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Year Ago

November 2016

The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton
Redraw Screen Often [control or command r] ; I change this page more than any other.

243 photos this month The current Bird Journal is always here  Cameras Used  Ethics  Feedback red diamond My Other Bird Pages: Herons  Egrets Heron or Egrets Links & Bird Books Pelican Beak Weirdness Pelicans Playing Catch Rouses Courtship Behaviors Banding Birding Galveston 2015 & 2013 2nd Lower Rio Grande Valley Birds page & the 1st  Bald Eagles at White Rock red diamond Coyotes red diamond JR's resumé Contact red diamond Area Bird Resources: red diamond Dallas Bird Chat red diamond Bird Rescue Info You want to use my photosHow to Photograph Birds Birding Places: Bird-annotated Map of White Rock Lake & Spillway & the Med School Rookery & Village Creek Drying Beds  FOSs: Pintail, Bufflehead, Ruddy, Lesser Scaup, Northern Ficker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Bluebird, Chiloé Wigeons, Cedar Waxwings, American Wigeon November's Best Pix: beautiful, ballistic heron, Great Egret Flying LowSudden Deceleration w/Gravity Boost, Adult Cormorant Flying Low, Pelicans Landingalbum cover art, Chiloé Wigeon in the Swirling Waters, Great Blue Heron intermingling with a Great Egret, Two Woodpeckers, including a Northern Flicker, My new map of the Old Fish Hatchery Area & Spillway On my other job, I'm an art critic and I've reviewed 2,309 movies this century. Please do not share my images on Pinterest, Tumblr or other image sharing sites.

More Little & Big Cam Experiments
photographed & posted November 29 2016

Northern Pintail in Sunlight -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Northern Pintail in Sunlight with Mallard Hen - n

And still the rainbow water swirls. Today's photographs are in completely mixed-up chronology, which is almost the same as neither chron nor ology. Some days are like that. Today certainly has been. I'm hoping that soon it will be over.

As I type this, my chances are really good. It's dark already. Seems like I've been trying all month to get a really nice shot of this Northern Pintail. We only have one, and I tend — often, not always — to be where he is when he is there. I prayed for sun, and this handsome bird finally got the light it needed. Idn't he a beauty?

The Fan-tail Coot - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

The Fan-tail Coot - n

The n and/or p following the captions indicates whether it was shot with a n for Nikon or p for Panasonic Lumix GX8. I can tell the difference by looking. I think I'm going to continue to use the GX-8 for photographing still things like art and landscapes and objects, and concentrate on using the Nikon — as I have for the past three, I think, years, for birds. Basically, this coot is rousing. I have many pix of many species also rousing. The pictures explain what rousing is better than I can with words.

The Lone Pelican -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

The Lone Pelican - n

All day long — including three trips to the lake with two separate cameras, I only saw a very few pelicans. They were not in any of the fishing parties I saw — several of those were Ring-billed Gulls-only. Cormorants and gulls. Or just this one pelican out looking for a meal.

Cormorants & Gulls - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants and Gulls - p

The gulls seem busy with fighting among themselves. The cormorants are all business, swimming along, hoping for fish to eat. The photograph was taken with my Panasonic Lumix GX-8. Low contrast (which I've increase a little bit), mediocre resolution. I'm probably doing something(s) wrong. Wouldn't take much.

Muscovy Drake - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Muscovy Drake - n

Truly handsome critter. Vivid color, sterling snap and contrast, high resolution.

Jet with Con Trail - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Jet with Con Trail — n

Wow! We can even see some detail in the plane. Perhaps it would be helpful to note that the GX-8 has a sensor 1/4 the size of the Nikon. Which is to say that the Nikon has four times the resolution of the little Panasonic. But then, though I kept trying to set the Pany's iso to 400, it kept switching itself back to eight times that. Next time I try this experiment, I'll match the numbers on both. But till then, despite its weight and unwieldiness, I'll stick with Nikon.

Pelican with Wings at Half Mast - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican with Wings at Half Mast — n

I am very pleased with this.

Male American Kestrel -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Male American Kestrel - p

I took about thirty pix of this kestrel. One of the issues with the GX-8 is that the EVF (electronic view finder) is so small, it's very difficult to tell how well focused the image is. With my Nikon, we could probably count the feathers. With the GX-8, we're lucky we can count the bird. After this shot — and a total blur of it flying around above me catching bugs — I took it home and got my Nikon and came back. Of course, the kestrel wasn't still there when I got back.

The Cruciform Plan with oof Dragonfly - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cruciform Plant with Oof Dragonfly - n

Or some other flying bug. I didn't plan it. It's on the slope up to the Winfrey Building. Oof = out of focus.

Two Butterflies - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Two Oof Butterflies - p

This looked so bad at full size, I brought it down to 666 pixels wide instead of the usual horizontal size of 888 pixels wide. It still doesn't look sharp or in focus, and it's not. I saw the orange flutterby land. I never saw the yellow and green(?) one till I got this image up on my monitor.

 

 

Autumn — Wandering Around with My Little Camera,
photographed November 27 & posted November 29 2016

 Up That Hill -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved. 243

Up That Hill   iso 6400

I have been contemplating getting a new telephoto zoom lens for either my little camera or my big one. Since I hadn't been using the little one for birds or White Rock Lake lately, I took it with a 200-600mm equivalent lens that's not nearly as good as the 200-800 zoom I've been considering. The street is Grand Avenue, just above where it turns into Garland Road when it joins Gaston. This is the view over the dam.

The Old Boathouse & Bridge -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

The Old Boat House & Bridge

So I wanted to try out my little camera with a mediocre lens just to see if I could still operate the Little Camera. Barely. This was just when I realized I had the iso set to something astronomical, so for the next shot, I brought it down to 800, since it wasn't really as bright a day as it may seem.

Back of the Winfrey Building - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

The Back of the Winfrey Building

I can sure see the difference. You? This is a long telephoto shot from wherever — a long way away — I was standing when I shot it. Somewhere along DeGolyer Drive past the old DeGolyer Estate.

Fisher Road on the Other Side - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Fisher Road on the Other Side

Ditto.

Guy on a Unicycle - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Guy on a Unicycle

Here, I've been continuing to drive down DeGolyer Drive. You might notice that I haven't tackled anything that's moving very fast. I wasn't moving very fast, either. And fast requires knowing what I'm doing with a camera, and I just did not. Yet.

Up Winfrey Hill - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Up Winfrey Hill

Same road, but here, it's got a different name. Winfrey Something Or Other.

Autumn Pine - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Autumn Leaves

At the top of Winfrey Hill I began testing in earnest.

Autumn Weeds -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Autumn Weeds

I love these simple sorts of photographs. Sorry no birds today.

Tree Trunk Detail -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Tree Trunk Detail

So I walked around in inner Sunset Bay (The part that has land, not water, taking pictures.

Plant Life -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Plant Life

And I'm running out of cute captions.

Tan Leaf -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Tan Leaf
 

Autumn Leaves & White Caps -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Autumn Leaves & White Caps
 

Shallow Water -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Shallow Water
 

Needles in Space -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Needles in Space
 

Apartment Fences -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Apartment Fences

I've known a couple people who rented here over the years, but both of their apartments were very very small. I keep wanting to take the perfect photo of their also very linear front entrance, but though I've tried several times, I haven't got close enough to perfect to show you one here yet.

Gold Leaves -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Gold Leaves
 

Orange Leaves -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Orange Leaves
 

Around the Bend to See the Bay - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Around the Bend to See the Bay

The wet part of Sunset Bay is just around the bend to the left.

Pelicans At Alert - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans At Alert

These guys have been sleeping in a huge layer of sleeping pelicans like some of these guys seem to be standing on, but they've been rudely awakened by one of The City's noisier Habitat Destruction Machines simply driving by. This is what pelicans begin to do when they are afraid enough to change plans. They stand up and face one direction — out and away.

Then Mostly Settling Back Again - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Then Mostly Settling Back Again

Then, since it passed without heading in their direction, they went back to doing what they do. I think I need to test the Little Camera with some Birds doing speedy things, and I may remember more about running that camera, too. This camera + lens set has two versions of Image Stabilization, one for the camera, and one on the lens. And I need to try that out with the right iso.

 

 

Photographed a Little Later Than The Pelicans Landing
Shot November 27 & Posted November 29

One-legged Ringbill - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

One-legged Ringbilled Gull Landing

I was just taking photographs. I didn't plan for this to be handicapped bird day.

Pelican with a Suspended Nut -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

American White Pelican with a Suspended Nut

Not sure where it tangled with the nut, but it seems to be attached to its dark primary wing parts, and holding them down. I didn't notice the nut till I had this image up on the monitor at full size. Catching a pelican would be quite a trick, even though the water is pretty shallow. I wouldn't want to scare it.

Black & White Duck with a Male Mallard -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Black & White Duck with Male Mallard

That Black and White Duck kept quacking nearly all the time I was in Sunset Bay. Supposedly — according to several things I've read and heard — male ducks have curly tail feathers and females don't. I've also read and heard that females quack more and more loudly.

