The Current Journal is always here. June Highlights: Yellow-crowned Night Herons Worm-hunting at White Rock Experimenting with Light & Color Our Birding Trip to The South Texas Coast including Downy Young Little Blue Herons in and just out of their nests Encounter with a Tricolored Heron Dark Morning Birding in Sunset Bay The Upper Spillway at White Rock Lake Reddish Egret Dancing Birds at the Zoo Flamingos Mating Up-Jumping Mockingbird with Flash All Contents Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. Cameras Used Ethics Feedback Coyotes Bird Rescue Advice Name That Bird Herons Egrets Herons vs Egrets Books & Links Pelican Beak Weirdness Pelicans Playing Catch Rouses Courtship Displays Duck Love Birding Galveston 2nd Lower Rio Grande Valley Birds & the 1st Bald Eagle 800e Journal G5 Journal JRCompton.com Links resume Contact Me DallasArtsRevue
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Odd Sequence of Great Blue Heron Behavior
June 27 2014
I saw this Great Blue Heron doing something I hadn't seen a bird do before, so I photographed it with my camera and lens pressed onto one of the posts on the pier at Sunset Bay. I wanted the camera set solid so I could concentrate on composition and not have my lens wagging around.
Luckily I was using my best lens, so these images don't look half bad. Some of these movements seem ritualized, as if they were related to courtship.
Others are just kinda bizarre.
I've scanned at least a dozen online info sources about GBHs and found nothing similar, so far.
Perhaps the most informative GBH site was the Bent Life History of the Great Blue Heron on Birdzilla. Great Blues are discussed well down the page from the Great Whites story on top. Later, I found a PDF of The Wilson Bulletin's Pair-formation Displays of the Great Blue Heron from June 1976, also online. A video on YouTube (with an unfortunate talk-over) of actual GBH courtship display taken earlier this year — back during their actual breeding season — shows a much milder form of body displays than these.
This heron seemed to have selected a place for its display, and I hadn't planned on it moving fast or far, but I was still a little surprised it stayed within a few dozen feet all the time I photographed it.
These are significant enlargements, and it was well out into the bay, so it occupied only a tiny portion of my photographs.
At the time I assumed it was looking for something underwater. Food maybe. Though it could have just been showing off. A lot of that goes on in courting — with birds and people.
Great Blue Heron fishing is usually a slow process. It just stands there waiting for something fishy to happen. This sequence illustrates an altogether different tactic I knew I needed to document and try to understand. I got it documented well enough, but I still don't understand.
There seemed to be a distinct progression, although some motions were repeated but not always in the same sequence.
It looked like a purposeful display. I had assumed that was to catch fish. Food is the usual reason birds do anything. Then there's sex and a place to stand or be, but this was the only Great Blue Heron I could see in Sunset Bay, and I looked.
This is either it turning around or it having turned around, because I'm pretty sure its tail and wings are left and its head is right, although I don't believe I could parse all the parts.
This appears more like spectacle than finding food, and it reminds me a little of the courtship-related physical changes and behaviors of a Reddish Egret pair I photographed near Matagorda Bay a few years back, although another, much more recently photographed Reddish Egret (well below on this page) has its feathers similarly up and colored, even if it were only looking for food. My favorite image of that Reddish (below) seems similar to several of these, of which this may be my new favorite — quite a semi-spectacular display.
So I'm baffled again, but that's a familiar feeling and often occurs before learning something new. I'm so glad I documented it, because trying to accurately explain all these steps would be difficult.
When a heron thickens its throat, it's either because it's expecting to swallow something big enough that it needs more room — herons don't chew; they just swallow it whole. Or it's showing off, as in courtship behaviors.
I didn't see it catching anything or swallowing, but I was busy picking my moments to click or trying to hold the camera still while leaning on the button, so it would clip along at four frames a second.
The more I ponder this, the less I think I know what these behaviors have to do with, especially with its colors intensifying and all those feathers standing up and out. I got an email from photographer Kala King, who says she saw whom might have been this same bird doing similar things — till it burst out of the water with a crawdad, but in the time I watched and photographed this one, I didn't see any food items displayed.
Refidnasb1's videos of an Indigo Bunting Singing and Roseate Spoonbills In Action in The Great Trinity Forest here in Dallas are lovely, and we love the Snowy Egret walk-throughs, but not the traffic noise, which was probably inevitable, considering where it was.
Experimenting with Light & Color
Stayed up too late this morning doing yesterday's journal and felt odd and disconnected all day. I tried movies, but they were strange, too. I'd told myself I didn't have to do another journal today, but I still felt weird. Which put me in the mood for a little experimentation. Had not felt like or done that in years, if not decades.
Well, not that long. But long. I needed a little change. These are a little different.
I did these, as is my usual, only organizing factor, in chronological order. All from yesterday's shoot. Almost all still look like the birds they are. Each is a different … uhh … technique. Only two involved use of any special effects filters — Dragonfly and Red Bird. Bird Merge shows two birds occupying very nearly the same space under only slightly different circumstance. The original shot of that series of those two birds is below.
Worm Hunting in the Wet at White Rock Lake
It was wet when I got to the lake, and it was still getting wetter when I left a couple hours later. For a long time, I sat in the lower Sunset Bay parking lot trying to decide if I really wanted to stand out in it — my camera and lens are weather-sealed, but I am not. Eventually, I just drove off. On my way home I happened to look over at this bird and another standing on a crest over a little creek.
Chronologically, this shot was first, but I didn't want to start with a pic of a bird's wings cut off, just because it flew faster than I expected or could follow through The Slider's window. But even the drops of water splashing in the air as it flapped its wings are in amazing focus.
I understand why birds are more frightened of people than of cars, but I kept backing up, driving a little forward, and turning in the middle of the road — with my emergency lights flashing — I only ever saw five other cars at the lake today, and I drove all the way around. But once I got a bead on this bird, it kept coming closer. It must have seen me, leaning out the window with that big camera and lens, and too often just that is enough for birds to skedaddle.
The big game in today's hunt was worms. The books call them invertebrates. As I watched, this first Yellow-crowned Night-Heron — there were two, but when I saw them together, and they saw me, they scattered. Two was a bonanza I couldn't handle. They split up immediately, and I could only follow one. So I lost track of the other till I left the first one and started homeward. I'd bugged it enough already, and though it didn't seem perturbed, it didn't need me following it around all afternoon — even if we were at considerable distance.
I assume they were a pair. There have been a couple juveniles there, in spring for several years, but I never know when I'm going to catch up with the family again. Used to be many more Black-crowned Night-Herons at White Rock than Yellow-crowns, although once, as long as a decade ago, their populations were nearly equal. But I haven't noticed Night-Herons or their pre- or post-courtship activities in years, so I just catch them when I can.
