One Year Ago

November 2017

The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton
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115 photos so far in November   This month's best pix  Cameras Used  Ethics  Feedback  My Special Bird Pages — many include eggs, just-hatched, fledgling and/or juveniles: Herons  Egrets  Heron vs  Egrets  Links & Bird Books  Pelican Beak Weirdness  Pelicans Playing Catch  Bird Rouses  Courtship Behaviors  Banding  Birding Galveston 2015 & 2013  The 2nd Lower Rio Grande Valley Birds page  & the 1st  Bald Eagles at White Rock  Coyotes  JR's resumé Contact  Dallas Bird Resources:Dallas Audubon's Bird Chat  Bird Rescue Info  You want to use my photos?  How to Photograph Birds  Bird Places: Bird-annotated Map of White Rock Lake & The SWMC Rookery & Village Creek Drying Beds  Please do not share these fully copyrighted images on Pinterest, Tumblr or other image-sharing sites.  


We Finally Got to Hagerman Wildlife Refuge November 25!
with More Than a Dozen Species — including the 3 Snoagies;
Faraway (but recognizable); Bald Eagles Hunting; & a
Red-tailed Hawk Rendezvousing with a Northern Harrier

Second Shot - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved. 115

Second Shot of the Day — The First Shot is
Essentially Similar — I just liked this one better.

There's really no such thing as chronological order at Hagerman during Snow Geese Season, which is approximately "every autumn." The Snoagies just keep moving back and forth, forth and back. Come back after awhile, and they're still doing it. What they did first depends upon when you got there.

Note also that I usually refer to Snow Geese as "Snoagies," because while they are almost always plural, they are also a singularity — but mostly because it suits me. I like the way "snow geese" sounds like "snoagies." And just hearing it, I can't tell the difference. Word play. Writers get lost in it sometimes …

Chronological order, meanwhile, was especially difficult, because my main lens seemed to have conked out on me at almost the beginning of the visit, though I didn't notice it till later. And I only brought one memory card for both cameras, a full-frame dSLR and a Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless un-reflex. Luckily it was the one card both could use.

Turned out the lens was fine. The Teleconverter, however, must have got seriously torqued between the heavy lunk of a camera and the chunk of the lens. Nikon might be able to fix it. I've heard those screeching noises before and should have recognized them. In the cold, clear light of the next day, the 300mm lens worked perfectly without the converter, and I relaxed significantly. And bought another converter. Not a 2X this time. That steals too much resolution. But a 1.7X, which is kinder. I've never tried a 1.4X. Mayhaps ought to, eventually.

 Various Gooses - copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Snoagies and Maybe Others   11:42 AM

Four or maybe five clicks a second is too plenty. 20 is just way too many. Usually, I set my Nikon to L for Low speed, and am happy with that when I'm photographing birds in the air. Though it is possible that if I had a faster shooting camera, it might come in handy. I just hate going through dozens or hundreds of essentially the same shot, with a couple of feathers moved slightly.

Then having to store them all — arghhh!

So, these are in my, usual, chronological order, and the time of day most shots were taken is under each pic, so I had half a chance at arranging them, since each cam uses a different numbering system.

Snow Goose in Flight - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Snow Goose In Flight   12:16 PM

The little chron that does exist is actually a very repetitive lapse of that erratic substance (time). While we were there Friday after Thanksgiving, the Snoagies (including Snow Geese, Ross Gooses and I could be wrong but maybe a species or two of other hangers-on — or fellow travelers, too.) go back and forth between and among their two main placements — down below the Information Center, which is really the best place to watch the goose goings and comings, from a chair (except sometimes that patio space is also occupied by screaming children).

Four Snoagie Flyover6116  Snoagies in Flight   x

Four Snoagie Flyover   12:32 PM

Snoagies Floating6116  Snoagies in Flight   x

Snoagies Floating   12:41 PM

Every time we go out there for Snoagies, I relearn how to tell the three varieties apart. Then I forget for another couple of years, because I don't see them often enough.

Snoagies in Flight6132  x  x

Snoagies in Flight   12:42 PM

Two Dark adult Snow Geese — seemingly from above.

Dark Ones Coming Down6132  x  x

Dark Ones Coming Down   12:43 PM

Two Dark adult Snow Geese — from below. They might even be the same ones…

Ten Snoagies Flying Across the Sky6132  x  x

Ten Snowies Flying Across the Sky   12:45 PM

All White adults.

sum berdz

Somewhere In The Middle In Focus   12:47 PM

The differences between White Snow Gooses and Dark Snow Gooses has always confused me, but the White Juveniles are mostly gray, and the White Adults are mostly white — with orange beaks, orange-ish heads, pink legs and bill and black primaries pointing out at the end of their wings which usually looks like a tail.

