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The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton
All Contents Copyright 2011 and before by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.   Cameras & Lenses Used.
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White Rock Lake

March 31 2011

 Crow, Crow, Crow, Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crow  Crow  Hawk  Crow

I always look up when I hear crows mobbing somebody — usually a hawk, and sure enough, that's who was being ungently herded out of their territory this afternoon. Doesn't look like much crow v. hawk action here, but they were really far from me, and my lens kept not focusing on them, so when focus did obtain, I just kept my finger on the button and it clicked away till it got tired.

Crow v. Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crows v. Hawk

Crow v. Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crows v. Hawk

A Little Action - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Little Action

Crows v. Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crows v. Hawk

Crows v Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crows v. Hawk

The crows, of course, won. They always do. I've never seen a hawk win one of those aerial games. Very little attack, mostly they just annoy the poor thing out of their territory.

Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Action

I was there to see pelicans, so I saw pelicans. I was hoping to see dozens of them, but counted all of four.

Pellie Biz - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pellie Action

Just swimming around, maybe a little flying, always away from the photographer.

The Medical center rookery

March 30

Egret Rising with Nest Sticks - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Great Egret Rising with Nest STicks

A particularly bad day to visit the rookery. It was cold, but worse, the light was dark and the sky usually seemed white, which hardly contrasted with the majority residents there, who are all white, the Great Egrets. Not so bad when the backdrop is the green of the woods, however. Then, suddenly, the light is amazing, delicious.

Egret Mating Pair - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Breeding Pair

Directing egrets, however, is like herding cats or putting toothpaste back in the tube. Highly unlikely. Here, I've enhanced the little little of gray in the background to set these — one bigger, one smaller — egrets all brightened up with their green lores indicating they are at the peak of their breeding season. Says David Allen Sibley in his Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, "The colors of the bare parts reach an intense peak during courtship."

Helmet Hair - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Helmet Hair

Of course it's not hair. It's all feathers, and this Great Egret has its long neck folded back, so its head is half-buried in its shoulders, probably to keep itself warm. I hadn't seen a Great do that before, so I paid special attention to getting this one exposed just right, despite the bright, white sky behind.

Egret Getting Ready to Jump - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egret Ready to Jump

Saw a lot of this behavior today. More photographers need to rush into the area, so these guys will get used to us and not bolt every time we point something dark up toward them. The rookery is by no means full, either. It will end up very crowded, but right now it's sparsely populated. We'd heard rumors of Anhinga, but we missed them, although they always hide in the tops near the center of the woods that is the rookery.

White on Gray - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grayish White on Silver

Sunlight tends to bring with it blue skies, which are almost always preferable to gray.

Nest Visit - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Nest Visit

A slightly better exposure might have rendered the fly-away feathers we can barely see gray shadows on above its wing on our left a little more visible, but when these guys are flying, exquisite exposure bets are off. I'm glad to just catch them in focus and sharp (which are actually two different things, but in this case I would have accepted either.) But I still like this little scene of domesticity.

 Blending In - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blending In

I wouldn't have thought that a bird showing off that much finery could blend into such gnarly trees, but it's very difficult to discern bird from trees and nest here.

Gnarly Trees - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gnarly Trees

Speaking of which, since there's so many more tree parts than nests and nesting birds just now, I thought I'd show you some really gnarly trees, with a few nesters and one rapidly flying up and away egret I thought I would get a nice shot of.

Egret from the Back - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Breeding Egret from the Back

Gray skies are not always bad. Sometimes a gray sky works wonders with dark trees and light egrets against it.

Bad Angel - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bad Angel

I struggled with this shot for about forty minutes, and I never did get it to render realistically. The blue sky background is pure fakery. It was white, pure white back there. I like the way it holds its feet, toes spread, and the body and wings look great, but shadows fall on weird places (and, of course, it's not in focus or sharp), so it ends up looking evil. I need the practice.

Death of an Egret - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Death of an Egret

The only excuse I have for this not being sharper is that it was far away with lots of little leaves and branches between it and me. The bird is dead. Its lifeless head hangs down toward the surface of the pond. Which seems an odd place for a bird to die, unless there's something bad in the water or it was wounded or something. I shot it from another angle about perpendicular to this one and could see no overt damage. Anna's with the Audubon Society and knows people at the rookery who can look into the situation.
 

