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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 photos without permission
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Special thanks to Jason M. Hogle for expert bird identification assistance and back-stories, usually in purple type later.

May 27 2009

Two Wood Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Wood Ducks on a Stick

These are some odds and ends I found while paring the junk out of my daily bird shoots, so I can back the whole month up. These are two Wood Duck males.

Wood Ducks Jump - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Wood Ducks Jump

Who get spooked or had perched there long enough already. Who knows what a Wood Duck's thinking.

Wood Ducks Out - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wood Ducks Out

Then they flew off toward Dreyfuss Point.

And Away - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And Away

And eventually disappeared in the green.

Who Dat? - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile "Eurasian" Starling

Meanwhile, back on Earth. I should know this one. I've been seeing them around for maybe all month now, and it may be time to get out the books and track it down. I believe that's an ant in its beak. Something quite small, reddish and wiggly. I really wanted these guys to be something special, something new. But what they just may be is juvenile starlings. Duh...

The Back Side - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile Starling Backside

Whoever they are, they are proclaimers, though perhaps not up to the quality and quantity of Red-winged Blackbirds. Not that big, either, I think.

Unsub Squawk - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile Starling Squawk

The best shot. Down in the grass where it hunts, saying its business. I thought it would be easy to identify. But I've gone through all four of the big books, one twice, and I'm missing it. Anna insists it is what we agree it is, a juvenile starling, called "European," for little reason, since they come from Asia, so I've compromised, calling it Eurasian.

May 28

 Two One-legged Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two One-legged Ducks

The Bird Squad had a picnic Friday evening.

The Passing Lane - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Passing Lane

Most of the regulars were there, along with sushi, salad, cheese & crackers and the other usual picnic stuff.

Entourage - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Entourage

Still in winter thinking, I brought my wide-angle zoom, not the Rocket Launcher. There was plenty sunlight at 6 pm.

Four Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Four Gooses

We've talked about the Bird Squad here before. A lot of what they talk about are the fifty or so gooses who have been released in Sunset Bay and have settled there. Gooses have a complex and fascinating sociological structure.

Guardian Goose - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Guardian Goose

If there's a vulnerable gosling around, somebody will guard over it, keep it from the many harms available. The white one on the left is sleeping. It is characteristic of that particular one, the squad calls him "Baby Huey," to have its left foot out behind him like that when he sleeps.

Baby Huey has only recently gone from primary human care to joining the goose clan. He may still like humans better, but he's ready to meet the wild. Though until the goose clan believes he is, they will guard over him. Either the goose on the right has been selected or he volunteered for this job.

Dead Bird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dead Bird

Probably a grackle.

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White Rock Lake

May 27

Grackle Fall I - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackles Fall I

Didn't plan it that way, but today's bird photos are almost all about them flying. In this first case, the flying is more like a controlled fall. Not unlike a helicopter doing what it's designed to do in this situation. It's two male Great-tailed Grackles fighting.

Grackle Fall II - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackles Fall II

They started at the top of a particularly tall tree, that I happened to be photographing birds on the top of. As they scrabbled, they fell like extensions from an invisible center, gyring down while exerting slight flight pressure, so they fell slowly.

Grackle Fall III - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackles Fall III

They did not stop fighting all the way down, so they were able to make it look pretty dangerous, but in slow motion.

Grackle Fall IV - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackles Fall IV

Actually, I saw pairs of male grackles do this twice. This is still the first time, and that time continues into the next shot.

Grackle Fall V - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackles Fall V

Which is pretty close to the ground, still falling, but the brakes are on. Then both birds flew away.

Grackle Fall X - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackle Fall Again

This is the other time. I was less ready for it this time, but I recognized the condition almost immediately. The other two shots only show small portions of the bird or birds, but it's sharper. Sometimes, the link holding them together is not all that invisible.

Mockingbird Jump Fall I - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mock Jump Fall I

I photographed this mockingbird at the top of the tree I was telling you about. Actually, I thought it was something else, and was so busy trying to get it in focus, I didn't notice that I was getting photographs I've been wanting to get for a long, long time.

Mock Jump Fall II - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mock Jump Fall II

Of a mockinbird flashing its wing stripes as the flapped.

Mock Jump Fall II Again - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird Fall

This doesn't look much like one, but from that glimmer of red on its wings, I'm going out on a limb to guess that this is a male Red-winged Blackbird flying.

Whatever - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

RWBB Fall with Tree

I know this one is very similar to the image just above, but I think it looks kinda arty.

Barn Swallow in Field - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barn Swallow in Field

I worked at this one for about twenty minutes, waving that big, long lens at this, that and the other bird slinging itself across that meadow, turning on a dime, and flinging off the other way. Whoosh! trying to blur the meadow while keeping a bird almost in focus — or at least recognizable.

May 26

Adult Male Mallard with Very Juvenile Wood Ducks in a Row - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Male Mallard with Very Juvenile Wood Ducks in a Row

Spent way too much time exploring another meadow I'd been meaning to too long already, albeit during the hottest time of a hot late afternoon. Eventually, I explored Sunset Bay, where I found a diversity I had not found there since the pelicans flew north again.

Wood Mother with Wood Ducklings - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wood Ducklings with Wood Duck Mom

I know these ducklings are Wood Ducklings, because they are accompanied by a Wood Duck mom.

Mallard Mother with Ducklings - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mallard Mother with Five Ducklings

There were at least three, maybe four duck moms showing their duck kids how to do duck things that they'll need to know how to. I kept hoping they'd mix together some, but they stayed separate.

Another Mallard Mom with her Kits - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Mallard Mom with a Brood of Teeners

Another couple weeks, we won't be able to tell the kids from adults. It's a busy learning and doing time.

Lots of Babies Today - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lots of Babies Today

Mom's got her head underwater. The kits seem to be considering it.

Charging Ducklings - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Charging Ducklings

A little bit of picking stuff off the surface of the mud.

Water on a Duck's Back - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Water on a Duck's Back and Head

The look.

Female Red-winged Blackbird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Red-winged Blackbird at Water's Edge

Not a problem to hang off the edge of a vertical branch.

Dove Jump - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dove Jump to Fly Away

And squeak that dove squeak at every flap. Jason Hogle corrects: "Dove Jump to Fly Away" is a mourning dove. Again, the "squeak at every flap" from this species is the whistling of their wing feathers."

Speedy Barnswallow - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Speedy Streamlined Barn Swallow

These were today's earliest shots. A random Barn Swallow streaming across the sky.

Same Barnswallow Again Faster - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Same Speedy Barn Swallow

Then flapping awhile, then coast some more.

House Sparrow - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

House Sparrow

Common but beautiful.

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The Medical Center Rookery

May 23

Black-crowned Night-Heron with Chicks - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crowned Night-Hero with Chick

Maybe more than that one chick. We think we saw two, but they were very well camouflaged, and stayed low and inside. Oh, and these are the good shots. Once you get over the parental unit's look of curious protection and blue glint in both its eyes, follow its (not our) left side down to the nest and notice the eyed and partially beaked little creature down thee in browns and whites among the twigs of their nest.

Speak Beak - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Looking Down

More looking for babies, though not finding them this time. But this Great Egret has a great look — down at me. Almost looks like its head is on upside-down. For that, I almost put it in with the also-rans below. But it's too good for that.

Jason Hogle says, "Looking Down is actually a Cattle Egret. Notice the wee bit of pale orange flowing behind the neck (seen on the right in that photo). Also, the bill is not tipped with black like a great egret. Finally, note the bird is nesting too far below the canopy; great egrets are too large and therefore stay closer to the tops of the trees where adults can navigate more easily."

Nest Tender - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Nest-tending Great Egret

Thought the parental unit might have been tending to babies, but now I think it's more likely its adjusting the sticks in its nest.

TCH as Rake - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron as a Rake and a Rambler

It's the top-knot that does it. Its occipital plume. Nice that those other feathers rise up with it in the photo below, forming a crown (like kings and princesses wear) -like crown (the top part of a person or bird's head), but it's the plume that does it for all of us.

Spike, The Tricolored Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Spike, The Tricolored Heron

Yes, this is very close to the same angle and exposure that's in the Not-Quite Bin below. In fact, it's the very next shot, within the same second, except this one is slightly sharper. This time it's the bird's head that is sharp, not just its mane and body and some of the leaves, and I cropped it a little closer. It really is a tricky business. Choosing one over another.

Anna and I looked all over for just the right place to photograph this Tricolored Heron. We'd done it for tens of minutes when we looked around and there were two more people, right in our space, talking to us about how glad they were that we were there, because there were some Black people in the same park. Huh?

Bigots are their own reward, but these folks were standing in the place we'd searched low and high for for a half hour of this and that and the other place, this view, that view, till we found a really good spot, angle, view. Then they chimed in and stood inches away talking like our old good buddies who shared the same idiot fears.

Theretofore, we've only ever liked fellow birders, except all but a couple of the ones who bring their own dogs.

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Same Day, Same Place, Different Notion

Little Blue Jump - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Jump

Usually, I strain to give you my best work, only relenting on some out of focus wonder or near miss when they help tell a story I want to tell.

LBH up the Branch - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

LBH Clambering Up a Branch

Not today. These are all near misses in one fumbling manner or another. Some, I suppose, not so near. I'll try not to go off the deep end explaining what's wrong when it is obvious.

Dark Limb - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dark Limb

I deleted the egregiously bad shots almost immediately, as usual. These have a modicum of quality. But there's so many conditions that get in the way of communication between photographer and viewer, writer and reader.

Fuzzy-necked Geek - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fuzzy-necked Geek

I don't think about those very much when I'm shooting. I'm busy finding something worth shooting, composing, getting everybody on board — zoom, focus, exposure, composition, the camera's other adjustments, me holding it steady, my attitude, etc. Not much time to consider a dark limb Xing into  the big middle of the composition.

LBH Leap - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

LBH Leap

Sense is nothing I can guarantee. It might have seemed a good idea to photo a bushy-necked geek LBH (Little Blue Heron; this is the LBH Section of today's exploration. After that and some few OT transitionals, comes the TCH — the Tricolored Heron Section, our real purpose to be in the Rookery today, even though LBHs are always good-enough an excuse. I love me some Little Blue Herons.

LBH Wing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

LBH Wing

I don't remember every moment of 369 shots today, but I think I saw this one's head before I shot. The bird is moving, so I either expected it to move more or less. I got less but had hoped for more.

Snowy Flyby - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Flyby

Sometimes last-moment flybys work well. Others, they rob focus from the each other without adding anything worthwhile to what's left of the composition.

BCNH in Nest - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crowned Night Heron in Nest

We were hoping for babies today. Had a few glimpses, and found the Tricolored Herons we have come to expect. But darned few babies, especially TCHs. Something I've been playing with lately, is using flash. In the straight newspaper business before my foray into publishing Underground newspapers, we called using flash in daylight "synchro-sunlight flash."