I don't think I'd ever seen them both together before, although I've noticed and photographed their kits over the years. Curious what YCNHs (Yellow-crowned Night-Herons) eat, I checked with my Lone Pine Edition of Birds of Texas, which describes them standing or waiting or engaging "in slow, methodical walking or wading, eats primarily crabs, crayfish and fish."
None of which I saw this wet afternoon. Today, they ate worms, and I keep remembering my family's version of the old Nursery Rhyme, whose original lyrics we all know.
I think this is my first picture of the other bird. I was surprised last week, when we attended Larry P. Ammann's bird photo art show at the Eismann Center, that he identified many of his herons as male or female, and I don't know my herons that way, at all. Anyway, this is other bird has snazzier occipital plumes. Maybe that's the most notable difference.
I promised myself I'd remember which bird was which, and where in the shoot I switched from Bird A to Bird B, but I can't figure out which is who.
I think this and the last one are images of the same bird, and the next one down is different. Note the plume hanging off the back of its head.
Don't go by the junk on its beak. This heron kept stabbing its beak into mud for worms, and it hasn't had the opportunity to clean it off. It certainly has more in the way of occipital plumes, and its crown is arranged differently, although I understand that birds have complete control over every feather, so that wouldn't be the deciding factor.
This bunny crossed the road in front of me as I drove down my favorite, calming drive at the lake. I always like seeing something small and furry and cute.
Some call it gender, but gender is used, according to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, "primarily to refer to the grammatical categories of "masculine," "feminine," and "neuter," … or you can read the whole explanation on the bottom of this page, but I just looked this bird up in The Sibley Guide to Birds, where there are images for sexes and ages and conditions — juvenile, adult, adult breeding — for House Sparrows. But only age, not sex, of herons.
Mostly, this bird is here, because I photographed it today, and so I can show you the next bird. I really like House Sparrows and quietly delight when I see one.
This bird is beautiful, and I was startled to see it, and even more surprised to get good shots of it, before it flew off. I assume it — unlike the green, Monk Parakeets that live in The Big Hum behind [See my Map of White Rock Lake.] the Old Pump House — is an escapee from a cage. Monk Parakeets are wild and have established colonies around Dallas and many cities in the U.S. They seem to especially enjoy electric power substations.
I guess I don't mind people having pet birds, but I always cringe at cages. I doubt this is a wild species.
There are probably parakeet identification books or sites that precisely delineate who this lovely, perhaps female, bird is. But I don't have tame-bird I.D books, and I have too many wild-bird I.D books, on which I overly rely, instead of learning bird identification. I also have two books that purport to teach me how to identify birds. But I get lost in the explanations. I may need a movie to teach me.
Anna found an online game from AllAboutBirds.org called Birdsong Hero that might help teach people to identify birds by their songs. She says it was fun, but while I'm good at visualizing sounds, I don't remember them, and I still can't match songs to their birds, even the ones in the game. And the game seems to equate identifying a song by its visual representation with identifying their sound as a species, and I don't think it works that way.
My eyes, ears and mind sure don't.
'Ordinary Birds' Early in Sunset Bay
June 24 2014
Only a couple birds today that are even a little bit special. These are who lives — at least in the mornings — in Sunset Bay these days. I got there at about 5:40 with my blunderbuss lens sans doubler and a tripod. Charlie's gooses are in their noticeable arrival from the Bath House area, and it's not even six o'clock yet.
The action is a little abstract, but that water spray above them wrestling is amazing.
Both birds flapped afterward, but not necessarily in focus.
There's almost always that RWBB screaming, even into summer at White Rock Lake.
But that's who she looks like more than any other duck.
The Blue-winged Teal is about he most special bird in today's lineup.
And that thing in the upper right is a shopping cart with only its turning wheels above water. It's been out there awhile. May well have been years. I keep hoping a bird will perch on it, but it's probably still a little squirrely, though I doubt the wheels still turn or rotate. Pretty much luck I got the swallow anywhere near sharp, though I'd been panning with it across the water. Why the water is magenta is another guessing game.
She looked so distinctive with that huge, dark, blue and white cloud, I had to look her up. I still kinda want to do this one over again, with more cloud.
Some American Coots don't leave in spring. They stay for the summer and greet the others when they come back. Meanwhile, there's a lot less bickering and competition, at least partially, because the gulls are gone, too. But I've seen and photographed coot fights, also. I just liked the tranquility of this scene.
And that somebody smaller stuck with the Great-tailed Grackle all the way across the bay from west to disappearing over the Hidden Creek area. I guess the tenacious little one's another Barn Swallow.
Gorgeous clouds earlier today, but even without the doubler, my lens was way too long to capture more than a tiny fraction of any of them.
Depending upon which way I pointed my camera, it was either bright, utterly dark or somewhere in between. Once the sun is up, these exposure things tend to even out, but early in the morning, there's really not enough sun to call it that.
I know I counted eight total. And the last one is often the fastest, because it's busy exploring stuff the others don't.
The towers stand at Central Expressway and Northwest Highway. But the highway is a glorified through street loop, and the expressway is usually anything but. None of that, however, bothers the locals at Sunset Bay.
I know I keep promising it, but today — again — I visited The Upper Spillway and found even more photo-worthy birds there, and tomorrow or the next day, I'll finally share some of those and the day before yesterday's — or whenever that was.
I had hoped to, and I actually did see the Tricolored Heron, although it had already hopped over the inner bay where I was and when I finally caught up with him, he was flying off into the Hidden Creek Area.
With the Female Wood Duck and Her Eight kits.
The best wake of the morning.
Now, after four hours more good sleep and four more to work up these images, it's still dark outside. Probably cool out there, too. Must be raining, too. I hear thunder crashing. Nice summer.
Our Lady of the Lake Rookery
in San Antonio, Texas
Photographed June 13. posted June 23
Anna and I tried to go birding yesterday June 22 as I write this very early June 23, but though we wandered far, we found few birds for the effort, happy enough to travel on a lovely afternoon, but this is the last installment of our Dallas to Corpus Christi to San Antonio and back to Dallas trip the week before last.
And these are the youngest Little Blue Herons I've ever photographed, and I've been wanting to photo them as young as I possibly could for several years, because I've been posting as young birds as possible in my specialty pages on Herons and Egrets — in the link mass near the top of this page. A few feet away, an adult Little Blue Heron seemed to be standing guard.
The Our Lady of the Lake Rookery is one of our few must-go places in San Antonio, because there's always something interesting going on in that pungent place.
Like parent, like young. Note matching leg, beak and lore colors, despite what Sibley says.
