The Current Journal is always Here All Contents Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.
DON'T USE photos without permission. Bird Rescue Advice Cameras & Lenses Used. Ethics
Read these before you ask me to I.D birds: Herons Egrets Herons v Egrets Feedback Rouses
Books and Links Pelican Beak Weirdness Courtship Displays Coyotes Contact me
Other Noteworthy Dallas Nature Photographers include Daniel S. Lim and Robert Bunch
below: Wood Ducks galore Whooping Crane Pair Sunset Avocets Eared Grebes Owls & Owlets
Photos have moved to their own page.
White Rock Lake
May 30 2013
Mostly ordinary birds today. It's who I could find. Sunset Bay was hot and nearly empty, so I visited several other wheres to find these. Well, I still consider Wood Ducks pretty spectacular, and getting them in close and personal like this, was a serious challenge, especially hand-holding that chunk of lens to capture all their fine hairy details.
Not that they were moving slow, or there was ever a moment when I knew what they would do next. Not one of those.
I didn't see any male Wood Ducks today. There were some summer brown male Mallards cruising the area, but Mom Wood Duck always parried them off while her young were bustling in the area near the shore and feeding themselves with what they could find there. I think male Wood Ducks are garish. It's the females who are beautiful, though subtler than the clownish clad males.
Cute, cute, cute — and fluffy, too.
A black bird with red and yellow wings. Let's call him a Red-winged Blackbird and forget for a moment or two those yellow parts. This one is just about to jump into the air and fly away. I actually knew that's what it was about to do, and for once in my life I got it just as it was about to part from terra firma.
I can barely see its left eye. Everything else but swirls on is wing and that bright amber beak, is black.
But here, it's showing its truer colors. A short but gorgeous spectrum of them.
About that time, a Killdeer wandered through.
I started to say it was digging for food, and I remember it was doing that earlier, but I think here, he's dust-bathing, just beginning to get some dust airborne in the process.
My gosh this lens is sharp. She's got her beak open, because she's hot. I was hot, too. I tried the open-beak thing, but it didn't do me any good.
These are whom my car is named after. I still think it would be cool to paint one of its stream-liney side rearview mirrors either all red or with a smear of that color, like these guys have. But I'm afraid I'll get some paint on the white, so I haven't yet. Maybe when it celebrates its fifth birthday.
The Medical Center Rookery
May 28 2013
When Anna and I visited the rookery yesterday, it seemed to be right at the height of Cattle Egret season. There were many more of them than any time I've been there, and they were much more active than before. Great Egrets were still in abundance, and many of them had gangly "teenagers" in or near the nest, but my once-trusty, old D200 was busy dying, so I didn't focus everything I shot like I almost never do, but I especially didn't do that this time.
I didn't see any Cattle-eegs looking like monsters this time, but this was the best crop-up shot I made this busy day.
The more I study birds, the more I think we're all the same, but this bird really does seem to be experiencing "a moment."
The more bird or any other subject you get into the frame, the more of the camera and lens' resolution you'll capture. This frame was a little wider, and if it were taller, I might have got all of this bird's toes included, but shooting in the rookery often involves shooting through several places with no leaves or getting the bird leafed-over, so t have got legs, beak, tail and even up-raised wings entirely within the border here was a minor miracle.
After I took this shot, my D200's LCD showed it way too dark instead almost correctly exposed. That happened dozens of times today, thwarting my efforts to correct errant exposures. But I shot anyway, just hoping, hoping.
Which, in fact, it did moments after I shot this.
Lots of filigrees.
I often think of that dense green space as a jungle. And flowers like this cropping up this close to actual summer only helps.
Three shots later, it seems to be passing
right by us. It is passing by, but since I'm using a very long telephoto (600mm),
it's not "right," it is, in fact, quite a distance away. But the photo is sharp,
and that's good enough for me.
Kingbirds — Eastern (white underside) and Western (yellow) are Flycatchers, and they catch flies and other insects. They've very good at catching little bugs. And eating them. This one was comparatively close Notice the hairs on the bridge of its, uh... where its nose would be, if it had a nose — between its eyes. Those help it catch stuff and put them into its beak. I'm not exactly sure how that works, but I'm curious, so I'll likely find out. Then I'll tell you.