Meaning the main exposure is via the sun, our local star, with the flash filling in deepr shadows. Sometimes it works , and you can't tell that it happened. Other times, you get red-eye on something that's already got red eyes, and it just looks weird.

Great Egret Butt - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Butt

It's almost never a good idea to shoot up some hapless bird's butt, as feathery as its finery might be.

Bright-eye - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bright Eye

I can't come up with a decent excuse for this. I try to keep my mind engaged when I make photographs, but sometimes I'm on automatic navigator.

Blue Jay - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blue Jay

I thought, until I had this on the screen, and all those twitchy little branches partially obscuring its neck and beak, that I'd finally got a really nice shot of a Blue Jay. Focus, composition, color just right. But I couldn't even see those littlest details while I'm working out the more important ones, especially fifty feet away.

Martin House - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Martin House — Later at The Lake

Nothing to do with that the featured bird may not be a Martin, or that the white house with green details looks yellow and blue. I like the silhouettes peeking around the corner. Just wish the flyer were focused. Little things mean so much, although this one shows movement and in an contrariwise manner, depth.

Okay, we've wandered around dealing with LBHs and a bunch of other Off-topic birds, now let's get to the real meat of today's shoot. The Tricolored Heron.

Tricolored Jump - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron Jump — Back at the rookery

Great jumping headless Tricolors.

Long-necked Tent - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Long-necked Tent

Intervening branch and low-hanging leaves, the background is way too bright and a between motions motion, albeit a characteristic shape for a hegret — heron or egret.

Tricolored Heron Straight Ahead  - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron Looking Wan

I'd rather it looked bright-eyed, if not exactly bushy-tailed. This bird looks wan and a little lost. But it's not the bird, it's the photographer's fault. This is what we photogs call a "between expression expression." It's what happens when people or birds or anybody, really, are moving between expressions.

We see and remember the succession of expressions. We ignore what faces do between those expressive expressions. As photographers, we can capture the in-betweens by keeping shooting hoping desperately for something, almost anything.

Tricolored Heron with its crop up - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crop Up

Not terrible bad. None of these are, really (Well, maybe the ones I missed heads on). Nice delineation. Nice enough focus. Just that the raised crown is backed by bright sky that robs that tiny detail. If you can't see it in a photograph, it doesn't exist.

TCH Jump - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron Jump

Another positional transition that could have been amazing and might have showed how this bird jumps. Except it doesn't have a head or toes.

Not Even Close - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Not Even Close

Other times the shot only vaguely might have been.

Nearly a Tricolored Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Crown Up, Wings Up, Focus Down

Plus, no legs or feet.

Wings Out - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

No Beak Tip, Wing Tips, Legs or Feet

Zoomed in too far for this moment although probably not for the one before this and the one after.

Which Brings Us to This - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Which Brings Us to This Final Near-Miss of the Day

The body is sharp, and so is the head, it's the face that is not. Tricolored Heron with all the right parts up or out or bushied up and not blocked by trees or leaves, but ...

I'll come back sometime in the next couple days and plug in the few nicer Tricolored Heron shots I got at the rookery today. This was fun. I doubt I'll do it again for awhile, but I just kept seeing misses when I was so hoping for hits, and thought it might be good to show you how the really good ones happen — by editing out the also-rans.

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White Rock Lake

May 22

 Redwing Bug Hunting - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Redwinged Blackbird Hunting for Bugs

Some bird identifications are almost too easy. Red-winged Blackbird hunting bugs in the bug-infested meadows around Winfrey Point.

Yellow Field - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Eastern Kingbird

I keep going back to those same meadows expecting to find different birds, and I know that ain't gonna happen, but I've been waiting so long, watching that meadow so very slowly growing into what is now nearly shoulder-high some places around the wide arc that is Winfrey Point.

And I just know they're going to mow it all down, despite the stupid P R signs they scatter all around talking about what a wonderful, natural place this is — and it is — and how carefully they just let it grow, but I know soon as somebody complains, they'll mow again, and all I'll have to photograph is a barren field. They'll probably murder those baby Killdeers that mama's been protecting every day this week, too.

Green and Yellow - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green and Yellow

Not the same bird but the same species. I have this hate/love thing with the City of Dallas. It is a gorgeous meadow, and I have often been bit by the biting bugs in it, as I foray into it to look for Killdeer babies or hide behind some of the higher flowering weeds to sneak up on some bird.

But that's my fault. I spray down with DEET before I get out of the car, so maybe this time not so many will bite me. But that's half this meadow's glory. That it harbors zillions of bugs that attract dozens of bird species to eat the bugs. And when they mow it all down for some idiot people, it takes too long to regrow and re-attract all the birds.

White Hoodie - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bird in a White Hoodie

I'm guessing this is an immature Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, but I may have to reconsider, although it does have that pinkish glow on its under parts.

Jason confirms: "Bird in a White Hoodie" is a scissor-tailed flycatcher."

So while I've got the chance, I'm in that over-growing meadow nearly every time I visit the lake, walking the great arc around the dulled (Winfrey) Point, hoping for new species, interesting behaviors and/or pretty pictures.

Killdeer Stands for Portrait - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Killdeer Stands for Portrait

Probably the same bird I photographed last week trying to lead me away. It tried again today, lagging closer to me to pose briefly for this portrait. Handsome bird.

Warm Fuzzies - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Warm Fuzzie Clump

Meanwhile, in the rising muck at Sunset Bay, ducklings keep warm and happy and together. Mom let me photograph them awhile, then she led them away.

Little Wings - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Wings

Flapping its little wings, because they're there.

Duck Walk - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Duckling Walk

March to the lake, Mom at the lead off to the left.

Warm and Safe - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

"Warm and Safe"

Bigger ducklings. No parents in sight. Warm but never quite safe out there. These look like the sort of ducks who are left at the lake, because they outgrew some humans' expectations of cute fuzzy little ducklings. They rarely last long. Something gets them, like something gets way too many much bigger and more aggressive gooses.

The lake is NOT a safe place to 'free' animals people no longer find cute. It's a dangerous world out there, and little guys with no Mom or Dad to protect them are particularly vulnerable. At least these two have each other, for now. They look frightened, and they probably should be.

The two sad little lonely ducks have not been seen since I took this photograph of them, Friday afternoon.

Female RWBB - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Red-winged Blackbird

If Red-winged Blackbirds were named after the colors of the female of the species, they might be called Reddish-brown White Striped-bellied Bird.

Grackle Courting - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackles Gone A Courtin'

It's not exactly in focus, but here are two grackles. The male making himself look huge compared to the diminutive female. They're interested. He's not saying much. She's listening.

Grackle Gone A Courtin - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackles Courtin'

Then he really gets big, looking Beelzebubbish, and she looks like she could care less. Later, they both pointed their heads up and got closer and closer, then they both flew away. All blurs.

Not A Dustbath - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Not A Dust Bath

I first thought this was a sparrow taking a dust bath, but it was excavating, not scattering dust like a dry shower. Here, it's got its feet, legs, underside, and beak underground, seriously disturbing the littlest boulders as it fetches deep after something.

Jason says, "All the photos of the sparrow wriggling in the dirt show a female house sparrow." I hadn't before, but now some of the following captions correctly identify the wriggling bird.

Sitting Up - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female House Sparrow Sitting Up

Then it rests briefly, looking up at the friendly, local photographer. It is a female. Might be a White-crowned Sparrow, then again, that coloration might just be all the dirt it's been wallowing in.

Intent - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female House Sparrow Intent

Then stare back, oh, so intently, into the ground, stick beak and body in again, root around in there, and ...

Caught Something - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Caught Something

Come up with a nice, little, chewy morsel.

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May 21

Anna Palmer's Alligator Snapping Turtle Photograph

Common Snapping Turtle

Anna got this intriguing shot in Sunset Bay just a couple feet into the water, she thought it was, and I had myself convinced it was an Alligator Snapping Turtle, but an expert has determined it's a common Snapping Turtle. It looks prehistoric, and what an amazing tail!
 

Village Creek Drying Beds in Arlington

 Mississippi Kite - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mississippi Kite

If I've got it right, this particular bird flying over with maybe eight or ten of its kind is an adult male Mississippi Kite. The most thrilling moments of our morning at the drying beds was when two of them, one on each side of the car (as were we) swooped down within a few feet past us. Whoosh! Wow.

The whole visit was great, with great cool breezes, bright sunshine, old and new friends among human and avian populations, and an amazing variety of bird — and other — species to photograph. Nice.

Kite Over - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Male Mississippi Kite

We'd seen Mississippi Kites before, in West Texas on our trip to Colorado last August, when they landed on nearby telephone poles and posed for us near downtown Clarendon.

Kite Over - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mississippi Kite

Mississippi Kites eat insects, bats, swallows and swifts, which they catch and eat in the air. We didn't see them chasing anything as large as a swallow today, but they seemed busy flying all over the beds and to the park nearby.

Female Mississippi Kite - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Mississippi Kite

Oh, and lest you think, as I did for awhile as I tracked through all my shots of them, that they were all males, here' a female Mississippi Kite. Females are darker, grayer overall, with tails that are darker toward the end with lighter areas just where you see them in this photo. Males are more white.

Green Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Heron Flyby

I'm sure I've photographed Green Herons flying before, but I don't remember a close-order fly-by. Certainly never with this kind of bright sunshine detail. Notice the sharp claws trailing as it flaps by.

Peep Flight - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Peep Flight

Something else that flew by — repeatedly — were these peeps I've yet to identify, but peeps' wing designs are distinctive, so we'll come up with something soon and post it under this photograph of the flock flying at some distance. Almost every other shot any closer was badly out of focus.

Thankfully, Jason Hogle knows these guys: "The unidentified peeps are semipalmated sandpipers," so I have updated the next few captions.

Peep Mob Flyby - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Semi-palmated Sandpipers' Mob Fly-by

This one of few exceptions. Watching them, indistinct except as a mob of flying shapes, dark then suddenly flashing white as they turned into the sun, then disappeared again into the brown green landscape, back and forth around and around the pans.

Peeps Away - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Semipalmated Sandpipers Away

It was grand fun watching and more than a little disturbing trying desperately to get my recalcitrant camera to focus on the speedy little guys, usually to no avail.

Killdeer Flyby - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Killdeer Flyby

It was a lot easier to focus on one bird than the flock. This is a Killdeer.

Spotted Sandpiper on the Ground - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Spotted Sandpiper on the Other Side

I could barely see this bird on the far side of one of the now nearly full pans of water among the drying beds. Anna had to point, then tick off the details of exactly where it was. Even in this full photograph, it's very difficult to pick out, even though I tend to keep what I'm trying to focus on in the dead center of the lens image, because that's where the focus circle is and because that's usually where lenses are sharpest. It is not, I think, the same species as the swoop of birds above.