Dark juveniles are mostly dark with white underwing coverts, and the Dark Adults have white heads. In the two tiniest pictures on the his Snoagie Page, David Allen Sibley states "A complete range of intermediate birds occurs between white and dark morph."

Several Species of Small Furry Snoagies6145

Front Few Lines In Focus   12:52 PM

It's still relatively relaxing, compared to following the gooses back and forth and forth and back along the dusty roads always crawling with humans and their cars and trucks and buses — and everybody in the world, who desperately needs to photograph all those white and non-white birds with their wide-angle lenses, so they keep having to get closer and closer, till it spooks the birds and they swoop up and fly back to wherever they weren't just at. Again.

Next time I go for the Snoagies, I'll bring my super-sharp 85mm lens, so I can stand at some distance, and get them all in focus. Telephotos just don't include everybody in focus when I really want them to.

  Solo Snowy Landing In Crowd 

Solo White Adult Snow Goose Landing In Crowd   11:42 AM

Sometimes the gooses go from the lawn down there and across to this end of the lake in a meaningful time lapse. They settle in. They do a little socializing, then they go back to the other place where they settle in and dawdle. Sometimes, after awhile, they get so used to going back and forth that they go back and forth without stopping at either end. Which seemed very peculiar, but it added to the spectacle.

The Photo Blind at the Bottom of the Hill - copyright 2017

The Photo Blind Just Past the Bottom
of the Hill from the Info Center

From the kiddie patio at the Information Center / Educational Center / Shop / etc. is still the best place to watch it, as one or three layers of birds go up and to the right while other layers of gooses snow and otherwise drop slowly with cupped wings toward the ground (where plants with delicious roots grow) or the Lake Texoma water (where are likewise delicious aquatic vegetation, grasses, sedges and roots) creating a huge infinity sign in constant motion across the green and brown and blue valley down by the photo blind that faces a smallish pond of its own.

Snoagie Landscape 6127  Ten Snoagies Across the Sky  x

Snoagie Landscape   11:49 PM

I checked. This one is almost the same as the first image in this story, but not exactly. In this one, they are an eensy-teensy bit closer to the water — and some have even broken its surface. It's like that watching Snoagies doing the Snoagie Shuffle. Watching for little differences after clicking away madly trying to do something, but what?

Snoagies Flying Over - Copyright 2017 JR  All Rights Reserved.

Snoagies Flying Over   12:48 PM

I count three dark and 19 whites. Probably close to the usual percentages.

Snoagie Flurry

Snoagie Flurry   12:54 PM

Odd the way bits of birds seem to be flapping off their bodies as they fly. I've long noticed water coming off their wings. But what is this dark matter? 

Flurry Rushing

Flurry Rushing   12:54 PM

Three Snoagies Landing

Three White Adult Snow Geese Angling In for a Landing   12:56 PM

Then there were Two Bald Eagles on the Other Side

Eagle Eating a Goose - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Bald Eagle Near Top of the Tree on Shore Eating a
White Goose or something about that size   1:05 PM

Only when it was pointed out to me by a woman with a spotting scope could I even see the bright white eagle on the far side. Eventually, I saw at least one more. The gooses are keeping their distance from shore. I would have loved to photo the eagle catch the goose — if for no other reason that I might have been able to better focus on it, whereas focusing as far back as the front trees on shore was nearly impossible with an augmented, 600mm of telephoto.

The woman with the scope spoke about seeing a lot of blood, then when I finally saw the bright mound of red in this shot, I understood.

Another Eagle Coming In -copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Another Bald Eagle Coming In to "Share"   1:11 PM

Two American Bald Eagles in this shot. About a third of the way up into the trees. One is perched at the top of the tree at left. The other is flying into those nearer-shore trees at the right-middle.

Eagle on log at Shore -ith a Red-tailed Hawk on top o the pole and another, not-yet identified haks flying around and away.

Eagle at the Far Shore   1:25 PM

This shot is darkened slightly, so we can see a little more detail in the Bald Eagle's head.

Down to the Pads - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Down to the Pads   1:30 PM

Right about this time we decided we'd had enough of Snoagies and Bald Eagles we could barely see, and we wandered off toward where we came in, looking for other birds, which we knew, since we visit Hagerman fairly often, would be out there, in this or any other season. Lovely, though, to see Hagerman (pronounced hag - er - man) in autumn.

Autumn Leaves - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Autumn Leaves   1:39 PM

N Pintails - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Northern Pintails   1:44 PM

And sure enough. We just had to go up and down "the pads," which are roads out to and the pads (islands, natural or artificial) upon which are the oil wells that must support this place Many of those long, narrow roads that go from pump to pump have to be driven extremely carefully. But there's often birds all around, all around — many of whom are hidden, unless you look very carefully.

Solo Pintail - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Solo Male Northern Pintail   2:21 PM

Can Gooses with  - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Female Mallard with Canada Goose   1:43 PM

We saw a bunch of Canada Geese — inter-related families of them, and maybe I can find another couple pix of more. Maybe.