PS: I saw one pelican at the lake today as we drove past the spillway. A friend saw nine of them on the big log out in Sunset Bay — and three Canada Geese that flew in.

White rock Lake

March 29

 Today's Only Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Today's Only Pelican

I drove all the way around the lake looking for more pelicans, but this was the only one I saw. I parked in one of the small lots along the Big Thicket shoreline north of the Yacht Clubs. This is a view I don't think I've ever shot before. The verticals in the foggy background and the land mass beneath them is unfamiliar. This was shot through the long end of my newish Panasonic 200-600mm (35mm equivalent) zoom lens.

Female Red-winged Blackbird on the Wing - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Red-winged Blackbird on the Wing

Just as I'd got her in focus, she took wing and flew off. Hardly an unusual occurrence. But I liked it, so it's here.

European Starling - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

European Starling Bobbing for Seeds

I kept hoping to find a pelican or a flock of them, but all I found were everything else I hadn't noticed much during the pelicans' stay.

Wood Duck Pair

Every spring a pair of Wood Ducks raises a family of more wood ducks, and if I'm lucky, I'll get to see them promenading before, after and during their new family. This is the first of the season shot, just past the wood bridge behind the Old Boat House.

Grackle Squealing - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Great-tailed Grackle Squalling and Squealing

This guy was not shy, and he let me come closer and closer, with the aforementioned telephoto zoom (so I wasn't all that close), but I was fascinated. I often attempt to photograph the physical contortions of straining and stretching Red-winged Blackbirds engage in when they are squawking their territories, and I've often heard the tormented squalling and squeaking noises grackles make, usually from the relative privacy of a thick tree or bush. But this was the first time I'd got to photograph the contortions of its whole body as it makes those amazing noises.

Brown Thrasher - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Brown Thrasher

Another first of the season for me. I always assume any smallish bird with striped breast is a female Red-winged Blackbird, because I've mis-identified them so often in the past. Then I saw it literally thrashing those gray leaves under the bush where it spent most of the time I watched it. Really thrashing it. That's when it dawned on me that this might be a Thrasher. Especially with that big beak and the dark, unmottled uppers and no stripe across its brow.

Thrasher Again - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Thrasher Again but in the Shadows

I know I've seen them here before — I distinctly remember hearing one's extensive song repertoire, rather Mockingbird-like in a tree at the Bath House end of lower Yacht Club Row.

Last week

 Five Pelicans on the Logs - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Five Pelicans on the Logs

Leaving soon, if not gone by now. Fellow photographers say they're not as visible as they were earlier. It is about time for them to fly northwest of here, into the northwestern states and up into Canada. Sure been nice having them to photograph these last six months or so. We're all going to miss them.

Ring-billed Gulls - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ring-billed Gulls Fooling Around Out There, Too

I haven't got a really good shot of the gulls in awhile. And I have all the chances in the world of them somewhat closer than out on the logs in the big middle of Sunset Bay. I suspect I've been doing my own fooling lately — with the sharpening gizmo on my G2. These far shots are shar-arp! I just turned that setting to zero. Maybe I'll see what the diff is, and remember that I changed it. Again.

American Coot - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American Coot

Most of the coots will go off somewhere soonish, too. Not sure what's up with that red line around the bump on its forehead. Didn't see that when I was aiming. As usual, I was concentrating more on its feet, which are next to invisible here.

Blue-winged Teal - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blue-winged Teal

About a dozen Blue-winged Teal swam around the far size of the Sunset Lagoon this afternoon. I kept hoping one would venture closer to me on this side, but they stayed together pretty close most of the time I watched. I remember birders all googly-eyed over two, I think, of them at the Drying Beds recently. These were closer and more varied.

Blue-winged Teal About to Land - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blue-winged Teal About to Land

I'm still not very good at capturing ducks in flight. This is as sharp as I rendered this duck, who took off from the far side of the lagoon and landed not that far from where it started. I may be getting better. Probably need more practice.

