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The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton
All Contents © 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. DO NOT USE images without permission & payment.
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May 31 2007

Mockingbird - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mockingbird

Last day of May. Gotta up the RAM on this thing, two new sticks to tripple the memory. Short, everything's disappearing into the black. I like mockingbirds. This view doesn't make them look dumb. This is sharp, smart like they are. Amazing song. Spectacular fluttering white flash flight. Bright eyed and stiff tailed. Sparkling eye. We have sun today late.

Sciztail with Bug - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tail with Bug

Another great tail. On a wire back of Winfrey. Common place for a Scissort-tail. Gives them a fine view of everything for miles. Every bug a buzzin'. Can't see its head or eyes or beak, but the bug's here in its diminishing glory. And the tail. That tail. Architecturally amazing. Cantilevered, yellow, black and white. Part of the wind.

Fellow Wirer - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Sciz's Friend

I'll track this Sciz's friend and fellow wire-walker down when I've had more sleep. It, too, made sudden leaping departures at acute angles, out, down or up in quick successions, snag a bug in the middle of air, crunch it down to the wire. As long as I don't separate from the bulge that is car, they won't fly away. Twist inside to find a comfy place, okay. Open the door to look up, and they're gone.

Eye-lid Whistler - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blissed Out Whistler

Haven't seen its mate lately. Hope a dog didn't get it. Saw deep, wide-paw dog tracks in the mud down the edge of the lake today. Wondered. I've seen eyelids like this on the White Ibises at the Rookery. Didn't know that about the Black-beliied Whistling Ducks, though. May need to sit and watch, 'stead of always clicksy-snapping. Slather on the Off and stay sat for an hour or more. Mayhaps look over a book at them. Become one with the mud.

May 30

Butterflies - Bird Food - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Butterflies

Always thought the reason butterflies and dragonflies were so visible, colorful and alluring was some sort of cosmic aesthetic. But today I realized the real reason is they're sporting bird food. Not easy to catch necessarily, but certainly possible.

[Later, after the story in the Dallas Morning News, new reader Jim West wrote to say Monarch Butterflies are poison to birds, and birds know it by their colors. I've seen birds eat yellow butterflies but never a Monarch, so I googled it and found two sites confirming the info, Enchanted Learning and Defense Mechanisms in Monarch Butterflies. Write and learn. Thanks, Jim.]

Kingbird with Bug - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Eastern Kingbird with Bug                      

Today, I watched an Eastern Kingbird fly an amazingly convoluted flight path down from a tree, nearly into one of the backwater ponds along the side of the Boat House Lagoon after our recent rains. Where I'd been watching fat dragonflies. Change directions at least twice, wings — heck, its whole body — flailing in the air. Surprising to watch, impossible to focus, on my equipment, then fly away with something in its mouth.

Eastern Kingbird without Bug - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Eastern Kingbird After Swallowing Another Bug

And not just once. I again thought that if I set up a lawn chair under one of those deep shade trees, and kept my lens trained on the pond, I might eventually catch a bird actually chasing one of the bugs. I've got them from a distance — both foggy blurred out of this world but vaguely recognizable. A big blur chasing after a much smaller blur.

Red-winged Blackbird - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Red-winged Blackbird with bug

As I watched and waited for the kingbird to return one more time, hoping I'd be quick enough this time, to catch it mid-air, I also watched a female Red-winged Blackbird and at least one male Red-winged Blackbird doing the same thing. The place was buzzing thick with bugs.

Red-winged Blackbird Squawcking - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Black Bird Squawking

Pretty lucky to get the other two birds with just-caught bugs. I'd watched and photographed those birds twist and turn to get the larger (only ones I could see) bugs in and down. But not in focus. It's always a minor miracle to get one in focus. Never even saw a big-enough bug in the male Redwing's beak.

Redwing Chases Bugs - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Chasing Bugs

But this one was definitely engaged in the hunt, for something. I can't see what, either, but regular readers know I love to catch RWBBs flying, especially if I can get their beaks and eyes in focus and those luscious red/yellow epaulets in the picture.

Older Than Yesterda's Woodie - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

As usual, I also photographed growing ducklings today. This adolescent Wood Duck duckling is flapping somewhat larger, more developed wings than yesterday's Wood Duck duckling flapped.

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May 29

Egyptian Pair - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pair of Egyptian Gooses

Back with old friends and new strangers today. Quickish photo trip, long walk. Also sighted a pair of Blue-winged Teal, one Black-bellied Whistling Duck, a family of Wood Ducks, a smallish stripey, pregnant-appearing bird that looks like an old man, and assorted brown ducks.

Great-winged Grackle - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great-winged Grackle

Of course Grackles. Galore. Always everywhere. Today I tracked a pair of males fighting very like the mockingbirds the other day. Too quick to focus. They were going fast through rough terrain with a lot of trees. And I was tired. I'll be watching for more next time. 'Tis the season.

Who Dat? - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Who is this?

I've looked and looked for this duck with black head with green sheen like a mallard male, but with these tan and brown marks on its cheeks and eyebrows that I first thought were mud. And a mottled brown front like a female of several duck species. I still don't know what it is, but I like it.

Side View of Who - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Slightly Different View

Usually males have the color and the black heads. This looks male, but I'm only guessing. It seems large, and the recessed shoulder configuration is especially odd.

Betsy says: "Male Mallards and Woodies will molt out of their lovely breeding plumage into drabber "eclipse" plumage for awhile, at which point they'll be harder to identify. Telling them apart from the females will become a tricky job -- you'll have to pay attention to subtleties like the color of the bill. Check your Sibley for the approximate dates that they wear their eclipse (also called "non-breeding" or "basic") plumage.

So, your "brown mottled duck with mallard-like head" is in fact a male Mallard, who is still in the process of changing his clothes, feather by feather. He's supposed to finish this job sometime in June."

Female Duck for Comparison - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Duck for Comparison
But mostly for the texture.

Female ducks tend to be mottled brown. The whole of them. Not just their bodies. I purposely shot this from an odd angle that renders the duck in question spatially compressed, abstracting her stripes and spots. Fem ducks may be less colorful, but they're no less beautiful.

