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Learning my latest camera
* Shots from my 100-300mm Panasonic Lens are here, here , here and here below, and here last april.
White Rock Lake
We'd hoped to find pelicans doing amazing things, but until much later, there wasn't even much light. But by wandering around the lake, we found the occasional bird. This is where we ended up, because it's where we started out. Coots mobbing along with ducks and some gooses. They do that, because they're always hungry, and a car that stops might just be a car with people in it who might have brought them something to eat. And it's always worth trying.
I think those poles were supposed to be art. They even used to glow at night. There were shorter ones for turtles, but turtles couldn't get up on them, so they removed those from the display. Cormorants take over some parts of White Rock Lake every December — I used to call it Stinky Bird Season.
Not sure why they like to bunch up on the diving pier behind what used to be an actual bath house until Polio hit the country. It was going to reopen after the disease was cured, but something called Integration was worrying a lot of White People then, and opening up the open-lake pool with its own concrete floor just kept getting put off.
Their formation almost reminded me of a V, but with only one bird on anything approaching making the whole team a V.
Some people still insist on calling them "Sea" gulls, but we lakesters know better.
The female of our most-hated bird population. The Great-tailed Grackle. Even other birders hate these guys. Not me, I think they're wonderful, even when they scat on my car.
Noble, handsome little critters who can sing like metal crashing on concrete, and whose feathers sometime iridesce blue and purple.
Of course, Muscovies are already hybrids of Mallards, who are probably responsible for more hybrids than any other ducks. Always willing to make it with any new ducks.
From the other side of the lake.
Or just another duck J R cannot identify?
Apparently, they've only been here a couple days. Usually their numbers grow to less than a dozen. All males for awhile, then one, maybe two, females show up for a week to ten days, then they fly off, leaving the males here, till they disappear also.
Hanging around Sunset Bay. Never seen them anywhere else.
I think this is a female Mallard, and I'm
pretty sure she's got more wing than that.
Red-tailed (or any other, we also have resident Red-shouldered Hawks) flyover in Sunset Bay are about as likely as Turkey Vulture flyovers, and about even with the chance of a Black Vulture flyover. Grackles fly over much more often, of course, and these two occupying the same photographic space, even if the grackle is somewhat closer — or having them both in focus — is not altogether unremarkable, but rare.
Basically, they are flying in the same sector of sky, although I have seen these and other birds flying with hawks and even playing a little tag with each other, though not often. When I do, I attempt to get photographs of the event.
Because of the shallow depth of field available with very long telephoto zooms — this one is a 150-500mm zoom, which supposedly works out as the equivalent of a 225-750mm. And of course, I usually use it zoomed all the way in (full telephoto effect) most of the time — so getting more than one bird at any differing distance away from the photographer in focus is almost pure luck.
I'm still working on the Pelicans At Play pictures, and I think I'm going to quit promising
what the next journal entry will be about, because I never really know.
Coots run on the water to gain air speed. Cormorants and Pelican hop two-footed as they fill those big wings (12-foot wingspans) to get up into the air. When they take off from the ground, it seems more subtle. Turn into the wind, and leap.
Photographing American White Pelicans flying is one of my most favorite things to do in the world. I knew something was up a minute or two before they began their mass take-off. From playing with the bottle and dawdling around, they sort of came to some attention. A lot of their beaks pointed either in the same direction or inward among the group. They stood up.
And so did I. I'd been trying to get comfortable and get some sense of holding the camera with its big, long, heavy lens still while I clicked away. It was nice having my left elbow on one of the pier's piers. Almost comfortable. More or less relaxed. Till the pelicans gathered. For something. I stood up, trying to figure where to focus.
Seemed to be a bit of initial indecision. Then they flocked into the shallow water beside the peninsula, and so they were churning up the air with those big, long wings.
Within a few moments many of them took to the air. Several flew past me before I caught their polyrhythms, after a half dozen of them flying past me, I caught on, panned along with each one I thought I might have a chance to focus, and began clicking away at one after another …
Or after a whole bunch of them at once. In clumps …
And singles up close and pelicano.
By the time the last ones flew by me, I'd got fairly good at it. May not have been holding the camera level, but I'd nailed the focus and composition. Of course, by then, they were winging across the lake toward, then past Dreyfuss Point …
… and beyond. I loved photographing the great mass of them spiraling up into the barely blue sky, gathering together and flying farther and farther northwest.
