sunset Bay these days.
And quite a few Great Egrets, too.
The Medical Center Rookery
My dictionary says a "fledgling" is a young bird whose wings are not developed enough to fly yet. I think this bird, and probably its sibling as well, are not quite fledglings yet. Again, the dictionary: nestling — "a bird that is too young to leave its nest. " I don't know the official birding lingo. I may not be an official birder yet.
Cattle Egret leaning into something, but what?
A whole other Cattle Egret, that is. This one's here just to complete the series, although I did shoot this one today. From the top of the parking garage toward TWU from the rookery. There was a lovely breeze blowing this afternoon in the rookery. I expected heat. Hot heat. Liked getting that breeze instead, which seemed concentrated when I was standing up there in the elevator shade. Nice day.
It's an adult Anhinga. I've been wanting an Anhinga flyover for a long time. Today, I got some. Several. This and the others were way high up. The new cam's much greater resolution helped a lot.
Well, they are either downy young Great Egret, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Anhinga, Tricolored Heron, Little Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron Blue Jay, Mockingbird, Cedar waxwings or Grackles. There's probably some other birds who nest there, but those are the ones I've seen in the last few years, although I was not able to locate a Tricolored Heron today, and I only saw a spare few Ibis, and those were pretty much in the dark.
Of the Great variety, I assume. There were scads of Great Egret young at the rookery today. The only real trick for those was to find some exposed to sunlight or not dappled by light, meaning ones that could be photographed in even light. I met another photographer — the only other photographer there — who was looking for White Ibis young, and now I see the wisdom in that. Then I just thought, good luck.
When I was shooting them, I assumed these were Great Egrets, but now I'm sure they are not. Those black eye sockets and bill color changes are throwing me off. Now I'm thinking either Cattle Egrets or Little Blue Herons, two species I've confused before. Little Blue Herons eventually turn dark blue, but they start out white, then spot blue, then their feathers turn dappled blue, and eventually overall blue. Cattle egret young look essentially similar. This one's legs are gray, and there's that patch of orange-ish on the back of one of them's neck, and the dark areas on their upper beaks
They're more likely Cattle Egret young, but I'd like them to be little Little Blue Herons.
Love the mohawk. I'm pretty sure this is a little Great Egret, and that it looks substantially different from the trio above. More than that would just be guessing. But then I do that often when giving names to one of my unsubs. Notice this one's already black legs and feet.
More rook pix next time. If I go back, I hope I remember to take my tripod. It was a booger holding the clunk and the cam today. I think I sometimes out-shook the Vibration Reduction.
White Rock Lake
These white Easter ducks were left at Sunset Bay soon after Easter to fend for themselves. They've had a lot of help from the Bird Squad, humans who meet there on pleasant evenings to talk and feed gooses and ducks, and they've learned to protect themselves. Not all "pet" birds left at the lake fare so well.
But so far, pretty good for this lucky half dozen.
I kept promising to show you pix of these valiant, once waddling little duckletts, but it's taken till today for me to catch up with some of my other projects.
And I've yet to finish that Galveston Birding page I was so het up about last month, but at least it's now on its own page, and not here to confuse you and me.
This is one of I forget how many black ducks (as opposed to a Black Duck, which is a species of Ducks). This one just happens to be black in color. Or was when somebody released him and his buddies early (I think I remember) last summer. They, too, have thrived among the ducks, gooses and humans of Sunset Bay.
I call this my too-close Blue Jay photo, because though it certainly is a Blue Jay, it doesn't show its classic crest on top, so I don't really know what it looks like. But it's a Blue Jay.
I shot this one the last day of last month.
Along the road leading up to Winfrey hill, which I think should be renamed Mockingbird Lane, and let those folk in Highland Park call their long street with that name now rename their Lane to something more appropriate like Money Drive. Of course, that might cause a little confusion, but I bet there are more mockingbirds per square foot — a square inch wouldn't hold many mocks — than that piddlin' little lane that goes from Stemmons Freeway to Peavy Road.
I guess we all feel that way sometimes.
Mom watching over.
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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 six years,
although I've been photographing professionally since 1964.
Thanks always to Anna.
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