Northern Shoveler Pair - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Northern Shoveler Pair

Maybe a half dozen shovelers were swimming back and forth about where the Teal landed. Nothing spectacular, except the exposure — it's so very nice to be able to get that elusive quality so easily with this camera, I'm willing to put up with many of its quirks. Pretty birds, despite honkers the size of Toledo.

Mallard Male - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Mallard Close with Great Detail

Almost perfect exposure and great detail.

Male Scaup - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Scaup

Too pretty to ignore.

My Front Yard

March 23

 First Robin of Stpring - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

First Robin of Spring

My first Robin of this spring. Saw it up in the big tree in the frontest of my front yard. About as far away as a tree could get in that direction. Still sharp here, though I have other images that decidedly were not sharp. This is about as sharp as sharp got that third day of sprint 2011.

Same First Robin - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Same First Robin Looking the  Other Way

This one's slightly less sharp. I had the devil of time getting it in focus at all through all the intervening branches. Eventually, I figured out if I could — and I could not always — get the branch holding it up sharp, it would render focused enough. And it was.

White Rock Lake

March 21

Crown of Feathers Goose - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dark Morph Snow Goose, a.k.a., "Blue Goose" with Wing Feathers Up to Dry

I suspect holding wings and spreading feathers is yet another way of drying them out after a good bath, although I did not see that wetting portion of this story. I've never seen a bird do this before. I was intrigued. Charles read its band and learned that it is a Blue Goose from Manitoba, Canada, which since I've only ever seen this one, I assume is a fairly rare visitor to White Rock Lake. If more of them visited here, I might have recognized the tall-feather posture.

Sibley doesn't list a Blue Goose, but both he and Peterson show dark morph Snow Gooses, which are also called "Blue Goose," so we were right the first and second times. Nice to have such an interesting shot of such an infrequent visitor. I have eight other shots of this same bird, but this shows the maximum height of its feather formation.

Male Gadwall Preening - crpy

Male Gadwall Spreading Lanolin on its Wings and Body

To finish off their feathers after preening or otherwise cleaning, birds rub a gland to get out lanolin, then smear it with their beaks over the feathers to keep them water-proof. So that proverbial water on their backs, beads and falls off, instead of soaking in. I was very pleased to get to see all the feathers displayed in this unusual manner. PRetty feathers, too.

Gadwall Flap - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gadwall Flap

I wasn't ready for this sudden flap, and I didn't have the camera set for rapid firing, so all I got was this one defocused flap. Oh well, had even captured one this good before. Progress is my most important product.

Red-winged Blackbird preparing for bath - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird All Poofed Out for a Bath

I understand every bird can move every feather on their body however they want them to be. This one's ready for a bath, with a little splatter of droplets already resting on its back and the top of its tail feathers, but to get them all clean, all the feathers have to be out.

Red-winged Blackbird in the Tub - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird in the Tub

Then the bird goes in.

Wing-up And Water Flying - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wing Up and Water Flying

Starts splashing.

Splashola - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird Splashola

A lot.

Water Falling on a Red-winged Blackbird - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Water Still Falling

And a little …

 

Smaller Splatter - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Smaller, More Controlled Splatter

Thither and yon, out and about.

Red-winged Blackbird Showing Some Red - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird Showing Some Red

Showing its natural colors and little more clean.

Splatter Streaks

Then going at it again.

Fuzzed Out to Dry - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fuzzed Out to Dry

Till everything that needs it has got thoroughly wet, then the feathers get plootched out again, so it will rapidly dry in the sun. Thoroughly wet birds can't fly, which is probably why this one kept drying, then wetting, then drying again.

Grackle Bathing - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great-tailed Grackle Bathing Light

Meanwhile, not far away, another bird is doing its own ablutions.

Great-tail Grackle Bathing Heavy - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great-tailed Grackle Bathing  Heavy

I was surprised to see that its tail is still spread out and soaking in the shallow water, while wings, I suppose, are splashing all that water around.

And Some More - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And Some More

This is almost full-frame, meaning this grackle felt no compunction about bathing so close to the photographer. Always nice when some bird will do that. So much more tone and detail then.

March 19

Drying Pelican Passing Coot - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

DRying Pelican Passing Coot

I didn't see the pelican bathing, usually a noisy affair hard to miss, but that's how they carry their wings — up — to dry after. The coot's just swimming along in the opposite direction.