Last I saw them before they became one with the clouds was a spoking spiral of slender whites and black into the distance.
For tomorrow or the next day, I'll compile that day's pelicans playing ball with the bottle. I'm looking forward to that. If the sun shines tomorrow, though, I may have more pelicans flying, if my timing's as good as this great day.
Friends said they'd seen 70 pelicans in Sunset Bay, so that's where I went today. They were dawdling on the little peninsula, with ducks, gooses and coots. I stayed for a couple hours, along with many families, kids and even a few dogs on Sunset Pier. Many had never seen white pelicans before. This is the first time this many pelicans were in Sunset Bay at one time since about thirteen months ago. I was excited for the photo opportunity, and I shot 576 photographs in the next couple hours.
I have seen peculiar holes in pelican beaks, but I saw not a drop of blood in the mock-fighting today.
If you had a big, sword-like beak like that, and no hands, you'd probably use it to fight with others when the opportunity arose.
Like swording, with thrusts and parries.
I've seen this playing behavior before. I'll find some links to at least two previous sightings of pelicans playing with bottles. These guys eagerly engaged in the fun. Here, water flows from the bottle as other pelicans look on and try to get possession of the ball … er … bottle.
About 70 is the usual number of pelicans White Rock Lake supports each year. I don't know that these will stay. I've been wondering if the eight more or less rehabilitated pelicans (only one of which can fly more than twenty or thirty feet) Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation released, kept more pelicans from coming to stay in Sunset Bay, their traditional winter grounds for our friends from Southern Idaho.
More pix tomorrow.
Robin Thrashing a Leaf
We didn't plan it that way, but it seemed to have turned out to be an experiment. I certainly was experimenting. In the dark, in the thick of the autumn woods that is the Fitchery (what Anna called, now several of us are calling, The Old Fish Hatchery Area under the dam), because. Well because we hadn't been there in a long time.
An experiment, because most of our shots didn't work out all that well, and the few of mine that did, turned out to be somewhat experimental in nature. This shot of the robin thrashing a leaf, we always assume what strange things birds do is in hopes of deriving food from it. So we guess that's what this one is up to.
Robin in Technicolor World
The colors are real, this bird is rendered very realistically. We thought we'd find dozens if not hundreds of species varieties in that lush wood and swamp area, but what we found the most of was robins. For the first half hour, if not more, every bird we saw turned out to be — they didn't all look like robins at first — but most of the ones we actually were able to focus and photograph — were robins. Jillions of very active robins.
Robin on the Forest Floor
There were other birds, bigger ones and littler ones, but only the robins would stop long enough for us to locate, focus in on, and actually photograph them. The vast majority of the robins I photographed today were way too dark, or utterly silhouetted againts a darkish yet still too bright sky, out of focus — from slightly to wayyyy too out of focus.
This is not a robin.
I repeat, not a robin. I was so relieved when I realized this was not a robin, that I didn't give all that much thought to what it really is. I thanked it for not being a robin, for being so involved in eating those little popcorn-like buds or berries that he didn't notice I was photographing it doing that, and especially for doing all that up where what little light the sky provided could get to it. I know it's not a robin, but what it is is, could be a female Red-winged Blackbird.
Twisting in the Wet Air
Same bird, I'm pretty sure. Less than two seconds later, per the image metadata. Apparently twisting in the air, falling or something like that. I don't remember attempting to capture it doing this, more like desperately attempting to photograph it doing anything, and by the time the camera and I both focused it, this is what it was doing. Aerobatics.
I've been corrected before for calling this bird this phrase instead of its proper species title, Yellow-rumped Warbler. Usually I misidentify it first, then settle into that notion when I see that patch of yellow on its upper back part of its back, among folded wings and such.
Cossacks with Pink Purse on Top of the Dam
As we walked along the slight trail along the bottom of the wide hill leading up to the dam, I stopped to stare at the crowd of folk walking along the top. Click.
Spillway Great Blue Heron Coming in for a Landing
A Sight for sore eyes. Light and a greater expanse, and no tree branches or limbs or leaves to get in the way. Helps that GBHs are among my very favoritest of birds. Don't know who that big duck is, but I do know the lithe bird pointing its yellow toes into the water it's about to "land" in.