Framing Some Sailboats -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants Framing Some Sailboats

 

 

Seven Shots in Twenty-Two Seconds — Pelicans Landing
— photographed & posted November 27th 2016

JRC54060 Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.  

3:07:32 PM  JRC 54060 the first shot

I saw them coming in over the outer logs just as I arrived on the pier. I wondered whether I should just stand there and watch or try to photograph them. By then they'd already entered into the inner portions of Sunset Bay, and I was in a quandary that I knew could not last long.

I thought about dropping the tripod and just shooting from the shoulder, but instead I spent many long seconds fitting the camera onto the tripod and locking it down, as I watched them hanging out there — my favorite part, when they seem to just float.

KRC 54-61 - #2 - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

3:07:33 PM  JRC 54061 the second shot

There were too many coming in too fast to all land in the same place, so they separated and came in from different angles. I think my camera can shoot up to six frames per second, but I don't like to just lean on the shutter, because that's too many clicks, and I'd have to go through all those frames, so I clicked when I thought I ought to …

Three Pelicans Landing -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

3:07:33 PM  JRC 54062 Number 3

… something like a series of decisive moments. Meanwhile I stayed busy trying to keep whichever pelican I was following at the moment in sharp-enough focus. I lucked out here, because both pelicans are in approximately the same field of focus. .

Pelicans Landing -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

3:07:34 PM  JRC 54063  Number 4

Elapsed time: 2 seconds, so far. The one in the center in the next shot up splashed down, and I'm following the one landing horizontally toward the left. Note the horizon tilting precariously in the upper left corner. Most of these shots started out leaning to the left. They were secure on the tripod, but the tripod was crooked, and I didn't need to fix it, because I can always fix tilt.

Pelican About to Skid -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

3:07:34 PM  JRC 54064  Number 5

Pelican number three bare inches from a skid touchdown.

Pelk Skidding -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

3:07:35 PM  JRC 54065  Number 6

And a long skid to reduce speed.

Big Wing Skid Slant Pelk -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

3:07:54 PM  JRC 54066  Number 7

I love to point out when pelicans reach out with that little extra wingspan, and this is a near perfect illustration of that ability — to slow down fast. It's also useful for manoeuvrability in the air.

I think this makes this pelican #Four. The above "Number 7" refers to the number of shots so far. All in just 22 seconds.

ISO ranged from 450 – 560; aperture was a consistent f/11 @ 1/2,000, either because I thought I might need a little extra depth of field or because that was where it was set when I started this impromptu shoot. I don't remember whether I had the VR on or off.

 

 

No Buffles, No Ruddies, Not Zillions of Pelicans,
but a Short Abundance of BCNHs
— photographed November 26 & posted the 27th 2016

Cormorants Drying Their Wings - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.  

Cormorants Drying Their Wings in Sunset Bay

All the cormorants that were missing from Sunset Bay yesterday were back today, and I didn't see any pelicans at all on the outer logs.

Brigth White Feathers - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans Just In Front of the Pier

But there were a bunch in close, on either side of right in front of the bread wastrels shredding and dropping little pieces of every sort of week-old bread in front of the pier, whether any bird out there got and ate it or mostly not. A few of the idiots were insisting that these big white "ducks" come and get their share.

Pelicans are fisher birds, and they don't like bread, and they know better to fool with it. I like the pelicans in close. I just don't like the people who rile up the gulls and the coots with bread and snacks. Or the ones who bring their dogs out onto the pier.

But I'm an old curmudgeon, and I soon left for better, less populated — and quieter — places to bird.

A Fishing Party - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

A Fishing Party with Dark Cormorants and Bright Pelicans and Gulls

All of which makes getting the exposure for any of them just right, but it was kinda exciting to see them out there fishing all together, even if I know they often fight among each other.

Adult BCNH out by the Grocery Cart - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Black-crowned Night-Heron Up The Old Boat House Lagoon

When I drove by on my way here, Gulls were amassed along the Upper Spillway as usual lately, and I've been there way too often already lately, so I drove around to the water behind The Old Boathouse, where I found lots of Black-crowned Night-Herons like this one on a tree trunk nestled next to the shopping cart amid the reeds.

A Couple of Black-crowned Night-Heron Families - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

A Pair of Northern Shovelers and an Extended Family
(or neighborhood) of Black-crowned Night-Herons

I was pleased to see — and recognize this time the pair of Northern Shovelers that starts at the left edge (female) and continues in the lower center (male), plus the family or neighborhood of Black-crowned Night-Herons (BCNH) all together. I was standing on the bridge and joyed to have so many BCNHs in one shot — and almost all in focus.

Adult Nonbreeding Double-crested Cormorant - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Doublecrested Cormorant on Stump with Turtles

The top two turtles are Red-eared Sliders. Would have had to get that bottom one a lot more in focus to name it.

Flying To The Woods - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Adult BCNH (Black-crowned Night-Heron) Flying into the Woods

The woods is on the other side of the walking bridge, and at least a half dozen times while I stood there trying to decide what to photograph, one of the ones I could see or one of the ones I couldn't see at all got up into the air and flapped furiously up the lagoon and into the woods. I thought of it as great practice in getting it together to get the camera off the rail and onto my shoulder, aim, catch up and photograph some close-enough flying birds. Great fun, too. This one's really close to focus.

Adult BCNH flying into the woods - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Same Adult BCNH Flying Farther into the Woods

I rendered the first couple birds as nearly all flapping blurs, but with this one I began to get the hang of it — again.

Black-crowned Night-Heron about to touchdown - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Black-crowned Night-Heron About to Touch Down

This may actually be the same bird. I like that the beak — mostly yellow and tucked under its left wing and tail are sharp, while its wings are not quite. But then they were busy flying.

Another BCNH in the Trees - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Another BCNH Landing in the Trees on the Far Side of the Lagoon

More lovely autumn colors — and pretty fair focus.

The Fisher Man -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

The Fisher Man

As I was leaving, I saw this guy on the water's edge by The Old Boat House. Took maybe three shots to get his exposure just right.

 

 

The Day After Thanksgiving:
FOS Bufflehead Ducks & Many More
— photographed & posted November 25 2016

First Winter American Coot with Purloined Red Snack Item -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved. 201

First Winter American Coot with Red Snack Item

I'm not sure what that red thing is, but the coots loved them at first sight. They came out of plastic bags with colorful printing, but they have nothing to do with the colorful reflections in the water.

Great Egret in Low Flight -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret in Low Flight

Not hardly an uncommon sight in Sunset Bay — or anywhere else around the lake.

 Adult Nonbreeding Ring-billed Gull - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Nonbreeding Ring-billed Gull

Neither is this. If you drive by the Upper Spillway you will see hundreds of these guys.

American White Pelican in Flight -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

American White Pelican in Flight

Not surprising these days, but the cormorant population has significantly dwindled since they took back possession of Cormorant Bay at the northwest "corner" of White Rock Lake, just under Mockingbird Road.

Two Female & Two Male Bufflehead Ducks — and a Mallard -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

FOS: Two Female and Two Male Bufflehead Ducks with a Mallard Hen

Buffleheads camouflage themselves so well, it's really hard to figure out where what is on their bodies at this distance. The trick is catching them up much closer, which was difficult standing at various edges of Sunset Bay today. First pix were probably closer, and those were shot from the mid-western end of Sunset Bay. The males on the right here have their beaks back and under their wings. The white on their heads is on the back. The iridescent blues, reds and purples are on the fronts of their heads, and sometimes, if you squint, you can see their eyes.

Three Male and Two Female Bufflehead Ducks -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Three Male and Two Female Bufflehead Ducks

There were seven Buffleheads at around 2 pm, we on the pier were told. This was somewhat later. They'll be around for awhile.

Bufflehead Ducks -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Two Adult Breeding Male and an Adult Female Bufflehead Duck

This is the only photo I have from today of a Male Bufflehead Duck (left) showing his beak.

Two Females & Two Male Bufflehead Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Two Female and Two Male Bufflehead Ducks

Two females (dark) and two males (essentially black & white). I can just barely see the second duck from the right's right eye. Couple days later, I figured out I had the VR (IS) on, when it was on the tripod, when it should have been off. Counter-intuitively, if I'd had it off, I would have got much better detail. Now, the trick is to find them again.

Adult GBH Tucked Away ina Tree - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Great Blue Heron Tucked Away in a Tree

Great Blue Herons change their colors according to where they are. This bird is in a green and mostly brown tree with some red and orange leaves, so not surprisingly, it's more brown than the usual gray.

 

 

A Happy Thanksgiving Day
Shot & posted November 24,
but I keep adding pix from the shoot.

FOS Ruddy Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

FOS: Ruddy Ducks along DeGoyler Drive

First-of-Season sighting of these guys. There were thirteen. I hope there will be many, many more. In years past, right there, I have seen thousands in several large gatherings, on both sides of the lake, at differing distances from shore. There's been fewer lately. The next day, they were gone, but early in their season at WRL, they are always a little iffy, and they are probably looking for some place better.

According to my Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas, "The Ruddy Duck "has a flattened and somewhat elongated head, short neck and short tail, which is often held upraised at an angle." During its courtship display, that tail is straight up.