This started out as pure silhouettes against a bright blue sky with the sun directly behind it.
Here's another, perhaps older or more mature, Little Blue Heron in better light.
I'm curious about that patch of apparently white feathers half-way up this one's front.
Two Snowy Egrets either playing or fighting. With them it's difficult to tell, they're so feisty. But I was much more interested in the intermediary forms of Little Blue Herons, so I won't be going on and on with the Snowies, although I will someday, because they, too, are fascinating birds.
For awhile I assumed — because of the blue/black streaks, this had to be a Little Blue, and I still can't explain those streaks, but now I'm pretty sure it's a very young juvenile Snowy Egret.
Note the dark blue spots and streaks, the gangly green legs and feet and the dark beak. I think it's only a few weeks old, but they mature very quickly, but though I assumed it was a very young Little Blue Heron, because of its dark blue or black spots and streaks, but juvenile Little Blue Herons (June through April) have, according to the latest edition of Sibley's Birds, pale grayish, green or pink bill and lores, not black ones as in this picture. This must be a juvie Snowy.
Looks like these, which are identified as Snowy Juveniles, and I can't see their legs or feet, but the head and beak sure looks the same.
The one on the left seems a little older. Sibley dates juvenile Snowy Egrets as July - April, so I'm less sure now this actually is a juvenile, but its legs are either already or seem to be on the way to being bright green with some black on forelegs as in an official juvenile Snowy (July - August). But I'm still learning these transitional forms.
Yellow lores, black beak, black legs and yellow-orange feet.
Note the vivid red beak, reddish crown, and breast feathers and red legs and feet.
Fierce-looking bird, considering that Cattle Egrets usually seem so meek and mild.
This may be the same bird, but I'm not sure.
With yellow bill, legs and feet.
The OLL Rookery is a densely populated island full of egrets and herons and activity.
Of which there were also many. Someday I'll have to concentrate my attentions on these very active young.
And even I find it difficult to understand how I only got one good shot of Tricolored Herons there. Maybe because I didn't see or did not recognize any babies, juveniles, etc. Probably because they don't come along till July - February. May have to go find some of those later this summer at the Southwest Medical School Rookery, which is a lot closer than San Antonio.
Best Winter Bird Foods Summer Bird Feeding What to Feed a Baby Bird Good Bread for Birds also includes: Why Most Bread is Bad for Birds, What Makes Bread Good for Birds, When to Feed Bread to Birds, etc. Reasons not to feed the pigeons When should I start and stop feeding birds? Frequently Asked Questions - Birds
Sunset Bay in Dallas, Texas
Friday Morning, June 20
Up way too early today, because I've been procrastinating being in Sunset Bay at 6 ayem, which I finally did today, and I was rewarded. I got a lot closer to a Tricolored Heron than I got all that trip down the South Texas Coast [below], where they are common. My first two shots of it flying in are blurred blurred blurred. It surprised me, but I was delighted.
They're not common here. It's a prize to see them, even if a few breeding pairs raise young in the Southwestern Medical Center Rookery each year. One such pair nests on the edge of that dense area. Others, I assume nest much father in where only Trespassers go.
I feel honored to have been the only one there, on this too-dark morning, when the Tri arrived.
Then it cranked its head up and looked all around.
It roused awhile, but none of those shots came out as well as I wanted.
Looking straight down in the water, it's easier to see something swimming down there.
Terrible back light, but I eventually figured it out, and now we can see it better than I could when I shot the pic. I liked the dark form, but this is better by about a half stop.
I was watching pretty carefully, usually through that 12-by lens, and I never once saw it catch a fish.
Just around the bend, behind the densely-treed far edge of the protrusion from Sunset Beach, there's a lovely fishing area where all sorts of herons find what they're looking for, but I can't see back there, so I worried.
I walked over there, probably too late to find it, but I wanted to give it all the space in the world and hope it finds food and solace out there. And it comes back again and again and again. That he likes the place enough to visit in daylight sometimes.
These shots are from earlier, when it really was so dark there was hardly any color in it. A Great Egret stretched out ins right leg and foot and its right wing.
When I saw those dark clouds overhead and just how dark it was, I set my cam on auto ISO, so it could choose from any ISO it might need in that dark light this morning.
He landed on the far post on the pier I was standing on. I had no choice.
I love watching them and photographing them doing this, even though I've photographed them slinking across the water a thousand or more times already. It's better in the light, but sometimes there isn't much of that precious quiddity around.
Several groups had already flown out before I got it together to capture these, but I did capture these.
And I still have a bunch more pix from here and there I'll add later. I got one more episode of wild birding to go from the South Texas portion of our Gulf Coast trip. Several of those shots seem experimental. It should be fun.
Our Trip to Corpus Christi & The South Texas Coast
Goose Island, North of Rockport
Photographed June 11. posted June 19
We didn't know much about Goose Island before we visited, except that it would cost us a handful of dollars to get in, but Wikipedia has a short page with information we did and did not ever learn about the place, links and a few pics. Here we see Brown Pelicans scarfing up fish cuttings and waste while paying tourists watched from a Birding Tour boat right off the pier.
Rockport Birding and Kayak Adventures ... well you can read their promo or reviews of their tours. I guess either somebody on Goose Island calls them when they'll be cleaning some fresh-caught fish, so the birds get the rest, or the boats come in at regular intervals, and the Goose Islanders just plan a fish-cleaning for those times. I think I only saw these three people and two more on top. Can that even be commercially viable?
Whichever, I'm glad they did it, because we got to photograph the pelicans, gulls and egrets and a Spoonbill fly over.
And waited their turn at the fish-cleaning scraps.
The three black-headed gulls are a challenge for me to differentiate in the field, but Laughing Gulls have dark wing tips ·(that look like tails when they fold them back) with tiny spots. Franklin's Gulls have white tips with black spots. Both Laughing and Franklin's gulls have dark red bills during breeding season, which this still is, And Bonaparte's Gulls have black beaks and rounded white feather tips showing when they stand.
This pelican is flying over the water, and I'm standing on the pier.
It would have been more picturesque if there had been a pelican on every post.
Before this trip, I had mostly only photographed Brown Pelicans from afar.
But now I've seen them up close and personal, I am beginning to warm more to them. I still like the white ones better, because they spend six months of the year within a couple minutes' drive from my house in Elderly East Dallas, so from mid October through mid April I can see them whenever I want, and I miss them when they're gone and am eager for each succeeding return.
So this was a great opportunity to see them closer and in more detail, watch their behaviors and photograph them over and over again.