By this point in the heron's trajectory, I was hanging onto the too-tall fence on the dam side of the spillway, teetering with the Rocket Launcher and hoping (and largely failing) to keep it all in balance and pointed toward the birds.
Water Over the Dam with Ring-billed Gull
I love photographing the local rapids of the dam. Nice, too, to get a bird in there somewhere, so I can post it here. Splashy-splashy.
Gulls on the Spillway
I usually give gulls short shrift.
Great Blue Heron Hidden in Plain Sight Under the Walking Bridge
We almost missed this beautiful bird, eager as we were to go eat Thanksgiving dinner, and tired, too, of experimenting with birds. We almost missed this one entirely. I did a double take when a shadow down in the creek moved. And this Great Blue Heron materialized, so I stopped and documented it.
Anna's photographs from this same mini-tour of the Fitchery is on Facebook.
Got up early while the sun still shone, walked along Arboretum Drive, around the top of Winfrey Point, then down into Sunset Bay, and managed to get shots of lots of birds. Of which this Red-tailed Hawk was the most exciting, even if it didn't do all that much but pose and eventually, jump around up there some. Nonetheless, I felt blessed.
It didn't go far, but it looks powerful in leaving. If I'd known what it was up to, I probably would have missed it entirely. Take notice of all that muscle in its thighs.
I mighta missed tha action above, but I got some here. Still a little blur among the feet, wings and tailfeathers, but look at those fierce eyes?
Not looking at me, more like over-looking me, looking out onto the lake, ignoring me as much as possible. Some hawks don't see us, I think, so intent they are on their next meal, which we ain't one of. If only because we're too big.
Some get nervous with a photog down on the ground aiming a fat, dark stick at them. And others don't seem to care.
Hang onto that comparatively tiny branch with its powerful fist, lean a little into it, then switch grasps with its left claw.
Lotta birds out, like I was, enjoying the sunshine. It felt good, and every few yards there was another new bird.
They're usually too far away or going too fast, but this time, for a change, I got these two in fair focus.
Except for some annoying people who each parked their car in the middle of the circle in front of the Winfrey Building, thus blocking the lovely circle drive for everybody else (including me), I found nothing of interest worth shooting from up here, so I headed down there. Lots of gulls and cormorants, but no pelicans, egrets or herons out in the middle.
Lots more diversity in Sunset Bay, of course. These still-cute but aging ducklings keeping each other safe if not exactly warm on the big log right in front of the pier at Sunset Bay.
I overexposed it the first time I photographed it, first thing I did once I got out on the pier there, but this is what its cute little face really looks like, pinkish bill and all.
Several littler birds flitting about, not staying long, looking for food, no doubt, despite several photographers mostly paying attention to much bigger and more exotic birds.
Amazing lobed feet that let it run on water (skitter), seem to maybe perhaps kinda a little propel it under water, and no doubt, also good for other things, or why not have webbed feet like all those other birds around Sunset Pier.
When we were in California we noted a lot of signs prohibiting people from feeding the birds. I know many families have traditions of going to the lake and riling up the birds — especially the coots — to thrash the waters, fight among themselves for every morsel of white bread, which is about as good for them, as it is for us. Uneaten food, and I've seen large loaves of sugared bread rotting on the shore, rots and sickens birds and fouls the water.
We tried to get the City to put up signs warning people not to feed the birds. Instead, the misguided Parks Department put up one sign, where Charles, who brought most of the gooses to the lake, commonly fed them the high quality goose food he buys for them at the feed store. Corn grain and other stuff they can easily eat and digest. Not white bread. They City worded that sign cutely, saying that birds had already eaten, so that anybody who actually finished reading the stupid thing would have no idea what the sign wanted them to do.
The sign is still where the City put it, in a straight line from where the worker with the sign was dispatched and the lake. Charles has since changed the feeding place to somewhere more convenient to the gooses. California and other places around the world that have banned feeding birds at lakes under penalty of law, may be more enlightened than the government is here. But here, it's still perfectly legal to poison birds with all kinds of nasty bread-like objects in the name of fun and family tradition. White bread, sugar bread, or what have they.
It also riles the birds up and gets them to thrash each other. I usually try to avoid photographing them like that, because it's not really natural for them. I used to try to stop people from feeding them really egregious food-like substances, but it clearly did not good, and got me riled up.