More Mottled - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

More Mottled - A Female Red-winged Blackbird

My first guess was it's a female Red-winged Blackbird. But it doesn't carry itself the way the RWBBs I've shot previously did. However, it looks exactly the same, except for the muttonchops.

Profile - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Profile View

And I couldn't find it anywhere else, which is usually a sign that it is exactly what I don't want it to be in the first place. I always want it to be rarer, stranger or more peculiar. And it's not, it's the same old thing. Sure does look good here, though, contrasting so sharply aginst the fuzzy green background.

Front View - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One More View

Love those puffed out cheeks. All three shots are of the same bird. Depending upon where it looks, it looks different. I keep wanting there to be a website I could plug in individual traits — brown and white striped breast, white eyebrows, back feet, short tail, chain-link white on black design curving its wings. Things like that, then click and out would pop what it is.

A female Red-winged Blackbird with muttonchop cheeks.

Mrs. Wood - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mrs. Wood

I continue to watch Mrs. Wood and her growing ducklings. She's gorgeous.

Wood Duck Ling - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Baby Wood Stretches Its Tiny Wings

And they're cute, cute, cute.   (See also a Woodling some days older.)

May 28

Swallow Smiling - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Smiling Barn Swallow with Big Eyes

We visited family and stopped in Austin. Again. These are from the parking lot and driveway at a Town Lake-front office building next to Joe's Crab Shack, where we saw a flock of familiar-looking geese queuing expectantly. Mostly the same varieties as at White Rock, plus one straggling Canadian.

Front Quarter - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barn Swallow Front Quarter

And this. It looks like a Barn Swallow, but its coloration does not jibe with what I see in my books of the usual suspects. Certainly none there has the thicker black and wispy white marks on its central breast. With this many shots, I'd think I.D would be easy. It's almost as if it were showing its speedy streamlined form off to us, turning slowly around to show all of its proud little self.

Swallow Right - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barn Swallow Facing Right

The first time I've ever caught one so in focus. Because, unlike all the others, this one was standing, if not exactly still, at least not flying flat-out full-speed, zipping under the bridge, then changing directions on the head of a pin and zipping off into the opposite direction.

Swallow Wings - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Showing Off Its Blue and White Wings

So I took my chances and sidled the car up close to it — and its companion another six feet up the elevated drive — as carefully as possible. It was either not shy or not worried about a car that close, despite what might be protruding from its windows.

Back Quarter - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Back Quarter View

As it happens — I rarely plan these things; I shoot and hope, never quite willing to assume success, I've failed so relatively often — this bird has provided detailed visuals in nearly every major view of itself.

Left Profile - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Left Profile

I'm guessing my difficulty identifying this bird is due to my assumption that its throat is the same color as underneath. The books show it red. These photos, which I haven't manipulated in Photoshop, show the same cinnamon color there, only maybe a little bit darker. I guess that little bit is enough to push it on into red in many people's eyes.

The Unsub's Companion - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Barn Swallow

Its companion was more skittish. Within four quick photographs, and just barely achieving focus after I drove up to it, it flitted away. Note its undercarriage is white, while its larger, less bashful companion is all cinnamon. A direct comparison is possible with the image above, since both are from nearly the same angle and distance. This bird was smaller and its body closer to the ground.

Muscovy A - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Muscovy Duck A

These guys were hanging out in the bushes directly in front of the building. It looked like someone had left food for them. A few weeks ago I had photos of another Muscovy Drake, which I noted had far fewer warts than the ones I'd become used to at White Rock Lake. I had not seen these red with black face marking before, although that wave at the top is familiar.

Muscovy Duck B - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Muscovy Duck B

This one's wave has streaks of black among its white feathers. And its face is mostly black, with an edging of red growth. Very distinctive, and unlike any configuration I've seen or photographed before.

Muscovy Duck C - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Muscovy Duck C

This one's head and face seem longer that the varieties at White Rock. It's still difficult to call these girthful, gooselike creatures Ducks, even though I know that's what they are. My recently sighted Egyptian geese are much smaller than these ducks. Confusing.

Not Grack With Large Bug - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grack or Not Grack with Large Bug

When I saw these birds in the bushes on the edge of the downtown Austin lake, I assumed it was a grackle. Now I'm only pretty sure it is. But I've been so wrong so often judging and misjudging Grackles, I won't go on record with an identification of this bird. I just want to note that's the biggest bug I've ever photographed in a bird's beak.

May 25

Mockingbirds Fighting - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mockingbirds Fighting

Fighting or squabbling or, well, probably not mating. Like an aerial dogfight, tumbling through the air, together, all through the Boat House valley, often on the ground — or near it. Up in the trees, along the power lines. Amazing to try to follow their bouncing path with my telephoto. Astonishing I got this close to them being in focus.

Mockingbirds Fighting - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mockingbirds Fighting

Regular readers know I often try to catch mocks flying — it's about those bright white patches flashing on their wings when they do. Here more than usual, since it is for them a display of ferocity as well. You know, too, that I'd rather show bird behaviors than straight portraits, but that I'll take what I can get.

Mockingbirds Fighting - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Mockingbirds Merging Into One Battle Zone

I was shooting various aged Wood Ducks and ducklings when I heard the ruckus and saw black and white and black and white squabbling across the lawn. It's still spring, I can only assume they're fighting over a mate or mating. Though they could be fighting because they don't like each other. I'm still very much the amateur birder of the title of this page.

Betsy notes: They defend nest sites and food sources quite vigorously, too, which might also have been what was going on. My aunt was buzzed by a mockingbird when she got too close (15 feet) to a nest tree, and on my recent trip to the Upper Texas Coast I saw a lone mocker attempt to defend a fruiting mulberry tree from entire groups of Orchard Orioles, Indigo Buntings and whatnot. It didn't engage in any such aerial dogfight as this, though — those other birds simply retreated individually but took advantage of their numbers to snatch a mulberry whenever the mocker was chasing somebody else away.

Mockingbirds Fighting - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mockingbirds Fighting

An amateur who loves to follow bird chases and catch all the action. I think this is my first bird fight this year. Certainly my only Mock fight. I've seen their, 'hey, look at me, I'd be a great mate' jumps and plummets and fly back up to the top of a tree, over and over.