I thought they were funny up there waiting for food. Little did I know that they were also dangerous. I thought I knew enough not to stand directly under them, but the wind was blowing in my direction, and while I was photographing somebody else, one or more of them peed in my direction, and I caught a big waft of pelican urine on my bare arms and camera. It stunk, and for awhile, so did I. I soiled three paper towels rubbing it off me till I could slosh water on it, but I think I can still smell it..
The colors and tones are different, but I know this precise Pelican Landing Form from watching American White Pelicans at White Rock Lake and other places around Dallas, for the last nine years of this journal. I've taken lots of pictures that look pretty much like this one, except the birds were white, not dark, and the feet were orange, not brown..
I'm not sure American White Pelicans land this elegantly.
But this portion of the landing is very familiar.
It's a Roseate Spoonbill.
Brown Pelicans have wingspans of up to seven feet. American White Pelicans have wingspans of up to nine feet
The Little Blue Herons, adult and First-summer Black-crowned Night Herons and other bird action
on the Upper Spillway is below, and under that is Anna's and my Bird Tour of the Dallas Zoo.
Photographed Wednesday Morning, June 11 + posted June 17
We were driving along the coast highway (Texas 35) when I saw what I assumed was a Bird Boardwalk. On the Google Map, there are two large signs (too far from the street view to read), but we don't remember seeing either. All I saw, far away and very small, was a line of birds standing on the rails where the boardwalk ends in a roofed-over but wall-less people-shelter.
In this image, the Willets are all on the far-side railing, and the very narrow focus is on the top rail of this side of the boardwalk, so the Willets are slightly out of focus.
I can't see far (even with the right pair of glasses on), and when I have my camera up, I concentrate on focus and maybe composition. So I didn't notice the flags, and I had little notion who the birds were. I could just tell there were several varieties, and where they were seemed close to the ocean, which is on the other side of the hill with the flags, somewhat farther than I thought. The Gulf is on the other side of the blurred houses in the background..
It was hot, but I needed to get close to all those birds, so I left Anna in the car with the AC running and walked carefully — I didn't want to scare anybody off — out as far as I thought I could go without frightening birds to fly where they'd be even farther away. I have been on boardwalks where birds flew among the people walking, landing on either side's railings. But I doubted these birds were as familiar with humans, though I was careful not to test the theory.
Every once-in-a-while one bird or another would jump up and fly off somewhere. Most of them came back.
They may have been checking me out. Or looking for a good place to do what they did not long later. Stay tuned...
I have had a previous Courtship encounter with Willets, and this just was not similar to that, which I grew to believe was a courtship display, but though I saw a lot of flapping and flying about on that boardwalk in Rockport, there was no unison flying or anything else that looked much like courtship.
But there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, so I kept watching, just in case.
Altogether pretty feathers and interesting goings-on, but not quite like that last time.
I'd got a bit closer, having carefully stepped down the creaking boards and hoping none of them noticed.
I assume the smaller Tricolored Herons are younger, too.
I photographed lots of flybys as I crept closer to the double line-up.
Not always keeping my camera straight.
It was a busy place, and I walked slowly and carefully — and kept a watch out in as many directions as possible.
This Willet may be in a controlled stall so it would land in a precise place. I got lots of practice with birds in flight that day. I need it.
Because that skill is something that disappears if I don't use it often.
And who, you might wonder, are Willets, and why are they worth all this time and effort. For starts, once they're off the ground, they're beautiful, and their wing configurations are unique, making them easy to identify among shorebirds. Some call the whites of the wings and underside a big W, for Willet, I assume. If you're a bird and live in the marshes and dunes on the coast, their bright wing flashes serve as an early warning system. When they get alarmed, everybody knows right away.
And if I hadn't cropped down to the bird so severely, we'd see more of the landscape tilted off to the left. Thanks to my sense of straight going crooked again.
Every time I see a bird falling with such control, I want to try it. But it never works for me. Wings would probably help. Plus more practice and softer landing sites.
Then it just stood around down there. I was hoping for more action, but none was forthcoming.
Then a couple quick-succession flybys woke me up a little.
This might have been the very White Ibis I saw in those early pix from the parking lot.
I'm guessing courtship, because there was a very similar Black-necked Stilt in the next pond. But when I looked up Breeding behaviors in The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior (page 270), the only activity similar to this play-acting Sibley cited was a diversionary tactic "to lead or chase predators away from nests and young," one of what the author calls "a variety of distraction displays, including "false brooding" behavior, a broken-wing act and direct attacks."
I'm guessing this could be a broken-wing act, but it does not look convincing to this human.
The stretches were in, out, down and up. It does rather resemble a mother Killdeer going through he wing-stretch and flay act to draw us away from her nest…
After awhile, this Black-necked Stilt flew off. Whenever I was photographing one, I couldn't pay much attention to the other. But it seemed like only one bird was "on" at any given time.
While photographing all the birds on and over and around the boardwalk, I hardly even noticed how hot it was. Walking back, I noticed, but I still didn't care. I'd just had some of the most constant, diverse and intense bird photographing I've ever done. Lots of species, lots of flying, walking and strange behaviors. Great, great fun.
Someday I may need to do a Birding Boardwalk Tour of the South Texas Coast.
I need to do some house-cleaning tomorrow, but come Thursday we'll continue our intercoastal tour to include Goose Island.
posted June 16
Part of the joy of photographing a month's worth of birds in a few days or hours is the glory of the lush, different landscape along the South Texas Coast combined with all these exotic species in one place. But what photographing dozens of birds in a day means for the presentation on this page is that producing as many pictures that only took a little more than an hour on one day might take up all my time on this one.
I swam this morning, managed not to exacerbate my bruised rib, and I even drove around the lake too late to find any fascinating birds.
Pronounced, as I only learned after I'd mispronounced its name dozens of times, is ROSE ATE. No eee sound in the middle. A few of these birds that most people consider the most beautiful birds we have, have shown along the Trinity River in Dallas lately. I don't know if I'd been in that right place at the right time, whether I'd been able to get as good pix as the photogs there and then did, but on the whole, I'd rather have gone to Corpus...
We get Wood Storks through this area from sometimes. I've photographed them at Trinity River Audubon Center at least once. From a great distance. These are also from a great distance, but with a better camera and longer lens.
In the fictional tales that have storks delivering babies, those birds are always beautiful, so they must be a different species in Europe than these. (They are.) I read somewhere today that these birds sometimes socialize with Turkey Vultures, and I can see the similarity. Babies don't worry much about their deliverers' looks, but these guys could give an adult body a fright.
Meanwhile, very close by, in that creek or stream that runs through the backgrounds of many of these images, other species of big, beautiful birds are busy finding food for the day.
Or flying low over those wetlands looking for more.