All Thirteen FOS Ruddy Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

All Thirteen FOS Ruddy Ducks

Thirteen Ruddy Ducks maybe an eighth of the way across the lake. I'm so glad to see them back. I've been wondering if there might be something in the water drained off The Arborectum that they don't like or that kills the food they gather just there to eat. The ones with a dark slash across their eyes are females, and the ones with white faces are male. All their tails angle up at about 45-degrees.

It's also been an irregular place to find the very florid Eared Grebes, who used to also show up off Dreyfuss Point, but I haven't seen them there in the last few years, either.

Guy In A Motorcycle Helmet - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Guy in a Motorcycle Helmet
 

Dallas Is A Cosmopolitan City - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved. \

Dallas Is A Cosmopolitan City I

I love our diversity, especially at the lake, where I can photograph brilliant clothing against the landscape.

Dallas Is A Cosmopolitan City - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Is A Cosmopolitan City B

With peoples from all over the world who settle here and become Americans. It's a dream.

Autumn Leaves -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Autumn Leaves A
 

Autumn Leaves -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Autumn Leaves 2
 

Skyline Clouds - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Skyline Clouds

Focusing on clouds is a nebulous act, and it usually doesn't work. But buildings have harder edges that focus more easily. But the clouds are still farther away.

 

 

Mostly Cormorants, But Pelicans, Gulls, Gooses, Coots, Ducks & Grackles, Too
— Photographed & posted November 23

 Pelicans On Spit Island - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved. 185

Pelicans on Spit Island

This spit of land along Sunset Lagoon has been called the island and the spit, so I'm splitting the difference here. A dozen or more pelicans have been hanging out over there during the day for the last week or so. It gives them a bit of a warning when idiots, idiots with dogs and kayakers come to bother them. Before that they gathered on the far, Hidden Creeks side of Sunset Lagoon.

Gooses, Cootses, Pigeons & Ducks -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Gooses, DeGoyler, Pigeons & Duckses

Off Sunset Beach, where people with white bread gather to feed the nice duckses, even if they are actually gooses and cootses.

Black Muscovy Duck on Sunset Beach - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Black Muscovy Duck

Looking proud as all get out, but now we turn to another black bird.

Cormorants on a Tree Trunk in Cormorant Bay - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants on a Tree Trunk in Cormorant Bay

I haven't spent much time in or around Cormorant Bay lately, because there hasn't been much in the way of cormorants there, but now they are coming in fast.

Thick As Cormorants -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Thick As Cormorants

And there's just a few Cormorants in Cormorant Bay so far.

Corms in Trees -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants in Trees and Almost

They'll keep flying in till all those trees ringing Cormorant Bay are full to overflowing. Then one or many at a time, they'll fly in, and replace one or another of their kith or kin. See my bird-annotated map of White Rock Lake to see exactly where that is.

Cormorants on Trees in Cormorant Bay - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants on Trees in Cormorant Bay

Last week when I looked, Cormorant Bay had very few cormorants. Today, it looked like it was filling up. Maybe some of those in Sunset Bay will move over there and give the pelicans room to roost.

Double-crested Cormorant in Water with Wings Up - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Double-crested Cormorant in Water with Wings Up

I finally learned the facial differences between Double-crested Cormorants and Neotropic Cormorants today. Both sometimes have that white outline around the beak shown here. Correction: Neos have dark lores, and Double-cresteds have orange lores. Lores = the surface on each side of a bird's head between the eye and the upper base of the beak, or between the eye and nostril in snakes.

bb

Juvenile Double-crested Cormorant Coming in Low & Fast

I have spent hours on that bent bridge that sloshes at every slow step and still manages to jump at every fast one for years, practising photographing incoming and outgoing cormorants right there in Cormorant Bay. It's good practice, but then so are pelicans.

Double-crested Cormorant Flyover - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Juvenile Double-crested Cormorant Fly-over

I was standing on what I call the "bent bridge" along the eastern edge of Cormorant Bay, photographing any cormorant who came close enough.

Cormorants Coming & Going - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants Coming And Going

I'm guessing, right about Thanksgiving, Cormorant Bay is a busy place.

Double-crested Cormorant Flying Low - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Double-crested Cormorant Flying Low

Another difference between Double-crested and Neotropic Cormorants is that Double-cresteds' heads are elongated, as shown here. I didn't do this slow-shutter trick here on purpose, but I sure do like it.

Cormorant Taking Off - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorant Taking Off

Here, too.

Cormorant with Something that Only Might Be a Fish - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorant with Something that Only Might Be a Fish

I watched it stop and do this, and I wondered whether it was trying to eat some sort of accumulation of slime or a fish. I guess it could be a fish, but usually they would have swallowed that by now.

Sail Boat and Sail Bird -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Sailboat and Sailing Bird

The banking bird is a lot closer to the boat than the steeple is. Around here, it's probably a Ring-billed Gull — just because they are the most common gulls. If it were as large as it looks juxtaposed to that steeple, it'd be as big as or bigger than a California Condor. The American bird with the second longest wingspan is the American White Pelican, and this is a gull, not a pelk.

Cormorants on Logs -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants on Logs

Just north of Green Heron Bay, this log has cormorants — and only rarely some other species of bird — all year long.

Sailboat with Balooning Sail -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Sailboat with Ballooning Sail

That's "Free Advice Point" in the upper left. I was just driving around looking for birds when I saw this boat behind the trees on the left, checked traffic behind me, slowed in the middle of the road, waited for it to be framed between the trees and pier, clicked it, and headed on south.

3 coots, a branch, and a gull - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Three American Coots, a Branch and a Ring-billed Gull

Me driving farther down the west side of White Rock Lake.

Mostly Mallards and Boats on the Far Side of the Lake - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Mostly Mallards & Boats on the Far Side of the Lake

Not sure what I had in mind here, but in a tiny, far smidgen of this much bigger photograph are those ducks I'm calling Mallards, but am not at all sure who they might be. Not more than an hour after I posted these, Kala emailed, "Looks like in addition to your flying mallards, you also have a little photo bomber of a pied-billed grebe in the bottom left. :)" I saw it down there, but its neck is amber-brown, and I just couldn't place it.

Grackles Bathing By the Side of the Path - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Grackles Bathing by the Side of the Path

 

 

F.O.S. Male Lesser Scaup, that Same Pintail Better & Two Pelicans
& Kelley Murphy's Coyote — photographed & posted November 22

Adult Breeding Lesser Scaup -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved. 164

FOS: Adult Breeding Lesser Scaup (FOS)

My first-of-season (FOS) Lesser Scaup, whom we usually have four or five of in and around Sunset Bay. Usually, they're all males. Then, late in the season, one female will arrive. Once I actually saw her lead each of the males off into the Hidden Creeks Area. So there's some purpose in their being here. But usually, we don't see the female for very long.

Adult Breeding Male Lesser Scaup - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Breeding Male Lesser Scaup with Head between Its Wings

This photo shows slightly more body dimension and somewhat less detail. We kept talking yesterday about needing overcast skies to show just this sort of detail, but neither setting bright sunlight nor overcast skies are ideal. They just show different things. Luckily, the sun will shine bright during the day sometimes this autumn season, so it'll be possible to capture more detail and better third dimensions. We just have to be there when that happens.

Male Northern Pintail - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Male Northern Pintail

One photographer yesterday was attesting his serious dislike for greatly enlarging small details like birds in the middle of a photographic frame to fill the image shown (exactly like this). I wanted to tell him that I often did that, and because my lens is not a zoom (His is.), it can do that (this) well. But he didn't give me a chance to talk then. This is just such a shot, hand-held without my usual tripod and in fairly lousy, overcast light. It shows very nice details, adequate colors and textures, and we can see that his eye is in focus.

M N Pintail - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Northern Pintail in Sunset Bay Around Noon

And, for that matter, so is this, although the next shot up is better, this one shows some minute detail in his breast, which many bright white birds do not show in photographs. Those lovely herringbone details along his sidewalls that are obvious in the upper photo just kinda blur here.

Knitting Rows of Pelican Feathers -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Juvenile American White Pelican Knitting Rows of Feathers

Oh, and I counted just at 100 pelicans in Sunset Bay today, with about 70 of those right in front of the pier and on shore off slightly to the west. I was just beginning to photograph them, when one dad with no clear notion of discipline and a bunch of same-age boy children came clomping onto the pier, yelling, waving sticks and throwing things.

Pelk Off the Pier - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.  

Adult Pelican Doing Similar things in Front of the Pier

Arghhh! I thought, and I was just telling them they were going to scare the pelicans away when I noticed they already were scaring the pelicans away, so I said that. Often when I set pelicans off, I can bring them back, speaking gently, and telling them I wasn't going to hurt them, "Just come on back," and they do. This time I thought they'd be better off leaving, and they did. So I didn't get to photograph them more than these two shots, which are remarkably similar.

I tried not to say anything more. But all I could think was "Useless." So I said that and left. Mothers generally control theirs and other kids. That guy was clueless.