Gulls Terns and Corms - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Gulls, Terns and Cormorants   1:49 PM

The littler dark-eyed birds off on the left and standing with the Ring-billed Gulls are terns. Possibly Forster's Terns. I'd really have to see their backsides or at least their sides. I'm sure that's a juvenile Double-crested Cormorant on the right edge, but the juvie corm on its left looks a wee bit odd.

nota bird, maybe a nest, but not even that - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Not a Bird. Not a Nest.    2:04 PM

I liked it; I clicked it. Maybe eventually I'll find out what it is.

Stairs Up an Oil Tank - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Stairs and Stair Shadows Up a Oil Tank   2:11 PM

I've seen these oil well tanks and ladders so many times in the dozen or so years we've been attending Hagerman Wildlife Refuge, I just go straight for abstraction.

Oil Well on a Pad by Anna Palmer

Oil Well on a Pad

Luckily, Anna had a shot of an oil well on one of the pads from "about ten years ago." And it, too, has the look & feel — if not the clanking noises — of abstract sculpture. This art critic loves the cacophony of rusted colors and clean, often straight lines.

The Roads Are Dusty - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

The Roads are DUSTY   2:26 PM

Wandering around the hills and valleys and out onto the lake, we were once again reminded how dusty everything gets when there's not been rain lately. Of course, then there's mud… All the unpaved roads are paved with solid white that is more than happy to go airborne at the slightest provocation.

Light & Dark Snoagies

Light & Dark Snoagies   2:33 PM

This and these shots were all taken with my comparatively tiny Panasonic Lumix GX8 micro-four-thirds mirrorless camera with 100-300mm lens. It's not as sharp as the longer, Leica 100-400, but when I got it, there was no choice — and it was a lot cheaper.

RTH Swoop - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Red-tailed Hawk Swoop-over   2:33 PM

Snoagies Holding Fingers - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Snoagies Holding Feathered Fingers   2:19 PM

Snoagies Settling Down - if Briefly 6116  Snoagies in Flight   x

Snoagies Settling — If Briefly   2:51 PM

Snoagie Descending - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

White Adult Snoagie Descending   2:19 PM

Uppers & Lowers 6116  Snoagies in Flight   x

Uppers & Lowers   2:54 PM

Lowest birds are in the wet. Middle Snoagies are falling carefully through the lower sky. Upper Snoagies are still arriving.

Snoagies MOving Inxxx  x  x

Snoagies Moving In and Out   3:11 PM

Back and forth and back and forth and … Both Anna and I shot about a thousand shots each this one day.


Snoagies Across the Sky   3:12 PM

Snoagie Layers

Snoagie Layers   3:12 PM

Uppers and Lowers again. 

Snoagies Up & Out - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Snoagies Up & Out   3:17 PM

Then suddenly leaving the lower valley for this end of the lake. Again and again and again. After awhile, they didn't even stop at either end. Just flux.

Leaving Hagerman … We Watched in Wonder As …

Red-tailed Hawk on Pole - Image Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Red-tailed Hawk on Pole

Not every time, but many of the times, the Universe prepares a special Hawk Trick for us as — or just after — we leave Hagerman. This time, it started just outside the gate on the farm road back to I-75, with this Red-tailed Hawk on the pole.

Reddish Hawk On a Pole

Red-tailed Hawk Flies Off    3:35 PM

So the Red-tailed Hawk left the pole to fly around up there for just a bit while we struggled with aiming the car at them, backing up and back, middle of the road to the edge and angling it so I could shoot between the driver's door and the windshield.

Hawks On A Pole - Copyright 2017 JR  All Rights Reserved.

While I was messing with my camera, the RTH
comes back, and Another Reddish Hawk Joins In

When the Red-tailed Hawk (RTH) came back to its perch, it was joined by another reddish bird who looked like a hawk. As David Allen Sibley describes its species in Sibley's Guide to Birds, Second Edition, "A very slender, long-winged, and long-tailed hawk" flying circles around the RTH. Thanks again for the on-target identification by Kala King — to the rescue once again. Thank you so much, Kala.

Poletop Shenanigans - copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Red-tailed Hawk with Northern Harrier   3:35 PM

I went page-by-page through Crossley's gorgeous Crossley ID Guide — Raptors — and, of course, the Sibley guides and that Lone Pine Birds of Texas, but I didn't find anything that closely-enough matched the early versions of the too-dark photographs of that bird. I kept trying to get more photos, but when I was shooting these, I was pointing the Lumix GX8 out The Slider's driver's side window (while also attempting to drive, albeit haltingly slow), then the bird would move, so we would angle along with it, towards the ditch. And while we were monkeying with the the window's wind up, and soon as I got it set up just right, one or both the birds moved again.

It was a game, but I was learning the rules, but everything was in my way.