On a gentler note, here's a pair of Northern Pintails I photographed somewhere. You can tell it's a Northern Pintail by taking a long gander (pun intended) at that long, pointed tail (that one, too). Not sure who that is taking off just over their heads. But ain't they a handsome couple?
I haven't counted the corps lately. 18 here.
More were on the peninsula.
Grebes get wet. They dive and stay under awhile. While down there, they catch fish. Like this one. Usually grebes this photographer watches stay under as much as they stay on top. Then, they disappear altogether. They're shy. People walking by don't bother them that much, but one standing there staring at it, especially with a thick black something in their hands, are inherently scary. Then tend to go under and go somewhere where, when they come up, they can't be seen.
I found this very successfully fishing grebe on a bright, sunny day.
I didn't see it catch the fish, but once it had it, the grebe had to figure out how to get the fish it caught underwater, down its own gullet. As you can see, it took the steps carefully, one by one, till …
The grebe swallowed the fish whole.
This is another grebe about a week later, yesterday as the date on this journal entry goes. Note how otter-like the grebe is.
And this is the best shot I got of the grebe yesterday. It was kind enough to pose sideways, so I could get all of it in focus more easily. Tomorrow, unless something better comes along, it's coots.
Big beak. Called shovelers, because of those large, wide, massive beaks. I especially like this view. It's one of the first few shots on my new Nikon D7000 that I really, really like. I've been reading a book-on-a-PDF by Thom Hogan that tells me more info than I can absorb, so I'll have to read and re-read it, but it's already helping major.
Inspired by all that I'm finally shooting and processing RAW. I probably could explain it, but I don't want to. It's a file format that keeps more information in bigger files that take more space on my hard drives. Pretty much the same ratio of bad to good as usual. These, of course, are the best.
This three-quarter view still shows a pretty large beak, but nothing as large at her full-sized beak.
Kinda pretty for a Ring-billed Gull. I've rarely cared much for Ring-nosers, except when I watched on playing with with a toy once. Gull just wanna have fun, yeah. But this one's kinda pretty, too.
I photographed a lot of these today. Eventually managed to get one in pretty close to focus. I may be learning. If so, it's a good feeling. Takes awhile some time.
Distinctive. The word again, "pretty." And
a duck, but I don't know which one. Strange feather. Other than that, I know
I've seen her before. Anybody out there know which duck this is?
I visited Green Heron Park today, because a reader reported seeing a Prairie Falcon taking birds there. I looked all over but didn't see one. Some birds return to where they were seen on previous days. Some birds just happened to find a good kill there recently. I looked, did not find, walked up the west side of the lake to the Bent Bridge and photographed — or attempted to, anyway — cormorants in Cormorant Bay. Then I came back and noticed how many jillions of them seemed to be disappearing into that one set of reeds.
Took a while to walk up slowly enough that they didn't all fly away at once. Some escaped, every time I got close, but I watched flight after flock disappear into there. Wondering how many hundreds — thousands, maybe — could meld into it. Took awhile to find any birds in the maze. Eventually, my notorious patience (Had to think about that patience today. Still don't think I have much, but I am willing to wait some birds out).
Female Red-winged Blackbirds hang out together,
even fly apart from the males sometimes. It's somewhere between a harem and Women's
Trinity river Audubon Center
The Audubon Dallas meeting at TRAC last night featured a turkey and some owls. The turkey was staying; the owls would be released, but first a Power Point lecture by the student winner of an Audubon Dallas grant, who spoke about restoring habitat for wild birds in Costa Rica.
When we got there, several persons were wearing festive turkey hats.
But they weren't the only hats around. A man dressed in striped yellow and black told about the importance of bees in the world and how we could help them.
And over by the fund-raising items like cookies and sugar-free bread was a woman in a bright red daisies or somebody.
It was fun to touch the various odd textures of a turkey's head, neck and wattle. Many were gentle about the touching. Some, especially children, were firm touchers. The turkey did not bite, just endured.
We were surprised to see a flautist setting up on his mat at the side of the big room. And pleased to hear him play. He, too, taught what we was doing. It was an educational evening.
After the lectures, adults and children gathered around Kathy Rogers and Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation volunteers who held, then released into the cold night, several owls who had been in rehabilitation, Rogers said, "for about a year. Once released, they rapidly flew away, a heartening sight. They flew way too fast for me to focus in the dark, so I just watched them climb and disappear into the darkness.