Mockingbirds Fighting - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

In the Air as On the Ground - Mockingbirds Fighting

But this is the first time I've seen them fight. Intense, fast, covers a lot of ground, trees, wire. But it was over pretty quickly. I did not see them shake hands and come back as friends or any such, but the whole episode was over in a couple of minutes.

Mockingbirds Fighting - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mockingbirds Fighting

Very difficult to focus or 'freeze' up close. The further they were away while still in range, the sharper. Like these last two shots. They disappeared once, came back still battling. Then disappeared and did not return while we were there.

May 24

Egret with Wings Folded - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egret with Wings Folded

Dark when I got there. The egret a relief from gray. It flew off a minute later, this just a hop. A day with an egret is better than a day without. In minutes it got darker, then wet and wetter. Substantial columns of lightning.

Duck Walking in the Rain - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Duck Walking in the Rain

I've wondered what birds do in rain. Today I watched ducks taking a walk. White domestics standing, beaks into the wind while the horizon turned invisible. Mallards whatever was convenient. These guys sucking rain water when I arrived. Grackles may have noticed. Starlings were gone by the time the rain started. Coming down in buckets when I shot this. I was drenched just sitting with the window open. The ducks didn't care.

May 23

Oriole Against Sky - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Baltimore Oriole Breeding Adult

Quick trip err-lye in tha mawnin' to Sunset after taking Anna's car to the fixit. I was busy attempting to subtle closer to the Egyptians, who were having little of it. Except one apparently mauled on one side of its face — local dog? who couldn't see out that side, so let me frame-filling close while it rested. But the light was lousy dark, anyway. No local star shine.

Oriole Butt - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Something Brilliant Yellow-Orange
Carrying a Different Tune

When I heard a tune I hadn't before. Maybe since childhood. I only knew it was different. No memory for tunes, can think them, recognize familiar ones, sing silent, but barely aloud. Can't repeat human or bird's song, difficult to remember or match up. Must be a visual person, huh?

Oriole Fluff - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Oriole Ruffle

Saw the vivid orange flitter into a tree. Anna kept asking where? I wouldn't take my lens off to point, eventually angled my view to include trees behind, so my cam didn't think it was bright and so underexpose it. But the new view was less than pleasing.

Dogged Egyptian - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Semi-mauled Egyptian

I know this is sad, stupid and ugly, but it's part of life at the lake. If it is dogs doing this, I know we'll never get them banned, or even stop leashless dogging. But who could blame new species from staying away from our usually lush environ?

The poorly placed sign prohibiting feeding the birds doesn't stop anybody. Course there's no enforcement. This weekend somebody dumped a dozen or so full loaves of sugared breads (the flies loved it; birds mostly walked on by) on the shore. Bird safety is a joke.

May 20 & 21

Egyptian Goose with Wings Up - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egyptian Goose

Been writing obsessively about art lately and getting journal pix printed for shows. More info later. Twice visited the lake to see the Egyptian Geese Betsy told me about. In another email, she said mine were the only local photos she's seen of a perched Ibis. They've only been breeding here last couple years. Nests near the ground, and "they seem to make them far enough into the interior that we haven't gotten to see their nests or nestlings — just flyovers when they take the fledged youngsters fishing."

Egyptian Portrait - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Portrait of an Egyptian Goose

She pointed me to a note about "Exotic Egyptian Geese at White Rock" in the Bird Talk forum of the local Audubon site. I Googled Egyptians then hoped to photo some. First time, after an art show, I had the wrong lens but needed to be at the lake. Day after I was back for these with the longer zoom.

Egyptians Flying - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flying Egyptians

Watched them plod through the mud, nearly sinking, then remember they could fly. Though of several color combinations, the distinctive feature is the dark patch around amber eyes, tan bodies, pink legs, black feet and red brown backs reminiscent of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.

Egytian with Head Down - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Egyptian with Head Down

They look like thick-legged ducks. I'm not sure what exactly identifies them as geese. These recent arrivals are much smaller than our growing flock of domestics and fly-ins around Sunset Bay and much less aggressive.

Two Whistlers Up, Up - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Black-bellied Whistling Ducks Up

Hadn't seen these two in awhile. They flew off while I was tracking one of the Egyptians, though I'd got one boring shot of them standing in the murky shallows, then these two photographs, where they get to show off their rich colors and flying style.

Flap-down Whistler - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

… And Away

Especially appreciate the Whistler with wings out, big pink flaps down to aileron low flight. Beautiful Design. Simple colors. Deep brown radiating out into brilliant white, carefully outlined in black. Lush oranges and golds on a gray day.

May 19

White Ibis Portrait - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Portrait of a White Ibis

Every couple weeks we go back to the rookery, hoping to find new species. That's worked out pretty well so far this spring. Today's prize goes to the White Ibis, whose only territorial claim here is one of a long line of short dots arching through here to the top right corner of Oklahoma then east that, according the The National Geo handbook, indicates "post-breeding dispersal in summer and fall."

Ibis Full Tall - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ibis Head to Toes

I shot this one through foliage, which drove my autofocus crazy. It was not close, either, so the exposure was thrown by very dark and very light areas in its vicinity. I shot for a long time as it turned its head and body this way and that, blinked eyes, opened its beak and flapped its 38-inch wingspan.

Beak Open Ibis - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Long Curved Beak Open

Notice the filmy white covering over its eyes. Several of my less stellar photographs show its white blink. Anna saw two. I saw only this one. At first. I was jealous of her multiple sighting.

Ibis with Wings Up - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

White Ibis' White Wings

A defining characteristic of of the White Ibis are those eight black primary wingtips. The rest of it up to its face is white only.

Cattle Egret vs. Ibis - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One other Ibis pic that some people liked when I put it on my DallasArtsRevue Member page is this accidental fly-through. Such fly-throughs happen constantly in the rookery, because it is incredibly crowded in there.