This is a Northern Harrier - copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Northern Harrier Flying Almost Straight Down

There's that telephone (or whatever) pole well off to the right of this dive-bombing Harrier — just so you can see why I might have had some difficulty identifying this particular bird.

Harrier Flies Away

Northern Harrier Heads Off

I was always pretty sure the one on the pole was a Red-tailed Hawk, but I had the devil of a time identifying this one flying around it. I've carefully listened nicely to such guesses as a Cooper's Hawk, a Merlin, a Kestrel and… Well, Kala King says it's a Northern Harrier, and that I.D fits all the evidence in the newer, lighter photos — and the I.D books — better by far than any of the other guesses I and others guessed.

So that's what it is.

Northern Harrier Leaves - Copyright 2017   All Rights Reserved.

N. Harrier Exits

In all the time Kala has been helping me identify birds in this Bird Journal, she's been right every time except one. And I don't remember what that one was, but in the end, we agreed on it. But then I still don't know what a lot of those birds out there are.

TV -  - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Turkey Vultures — We just call them TVs. TVs rock!   3:36 PM

And I'm just amazed at this shot of a TV, taken with my nimble, little Panasonic Lumix GX8 MFT mirrorless that's almost too small to hand-hold, but sure did me well today. And there's a real-live Leica-designed tele zoom for it that's 100-400 (angle of view equivalent to a 200-800mm on a full-frame, "35mm" cam) that I've been lusting after for a couple years. I've used one or another of my Panasonic Lumix G-something cams and lenses for art pics for at least ten years, just it wouldn't fit on my tripod for birds.

But these are all hand-held or resting the cam against whatever is available.


Ring-billed Gulls, Cormorants, Lesser Scaups
& Women in Blue's Backs @ The Other End of the Pier
— photographed + posted November 20 2017


Juvenile Ring-billed Gulls on a Log

I made dozens of photographs of our usual variety of gulls today. This is the only one I liked. It took me awhile to get back into the swing of photographing birds today. I'd wanted to get there earlier, but I just couldn't rouse myself. That took till about 3 PM.

Juvenile Double-crested Cormorant in Flight - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Double-crested Cormorant in Flight

Note the long-shaped head of the so-called Double-crested Cormorant, our usual variety of cormorant, we can usually see dozens to hundreds of on the logs and snags across the wet portions of Sunset Bay proper.

A Woman's Garb in Telephoto  - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

A Woman's in Blue's Back

For this blog, I mostly photograph birds, but if there are visually intriguing humans, I'll happily photograph them, also. Today, I saw and briefly photographed two, quite different women in blue on the other end of the Pier at Sunset Bay. These are they.

Another Woman's Back - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Another Woman in Blue's Back

The woman seriously cropped off on the far right edge — both these images are full frame 24 x 36mm images, so she's not really cropped off, she just didn't fit in. In fact, I hardly noticed her more than that she was a photographer packing two cameras hanging upside-down on leather rigs crossing her tiny plaid black and white blouse. I'd show you that shot, except it really doesn't stand up against these two, both of which I found lusciously textured and colored.

One Female and Three Male Lesser Scaups - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Left to right: One Female and Three Male Lesser Scaups

Both sexes of Scaups have been around for several days or longer, but this was the first time our presences coincided.

Female and Angel-feathered Male Lesser Scaups  - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Female and Angel-winged Male Lesser Scaups

"Angel-wing" is when one or more feathers sticks out of their usually careful placement.

Three Male Lesser Scaups - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Three Male Lesser Scaups

There are usually only very subtle differences between the individual male scaups vying for the female's attentions.

CU of Female Lesser Scaup - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

CU of Female Lesser Scaup

My biggest challenge in photographing Female Lesser Scaups is that bright patch of white feathers over her beak. In too many photos of her, that patch turns pure, untextured white. On my finely-tuned monitor, there is yet a small amount of brown and gray spotting in that area. On others, it may still show as too-bright white.

A Coot, One Female Lesser Scaup, and Male Scaups Diving for Food -  - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

At top, an American Coot. Left to right below are: A Female Lesser Scaup, and two Male Scaups Diving for Food.

One of the time-honored methods of male birds showing off to potential female mates is how good they are at finding food. I am assuming that's what this odd bit of display is. She doesn't seem to be paying particular attention to them, but there they are with their tails splashing and the rest of them already under water. The Male Scaup on the right got under first, so he's probably already got more points in the competition. But the middle Scaup has more splash.

Same Bunch - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Same Bunch, Coot et al

In my experience of watching mostly male Scaup visits to Sunset Bay over the last about a dozen years, four male scaups show up early in Scaup Season (here), then one female arrives late in that season, and she goes off toward The Hidden Creeks area with one of them at a time. This is only the second time I've seen her arrive this early. It may be a trend, or it could just be coincident.

The Four Scaups - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

The Four Scaups

In bright light, scaups of either sex are devilishly difficult to photograph.

