May 27 2009
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
Who get spooked or had perched there long
enough already. Who knows what a Wood Duck's thinking.
Wood Ducks Out
Then they flew off toward Dreyfuss Point.
And eventually disappeared in the green.
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
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.
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
Two One-legged Ducks
The Bird Squad had a picnic Friday evening.
The Passing Lane
Most of the regulars were there, along with
sushi, salad, cheese & crackers and the other usual picnic stuff.
Still in winter thinking, I brought my wide-angle
zoom, not the Rocket Launcher. There was plenty sunlight at 6 pm.
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
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.
Probably a grackle.
White Rock Lake
Grackles Fall I
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.
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.
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.
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
Grackles Fall V
Which is pretty close to the ground, still
falling, but the brakes are on. Then both birds flew away.
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.
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
Of a mockinbird flashing its wing stripes
as the flapped.
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.
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
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
Adult Male Mallard with Very Juvenile Wood
Ducks in a Row
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 Ducklings with Wood Duck Mom
I know these ducklings are Wood Ducklings,
because they are accompanied by a Wood Duck mom.
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 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
Mom's got her head underwater. The kits seem
to be considering it.
A little bit of picking stuff off the surface
of the mud.
Water on a Duck's Back and Head
Female Red-winged Blackbird at Water's
Not a problem to hang off the edge of a vertical
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 Streamlined Barn Swallow
These were today's earliest shots. A random
Barn Swallow streaming across the sky.
Same Speedy Barn Swallow
Then flapping awhile, then coast some more.
Common but beautiful.
Black-crowned Night-Hero with Chick
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.
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
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-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.
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
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.
Same Day, Same Place, Different Notion
Little Blue Jump
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
It's almost never a good idea to shoot up
some hapless bird's butt, as feathery as its finery might be.
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.
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 — 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 Heron Jump — Back at the rookery
Great jumping headless Tricolors.
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 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.
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
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
Other times the shot only vaguely might have
Crown Up, Wings Up, Focus Down
Plus, no legs or feet.
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 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,
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.
White Rock Lake
Redwinged Blackbird Hunting for Bugs
Some bird identifications are almost too easy.
Red-winged Blackbird hunting bugs in the bug-infested meadows around Winfrey
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
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
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
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
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 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.
Flapping its little wings, because they're
March to the lake, Mom at the lead off to
"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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Female House Sparrow Intent
Then stare back, oh, so intently, into the
ground, stick beak and body in again, root around in there, and ...
Come up with a nice, little, chewy morsel.
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
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.
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.
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
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 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
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
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.
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.
It was a lot easier to focus on one bird than
the flock. This is a Killdeer.
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
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
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.
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.
Smiling Red-eared Slider
The other turtle(s) we saw were Red-eared
Sliders like this one.
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
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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).
The Green Side of the Black-chinned Hummer
Where Kathy knew there'd be hummingbirds.
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.
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 — 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.
White Rock Lake
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.
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 Blackbird Proclaiming
Proclaiming territory, need for females, that
it's a Red-winged Blackbird. Whatever.
Can even see his whiskers, good for catching
Flight of the Grackle
Seems to have grackle eyes, but it's the vertical
tail that clenches it.
Male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on one of those
tall weeds in that gorgeous meadow.
Wingdown Scissor tail
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher End View
Probably a Red-winged Blackbird, But Ya
Or something else, but likely a RWBB.
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.
Barn Swallows on Wires
Not far away, a very similar species, except
a little brighter colors.
Barn Swallow from oblique angle.
Wet Baby Mallard with Mud on Its Beak
And Anna got this one.
Tricolored Heron with Crown and Occipital
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-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
We also saw a Great Blue Heron in a faraway
pond, two people walking with a dog (inimical to bird-watching) and a ...
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.
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 Looking for Bugs
Quite the little aerobats.
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 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
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.
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 - 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.
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
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 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.
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.
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
White Rock Lake
Cloudy Downtown, and it only got darker
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.
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 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
Till I saw this pictures. Classic submissive
/ dominant scenario, it seems. Though maybe just an accident of nature.
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 Barn Swallows
Then another barn-storming Barn Swallow even
closer in sharp focus. By then, the sky had let loose, and rain was falling.
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.
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 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.
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
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
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.
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
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 Male Wood Ducks Swimming Along
Pals paling around.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
At one time it even ventured within about
twenty feet of me, making it easier to photo it without all that grass.
Musta Broke Its Lay Egg
Oh, look at the bird with the broken wing.
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."
There was, as you have seen, a lot of that
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
Dwing Proclaiming Himself, His Territory,
reDWing Blackbird testifying.
Dwing Outta There
And it is out of there. Whoosh!
The Medical Center Rookery in Dallas
Great Egret with a Stick for its nest
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
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
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 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.
Great Egret Chick in Nest High Above
What he said.
Little Blue Heron - Stage One
Dapper Little Blue Heron with only a spare
few feathers bushied up.
Little Blue Heron - Stage Two
Handsome Little Blue Heron beginning to puff
out to show off its plumage.
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].
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.
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.
on the Texas Gulf Coast
Not a Ring-beak, Maybe a Herring Gull?
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."
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 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."
"This one's got pink wings."
