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The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton
All Contents © 2010 and before by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. DO NOT USE images without permission & payment.
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The Current Journal    

White Rock Lake

May 29

Snowy Egret - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Snowy Egret Jumps into the Air

The Walking Bridge is open but the tourist area along The Spillway is not. We saw that the trail was open yesterday while we drove around, but this Holiday Weekend Saturday morning the trail was flooded with runners, walkers and speeding bicyclists, protection from whom the tourist area was designed for. But that area is still cordoned off, making absolutely certain that we're all in the mix together till the City gets its wherewith all together enough to open all the areas along The Spillway. Which looks like it'll take time.

Moments Before - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Moments Before

Till then, I won't be able to separate off from the speeding hoards and concentrate on photography an not worry about getting creamed by a bicycler whose attentions have momentarily wandered. And I'd be closer to the birds. There's plants in there already, and big trees planted along the way. They must need an official opening celebration for that, but not the trail. Make the usual nonsense, but I've waited years, I guess I can wait a few more weeks.

Black-crowned Night Heron 0n the Edge - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crowned Night Heron

I saw one Black-crowned Night Heron (this dashing one), one Snowy Egret (you've already met), one American Crow (you'll meet in a minute), one Great Egret (maybe next time), one Killdeer (soon, soon) and some ducks. Spare huntin' down there, but they will gather as they always have —

BCNH Waiting - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crowned Night-Heron Waiting for Food

Great Blue Herons, the spare leftover cormorants, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Little Blue Herons and a smattering of Peeps and other birds drawn by good fishing in swift and shallow waters —

Black-crowned Night-Heron Up - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crowned Night Heron Sudden Up

They'll all be gathering down there once it's clear the big, noisy clanging metal machines won't be back. They'll bring their siblings, cousins and long-forgotten, and the air over and the concrete along will fill with species of interest to Dallasites and visitor.

Prancing Snowy - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Prancing Snowy

I've been waiting to hang out there off that fence for years. I can't wait to get to that fence down along the middle and lower Spillway..

Killdeer on the Upper Spillway - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lone Killdeer

These shots were taken from the one concrete — everything's concrete there (They worried about all the weight of the cars that will no longer park up there, but there's gajillion tons of concrete everywhere, so the next 100-year flood will be amazing.) overlook that they just couldn't fence off.

Lone Crow Up - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lone Crow Over the Mudflats of the Spillway

I was careful and quiet up there, the noisy hoards rushing by just a few feet away, but I got that good ole used to be sense of isolation, picking out birds along the mud flats, rushes and eddies under the dam.

Down

Tree in the Early Morning Light

It was golden like this near the park this early Saturday morning. I'll be back and back and back to The Spillway, my favorite perch on the lake. No longer the easiest access, but once the little lot across from he 7-11 is open, and it looks ready now, I'll be there often and I hope so will lots of shorebirds.

May 26

Teenaged Wood Ducks on their Own - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Teenaged Wood Ducks on Their Own

Again I was looking for Green Heron and not finding any, although I did see one unidentified heron about that size fly past the wires over the new wood bridge by the Old Boat House. Too silhouette to tell who, too blurry to put here. Oh, well. I'll keep haunting my known Green Heron haunts.

First Summer Redwinged Blackbird - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

First Summer Redwinged Blackbird

This looks like an ancient bird, but its just one that's changing from bright new, to summer plumage to grow blacker and then older.

The Cry of the Killdeer - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Cry of the Killdeer

 The Cry of the Killdeer is a plaintive tone one must pay attention to. Then try to find in the field of green one brown bird with red eyes. Stop, hold still just a second or two, then race walk off somewhere else. And more piercing peeping.

Two Killdeer in One Focus - crpy

Two Killdeer in One Focus

Usually, it's about all I can do to get one Killdie in focus. Here, I got two killdeer in one focus and I'm just so proud.

Psychedelic Duck - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Psychedelic Duck

I'm guessing here. Either a Wood Duck tyke or a teen-aged Mallard.

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May 25

Red-winged Blackbird - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Resplendent Male Redwinged Blackbird on a Weed

Too early in the morning for my sleeping habits, but by about 7:30 I was walking toward Anna, who was seated on the pier at Sunset Bay. This bird was the first one I actually focused upon, although about all I could see was black bird with red/yellow wing coverlet. I immediately thought of the setting as an abstract one. Had no idea the gleam of black would come up so nicely.

Molting Mallard - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Molting Mallard

Right about now, as the heat hots up, mallards lose their bright colors and have to settle for this mottle brown look.