Male Lesser Scaup -  - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Solo Male Lesser Scaup

In this case, "Lesser" means smaller. "Greater" Scaups, which we usually don't get here, are bigger.



Then I Spent a Night in the Emergency Room @ The VA,
& the Next Day I had to Visit Sunset Bay

 coot chase60

Bread Coot Chase

Some years I skip photographing Coot chases after the bread some humans seem intent on feeding them despite that it's usually not good for them, although this stuff at least looks brown. Most of that white stuff is not good for anybody. I have even found thick, sugar-crusted cakes scattered up Sunset Beach that no bird had touched, rotting in the dirt.

Coot Bubble Race - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Bubbles & Bread Coots Chase

Wadn't much else happening, so I engaged with the coots, who are one of my favorite species. My first shots of them this day were of one helping another with an injury I couldn't quite figure out, looking gentle and tender with each other. But those shots were way too dark.

Best Coot Chase - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Chasing A Little More Frenetic

These were just about right — and action shots, to boot.

More Coot Chasing - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

More Coot Chasing

But this will probably do me for a couple more years.

Broken Legged Coot - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Injured Coot

This Coot was getting along adequately, though decidedly slow — its injury looks dreadful. He made it up the hill, found some food, then limped back down to Sunset Beach, so I let it. Only much later did I think about Rogers Wildlife Recovery, as often as I've been there.

Speaking of Health

I called the Health Questions Nurse at the VA to decide what to do, and she asked leading questions, which I answered, then she said she'd sign me into the ER, so I drove down there around midnight, found gobs of parking places (!), and it wasn't half bad once I got past three loud TVs on three different channels in the waiting rooms with none of us watching any of them. I only hurt when I coughed, and I only coughed when I talked. So I was mostly quiet.

And once I got back into the ER proper, it was pleasant, gentle, with no TVs blaring, only a few sounds of genuine pain, but nice people who seemed busy and efficient.

I've been spending a lot of time in bed, coughing and not talking. But now I've got a new set of pills, and things seem to be looking up, I think. I had worried, because I've had Pneumonia five times so far, and those were all a booger, but my new pills — and hushing up are working well, so far.

And it will no longer keep me from photographing birds, although the cold weather might. Still, three times a week may yet be possible, with some nice sleep-lates thrown in for good measure.



I've been ill lately; haven't been close enough to birds to photograph more…
Here's some I'd already photographed last week…

 Two Muscovies Against the Autumn Woods - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Two Muscovies Against the Hidden Autumn Woods

On the other side.

Three Muscovies Fly Over Many Cormorants

Muscovy Splash Down - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Muscovy Splash-Down

Muscovy Dripping -  - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Muscovy Dripping

I love muscovies.



The Snowgies Are Back @ Hagerman!

Snow Geese at Hagerman - copyright 2017 Bill J. Boyd

The Snow Geese are Back at Hagerman! — in the thousands.



Dark & Way Wet?  J R's Just Gotta Go to the Lake …
photographed & posted November 8 2017

 Guy with Umbrella  -  - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Guy with Umbrella on the Far Side of Winfrey Circle

He had turned around and had started walking back when he saw me, turned back around, stood and stared off into space. Again.

Cormorants Preening and Flying Away -  Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Cormorants Preening and Flying Away

Today's shots are in strict chronological order — because nothing else made any sense. 

Pelicans Fishing in the Rain at the Edge of the Lake - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans Fishing and Catching in the Rain at the Edge of Sunset Beach

Note the one at the top left has something in its pouch. The others are hoping.  To make geographical sense, see my bird-annotated map of White Rock Lake.

Pelicans Fishing at the Edge4833  Cormorants Preening and Flying Away  x

They Wait for Something to Enter their Beaks

I didn't catch this action at its peak. They're just floating there waiting for something to fill their craws.

Ducks, Coots, Pelksk Fishing at the Edge4833  Cormorants Preening and Flying Away  x

Swimming up the Edge at Sunset Beach

Pelicans on the Wet Edge -  Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans on the Wet Edge

The weather — and thus the colors — were variable, but so was my processing. It didn't  help that I was in a hurry.

Pelicans Fishing At the Edge  - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Pelicans Fishing at the Edge

Eventually, a bunch of them got together and … did some more fishing. My father used to spend a lot of time fishing in the rain …

Two Birds, Some Bridge and Some Trees4833  Cormorants Preening and Flying Away  x

Two Birds, A Bridge and Some Trees

I started to drive home down Garland Road, but then, as the rain turned dark and dense, I turned again onto DeGoyler Drive. Which, after I called it Arborectum Drive for awhile, I reverted that portion of East Lawther to DeGoyler Drive, because what is now the Arborectum that attempted to make parking lots of several lakeside hills north of them along the edge of the lake, [But Lake People Would Not Let Them] was originally The Degoyler Estate.