Pelican Mandilbe Stretching - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Mandible Stretching - A

Been awhile since I've seen — and photographed — one of these series of stretches. I was disappointed it didn't go through the whole scheme of things, with the major tilt up and all. But twas not to be this time.

Pelican Stretch - B - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Mandible Stretching - B

That's the very pliable lower mandible (lower part of what looks like a beak. They need to keep it eminently stretchable, so they can dredge fish-strewn water and fill them up with food) inverted on its chest and lower neck. Quite a trick.

Pelican Mandible Stretch - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Mandible Stretching - C

Then back toward erect standing, the mandible having stretched about as far as it can be.

Pelican Having Stretched - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Having Stretched Its Lower Mandible

The return to life as they know it.

Paddlers Inciting Coots - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Paddlers Inciting Coots

Telescopic lenses tend to apparently compress layers of reality, so they look much closer in telephoto shots than they really are.

Coots Skittering Away - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coots Continuing to Skitter

When American Coots run on the water, it's called "skittering."

Pelicans Preening - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelicans Preening

Not long from now, usually by mid-April, our contingent of American White Pelicans will fly away north, off toward Southern Idaho and points northwest of here and there. I'll miss them, but it's their coming back and back and back is always something to look forward to. They spend six months here and six there. Here growing up and fishing, there mating, nesting and spreading their gene pool.

March 15

 Nonbreeding Adult Pied-billed Grebe - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Non-breeding Pied-billed Grebe

Basically, Anna and I went to the lake to walk. And to photograph anything even vaguely interesting that we saw along our walk. We weren't looking specifically for birds, although we fully expected to happen upon some. We hadn't really planned out ahead where we would walk, but we ended up walking along Arboretum Drive, on what I always consider the nicer side of the DeGoyler Estate.

 Red-winged Blackbird Puts It All Into this Plaintive Cry - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird Puts His All into His Plaintive Cry

I am still in the feeling that my new camera, even though its sensor is actually 2/3 the size of my Nikon's, is presenting me with more detail than they do/did. I don't know about ever, but certainly more than in a long time. Of course, I've been photographing with what we used to call a coke-bottle chunk of glass in the form of my Sigma 150-500mm zoom lens I've usually called "The Rocket Launcher" on these pages.

American Coot - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ideally Exposed American Coot

My new Panasonic 100-300mm lens, whose 35mm equivalence is 200-600, still 150mm short of the Rocket Launcher's 750mm equivalency shows more sharp detail than I ever had any right to expect from a lens that cost half as much as the Sigma. But I am sure glad to have the Panasonic now. Its great detail rendering may not be entirely visible in this shot, but its ability to show me before I actually take the picture exactly what it will look like, allowed me to render the details in its beak and its red eye against its black head feathers almost perfectly. My Nikons can't do that.

Mallard Pair - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mallard Pair

This shot comprises a considerably larger chunk of the whole image than the coot or the grebe, and it shows even more details and exquisite exposure on everything but the male's tail and the weeds sticking up out of the water in the foreground. I'm not a big fan of Mallards — we have so very many of them locally and nationally, but it's especially nice to show off the handsomeness of the female.

My other, non-bird shots from our afternoon walk will be on My G2 Journal shortly after I post this page first.

Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation

March 12

Welcome to Rogers Wildlife - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Welcome to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation

Anna has told me that when I come back from Rogers, I always complain that my camera — whatever camera I've brought that time — wasn't doing what I wanted it to do, focus was screwing up, yeda-yada. Well, I again today have many complaints, but I also have amazing results. Not sure whether that makes it such that I should not complain, but maybe my results would be so much better if my cameras behaved better.

The boy's name is Cade — we keep seeing him at bird events and at Rogers, and the Red-tailed Hawk he's always carrying on that thick glove is "Pyro."

Pelican Bite - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American White Pelican Bite

Whom I think of as the saddest residents of Rogers Wildlife are the American White Pelicans, who are gathered together in smallish cages. They now have small pools of water to do some of what pelicans do in water, but they can't fish or swim or bathe in there, and they cannot fly back to Idaho or wherever they're from when the spirit moves them in April.