Great Egret - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

In the swamp near the front gate we saw at least four Great Blue Herons and only one Great (white) Egret. Hardly unusual to see a Great Egret — they're all over White Rock Lake, but it was stately and right there off the road along the swamp out near the gate, why not? Especially when it's walking deeper than I've seen one.

Great Blue Heron in the Swamp - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron in the Swamp

There's a Great Blue Heron are on the business card I sometimes give away to promote this suite of pages. I identify with them, probably because they're so elegant, and I'm not. But also because though fairly common, they are beautiful birds.

Yertle the Turtle - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Turtle Up Close

It's retracted its head back into its body while we hovered over it taking its picture. It was the closest of dozens of turtles we saw today. We chose this one, because it was just on the side of the road. I shot it at full telephoto (500mm, equivalent to 750mm on 35mm film) on the Rocket Launcher, even though it gets much better resolution at the shallow end.

Might take a moment to pick the turtle face out of the turtle confusion of this photograph. We were intrigued. We were also very careful around its face and claws, even though we didn't know at the time that it was a Snapping Turtle.

Red-eared Slider copyright 2009 by Anna Palmer

Smiling Red-eared Slider

The other turtle(s) we saw were Red-eared Sliders like this one.

Blonde Nutrea - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blonde Nutria Chewing on Tree Root

Okay, just one more non-bird shot from the more than 400 shots I took in Arlington today. This is a blonde Nutria.

Little Blue Heron Fishing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Fishing

I didn't spend as much time on this Little Blue Heron as I usually do on this species or nearly as much as I now wish I had. Yes, we've seen them at the lake often, and know them well, but I would have enjoyed watching it catch something, see how it handles that. Again, a tripod would have yielded better results.

Mallard Family - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Young Mallard Family

Well, everybody but Pop. I often shoot moms with their young birds, but its rare they all line up nearly equidistant like this so the depth of field includes everybody sharp.

Ruddy Repairing Wing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Ruddy Duck Repairing Wing

This guy was the only Ruddy Duck we saw today, and I think we visited every one of the accessible pans in the drying beds. I spent nearly all winter trying to get this much detail in the flocks of Ruddies that stayed thirty to 70-80 feet off shore on both sides of White Rock Lake. This one was pretty far out, and I'm only assuming that's its wing.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

We used to get visited by three or four Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at White Rock, but we haven't seen them there for awhile now. Pleasant to find them at this suburban birdery.

Western Kingbird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Western Kingbird on a Wire

And what late spring visit to the drying beds could be complete without a shot of a kingbird on a wire, usually the first bird we see there, when we're too in a hurry to check out the ones in the swamp near the entrance gate. Notice all the hair or hair-like feathers around its beak — the better to stick bugs into its chinny-chin-chin.

Hummingbird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

 Female Black-chinned Hummingbird

We knew she'd probably be out there, so when we saw Dana we stopped and talked about what we'd seen and where, exchanging sightings so we could share. She told us about Kathy, whom we followed all the way around on the road to River Legacy Park, which is geographically just outside the drying beds, but farther along the roads.

We did'nt know, but Jason Hogle did: The hummingbirds are all of a female black-chinned hummingbird. The yellow on the beak is pollen and not something to consider. The shape of the beak is important--the ruby-throated hummingbird female is identical save having a straight beak and sharp edges to the wing feathers (as opposed to these wing feathers which are blunt/rounded).

Green Side of the Hummingbird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Green Side of the Black-chinned Hummer

Where Kathy knew there'd be hummingbirds.

White Side of Green Hum - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The White Side of the Green Hummingbird

Which was startling news, so of course we followed her to the park and to the parking lot with bright blazing red flowering Yuccas. At Kathy's instructions, we parked alongside the red flowering plants.

Yucca Humming - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hummer Homing in on Red Flowers

And within minutes, we were photographing brief visits by hummingbirds. They'd hum into view, flit around for a few seconds to maybe a minute, and we'd shoot away. Great sport.

Hummingbird at Rest - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hummingbird at Rest — Briefly

I am struggling to identify our flightly little friends, and probably will do so tomorrow, if Anna doesn't beat me to the right answer. Until this shot, I thought their beaks were straight, though I'd noticed the two-tones, yellow and black. I thought the two tones would help me I.D them, but not yet. Maybe the curve will.

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May 19

White Rock Lake

 Western Kingbird in the Air - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Western Kingbird into the Air

Easy to shoot Western Kingbirds these days. Especially in my favorite flowering meadow up on Winfrey Point. A little more challenging to photograph one flying, just barely up from that post.

Itty bitty bird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Bitty Brownish-Greenish Bird

I'm really surprised I got this little tyke this close to being in focus. I expected the meadow up the hill from Winfrey Point to be teeming with avian life. I'm sure there's scads of bugs in there, but not so many birds today. I shot almost everything I saw, and got this.

Jason Hogle says, "Little Bitty Brownish-Greenish Bird is a flycatcher, although I can't say what species given the time of year (many migrate through here) and the lack of detail in the image. I could narrow it down to a dozen species, maybe fewer than that, but I can only say with certainty that it's in the Tyrannidae family."

Red-winged Black Bird Proclaiming - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird Proclaiming

Proclaiming territory, need for females, that it's a Red-winged Blackbird. Whatever.

TWBB CU - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird

Can even see his whiskers, good for catching bugs.

Flight of the Grackle - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flight of the Grackle

Seems to have grackle eyes, but it's the vertical tail that clenches it.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on one of those tall weeds in that gorgeous meadow.

Wingdown Skiz - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wingdown Scissor tail

Pretty bird.

Scissortail End View - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher End View

Strange angle.

unsub - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Probably a Red-winged Blackbird, But Ya Never Know

Or something else, but likely a RWBB.

Pair of Martins - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pair of Martins Preening and Resting

Purple Martin female and male on a wire preening, so they can go back out and catch more bugs.

Barnswallows on Wires - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barn Swallows on Wires

Not far away, a very similar species, except a little brighter colors.

Barnswallow - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow from oblique angle.

Wet Baby Mallard with Mud on its Beak - Copyright 2009 Anna Palmer

Wet Baby Mallard with Mud on Its Beak

And Anna got this one.

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May 17

 Tricolored Heron with Crown Up - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron with Crown and Occipital Plumes Up

We tried to go to the Arlington Drying Beds, but the gate was locked, although the fence only extends on either side long enough to keep cars out. Walking around the gate and up into the beds was possible and very pleasant this marvelous cool pre-summer day.

This Tricolored Heron came later when we revisited the Medical Center Rookery, because there were so few birds to be found at the beds, and we couldn't drive around looking for the hold-outs.

Village Creek Drying Beds in Arlington

Yellow-breast on Wire - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

yellow-breasted flycatching - Western Kingbird

Yellow-breast on wire. It let us get fairly close, then flew around catching bugs and came back. Soon as we'd try to get closer, it'd fly farther, land then jump off and do more bug-catching.

Yellow Guy Goes - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Yellow Guy Goes

We also saw a Great Blue Heron in a faraway pond, two people walking with a dog (inimical to bird-watching) and a ...

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

It's a female. Her tail is, according to Sibley, 30% as long as a male's, and these are fairly short, compared with other Scissor-tails I'd photographed, so it's probably a female.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Flyover

I've been wanting a shot like this for awhile. They're quick birds, taking off from their perch — here off a wire, often off a tree branch, suddenly, changing directions mid-air. They're usually much more intent on catching bugs than posing.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Looking for Bugs

Quite the little aerobats.

LBH Caught Something - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Caught Something

Coming back down from the hill overlooking the drying beds, toward the closed front gate, I saw this familiar silhouette. I was hoping we could get a lot closer before it flew off, but I was wrong.

Little Blue Flyover - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Flyover

I guess it was as curious about us as we were about it. It circled around and flew over us, heading far enough off our track we could not follow, but it's always nice to see a LBH, even if briefly.

Green Heron in the Pond - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Heron in the Pond

Walking down the drive toward the front gate, I saw something move in the pond to my right. I wasn't sure what it was. A heron, for sure, but which one. Let's see. It's red and blue, so it couldn't be a red heron or a blue heron, and it's got this strange grimacing grin painted on the side of its head, oh, it must be a Green Heron, since there's nothing green about it.

Green Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Heron

And, of course, that's what it was. I treasure Green Heron sightings. They never come often enough. But we'd already decided to visit the rookery then go eat, so we were a little pressed for time. Besides to do this swamp photo thing properly, I'd need a tripod, and I don't usually travel with one. Shooting essentially still birds this far away, a tripod would have been very handy indeed.

This is an enlargement of another, slightly less well focused shot that shows the Green Heron markings more clearly.

Dallas' Medical Center Rookery

Cattle Egret Pair - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret Pair - f/13 @ 1/800th second, EV –1  ISO 320

Cattle Egrets seemed to comprise the majority at the rookery today. They were everywhere, and comparatively easy to find and photograph. Here one of the pair — it's unlikely anybody knows which is which sex from this shot — has its crown up while the other's is down. Moments before this shot, it was the other way around. Briefly, they both had theirs up, but I missed that moment fiddling with exposure, which is remarkably good here.

White birds in bright sunlight need at least one full stop less exposure. EV –1.

Cattle Egret Sex - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wild Feathery Cattle Egret Sex

This is not the same pair, but the flash of wings and feathers led me to start shooting this, which I believe is a male Cattle Egret inseminating a female Cattle Egret. Or just before or nanoseconds after. I can't tell if they've made a nest already, and I should have shot more pictures nearby, but I didn't know what I had till I got it up on the monitor.

Tricolored Heron with Crown Up - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron with Crown Up

Last time we photographed a Tricolored Heron at the rookery, it seemed much more shy and busy with its nest. I didn't see a nest near this one today, and it did not appear to be shy, at all. Anna says it had just been fighting with another bird but she doesn't remember which, because its "crown display was so engrossing."

Tricolored Heron with Crown Down - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron with Occipital Plumes Down and Back

Today's Tricolored Heron (All three of today's pix are the same bird, depite apparent color variations.) was much more in the open, with fewer leaves intervening, although you could not say it was flaunting itself.

Tricolored Heron Looks Right - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolor Looks Left

It took searching for Anna to find it, and we both photographed it till it was obvious we had more than plenty. 

Crow - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black Bird with Big Beak and Grackle Eyes

I assumed, when I shot this, that it was a crow, but crow eyes are dark, and this is one big honker of a bill. Those eyes are grackle eyes, so it's probably a grackle. Raven eyes are also dark but with a thin white circle around them. Just when I thought I finally had grackles down and wouldn't confuse them with other birds, I have.