Cardinals are one of the species — Blue Jays are another — that I've not managed to get a decent, simple, close-up portrait that I like. I like this.
Anna and I also visited the Rookery today, but Eared Grebes are much more interesting to me right now than Cattle, Snowy and Great Egrets and White Ibis and maybe an Anhinga, which we'll get to tomorrow. Didn't see any birds when we drove along the Park-O-Retum, but our bird-ography opportunities increased substantially when we hove into Sunset Bay.
Not that that is unusual. But a visit by this many Eared Grebes is. The whole family. Well, three of them is the most I got into one shot. There might have been more. I was disconcerted that my oldest dSLR — my Nikon D200 — was dying, refusing to change exposure when I pushed buttons and turned dials, then refusing to show me what I'd shot at the exposure I now can see on my monitor.
Still, when I needed it for Eared Grebes, it came through in lush colors. Sad to loose that camera, too. It's been a harsh year for my cameras, but replacing them is long past due. Not every time in this series, but enough to make posting these here worthwhile, I got exposure and focus — and maybe even a little bit of composition.
Dark, sharp beak, delta of flyaway reddish feathers sweeping back, I guess Eared Grebes pretty much always look kinda fierce.
Males and females look mostly similar, and although these three don't look altogether the same, this might be a male, a female and a close friend.
I always think of American Coots (the black bird above) as small. According to my oft-cited Lone Pine Birds of Texas, they are 13-16 inches long with a wingspan of up to 24 inches. Eared Grebes are 11.5 to 14 inches long with a wingspan of 16 inches. Tiny!
The way most "artists" who copy photographs find birds to copy is to Google some known bird name, then just pick and choose. I'd rather they didn't copy my photographs. It's illegal for them to copy a copyrighted image, but me finding out about it is massively difficult unless they ask permission. So sometimes I get on a streak of naming photographs I'm putting online without bird names, so The Goog doesn't find, list and link them.
It seems to make sense that if I don't name birds accurately, those copiers can't find bird pix to rip off. But I have other issues to deal with, and while it's likely I — and every other decent or semi-decent birdographer online — will get ripped off regularly, there's really not much we can do about it, except post a legible and legal statement of our ownership. Hence the "Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved." notice shortened from "Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission."
Some people who ask permission are sincere and honest. Some are not. I don't charge everybody. I've asked for payment in the form of one letter sheet color image of what they make out of my photographs, but so far in six years, I've got four of those and once CD package — some quite good — hanging on my walls, so most of the time I just ask for money. I don't get much of that, either.
Recently someone who wanted to copy one of my photographs in her painting promised she'd put my name on the back of her framed painting when she finished it. Like anybody would ever see my name or association with my copyrighted image as used in her painting. I told her, "No, thank-you."
Then there's the honest people out there who need other people's images and are willing to pay a fair price. Hooray for those people. They help me buy new cameras (Which I'm soon to do again.) so I can get better at this. And that's a good thing. I've only been working on becoming a good photographer for 50 years now.
Compared with all that travail, getting images in real focus doesn't rate very high. If the focus of this shot were better with my slow, small Panasonic G5, I might not have had to florid-up these guys so much. If the exposure were better, I wouldn't have had to play with it in Photoshop (which wants to charge me $20 a month forever, plus another twenty to use the dreaded Dreamweaver software I'm writing and parking photos on this page with.
Still, I love the pose, the action of those birds mock-fighting to determine who wins, rather than drawing blood. As if — like in gymnastics — their form mattered more than hurting the other bird. Plus, I wanted too much to use it, so I didn't ask their permission, I just used it as if I'd invented them. As if me photographing them created the art of it, when we all know birds do all that. I was just there to record the event.
Yes, something is bad wrong with this image, yet I really like it. Coasting down now from this rant, we now return to our regularly scheduled program.
Crop up, so this big white bird with yellow lores and feet and black legs and beak looks especially tall and forbidding, when in fact, it's much smaller and no competition whatsoever for the much larger Great Egrets. But then Snowy Egrets usually fight with each other or some species the same size. Wouldn't want to get in a fight with that, you'd think and you'd be right. They're truly feisty. But I've never seen a drop of blood from any of their battles.