 Kelly Murphy's photo of a Coyote - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Kelley Murphy's photo of a Coyote near Celebration Grove

Much later that night, I found this critter in my In box. Kelley said, "Last Friday evening while walking Zoe near the Celebration Tree Grove area, boom! all of a sudden I noticed a coyote out of the corner of my eye. I almost didn't take my camera, but at the last minute I thought if I don't take it something will happen. So happy I had it with me!"

Best Coyote Facts I found on a quick i-search. Note the recent and bloody damage on this coyote's left front flank.

 

 

Duck & Photographer Action On & Off Sunset Beach
— photographed & posted November 21

 Male Northern Pintail Before the Sun Went Down - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Male Northern Pintail Before the Sun Went Down

Nice people to talk with about politics and birds and ourselves on Sunset Beach this evening. We were all hoping to photograph the usual rarities there, and we did.

Female Mallard Flap -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Female Mallard Flap

The usual mob of ducks and coots and gooses and whomever else usually shows up for Charles to feed them corn grain.

One of These Flapping - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

One of These Flapping  6:07:11 PM

I think it's another Great Egret Landing. Note that both feet are splashing. In several ways it's very similar to Sudden Deceleration [down below a little ways].

Chiloé Wigeon - Right Profile - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Chiloé Wigeon

There's lots more good info and photographs on Oiseaux Birds dot com. And click on the big blue link More pictures for, well, uh, more pictures. They even have several parents with duckling pix.

They are $175 a pair from Purely Poultry. I suspect our pair was bought, then either got liberated or liberated themselves. They call it a 'wild duck." And sell them $42 more each, if their wings are pinioned instead of clipped, so they can eventually fly away. "The Chiloé Wigeon is a great duck for beginners. They are not aggressive, easy to breed in captivity, winter hardy, and great for mixed flocks."

Males and females are similar in coloring, though females are slightly duller and have a gray wing patch where males have a white wing patch. Both sexes have a gray bill with a black tip and gray legs. Their chests are barred black and white; the flanks of drakes are rust colored and light brown on the hens. Both sexes have an iridescent green cap and white cheeks and forehead."

Chiloé Wigeon - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Chiloé Wigeon Going Thataway

The red-eye is an obvious sign that I used on-camera flash (Which kept firing a few seconds after I clicked it, so it's something else I have to figure out.) Might be I had the shutter speed set wrong, although this may be the most clear shot of this species I've yet got.

Contrail in the Sky - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Con Trail in the Sky

I kept hoping it was some strange formation of birds crossing way over the lake. But since it slowly dissipated, I guess not.

 

 

Pelican Moon by Anna Palmer at Hagerman National
Wildlife Refuge near the Oklahoma Border — November 19

Pelican Moon by Anna Palmer - All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Moon by Anna Palmer

Anna shot this at Hagerman with Dallas Audubon's next class of 11 Master Birders. I and, apparently, many others also applied, but we didn't get in. What birds did they see? "Notably around 800 Snow and Ross's Geese, a Rusty Blackbird, couple of Red-headed Woodpeckers, some Pipits, Meadowlarks, couple of Harriers and Kestrels … plus lots of the usual water suspects," Anna said.

more info: "Beautiful day, Very cold at first, but wore my new thermal undies so was tolerable. Walked a nice trail at the beginning right across from the Center where many small birds showed up including the Rusty Blackbird," Anna told me.

Oh, and Hagerman is pronounced "hag’ er man," not "Hay gerr man" like NPR repeatedly mispronounced it when they did a story awhile back. I've mis-spelled it with two Gs thris trip, so far (All corrected, I think). Two Gs makes it look like it's pronounced hagger. One G makes it look like it's pronounced "hay ger." But the Hagermans spelled it with one G.
 

Wildlife Photography Tips — Telling A Story from one of my favorite sites.

 

 

1 Pelican, 1 Great Blue Heron, 1 N. Shoveler & 3 Monk Parakeets
— photographed November 18 & posted November 19

Looks Pretty But What Does It Taste Like = Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.  

Looks Petty, But What Does It Taste Like?

Kinda a coldish cool day. Felt great to put on a hoodie. This is down along the creek I've been calling Sunset Lagoon. But in this context a lagoon is a small freshwater lake near a larger lake or river, which does not really obtain. Although the body of water on the other side of "the spit" where those red and orange leaves are growing might well be a lagoon.

Hmmm… Interesting - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Hmmm… Interesting

Maybe it just wanted to feel it. Sometimes — rarely, though — pelicans are just curious.

Aaack! -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Aaack!

I assumed it had spit it out, but the tilt back is usually for a swallow.

Great Blue Heron with Tongue Out - Side View -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Great Blue Heron with Tongue Out

Side view.

Northern Shoveler Drake -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Northern Shoveler Drake in Eclipse Plumage

With that humongous bill, it's got to be a snorker. But it appears to have somewhere between male and female patterns along the front and sides. I'm curious. Females have brown heads and orange bills with a bit of white at the base of the beak. Males have dark beaks (like this) and much less a white space at the base of the bill, which this one doesn't seem to have. Females have brown patterned breasts like Mallards and many other female ducks. While males have plain white breasts.

Kala King to the rescue, again: "Your male shoveler is still in eclipse plumage." Then she recommended a site that helps identify eclipse plumage, then I remembered I have a whole book with large color photographs, Molt in North American Birds by Steve N.G. Howell. But there's no photos of a male there.

Three Monk Parakeets on a Diagonal Line - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Three Monk Parakeets on a Diagonal

I'm driving back from my favorite boat ramp, where nothing seemed to be happening, past the Filter Building when I saw these birds doing this, and I kept rolling up closer, fully expecting them to suddenly fly off. That's the Old Pump House behind them. The yellowish tan object is the stack that rises high.

 

 

Mostly Egrets — But No Pelicans …
— photographed & posted November 16

Over Under The Bridge - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved. 147

Over Under The Bridge

I don't think I was shooting with the camera upside-down, but there's something going on here I don't remember exactly. Doesn't look rippley, so it's not a reflection…

 Two Seconds Later - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Two Seconds Later

Then, two seconds later, wherever I was, and I'm still not sure, I shot this. I'm certain I did not go on the other side of Garland Road (too much traffic).

Four Great Egrets and a Bridge Shadow -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Four Great Egrets & a Bridge Shadow

The shadow is of the Walking Bridge over the Lower Steps on the Lower Spillway. I shot this 21 minutes later than that last, mysterious one.

Looking Down on a GE Flying - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Looking Down at a Great Egret Flying

And I suspect this Great Egret is flying over the pool behind the upper step of The Lower Steps. The Upper Steps are mostly stone between Egret Island and the dam.

Great Egret Flying, Cormorant Swimming - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Flying / Cormorant Swimming

I love to stand up on the walking bridge photographing big white birds flying.

Knuckle-drag Landing - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Knuckle-drag Landing

Sometimes Egrets and other Herons actually do drag their knuckles in the water to slow them down, but that's not really what I thought this was. I like this shot for the plaited wing feathers, especially the upper ones.

Great Egret and Coot - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret and American Coot

When I'm photographing flying birds I don't really pay attention to much else besides getting it in focus. Who else is out there might be nice or inconvenient, but I don't do any picky juxtapositioning.

Top Shelf Foot Put -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Top-Shelf Foot Put

Or top step on the lower steps I thought.

Two Great Egrets Fl Past a Third Great Egret Considering a Bit of a Chase - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Two Great Egrets Flying Past a Third Great Egret with a Mind to do a Bit of a Chase

I actually think the left one is slowing down to land, and the right-more bird is accelerating.

Sudden Decelleration with a Tad of Gravity Boost Down - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Sudden Deceleration with Gravity Boost

I vaguely remember clicking when it landed. I did not notice all the inertia action on the feathers then, at all.

Two Great Egrets on the Lower Steps - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Two Great Egrets on the Lower Steps

I like the repeating patterns.

At Least A Passing Interest in a Chase -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

At Least A Passing Interest in a Chase

No heads-up or beak-up challenge positions, just a passing fancy about getting up a chase.

Kept Thinkin' These Were — But It Doesn't Matter, Because They're Just Not - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

I Kept Thinking These Were Gadwalls, but
They just didn't look like the ones in my books,
but that's just who they are.

So who are they? They sure do look familiar. But the Gadwalls in neither my Lone Pine Birds of Texas or Sibley's Guide to Birds — Second Edition look enough like these for me to have called them that. But Kala King says they are Gadwall, and she's usually right. She also said, "They are the Gadwalls that winter on the spillway every year. Males have an all black butt and females have a speckled butt. Females have a dark bill with orange along the side; males have an all black bill. So, you have 3 male gadwalls."

Then I Was Gonna Tell The Diving and Dabbling Stories But I need their species names firxt - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Then I was Going to Tell the Diving & Dabbling Differentiation

Divers go beneath the surface, and Dabblers dip down to reach the goodies down there. Gadwalls dabble. I looked at three dozen pages on the Internet that claimed to be about Dabblers & Divers, but only one showed the difference. You can't see divers while they're still underwater, but Dabblers look like the Gadwall on the bottom left here.

Double-crested Cormorant About To Dive - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Double-crested Cormorant About To Dive

I suspect it has fanned that big tail out like this, to drive itself down deep into the water where the fishes Cormorants like are.