Jason Hogle helps: It "is a Great-tailed Grackle." I've always assumed all the grackles around here are Great-tailed Grackles, but I'm wrong. Jason says some are those and others are Common Grackles, and so far, I'm thinking the ones without great tails are probably the Common Grackles, but we'll see about that. Jason says he'll i.d. both species, and I need to spend more time with my bird books and maybe with Sibley's Guide to Birds online 

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May 14

White Rock Lake

 Cloudy Downtown - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cloudy Downtown, and it only got darker

Up unlikely early hoping to catch birds doing bird things before it rained lions and tigers. Accomplished the goal, too. Many birds active before the storm, which was plainly visible in darking clouds and slashes of lightning, some simultaneous, mostly north and west of the lake. By the time I was finally ready to leave, having at long last got one of the gangs of swallows sharp as the swirled through trees and tall grass gathering pre-storm bugs, rain started splattering in earnest.

Mockingbird Jump - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mockingbird Jump

I always look up from the big parking lot behind Winfrey, and there's almost always birds there. Sometimes strange and exotic ones. Today there was a flashing Mockingbird in a pose that's missed me till now. Flying while flashing its wings is the category, and it's even almost in focus. It counts. Now I want another flashing mock flying horizontally. Need to get my wish in with specifics.

Two Cowbirds Looking Up - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Brown-headed Cowbirds Looking Up

I assumed these two cowbirds were just looking up at the noise in the sky.

Big Head and Little Friend - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Big Head and Little Friend

Till I saw this pictures. Classic submissive / dominant scenario, it seems. Though maybe just an accident of nature.

One Sharp Swallow - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One Sharp Swallow

I saw swirling herds of swallows around trees and meadow grasses all morning at the lake today. Either too close or too fast to catch on the Rocket Launcher, but I kept trying. Finally, I racked it back a little, not zoomed all the way out to 500mm, and snagged one ...

Two Sharp Swallows - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Barn Swallows

Then another barn-storming Barn Swallow even closer in sharp focus. By then, the sky had let loose, and rain was falling. I left.

May 13

 Oscar Is Not A Bird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Homer Is Not a Bird. Homer is a Nutria.

I shot about two hundred photos today, many of little-bitty and 'teen-aged' ducks, mostly mallard. Darned few of them, however, were in any kind of focus. Homer here, is. Here, he's come up to enjoy a solitary meal of the corn Charles pours out mostly for birds, but Homer is a regular, so he's invited, too.

Oscar Close-up - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Homer's Close-up

The fact that Homer resembles a very large rat probably helps insure that it gets to eat alone. No birds jostled him like they often jostle each other. Most of the birds had left by the time the big H came up to help itself to the evening's dinner party.

The Young Family - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Family Moves Together

Earlier and later, there were a couple families of young ducks on display. This mom was teaching her brood of 'teens' about the kindness of strangers, although Charles could hardly be called a stranger in Sunset Bay anymore. He's there every day about five to pour granular gold.

Dinosaur Crossing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dinosaur Crossing

This young family came up the hill, chowed on corn for awhile, Mom took them down to the water's edge where they drank enough to soften the hard grain in their gullets, then took them back up the hill to top off their tanks.

New to This World - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

New to This World

Sometime along the way, they shared a quick nap very near the edge of the water while the careful and alter Mom stood guard and watched over them.

Very Defensive Mom - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Very Defensive Mom

When anyone intruded into their perimeter, she chased them off with the quiet but aggressive open-beak bark and butted breasts with a couple of aggressive males. I'd seen the breast butting before, but only in early spring between males. I'd never seen a female butt a male mallard before. I kept missing focus on the ducklings, but didn't mind this time, getting her and him sharp back there.

New Goose - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

New Goose

Charles brought a new gosling tonight, set it up in a playpen, only let Stumpy in, because the lamed goose who is more like a friend than just any old bird was so intent on helping. The gosling needed grass to help it make its feet and beak oranger than paltry pink. Various others of the non-human Bird Squad came up to check the new bird out, honk and make sure everything was okay. It also attracted a goodly number of kids and adults of the human varieties. Nothing like a furry baby goose to attract a bunch of humans.

Goose-stepping Duck Walk - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Goose-stepping Duck Walk

I only just now remembered that this place spends half its year occupied by a large contingency of American White Pelicans. Sometimes, though, the less spectacular birds are just as important.

Three Wood Ducks Swimming Along - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Three Male Wood Ducks Swimming Along

Pals paling around.

When One Suddenly Explodes - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

When One Suddenly Explodes Out of the Water

Not sure what got into him so suddenly that he had to get up and out of the water and go off in another direction. Very suddenly.

And the Other Two Escape Quickly - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And the Other Two Quickly Get Away

Which seemed to make its other two companions all the more intent on swimming away.

Two Watchful Coots - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Watchful Coots

I don't know what they were watching or watching out for, but they were very intent on it. The closer one even stretched up as far as it could go without standing up or flying.

One Skittering Coot - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American Coon Skittering

No telling what set off this bit of skittering — I like the term "coot scoot," but skittering is the official birding term, so we'll use that this time. Sometimes they scoot to escape perceived danger, sometimes they just scoot. I think this may be one of the latter. Usually, my shots of them skittering are just blurs, but this is mini-spectacular.

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May 12

Our Hero - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Our Hero

This is today's star. This time perhaps in desperation after trying its trick so many times already and failed each time to lure me away, it's flown pretty close. Trying to get my attention, I think. It had already tried the broken-wing routine.

Broke Wing Routine

So instead of following it away from its nest, I actively sought the nest. Never found it, though I'm pretty sure I know the general area. If Eagle-eye McPalmer'd been there, we da found it, no doubt. But I didn't.

Down and Panicked - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

She's Down and Panicked

When I, my black Rocket Launcher and clicking black box hove into view, this bird adopted a limp then showed her bad wing, just in case I'd want to try to chase it down and eat it. Instead of their kids.

Waving Her Broken Wing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Waving Her Broken Wing

But I did not find them. I'd have kept a respectful distance, shooting with the Rocket Launcher (only lens I carry most of the time at the lake). I hear Killdeer chicks look like "cotton balls on sticks," and I'd love to see and photograph them. But this is what I photographed instead.

Pointed Tail - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pointed Tail

Pose after pitiful Killdeer pose. Does look like something's wrong, huh? I assumed where she started this routine is where I should start looking for her babies. I made five equidistant forays into the flowering meadow.

Sea of Wing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sea of Wing

Every time the designated parent went down, it tried another permutation of "I'm the poor, sad, easily-caught, injured bird, follow me, chase me awhile outta here, then eat me, if you can." Then it would fly away peeping loudly.

Shriveling Killdeer - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Shriveling Killdeer

At one time it even ventured within about twenty feet of me, making it easier to photo it without all that grass.

Broken Tail - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Musta Broke Its Lay Egg

Oh, look at the bird with the broken wing.

Swimin' In Grass - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Swimin' In Grass

Says either Keith A Arnold or Gregory Kennedy, authors of my favorite bird story book, the Lone Pine Birds of Texas, "If you happen to wander too close to a Killdeer nest, the parent will try to lure you away by issuing loud alarm calls and feigning a broken wing. In most instances, a predator will take the bait and be led safely away from the nest, at which point the parent suddenly "recovers" from its "injury" and flies off while sounding its piercing calls."

Flattened Wing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Writhing

There was, as you have seen, a lot of that going on.

Some Bird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Some Bird in the Flowering Meadow

Some bird, but ain't that some fine carpet of meadow. I ought to know this one by now, since it's about the most common bird there, except maybe the next one, or the martins when they come. Jason identifies "Some Bird in the Flowering Meadow is a Western Kingbird."

Dwing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dwing Proclaiming Himself, His Territory, Life

reDWing Blackbird testifying.

Dwing Outta There - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dwing Outta There

And it is out of there. Whoosh!

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The Medical Center Rookery in Dallas

Great Egret with a Stick - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Great Egret with a Stick for its nest

My first shot of the day. A lark, really. Egrets were flying fast over the mown meadow between the basketball court and the woods, one after the other for about three birds worth, and I just looked up, raised camera and zoom and started shooting. I never expected anything from it, but I shot anyway. And got it, very nearly filling the photographic frame. Color me amazed.

Great Egret Too Close - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Too Close

I usually don't do much egret photographing, because there's so many of them. But they were looking particularly attractive on Mother's Day, I guess.

JUvenile Black-crowned Night Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

I photographed several Black-crowned Night Heron adults today, but none of them on a nest. Nothing particularly distinctive about those shots. This little one was probably hatched here. Why else would it be here? His family was going to the rookery and he didn't want to get left behind?

Great Egret Chicks - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Chicks in Nest

Mom had them pretty well hidden from prying photographers' eyes (We saw at least one other photog there today.) But we were persistent and at least 70 feet away. This is a blown up tiny portion of a much bigger frame.

GE Chick - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Chick in Nest High Above

What he said.

Little Blue Heron - A - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron - Stage One

Dapper Little Blue Heron with only a spare few feathers bushied up.

Little Blue Heron - B - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron - Stage Two

Handsome Little Blue Heron beginning to puff out to show off its plumage.

Little Blue Heron - Heads Up Display - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron - Heads Up Display

Nearly full-blown let-it-all-puff-out Little Blue Heron in Heads-up display. Familiar pose? See the magnificent Reddish Egrets adopting the same position in Matagorda [below on this page].

Tri-colored Heron Hunkered Over Nest - cpyr

Tricolored Heron Hunkered on Nest

And today's prize. Undoubtedly a Tricolored Heron. Jason told me where it would be, but Anna found it, and we both photographed it for a long time. We thought we could see little white furries under it, but those turned out to be fluffs of under-wing feathers. It was even further away than the egret chicks above, through many more leaves. The Tricolored parents were protecting that nest remarkably well.

We could not find a better viewing angle, and it was a booger to get past all those branches and leaves the few times it poked its head this far up. Compare with the one we saw in the open marshes at Matagorda.
 

NOTE: I keep adding pictures to our Great Texas Guld Coat bird hunt entries on this page, and I'll probably create a single page with just those on it. But first I want to figure out who all the unsubs are and have added the last new image to the mix.

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Port ARansas, Port Lavaca
and Matagorda
on the Texas Gulf Coast

 Not a Ring-beak - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Not a Ring-beak, Maybe a Herring Gull?

Here follows the most lush birding experience in my life. More birds, more new species in more new habitats than ever. Exciting, delicious. Fun. I had long hoped for an introduction to Texas Gulf Coast, and with this trip I got it. These photographs are presented in very close chronological order. Jason, who's a much better bird identifier than I doesn't know what this is, either, saying "That whole juvenile-to-third-winter stage along the Gulf Coast can be confusing and hard to pin down."

Another Tern - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile Royal Tern? (Question marks mean I'm still guessing.)

I'll try to keep the bird I.D chatter to a minimum, although I just shoot. I rarely know what the bird I'm photographing's species or common name is. If I get it in focus, I'll eventually discover that. The fun is in both the photographing and the learning later when I find out who it is, what they do and why.