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.
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.
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.
Nice of three of them to arrange themselves
so we could see differing angles and parts.
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
White Ibis out near The Gulf edge of the
We've seen these guys at the Medical
Center Rookery in Dallas but it was a treat to see them on the coast.
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.
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.
If this is a Willet, there's more like it
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.
Royal Terns into the Gulf Breeze
I photographed these guys while Anna played
in the surf.
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 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
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 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
No squashed cats or squirrels, but I did
see this unidentifiable wad of feathers on the outside curb over a nearby
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.
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.
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
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..
Least Sandpipers Crossing the Double
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.
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.
So very familiar a shape here. So like a Great
Egret and a Great Blue Heron as it jumps into the air.
Then lands not terribly further than it was.
Probably more interested in finding food than
escaping distant photographers on the road.
Stilt with Tricolor
In a later shot, we see an interloping Black-necked
Stilt showing how lush those marshes were with birds.
A Willet — Dark-legged Shore Prancer
Another unidentified bird on the edge of the
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
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.
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.
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.
It did, but sharpness was still elusive.
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 Either Running to Fly
Running to fly.
Then it took to the air ...
Reddish Over the Swamp
... and flew across the marshes past
the recent development that hovers on the horizon.
More Reddish Egret
A Pair of Willets
One bird disappears into the distance and
two more pop into sight, and apparently, focus.
Over the Swamp
Of course, these guys are closer and
a breeze to identify, thanks to their distinctive wavy white wing design.
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.
Meanwhile one is, as I always hope in these
situations, flying closer.
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.
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.
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.
I like them in twos.
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
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
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.
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.
Landing even closer. Parts of which look very
Matagorda Tri-color Looks Back
So many familiar parts in such an unfamiliar
Beautiful bird. I watched it through my longest
lens a long time.
As it wandered off into the swamp.
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 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 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 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.
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."
Good-bye, Gulf Coast with a Great Blue
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
May 8 — White Rock Lake
One Martin, Two House Sparrows
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 Purple Martin (upper left), The rest
a House Sparrow,
another sparrow-looking bird all puffed up and a one light brown unsub.
Three Female Purple Martins
More Martins now. There's three boxes in this
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
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 Hapless Victim of a Discarded Plastic
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
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
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.
But I stay confused, why not you, too.
And a local male, to boot.
Wood Family Going
Two different families with kits of differing
sizes and ages. A microcosm of raising Wood Ducks. Interesting.
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
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
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.
Then there's the Great-tailed Grackle, who
hardly needs Photoshopping to make them beautiful.
Muscovies Preening and Just Standing —
He and She
Not to even mention the Muscovy Ducks along
Yacht Club Row.
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.
Rockport on the Texas Gulf Coast
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Gray Gull - Copyright 2009 Anna Palmer
First summer Laughing Gull, if I can see Sibley's
tiny illustrations correctly.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
Swept-back Wings: Adult Caspian Tern in
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
Significantly different from the last Wild
Turkeys we'd encountered near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon a few years
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
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 Looking Suspiciously at
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
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.
Flying Pelican Pair
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.
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, 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
A Disparity of Size
Laughing Gull with an Adult Breeding Male
Ruddy Turnstone finding food among the grains of sand.
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.
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.
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
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.
Lake Mitchell Immature Glossy or White-faced
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
— 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."
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.
Immature Ibis Lifts a Foot-full
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.
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
Whereas the White-faceds "probes for fish, crustaceans or worms; looks
for insects in fields."
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.
More Classic Stilt Pose
Supposedly, this bird has the longest legs
of any bird in North America.
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 Flying Low
Actually, it's called a Black-necked Stilt,
but I do love those brilliant pink legs!
Giving vividity to that name, stilt.
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.
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 Long-billed Dowitchers Closer
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.
Long-billed Dowitchers Feeding
to the LT-BoT, the long-bills often put their heads underwater searching
for food. It doesn't say that about the short-bills.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
From My Parents'
The Furry Whatsit Flying Either Left or
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.
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-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.
White-winged Dove Again
Looks familiar, eh?
Well, we're pretty sure it's yellow.
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 White-winged Dove
Notice how so much better my photography becomes
when the bird in question doesn't move.
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 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 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 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.
White Rock Lake
The Gull Stream
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
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.
Our Lady of the Lake Rookery
Little Blue Herons Passing Nest Sticks
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 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
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.
Another, Apparently Bigger, Little Blue
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
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
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 Faces Off with Cattle
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 Profile
Seems a nice, closer-up portrait goes
right about here. I love watching, photographing and trying to figure out
Little Blue Heron in Tree
Followed, of course, by a farther-away looking
other Little Blue.
Little Blue Heron Jump
Little Blue Heron Reach
Little Blue Heron Scrambling Out of the
Another LBH jumping and flying too fast for
the photographer to catch. Exit Stage Left.
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.
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
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 Stolen Back from Nearly
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.
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
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 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
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 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
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
Lone Red-winged Blackbird on the Flowering
Things are looking up for my favorite meadow.
Two Birds on Bells
text and photographs copyright 2009 by J
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without
written permission from the writer or photographer.
My favorite answer is, "I don't
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.
stays with monthly content;