The pink parts are gorgeous, no doubt, but that alien head with the green skullcap — never even mind the spoonish bill — is anything but beautiful. I like them, and I love seeing and photographing them, but they are not entirely pretty.
Except, perhaps, to another Spoonbill.
All today's birds were in close proximity. We must have been on the road some to find the next evidence of biodiversity, but we couldn't have gone far.
Down the road a way, I'd hoped to photograph the Turkey Vulture who was about to eat this roadside meal, but I also wanted the pix.
At first I called the animal a rat, but I'm lousy at identifying animals who have had their bloated bodies excoriated by snake enzymes, especially when itself was half eaten by a vulture. I moved these guys with my right shoe, so I could show how the mammal had been torn from a slit in the side of the snake, but I didn't quite manage that trick and didn't want to move the bodies again, except over to the side of the road, where the vulture, when it inevitably returned, would not get hit by another car when it concentrated on the eating of this.
There were many, many more birds on this glorious vacation day along the South Texas Coast, but I just don't have the energy to work all that day's pix up on this one slightly less than a week later, so there'll be more of this day's pix tomorrow. All of today's images only cover the time from 10:33:54 A.M. to 11:39:34 A.M. Wednesday, June 11, 2014.
It's probably not in the ocean exactly, but in a tide pool or off-ocean lake. I believe they're called wetlands.
This was our first real bird watching day, so we were serious about finding birds at an official birding place, except there were miles and miles of birds and everything else between those places.
Franklin's were, I think I understand, the usual variety of gull available around Corpus Christi, Texas. I never heard them laughing, so they must not have been Laughing Gulls. Otherwise, I can't tell them apart.
Let's get this out of the way up front. This is a dove. There were more doves than any other species while we were in and around Corpus Christi. This is, I believe, the only one I ever purposely photographed. At home in Dallas as in CC, we call them Dubs, and we rarely give them the time of day. There's just too many of them. There were also Great-tailed Grackles down there, but we get already too many of those here in Dallas to pursue photographing them there, either.
The motel/inn was near this bridge that, at night, was illuminated by many colored lights, and in the days was sometimes nearly invisible even on the best of days.
I didn't include this image my first time through, because I didn't think it was either important or good enough, but I was wrong on both counts, both as we can see and as we shall see. This particular bird was photographed in or around or after we drove through Aransas Pass, because there's too-close shots of a sign for their Chamber of Commerce Shrimperee June 13-15 Carnival and Parade.
But this is a handsome bird on some sort of a post somewhere.
We wasted hours trying to track down the bird sanctuary or whatever this place was supposed to be, and finally, coming back from our third or fifth pass by that same area, we noticed these little signs kinda hidden away in a darkly shady area just off the road. It's too big here because I thought I should photograph the fool thing, and I only had the one camera and one lens, and that lens is pretty telephoto (600mm) to be photographing signs with. Where we stood was on public highway, and we were decidedly not trespassing.
This already unpopular sign annoyed us. Especially because the place was closed, and we'd wasted so much time trying to find it.
I don't remember photographing this bird, so I don't know where it was or how big it was or much of anything. If I had to guess, I'd call it a female grackle. But I don't have to guess, and I don't think my guess helps much. So it's an unsub.
Probably in a smallish town, but I don't know where or when or why, except I am sometimes enchanted and more usually repulsed by really bad bird art.
Or why else carry it along?
Just standing there.
This is the first bird I've seen outside my bird I.D books that looks a lot like this that wasn't a Killdeer. I am partial to Killdeer, but it's nice once one travels miles and miles and miles to find something related but different.
I don't think I heard this one laugh, either. But its beak is a different color, or the white-on-black configuration of what looks like its tail but is really its wing tips is different from Franklin's.
Not our first BP sighting, but the pix I got of the ones flying by the motel were all blurry, and this shot is pretty good.
The landscape's changed again. We were probably moving around. We covered a lot of country, so we saw a lot of birds.
In Dallas, we get American White Pelicans. Along the South Texas Coast, they get Brown Pelicans. Coastal pelicans are brown and interior pelicans are white. At White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas, we get American White Pelicans from approximately October 15 (Once it was September 15.) until April 15. They're always gone by Tax Day.
And not the ferry we were on, but ours looked a lot like this one but was a lot closer. We must have been transversing where water was though it was still a highway, so the trip was free. I always expect to see birds on these wet hops, but we didn't see much this time, so I photographed the oncoming ferry, so you could see where we were by viewing where we were not.
Or a gull.
I have no idea which channel, but big boats drove down it on the way to or from the ocean.
I don't think it moved while we were there, but we did.
I'd photographed several GBHs already this trip, just this was a more interesting shot, and we got plenty GBHs just down the street here in Dallas.
I kept searching the Internet for "shaggy topped gulls or terns" and not finding anything until I looked through my new, autographed copy of Sibley's Guide to Birds, where I found a tern with a black beak with a yellow tip and shaggy crown. Of course, I didn't know any of that when I was shooting. I rarely do.
The Dance of the Reddish Egret
What I believe was my only other serious experience with a Reddish Egret was in a swamp higher up the coast near a new housing development with an older, cheaper and much less worthy long lens. That bird herked and jerked around like the drunken sailor they are often described as acting like. This one mostly just stood there — at first.
See also my courtship pix of a pair of Reddish Egrets in Matagorda Bay,
a littler higher up the South Texas Coast in May 2009.
Maybe it was just warming up. Soon it extended its wings and looked down in their shadow.
Aha! Before our eyes, and this is frame-filling action, so this bird wasn't shy like that first Reddish we'd seen near Matagorda some years back. This bird was probably hungry.
And maybe in a hurry.
But it is one of only a few Reddish Egrets I've ever seen, so I don't have the experience with the species to know what they do and their motives.
It seemed to be having fun, and we were certainly enjoying watch it dart around, back and forth, up, down and ...
It occurs that I should see what my precious but well-worn, full-color paperback, Lone Pine edition of Texas Birds has to say about this amazing bird. I especially like to quote that book, because it's no longer in print.
"Our rarest and most range-restricted wading bird, the Reddish Egret is fairly common in suitable areas. When foraging among the saltwater habitats of the southern coast, this large wader of coastal habitats is most entertaining. It typically feeds by lurching through shallow water in a weaving half-run while stabbing its bill in all directions, attempting to catch a fish off guard…"
"At other times, it rakes the murky waters with its spindly feet to expose bottom-dwelling prey. Occasionally, the Reddish Egret takes a more calculated approach to feeding by standing motionless with outstretched wings. The shade produced provides better visibility by reducing the sun's glare and may also attract fish seeking shelter from the sun…."