Roseate Spoonbill - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Roseate Spoonbill Flyover

Back to the mainland on the ferry early this morning, I was photographing whatever flew over. After making blurry shots of faraway Great Blue Herons, I started shooting this bird and casually remarked to Anna, "This one's got pink wings."

Roseate Spoonbill Flyover - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

"This one's got pink wings."

I thought it was morning's reddish light on a lone egret, but the color did not change. Pink wings is all I could see. Focus hardly perfect, but it's a new species for me, if I counted those.

Gull - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

First Winter Western Gull

Standing on one leg. I got it from the front, also, but this has more info for the identifying part of this game. Then that was way too easy with Sibley's Guide to Birds.

Ruddy Turnstone - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ruddy Turnstone

I assumed this to be a distant cousin of the familiar Killdeer, but it's a dozen pages away, except when we look at them.

Ruddy Turnstones - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ruddy Turnstones

Nice of three of them to arrange themselves so we could see differing angles and parts.

Marsh at Port Lavaca - Photograph Copyright 2009 by Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

White Ibis at Formosa Wetlands Walkway in Port Lavaca

Formosa Wetlands is a long, sweeping walkway over a quick series of habitats. The walk terminates twice, into a large shaded gazebo (from where Anna shot this) and again, off to the right, out over the Gulf, then curves inward within stepping distance of a sandy beach and back to the parking lot. The Wetlands Walkway was named for the Formosa Plastics Corporation and there's a sign proclaiming that at the time of its construction it was "the world's longest boardwalk made entirely of recycled plastic." Odd placement between a trailer park and the Gulf, but a delightful walk past many species.

White Ibis - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

White Ibis out near The Gulf edge of the Marsh

We've seen these guys at the Medical Center Rookery in Dallas but it was a treat to see them on the coast.

Ibis Pair - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

White Ibis Pair

More impressive were the variety of birds visible from the elevated board — looked like wood to me — walk. We saw a White Ibis almost as soon as we entered the park, then watched it fly off to the other side, very near the Gulf itself. Along the way, we saw many more species. Remarkable for a place we'd never heard of before we happened on its location just driving around.

Curved Bill Brown Bird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

My "Curved-billed Brown Bird" is a Whimbrel

Wimbrel? I only got this one shot. More an accidental shot. It was moving. I was shooting. Pan and click.

Yellowlegs? - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Willet?

If this is a Willet, there's more like it coming soon.

Beach Surf Prancer - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Beach Surf Prancer

A moment of ocean-rich rest and relaxation within a step of the boardwalk. Within a few minutes, Anna had sunk her feet into the sand.

Terns into the Wind - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Royal Terns into the Gulf Breeze

I photographed these guys while Anna played in the surf.

Pelicans and Egrets - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Brown Pelicans, Snowy and Great Egret

In a series of tide pools sandwiched between the highway and the gulf, Anna saw saw these pelicans, so we stopped so I could photograph them with the Rocket Launcher (Sigma 150-500mm zoom). I was concentrating so much on them that I didn't even see the egrets a few steps behind them. Nice to see them now.

Gaping Pelican Beak - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gaping Brown Pelican Beak

From there, we could see familiar shapes in differing but recognizable colors, mostly brown, in the tide pools between the highway and the ocean. Glad to have had at least this one opportunity to watch me some pelicans on the ground for awhile.

Brown Pelican Swimming - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Brown Pelican Swimming

If I imagine all those browns and grays were white, it's remarkably similar to friends who drop by White Rock Lake every year for about six months.

Brown Pelican Fishing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Brown Pelican Partially Submerged

Although I've never seen an American White Pelican hold its wings up out of the water while it dunked its head — to look for food? It wasn't bathing, although there was some splashing.

Wad of Feathers - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wad of Feathers

No squashed cats or squirrels, but I did see this unidentifiable wad of feathers on the outside curb over a nearby bridge.

Spotted Plover Flying - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Spotted Sandpiper

For a long time I didn't have any candidates for this bird flying just off the coast. Then I had too many. Not a Killdeer, possibly not even a Plover. Maybe a Spotted Sandpiper. Looks a lot like one of those. Even has the spots. Okay, that's my guess and I'm sticking to it — till something better comes along.

Tri-colored Heron Over a House - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron Flying

We saw one of the two birds we hoped to find in their natural habitat on the coast of Texas. The Tricolored Heron, flying very near the palm-lined coast as we drove toward Matagorda.

Tri-colored Heron Aloft - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron Aloft

In many ways similar to my alter-ego the Great Blue Heron — one's even on my Bird Journal business card, but also in many ways different. It was a treat to see these guys. It'd be worth going back just to see them, but there's lots more else there, too.

Roseate Spoonbills Too Far Away - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Roseate Spoonbills Too Far Away

These were the first birds we saw at the great Matagorda swamp. It wasn't till I got this up on the screen that I even noticed the Reddish Egret in the lower left. The spoonbills stayed far away whenever we saw them, I'd say too far away, but I kept trying, more than a dozen times, just hoping..

Crossing the Yellow Lines - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Least Sandpipers Crossing the Double Yellow

We kept seeing these guys and not being able to identify them. I thought they were Western Sandpipers, but Jason says they are Least Sandpipers.

Tricolored Jump - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron

Almost as soon as it saw us see it, it began moving. Focus was a continuing issue. I seemed to get the front of it sharp while wings and back hardly ever got that way.

Tricolor Escape - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolor Escape

So very familiar a shape here. So like a Great Egret and a Great Blue Heron as it jumps into the air.

Tricolored Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron

Then lands not terribly further than it was.

Tri-color Standing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tri-color Standing

Probably more interested in finding food than escaping distant photographers on the road.

Stilt with Tricolor - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Stilt with Tricolor

In a later shot, we see an interloping Black-necked Stilt showing how lush those marshes were with birds.

Black-legged Shore Prancer - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Willet — Dark-legged Shore Prancer

Another unidentified bird on the edge of the coast.

American Oyster-catchers Pair - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American Oystercatchers

I don't remember shooting these birds. I'm utterly amazed I got them in focus, even sharp. I didn't know them when I saw them, but they were easy to find in the books. There's nobody quite like these birds.

Roseate Spoonbills Too Far to Photograph - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Roseate Spoonbills Too Far to Photograph

We kept seeing these guys way out in the marsh, always too far to photograph. Only after I got this shot up on the monitor did I notice the Reddish Egret in the lower left.

Reddish Drunk Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Drunken Reddish Egret Dancing

I'd read up on Reddish Egrets, so when we saw what looked like a drunken sailor of a bird splashing around a distant swamp spot, I know who it was immediately. Sometimes the Rocket Launcher chooses to focus and sometimes it doesn't bother.

Wobble-winged Reddish - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dancind Like a Drunken Sailor

I kept shooting the drunk-like antics of the big pink and brown bird and hoped it'd come closer, although still photography is not the ideal format for such herky-jerky goings on. We enjoyed watching it do its dance way out there on the marsh.

Drunk Reddish - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Drunk Reddish

It did, but sharpness was still elusive.

Reddish Egret and Black-necked Stilt in Marsh - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Reddish Egret with Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt and Reddish Egret apparently oblivious of the nearish (big telephoto lenses tend to 'compress' distance) other, like birds usually are.

Reddish Running to Fly - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Reddish Either Running to Fly

Running to fly.

Reddish Flying - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Reddish Flying

Then it took to the air ...

Reddish Over the Swamp - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Reddish Over the Swamp

... and flew across the marshes past the recent development that hovers on the horizon.

More Reddish Egret photos below.

Swamp Pair - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Pair of Willets

One bird disappears into the distance and two more pop into sight, and apparently, focus.

Solo Swamper - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Over the Swamp

Of course, these guys are closer and a breeze to identify, thanks to their distinctive wavy white wing design.

Whoah! - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Whoa!

I always wonder when I see something like this — whatever this may be — through the lens, whether I got it and in focus. Miracle of miracles, both, this time. I don't know what's going on, but it was amazing to see and startling to photograph. It's probably obvious to some of you what this is. Be nice if someone told me, although this photo seems startling.

Flying Head-on - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flying Head-on

Meanwhile one is, as I always hope in these situations, flying closer.

It Close - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Willet, Full Height

Till it fills the frame and stands in one place long enough to be focused upon, showing off its substantial tail feathers.

Our Star - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Our Star

According to the authors of the Lone Pine Birds of Texas, Willets "feed by probing muddy areas; also gleans the ground for insects; occasionally eats shots and seeds.

Gull Mob - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gull Mob

These greeted us at the edge of an official parking lot center of the bird thing at Matagorda, I think. I guess I pay too much attention to the birds and almost none to where I am at any given moment. Big parking lot, lots of marshes around it, with the crashing Gulf in easy earshot. I remember that and that we fed these guys the fries we got for lunch along the way.

Gull Pair Flying - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gulls Flying

I like them in twos.

Feeding The Gulls - copyright 2009 Anna Palmer

Guess who feeding the gulls french fries. Perhaps I should be embarassed about feeding greasy food to gulls, but it was too much fun, and I rarely feed birds, a policy that may prohibit me getting a feeder set up so I can photograph visitors when I get too old ro ramble lakes.

Tall Guy - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tall Guy — Eastern Meadowlark

This looks big, and I remember it large. But the only bird that looks like this is an Eastern Meadowlark, and it's only 9 to 9.5 inches long. We must have been close. Probably one of those times Anna drove me up and back, inch by inch, till I got the exact right angle.

Wing Bars - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Common Nighthawk

Then along comes this, whatever it might be. First I thought pheasant. Then owls. Which lead to paging through nightjars, Whip-poor-will and Common Nighthawks. And these are they.

Wing Stripes - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Common Nighthawk

Once, when I was floating in my Mom's pool out behind the house my parents lived in for 46 years, three of these took turns diving at me. Strange, surreal experience I actually got decent photographs of in the night. Hmmm, fascinating. Again, the Lone Pine Birds of Texas tells a fascinating story. When you get it, you can read the story. It's too long to retype.

Tricolored Heron Flying - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron

Flying closer.

Matagorda Tricolor - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Matagorda Tri-color

Landing even closer. Parts of which look very very familiar.

Matagorda Tri-color Looks Back - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Matagorda Tri-color Looks Back

So many familiar parts in such an unfamiliar package.

Tricolored Heron Walking - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tri-color Walking

Beautiful bird. I watched it through my longest lens a long time.

Tri-color Flapping - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tri-color Flapping

As it wandered off into the swamp.

Reddish Egret Landing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Reddish Landing

This, as you can probably tell, is less detailed and more pixelated, signs of it having been photographed from a long, long distance away and over-enlarged. Not awful, however..

Reddish Egret Stepping Through - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Reddish Stepping Through

This is another Reddish Egret we found awhile later. Much closer, so we could recognize familiar shapes with strange colors and textures. This one stayed around a long time, so I got a bunch of them in focus and sharp.