One of the reasons I upgraded to the Panasonic G5 from my elderly G2 was that the G5 was supposed to be able to focus on vertical-shaped objects like this bird on a post. But today it just would not. So I had to aim focus at the post, then raise the lens to shoot the bird instead of the wood. Worked.
Like all today's pix, this was shot with the Panasonic G5, which is an inadequate camera for fast focusing on things that move fast. Like birds. I don't remember seeing another woodie bouncing around on the ground for years and years. Any one of my aging Nikons would have made short work of getting it sharp, but I wasn't packing a Nikon, because I'd got my little finger caught in something when I tripped in my messy office today, and it hurt, and carrying a big, heavy camera and big, heavy lens didn't sound like nearly as much fun as usual.
So I didn't get these as close to focus as I'd like to have,, although this ain't altogether awful. Maybe just part of that way.
I was so excited when I found the hopping red, black and white bird on the ground along the Park-a-retum, then I was dismayed, because focusing was such a challenge, but still, these are not so bad. Beautiful birds. Just need to shoot them with a beautiful camera — and I have one in mind.
I shot this with the kit zoom that came utterly free with the G5. It was at the lake, but I don't remember where or the circumstance, but that's the lens I had on the cam then, and it worked out well. It's full frame, too. I just zoomed in as far as I could, and went click.
Fierce little bird with a fierce-looking beak and fuzzy-looking feathers and an occipital plume we can't see here but will be prominent in the next shot of the other end of this particularly attractive and interesting bird.
Its crown and back look black here, and looking black got it its name, But with an occipital plume as jaunty as this one, you'd think they would have named it after that.
Call it a flying rat if you must. Rats have their dignity with all the rest of us. But this is a beautiful bird, and one that wasn't all that afraid of humans wielding dark cylinders at them.
Meanwhile, I'm still spending four to six
hours a night working up still more Galveston Trip pix, but sometimes it's nice
to keep a little newness in the Birder's Journal with a strange camera or place
or setup or something. I've got some newish pix of the two sets of three white
Easter ducks left unceremoniously in Sunset Bay, and they ain't doing half
Wet Birds at the Dry Beds
May 19 2013
Not a lot of water in the Fort Worth Drying Beds these days, which always causes us to worry when we get there, but we generally find some bodies of water there, and almost always lots of birds and other fauna and flora.
I was sure it was a flycatcher. The giveaway is all the hair and fur around its beak — for catching flies.
With its best feature behind it.
Willets been following me around lately. Is this another one of those?
I'll have to page slowly through my library of bird i.D books to figure out who this is, but I'm so glad I caught it proclaiming from the up end of the stick. Birds proclaiming from a stick seem to be a sub-species of today's Dry Beds shoot.
The Phalarope's breeding status is told by its dark black and reddish neck.
Adult Breeding Wilson's Phalarope (fall a rope) with three Blue-winged Teal
We can tell what it's about to do in this shot.
And sure enough, seconds later, that's exactly what it does do. Who these birds are is much more a challenge to figure out.
Mallard mom and nine of ten babies. Maybe only one or two of which will survive.
I'm certain about the duck being a Blue-winged Teal. The shorebird is much more mysterious.
The red and yellow coverlet (epaulet) is the dead giveaway, but I really wasn't at all sure.
Greater Yellowlegs and a smaller Sanderling? I never really know.
One of the more common birds in large bodies and small bodies of water around Texas, but it's always nice to catch one in focus. I love Great Egrets.
Unless they've been eating so much they're nearly slowed to stop, Phalaropes run or swim in tight circles like crazed speed freaks.
Never saw any of the rest of it.
The biggest trick with this series of photographs (This is the best of that bunch.) was waiting for the thistles and their passengers to stop bobbing in the wind.
Tall Trees in Somebody near the lake's Yard
May 17 2013
Looking down at the three of us looking up. Me with 600mm worth of lens. Amazing focus through all the branches of the several trees we must have annoyed the owl family following them and their still fluffy kits around in and through. Soon as I'd get a good bead on one, they'd get nervous and their neighbor birds — especially the noisy blue-jays — would get anxious and loud, and the neighbor birds would run them out or they'd escape to another tree, where it would take us a minute or so to locate, then get a fix on.