According to Wikipedia: "The reddish egret (Egretta rufescens) is a small heron. It is a resident breeder in Central America, The Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Gulf Coast of the United States, and Mexico. There is post-breeding dispersal to well north of the nesting range. In the past, this bird was a victim of the plume trade."
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, there are only 1,500 to 2,000 nesting pairs of reddish egrets in the United States — and most are in Texas. They are classified as "threatened" in Texas and receive special protection. That Wikipedia link includes a pic of the White Morph of the Reddish Egret, which if we saw, we probably thought was a particularly robust Great Egret, so we didn't look carefully. Now that would be a real find..
Bridges along the Intercoastal highways are often built on solid bits of ground peppered with swamp ponds that intercoastal birds like to fish in. Also down there are bars, bait shops, boat ramps, fisher persons, etc. The turnaround part involves getting off the highway before or after the bridge, driving down the ramp and around down there — or just turning around, and driving back.
The first Intercoastal Turnaround — There's usually a sign proclaiming them — was just a lark as I explored. When we ocas si on ally found interesting birds down there doing their dada duties, we kept visiting them, and kept getting rewarded with beautiful and interesting birds.
Nearing the end of this Reddish extravaganza — all photographed out the driver's side window of The bright white Slider — I looked up reddish egrets on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site, where I learned, "It is a very active forager, often seen running, jumping, and spinning in its pursuit of fish."
I realize still shots just don't do the Reddish Egret justice, but I did find a short bit of video on their Cornell Lab of Ornithology page that explains much of Reddish Egrets' foraging techniques in video format. It's near the bottom of this page and 5:42 (five minutes and forty-two seconds into a video mostly about other birds, but it's a great explanation and exposition of these birds fishing, although the Reddish Egret portion of our program is only a few second long.
I think this is us back in or very near Corpus. As we watched it climb the hill, I reached and dragged my camera out of the miasmas in the back seat and finally got the shot before this, which wasn't very interesting, and this.
In a ditch in a verdant grassland much closer to the motel, where we were very happily driving around mostly lost. Left to right, they are four Snowy Egrets with a Tricolored Heron behind them, a Great Egret and three more Snowies, another Great Egret, a Great Blue Heron and a Franklin's Gull flying over. Seems like this was across the road from something smallish and retail.
Shot through a yellow flower much closer to the photographer than the bird, but within nobody's reach. I was delighted to find a bird we still consider exotic in a field just an overlook down from a very busy highway a couple miles past a ka-jillion refineries.
Corpus Christi has been described as the birdy-est place in Texas, but we did not find it particularly so, and though we enjoyed it enough, we didn't think it was worth the trip in June (though it might have been in April or May, so we're not counting it out, entirely), although we will keep going down the Texas Coast, and someday not so soon expect to drive all the way to the Lower Rio Grande Valley to see birds we miss.
I especially miss Chachalacas and Great Kiskadees.
It was heartening to see these guys on far horizons, although they were not always turning, and I wondered whether birds will ever figure out they should fly around instead of through. Are Dutch birds still suiciding into windmills?
Photographed June 9
I'd packed my Blunderbuss, and had to experience foggy lens syndrome for the first time in years. Usually the cam and lens are out, wherever I am, and for the rest of the trip they were. This was shot while the lens and cam were still fogged over.
We stayed at Sea Shell Inn and Motel on the bay — not the ocean, which apparently didn't have hotels, or something — and while I wouldn't heartily recommend the place, it was on the beach, where we could watch a large body of water (much bigger than White Rock Lake), take walks down the beach (past The Lexington, an aircraft carrier) and more expensive ho/mo tels and a few shops. We were especially thrilled with a street signpost that sang like an electronic flute at night when the shoreward breezes were especially strong.
Should be obvious we were just there, and we weren't actively looking for birds just yet, but they are, of course, everywhere.
I probably should …
… know these guys' names.
Not sure when exactly this was, or where, but the landscape has changed significantly — as well as the quality of our bird watching.
At The Upper Spillway
We interrupt this program to bring you pix I shot just under the dam very early this afternoon. I still got lots of pix from the South Texas Coast, but these are from somewhere a little nearer here than there. The Little Blue Herons are my first of season. Nice to have them back, can't wait to see them elsewhere around the lake.
Little Blue Herons average about 24-inches long with wingspans of 3.5 feet. Great Egrets are 3-3.5 feet long with 4-foot wingspans.
Just last night coming back from Sunset Bay, I asked Anna if she could see any Great Egrets under the dam as I drove The Slider back home. Nope. Not then. But they're there now. Lovely to see them gathering on the spillway. Now to get a little closer to them, or get them a little closer to me.
Loves to see me some sloshing water.
They were pretty far apart in one photo, so I dragged them closer, because such widely-separated birds would appear too small, with too much empty space between them. The First-summer heron was also at a greater distance from the camera, so it appears smaller than it actually is. I knew first-summer birds were different from juvenile and adults, but when I checked my first-edition Sibley's I noticed that his new drawing is darker, like the bird in the right photo above.
The walking bridge that parallels the Garland Road driving bridge. The walking bridge is one of my all-time favorite perches to photograph birds from, especially when the action below it is active, which it was not today, although I saw several birds I would have liked to photograph, fly through there after I walked down from the far side of the Spillway.
I almost didn't recognize this area since I photograph from that vantage point so seldom. I usually photograph from the Garland Road side. This egret is standing on the southwest edge of the Upper Spillway. The Lower Steps are through the woods and to the left behind the bird, toward the west.
Birds at the Dallas Zoo
June 6-8 2014
Almost all of my pictures from Anna's, Alice's and my trip to the Dallas Zoo are down the upper portions of this page. It was difficult to choose these from the about four-hundred images I shot that morning, but these are in chronological order, except for the couple times I put two of the same birds together. And I just re-positioned the Flamingo Mating Photos into the chronological order of the rest of the zoo pix, so the whole story is in the order we experienced it.
Not that that really matters much, but it was a relatively easier way to organize the story. We entered the zoo from the DARTS Rail Station and began at the top of the map and eventually sifted southwards, though much to Alice's temporary distress, we didn't see the Cheetahs at all. I was there for birds.
There's a zoo page enigmatically called "Animals Birds" of photographs of some of the birds at the Dallas Zoo that I used for some identifications. Others are from signs either Anna or I photographed outside the enclosures where we those birds were.
These Macaws were the first birds we saw after we paid and began to wander the grounds, guided by mapsters Alice and Anna. I tried to keep up with them while still photographing almost every bird I had any chance at photographing.