Cormorant Dive, Dive, Dive -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorant Dive, Dive, Dive

Splash!

 

 

Ahhhh … Pelicans Again, At Last — But First, Some autumn Bluebirds/
— photographed November 15, posted November 16

Bluebird on Thick Branch -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Eastern Bluebird on Thick Branch

Kelly Murphy told me where these bluebirds would be, and here they are.

Eastern Bluebird on a Limb - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Eastern Bluebird on a Limb

There really weren't very many bluebirds there, but a couple of them were kind enough to stand out on various-shaped limbs against a blue, blue sky. I found them, because each one would fly out from their large, dead, I think, tree, flip and flop around out there awhile, catch whatever they were chasing, then return to one or another branch. Which made them rather conspicuous.

Resting American White Pelican with Reflection -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Resting American White Pelican with Reflection

Lots more, there were, however, American White Pelicans. Plenty out on the logs, but perhaps even more at some smallish distance along the west side the Pier at Sunset Bay where Erin Smith and I were standing when we saw a flight of pelicans gyring down from way far up — and not very far out.

Three American White Pelicans Near the Top of their Gyre - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Three American White Pelicans Near the Top of Their Gyre

So we followed them down. She had a zoom and I had the bazooka.

Pelican Looking Where It's Going — Down -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

American White Pelican Looking Where It's Going — Down!

It may not be immediately obvious that it's got its beak and head twisted, so it can look down.

American Pelican Descending at a Slant -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Gear Up Descent

And I was sometimes lucky to keep each bird wholly inside the frame, so no parts were cropped. Sometimes I just don't like cropping birds at the edges, and at other times, it just seems wrong to worry about such things. If I'd left off more parts in their downward progress, I might not have had to explain all this…

Wings Full of Air -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Wings Full of Air

So Erin could include several birds enough to show there were many of them but often quite separated. Oddly enough, I never took the time to count them, but I suspect some number in the 18 – 30 range.

Gear-down Descension -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Gear-down Descent

And I have often considered getting a zoom lens, since the Bazooka's lens is a prime (non-zoom). But it has so much better resolution, contrast, definition, and faster focus, etc. than any zoom lens that I could carry, I usually don't think about zoom lenses for very long, at all.

Rapidly-descending Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Rapidly Descending Pelican

The flock's collective descent is seriously truncated here. It took much longer in real life, and it was grand fun watching them swing in wide circles and other curvilinear shapes, slowly coming down. As usual, I tend to lean left when I'm hand-holding a camera at swiftly moving birds.

Inches from Touchdown Skid - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Inches from Touchdown Skid

But these are the action pix toward the end of their downward movement.

Touchdown Skid -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Touchdown Skid

And when they finally skid splash to a stop, they had landed all around the inner and outer bay. I don't think I saw any grouplets landing together. Everybody seemed to choose an entirely separate landing area. They were moving pretty fast, so I suppose that makes a lot of sense. And the wind might have been changing…

Note that almost every pelican photo from today's shoot shows a distinctly different wing shape, because pelicans are constantly fine-tuning such things, so they can fly, fall, speed up, slow down or whatever little change they think they need just then.

 

 

Probably The Last Pelican-free Bird Journal Entry for Awhile —
— photographed November 11, posted November 14

 Northern Pintail and American Coot - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved. 120

Northern Pintail and American Coot

The Pintail is one of the three birds I was hoping to capture this evening off Sunset Beach. The other two were the American Wigeons [below] I'd seen a couple days ago. They weren't present this time — or I didn't see them, but I did get a surprise visitor that Ann (who feeds birds from the bench up from Sunset Beach almost daily) had told me about earlier. I had the iso set too high when I photographed the Pintail the other day. But those earlier shots [below] were much closer than these.

This photo is unusual, because I got a white and gray bird (that usually requires a much lower exposure, because it's so bright) very nearly as well-exposed as a black bird (the Coot) with dark red eyes, which usually require much more exposure.

Northern Pintail in Dark Water - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Northern Pintail in Dark Water

Although when I get focus this good, distance hardly matters. I suspect the reason he's got its nictating membrane over his eye is because the sun's so bright in such a dark area.

At Least Three Coots with Bread - cpr

At Least Three Coots with Bread in their Beaks

Making their speedy way through the flock.

Where'd The Coots with the Bread Go? -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Where'd the Coots with the Bread Go?

I only knew about one of the Bread-beaked Three when I shot the previous photo, because I was following it with my camera, but I guess I was paying more attention than the rest of the coots, who here look clueless.

The Great Blue Heron Takeoff - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Great Blue Heron Take-off …

… on the dark side of the lagoon.

And I Thought It Was Going to be A Chase - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

And I Thought It Was Going to be A Chase

Well, at least this part was.

Oh, Then Came the Chase -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

But the GBH just stood there

While the egret escaped, then flew off.

Egret Flying Low - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Flying Low

Note how red the light is in some places at Sunset Bay — and how clean it is [below] when tall trees block the sunlight but cast dark shadows on Sunset Lagoon.

Great Egret Landing - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Landing

I can't help myself. I love photographing Great Egrets — and almost anybody else, who's landing with the sun streaming through their wing feathers.

The Better Fisher Is In The Front -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

The Better Fisher is In The Front

The guy had already cleared all the birds off of the outer logs. Here he's coming in to clear the inner bay of the rest. Which is, of course, illegal, but since White Rock Lake doesn't have its own game warden — even though dozens of birds and other animals are poached every month, and it would be a wonderful place for bird and animal education and talks.

In one evil map of the future I've seen, the Hidden Creeks Area across from Sunset Beach would be cleared for a Wildlife Education unit, which sounds ominous to me. I used to link it, but they took it down. Maybe The City has enough sense to leave wild wild — but probably not.

Skidding to a Slow -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Skidding to a Slow

Oops! I guess American White Pelicans are sneaking back into J R's Amateur Birders' Journal. Uh-oh.

I'm Pretty Sure - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Mallard Drake at Sunset in Sunset Bay

West of the Hidden Creek area, lots of sunset light comes barreling down, so it's nearly bright red — well, orange.

At Least Some of these are Wood Ducks - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

At Least Some of These are Wood Ducks

Maybe all. I guess, probably all.

Choloé Wigeon - Front Quarter View - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Chiloé Wigeon — Front Quarter View

I love the colorful swirls of light on the water in this and the next shot down.

Left Profile - Chiloé Wigeon -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Chiloé Wigeon — Left Profile

See my much closer, sharper and better photographs of the two Chiloé Wigeons in better light from last August. This is probably one of the same birds, although I'd love to have lots more.

 

 

This & One More Pelican-free Bird Journal Entry
— photographed November 11, posted November 12

 Great Da! - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved. 106

Great Day on the Far Side of the Winfrey Point Circle

I know the feeling, but I had to sneak up on him from the other side of the driving circle in front of the Winfrey Building. Another beautiful November day! I started today's adventure at The Spillway (see my new Spillway Map under my old map of White Rock Lake). This was not the first shot I took today, but I like it up here, setting the tone. It was a beautiful day.

Lower Spillway from The Upper - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Not Much Happening at the Lower Spillway

Sooting down the Spillway from another one of these rounded observation half-circles, I got the far slant, Winstead Fence, the path, Winstead Drive with a truck, and across the water to the right, Egret Island.

Sure Not Where I Thought I Was - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Sure Not Where I Thought I Was

I really don't know where this is, but it must be over there somewhere.

Saint Raphiel -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Saint Raphael

I remember photographing downtown past the hills of Lower Lakewood.

Ring-billed Gull Over DeGoyler Drive - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Ring-billed Gull Over DeGoyler Drive

I don't terribly mind gulls, but I'm not a huge fan.

Four Mallards Flying - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Four Mallards Flying - Three Drakes & a Hen
 

Muscovy Drake - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Muscovy Drake

Called Muscovy, because some of the first people who saw them thought they came from Moscow, when they really came from South America.

Muscovy Flap at Sunset Beach - A - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Muscovy Flap at Sunset Beach - A
 

Muscovy Flap at Sunset Beach - B - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Muscovy Flap at Sunset Beach - B
 

Why Do The Gooses Cross the Road - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Why Do The Gooses Cross The Road?

To Stop Traffic

Traffic - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Pedestrian Traffic

While I was waiting for the birds I was actively seeking, I photographed parents and kids.

Ducks Goose & Coot -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Ducks, Goose & Coot

And ducks and stuff…

Guess Who's First -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Guess Who Is First
 

Coot Watchin' -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Coot-Watchin'

Notice the boy's posture paralleling the man's.

T -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

T

I try to be sneaky about photographing humans, but sometime I get caught at it.

High-tailing It with Wings Raised -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

High-tailing Coot with Wings Raised

I'd been trying to get just this pose for awhile now.

Goose Splash Bath -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Goose Splash Bath

Robust goosely bath.

White Goose Front Flap Drying Move - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

White Goose Drying Flap

Gotta keep things moving if you wanna get everything dry.