Reddish Egret Transitional Fluff - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Reddish Transitional Fluff

This one has just seen another bird of the other sex who interests this one. The feathers are going up, and its attention is riveted on the Reddish in the next pond.

Reddish Egrets in Heads-up Display - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Reddish Heads-up Display

Soon, we saw the two standing off at only middle distance. Gradually, they got closer. Then they started bending their heads back as if to watch something up high. I've seen egrets and grackles and Little Blue Herons (above) do this. It's either a call to battle or an invitation to mating.

Reddish Egrets Heads-up - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mutual Heads-up Display

"Another common courtship display," David Allen Sibley says in his Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior chapter on Ardeids in the paragraphs on Courtship Displays, "is the stretch, in which the bird curves its head and neck over its back until the bill is vertical; legs flexed, it then utters a call and brings its head and neck forward and down. This display emphasizes the specialized plumes of most species, as well as any soft-part coloration."

Goodbye Coast - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Good-bye, Gulf Coast with a Great Blue Heron

After these shots, we decided to head back to San Antonio, then to Dallas a day later. We both want to go back to The Texas Coast.

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May 8 — White Rock Lake

 One Martin - 2 House Werns - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One Martin, Two House Sparrows

We've been watching these Martin Houses every time we're near. Now, finally, they have residents. Although a lot of them are not Martins. "House" Sparrows make a certain sense, but all those other guys? Why now? Couldn't those other guys have moved in before?

One Martin - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One Purple Martin (upper left), The rest aren't.

a House Sparrow, another sparrow-looking bird all puffed up and a one light brown unsub.

Three Purple Martins - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Three Female Purple Martins

More Martins now. There's three boxes in this neighborhood.

Martin House - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Open House

Two on the left facing the lake belong to Jim Cook, who now lives across the street, but he's about to retire, and he's taking the houses with him. Square Martin houses are old-school. New ones are pods. They still have to be cleaned out each season. Martin's are messy, he told us.

Two Martins Looking at Each Other - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Female Martins Looking at Each Other Around the Corners

Jim came out when he saw us photographing the houses full of birds. We exchanged cards. We asked how much his home is selling for. What a wonderful place to live. He said a lot. We knew it was more than we could afford, but we were interested anyway. The Martin house on the right stays. There were more down the street and around the corner, still overlooking the lake.

Another Victim - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Hapless Victim of a Discarded Plastic Bag

A snake. I know my snakes a lot less than I know my birds, so this is utterly hopeless. But it's got a plastic bag on its head, and if it hasn't got out of it this far, it's likely to get worse. This is not fun for the snake. But a snake's gotta do what a snakes gotta do.

Wood Family Coming - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mrs. Wood and her remaining five ducklings

It's spring, and we haven't followed many — any, really — young families. These are from the Old Boat House Lagoon.

Mom Wood and Her Teen Babies - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mom Wood and Her Teen Babies

I found these on May 23 while deleting also-rans from my daily shot folders. Kinda nice. Not sure why I missed it first time through. I think I may have wanted not to confuse us with two sets of Woodies, the teens a couple pix up, and these younger ducklings.

The Woodies - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

But I stay confused, why not you, too.

 

And a local male, to boot.

Mrs. Wood and the Five Ducklings Left - cpryy

Wood Family Going

Two different families with kits of differing sizes and ages. A microcosm of raising Wood Ducks. Interesting.

Hopping Sparrow - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hopping Sparrow

I followed these guys for several minutes. They're fast and active. I was just hoping for something in focus, and this is a small portion of a much larger frame, but here I got it appearing to leap like a ballet star. It's actually running, and here I caught it at the top of its arc. Little challenges. The big challenge will be to i.d it. Two-tone biggish beak, and that flare back from its eyes. Otherwise a sparrow in sparrow clothing, maybe.

Rad Starling - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Rad Starling

Told Anna recently that the so-called European Starlings didn't seem nearly as vivid as they were earlier, and I wondered why. These starlings provided a test subject who held still long enough to get focused.

Closer to Real Starling - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Real Starling

So what I remembered never happened. It was me fancying up the photographs. Drat. Hate when I do that. Oops. May be a lesson learned. I hope.

I've just added several of Anna's photographs of beach birds and other species. With Anna's and my photographs to study, I've determined who are many more species. The next installment of our Gulf Coast adventure will feature birds we experienced at Matagorda, the lushest place we've ever found birds big enough to photograph at great distance.

Gorgeous Grackle - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gorgeous Grackle

Then there's the Great-tailed Grackle, who hardly needs Photoshopping to make them beautiful.

Muscovies - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Muscovies Preening and Just Standing — He and She

Not to even mention the Muscovy Ducks along Yacht Club Row.
 

NOTE: Anna sent me a link to a great series of large, free videos about identifying birds in the field on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site.

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Rockport on the Texas Gulf Coast

First Bird After Bridges - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

First Bird After Bridges

The first bird I photographed after a long line of coastal highway bridges and pelican poles in the actual ocean was this. A Red-tailed Hawk, just like the ones at home. They are everywhere in this country, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise. I guess the only surprise would be to know what's in its beak.

First Flying Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

First Brown Pelican Flyover

We zipped past pelicans on posts in the water fairly confident we'd find many more along the actual coast. We did, but this was the first flyover picture I took.

First Tern - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Laughing Gull

Instead of going through all the blah-de-blah hysterics about what bird this or that or the other is, I'm going to save myself a lot of time by putting here the best photographs I have from these places and believing that good and honest identifications will follow. I think this is a Laughing Gull, so does Jason, so it's unanimous.

Or This - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Laughing Gull

Meanwhile, I'll continue to scour my bird I.D books, especially Sibley's Guide to Birds, which is still far and away the best. Gradually, eventually, you, me and sideways will come up with the right identifications. Anna is already way ahead of me on that. She usually is.

Dark Tipped Beak - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Laughing Gull with a Straight Face

Here goes some of that blah-de-blah I said I would not to engage in. Sorry. I think I know this one.

I wondered whether "Or This" above and "The First Decent" here were the same birds. They sure look like it, except for this one's beak tip that's dark and maybe a little straighter. As important but subtler are the stars on what looks like their tails when they're not flying but are actually their wing tips.

This one has tiny little four-pointed stars and the next one up has bigger stars. If I'm reading my Sibley's correctly (It's always possible.), this is a Laughing Gull, and the one just up from here is, well, something else. Probably a Franklin's Gull.

Curl-winged Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Brown Pelican Flapping

Brown Pelicans may have more elegant plumage than my friends the American White Pelicans who visit White Rock Lake for six months every year. (Gone now, alas.) I was surprised to see that. I thought Brown Pelicans were just, you know, brown. But their breeding colors are beautiful.

Gray Gull - copyright 2009 Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved.

Gray Gull - Copyright 2009 Anna Palmer

First summer Laughing Gull, if I can see Sibley's tiny illustrations correctly.

Ready To Fly - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ready To Fly

Either a Franklin's Gull, a Laughing Gull or something else. I like that its head and beak are sharp and everything else isn't quite. This is nearly full-frame. With the Rocket Launcher. I had to back up to focus on the bird. They're not shy and hardly noticed us humans.

Corm On The Edge - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Corm on the Edge

From another, much less interesting photograph of this same bird standing on the edge of the ocean, I could see that it was not a Double-crested Cormorant like we have here, many year-around. Nope, this was the elusive here, probably common there, Neotropic Cormorant.

First GBH - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

First GBH

I tend to see Great Blue Herons wherever I go, and we were pleased to see this one on the edge of the coast in Rockport, Texas, our first Coastal stop.

Resplendant Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Resplendent Pelican

A beauty all their own. I was expecting brown but had no notion of stripes and whites and scalloped lines. Pretty. Sibley says they are more agile in flight than their larger, White cousins, although I never saw they do anything but fly in more or less straight lines.

Aransas Wildlife Refuge

Bull With Cattle Egrets - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bull with Cattle Egrets

We've seen Cattle Egrets often, but so rarely with actual cows, that when we saw this seriously ridiculous little scene of surrealism, we burst out laughing. I still giggle looking at this oh, so serious guy. But there was a sturdy fence between us at all times. This a ways outside the refuge and served as a great little introduction to wild life.

Black Vulture - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black Vulture

Not sure why the odd angle. I may have been photographing up through a sun roof. I think the pole is taller than most poles. It might even be a telephone pole. Jaunty.

Birds We Didn't See There

All the Birds We Didn't See There

I'd heard about Aransas Wildlife Refuge for years, maybe decades when my family lived in The Valley. When we visited, they were experiencing a drought, which meant all their pools and creeks and pond were empty of water, and the birds who usually inhabit those places weren't around.

Driftwood at Aransas - copyright 2009 Anna Palmer

All Those Perches But No Birds

It would have been nice for them to tell us that, but they took our money and wished us well, only counseling that the "mosquitoes are bad." But the 'skeeters had fled with all the birds, so we were all greased up with OFF without any bugs to repel. Eventually, we saw all but the White Pelican, Wood Stork and Whooping Crane but not at AWR.

Swept Back - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Swept-back Wings: Adult Caspian Tern in Breeding Plumage

We toured their loops anyway, quickly learning not to expend much energy because we weren't likely to find many birds there. A few of them found us, however. Early summer Royal Tern? A McGillicutty Wren?

Wild Turkey - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wild Turkey

Significantly different from the last Wild Turkeys we'd encountered near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon a few years back.

Wild Turkey Closer - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wild Turkey Closer

We guessed this was a Texas Wild Turkey, and I kept shooting as Anna drove us past it. Here might be an ideal point to note that Anna driving and watching — her vision is much better than mine; she sometimes reads signs I can barely see.

And any of these shots — especially the Tricolored Herons and Reddish Egrets we've yet to see, but a lot more than that, too, were dependent upon her willingness to stop suddenly, back up six inches, and skootchy around so I could get just the right line on this or that or the other bird.

Thanks always to Anna, for helping make my photographs shine.

Wild Turkey Passing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wild Turkey Passing

We were passing it. Not it passing us. This, what Sibley identifies as an adult Eastern Wild Turkey, was ambling slowly, surely, heading we had no clue where. We were just delighted to find anything birdly around but the vultures.

Turkey Vulture Flying - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Turkey Vulture Looking Suspiciously at Us

Not that the vultures were all that bad. Some flew close to pose. Or maybe they were checking out how warm were our carcasses?

Butterfly with Thistle - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Butterfly with Thistle

You know birds are scarce when J R's photographing butterflies. I now doubt that's a thistle, but it is purple, and the big-winged bug is mostly black. Remarkably good pairing of hues. Anna to the rescue again. She says it's a Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly on a Thistle.

Port Aransas

Flying Pelican Pair - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flying Pelican Pair

Somewhere between the Aransas Wildlife Refuge and our first ferry boat ride, I spied these guys flying precisely parallel. I'm not sure who the back one is — it may be a juvenile, but the bird on the right is showing full breeding regalia for an Atlantic Brown Pelican.