Rain on the Yacht Clubs  - copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved.

About a Dozen Birds and The Yacht Clubs in Heavy Rain

This is from my second trip over Winfrey (Hill, Point, Parking Lot, etc.) today. It's by far my favorite stretch of road around the lake. Barely one-lane most of the way from Garland Road to the baseball fields. With a brick space on the land side that a cop long ago told me was a sidewalk, a couple dozen parking places and a lot of views of whatever the weather has to offer. The Slider often get 60 or 70 m.p.g. down its mostly flat trajectory.

It has views like this,, and it's where I often go to think or dream. That road used to go all the way around Winfrey, then they put up a tall fence with canvas or something opaque over it, then they (Parks Dept./City of Dallas) closed the road and made it a beautiful paved path around Winfrey Point.


Red, Reddish & Red and Something Ducks; Pelicans & a Kestrel,
@ WRL — Photographed and Posted November 6, 2017

red and reddish ducks

Red & Reddish Ducks Extravaganza

I thought I was photographing a bunch of ducks fishing — and yes, I have seen ducks catch and fly away with fish, so that's not out of the question. But though I didn't pay this bunch of ducks the attentions they deserved, I wish I had.

So I enlarged a portion of this fairly vast horizontal of red and reddish birds not particularly far from the corms and pelks, so somebody could identify them:

red ducks galore

Closer-up & Sharper Version of that Last Shot

I see Red-headed ducks, ducks with red heads, red and gray and white ducks, red & black ducks, red and brown ducks, red and red ducks, black and white ducks and various other ducks with some shade of red or reddish brown. I now know I should have stopped on DeGoyler Drive, parked, set up my tripod on the edge of the water, and clicked away until I had sharp-focused close-ups of all these birds. I went back the next day, but they were long gone.

But they were a big buncha ducks involving red. And I shoulda, might coulda but didn't.

Kala King emailed me that evening: "Looked at your enlarged portion. I have never seen such a mix. I see both male and female lesser scaups, male and female redhead ducks, male and female American wigeons, and a male pintail. Probably more in there but all that could be positively identified in this photo. That is awesome."

Ben Sandifer posted on Bird Chat: "Quite a few Redhead and Ring-necked Ducks moving through right now in early November. On the Chris Runk bird walk 10/29 (WRL Dam and fish hatchery) we picked some of those species out rafting in the middle of White Rock Lake. I saw some 10/22 at Southside Wastewater Treatment Plant and 10/20 at a private club off Dowdy Ferry. Similar sized group spotted this past weekend 11/5 in a gravel pit off Loop 12. Generally speaking they are seen in fall and spring during migration but they don't seem to linger in Dallas for the duration of the winter."

Ben also said he couldn't "see [my] photos [above] [I] attempted to post [on Dallas' Audubon's Bird Chat]" [They were there, then they weren't,] so I gave up. "But can see the photo [above] I posted [here]: A couple wigeon in the foreground, majority of Redhead ducks with some Ring-necked ducks. Possible scaup or two as well but hard to tell.


Since then, I've added these shots from yesterday's shoot.

mostly ducks a few corms - copyright 2017  all rights reserved.

A Few Cormorants, but Mostly Ducks

These are about the best pix I got — too far to focus, etc. They were shot out my driver's window, without sterilization, my hands always  shake. And the birds' presence temporary. They weren't there an hour later or a day. I suspect they were busy migrating — flying over, saw the lake, decided it would be a good place to rest awhile — maybe knew it from before. Then, when rested, they left, all together. They were probably a couple hundred birds. And I have no idea how long they stayed, where they came from, and where they we're going.


Closer-up of a much longer line of "Reddish Ducks"

Next time I'll pay more attention to the visitors and let the residents be. But they stayed mostly out in the middle, far from my feeble telephoto's reach.

 some strange bird - copyright 20107

As Usual, I had no Idea What I Was Going to Photograph

I just hoped something would come along slow enough I could catch up with and get decent exposure. At first I assumed the bird on the right was a Red-winged Blackbird, but now I am not at all sure who or what it was.

pelk fly low past cormsPelican Flying Low Past A Snag Full Of Cormorants

Pelican Flying Low Past A Snag Full Of Cormorants

I shot a great many more shots of pelicans roving around the inner bay, but this was my favorite, and all the rest of them were pretty much like this one.

pelk fishing frenzy

Cormorant and Pelican Fishing Frenzy

After leaving Sunset Bay, I noticed corms and pelks  engaged in a large fishing group, so I went up DeGoyler Drive pausing often in the middle of that street to photograph birds close and far in the lake on my left.

peliican air foil

Pelican Air Foil

Somehow when I saw this, I knew it was an airfoil, but I didn't know exactly what an airfoil was. I know a lot of words and I know a lot of meanings, but I can't necessarily always match them up. So I axed the Internet, and Wikipedia said "An airfoil (American English) or aerofoil (British English) is the shape of a wing, blade (of a propeller, rotor, or turbine), or sail (as seen in cross-section). An airfoil-shaped body moved through a fluid produces an aerodynamic force." Which sounded good to me.

pelican landing with sideways look

Pelican Landing with Sideways Look

I love the sideways look as this American White Pelican flew over me as I was standing on the Pier at Sunset Bay aiming my camera back up at him for a 12X view.