The Great Ibis Flyover - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Great Ibis Flyover - a small detail of about 40 White Ibises

I've only rarely seen Ibises before. One flying close to an elderly hotel in New Orleans before the flood and a flock of White-Faceds over my brother's house in Central New Mexico. Those were also traveling, with more altitude than these. A magnificent sight as the sun shone through the trailing feathers in their wings.

Little Blue Heron Flying - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron

Also caught a couple less rare herons — the Little Blue Heron above and Black-crowned Night Heron next.

Black-crowned Night Heron Flying - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crowned Night Heron with feet flopping

Shooting in and out of the darkness I had the exposure index high for this one, but I'm still amazed by the detail and sharpness.

Cattle Egret Fluff - cpry

Cattle Egret Fluff

The rest of today's shots are of breeding Cattle Egrets with their amazing fluff up, down and sidewise. You know how I go on about focus and sharpness, most of which is concentrated on the tree leaves well in front of this specimen. But look at that fluff. Rustish Mohawk up, fluff out in every direction. New sight for me.

Same Bird - Different Fluff Pattern - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Same Bird, Different Fluff Pattern

This is another of those times I shot and shot and shot, hoping either my poor manual focusing skills or my camera's auto facility would get it right. We missed. But this shot of the carrot-nosed critter is close. Love all that white finery back lighted by the sun.

Cattle Egret with Smoothed Fluff - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret with Smoothed Fluff

This is as amazing a sight. Another Cattle Egret, this one with the smoothed fluff look — poofed out yet with its irregularities shaped into a fierce-looking fuzz ball. We saw more Cattle Egrets in and out of nests today than any other species.

Riddled with Cattle Egret Nests - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret Nests

Much of the rookery was riddled with dense twig and nut nests like these, which were easy to photograph from afar.

Cattle Egret Nests - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret Nest with Furry Cattle Egret

But a booger to get up close because of all the leaves, which very effectively blocks their view from meddling humans.

Chickee - copyright 2007 by Anna Palmer

Egret Chick?

Anna had better luck. She got not just the nest but what we think may be a fledgling Cattle Egret in it. We're not sure about its age, but it is not at all fluffy and makes a nice shot that looks like its eyes are bigger proportionally than if it were an adult. This also marks the first time I've included another photog's image in this journal.

Betsy writes: I believe Anna's photo is of a breeding adult Cattle Egret — I can see a bit of that pinkish-tan breeding color on its chest between the twigs. Does it seem as though they constitute half the birds breeding at the rookery this year? That's what it was like the first year I got there during the cattle Egret nesting session.

May 18

The Old Fish Hatchery Area - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Old Fish Hatchery Area = Fitchery

Hadn't been in a while, so I visited the Fitchery today, not really expecting to photograph birds in all that green. I heard hundreds but was able only to capture two. One of those on the edge of the area, out in real sunlight, the other on the other side of the lake. I hope the above photo, however, gives you some idea why I like so being in the Fitchery. Imagine a soundtrack rich with bird calls.

American Cardinal - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American Cardinal

Here's my one clear bird in the Fitchery. Even he's not in all that sharp a focus.

Scissor-tail Slouch - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tail Slouch

I drove up to the power lines up to Winfrey to get this guy.

Bird Tree - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Cardinal with A Bunch of Brown Birds

I'd hoped to find even more, but I'd already walked a couple miles through the Fitchery and couldn't face walking down into Sunset Bay, where I know there are always interesting birds. Driving up toward Barbec's, I sighted this tree full of bird shapes, one particularly recognizable.

May 17

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Jumps Down from the Wire

Today's main attraction was at least one Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. I went to Dreyfuss hoping for crows, a little hawk or some heron (last time one flew me over at Sunset, it was headed for the Hidden Creek area, but none of those species were in sight. Instead this. Mostly perched on the wire, then jumping up to show off or down after some bug or another.

Bird on a Wire - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tail on a Wire

He'd perch there awhile till he'd catch sight of something then it'd jump up loop around, probably after a bug. Then back to the wire, then moments later,

Plummet - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tail Plummeting

Plummet down a ways or all the way to the ground, catch something — I saw it scramble hopping around, catch a yellow butterfly, bring it back up to the wire and ...

Chewing a Butterfly - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tail Chewing on Butterfly Remnants

Chew it up. It started out somewhat larger than this, then our friend nibbled it down to here, then all the way.

Scissor-tail Down - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tail Down

After another bug.

Goofy Domestic Duck - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Domestic Duck Crooning?

Not sure how that was even possible, but when I first posted this page, I forgot this image. I also don't remember taking it, but that's more credible. It certainly wasn't doing this when I decided to push the button. Wonder who pushed its?

And One of These - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flitter with a Flutter

Cliff Swallow on a wire. Not sure what that flutter is all about. Nice breeze but no wind warnings. Warm in the sun. Cool in the shade. Lovely day this close to Dallas summer.

I also spent long minutes tracking down the Mockingbird source of a long, loud and rapid-fire series of calls. Eventually, I pegged it in the deep shade about thirty feet almost directly above. I got several terminally dull pictures and left it with a vivid audial memory.

My friend, Fort Worth artist Billy Hassell, has a website starting that's already pretty wonderful, full of real and imaginary birds.

May 16

Flycatch - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Western Kingbird - A Flycatcher by Any Other Name

 Once again we started atop Winfrey, filtered down the paths to Lawther, looped around against the lake, then clambered up the paths again to the parking lot on top and drove away. Lots of birds gone bugging in the glorious wild flower meadows all around. I've grown to expect birds atop tall weeds as long as I'm nowhere close.

Imagine my surprise when this one lands close enough to crop this. Brilliant yellow underneath, white-rimmed almost triangular black topped tail. Mostly gray with little black feet and shiny black beak.

Sorry I called this a Tropical Kingbird briefly. Betsy admonishes: "Those white feathers at the sides of its tail tell you it's a Western Kingbird, which actually spends the summer and breeds here. A Tropical Kingbird would be an extreme rarity up here (so extreme that no birder has reported one up to now, according to Jim Peterson's checklist for North Central Texas), and you'd need to be able to recognize its song to distinguish it from another extreme rarity for this area, the look-alike Couch's Kingbird (which has actually been seen and heard on a rare occasion or so). The two kingbird species that you can reliably expect to see around here are the Eastern and Western ones. Neat that you found its nest! Very nice shots, too."