Pier Tern with Gull - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Caspian, Royal or Elegant Tern — but Probably a Caspian — with Gull

This along side of my first ferry boat ride in a long, long time. Probably a Laughing Gull behind.

Another Good Tern - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Good Tern, Probably a Caspian Tern

Here we go again with the I.D trip. Bright orange beak. Hard to tell from this angle the exact shape of its black cap. Peterson's illustrations are much bigger than Sibley's, but I can't tell from either who this is. Though I'm confident it's the same as the one above.

Abandoning Peterson's for good old Sibley's, and I see this distinctive wing pattern — Sibley calls it an "obvious dark wedge on primaries" — only on theCommon Tern, which must be what this is.

V Gull - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Laughing Gull

Pretty, even if I didn't manage to get it into the frame. Something about the churning, uneven forward motion of the ferry. I got a little steadier on my feet on a subsequent ride across the water, as we'll see tomorrow, maybe. Something really special I only saw there, then and briefly.

Tarpon Inn Grackle - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tarpon Inn Grackle

This was the best of a bunch of shots of grackles grackling in the treetops along the long, rocking-chair lined upstairs porch at the Tarpon Inn where we stayed. Where we, in fact, were the only guests staying. At checkout, I asked the woman if this was High Season. She said there's only Season and Not Season, and this was Season.

Fifteen Gulls - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fifteen Gulls

There's a certain art space in Dallas that thinks it's celebrating its fifteenth anniversary with a members show themed on the number 15. Very creative, huh? I was going to look for a picture with fifteen somethings. This may be it.

Stilts at the Beach - copyright 2009  Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved.

Stilts at the Beach

Obviously Anna did, but I never even saw the Black-necked Stilts at the beach. I think they might have been even closer than we saw them at Mitchell Lake near San Antonio.

A Disparity of Size - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Big Bird, Little Bird

Gulls are not huge, but the squirt on the right is significantly smaller. With no real understanding of the genera, I assumed it was some sort of Sandpiper. I'm guessing a Western Sandpiper, but what gull is the other bird? Jason says the little one onr the right is probably a Sanderling or a Semipalmated Sandpiper in transitional plumage.

Tiny Sandpiper - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Probably a Sanderling, Possibly a Semipalmated Sandpiper in Transitional Plumage

I photographed a Least Sandpiper last March. I bring this up, because I thought this might be one of those. But it does not look that close now that I've got them both on screen, I see they're different. Okay, I need another theory. This one's legs are black. Hmmm. Maybe it's a Western Sandpiper. But the drawings in LP-BoT and Sibley's look very different. Jason says what's now the caption under the photo. Thanks, Jason.

Ocean Egret Flight A - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Coastal Egret Flight

I'm pretty sure these are egrets, but I'm not sure which ones. Magnifying the original exposures, I see long, orange bills, indeterminate-colored trailing feet and a hint of orange mohawks.

Ocean Egrets - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ocean Egrets

Cattle Egrets? I thought they were bigger. But they are beautiful against the slosh of Gulf I still think of as ocean as other, major out-of-focus gulls watch from the sand.

Black Skimmers - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black Skimmers

This is the only decipherable shot I have of these or any Black Skimmers. They flew in low and fuzzy (very out of focus, but then so were the egrets that time) from the left as I was panning egrets to the left. I was enchanted by the egrets and the surf, so hardly gave the time of evening to the Skimmers, whom I only may have recognized. I got three shots of them between photographing the egrets. Three seconds elapsed time — more elusive than a Bald Eagle.

They forage by skimming their lower mandibles just below the water's surface, slamming their upper mandible whut when they sense contact with a fish," says Lone Pine's Birds of Texas, always ready with a colorful tidbit.

Tern Family - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Caspian Terns

Shooting this my assumption was, it's one big happy family. But maybe it's just a bunch of terns. One good one deserves another, so here's a bunch. I see at least three varieties. May be different sexes, ages or species. The one on the left looks like the littler ones' erratic uncle.

Gull and Turnstone - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Disparity of Size

Laughing Gull with an Adult Breeding Male Ruddy Turnstone finding food among the grains of sand.

Protect Wildlife - copyright 2009  Anna Palmer

Protect Wildlife

xx

Two Gulls Watch a Bicycler - copyright 2009 Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved.

Two Gulls Watch a Bicycler on the Beach

Now, I wish we'd walked barefoot in the sand, the waves crashing, the air salty. But while there this time, we only watched. Gotta gotta gotta go back to the beach.

Beach Scene - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Evening Beach Scene

33 photographs worked up today. That's enough. I'm weary. More tomorrow, although I really need to photograph something at White Rock. I miss it. But I'm learning so very much these long, intensive days of computer-photography. I keep imagining me teaching this stuff now that I'm refamiliarizing myself with all these variables. More now about photography than birds, but that'll sink in, too.

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Mitchell Lake Audubon Center

Snowy Egret and Glossy Ibis - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret with Immature Ibis

We got lost on the way, so had less than an hour to explore Mitchell Lake Audubon Center just south of San Antonio. We paid our two bucks each and took our chances, which paid off handsomely just a few minutes later when we turned on a road overlooking this pan of water and our first of the many exotic birds there.

SA Ibis - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lake Mitchell Immature Glossy or White-faced Ibis

Our best guess — plus the guy we met in the Mitchell Lake office who said he'd seen a Glossy Ibis on one of the lakes — is that this is a juvenile Glossy Ibis. My very informative, though less useful as a identifier because of its scarcity of images of varieties within species, Lone Pine Birds of Texas (LP-BoT) is always good for an interesting story.

It could, however, as easily be an immature White-faced Ibis. The LPBoT authors say, "This species and the White-faced Ibis present one of the more difficult field identification problems — they are virtually indistinguishable in the nonbreeding plumage."

Ibis Expells - Photograph Copyright 2009 by Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ibis Expells

Here, it seems to be expelling stuff it's dredged up from the bottom that it did not want to swallow. I know the feeling.

Ibis Lifts a Foot-full of Muck - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Immature Ibis Lifts a Foot-full of Muck

About the Glossy Ibis, LPBoT authors say it "probably used the trade winds to fly westward from Africa and colonize the West Indies and then the Southeast. In eastern Texas, the Glossy Ibis is a local and increasing permanent resident." This was the only one we saw on our trip. But not, as you will see, our only Ibis.

SA Ibis Flying - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Immature Glossy Ibis Flying

Under "Feeding," at the bottom of their respective pages, the LP-BoT authors describe the Glossy's "Feeding: probes bill into mud or sand; eats crayfish, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects." Whereas the White-faceds "probes for fish, crustaceans or worms; looks for insects in fields."

Black-necked Stilt Standing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-necked Stilt Standing

We'd seen stilts in The Lower Rio Grande Valley but not since, and San Antonio is about 230 miles north of there. It was a delightful surprise.

Classic Stilt Pose - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

More Classic Stilt Pose

Supposedly, this bird has the longest legs of any bird in North America.

Black-necked Stilt Pair - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-necked Pair

Wish I could claim I shot this to show the variations between male (foreground) and female Black-necked Stilts. But it was wholly accidental.

Pink-legged Stilt - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pink-legged Stilt Flying Low

Actually, it's called a Black-necked Stilt, but I do love those brilliant pink legs!

Stilt Landing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Stilt Landing

Giving vividity to that name, stilt.

Black-necked Stilt in Green with Daylight - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-necked Stilt in Green Under Sunlight

Shot much later, near the end of our brief but bountiful visit to Mitchell Land, this photo shows the red of their eyes and the barest hint of shadows. The green version.

Dowitcher Flight - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Long-billed Dowitchers in Flight

The question is, Are these Short-billed or Long-billed dowitchers? And, of course, I didn't know for sure. Neither do I know who is the interloper in the middle, who does not fit any of the age, breeding status or location markers for this species — that I can discern. But it's sure got the form down. According to the maps in Peterson's Field Guide to the Birds of North America, only the Long-billed variety makes it as far north as San Antonio. Neither species' bills are short.

Two Dowitchers Closer - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Long-billed Dowitchers Closer

Dowitcher Wings Up - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Long-billed Dowticher Flying Wings Up

Long-Billed Dowitchers' long bills look a lot longer in the books than these. The more immediately noticeable difference is that the Long-billeds are, except in breeding season, which happens to be just now, when they're redder and browner — are greener-grayer and the Short-billeds Dowitchers are more brown. Not much help.

Short-billed Dowitchers Feeding - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Long-billed Dowitchers Feeding

Again, according to the LT-BoT, the long-bills often put their heads underwater searching for food. It doesn't say that about the short-bills.

Unsub - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lesser Yellowlegs in the Weeds

Looks like a Greater Yellowlegs to this uninformed bird identifier. That's the closest species I've seen in the four books I've poured through so far. And of course, it's a guess. Here, it's almost always a guess, unless I know the species well. And I don't.

Two Birds - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lesser Yellowlegs and Wilson's Phalarope

The one on the left is probably either a Short-billed Dowitcher or Lesser Yellowlegs or a Screaming Yellow Zonker. The bird on the right is a Wilson's Phalarope, whom we will shortly see in a much more active state. I chose those two serious possibilities for the bird running to get up air speed after way too much paging through books. I'm sure somebody out there knows these guys better than I. Wouldn't take much.

Two Birds a Bit Later - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lesser Yellowlegs and 's Phalarope

Our visit to Mitchell Lake was our introduction to most of these species, so we're not yet familiar with them. Still don't know them by their habits. I'll look back at this page when I link it from May 2010 and think, what a dope I was then. Assuming by then, I'll have had more experience with these and similar birds.

Our Guy in the Air - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lesser Yellowlegs Flying

With this photo, this same ascending bird looks even more like the Greater Yellowlegs, but this caption is short enough I won't mind changing so it'd be accurate.

Philanropes Circling - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wilson's Phalaropes Feeding with

We were amazed — what a hoot! — when we saw these Wilson's Phalaropes speeding around in tight circles in the water. We had no idea what was going on, but we assumed it was some method to catch food. Or else an elaborate, group mating dance.

Wilson's Philaropes Feeding - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wilson's Phalaropes Circling

Wish a still photograph — or at least these, the best focused of these extremely long distance shots — would convey the speed and agility and pure crazy merry-go-round-ness of these birds stirring up the water. My Lone Pine Birds of Texas to the explanation, "Whirls in tight circles in water to stir up prey, then picks insects and small crustaceans from the water's surface or just below it." So that's what they're looking at so intently here.

Two Birds In One - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Birds in One

The first seventeen times I looked at this tiny portion of a much larger photograph of more than a dozen different birds, I assumed this was all one bird. One with an elaborate wing. After staring at it mulling this 'elaborate wing theory,' I suddenly snapped that that slight protrusion on its farthest right was the tip on the second, flying bird's beak, and the two are definitely two separate birds and most likely of two species.