This pelican was interested in one thing, biting my camera or fingers. I suspect most of what it learns about the world comes through its beak, although it also feels, sees and listens. I didn't want its beak on my lens, but I know that pelicans don't have much beak strength, so I fed it my fingers. I've let myself be bit by gooses. pelicans and other birds, but when the Black Vulture tried to get at my digits, I wouldn't let it, since its whole purpose in life is to shred flesh. But this guy was harmless, and amusing to be bit by.

Pelican Lost - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Lost

I see an aging clown in his dressing room, staring into the mirror of its glorious past — in this photograph that I perceive as very sad. Like it's as close as it can possibly be to the outside, yet it's stuck in here, while so much else is going on out there. Some of the pelicans at Rogers are so damaged or wounded that they can never go back into the wild again. Others are released so they can go back where they came from — or some semblance of there — with other pelicans who visit North Central Texas.

This bird's big fin on its beak marks it as a breeding adult, which has got to add to its frustration. They do their breeding and nesting up north and west of here. I mentioned Idaho, because one of the pelicans at White Rock a few years ago had a tag that told a story of southern Idaho.

Owl Charge - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Horned Owl Charge

I'm almost certain this is a Great Horned Owl, but I have experienced far too few of them these last six or so years I've been birding to know for certain. This one was very agitated and rushing about up there, this way and that.

Aggitated Owl - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Agitated Owl

I'm sure if I were stuck in a cage like that, I'd have my moments of great agitation, also. Crawling the ceiling. Amazing luck, as fast as it was flapping and flopping, that I got it in any focus at all. Look at those muscular hands.

 Rattling Its Cage - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Rattling Its Cage

I shudder to suggest this, but at Christmas 2007 Anna and I found the body of a Great Horned Owl killed in traffic along the highway south of Alice, Texas on our way to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. I carefully photographed many parts that you may find interesting — its strong and taloned feet, foot pads and quieting feathers along the leading edges of its wings, and the down underneath.

Beautiful Feathers - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Beautiful Feathers

It would not stop for long or ever pose, but what a gorgeous chunk of feathers and energy.

Owls on Red - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Owls on Red

Pretty sure these are Barred Owls. I shot these through the tight knit of their wire cage and had to reconstitute their inherent color and contrast with Photoshop to rid the image of its overall gray cast, because the wire diffracted so much light and greatly confused the original image. I probably shot a dozen shots of these guys I've always been fascinated by, wise or not.

Caracara - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crested Caracara

We saw several of these colorful characters south of San Antonio when we used to drive down to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in years past. But those never posed for us like this. I've been struggling with photographing Caracara every time we've visited Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation, but thanks to my new Panasonic G2 camera — and my own persistence and perhaps a little skill in the mix, I've finally captured an image I'm willing to show. I made 11 exposures. Of those, this one is sharp. Caracaras are elusive.

Peahen Bow - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pea Hen Bow

I only saw maybe two caracara, but pea hen and pea cocks were there in abundance today. I had sighted this lovely lady and was about to make a classic portrait of her, when she suddenly bowed down to figure her trajectory to the ground a few feet lower. I shot anyway, and am pleased with the compressed result.

Peacock Bend - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Peacock Bend

Here's the classic portrait of a peacock, with the slight addition of its primary feathers bending around the edges into the picture. There were dozens of pea fowl around Rogers today. I think someone said 75. Maybe a few more. A plethora of pea fowl.

Turkeys - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Turkeys

But for colorful birds with almost surreal bearing, nothing beats what I call Parade Float Turkeys. Most of my bird books acknowledge the existence of Wild Turkeys, but few admit to the possibilities of American farm turnkeys like this guy and its diminutive friend or mate. Only video would convey the grace and style of these feathered behemoths as they glide around the bird yard at Rogers.

Great Blue Heron on the Roof Cooling Itself - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron on the Roof Cooling Itself

Almost every time we've visited Rogers Wildlife, we've seen Great Blue Heron (GBH) running essentially wild there, and there's usually been up to a half dozen of them on the roofs of several cages. We also saw GBH nests high up in the trees over the center, so there likely will be even more the next time we visit.