Kathy emailed me about them, and Chet helped us find them among the trees overhead, thick with leaves and branches and some other birds who figured this was their territory, not somewhere that belonged to some newbie bunch of owls. This owl has its protective nictitating lids down, but what I perceive to be its feathered eyelids at half mast. At the bottom of today's entry is a link to a link page full of owl faces, and none of them have anything like this going on.
I know I need to take a class on birds. I heard Jim Peterson talk at Trinity River Audubon Center about a recent class for Master Birders that's not altogether unlike a similar class for Master Naturalists. I thought I might be ripe to take the MB class, but its purpose is to develop volunteers, and I think I've got enough tasks working already, but I need to learn a lot more about birds, although maybe I need more bird people in my life, and I'm probably about ready to serve more.
I want to. There's a class in ornithology at my alma mater, the University of Dallas, and that may be the right match for me. But I don't really know. I've got a shelf full of books I haven't yet absorbed enough of the knowledge of to know this simple fact about owl eyelids. And there are so many others …
Whose eyes are red from a flash I was attempting to fill in some of the darkest shadows with. Like our eyes sometimes do, this very young Barred Owl's eyes reflect red. But at least we can see its eyes. Looking up, we might have seen some reflections in there, but it was mostly dark black in those deep, protected sockets that help owls see in the dark.
Looking down at me.
All today's shots were made with a doubled (2X telextender on a) 300mm lens on my very elderly (2005) Nikon D200 camera, hand-held, usually almost straight up into those trees around my dear friends' house and yard.
If you have or see an unusual bird, email me and if you're close to Elderly East Dallas, I'll come running.
Owl eyes and vision
Five avocets visit sunset Bay
May 14 2013
I have that borrowed camera one more day, and I was determined to photo birds on it till I had to give it back, so off to White Rock Lake I went this early afternoon, supposedly the worst time of the day for birds, but that advice is for the birds, because I got to see a bonanza of visiting birds.
The bather of the group is second beak from the left. It's twisting its body to flip off the water so fast its beak is twisting and separating. I was standing on the pier and Sunset Bay when I saw them come in. I thought I'd had the luck I was getting this day, and was about to go on home and catch more up on sleep. Instead, I bee-lined it back to the Beach at Sunset Bay, and began photographing the five new visitors. After a while, when I thought they'd stay long enough, I went up the hill and fetched a tripod to hold my cam and lens even stiller.
It wasn't the first time I'd photographed Avocets at White Rock. That was back awhile — September 2008. These might have been some of those, or somebody they told what a lovely place Sunset Bay was.
Glad to have them arrive in the middle of the day when I needed something interesting to photograph. Hooray!
They just stood out there past the peninsula and preened and preened and preened for the longest time. Resting, I assumed. Then one or the other or another would do what I'm calling flap hopping.
When I first noticed the behavior, I assumed that one was about to fly, but they flapped furiously and rose a little on those long legs but did not let go of the firmament, just seemed to get a little taller, then they settled back to their natural height.
I've seen a lot of birds stretched their wings by flapping them furiously. This was the avocets doing just that.
Great opportunity to photo a little wing action.
Mostly, during the forty minutes or so I was able to photograph them, they didn't do much, just rested, preened, and occasionally flapped.
Another Great Photo Opportunity. By this time I had the cam and honker of a lens on a tripod, so these came out pretty well.
I was sorry to see them go, but I'd got lots of pictures, so have at it, Avocets.
Bye, bye, nice birds. Thanks for the opportunity.
UT Medical Center Rookery
My bad eyesight, I thought they were Blue Jays. So I was careful to photograph them numerous times. Out of a bunch — er flock — of birds I enlarged this part, because these were the only ones in focus in this shot.
These are some stylin' birds. I need to get up extra close with one or two some day. They might have to be drunk first, which is something I've seen them do, and apparently they do often. As my Lone Pined edition of Birds of Texas — always a good source for particular bird information none of the other books seem to offer, "As flocks gorge on fermented berries in late winter and spring, birds will show definite signs of tipsiness." I found that several years ago, when I photographed some in Sunset Forest [link fixed], hanging upside-down and carrying on on like there's no tomorrow.