Kingbird Nest - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Looking Up into a Kingbird Nest

Pretty sure this is what is says it is, because I saw another (could have been the same, but there were lots more than one up and around there this aft) yellow under, pointy black beaked Kingbird flitting in and around this largish, expansive fuzzy nest. He tried to lure me away but I was too interested in this, and ...

Cattle Egret Landing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret Landing

... This in another tree close by. It'd probably read in this journal where I said I'd never seen a Cattle Egret this near the lake and came in just to prove me wrong. Not that difficult, really. Great landing form, all its talons and fingers reaching for an impossibly tiny landing point. Remarkably pretty bird.

Cattle Egret Escape - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret Escape

Minutes later, after hiding in the shade of that tree, where I shot and shot and shot and only got a boring bird all folded in under some dark branches, it took wing again, out over the lake.

Redwinged Blackbird - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Red-winged Blackbird Among the Wild Meadow Flowers

We also saw Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, lots of Mockingbirds, various ducks a Yellow-crowned Night Heron and many Red-winged Blackbirds chasing each other and insects all through that bright hilltop wonderland of flowers and weeds and bugs.

RWBB Through The Field at Speed - cpry

Leading with its Epaulets

For several years now, photographing Red-wings through that particular sun-drenched field is one of my favorite things to do. I guess if I did it for several hours at a time on several consecutive days, I might eventually get to a point where I could get more of them in sharp focus, but I'm still asking Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairies for a telephoto lens. I got this "  " close to getting a TeleConverter last week but UPS crushed it and my telephoto hopes again.

RWBB in Tree Top - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird in the Tretop

Of course, their favorite place is at the top of something really tall looking down on all that magnificence. It was cool today, probably was a little warmer up in the sun.

Kildeer in the Grass - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Killdeeer in the Weeds

I got closer to this Killdeer today on foot, it in the taller weeds with gobs of bugs all around all around than I did driving my car up next to it on Lawther last week. I was slow and careful about it, but I got within 6 feet of this less-than-shy bird with a lovely song and quick-step dance, although mostly he just stood there waiting for me to go away, so he could get some more bugs.

Heron Over My Head - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron Fly Over

Right about then I saw a lumpy gray thing with shortish body, black feet dragging behind and stumpy wings flying into my direction at 12 o'clock high. Click click click till it was past over my head. Very familiar looking up at those big eyes. I'm hoping eventually to photograph them on the ground.

May 13

Grackles Courting - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackles Courting

After a wonderful orange dinner with my second favorite mom, we visited Sunset Bay at the lake on a tad too busy day, overcast to boot. Grackles puffing and elegantly head pointing for females we didn't even see's attentions.

Feather Wad - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Feather Wad

And what was left of another unknown bird. We really wish dogs were banned from certain areas at the lake. Like wherever birds gather. Far as we know Sunset Bay has the only Please Don't Feed The Birds sign at the lake, and every time we're there we see at least one family merrily feeding white bread to the birds. We're not at all convinced feeding them corn is a whole lot better, although the bird diversity at Sunset is probably due to regular feedings.

Big Baby Birds - cpry

Big Baby Birds

These are the biggest baby birds I've ever seen. Distinctive hat on the blond chick (we bet we know its mother), and check out that tiny, fledgling wing. Cute, fluffy and precocious. One of each color. I'd been hoping to find the next step up in size ducklings. These be they.

May 11

Red-bellied Woodpecker - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker

Lake twice today. Drove in the first time. Was driven later, after watching art openings with Anna. Been noticing that birds seem much less afraid of automobiles than people. I drove within a dozen feet of both these first two birds. I noticed the Killdeer in the grass along Lawther driving toward Winfrey Point from Garland Rd. That close, I could choose to exclude sky from the woody and fill the frame with the Killdeer.

Killdeer in Grass - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Killdeer in Grass

Not unusual a woodpecker shot, but pretty close for a killdeer. Its eye is sharp. We can even see the orange-ish stipple dancing among the medium brown feathers on its back. That close. Sharp lens, too.

Open Beak Chirp - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mockingbird Baby Demands Food

Parked on top Winfrey, walked down a path toward the lake. In a scraggly tree on the way, this bird chirping constantly with what looked like members of its family. This is not a tiny bird, or I would assumed it's a chick and the open beak a need for food. Nobody delivered any. But it kept up the chirp. Was still a hour later when I walked back by homeward.

Same Bird Beak Closed - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Same Bird Beak Closed

By this far down in a day's journal I should know this bird's name. But we haven't been properly introduced. Handsome middle-sized chirper with short orange beak, black eyes, gray rims, white ruff under chin and breast spotted with little brownish specks. Black and white wings and short tail. Unsub number infinity here.

Your chirping unsub from May 11 is a fledgling mockingbird. The youngsters have those speckles on the breast that the oldsters don't have. It's still got a bit of that orange flange around the bill that makes it so easy for the parents to see and drop food into.

The several members of its family were likely one or both of the parents and all the rest of its nestmates. After leaving the nest, young mockers will pester the parents for food for at least a couple of weeks -- altricial birds (ones that are born naked, blind and helpless) seem to expect to be fed all their lives.

The parents have to flee them or actively reject them in order to wean them successfully. I remember watching three young mockers chasing a parent that was foraging for itself on my erstwhile office's lawn one day -- the parent finally flew under a parked car in its effort to evade them. - Betsy

Keets Squabble - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Keets Squablling

I've been seeing the keets on this, far, side of the lake from their digs on the hill overlooking The Pump House that has a fancier official government name now that I always forget, for awhile. But this is the first interesting shot. Not just them feeding on the grass. But them engaging in a behavior — as if that's not what we all are doing nearly all the time.

They were bumping beaks and cussing at each other. In squawks, not words. Other, less interesting shots show that each time they confronted flock mates, their mouths were full of food. So I assume they're fighting over it. Food seems to be birds' most common reason for confrontive behaviors, although it is mating season for a lot of them, and that is always a potential cause for disagreement.