White Rock Lake
Nothing quite like following ducks down into Sunset Bay for testing whether a certain lens (!) works with this camera, and if it focuses fast. These shots were made with my oldest digital Nikon, a D200 that I'd given up on several years ago when I bought a D300 (whose shutter subsequently disintegrated) to replace it. I'm trying to decide whether to keep my D7000, which is probably better than either of the other two and new beside.
Following ducks down into the inner bay is a fast-focusing challenge that this elderly camera did well on. Remarkably well. Spectacularly in these particular instances. Some of the others, before I got exposure, shutter speed and depth of field down correctly, were pure blurs, and others were way over-exposed. These several shots are near perfect enough that we can see the gorgeous autumn colors across the lagoon in the Hidden Creeks Woods shining through.
As you may be able to see from the dark gray
sky, these shots were actually shot today, Tuesday November 15, in the late afternoon
after an appointment that kept dragging on and on, till I worried it'd be too
dark. It was too dark, but the weather just added to the challenge.
My new D7000, with which I was comparing my old old D200, is limited in several
directions, yet it still acquitted itself very very well.
Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation in hutchins, Texas
When we arrived at Rogers, first thing we did was the first thing we always do, check in at the office, expecting to be invited back into where the cages are of recently delived, injured birds. There was a woman running numbers on a laptop on the left counter, and Kathy Rogers very busy on the phone in front of us. Another first for us, there was no one feeding otherwise or rehabilitating recently-arrived birds. Except for the computer woman and Rogers, there were no volunteers in the office. I didn't realize that till much later. No happy young women working in the office, out among the cages, or anywhere we could see.
Another first: we asked if we could go back into the office and photograph birds. Rogers was still on the phone, but the laptop lady told us no. She said there were no "interesting birds" back there. I looked and saw three immediately. A gorgeous and vividly colored and very tall parrot we'd seen before, a fluffy gray or white bird I wasn't at all sure who was, and a brown something or other.
I just stared at the birds I could most easily see, unable to comprehend why the bean counter thought none of the birds there would be interesting. I like birds. Almost any bird will do. I love grackles, find them fascinating — I've even got fascinating photographs of pigeons and doves — and everybody else, too. They're all at least interesting. Later, when I thought about the scene, I realized that all the birds that usually had their run of the place were also out of sight, probably tucked away in their cages.
Anna later learned that Texas Wildlife had given Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation new rules for how to conduct their office, and it was they who had decided no visitors behind the front counter. Yet when we had first asked, nobody told us that. Just that there were no "interesting birds" back there.
So we abandoned the office for the big cages out back. Right away we recognized there was a panic in the air. A lot of birds were much more agitated than at any of our many previous visits there. Kites and hawks were flying headlong into the wire mesh of their cages. A querulous irritability seemed rampant among all the cages. Anna asked someone, and they told her that no, it wasn't the guns going off in the not-so-distance. (Turned out the police had a shooting range and once a month, all the cops had to pass a firing range test.)
But the birds didn't seem any more agitated when the fireworks were going off than when they weren't.
his image turned out much better than I first
thought. I mentioned it in the journal entry below. This
s is the scream that preceded its attack. Of the inside of its cage.
We knew we were safe enough, but it was loud and fierce, and more than a little scary, maintaining a powerful, wide stance very close to our side of the cage. We didn't think it could get out, but we recognized that it was really pissed about something. I guess if I were in the cage, I would have been, also.
We kept trying to figure out what the deal was, why it felt so tense among the birds in the big cages. What could be causing this unrest? But we never figured it out. Life seemed to be going on as usual, just everybody was on edge. We were tired and wanted to go home, but we kept circling back to see all the owls and hawks and vultures and everybody else.
Just like the gooses we'd been watching at Sunset Bay and other places around White Rock Lake for years, more or less domestic gooses seem to think they are the peacemakers of the bird world, when they aren't hissing at somebody or biting small children. I've seen them break up the very violent-appearing sex between consenting ducks on several occasions.
And this was another first for us at Rogers, when tensions seemed high, along would come The Goose Parade, the clown army of peace, noisily marching in a long, single line through the caged area, back and forth at least three times while we were there. Blessed are the peacekeepers. LOL. Or maybe they were the noise-makers — whole lot of honking going on.