Two Coot Feet - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Two Coot Feet

I am still in awe of coots' feet. They're called "lobed" feet, and it's this segmentation that allows them to walk on — instead of sinking into — mud, and to run on water, which is called "skittering." According to Wikipedia, The American coot (Fulica americana), also known as a "mud hen," is a bird of the family Rallida. Though commonly mistaken to be ducks, American coots belong to a distinct order. Unlike the webbed feet of ducks, coots have broad, lobed scales on their lower legs and toes that fold back with each step in order to facilitate walking on dry land."

Coots Don't Share -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Coots Don't Share

Well, actually, they sometimes do. But it's rarely on purpose.

Coot Steppin' -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Coot Steppin'

I guess this really is a goose-stepping coot.

Coots & Coot's Feet -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Coots & Coot's Feet

Spread-eagle Mallard Fall -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Spread-eagle Mallard Stall & Fall

I spent way too much time the other day photographing Mallards falling into the bay a few days ago, but when nothing else piqued my interest, I shot some more controlled stalls.

Purple Pigeon Coming In For Wheat Bread -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Purple Pigeon Coming In for Wheat Bread

I'm not exactly down on its level, but I was sitting on the park bench with Ann, and she was feeding everything in sight. She even had up to five pigeons on her lap at a time.

Woman & Child -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Woman & Child

Kids kept catching me at it, but I love the eye contact. 

Not Sure Who Yet - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cedar Waxwings

But there's sure a lot of them. I still think they might be Cedar Waxwings, and I've since heard of some sightings of those in Dallas, so maybe, just maybe.

 

 

Not Quite the Last of the No-Pelican Stories
— photographed November 8 & posted November 10

 Mushrooms Along DeGolyer Drive - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved. 80

Mushrooms Along DeGolyer Drive

I was startled to see these big ole' mountains of mushrooms as I drove down DeGolyer Drive looking for birds to photograph. I didn't stop and get out to go photograph them, but my first shots were well exposed and gave a bright horizontal line of dew drops just this side. In all, there were five colorful lumps of 'shroom.

More Mushrooms Just a Few Feet East - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

More Mushrooms Just a Few Feet East

And all of them were gone the next day. Although a couple days later I saw another formation near the parking lot at the bottom, DeGoyler end of the road up to Winfrey.

Smallish Cormorant Fishing Party along DeGolyer DRive - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Smallish Cormorant Fishing Party Along DeGolyer Drive

Continuing my drive down my favorite drive with what I think is the best view of the lake and the skyline and the other side, I noticed small group of cormorants apparently involved in fishing. They'd swim along, then roll over and dive down, where cormorants catch fish.

Diving and Swimming Cormorants - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Diving and Swimming Double-crested Cormorants

The splash behind the corm in the middle is from another cormorant splashing down into the depths hoping for fish.

Two Corms Diving; Everybody Else Swimming - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Two Cormorants Diving; Everybody Else Swimming

This shot shows three levels of any corm dive. The front, middle one has its beak in the water as its head, neck and body begins to form a downward curve. The one behind already has its head under and its body arched to follow. And the one behind that has just come up with a really elegant splash.

Cormorants Diving and Fishing - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants Diving and Fishing

One up, and two cormorants with heads under and bodies arching — about to disappear down.

Cormorants Fishing -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants Fishing

About here, I was just about to hope to see one of them catch a fish.

Cormorant With A Caught-Fish -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Right most Cormorant with a Caught-Fish

And sure enough, the one on the far right is holding a fish up high as it emerges from below with a splash.

Detail of Cormorant with a Caught-fish -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Detail of Right most Cormorant with a Caught-Fish

This is an enlargement of the right side of that photo. I've yet to photograph a pelican with this same luck, but it's nice to have these cormorants close enough to capture the details.

Cormorants Diving and Swimming and Fishing -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants Diving and Swimming and Fishing

Not sure what the corm in the upper middle of this shot is up to, but the scene looked interesting and exciting.

Right Profile of Male Kestrel on Wire Behind the Winfre Building - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Male American Kestrel

I didn't see other birds until I got up to the top of Winfrey and looked up at the big wire over the parking lot beside the Winfrey Building, where was only this one dark lump. Took opening up the aperture to lighten it up in steps and see the details. It's not my FOS (first of season), I've probably photographed this little guy many, many times over the years.

Male Kestrel Staring Down at Me -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Male Kestrel Staring Down at Me

According to my prized Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas, this bird, formerly known as a "Sparrow Hawk," is 7.5 - 8 inches long with a wingspan of 20 - 24 inches. And they swoop from a perch or hover overhead, eating mostly insects and small vertebrates. This one has blue feathers on the top of its head, so I know it's a male. Sometimes he and the female join in hunting. The picture in the book shows a distinctly blue wing on the male, but thanks to the overcast sky, that's only barely visible in these two pix.

Male Northern Pintail in Sunset Lagoon -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Male Northern Pintail in Sunset Lagoon

He doesn't visit us every year, but we've seen him often over the last several. We have never, however, seen a female. Eventually, after several months of intermittent visits to Sunset Bay, he disappears off somewhere else. Maybe there are females there.

Mallard Pair with Pintail Drake -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Drake Pintail with Mallard Pair

Again according to Lone Pine's Birds of Texas, "Although Northern Pintails were once among the most numerous ducks in North America, Populations have declined steadily in recent decades. … These ducks are especially susceptible to lead poisoning, often mistaking the lead shot left behind by hunters for seeds. One ingested pellet contains enough lead to poison a bird. Fortunately for waterfowl, lead shot has been banned in many states." Luckily, in Texas, non-toxic shot is required for all game birds in wildlife management.

American Wigeon Pair -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

FOS: American Wigeon Pair

Male and female, left and right, in Sunset Lagoon. Can't see it here much, but there's a dark — and sometimes iridescent swoop over his eyes, from the white stripe over his head, back to the back of its neck. Bright sun would bring it out, but there wasn't enough of that this evening.

American Wigeon Pair - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

American Wigeon Pair

More from that Birds of Texas book I so love for all its details: "The American Wigeon nests farther north than any other dabbling duck with the exception of the Northern Pintail. Pair bonds are strong and last well into incubation."

 

 

Continuing “Nearly No Pelicans Week” — Today is “Birds Landing.”
— photographed Last Week; posted November 9 2016

 One Great Egret in the Hidden Creek Area Trees - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved. 64

One Great Egret in the Trees East of Sunset Bay

I was especially careful not to photograph pelicans, because, quite frankly, I'm about exhausted with photographing the same birds every day — but I'll go back to it after this week, and some of them snuck in anyway.

Male Mallard Flying into the Trees at Dreyfuss Point - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Mallard Drake Flying into the Trees at Dreyfuss Point

This is one of my favorites for the day. And I think it'd look great blown up big, but I can't afford it, and I wouldn't know where to hang it.

Mallard Pair Landing - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Mallard Pair Landing

It was right about here that I decided to mostly photograph birds flying into Sunset Bay for today's bird journal.

Three Male Mallards Coming In -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Three Male Mallards Coming IN

I thought I was going to get really creative with them, but I didn't.

Mallards Making Big Splash Landing -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Mallards Making a Big Splash Landing

Slow shutter speeds only go so far.

Male, Female_Male Mallards Landing at Dreyfuss - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Male, Female, Male Mallards Landing in the Reeds at Dreyfuss

And that's the road every single bicyclist I've ever seen there goes the wrong way on — and a few cars — although there are ample warning signs. And the bricks behind it comprise the Dreyfuss Wall, which is a great place to picnic and watch fireworks all around the city on July 4.

Male Mallard Landing with its Wings Down Below its Feet - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Male Mallard Landing with its Wings Flapping below its Feet

You might not believe it, but I actually discarded dozens of other pictures of pretty much the same birds doing pretty much the same thing today.

Male Mallard Landing -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Mallard Drake Landing

Usually, I call male ducks male ducks, but sometimes I remember to call them drakes.

Mallard Drake in Controlled Stall -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Mallard Drake in Controlled Stall

I like the bead of water on its middle right toe.

According to Wikipedia, "In fluid dynamics, a stall is a reduction in the lift coefficient generated by a foil [wing] as angle of attack [wing angle] … As air no longer flows smoothly over the wings during a stall, aileron control of roll becomes less effective, whilst the shorter size of the wings aids in takeoff — high aspect ratio wings require a long taxi to get airborne."

Essentially, a stall, as utilized by birds landing, is an attenuation of the forward progress of a body previously engaged in powered flight. And a controlled stall is a downward glide using previously initiated inertia. It's been 64 years, but I've either driven a sailplane into such a controlled stall or I was in it when somebody more adept at it did it to the sailplane I was passenger in at the base aero club I belonged to, when my Dad in the Air Force.

Anyway, the rest of today's journal entry is me trying to explain what happens in a controlled stall. I know what it feels like, I just don't remember how it's done, but if I were a bird, I'd know intuitively.

Mallards Landing with Dreyfuss Back - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Female, Male, Male Mallards Landing with Dreyfuss Point back

I was being careful to crop in most of this tree, although it might have been a better photograph, if I'd concentrated on the birds and not the tree. And yes, that's the same tree that's on Dreyfuss Point. Note the slight blur of the female's upper wing, while the two males appear to be holding their wings still.