I recognized the pounce mode, so shot quickly. Not bad exposure, but I really like the sun filtering through her wings. Juveniles have dark, brown it looks like in Sibley's Guide to Birds.
Different bird species occupy different portions of the forest that is the UT Southwestern Medical Center Rookery, so we can't depend upon them being in the same places year to year, but now that I know some of the trees where the Anhinga hang out, and where those can be viewed from the asphalt sidewalk around parts of the area, I can keep going back hoping to get closer and more detail.
I had my tripod in the car, but I didn't lug it in. That's almost a sure-fire way to get more detail. But it's such a hassle.
I like this shot because even though it's not actually flying, it's got one wing and its tail both fully extended, and it's holding comparatively still, so we get to see some of the details therein. I thanked it for us.
I was a little thrown off by the interceding gray-frown branches that make this bird's long S-curved neck look gray instead of the black it actually is, but I've come to understand it is just who I say it is in the caption directly above. Appearances can be deceiving. Another bird showing us its wings, without jumping into the air and flying., but not much detail visible this time.
Red eyes, green lores, bright yellow beak and all that fine plumage. Not sure what else it could do to advertise its breeding condition. Maybe fly around with a branch in its beak…
Speaking of a nest stick, here's a relatively small one of those. This Black-crown spent quite some time trying to pull a much larger, fresh still with leaves on it, branch from this tree, but the tree wouldn't budge the branch, so the heron settled for a much smaller twig.
I especially like it's trailing occipital plume. Those things always remind me of swashbucklers and swordplay. Very dashing, and with those big red eyes, this bird looks fierce.
The previously cited Lone Pine Edition of Birds of Texas says they nest "from ground level up to 15 ft; nest is a platform of sticks, cordgrass or reeds; pair incubates 2-4 brown-splotched, buff or bluish eggs for 21-22 days; pair cares for the young." So there you have it.
I guess I need to scope out the Cattle Egret at the rookery and concentrate on them some future time. They are amazing when they poof out to show off their poof size and finery. Normally, such meek and mild little egrets that hang around cattle, but at breeding time, they can look like monsters at a moment's notice.
There's an image on my Courship Behaviors page that gets pretty close to how really fierce Cattle Egrets can get.
To round out today's collection of little and big birds at the rookery.
White Rock Lake
Driving past that place that used to have a lot of trees and was named after them, but now has mostly big steel structures and parking lots, I was photographing birds by the side of the road with my longest telephoto out of the driver's side window of The Slider.
The one on the far right is probably a Barn Swallow. Two of the others have yellow breasts, so might be one flycatcher or another, and I don't know who's out there behind all these others. Just I love that meadow now, even if the Scissor-tails seem to be gone from it. Maybe some years spring happens slow, but this year spring was really fast.
Looks like it's standing on something that might be delicious in a salad. It was taller than I am and along the line of tall weeds between the pier at Sunset Bay and the rest of the grassy area there. I'd attempted to photograph it at least a dozen times before this. Each time, he'd land, then when I acquired focus, he'd fly off. This time, I finally got him.
The barnyard was active today. It usually is, even when there's not mobs of birds there.
This is the male.
And this is the female. Like everybody else
along today's roads, they were finding and eating things.
The cycle of life. I read somewhere recently that only one of ten ducklings born this season will last till the next season.
I've captioned many photographs of male Red-winged Blackbirds proclaiming — giving their all in a scream-like call meant to gather females to mate with him. I think that's likely what's going on here. But I'm an amateur. I have seen many pairs of males grappling in the air with each other. It's spring. It's hardly surprising that they'd be fighting over females or the possibilities of females.
Which is what this one is doing, too. I was interested in each individual's specific form for proclaiming. Real birders probably call proclaiming by some other term.
Of, I believe the male sex — and gender, too, probably.
I don't remember whether it was complaining or shouting for joy.
The Bay Tri I last saw this day I called White-faced Ibis Day.