On that photo of the 'keets, my guess would be that the one on the right is a youngster begging for food. Partly lifted, slightly fluttering wings seems to be a universal food begging sign amongst altricial birds. You also see it done by females of species that are sexually dimorphic (such as cardinals) during courtship.

When the female is much drabber than the male, that's a clue that she's going to be the one sitting on the nest, since she's less visible. She and her babies will need to be fed by her spouse, so she wants to see how he responds to food begging behavior. Since male and female 'keets look the same, it's more likely that the one with the lifted wings who appears to be begging is a youngster. It is the season for youngsters to be about. - Betsy

Snowy Fishing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Fishing

Today's prize was getting to watch this little Snowy Egret fishing in the shallows along Sunset Bay. I thought they were shy. But this one let me get within about twenty feet. I was careful. No sudden movements. Creep slowly. Stop and hold steady. Try not to sneeze.

Snowy Fishing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Perhaps it was so intent on food it didn't pay much attention to a goofy human going ka-clunk. My Nikon is anything but quiet. Like Little Blue Herons who wiggle their beaks back and forth above the surface to attract fish and crustaceans, this Snowy Egret shook its feet under the surface. One at a time. Vigorously. Intensely. Not splashing but moving some water, spreading concentric circle waves.

Snowy Egret Looks at the Photographer - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Snowy Watches

Wiggle wiggle. Ripples on top and I don't know what below — some turbulence. Wiggle a while and it'd catch a little something. Wiggle more and more. I don't really think this one was looking at me, but he did seem to glance in my direction.

Mr. Wood Duck, Sir - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mr. Wood Duck, Sir

This and the next shots are from today's second and much more leisurely trip to the lake. I shot a lot of pictures, this fairly sharp wood duck is one of a long series of mostly blurries. I haven't seen a Northern Shoveler, Black-bellied Whistling Duck or even a Blue-winged Teal in awhile. But we have Woodrow J. Woodducks, and that's fine with me.

Why They Call It Sunset Bay - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Why They Call It Sunset Bay

I've been arguing with myself about putting butterfly and flower pix in this journal. I hate it when other people do that, and this one is called "Birder's Journal," amateur though it may be. So no butterflies — even those gorgeous big mothy black ones I've seen flapping heavily through the meadows lately. Or the fat furry black bees with wide, single yellow stripes.

This may be the only sunset I've shot this year. Certainly many years have been full of them. I'm learning there are more interesting things to photograph. That's a duck in the middle.

May 9

White-headed Muscovy - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

White-headed Muscovy

2 birds new to me, if not new to the lake, a fairly familiar flying bird, and one traumatic event.

This handsome gander is familiar. A Muscovy Duck, but not of the sort usually seen here. This one is blonde and nearly wartless. More like the illustrations in the bird books than our Muscovies, whose faces are covered in red growths.

Full Muscovy - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Full Muscovy

I'm a big fan of either variety of Muscovies. They're quiet, gentle with the girth of a goose. I've seen them fly, but getting that much mass into the air is an achievement. Lots of noisy flapping, not much altitude. Handsome in their own way. Distinguished.

Woodpecker Hanging - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Woodpecker Defying Gravity

Significantly smaller, so light it can hang upside down under a branch. It was its dark shape flitting among the branches I first noticed. Never did hear it tapping, although several photographs show blurred beaks and heads. I don't think I've seen a woodpecker without red somewhere. This one has a black-tinged dark amber cap and large area of dirty, yellowish brown on its otherwise white front.

Woodpecker's Back - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Woodpecker's Back — A Female Downy?

A similar vertical patch of dirty yellowish is flanked by black bars on its back above, with typical woodpecker ladder back spots below. Why no red? Is this a juvenile something? A female? I'm stymied. Not uncommon. I don't call this Amateur for nothing. But nothing in either of my field guides seems to match.

Blended Woodpecker - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Woodpecker Becoming One With The Tree

Watching it, tracking it through my lens, I was amazed at its blending. In the image above this one, I contrasted tree & bird, so we could distinguish them. Otherwise unlikely. Here, I contrasted everything, so we could see it, at all. Squint a little to get the visual gist. Bird and this side of tree were deep in shade.

Wood Duck Flying - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Wood Duck Flying

Another flyer. Big, slow. This one in Sunset Bay. And easily identified.

Dog Chasing Goose - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dog Chasing Goose and Duck

We were some distance away when we heard a dog barking amid a ruckus of goose and duck panic. We looked up to see this. A dog dragging its leash racing toward them. Near to catching a goose, then grabbing a smaller, less defensive duck. We shouted at the dog's owner. He didn't seem concerned. Slow. Maybe just stupid.

Dog With Duck in Its Mouth - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dog with Mallard in Its Mouth

I was couldn't see well, vision lens limited. Anna said the dog snapped the duck, probably trying to break its neck. By then several people were shouting. The dog was doing what dogs do — when not held back its master.

The Owner Finally Comes - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Owner Running Toward Dog with Duck — The Flock Flees

Eventually. Finally. The dog's owner reacted to all the shouting and ran toward the dog still thrashing the duck. Gooses and ducks fled toward the lake. The time between this shot and the first, dog-chasing, is ten seconds. I'd often wondered whether people were running dogs here, there's been so many murdered ducks in that area.

Dog, No Trophy - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dog, No Trophy — 12 Seconds Later

Eventually, the dog responded to its family's entreaties. It did resist when its owner told eventually shouted at it. But when the whole family got involved, it finally desisted. We ungently reminded them that dogs are required to be on leash at the lake. They insisted it was still on its leash. They seemed in no way apologetic or upset but gathered the six of them and two dogs and walked away.

I checked the area for Mallard body or blood. I found neither and no wounded ducks.

May 8

Red-winged Blackbird Flying! - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird Treetop Flying

Celebrating the rebirth of my hard drive and to relax, we visited the lake. Hadn't been to Singing Bridge in a while, so there. No real expectation of birds, but I shot whatever I saw. Except for the Red-winged Blackbird flitting back and forth between the tops of the same two trees, I've yet to identify any of today's birds.