Not everybody was having it, however. I have no idea what was going through this hawk's mind, or if it only wanted to get out or was happy enough being there for the moment. We knew it would be awhile before we returned to Rogers, but we didn't want to let go of the opportunity to see, talk to and photograph all these fascinating birds, many of whose issues that got them here, were nearly invisible.
From time to time, this gorgeous bird — one of many hanging around on top of the cages at Rogers — seemed like it was sticking its tongue out at me. But I was never quick enough to capture it with that long, slender, darting tongue aiming at me. So I had to settle for this shot with the tongue out on the other side, in the other direction. Very interesting birds.
This may be a bad idea. I mean what's left, if I go through the several hundred photographs I made at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation yesterday and pick out the very best shots. Then what-am-I gonna do with the rest? Well probably learn to appreciate what I now think are second best and realize there's lots more good ones to show you. That's what usually happens.
But right now it's difficult to see any of the other shots I did Friday as anywhere near as good as these, and I really do want to stretch them out over several daily entries on this journal.
How I got this bird so very sharp with my Panasonic G2 camera, even though it's descending with great speed and high (!) action, is because I had just carefully focused and photographed it standing on top of that post to the right. As usual, I was about to shoot again, hoping one or the other would be in better focus, when it jumped off and hurtled toward either earth or the top of one of the cages at Rogers, where essentially wild Great Blue Herons call home.
As it hurtled toward me, I quickly and constantly held the focus target in the middle of the EVF (electronic viewfinder) ring on the bird, which is never easy with his camera, but I may actually be getting better at it.
I was going to mention that this kite had its wings outstretched in the caption, but it is rather obvious. What was much more subtle was the reason it did. At first we thought it was because one or the other of them was broken, and that may still be true. Fact is, we have no idea why.
Okay, from here down to the TV at the bottom of today's journal entry, I probably don't know which birds these are. I'm in a hurry to get these up, so I'll have something new up for the weekend, and they are the best shots I made today, and when I have time I'll search my books and maybe figure out hoooo's hooo here.
The left half-owl is probably another one of the above variety. The brown one is probably something entirely different. And yes, I was photographing all but the Great Blue Herons and, if I decide to use them after all, the photographs of some peacocks, were in seriously gridded cages that were a chore to photograph through, but I know the magic trick of it (Get the lens as close to the grid and as far from the birds as possible, so the fence goes completely out of focus, and the birds have a better than average opportunity to be sharp).
I guess one of the better reasons we trek out to Rogers several times every year — besides the variety of birds available in one place — is that we can get comparatively close to those birds. Much closer than we usually manage with wild birds.
This bird was an absolute treat. It kept gathering little gifts from the dirt floor to attempt to give to Anna, which trick was made especially difficult because of the tight grid I usually try to disappear with my photo trick. It's used and has imprinted on women who work/volunteer at Rogers, so it did not gather nor proffer any gifts to me, but I found it endearing nonetheless.
There were, as there often are, dozens of hawk in cages at Rogers today. Some were flinging themselves boldly into the wire at one or the other end of their cages, some were standing there in great dignity, and some in some condition in between. Photographing them is a little like catching fish in a barrel. They're not going anywhere beyond the wire grids, but they almost never pose, so it's always a challenge to capture them with full dignity apparent.
Some hawks were almost gentle, others watched us carefully. One spread its legs, hunched over toward us and screamed at us.
Like I say, the opportunity to get up close and personal is the main reason we go there. I photograph what we call TVs (Turkey Vultures) often, but rarely get their faces in any kind of focus, so the chance to get this close and detailed, is amazing.
More pix next week.
White Rock Lake
Lucy Rogers, whom I see photographing birds at the lake sometimes, sent me this amazing shot, which she says only shows about half the birds that flew over her on the old boathouse side of the lake October 13, when she happened to look up and see this huge flock of birds. They were so high up and far away, she couldn't tell what they were, but she she photographed them, and later when she zoomed in the photo on her monitor, she saw they were pelicans.
I missed photographing a similar flock October 21 when some guy was yelling at me about hundreds of birds behind me, while I was concentrating on photographing five pelicans who'd split off from our resident couple dozen [then — yesterday I counted maybe 32]. I really liked photographing those few, but I was sorry I missed the many more. Nice to see somebody else captured them.