Am Whie Pelican Over

American White Pelican Over

And this was my fave of these sorts of shots.

Kestrel with a Bug - copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Kestrel with a Bug

As I was leaving the lake, I drove over, around, down, then back up Emerald Isle Drive past the baseball fields on my right where was this critter. I assume that's some sort of bug in its beak. I guess it does look better than when it's on a wire.

American Kestrel Away - copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

American Kestrel Away

Then while I was watching, it fled west, but I captured its full wingspan. This may be the best butt shot I've ever got on a Kestrel.



Northern Pintail, Great-tailed Grackle, Some Gooses & Mallards
— Photographed and Posted November 3, 2017

Male Northern Pintail  - Coppyright 2017  All Rights Reserved. 29

Male Northern Pintail

Not sure if it's the same Northern Pintail Duck who visits us every year about this time and stays awhile — sometimes invites his mate, too — but there is one that does those things, and we're always happy to see him/them again. I also saw this one Friday night, by which time I was pretty sure he was the same one.

But I'm really very pleased to have seen and photographed it in the sunshine already. I recognized it in the dark, which may be indicative that my bird-I.D-ing is getting better, but I didn't feel need to photograph it in the dark when I had such nice pix of most of his views in sunshine.

Male Northern Pintail Preening  - Coppyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Male Northern Pintail Preening

There's probably dozens of poses and manners of preening that only Northern Pintails engage in, and I hoped to capture something distinctive, but I would have had to see it, and I did not.

Male Northern Pintail  - Coppyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Male Northern Pintail Looking Down into the Water

Standing in the water and looking down into it. Maybe. Or it was just comfortable this way. I liked the pose, because its colors showed more distinctively than any other I got.

Male Northern Pintail Reverse  - Coppyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Male Northern Pintail Reverse

And, of course, I had to get the best view of those vertical white stripes.

Adult Male Great-tailed Grackle - Coppyright 2017  All Rights Reserved. 28

Great-tailed Grackle

A Great-tailed Grackle who parked too close to the pier for me to get all his tail in the pic. And I just love his striped feet.

Cocks of the Walk - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Cocks of the Walk

The slanted blue thing between me and them is one of those guard rails. These gooses are Charles' geese taking their sweet time to walk across the road above Sunset Beach. I think they prefer to have a line up of cars behind them, but they're happy enough to walk across the road making loud goose noises.

Mallard Tossing - copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Mallard Tossing

This did not get posted yesterday when I photographed it, but it's here now. And it may even fit better now with the pix above and below. I remember seeing a male Mallard almost and all the way upside-down and rolling, head over heels over the rippled and splashed surface of the water. Kinda like this, but I'm sorry I didn't catch it more up-side-downy. It was very peculiar, and you've only seen about half of it.

Took me awhile to realize that its right foot has cast upon it its own shadow, so now it finally looks about right. Oh, well.

Mess of Mallard Wings and Feathers - copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved

Mess of Reeds and Male Mallard Feathers

I liked the visual confusion of this shot, but I did not manage the best of focus, and it's a rather large enlargement of the part of the shot that's least focused.



Larking @ the Pelicans, Cormorants, Anhinga, Coots, Green-winged Teal, Ring-bills
& Everybody Else @ Sunset Bay @ White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas, USA
Photographed November 1 & Extensively Corrected & re-posted November 2, 2017.

Short Logger pelk - copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Pelican on Short Log

The log is longer front to back than across the hump holding up the pelican from this point of view. It's just more comfortable on it this way.

Pelican Wing-stretch Flap - copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Flapping Pelican Wing-stretch

It went through the whole routine. Someday I'll adequately document it all, but it's not a specifically and-then-you-do-this sort of thing. Note the unextended left wing and the barely-begun-to-be-extended right wing tip. I'm fascinated by those tips and when they are extended, most often, in my limited experience, when they are coming in for a landing, as shown just below.

Pelican Turning on a Wing-tip - copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Turning On a Wing-tip Slightly Splashing in the Water

I didn't know it would splash wing-tips in the water, but if I had, I'd be even happier that I caught it on silicone. I've never been exactly certain where the extendible wing-tips start on their wings, but this pelican's wings are, I think, fully extended, because it wants and/or needs, the most control at this juncture of the landing process.

reddish duck olas - copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Kala Says these Reddish Ducks are Male and Female Green-winged Teal

I just wasn't sure who these birds were, and I wish they'd swum by considerably closer, so we could see more detail, so I'd have had half a chance identifying them. But I remember Kala King, who often helps me identify the unidentified birds here, talking about how red some birds' heads were in last month's bird journal. Found that, and she was referring to Cinnamon Teal, but these aren't those, either.