Some of these birds will probably stay unidentified, since not all of them are on the Animals Birds page, and I don't yet know how to track them down, but I've still got a lot of bird books that haven't been checked out, a couple of which claim to include all the birds in the world, so I keep adding more I.Ds. Eventually, I might even ask the zoo for help.
And, I keep wanting to say, thereby hangs a tail.
Lemurs are wonderful and varied, and this wonderful and varied lemur has an amazing tail, after which it is named. And I can see why.
This bird has so little of what I have learned — by watching other swans — that most swans have, except that long and graceful neck. That's it's foot bunched into its feathers along this side, not a wound or strange marking. Those big feet come out when it needs to move faster than just floating along.
I don't think I heard it scream. My audio memory is weak. I rarely recognize birds by their calls, although I love that our own local Great-tailed Grackles can sound like a metal girder dropped onto concrete — among their other bizarre sounds they make that I have no analog for. My audial memory probably also causes me not to be able to sing on tune, even songs that I love and know the words to.
I always think that if I can get a bird in focus, I will eventually be able to identify it. Most of these images are birds in places where there were no colorful signs with a picture of each bird. But because here were two tall signs identifying many of the birds in the big Flamingo pond, I've been able to name most of those, although the signs showed Red Head Ducks, when what they had were Canvasbacks, perhaps because both species have red heads. And they showed White-faced Whistling Ducks, when I thought I saw — but did not photograph, because they're not really rare or anything — Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. But I could be wrong. Am often.
Screamers, I just learned from one of the first bird books I ever bought — The Encyclopedia of Birds — all live in tropical and subtropical South America, where they feed on succulent vegetation along the sides of streams, and their Vulturine bills are "adapted for grasping and pulling."
With her tail down and her body dark, I've settled on the identification in this caption. I don't know if this is in molt or she is one of the dark Ruddies, or even if a female can be one of those. Her color — or lack of it — seems altogether wrong. But it is photographically correct, since the water is just about the same color as in the following photograph, and the foam around her body is white.
I think his beak was a little bluer, but it looks like he's on the prowl in the big, American Flamingo pond. Love those big, accented "eye-lashes."
The signs at the pond includes Redhead, which these are not, but not Canvasback, which these are. I don't know if they let just anybody fly in or if they are captured and brought there, but it's an odd coincidence to be that close, without getting the species name right..
And either the sign listed this bird's identification as an adult — like most I.D lists do — or it is an unsub. It does seem to have an overlarge beak, almost like a Northern Shoveler's.
I don't think I've ever been this close to a Pintail Duck before. They show up from time to time in Sunset Bay at White Rock Lake — and they sometimes even come up on shore to share some grain corn put out for the farm animal gooses, but they're wild so they usually stay far from humans there. At the zoo, they're much more used to humans, because so many more of us visit zoos than urban lakes, so they sleep — note the eyelid down — close to the edge of the aviary, away from most of the other species.
Nice, for a change, to be able to render all that soft, feathery detail, when I usually have to settle for bold outlines and shapes.
The most striking characteristics of individual species of Flamingos are on their faces, and most of these birds' faces are hidden among their wing feathers. But from those I do see, there's mid-head white, so these are probably Caribbean Flamingos as in the next two pix.
A few years ago, I saw a few Great Egrets lying on the ground at one of their giant confabs, like the Caribbean Flamingo at the right. It always amazes me, since I see it so seldom, but it may be quite common to them. It certainly looks comfortable.
This must be the same two Flamingos, but viewed from the other side.
But these are distinctly different, with different colored bodies, legs, feet and faces.
Formerly captioned: "Big-beaked Bird with a Bug," the pic of this bird on the zoo site is better, except this Hornbill's eyes are much prettier.
Its hide looks soft and furry, but it does not seem the sort of animal I'd want to rub up against in the dark. Anna thinks it's a Mongoose, and I like that idea.
Many of the zoo bird identifications on this page are by Debbie Milligan, who is on the Dallas Audubon Board with Anna. Thanks, Debbie.
In the wholly enclosed and carefully watched Larakeet Landing at the top left corner of the zoo, if you stay calm, you can have a Cockatiel land on your head, shoulder or back, where they sometimes stayed for long minutes. I even had one walk across my back from one shoulder to the other. Talk about goose bumps…
Just when we start getting used to having a bird standing on us, they sometimes fly away.
Its spotted wings look like a woodpecker's, but I'm not sure that beak could break up wood to find some tasty crawling insects. Apparently, it can and does.
And stayed there a long, long time. Before we got there, Alice kept talking about getting a Lorikeet to land on her. When this cockatiel did, she was calm and cool, and the bird stayed a long time, even as Alice walked around the smallish, dark, wire-mesh enclosed aviary.
Amazing, eye-opening color combination. This little woodpecker — yes, it is a woody — live in open, wooded, and riverine habitats in central east Africa, says my The Encyclopedia of Birds.
I probably photographed this bird a dozen times. This image still crops off the end of its tail, but the next one shows what their distinctive tails look like, and I love the feeling of closeness we get when we can see every tiny feather. From further internet research, it looks a lot like a Eurasian or even a European Roller.
Anna says it's a Racket-tailed Roller. Wikipedia has good but hardly deep info and a decent pic that looks like our friend here; Biodiversity Explorer has a mediocre pic and info I haven't read; and The Jacksonville Zoo says they "get their name from their acrobatic flight, often rolling over and somersaulting in midair," but it has no pictures.
It may be even more like a Lilac-breasted Roller, except for the colors, although it does have some purple on it. Called "roller," because they roll on the ground. There's another bird I think may be a Roller somewhere below.
This was a quick and seemingly inquisitive bird, who always seemed to be investigating something or someone new. It was really fun following it around the smallish aviary.
At first, I called this another unsub, but even one of the signs we shot includes Blue Jays, who are are all over Dallas, and it's still officially spring, and that's a worm.
Unsub is what TV crime shows call the yet-unknown perpetrators, but I like the term, and it seems a natural for all the birds I cannot yet identify. Filling in a form this evening, I was asked how many birds I could readily identify without accessing a bird book or field guide. Using my favorite, Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas (now out of print), I counted 77 birds I can easily identify, and I skipped lots of others that I know I always have trouble with.
I found a bird that sure looks like this one in that Encyclopedia of Birds, and they call theirs, an "American Robin." Cute, huh? Is it is or is it isn't a rather ordinary robin?
Thrasher? Another brightly-colored unsub, so far. Anna, who is usually right about these things, says this is a Golden-breasted Starling. According to Wikipedia, "The golden-breasted starling is a social animal, living in groups of three to twelve individuals" and "is distributed to the grassland, savanna and shrubland of East Africa, from Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and northern Tanzania."