I believe this image shows more feather detail than any other GBH I have ever shot. Someone from Cornell Lab of Ornithology recently asked and got permission to link to one of my shots of a Red-tailed Hawk showing individual feathers remarkably well. That hawk is at the top of this page, but this shot shows GBH feathers in incredibly better detail.

Great Blue Heron on the Roof - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron on the Roof

Out standing on its roof. Such handsome birds. And I am learning more and more to admire this little Lumix G2 of mine.

Direct links to some of our previous Rogers visits:

http://www.jrcompton.com/photos/The_Birds/J/Apr-08.html#Rog

http://www.jrcompton.com/photos/The_Birds/J/July-08.html#rogarogarogers

http://www.jrcompton.com/photos/The_Birds/J/June-08.html#screetchyl

http://www.jrcompton.com/photos/The_Birds/J/June-08.html#kespla

http://www.jrcompton.com/photos/The_Birds/J/Aug-09.html#rogerdodger link fixed

 

White Rock Lake

March 11

 Starlings Escape - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Starling Escape

Wandering around with Anna and Alice today this afternoon. We'd sidled up to a bunch of starlings on the ground, but by the time I got my camera out and ready to shoot, they were dispersing into the bushes. So I got a group portrait instead of individual images.

Killdeer - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Next Stop Killdeer

I was still thinking about Turkey Vultures flying high over Sunset Bay when Anna spotted two killdeer on the berm beside the car. Plenty close for close-ups of these guys, and they never seemed to worry about us. Just kept at their business of eating buglets from the grass and doing their body-language dance of head-bobbing and bowing their beaks into the grass.

Killdeer Pracing - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Killdeer with its Tail Up

Looks like it's prancing, but really it had bowed its beak down into the grass, swallowed what it picked up down there and was about to bend into some more when I captured it.

Seeming to Stare - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Seeming to Stare

I'm sure it could see the car, maybe even the faces bobbing around inside it, but I doubt it was actually staring back at me, the photographer, although I like the idea.

Gray Gooses and Great-tailed Grackles - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gray Gooses and Great-tailed Grackles

The gooses seemed a little lost today. Rudderless, maybe. I got this shot, because when the wind blew, the Great-tailed Grackles' tails blew sideways, giving us a glimpse of why they are called that.

Wilbur Feeling Down - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wilbur Feeling Down

One of the reasons we were in Sunset Bay — other than they fact that's where we almost always go, separately and together — was to check on Wilbur's condition. Wilbur has the biggest wattle of all the gooses, so it is their leader, and has been as long as I've known there were farm gooses at White Rock Lake. When the gooses all line up at the end of the day to go out into the safety of the lake, Wilbur leads them.

In fact, he leads them wherever they go whenever they go someplace. But not today. Today, Wilbur was nested out in the weeds along the muddy edge of the lake with another goose. Gooses tend to have designated individual gooses who do specific tasks, so I suggested that one might be the goose nurse. There's a particular goose who keeps track of recent dumpees at the lake, keeps them safe till they figure out the system there. And other gooses whose job it seems to be to keep the ducks from having sex anywhere near the gooses.

Leaderless Gooses Wandering - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Leaderless Gooses Wandering

Later, I got a note via Anna from Annette on Facebook: "Wilbur Goose is doing better! He is walking around and eating some. Charles was able to catch him and give him some medicine, so let's hope he gets well soon!"

March 7

A friend sent this link to the Northern Hemisphere's Oldest Wild Bird, who is a new mom.
And another friend posted this link of the random compressions of a flock of starlings on YouTube.

Two Crows and a White Bag - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Two Crows and a White Bag

I wasn't really looking for birds. These were in the middle of the road up toward Barbec's. I stopped to watch. See what happens. I thought I could tell the story. Except I don't really know what happened, even though I photographed a lot of what happened. These are in strict chronological order.

Digging In - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Digging In

Then the crows flew off, and grackles began arriving. One pried up the top and looked in. Even got what looked like a tiny portion of a French Fry.

Jumping and Flying - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

More Arrivals

More grackles arrived.

Crow with Buncha Grackles - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crow with Grackles

Seemed like the crow didn't care about the booty it'd been guarding and waiting for. All these other birds kept arriving, and it just walked up and down. Waiting? Notice the one grackle on the right, by the bag, with its head up. A warning and challenge.