She's slightly powering her stall, while they are better able to fall forward, aided by the air speed they generated while they were still flapping. Essentially, they are still coasting from their former airspeed, and because gravity still works on them, falling. All their wings are cupped, which helps them maintain enough stability to just go ahead and fall in the trajectory they've been planning for awhile already.

Dripping Mallard Landing -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Dripping Mallard Drake

Sorry 'bout those big white birds in the background with long snouts. I was concentrating on the dripping bird flapping into its landing.

Mallard Pair Landing by Outer Logs - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Mallard Pair Landing by Outer Logs in Sunset Bay

Here's an F-22 Raptor hovering in a controlled stall called "a tailslide." It was convenient for the pilot to fall backwards, but it's much more convenient for birds to fall forward with their wings cupped, so they can see where they're going.

Canada Gooses Landing -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Canada Gooses Landing

These were a complete surprise. I remember guffawing aloud when I realized who they were. Welcome back, guys — though they probably come for the free meal every night. Note the lack of wing motion — especially notable in the feathers at the far ends of their wings — and the cup of their wings as they fall through space toward the water.

Canada Gooses Splashing Down -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Canada Gooses Splashing Down

The goose on the right landed first and has already changed the shape of its wings to let it slide over the water slower. The inertia they generated when actively flying forward continues to impel their bodies forward as they fell in what I'm calling a “controlled stall.” They've done this thousands of times, so they know just how to do it and when to change their bodies' various shapes.

Mallard Pair Landing in Synch - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Mallard Pair Landing in Synch

If I'd planned this duo landing, it never would have worked. But today, I was just taking them as they turned quickly from far-approaching dark silhouettes into fully-illuminated birds landing, then they touched down and swam away.

Two Males and a Female Mallards Landing Fast - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Two Males & a Female Mallard Landing Fast

There's minimal wing movement here, but they are not engaging in a stall, controlled or otherwise, because they are coasting in at some speed.

 Great Egret Touchdown - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret a Fraction Inches from Touchdown

Note the ruffled feathers along the tops of this egret's wings. Those help to attenuate forward speed and disturbs the air flowing over their wings to slow forward motion. Near as I can figure.

See also BirdWatching's illustrated story about "The amazing way birds land" and this remarkably unillustrated story, "The Mystery of Flight: A Bird Is Not A Plane" — although I tend not to trust web pages without pictures. Also Why Don't Bird's Stall? on PHYSICS. Also of some interest may be the YouTube animation, The Plane That Perches Like a Bird; the full text explanation and The Flight of Birds on Ornithology The Science of Birds. Then there's a PDF Of "Aerodynamics of bird flight by Rudolf Dvorák.

 

 

Birding Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge at Lake Texoma
— photographed November 5; posted November 6 2016

First Hawk on Wire - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved. 47

Red-tailed Hawk on Wire

Anna saw this looming large as I drove us past it trying not to watch birds driving closer to Hagerman from our nearly birdless visit to the Heard Museum in Mc Kinney. She called it a large hawk, and it was. I, of course, had to turn around, renegotiate a cloverleaf complexity from the other end and come back to try to photograph it, which I did adequately — having issues with focus, probably because I thought I was in too much of a hurry to use the tripod or check camera settings.

Red-tailed Hawk -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Red-tailed Hawk in Flight

It might also have helped if I'd closed down the aperture a couple stops. I clicked at least fifty frames at it as it flew forth and back, and we were both excited at seeing it.

Large Hawk -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Large Hawk

I thought it was a red-tailed hawk, since it was a hawk with a red tail — and Red-tailed Hawks are the most common hawk in America, but we weren't really sure about that. It had been on a large-gauge, looked-like aluminum-spun wire. Next time, since it turned out we had plenty of time, I'd break out the tripod early.

Oh, yeah. Not only is it a Red-tailed Hawk, it's the same Red-tailed Hawk.

Crow on a Branch -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Crow on a Branch

This is well inside the refuge in Lake Texoma's Big Mineral Arm. There were lots of crows there. This is just my best shot of one.

GBH Flying Toward Shore - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Great Blue Heron Flying Toward Shore

There's a road with one car off to the upper right that I've cropped out to center on my favorite bird species.

GBH About to Touch Down on Shore - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Great Blue Heron Touching Down on Shore

Seconds later, it got a lot more interesting as it folded into this momentary but colorful shape.

Northern Shovelers -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Northern Shovelers

There were lots of "snorkers" there. Left to right: Adult Nonbreeding male, two adult females, a juvenile, and an adult autumn male — all Northern Shovelers — Anas clypeata.

Sick Pelican or Pelicans -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Side View: Great Egret and Two Healthy and One Perhaps Ill Pelican

I was never quite sure what to make of this scene. There were a male and a female human inching toward these three American White Pelicans from the far left, well out of this picture. I hoped aloud in a low whisper they would stay away and leave the pelicans alone. But later I wondered if the two humans might have been Hagerman volunteers. At any rate, they did not get any closer.

I still think the two pelicans, standing and sitting up, respectively left and right of the pelican I think might have been ill or injured, were guarding it. And the one showing some of its black flight feathers might be injured or sick.

The Sickly Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Long View: The Possibly Ill Pelican or Pelicans with a Great Egret Watching Out

Or maybe it was just a small gathering of white birds on a portion of a road to yet-another oil well. The brochure mentions that the oil belongs to whomever owns the mineral rights, but it doesn't say who that is. We've often wondered.

oughist GBH - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Young Great Blue Heron

If the American White Pelican much farther down this road out into the bay really was ill, this young Great Blue Heron may also have been guarding the way to it. This bird had been closer to the pelicans earlier, but by the time we worked our way over to that road, it was much closer to the main road, where I parked to photograph it and them.

Although there are also oil wells on the land around the lake, there are many wells on long, winding, single-lane dirt and gravel and sometimes mud roads to more or less circular, island-plots, where birders and fisher persons share the space with the noisy, clanking wells.

House Sparrows at Hagerman Center -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

House Sparrows on the Fence Behind the Hagerman Visitor's Center

Yes, common, everyday House Sparrows. I love all birds, even grackles.

Barn Swallow - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Tiny Barn Swallow on a Tiny Branch

I have no idea where I was when I photographed this swallow repeatedly. At first, it was a completely black silhouette, but in subsequent exposures out the driver's window of The Slider I opened it up lighter and lighter till I got this, natural-colored Barn Swallow.

The Woodpecker at Kingfisher Meadow - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Jim Peterson, who is the Dallas-area bird I.D Expert, says this is a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
— probably a first winter bird since the red hasn't filled in."

After what we thought was a fairly unsuccessful attempt to photograph a lot of different birds after having wandered around Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge for several hours, we checked in with the Refuge Visitor Center to see if anyone had reported any bird sightings that day. Only one had, and that was a Kingfisher near the end of Wildlife Road that is very popular with fisher persons, which also features the only outdoor toilet I know of at Hagerman. It's around the bend from another area where we had found and photographed several interesting birds on our most recent, previous visit, so we went there.

This was my first real find there. It's a woodpecker, but I didn't know which one till I asked Jim Peterson. I should have shown it on the LCD to the Visitor Center volunteers. Maybe they could identify it. Then I could have reported it. But I think there were dozens more fisher-persons than birders at Hagerman Saturday.

Northern Flicker Straight Up - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Straight Up at a Northern Flicker

Soon as I thought about this one I said, "sapsucker," which, of course, was wrong. But sapsuckers are woodpeckers, so I wasn't completely off-track. The time I best remember seeing — and photographing — a Northern Flicker much closer was not far into The Fitchery, that I — for some unknown reason, remember as a sapsucker. I got two views of this one as I bent nearly backwards pointing the bazooka straight up. This.

Northern Flicker at an slightly sidely angle - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Northern Flicker at a Slightly Sidely Angle

… and this. Where we can at least see its eye. Then, while I was looking at what I'd got so far, it flew away, which action I would have liked to have photographed. We stayed awhile longer, not really finding much else to photograph, but it was a nice place, with a wide view including one of those traffic signs I long remember. I didn't have a wide-angle lens with me, so I asked Anna to shoot it, and I'll probably get it later.

It was a picture of a black on white Road Closed warning sign that blocked way to a drop of about fifteen feet into a ditch that ran along the land on that side of the road. The sign said, "Road Closed" even though there was no road that led to it and no road leading away from it. I'd seen it previously when we'd driven through the area a few hours before, and I laughed at it then, too.

Overexposed Monaarch - crpy

Monarch Butterfly over a Creek with all the flowers overexposed

But the butterfly and the creek are almost perfectly exposed.

 

 

Today's Fishing Party Followed Me Down DeGolyer Drive
— photographed November 3; posted November 4 2016

pelk splashing corms crashing - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.  

Fishing Party Along DeGoyler Drive

As usual, I'm fooling around with my camera. But I didn't plan to encounter another pelican and cormorant — only the one gull anywhere near the fishing party today, but soon as there's a couple hundred of them everywhere all around, all around, they'll be in the thick of the fishing parties as well. I was just driving down DeGolyer Drive when I happened on this bunch. At first, there were way more cormorants than pelicans, but there were more pelicans by the time they got to outer Sunset Bay past Dreyfuss Point, after I'd ended around from Winfrey back to Garland Road and around onto Buckner, up Poppy Road past the newly renamed horse pistols and down into Greater Sunset Bay.

gull -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Gull

The one gull. And it wasn't really participating in the fishing party. It was just up there. Passing over.