I know these two's names, because there were nice, big signs with colorful pix outside this enclosure.
I wonder whether this is a North Texas dragonfly, or if they got some from wherever some of these birds come from. It wasn't contained, so I suspect the zoo didn't import it, and sure enough, it is a Red Skinner, whose range is Kansas to Mexico, northwest to California, north to Montana.
Many bird books still show Crested Caracaras as only living in South Central Texas, but they are thriving now in Northeast Texas, too, although they tend to shy away from heavily populated areas. Years ago, I was thrilled to get blurry pix of some well south of San Antonio on the way to The Lower Rio Grande Valley. Now, they're almost easy to find in rural East Texas.
And of course we don't remember what that name was, but this bird was also quick like our United Statesian roadrunners. I found one online that looks a lot like this one, so I think either the sign was wrong, or we misapplied the info there to the wrong bird. Or something. Beep-beep.
I briefly thought this might have been the African White-backed Vulture. Nope! But I don't yet know, so this story is not yet finalized.
I've been calling this bird "the Elephant Man Vulture," but it has a perfectly good name already. I just didn't know what it was till I tracked down the last time I photographed what is probably this exact same one at this zoo. That was in April 2008, and those pix are slightly less scary than this one, which I find difficult to look at.
There are a bunch of other bird photos on that long-ago journal page, but apparently I didn't know there were distinct species of Flamingos, and except for this Andean Condor and the African Penguin, I have not duplicated any birds species from that trip six years ago, which is surprising, because both times, I went everywhere there I thought I could find a bird.
This latest trip was hot and sweaty. April would have been much cooler. Next time I attend the Dallas Zoo, it will likely be during a cooler month than June. Maybe October.
The zoo has a short information page on this bird.
A face that a mother could love. Wikipedia seems to have quite a bit of info about this bird. Good pix, too.
Here's the most provocative series of photographs from Anna, Alice and my trip to the Dallas Zoo Wednesday. I was particularly interested in photographing the Flamingos and did it every time our route circled back near that area. These two birds piqued my interest by their momentary, odd behavior.
Notice all the bands on these poor birds. One on every leg the banders could find. I assume these Flamingos' wings are clipped, otherwise they'd fly away to a place where their kits won't be banded half to death. We can see four flamingo legs. I paused shooting briefly to see that the exposure was good and missed them changing places.
I'd just been watching the flock — which seems to be much smaller than the last time I visited the zoo, which doesn't happen very often. And I noticed one Flamingo approaching another Flamingo who kept her beak in the water. It seemed strangely formal, like they were performing a ceremony. Looked like a behavior to me, so I got my camera up and started shooting. Still four legs, one is rising.
There are birders who think it's wrong to photograph birds in a zoo, and I understand their concern, but if you read my Ethics Page, you'll learn that I'll photograph birds wherever I find them, but I won't hold my tongue about the conditions there. He's up but keeps his right foot on "the ground" slightly under the water.
Still counting, there's three feet on the surface just below water level. His other leg and foot is behind her left shoulder, and his right foot is still on the pond's floor.
It was a hot day, but to swallow water, they raise their heads to angle their necks to facilitate swallowing, so she's not drinking. She may very well be securing her stance with that extra weight on her back. Flamingos weigh about 5.5 pounds, and a quadruped is more secure in these situations, although he's still got his left foot down. But the sex is over, and they are disconnecting.
Her right foot reaches for the underwater floor, and he makes a small splash putting down his left foot. She's still got her beak in the water, but her right foot has not yet been planted.
Seconds later, the initial stage of this encounter is completed.
Both her leg bands say 222. Both his legs have 09 bands. It's high on his left and just above the elbow on his right. That much banding seems excessive, and I assume their wings are clipped, since they are not — like many other birds at the zoo — contained on top and all sides by netting or fencing. I understand the use of bands to track birds, but I think some banders band excessively.
I am a very irregular zoo visitor, but there seemed to be far fewer American Flamingos in that Zoo North central pond, although there was another pond for lighter pink and white Flamingos that I can't find on the map.
More flamingo and other strange birds will be in tomorrow's journal, but next week I got a big job, so this journal will be on hiatus till mid-June.
Not sure why now, but at the time, it seemed like a good idea to photograph a penguin with a child's hand on this side of the glass. Now I wish I'd concentrated on the penguins, who can often be heard braying like donkeys.
Sure looks like that other one above. If its belly is blue, it could be a Blue-bellied Roller, maybe. I just don't know yet.
With a dark blue or black body, red hat (crown) and Yellow Mask.
Handsome little bird.
Anna found this bird on Wikipedia, which does a better job than I could of describing who this is.
Different lighting. I think I've seen this bird on a record album or CD.
There were three vultures in this place. I have a photo of the signs, but I had not figured out which is which when Anna emailed its correct name and info from Wikipedia.
Which, by elimination of two our of three, makes this a White-backed Vulture, which has a decent entry on Wikipedia.
I'd been following this familiar shape morph through the underbrush of the Prairie Grass / Wildflower area that runs up the hill to the Winfrey Building (where the Breetum so wanted their parking lot) as I in The Slider drove from shade to shade up what I call Mockingbird Drive. I knew it was a mockingbird, but it kept showing up in my pix as an amorphous gray something roiling in the flowers, where it was probably eating some things. But I kept hoping to catch it when it jumped into the air. Not exactly sure how this happened, but I guess I and it were ready at the same time. I'm amazed. The mock will probably never know.
And who better?
But I saw it do the same thing less than a minuted before, and I was ready for it. I had the notion that if I got a nice, clear photograph of it doing that again, I could figure out what it was it was doing. Guess again, Birder Boy.
Female Wood Duck leads her recently-hatched fuzzies across the water, usually she kept them strung out.
But sometimes she saw something we couldn't, she bunched them up for protection and kept a watch out. I didn't see what she was seeing, because I was paying too much attention focusing in on them and her.
Of course, I didn't see the dragonfly till way later, but nice of it to bless our fuzzy little crew. I kept thinking calving season was over, but then several new batches of fuzzies showed themselves in Sunset Bay today.
At the time, I was dismayed by all the ordinary birds I kept photographing as I slowly headed for Sunset Bay, where I found more ordinary birds. But from this viewpoint, they look pretty amazing. So thanks much to ordinary birds. Although I believe I can come up with some birds a little out of the ordinary tomorrow. I hope…
If dog years are equivalent to seven of most humans' years and cats are quicker than that, birds are the fastest of all. Here a mom Mallard waits while her kits suck up something delicious from the shallows of Sunset Bay. Today is one of those days that chronological just wasn't in any useful order, so these are not in that order.
All sunning on a log.
Swimmin' in the soup.