Essentially a rouse is when a bird shakes evertything up — all the feathers, at least — all over its body. I have a whole page of them to give you a more thorough understanding of that term. That page includes many species, so we fully realize all birds in all bird sizes rouse.
I know this is a mid-preen rouse, and I think I know where The Bay Tri's head is in this picture, but I'm really not sure about that.
Lake Ray Hubbard
We read in Bird Chat that a pair of Whooping Cranes have been being seen on Lake Ray Hubbard in Garland, so we drove out there in the cold cold winter spring and struggled to see or photograph them, they were so far away. But I kept the ISO as low as it would go in the gray dark light. This shot isn't even full frame, but most of today's shots of activity on the far shore are significantly enlarged.
The Fort Worth Audubon Society's counterpart for Dallas' Bird Chat is here. Audubon Fort Worth birders say there are more sightins listed on this forum.
Not terribly small like most of my shots of this pair today, but blown up more than I'd usually want to. Much larger than this, and the image would fall apart. I know I manually set the ISO to 200, but the camera set it back up to 800, which was probably just as well. No way even my chunky sturdy tripod would keep my exposures long enough to avoid camera shake in that wind…
I keep switching cameras, because I don't have one decent one right now, and neither does Nikon, unless I wanted to pay more than six thousand dollars for one that'd be outdated in a few short years. All the Nikons I might desire are snafu somehow. The full-frame D800 often does not focus on the left side — a major drawback to someone who actually composes images. The D600, which is a thousand dollars cheaper but still full frame, splatters oil all over the sensor from the mirror reflexing up and down with east shot. And the mighty D4, which I've read has clairvoyant fast focus, is only $6,000.
But as dark as it was today — deep charcoal gray with not a patch of blue or bright in sight, and the wind, it's probably just as well the camera was in control. A newer cam would have been fine at iso 800, my my five-year-old D300 was barely keeping its head above water. But it's not really going to get much better than this with sunshine's high contrast between bright white and shadows.
The egret flying away had been high in that tree in the foreground, then it swooped down to visit up close and birdenal (It can't be person-al.) with the Whooper Pair. They're reported to be stand-offish, but the egret got right in there with them, everybody hunting for their ongoing meal. Word is the cranes graze, hunt, preen and sleep their days on that far shore. They were very active during our hour-or-so visit.
When I could tear myself away from the impossibility of capturing quality images from the other side of the lake, I photographed just inside this side of it, and got fairly decent results. Not every time, but plenty often enough. The women we talked with there had a high-powered scope that clearly showed the color and shape of the bands on the Crane's legs.
I know the big duck second from the left is a male Northern Shoveler. There's another M N S fifth from the left, and a Mallard at top right. The others on the right side are Wilson's Phalaropes, but I haven't tracked down yet the I.D of the sylph of a bird on the far left.
I figured when I read about the Whoopers showing up last weekend, there wouldn't be a chance they'd still be hanging around by the time we got out there, but there was, and they did. This shot looks like at least three varieties of shorebirds, maybe more.
I'm beat as I write this. Sleepless too long and running around rural Garland well after that... I'll look up these guys in all those bird books tomorrow or the next day. I even have a The Shorebird Guide that might help me figure out which birds these are. I'm pretty sure this one is the same as all the flying birds in the next image up, but there's a little more detail here.
Unusually, it is the female of this species who colors up for breeding, not the males, who are drab and comparatively pale.
I want it to be a Yellow Legs, but those are definitely orange. And I'm fuzzy-eyed tonight. Hoping just to finish this page off, get some sleep and start thinking again tomorrow. Great pic for this side of the lake — still a significant distance. ISO 800 hurts much less in low contrast lighting.
The one on the left is the one in the shot just above. Same bright legs. No idea yet which the other one is.
If I can ID this one in front, I'll have several other pix mostly identified, too. One has little with black legs, and one's bigger with orange legs, but not the same as the orange-legs a couple shots above.
One of the women who'd already stopped on the edge of the lake that may have been the closest place with visual access to the Whooping Cranes wanted me to photograph this nest. I think she believed it was a Red-winged Blackbird's. She told of watching a Brown-headed Cowbird attempt to get into it — perhaps to lay eggs into it. Cowbirds play that trick, then have the other species bird mom raise her kits, but a male Red-winged Blackbird was going all out to keep her from it.