Killdeer Looking for Food - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Killdeer Seeking Food

Driving up Lawther somewhat later, I was able to sidle Blue right up next to this Killdeer who was intent on finding food and barely cognizant of a large (comparatively) blue automobile right next to him/her.

Wired Starling - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wired Starling

After watching the ducks in the cool clear bay, we drove over to The Green Spot for a breakfast tacos, interesting morning brews and the accompaniment of lots of sparrows, many of whom lived above an outdoor speaker just above our heads. This is the wires off beyond the parking lot, and the bird is a starling. We'll get to sparrows forthwith.

Sparrow Flying - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sparrow Flying

Oh, did I mention how deliriously delicious the light was? Lush colors shone in the damp overcast landscape — as above it. I photographed a lot of sparrows over breakfast this morning. Darned few of them turned out this well, but it's always a matter of percentages and pure raw luck.

Noble House Sparrow - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Noble Male House Sparrow

In glorious profile perched briefly on top of something close by. A table, maybe a chair. They didn't stay long, so I photographed fast.

Female House Sparrow - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female House Sparrow

I usually think of them just as Little Brown Birds, but there's a riot of color going on in those quick wings.

Male House Sparrow - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male House Sparrow Showing Black Bib

And one who's been eating little bits of green somewhere close enough to still have some on his beak. Only adult breeding House Sparrows sport the black bib, from March through September.

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The Medical Center Rookery

May 24

 Breeding Adult Cattle Egret - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Breeding Adult Cattle Egret

I don't tend to photograph Cattle Egret very often, but in the rookery they are vividly colorful birds. Once they've graduated to the world out there, I don't see them much unless I find a cow or two willing to share their bounty.

Cattle Egret in the Fiery Jungle - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret in the Fiery Jungle

I'm guessing the first Cattle Egret and the next one are males and that this and other milder colored one are females, but I don't know nearly as much about Cattle Egrets as I need to. Nice to get the opportunity to watch them today.

Cattle Egret in a Nest - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Breeding Cattle Egret in a Nest

This half hour or so of shooting after I came back into human-ness thanks to the nice people including police persons there, may be my most extended Cat-Eeg shoot yet.

Cattle Egret on a Nest - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret on a Nest

If my male-female guesses are right, then this would probably be a female. But I'm not at all sure, and Jason, who used to let me know when I got way off the bird-identifying mark, doesn't visit here so much anymore. So I dunno. I can only plead amateurism, which is not altogether a bad thing, and was actually a good enough thing to get me started in this now-four-year project of mine to become a better writer bird photographer.

Great Egret Chick Having Fallen from Its Nest - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Chick Fallen from Its Nest

Anna saw this chick fall from its nest, high above us in the thick overgrowth at the Med Center Rookery. Several adult Great Egrets attempted to nudge it back up in its nest, but they hadn't accomplished that by the time we moved on.

Dead Great Egret Chick - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Recently Deceased Great Egret Chick

I'm sure there's many little dramas playing themselves out at the rookery every single day.

Two Great Egret Chicks - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Great Egret Chicks

I love the way their tiny feathers are standing up all around their bodies in this shot. I don't know their context at all, except it's green.

Snowy Egret - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Snowy Egret

And, finally, just because I hadn't been able to catch other Snowies in action at the lake for such a long time — I miss their antics, cockiness and willingness to do battle with any egret, giant or tiny.


Earlier today, while attempting to photograph birds when I first arrived, I experienced a major and unexpected Diabetic Sugar Low during which I lost my keys and sense of reality, and I was unable to get at the candy I always travel with.

I want to thank the nice woman who worked there who gave me a ride to the campus police station, the police-women and men there for feeding me, first some of their own candy, then a Coke from their machine, then stayed with me till I gathered back most of my wits and went out to help find my keys again. I especially want to thank the policewoman who found my keys and gave me her own peppermint candy. They let me use their personal cell phone to call Anna, whom I also thank, as always.

They were pleasant, kind and helped make the best of a strange situation. Thanks to you all.

J R Compton

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White Rock Lake

May 23

Mockingbird with Bug - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Mockingbird Catches a Bug and Eats It

Maybe the best way to photograph enough birds is to photograph at least one every day. But that's never worked. Traveling with the Rocket Launcher is too conspicuous. So maybe I should instead photograph fewer birds, just more often. Or something like that.

May 22

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with Quizicle Look - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with Quizzical Look

I’m back again. Just spent three days in a different hospital for not having either a genuine stroke or a Transient Ischemic Attack (mini stroke), although I did have a symptom or two that might have been confused for one or the other. Two Cat (Computed Tomography) Scans and an intense and loud MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) apparently clearly showed that I had had neither.