Epaulets Flaring in the Wind - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Epaulets Flaring in the Wind

Back and forth. Back and forth. Till I finally got it in focus. Twice. Then it vanished into the leaves along Thistledown Road near the edge of the lake opposite yacht club lane.

Random Compression - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Random Compression - Eastern Kingbirds?

Several flocks of randomly compressing, apparently olive gray tan birds flew us over. Or one flock round tripping. No idea who they were flying over us. Now, a little like Cedar Waxwings. Are they still here? Or maybe these still mostly unsubs:

White Bird Tree Top - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

White Bird Tree Top Watching - Eastern Kingbird?

Several on bare limbs at the tee tops of trees, one after another. Usually I traipse through the bird books till I'm either fairly certain what I bagged that day or completely flummoxed. Tonight, I'm too tired to page. Happy to capture some few birds in focus. Get to know them later. Tomorrow.

Dive Bomber - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Moments Later, it tucks wings and dives.

Handsome little bird, though. Need sleep too much now, but got to figure this one out. See what it's up to.

Cinamon Flyer - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cinnamon-winged Speedster - Barn Swallow?

This is too familiar to not know but at the moment I haven't the faintest notion. Swallow? Of some sort. Flying low and so fast. I shot dozens as I always do, and only got these sharp. Not sure why I bother, but I always think I'm getting better — till I count the misses later that night.

Another One? - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another One or Something Different

Mission accomplished. I calmed significantly. Birds do that.

Dark Little Flyer - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cliff Swallow?

May 6

Cattle Egret Flying - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret Flying through Basketball Court

Don't see Cattle Egrets much at the lake. Last one I saw was a couple years ago, in the meadow along the line of trees on Northwest Highway at Buckner. Then just two. Lots at the Medical Center Rookery today. Almost didn't recognize them it'd been so long. All white most of the time, but with reddish patches in high breeding season.

Cattle Egret Flying Up - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret Catching Windy Thermal

Shorter like the littler herons, about 20 inches long. Great Egrets are 40". Also according to the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, breeding adults are "adorned with orange buff plumes on crown, back and foreneck" and in breeding season (here lately), their bills are "red-orange, lores purplish, legs dusky red."

Fluffed Up Cattle Egret - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fluffed Up

When they are fluffed up, on the ground or in trees, they can look very formidable indeed. Or attractive. Or something to their mates and potential mates.

Cattle Egret Squack - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret with Open Beak

Anna brought her lawn chairs, and we sat inside the open-air basketball court phtographing just into the dense forest that is the rookery proper. Not sure why its beak was so wide open. Surely we would have heard a cry if it had been doing that. Though the rookery is not a quiet place. Maybe it was yawning. Distribution of the rusty patches is obvious in these two photos.

Cattle Egret Strut - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret Strut

Doesn't say so in the book, but I remember that Cattle Egrets walk like an Egyptian, their heads bobbing forward with each step, unlike the other egrets I've watched. These did. Small as they were we thought they might be recently hatched young. But those rust patches mark breeding adults. The grassy lawns outside the thick forest rookery visitors are prohibited from entering had dozens of Cattle Egrets pecking bugs. We saw two also pecking at each other, probably fighting over food, although their motives are not obvious.

We also saw a smattering of Little Blue Herons, lots of Great Egrets, a rare few Great Blue Herons and a few Black-crowned Night Herons.

May 5

GBH Flying Low - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron Flying Low

Some days finding one decent bird is enough. Today, a Saturday when the pier at Sunset Bay held about thirty people with almost nobody else around in gray foggish landscape, I saw this same (I assume) GBH I've been watching since late last month when it flew over me in the upper meadow. It had perched on one of the trees out in the bay. Waiting for whatever GBHs and Great Egrets and Double-crested Cormorants always wait for. Fish, generally. I hoped to get out on the already fully populated pier before he left. As close as I could get.

GBH Between Me & Trees - cpry

I got there just before it took off, first west, then circling wide around toward the pier, then off to the north to the heavily wooded area around half way across the bay. I had my camera set for spot focus and I kept losing it to a gray blur, but these two shots are almost in focus enough. Note the rusty epaulets, lack of white on the under wings (I thought I'd photographed that day) and the classic tuck of its long neck on this shot with the trees of Winfrey Point in the background.

May 3

Wire Heron Landing - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Heron Landing on Overhead Wire — Elegant Form

Last couple days I've seen herons, but they've been obscured by branches and leaves and too far away. We semi-circumnavigated the lake today, I taking gobs of photographs of all sorts of flying objects, mostly blurred and out of focus since it was relatively dark and rainy.

Our last stop was the Boat House, where I spent many long minutes trying to stop Purple Martins and swallows in their looping roller coaster tracks. Also did Wood Duck babies and teens again to zero aesthetic value. Then this bird flew into high view and landed on the thick wire over the bridge.

Heron on a Wire - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

My First Yellow-crowned Night Heron of the Season

Once it landed that close, I lowered my exposure index ("film" speed), and held the camera steady for less grainy (digital noise), more detailed images. The Yellow-crown was nonplused by bridge traffic, so I moved close enough to still get it from the side without looking up its beak.

The finest portrait of a Yellow-crown yet, odd angle and all. Love those fine feathered occipital plumes wisping back, reminding us it's mating season, its bright eyes and those claws firmly gripping the cable.

Prey's Eye View - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Prey's Eye View

Oh, why not get as close as absolutely possible, even if it means looking up its beak and leaning my kidneys into the bridge. This must be the last sight many crustaceans, fish and shellfish ever see. Shiver.

Bent-back Grack - cpry

Bent-back Grack

Earlier, at Sunset Bay we watched ducks fight and try to mate and Great-tailed Grackles engaged in attraction behaviors. We've seen them hold their heads back as if they were watching something upstairs, but I hadn't seen them bend nearly over backwards. Anna said she saw one bent all the way touching its back. This is as extreme as I got it.

Fussing Grack - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fussing Grack

We'd seen them fluff up and prance and dance and emit incredible guttural and nearly industrial noises, but this is the first time I'd seen one do this. All part of the mysterious mating sequence of behaviors. Looks fierce.