On Top with Heads Up - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

On Top with Heads Up

Soon several grackles have their heads up, beaks in the air. Challenge accepted.

Fly Up - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fly Up

This is a road. That is the yellow line down the middle. Several times while I watched and clicked away, a car would drive down the road, and all the birds would scatter.

Then Come Back and Fight - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Then Come Back and Fight About It Some More

No grackle had yet broached the package. They were too busy fighting with each other over the right to, I guess.

Congregating - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Congregating

Facing off every grackle staring down every other one.

Crows Come Back - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crows Back

Another car, another mass exodus. The crows return. The enterprising one attempts to get some food out.

Crow Gets A Fry - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crow Gets A Fry

As one of the grackles looks on. He may or may not be thinking about their size differential.

Crows Leave, Gracks Back - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crows Leave, Gracks Back

A car drives over the bag and it separates from the carry-home box. I couldn't tell if the driver tried to do that. But he was very close. They birds scattered, of course. Same as they did when a bicyclist drove by.

Crow - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crow

Then more cars. The grackles left, and the crows came back. And then, and then … And then I drove off to photograph boats.

March 5

Mohawks - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mohawks

Cold today. Even the pelicans seemed hunkered down, except those top feathers were flying. They were all gone low profile when I first saw them. Used some of my legendary patience and waited and watched through my long tele, till the big guys in back who were already preening — they're always doing that — rose and turned around.

 Dark Shapes - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dark Shapes

I kept hoping I'd get the chance to photograph coots skittering. That's a bird term. I like calling it "running on water." These guys had just done that en masse, only I missed it fumbling with my new camera that not yet second nature like my Nikons were before I got the Panasonic G2 I've been shooting with lately. I still like the dark shapes on the white foamed black water, even if they'd stopped racing a few seconds earlier.

Panicking Coots - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scared Coots

Coots are skittish, because coots are small and somewhat delicate. They are fast to flee, usually as a mob.

Sunset Bay Layers - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sunset Bay Layers

Mostly today I was walking. I needed to walk. But since I was walking at the lake, I brought my camera and since it's my favorite lens now and so very much lighter and smaller than the one I used to always drag out there, In order to be able to line up all these lines of birds, I had to walk back and back along the creek back to Lawther.

I'd walk awhile, turn around, 'line up,' take another shot, then walk back more, till I finally got this, just before the creek bent forward and to really line up the coots, the pelicans and the more distant cormorants, I'd have to stand in the middle of the creek. Shot this and walked on. And on.

Arlington Drying Beds

March 4

 Plenty Northern Shovelers - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Northern Shovelers in Lump and Various Flying Forms

Shot this from high on the closed levee road. What first looked like a vast, black, white and brown see of something, gradually turned into hundreds and hundreds of rounded Northern SHovelers with more coming every minute.

Four Individual Drying Beds

I always forget to show you what the drying beds at The Drying Beds look like. That's the road through the middle. The white poles with purple tops are new. I guessed to show depth at a distance. But if the water in there was that deep, it'd be a while before we could drive through there again.

Turtles - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Turtles

I'm thinking about doing one journal entry of just pelicans fishing (with gulls, cormorants and whoever else) all over the lake. I'm procrastinating it because it'll be so much work. But then almost every time I shoot more than 500 shots in one day, it's gonna be a lot of work.

Tending the Nest

Hard to see what's going on down in this nest. I think it's carefully fitting more sticks into the nest. But it might be that it's feeding chicks. Somebody out there knows, but not me.

Sitting the Nest - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

At the Nest

Not sure what they are doing, but the female Great Blue Heron does this bowing, submissive-like posture just before they have sex, but I waited and waited on this pair and nothing ever happened while I watched, and I watched awhile.  At first I thought the nest they have here is not nearly thick enough to put eggs into.

Nest Examples - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Nest Examples

But these nests don't look very much thicker, if any. If you look carefully, you'll see one or the other parent sitting each of the lower nests, and there seems to be plenty room in them. I'm assuming there's already eggs in there, but I'm just guessing.

GBH on Thin Nest - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Start of a Nest

Here's another GBH on an even thinner nest  or the bare beginnings of one

Up Standing in His Own Tree - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Up Standing Citizen in a Tree

I was hoping to catch some GBHs flying, but when they did that, they were always flying with trees between it and me. I will probably go back and back and back, for more pix.