Fishing Activity Beyond the Corm Silhouettes - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Fishing Activity Beyond the Cormorant Silhouettes

Most of the time when there was fishing activity far out in Sunset Bay, there were cormorant silhouettes much closer. Sometimes it almost seemed like a sort of framing device. Often, it was just in the way.

Corms and Pelks Way Out - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Corms and Pelks Way Out

Exposure wasn't always this good for both the bright white pelicans and the dark black cormorants. But sometimes it was possible to compromise.

Hey this IS Off on a Tripod really sharpens Everything Up - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Hey, This IS off on a Tripod Really Sharpens Everything Up

I didn't notice when I was out there shooting, following the crew around the lake, starting near Garland Road and Lawther, then wrapping around as either I caught up with the fishing party or they caught up with me.

Pelican Flying On the Other Side of the Lake - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Flying On The Other Side of the Lake

Not quite perfect focus when I blow something up this big, but in general a great improvement over me keeping the image-Stabilization on when the camera's on the tripod, which tends to make it shake while I'm hoping it'll hold still.

Etcetera, Etcetaera, Etcetera - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera

I still might crop out the birds on the log too near to be in focus, but I like the scale. Unlikely I'd ever get them both sharp without trickery.

Near and Far Focus -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Near and Far Focus

Gradually, eventually, more pelicans joined the party. I'm not saying neither species ever caught any fish, just that I never caught either pelicans or cormorants obviously catching anything.

Pelks and Corms -Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Pelks & Corms

Although from time to time, the pelicans showed great gusto in hopping over everybody else to center on one particular area. I assume there were fish there.

Far Away Brung Closer - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Far Away Brung Closer — But a Little Soft

They were certainly excited about it from time to time. Possibly I should point out that cormorants generally fish by diving underwater, while pelicans do their fish catching on or just under the surface.

Brown-headed Cowbirds on the Lines - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Brown-headed Cowbirds on the Lines

Oh, yeah. Now we suddenly have oodles of Brown-headed Cowbirds, right on time.

Album Cover Art - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Album Cover Art

This was happening somewhere in the middle of the action above, but it didn't really fit with the birds. I saw it as mostly fantasy: I like everybody in black but the girl in gold and the guy in stripes. I decided they were all in a band, and the girl was the lead singer. And I still haven't figured out how the woman in black fits in. But I liked the way that they stood so separately. Obviously, black is the unifying principle.

And I'm still not ready to stop being excited about how much more detail I can get now that I finally trusted my favorite photo websites ByThom, The Mansurovs and Ming Thien, and turned the silly stabilizer off. I use the tripod, because my hands tend to shake. They didn't used to, but they sure do now.

 

 

Sunset Bay, Then Follow Mostly Cormorants with Some Pelicans
in a Fishing Fleet Up, Down & Around White Rock Lake
— photographed November 2; posted November 3 2016

Pelican Wing & Leg Stretch - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved. 20

Pelican Leg and Wing Stretch

I started with the usual business in Sunset Bay, only concentrating on specific details.

Pelican Lower Mandible Stretch - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Lower Mandible Stretch

Pelicans stretching everything they had.

Scratching an Itch - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Scratching An Itch

The usual, every day sorts of Pelican actions.

Leg Tag - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.  

Leg Tag

Erin was on the pier, too, so we talked about bands attached to legs and wings that identify where pelicans came from, but all I could see on this one was a 3 or a 5 and maybe another one of one of those. Difficult to get pelicans to turn around, just so we could read their bands.

Then I noticed the start of something bigger - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Then I noticed the Start of Something Bigger

Then I noticed this. Just a few pelicans involved, but a whole lot of cormorants were lined up nearly single file across the bay. So I drove north to try to catch up with them.

Mostly Cormorants Swimming Right and Left - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Mostly Cormorants But with a Few Pelicans Swimming Left and Right

This is the familiar view of Downtown Dallas from Dreyfuss Point, where I thoroughly confused the cars behind me by stopping on the Trail at the Bottom of Dreyfuss Hill. Right about here, I gave up on using my tripod, and I simply tried to hold the bazooka still on The Slider's driver-side window.

Past a Dillo in its Natural Habitat - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Past an Armadillo in its Natural Habitat —

Dead by the Side of the Road — north on Buckner Boulevard, which has come to be the usual place near the lake where I find bloated dead armadillos. I drove around and up then down "The Big Thicket" area but didn't find the fishing party, so I crossed the lake to the West Side to see what else I could see.

Pelks & Cormorants MOving Out - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans and Cormorants Moving Out

I caught up with them swimming pretty far north along West Lawther and followed them down the west coast of WRL.

Cormorants & Pelicans Heading South - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants & Pelicans Going South in a Hurry

Sometimes they all just seemed confused, so they swam and flew slower. And sometimes they seemed in the biggest hurry, so they flew in a flurry. I never once saw any of them actually catching fish, which I thought would have been the whole idea.

Not Sure Exactly Where IWas, but I Think This is Parrot Bay - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Not Sure Exactly Where I Was, But I'm Pretty Sure this Was Near Parrot Bay

They hardly ever only went one direction. They'd seem determined to get to where they thought they were going one way, then everybody would take a sudden turn and flock the other direction. Meanwhile, I had to find clear-ish places to photograph them between trees and bushes..

South Along West Lawther - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Then They'd Slow a Lot to Swim Down West Lawther

These guys are all swimming south.

Across Parrot Bay - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Back Across Parrot Bay

And I think these are, too. About this time I stopped near the walking bridge just south of Parrot Bay (See my bird-annotated map of White Rock Lake).

A Fast Flurry of Cormorants Past the Pier at Parrot Bay - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

A Fast Flurry of Cormorants Past The Pier at Parrott Bay

And it was about this time that I gave up following them and figured I'd had enough of crisscrossing back and forth up and down Lawther, and besides I kept finding places I couldn't stop and take any mor pictures. I think today was the first time I'd ever followed a fishing armada nearly all the way around the lake.

 

 

Testing the Theory That Turning Off Image-Stabilization
is a Better Idea when Using a Tripod, especially for far-away Birds
— photographed October 30; posted November 2 2016

One Coot Flying; One Coot Skittering - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

One Coot Flying; One Coot Skittering

When American Coots run across the water, it's called skittering. All of today's shots are an experiment to discover whether the widely-promulgated suggestion that photographers who use tripods should disengage their lens' image stabilization is worth while. So today, I shot my usual pictures — whatever I could get. With my Nikon and 300mm lens with 1.7X TeleXtender and the IS turned off. I'd tried the technique before but since I couldn't tell any difference through the lens or looking at images at 10X on the camera, I decided — perhaps wrongly — that it didn't work.

American White Pelican with Neotropic Cormorant - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

American White Pelican with Neotropic Cormorant out on the Little Logs in Sunset Bay

This time I decided to go ahead and turn Image Stabilization off while the camera was on the tripod, and I'm beginning to think it's a good idea, after all. All the websites I regularly read — ByThom.com, The Mansurovs, Camera Labs, recommend the procedure — and have been recommending it for quite awhile.

Great Egret in Low Flight - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret in Low Flight

All these images were taken from quite some distance, and their full images occupied only a small portion of the full frame. Except the next one of a bunch of coots gathered near the east end of the Pier at Sunset Bay. The first seven or eight times I looked at this bright white Egret, I assumed it was way too overexposed to show any wing-feather details, then I tried it, and I believe now that this is more detail than I thought I could have expected.

Buncha Coots - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Bunch of Coots

I hoped their bright white beaks would have registered a little darker than they did here, and that their black bodies would also have. Other than that, the only real details that might be seen are their dark feathers on the bodies, which look pretty good here, even if it was comparatively close.

American Coot with Reflections - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

American Coot with Reflections

This one's a little farther away; it's much better exposed; and it shows a lot better detail. Not sure what all that proves, but I like it.

Oh Rats! The Ringbills Are Back - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

Oh Rats! The Ringbilled Gulls are Back

I don't hate them, and I often find them entertaining to photograph — especially when they are so obviously playing, but I always remember Disney's take on them, all and always crying, "Mine, mine, mine." Pretty remarkable detail for as far out on the logs they were, especially the one on the left.

American Coot and Neotropic Cormorant Far Out - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.

American Coot and Neotropic Cormorant Far Out on the Little Logs

Only a little bit of fine detail on the coot or, for that matter, on the cormorant, But both are rendered very well indeed. I'll keep turning off Image-Stabilization when I use the tripod. It's way too confusing to shoot one shot with and the next without. I trust the sites I linked above. I'll keep trusting them on this, till it proves less advantageous.


 

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Except as noted, all text and photographs Copyright 2016 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission from and payment to Writer and Photographer J R Compton. I am an amateur. I've only been birding since June 2006, and most of that is documented in this Journal, all the pages of which continue online. I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally yet always amateurishly since 1964.

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