Long-neck Egret - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Long-neck Egret Starts Its Show

Around the bend at the recent rainwater-sluicing Spillway, we photographed egrets engaged in waiting for fish, showing off various behaviors and what appeared to be fighting but may only have been chasing. All this was beneath the walking bridge that shakes like a queasy stomach ache every time a runner runs over it, making it difficult to photograph. Where I used to stand, would still love to, is still fenced off from where the April 2006 floods took away chunks of the landscape.

Egret Showing Off - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Bending Back and Showing Off

I've only been watching these antics a couple years now and have yet to properly parse all the activities. This looks like a pure white version of the grackle bend back and was immediately followed by a quick flight toward the other side chasing another egret.

Extreme Egret Ruffle - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Extreme Egret Ruffle

When it got back, it walked over to the edge of the concrete ramp and did this. I've seen Egret Ruffles before, where they shake everything they've got from tail to beak, but nothing as extreme or fuzzily all-encompasing as this. Must be another of the attraction behaviors, not altogether dissimilar to the grackles fluffing their feathers. Or something.

Season's First Snowy - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Season's First Snowy Egret

We also saw our first Snowy Egret of the season. Hadn't noticed till it flew across our view below the bridge. Then its bright yellow feet were suddenly so very obvious.

May 2

Dark today and got darker. Another day of low expectations, I drove down the west side of the lake hoping to see something I hadn't, in awhile at least. Not sure egrets qualify, though they seemed to be gone awhile, now they're back. Saw this one deep in the weeds full in stealth mode first. Then he jumped into the air and flew right by me. About as close as one ever has. I'm shocked the exposure was this in range.

Stealth Mode Egret - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Stealth Mode Egret

I often type about filling the frame. This one didn't — it's cropped, but the the next one up more than filled it. So close and fast I had no time to zoom back, just clunk clunk clunk the shutter as it flew me by and off.

Mallard Ducklings - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wood Duck ducklings

We've seen ducklings this age a couple times this spring. They're new, but seeing them this age is not. Cute little black and orange beaks, slash back eye liner. My favorite's the one in the middle with its beak wide. The large ship shadow top right is Mom.

Wood Duck Teen Agers - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wood Duck Teenagers

These are my first teen Woodies. I know they're Woods, because Mom is just to the left. With the shot above we have a visual progression. Beak tips are still pink, but the black part is bigger. Facial structure is warping taller. Eyes are bigger. They'll grow into the new shapes. They're still fluffy, but their fronts are lighter, whiter, now show their patented patterning. How they differ in that may be a key to I.Ding sex. Our kids are growing up.

May 1

Duck Fin - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Duck Fins

Wouldn't dare expect such diversity as today's. Didn't seem like, poking along the shore at first it could happen. Then, as the sky brightened, the birds came out. Less shy. More colors, stranger shapes. Mostly old friends but new looks.

Northern Shoveler - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Northern Shoveler Just Standing There

Nothing new about a Northern Shoveler. They've been around since March 22. Big beaks, beautiful colors wrapped in this usually closed package. Today I was lucky enough to see one fly, again, as it turns out, but strangely different. Amazing vision.

Northern Shoveler Flying A - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Northern Shoveler Flying - A

I have the expectation of flying birds with smoothed edges. Streamlined. Having seen and photographed this one so I could prove it — I wonder how he so contravenes the laws of physics. How could those wings raise its strange body?

Northern Shoveler Flying - B - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Northern Shoveler Flying - B

The right overall shape. Bird. But so skinny and wingspan wide. Tail feathers sticking out, I suppose, and that hard edge V.

Northern Shoveler Flying b1 - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Northern Shoveler Flying B'

Look at all that dishevelment. Loose feathers of many colors all awry.

Northern Shoveler Fly - C - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Northern Shoveler Landing

They know what to do when doing needs it, but they're not about to conform to notions of what a bird's supposed to look like when they do. Impressionism in the guise of flapping over water. Beautiful in an alternate reality.

She's Still Sitting - cpry

She's Still Sitting

Down the coast, our brown lady gooses still sit their respective eggs. Anna counted five big goose eggs under this one yester. They sit and wait, always adding more bits of clutter to warm the nest.

Churkey Bust - cpry

Churkey Bust

I see the Churkey almost every time I'm there, and I'm leaning toward the chicken side of identity. I heard it chortle, and it chortles like a chicken. No gobble noises. This bird is a clucker. She (if she is a she) seems now to see me as less a threat. Doesn't run away quickly as before. Yesterday, I saw her fight off a grackle. No doubt. She was in charge.

I asked my friend Marty, who knows about and keeps chickens, what this Churkey beast might be. She says it is a "a Rhode Island Red" chicken, and because of her "short red top" definitely a she. So she's probably a local escapee not a visitor from another city, state or country.

Spotted Sandpiper Closer - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Spotted Sandpiper Closer

I'd seen two sandpipers earlier out on the mucky crust of shore. But they flitted away while I was still contemplating photography. So I was startle amazed when this Spotted Sandpiper walked right up to me standing still, then stiller while still going click. Within three feet. I was in quiet, nearly motionless awe.

Spotted Sandpiper Dipping - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Spotted Sandpiper Dipping

It was catching something. Dip, poke, snag. Lots of little somethngs that were so, even this close, invisible. The piper stayed busy with them till, suddenly it flew off. A close encounter with, if not an entirely new species, an only slightly used one.

An Array of Wood Ducks - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Four Male Wood Ducks and a Blue-winged Teal

Wood Ducks have mostly kept on the far side of the creek. Too far for my lens. Today, at least a half dozen dawdled on this side. Several on that downed tree just into the lake, a couple more walking up the hill. One with a female, so mayhaps we can expect Wood Ducklings soon.

Two Wood Ducks on a Log - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Male Wood Ducks on a Log

Here's front and back view in one shot with muddy webbed feet. Close enough and sharp I could print a really big print were I of a mind to. Gorgeous ducks, so nice to see them up close, almost personal.

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Index of Pages

 

All text and photographs
copyright 2007 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved.

No reproduction without
specific written permission.

Formerly "The Addlepated Birder's Journal"


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