Tree-top Community - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tree-top Community

Don't know if this is early in the community — are these Great Blue Heron pairs planning more nests where they are standing, or are they just standing up there looking around?

xCanada Geese - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Canada Geese Sauntering Through Legacy Park

This one, last shot from Legacy Park — on the other side of another of those levees from the drying beds. They were the only birds I saw — except maybe grackles — in the nice, clean, well-manicured public people park. I was thinking about visiting the parking lot where we'd seen visiting hummingbirds on previous visits. But the road was blocked, and I could not visit. Oh, well.

White Rock Lake

March 1

 Big Foot Coot - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Big Foot Coot A

Shot more than 500 images today, all with my new camera, although I made the mistake of dragging my Nikon and big Stigmata lens everywhere I went, at first. Gradually, I settled into just using my new Panasonic G2, although I still struggle with its displays and menus and stuff. One of the series that came of today's shooting, both at White Rock Lake and at the Arlington Drying Beds, was about coot feet.

Large Foot Coot - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Big Foot Coot B

All the coot shots are from me standing on the pier at Sunset Bay waiting for pelicans to come flying by. That only happened once, and I wasn't quite ready for it then, but looking down into the usually opaque water, I noticed that it was clear for up to about a foot. Two feet for coots, so I set about a definitive rendering of their lobed feet. I struggled mightily with keeping the too-quick-moving coots in focus and being able to see their feet in detail.

Coot with Drag Foot - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coot with Drag Foot for Steering

Looking at that many coot feet, I noticed that coot feet come in different preponderance of the same colors. Yellow, white, gray and black. Some were mostly black, some mostly gray, a few kinda yellow. I don't know whether it has to do with age, season or what.

Arlington Drying Beds

Great Blue Heron Jump - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron Jump

I was hoping for more GBH (Great Blue Heron) sex in the treetops, but they didn't seem to be in the mood, even though I gave them lots of time and more patience than I have. But I photographed them up there with their nests and mates, anyway. As always, I especially revel in photographing them flying.

Four GBHs in a Tree - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Four Great Blue Herons in a Tree with Three Nests

Last time, I shot them with the Nikon/Stigmata (big mistake). This time exclusively with the G2. Last time I shot from the Swamp Road entrance to the Drying Beds. This time I walked back and shot them from much closer on the deeply (but dried) mud rutted levee road. Good walk. Great weather. Lots of sun, few clouds. Quite a change from lately.

 Swamp Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Swamp Ducks

More Gadwalls. I didn't recognized them, even though I found some at White Rock just last week. I assume a pair of Gadwalls hee at the swamp along the entrance road into the Drying Beds.

Gadwall Pair - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gadwall Pair

Different birds but Gadwalls also, this time out in the sun in one of the Drying Beds many ponds. They look like different birds every time I see them. Handsome couple, though.

White Rock Lake

Fish Rush - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fish Rush

The rest of today's shots are from White Rock Lake, although I'll gather more of the 500+ shots from today for subsequent entries into this journal. I spent an inordinate amount of time photographing and attempting to photograph one fishing armada that wend all over the southern portions of White Rock Lake this morning, noon and early afternoon.

Pelks Beaking it Out - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelicans Beaking it Out for Fish

Eventually, I found a place where it looked like they might go to — after arriving too late too many times to where they had been — to photograph their (pelicans and cormorants) daily struggle to feed their gullets.

David Hickman Parrot - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

David Hickman   Parrot

I've been working on David Hickman's DallasArtsRevue.com Member Page for a couple weeks. I attempted this same piece on the north side of Garland Road heading east from White Rock for a couple weeks through that bad weather and lousy light we've been having/not having lately. I took today's bright sunlight seriously and photograph the pair of Monk Parakeets one more time. I'll add this to that page soon as I catch up.

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All text and photographs copyright 2011 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without
specific written permission from and payment to
the writer or photographer.

My favorite answer is, "I don't know." I am, after all, an amateur.
I'm not kidding. I've only been birding for three years,
although I've been photographing professionally since 1964.

Thanks always to Anna.

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