If that is what this is, it's the first one I've ever noticed. Quite an elaborate structure in an area we assumed would be too swampy muddy to cross to get closer to this side's shore, although they told us of a place further down that road that dirt-roaded to a parking lot and easy walk much closer to this side's shore, though it didn't make the cranes much bigger in our viewfinders.
Something else we discussed out on the marsh overlooking the lake and the far-away cranes, was the difference between sex and gender. The women who were so helpful in finding and photographing the big white birds on the other side of the world from us kept referring to various birds' gender, which may well be the preferred term in birding. I don't know. I'm still, as this page's banner proclaims in the biggest word on this page, an amateur.
So I looked it up, and found "Although the words gender and sex both have the sense 'the state of being male or female,' they are typically used in slightly different ways: sex tends to refer to biological differences, and gender to cultural or social ones." Thus a biological male of any species may perceive himself as or act as female, thus bending our understandings of gender, despite his male parts. I've often read about that in reference to bird and animal behaviors.
More selections from the menagerie. The bigger ones are ducks. Shovelers flying and Mallards on the water. No idea who the others are.
And a couple somethings else. I think those on the right bottom are just what's left of a tree. And two as yet unidentified species that I'm pretty sure I've seen before. Somewhere. I never got around to it, but I kept being amazed at the huge number of birds out on that faraway lake — and they were not all the same shapes or colors. Intriguing.
White Rock Lake
Today's shots are collected from the last week or so of frenzied bird photographing in gloroius spring, spring, spring. I had hoped for a bevy of Wood Ducks, and the Universe provided me with a bevy of Wood Ducks, so what else could I do?
All these shots utilized what they used to call "Synchro Sunlight Flash," which simply means I lifted my flash so it fired each time I clicked the shutter. It's magic. Looks almost like I didn't use flash, although there's certainly something strange about some of these shots.
For one thing, all of these images are in sharp focus...
It was at dinner time in Sunset Bay, when Charles arrives, usually with a big, friendly, mostly white dog in the front seat barking. Then he unloads big bags of corn grain and pours out long lines of the stuff, so all the ducks who've flown in to get what may be their most nutritious meal of the day. Especially if they've been around humans throwing white bread at them.
I haven't been back at dinner time, but I haven't seen this many Wood Ducks.
I don't think I've ever photographed a male Wood from this angle before. But isn't she beautiful? None of all that gaudy color.
See, they're not all the same. Sometimes Nature uses different colors or tones.
But still …
Sometimes it's difficult to believe they're of the same species.
I should probably mention that not all cameras and/or not all shutter speeds will allow this sort of synchronization. And that I set the camera to slightly underexpose the flash portion of our lighting, so it almost looks like there's no flash. At least there's no unsightly shadows under everybody's creases and chins and/or beaks.
This shot is down here more because I like it, than because it shows relative sizes. And because no flash was used in preparation of this image.
The Day Before That
One of the issues with Synchro-Sunlight exposures is that if the subject is too close to a wall-like structure like this tree stump, you get the dreaded chin, beak, chest or leg shadows.
This shot could have benefited from being closer to the camera with the flash if there's any flash involved.
They sometimes start with more than a dozen ducklings, but some father ducks eat their young. As do some other birds, and there's lots of things out there that will kill a duckling, including wolves, coyotes, bob- and feral domestic cats, dogs, hawks, owls, pelicans (ours have gone back north , etc. It's difficult to track an individual duck mom, and you'd have to be wherever they are all the time. And other things.
Or somebody like that. At first I thought it might be a summer eclipse molt, but now I'm pretty sure it's just weird, since there was no other duck like it in Sunset Bay, where all the mutants hang out. Only the mutants survive!
Crown? Crest? Poof? I know there's a proper term for those things, even when they're still incipient. Since Mallards will have sex with almost any duck, there are more Mallard hybrids than any other breed's. We know it's a male duck by its curly tail feathers, even if its color is subdued like most duck females.
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My favorite answer is, "I don't
am, after all, an amateur.
I'm not kidding. I've only been birding for six years,
although I've been photographing professionally since 1964.
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