Another great discovery dashed by reality as we don't know it.

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From My Parents' Porch

The Furry Whatsit - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Furry Whatsit Flying Either Left or Right

Not sure what this bird is or which way it's going. I photographed it and the others in today's journal entry, from the patio porch of my parent's retirement home in San Antonio four stories up with a fine view of the parts of San Tone that do not include commerce or other large buildings. The view from there is mostly trees with a scattering of residential housing and the distant tower of a medical building. And birds.

Barn Swallow Silhouette - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Swooping Barn Swallow Silhouette

A few of the birds we saw from there perched on branches or the ubiquitous poled wires, outdoor light fixtures, etc. But most of them zoomed and skittered across ground or air. It was fun to watch and an amazing challenge to attempt to photograph. As you can see. Catching a Barn Swallow anytime ever is a serious outcome to a larkish adventure. They go fast, turn on mini-molecules and seem to change direction instantly as they chase bugs with even more erratic motion ability than swallows.

 White Striped Pigeon - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

White-winged Dove Close to the Ground

This one is almost focused. Probably because there's ground a few feet below it, so it cannot change distance from it to me quickly. Peterson maps Rock Pigeons — them with fan-like tails — stopping suddenly at the Canadian border, but I betcha they got pigeons, too.

Probably the Pigeon Again - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

White-winged Dove Again

Looks familiar, eh?

Yellow Bird - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Yellow Bird

Well, we're pretty sure it's yellow.

Mock-over - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

White-winged Dove Over

This bird only may be a mockingbird. I think it's something else entirely. Mayhaps another pigeon. Hard to tell at this distance (considerable), focus and action stopping. For me. Jason knew it as a WWD.

And A Dove - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And A White-winged Dove

Notice how so much better my photography becomes when the bird in question doesn't move.

RWBB ha! - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-butted Brown Bird

I see a spot of red, I assume it's a Red-winged Blackbird, but this could be almost anything. So comforting to have a whole journal entry I do not feel compelled to identify the birds in. I've always assumed this bird was going that-a-way, but now I'm wondering if it is, instead, coming this way. Is the red on its butt or the back of its neck. Probably should have been paying more attention.

Snowy Egret Flypast - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret Fly-past

Lest you believe I never managed to focus a single bird on my evening and morning and near noon forays to the patio to photograph whatever flew past, here's one in decent focus. Big white bird with long beak, dark shadowed body, black legs and orange feet stuck out aerodynamically behind. It's gotta be a Snowy Egret.

Probably A Swallow - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Probably Another Swallow

Following this whoof of relief, I'll clue you into many more of the colorful treasures we found south of San Tone on our way to the Gulf Coast and its incredible variety of bird life.

And Another Swallow - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And Another Swallow with Somebody Else

Hey, I got one of them in focus. Probably had been following its rollercoaster ride and only saw the other blur much later, if ever at all.

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White Rock Lake

The Gull Stream - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission. - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Gull Stream

MAY 3: In Sunset Bay more to be social than for photographs since all I had was my littlest lens, a 50mm Anna gave me for Christmas. Nice lens. Perfect for available light shooting, copies and still lifes, but very wide for shooting birds up close. Till I noticed the sky above us streaming with strange (not Ring-beaked) gulls. The flow continued past when we left at least three-quarters of an hour later.

Gulls Streaming Across the Sky - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Franklin's Gulls Streaming Across the Sky Over Sunset Bay

They didn't stop and sit a spell. They just flowed and flowed over the earth. Not a great expanding and contracting mass but long and steady streams from the south heading north. Anna guessed Haggerman. I guessed there were thousands of them. One time two long, loose lines from differing directions — one south, one east south east, seemed to notice each other on the crossroads and mix and mingle a little, but kept flowing and flowing.

As Annette said, "It's always something different." Nice of it to do that.

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Our Lady of the Lake Rookery

Stick Passing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Herons Passing Nest Sticks

These photographs feel different, so I'm treating them differently. Their actual originating dates are not important. This page will be less monthly and more existential, though I will still wander White Rock often as I roll out the avian treasures of Anna's and my trip South. We spent several days in San Antonio visiting my parents, then down to the Gulf Coast to see and photograph many birds we'd never seen before.

I just barely got a beak in the left edge of today's opening photograph. If I'd known what was going on just 750mm equivalence away, I would have included both. Moments later I've followed the clues, backed off the zoom to include the pair and hoped something interesting would happen. As usual, it already was.

Little Blue Stick Passing - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Stick (for Nest) Passing

Here one Little Blue Heron 'hands' or beaks a stick appropriate for use in a Little Blue Heron nest. One of the earliest ones in this nest. Almost a symbol of betrothal, not unlike a ring.

We love the rookery on the island in the creek across from Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) on its series of wooded islands. Very informal, largely unnoticed, it seems. We've never seen anyone else there watching birds. We park in the school's parking lot, then walk around their short fence to the public park walk-by the rookery.

Stick Passed - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Nest Stick Passed

Especially nice to see these little moments of nest-making, even if they were happening right in front of me, and only later did I put the pieces together.

Little Blue Herons Pair - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another, Apparently Bigger, Little Blue Heron Pair

We expected Little Blue Herons at OLLU, and we found them there in spades. By July there'll be little white Little Blue Herons all mixed with the nearly indistinguishable little white Cattle Egrets all over the place. We hope to go back about then to install Mom's new computer. Maybe there'll be some little Tricolors, too, although I've never seen one of those and might not identify them easily, although Sibley's shows them reddish.

Big Fluffy Red Little Blue Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Big Fluffy Red Little Blue Heron

Nice thing about OLLU's little rookery is that the creek level is well below the ground on the Our Lady side. It's a little steep there, with no level place at the bottom and lots of weeds and uneven ground down to it. The joy is that there's lots of levels to stand at and shoot at birds — Little Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and Cattle Egrets — maybe even Anhingas sometimes, all only a few dozen feet to the island over the creek.

Little Blue Heron with Feathers Awry - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron with Feathers Awry

Not sure what's happening here, but I love the fly-away Little Blue feather look. I would rather have had a mesh of green in the background, but that Cattle Egret adds a touch of class. Or clash. Or something. Like the other rookeries we've known, this one is thick with herons and egrets.

Little Blue Heron vs. Cattle Egret - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Faces Off with Cattle Egret

Here's another Little Blue Heron encounter with a Cattle Egret. They're circling each other. This time I knew what was happening, even though it happened fast with a flurry of feathers upraised.

Little Blue Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Profile

Seems a nice, closer-up portrait goes right about here. I love watching, photographing and trying to figure out later

Little Blue Heron in Tree - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron in Tree

Followed, of course, by a farther-away looking other Little Blue.

Little Blue Heron Jump - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Jump

One hopping.

Little Blue Heron Reach - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Reach

One flapping.

Little Blue Scramble - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Scrambling Out of the Picture

Another LBH jumping and flying too fast for the photographer to catch. Exit Stage Left.

Two Snowies in Varying States of Drag - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Snowies in Varying States of Fluff

Snowies are probably the most fluffed up of the herons and egrets we know, and they don't just show off at mating or in rookeries. Whom we have come to know as Mr. Fluffy, the cock of the rock, agitator and troublemaker among gatherings of both species, is the showiest of the two genres we have encountered.

There's only this one shot of the Snowies at Our Lady of the Lake Rookery, but they abounded there, too.

Tri-color Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tri-color Heron

These bluish herons are Tricolored Herons. Fairly elusive here, I had only ever photographed one one time — and that was an accident. I thought it was a Great Blue Heron. There's more of them all along the Gulf Coast around Florida, in the Caribbean and up the East Coast than this far inland.

Pair of Tricolored Herons - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pair of Tricolored Herons

I recently had instructions to find a pair at Dallas' Medical Center Rookery and actively sought a nest there, but I didn't find it. In some vague way, this whole trip south was to right that wrong. I did not expect to find a pair of them here, although I harbored a secret desire to catch one on the island rookery. These two were only nestled together on this potential nesting spot a few seconds before they blurred away where I was not able to follow.

Tricolored Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron Stolen Back from Nearly No Focus

They tried to occupy a prime nesting location on the OLLU side of the first island, but other species ganged up and chased them away. My excuses for only very blurred action pix are that it was darkly cloudy, so shutter speeds were slow and depth of field almost nonexistent. I'm surprised I got these anywhere near.

Tri Swoop - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron Swoop

I suppose I should show you one of my visually incomprehensible shots, so you understand what that means. I usually don't show my really confusing shots, but this next shot qualifies big-time, although there's a nice mix of nests and species, while being remaining visually perplexing.

Tricolored Heron & Snowy Egret - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Breeding Tricolored Heron with Snowy Egret

Essentially, Tricolored Herons look a lot like my dear friends the Great Blue Herons, except with white underwings and body, as shown here. Although there are other dissimilar details, a Tricolor Looks like a GBH in white, pre-Polypropylene, long woollies underwear. We'll be seeing much better photos of Tricolored Herons when we get to the Gulf Coast sometime next week.

Cattle Egret and Eggs - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret on Eggs

Faintly, the lightest of blues, these eggs are being warmed by this breeding fluffed-out Cattle Egret on a smallish, loose nest. Other, essentially similar photographs not showing the egret in quite as good lights, shows two blue eggs.  Cattle Egrets have reddish among mostly white feathers and yellow beaks.

One Dozen Cattle Egrets - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One Dozen Cattle Egrets

These small adult Cattle Egrets look like juveniles because they're small, but in a couple months, the reason these birds are in the rookery will mix merrily with juvenile Little Blue Herons and be difficult to distinguish from them.

Great Egret Tends Nest

Great Egrets are bigger, with black legs and feet, yellow beaks and — in breeding adults — green lores. Maybe even some wispy reddish plumes around the edges.

Snowy Egret with Eggs - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret Tends Eggs

Snowy Egrets have black legs and distinctive yellow feet, long black beaks with yellow lores and the most beautiful blue eggs, which are the real business of a rookery. Next trip will be Mitchell Lake just a little south of San Antonio, where we found more exotic treasures.

 

May 2 White Rock Lake

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on top - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on Top

Been waiting all year for this hilltop up to Winfrey to sprout out again, and today, finally, it has. Not only with tall flowering weeds but with birds to catch the bugs the flowers attract. Wonderful little symphony of effects, many of them photographic. Lovely at last. Spring.

Lone RWBB - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lone Red-winged Blackbird on the Flowering Horizon

Things are looking up for my favorite meadow.

Two Birds on Bells - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Birds on Bells

Flower-top face-off.

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Index of Pages
A year ago

 

All text and photographs copyright 2009 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without
specific written permission from 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 less than three years, although I've been photographing for 45 years.

Thanks always to Anna.

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