Barnswallow Stretch - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barnswallow Stretch

At departure someone told me I could expect to be stuck in the hospital for three days each and every time I presented any signs of having had another one of those things I didn't have that netted me my last stay in The Land of No Sleep.

Barnswallow Rap - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barnswallow Rap

So today's my first trip back to the lake, and it just about wore me out. I'll return, again and again, but perhaps not as often as I used to. For awhile, at least.

Barnswallow Inversion - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barnswallow Inversion

Or then again, maybe I'll be out at the lake more often. Who knows. I sure missed photographing birds. Even dreamed — nightmared — processing images for my latest entry. Don't remember what the birds looked like in the sleepless dreamlike world. Probably more coherent than this one.

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May 12

 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Flying - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Flying

Lots of flycatchers catching lots of flies in the meadow up to Winfrey from Lawther today. I stopped when no birds were in sight, just waving, wild flowers, and I waited. Within moments, two scissor-tails arrived, a pair, I think. They posed and they flew and they caught bugs while I clicked away.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Flying - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mid-air Course Correction

That I actually caught them in the act of flying is some sort of magical miracle. Not perfect shot, but ones that show wings flapping and tail parts helping steer.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Pair - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Pair (one in focus)

A beautiful meadow exploding with a springtime of flowers and bugs.

Scissortail on Flower - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on Flower

Held still just long enough to find more bugs to catch and eat.

Scissortailed Flycatcher Spread Eagle Chasing a bug - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Chasing a Bug

I love the spread-eagle scissor-tail look. I've photographed it for years. Someday with the right voodoo, I'll finally get it in focus. Then I'll set about trying some other impossible task.

Mockingbird Shredding a Bug - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mockingbird on a Fire Hydrant Shaking Something

Had a something in its beak and was shaking it with all the torque that little neck could twist out. Looks like it was shredding, whatever it was.

Red-winged Blackbird in Reeds - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird in Reeds by the Water's Edge

Down, closer to the water, while I was hopin' and lookin' for the much-sought-after first Green Heron of the season, I found instead, and not unexpectantly, Red-winged Blackbirds.

Redwing in Weeds - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird Among the Leaves

Whose brilliant yellow and red portions stand out significantly from all those green and yellowish green leaves. The bird turns into a shadow, and we lose track of everything but those vivid feathers.

Red-winged Blackbird Takes Flight - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-winged Blackbird Takes Flight

Then, suddenly, one takes flight.

Great Egret Flyby - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Flyby

Waiting for the next redwing, a white wing flies by, up over the tall trees along Lawther. I got one shot and still managed to catch that subtle left wing.

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Medical Center Rookery

May 11

 Male Cattle Egrets Showing Off - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Cattle Egret Looking Large and Intimidating

After spending the afternoon at the hospital I drove straight to the Medical Center Rookery to see what I could see. I assumed a wider variety of birds than I've been finding at the lake, and it was true. Nothing really exotic today, but anything different was greatly appreciated.

This male kept chasing the other one away, so it could stay and mate. I didn't see the female in question, but these guys kept at it long enough to get my exposure right. The one whose tail is disappearing to the left was always running away. He never stopped long enough to capture his feather array. I guess that makes this one the winner.

Cattle Egrets are usually about 20 inches long with wingspans of about three feet, but when they really want to, they can appear somewhat larger and fiercer.

Cattle Egret with a Mohawk - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret with a Sudden Mohawk

Few Cattle Egrets make it to White Rock Lake, although there is one place where I can expect to find one or two every summer, if I keep going back. Lots of them are at the rookery, however and hanging around cows everywhere. This one went through several changes in as fast as I could photograph it.  When I saw it, its crop was down. By the time I got the camera going, it had a sudden Mohawk.

Cattle Egret Jump - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret Jump

Then just as I hoped to settle in for a for-sure shot, it flew away.

Little Blue Heron Pair - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Pair

There were plenty of Little Blue Herons at the rookery, but I hadn't photographed them yet this year, so I paid special attention to them today, eventually getting two of them in the same photograph. Little Blue Herons are usually about two feet long with 40-inch wingspans.

Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret & Building - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron, Egret and Building

And another one in the air, coming down from a hunt elsewhere. I think that might be a Cattle Egret flying toward the building.

Great Egret Flies Past American Flag - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Flying Low

Not sure exactly why, but I photographed a lot of birds today with industrial smokestacks, wires and towers in the background. Vary the background from the urban jungle of the rookery, I guess. Show that birds occupy the spaces above us almost everywhere, even when we don't look up to see them.