Meanwhile, I keep going to the lake every day, but I've been finding the same old birds. Nice to have a fresh perspective, even if it happened a month ago. Thanks, Lucille.
I have been busy writing and rewriting and re-rewriting art criticism, which may now be my most important job, although some other times photographing birds is. Maybe that confusion led to some of my other confusions that got me where I was taking my nonbird camera/lens to the lake this afternoon, thinking I'd never once get the opportunity to photograph an American White Pelican or really any other bigger bird flying.
But as you can see, I did. And even with my slow-focusing Panasonic G2, I gave it the good old college (U of Dallas, in my case) try. With not entirely bad results. I'm happy enough.
I also got a bunch of shots of them cooperatively fishing in the good old synchronized swimming mode pelicans use.
Landing gear all the way down while its wings spill most of the air that had kept it flying even and a little fast for a good landing.
Feet toward flat and bird cupping the air as it inches toward the tarmac.
Then slides behind the log full of pelicans.
I always feel especially lucky when I get to see a pelican flying, even as short
as this one did today. Soon or eventually this winter I'll get to photograph
whole squadrons of them. Maybe those times I'll remember to bring my much faster
and faster focusing Nikon. Maybe, too, I'll post some of today's synchro-swimming
fishing pix. Maybe I'll have more time now my big art review of the fortnight
is finally up and adequate.
I recognize the one on the left. A Northern Pintail. The one on the right, being different from the Mallards and coots all around, probably is associated with the one on the left. I assume it's the female of the pair.
Northern Pintail Duck Stretch
Whatever it is, from time to time, it needs to stretch its wings and foot.
The Other Duck
When I first saw this bird next to the pintail, I thought it might be an Egyptian Goose, but it really doesn't look much like one of those, except the patch over its eye. It also doesn't look like any of the pictures of the Northern Pintail. The other three birds here are coots.
Big-tail Duck Walking
This is another of those big-tail ducks I've been watching. Notice the very large and extended behind and small tail. Which looks a lot, Annette tells me Charles believes, is a Muscovy Duck. And it does. The more these guys grow, the more they look like Muscovies. Charles thinks the little ducks are Muscovy hybrids. We have a remarkable diversity of Muscovy hybrids already at the lake — with variations of color and patterns settling in different parts of the lake, and these may be some of those or some more. We might get to find out.
Little Bigtail Duck with Flurry Feathers
This is the other one. Same mottled breast extending to its underside. Same lumpy tail extension (bustle). Very similar white head patch flaring back from the round-the-eye patch. Handsome little critter, despite the errant feathers.
Two mottle-fronted Ducks
Here's a couple of the same or more bustle ducks. I'm beginning to like them immensely. But then I've been a big fan of the overlarge Muscovies for a long time. Can't wait to see what the new cousins look like grown up.
A Honk of Gooses
Photographing ducks I heard a clatter of loud gooses honking and making various other noises. It doesn't sound like Canada Goose's notorious cocktail-party noises, no these guys are really loud and noisy.
Brewers Sparrows ?
Saw these guys earlier this afternoon. Didn't know who they were till I looked them up in several places including What Bird? which has been helping a lot lately. I just kept shooting and shooting and shooting and eventually I not only got two age-different ones together but mostly in focus.
Two Egrets in Fall-colored Trees
The Hidden Creek side of Sunset Bay is alive
with fall colors, and today there were a half dozen Great Egrets over there.
I used my little camera today. The one that doesn't focus birds that move, so
I didn't get any of them flying in or away.
I'm sure there's more California birds to be shown, and I might actually get around to it, especially if finding anything new and different at White Rock continues to be such a challenge. But for now, here are more, either birds of interest or photographs of interest of birds at White Rock.
I've failed several times already shooting these dark ducks with whopping big tails. Usually I manage to photograph them as blurs, which this very nearly is also. Not sure I've ever seen a duck with this substantial a tail before, so I don't yet know who they are, but they've been swimming around the pier at Sunset Bay for a couple weeks now.
At first I thought they were or were related to those black ducks somebody left at the lake earlier last summer, but I'm not so sure now. Basically, I don't know. Is it a juvenile who will grow into its tail like big-pawed puppies and kittens often do?
text and photographs copyright 2011 by J
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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 three years,
although I've been photographing professionally since 1964.
Thanks always to Anna.