Pair of Pelks Coming in for a Landing - copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Pair of Pelicans Coming In for Landings

Most of today's incoming pelicans with presumably full pelican bellies (from being involved in large fishing fleets on the other sides of the lake, and catching lots of fish to fill their bellies) landed among the other pelicans. Sometimes they fly right by the pier at Sunset Bay, but usually they do not, because the wind is not blowing in the exact right direction for that to happen. Most of today's landings were into or behind a bunch of other pelicans.

Pelican Commanding Top Perch  xx  xx

Pelican Commanding Top Perch

Here, it had already decided where it was going to perch. I saw that body language, then started shooting. Watch them enough, and you know what they're thinking — sometimes.

Pelican Jumping for Top Perch  xx  xx

Pelican Jumping for Top Perch

Wings really help birds jump higher.

Pelk Jump for Top Perch  xx  xx

Pelk Jump for Top Perch

Lotta water splash around, but those other pelicans don't seem to mind a bit.

Pelk Jump for Top  xx  xx

Pelican Sticking the Landing

I guess it's all part of the game for them.

Last Pelk Hop into Low Flight  xx  xx

Last Pelican Hop into Low Flight

I like that its broken-up reflection under it, has about the same rippled white texture as it does.

Am White Pelican Flying - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Flying Over Snags & a Screaming Anhinga

This could be that same bird, but I photographed a lot of pelicans flying this day. I didn't notice it, but Kala King noticed that the pelican is flying over a Screaming Anhinga.

Two Droop-head Gulls Flying Together  xx  xx

Two first-year Ring-billed Gulls Flying Together

I'll be disappointed if I learn these gulls are Ring Bills, our usual over-population of gulls. All of today's other gulls are here below, out of chronological order, so I could compare and contrast them. Color me disappointed — again. Kala says these are all first-year Ring-billed Gulls. Which means they will grow into the same obnoxious, coot-attacking gulls as always. Alas!

But I'll photograph them and their activities and usual attacks and fights, as if they were real birds.

The Other One of the Gulls - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

First-year Ring-billed Gull Over

Because I'm not a big fan of gulls in general, and ours in particular, I notice when they start showing up, and I am in a kind of dampened ecstacy when they finally leave, which luckily is fairly soon. There were more than four, but I only managed to photograph these few in sharp focus.

Log Pelk's Wing-over - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Log Pelican's Wing Over

It looks sweet, but it's just a wing-stretch with not nearly enough room to stretch otherwise.

Double-crested Cormorant Landing - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Double-crested Cormorant Landing

I figured it'd hover there for awhile.

Double-crested Cormorant Near Touchdown - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

That same adult Double-crested Cormorant About to Touch Down Among Mostly Juvenile s

But it landed. Something about gravity, I suppose.

Pelk Wings Extended for Landing - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Wings Extended and Cupped for Landing

Birds employ a lot of very subtle technology as they come in for and eventually actually land.

Pelican Flying with Dreyfuss Point Back - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Flying with Dreyfuss Point Back

That white-over-dark-green (here, at least) portion of the behind-the-tree background is the wall partially around the real point of Dreyfuss Point.

Short-logger Beaking - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Short-logger Beaking to Protect Its Perch

I think the other pelican was interested in joining this one on that short log, but the beaking attack deterred it.

Pelican About to Land - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Pelican About to Land

After awhile, we'll get tired of photographing millions of individual pelicans flying in and landing, but for right now it's really fun and exciting.

Double-Pelican Landing - Copyright 2017  All Rights Reserved.

Double Pelican Landing

I've several times wondered what would happen if two pelicans attempted a landing in the same space during the same circumstances. Well, they both landed safely with no harm or hard feelings.


Last Month    unkept-up Index of Pages     year ago     Bird-annotated Map of White Rock Lake      Next Month

The best thing about the Year Ago link  is clicking it early in the month to see what birds last September's change of season brought us and where to look for them this year.

Except as noted, all text and photographs Copyright 2017 & before 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 the best of that is documented in this Journal, all the pages of which continue online see the links at top and bottom of every Bird Journal page. I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally yet always amateurishly since 1964. 53 years.

389 by end March; 1242 end April; 2327 end May; 3431 early July; 4217 end July; 4965 end August; 5720 end Sept; 6464 end Oct-16; 7200 end Nov.; 8012 end Dec; 8566 end Jan 17; 9145 end Feb; 9755 end March 17; 10390 End of April 17; 11077 end May 17. Then I lost the hit counter or it didn't count hits anymore. So I gave up on knowing numbers of hits, and I'm happier for it.