Great Egret Descending - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Descending into Rookery

Lots of Great Egrets. This one with even more towers and poles beyond the green of the rookery. Great Egrets are 39 inches long with wingspans of about 51 inches.

Two Ibis and a Building - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Ibis and a Building Far Away

And, of course, a couple shots of the few Ibis I saw this trip. Not nearly so lucky as my last visit there when I saw as many as 72 in one flyover, and thee were probably lots more up there. Today, I saw maybe a dozen. Adult White Ibis like these are about 25 inches long with wingspans of about 38 inches.

Western Kingbird on Top - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Western Kingbird Watches the Photographer

Another, much smaller adventure playing itself out not terribly far from the high parking garage I stood on for about an hour — practicing walking on even ground in my bare feet. Sox actually on clean concrete. I kept seeing this little — compared to Little Blue Herons, Cattle and Great Egrets and Ibis — bird.

Western Kingbird Flying - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Western Kingbird Flying

It would sit on the tallest tree around, and every once in a while, fly nearly straight up off the top of that tree like a Mockingbird trying to attract the attention of a mate. Not, I think, after a bug, unless there were lots of bugs that flew nearly straight up off that tree top.

Western Kingbird Flying - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Western Kingbird Flying

More of a mate-attracting dance than just a flap around some trees. These shots are the times it would go off its branch and actually fly around some tree.

Western Kingbird Showing Its Yellow - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Western Kingbird Showing Its Yellow

Although it always seemed to go back to that one branch, on the top of the tree. Where it would perch for awhile, then suddenly jump up and fly around some more. Western Kingbirds are 8.75 inches long with 15.5-inch wingspans.

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White Rock Lake

May 10

 Bluster - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blustery Day

Lots of wind. Standing uneasily at the top of Dreyfuss Point, on the very spot the Dreyfuss Building used to stand, I could feel every breeze, every gust. They skies were gray. Few birds and those were far between, except a few brave ducks swimming with the turgid current. Great day to stand out under the clouds and feel the weather. Lousy day for photographing birds at the lake.

May 6

Great Egret Aim - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Great Egret Aim

Found this beauty on the west side in The Big Thicket. Big tree between us kept it from being much bothered by me and my car sneaking up then parking with the AC off and a big black lens stuck out the driver's side window. Photographed it standing out there, dodging and weaving in the wind. Then hold this pose for a few moments, and ...

Great Egret Fire - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Fire!

Zap! Small splash its head into the shallow drink a foot or so south of where its feet were, firmly gripped to that outcrop just beyond the weeds at the edge of the lake protected from most Thursday afternoon lake visitors' view by that big tree.

Great Egret - Check Balance - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Check Balance

Every few seconds it would lunge forward or back as winds buffeted. At first, I thought it might fly away. Then I got used to it balancing in the wind..

Great Egret Double-back Preen - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Double-back Preen

Birds, even big, long, tall, beautiful white ones, gotta preen. Always gotta preen.

Great Egret Stand Tall and Look Back - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Stand Tall and Look Back

Tall tall tall birds with elegant lean poses and long black feet and toes. Of course gotta go vertical to get it all in one shot.

Egret Framed Flight - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret Framed Flight

Could not have framed this shot better. I had no idea it was about to jump up and fly away, or I would have rotated the camera to horizontal, but by then it would have been gone. Call it luck. Or a decisive moment.

Red-bellied Woodpecker in a Tree - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red-bellied Woodpecker in a Tree

Drove the rest of the way down Lawther toward the loop where the bike-lers head off to the Bath House, I noticed a Red-winged Blackbird flitter into the top of a tree. I pulled over to photograph him, all the while realizing how common a sight they are on the top of whatever they can find proclaiming their territory, their need or whatever in their repetitive scream.

Then I saw another bird flitter from branch to branch. This one. Seemed too big for a woodpecker but woodpecker it was. Usually, I catch them flitting, me looking straight up the tree, them circling the branches, scurrying upside down. And pecking. Never being still for more than a half second or so. Busy busy. This one just stood there. I clicked. Then I tried again and again and again and never once again got it even in the picture.

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May 4

Barn Swallow at Rest - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Barn Swallow at Rest

Once again, I was thinking Green Heron thoughts, so instead of heading down the same old track to Winfrey so-called Point (it's round, not pointed), I drove to The Old Boat House hoping to find herons hiding in the lush green swamp along the other side of the walking bridge over Heron Lagoon.

I didn't find any Green Herons — brilliant sunshine, dark shadows over there; hard to see — but there were plenty other species, many amazingly colorful to find and photograph. I waited a long time to the Barn Swallows flitting over the lagoon to get tired of that and settle on the outside of the bridge. I'd seen them there many times, and I knew that eventually, they'd settle there. I hoped.

Barn Swallow on Bridge - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barn Swallow on Bridge

Eventually, and only for a little while and just once in the hour and a half I was there, two of them did just that. I clicked away, inching forward after each several shots, till I was pretty close and they'd given up worrying about me leaning against the top of the guard rail inside the bridge at them on the outside, panting and preening.

Male Wood Duck - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Wood Duck Swimming

Meanwhile, people passing by threw bread at the ducks, who fought among themselves to get some. This lone male Wood Duck was especially adept at getting to the bread on the water quickly. I keep telling people bread is not good for birds, but the birds sure do like the stuff.

Two Birds on One Shot - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Birds in One Shot

My bird-identifying skills are minimal at best, but though I know the guy on the left, the one escaping the frame on the right is somebody I don't know. I want to call it a grackle, since there's so many of them hereabouts, but it sure doesn't look like one.

Wood Duck Ducklings Racing - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wood Duck Ducklings Racing

Lots of duckling swimming under the bridge today — chasing bread or each other — until the large power motors propelling the SMU Women's rowing teams yellers tore out of the boat house, powered up in wide circles thoroughly disrupting the surface in the lower lagoon, then roared past the rowers and out onto the central lake.

Juvenile Mallards - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile Mallards

We call ducks this age — probably just a few months, if that old — teenagers, because like human teens, they're at that awkward age, still growing, still changing constantly, nearly as large as adult ducks, yet they still need tending and teaching.

Grackle Courting - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackles Courting

The bridge provides a great view for birds swimming under or courting off to the side from. I was busy photographing the teen Mallards when I noticed this guy ballooning himself out to earn the attraction of the apparently much smaller female grackle on the right.

Courting Male Grackle Showing Off - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Courting Male Grackle Showing Off

Then when they turned around, I got this. Shortly thereafter, she split.

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May 2

Wood Duck on a Submerged Tree - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Male Wood Duck with Leg Up on a Submerged Stump

Supposed to rain this early Sunday morning — and eventually it did, but I was up and could not get back to sleep, so I went anyway. I had dreams of Great Blue Herons, Green Herons or Little Blue Herons dancing in my head, but Wood Ducks, cormorants, cardinals, Red-winged Blackbirds and grackles is all I saw this early morning. 

 Female Wood Duck - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Wood Duck at Sunset Pier 

It was a lot darker than it seems from these shots. And it took me a long time to sneak up on the Wood Ducks who seemed to be in charge of the pier. Till I got there. As I got closer, they looked out across the water, down at the surface, and jumped in to swim away. Except the one on the grodty tree stump. He stayed a long, long time. Secure, I suppose, in the knowledge I was unlikely to go wading in that fowl water, just to get a closer shot of him. 

Male Wood Duck Watches - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Wood Duck Watches Back 

It was also very pleasantly cool — about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Delicious springtime weather for ducks, cormorants and humans. 

Two Male Wood Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Wood Ducks on the Pier 

Gradually, slowly and quietly, I settled myself into the creaking wood on Sunset Pier and waited and watched for anything new or different. None of which happened by while I sat and stared off into avian space. 

Cormorant on the Edge - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorant Drying its Wings in the cool, damp air 

Much as I like wood ducks and distant cormorants, I was hoping for more exotic species, so eventually I managed to pick myself up from the pier and drive off toward Dreyfuss.

Northern Cardinal - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Northern Cardinal

Where I promptly found this brilliantly crimson singer.

Cedar Waxwings - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tree Top Full of Cedar Waxwings

And a treetop full of fluttering and flapping Cedar Waxwings, who wouldn't let me get any closer than this. When I'd approach, they'd flock off, then when I returned to my car, they'd come back and pose. Eventually, I just stayed where I was, and they stayed where they were, and I tried to figure out ways to hold my big lens stiller.

Early Red-winged Blackbird - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Early Red-winged Blackbird

Much earlier, as I was driving slowly up to Dreyfuss, I saw this lone black bird screaming from the top of a lamp post, in dark so dark, I could only make him out from his silhouette. And that tiny red tinge he always carries on his winged shoulders.

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All text and photographs copyright 2010 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without
specific written permission from and payment to
the writer or photographer.

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

Thanks always to Anna.

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